Battles, unseen forces vs. Christ and His Holy Spirit

Paul reaches the conclusion of his letter to the Ephesians after exhorting them to live godly lives, to depend upon each other in the body of Christ and to live lives submitted to one another filled with love and grace.  He tells them that the battle of living for Christ involves both the physical world we live in and the spiritual world we cannot see.  His advice is to put on God’s armor.

ephesians 6 11Ephesians 6:10-12  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Later in the chapter Paul fully explains each piece of armor and why we desperately need them for our battles.  Here he reminds us that spiritual battles are being waged in the heavens of which we are unaware,  and yet we have to come up against them in our daily lives.  One of my favorite Old Testament stories shows the forces of evil that surround us and how Satan would love to destroy our faith and witness is found in 2 Kings 6:15-17.   Elisha, the prophet of God, was telling the king of Israel the battle secrets of the king of Syria that God was revealing to him.  The king of Syria was very upset and sent horsemen to come and seize him.  Elisha’s servant looked out of the house they were staying in and ran to tell Elisha that they were surrounded.  Amazingly, Elisha was not afraid and asked God to reveal what he saw to his servant to explain why he was unafraid. He then asked God to confuse the enemy and He did with blindness.

15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant 2kings 6 16said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them. 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.18 And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. 19 And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.

What I love about this story is that the servant was unaware of the ring of fiery angels that were ready to do battle on Elisha’s behalf.  We too have power of the Holy Spirit that indwells us and gives us power to thwart sin and Satan’s plans. “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world,” 1 John 4:4.   Paul is telling us to be ready to do battle in a serious fashion using His power and might.  We are on the winning side because Jesus is greater than anyone or anything physical or spiritual that we may encounter in life!

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are able to battle against unseen forces through the power of the Holy Spirit.   We need to be ready and willing to walk with the Lord and be empowered by Him each day.

Linda

Employer-Employee as seen through the Cross

The overarching verse for this portion came in Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  Paul applied this principle of Christian Living in Christ to marriage, family relationships and now to master and slaves.   We no longer have slaves and masters but the principle holds true for employers and employees.  Read Ephesians 6:5-9 with that in mind.

Those that work for others:  “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free. 

Those that employ workers:  9 Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites. 

ephesians 6 5If you look at these relationships and view them through the lens of faith and empowered living in Christ, we see that we are to be loyal, respectful, obedient and filled with integrity in all we do for our employer.  We are to do our jobs as if we are doing them for the Lord seeking His reward for right living and not worrying about praise and accolades from our bosses.   If we are in a situation where we are the employer, we are to care about our workers, treat them with respect, show no favoritism and refrain from threatening or abusing them in any way.  We are to treat them as equals,  as we are all equal before the Father.

Wouldn’t our workplaces be so very different if everyone adhered to these principles of right living?  However, we cannot control the actions of others and make them treat us by these principles but we can treat others as Christ requires with love, respect and integrityWe can control our own actions and strive to show Christ’s love and Ephesians 6 working-for-Godcare for those around usBecause Christ died on the cross and rose form the dead, we can show God’s love and care whether we are the employer or employee bringing glory to God and blessings upon ourselves.

Linda

The Cross = Parent-Child relationships made whole

We are about to enter one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  Ephesians 6 has so much to tell us about Christ and the life He desires that we live in and through His powerful indwelling Holy Spirit.  Remember Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”?   This is the driving verse for the discussion about relationships between a husband and wife and it continues in Ephesians 6 with children and parents, then employee and employer.

eph-6 1Ephesians 6:1-4 deals with parent-child relationships.  “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”

The admonition from God to obey and honor our parents was given in the 10 Commandments.  Exodus 20:12 ““Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”   Living a life with peace begins in the home.  Rebellion, strife, anger, harsh words and discord can flourish in children both young and old (meaning even you at your age) if not curbed with honor, respect and love.  We are selfish creatures and as such want our own way.  This command to honor and obey our parents has a promised return- a long and full life in the Lord.  Honor and obedience lead to peace and harmony that will lengthen the quality our lives just as disharmony, eph6-4discord and dissent will shorten it.    Paul does not end with the children but goes on to admonish all parents.  He says we are not to provoke, needle, irritate our children intentionally or be unnecessarily angry with them for anger sake.  We are to practice a parenthood that reflects Christ and remember His submission to the Father on our behalf.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we (both parent and child) are able to submit to one another with love and respect.

eph-6-2These are sobering words that call all of us to think about our parent-child relationships.  Are they honoring in God’s eyes?  In these last days of Lent, spend some time mediating on Paul’s words and seek God’s guidance in your relationships.

Linda 

 

 

The Cross = submission in love

The last portion of Ephesians 5 is a difficult passage as it deals with submission and relationships in the home and in marriage that are to mirror Christ’s love for us.  I think the reason these verses cause such turmoil is that they are counter-culture and go against the thinking of today and women’s rights.  However, if we look at verse 5:21 and 5:32-33 we get to the heart of what Paul was saying.  God is a god of order and design.  Someone in the home has to make the final decision but any decisions need to be tempered and driven by love, a love like Christ has for us as believers.  Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”   We submit, yield or seek the approval of one another out ephesians 5 32of our love for Christ.  5:32-33 “This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”   An example of the mystery of Christ’s relationship to believers is seen in the loving, caring respectful relationship of a man and wife.  Submission to each other is done because of Christ and our love for Him.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can live lives submitted to one another in love that mirror Christ’s love for us.

Ephesians 5 21Have a blessed day as you consider how you are submitting or yielding your rights to others in Christ like love.

Linda

Here is the whole passage –Ephesians 5:21-33  ” Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

A Call to PRAY this 5th Sunday of Lent 2020 in a virus filled world

Sovereign-LordHere are some verses to uplift, encourage and challenge you this 5th Sunday of Lent as our world struggles with the pandemic of Covid-19:

God is Sovereign: Psalm 103:19 “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,   and his kingdom rules over all.”   2 Chronicles 20:6 ““O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”    John 10:29 “ My Father, who has given (my sheep- believers) to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  Acts 17:26 “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,”    Each of these verses shows God’s Sovereign power.  He is Creator God and there is none greater.  Once we belong to Him, nothing and no one can take us away from Him.  God is the determiner of mankind and those things He allows to come into our lives.   Like the plagues of the Old Testament, pray, pray, pray for God’s mercy in these days of Covid-19.  Humble yourselves and turn back to Him and seek Him and His forgivenessWe are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:22-23   God promises sovereignrestoration and forgiveness if:    if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”   2 Chronicles 7:14 

Please pray.

Here are the truths we found in God’s Word from Ephesians 4:17-5:20 this last week.  They are rich and bring joy and challenge to the believer as we endeavor to walk with Him each day.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead:

I can be a new creation in Jesus!  Ephesians 4:17-24

We are made for righteous actions and thoughts towards ourselves and others which bring joy to God.   Ephesians 4:25-32

We can be imitators of Jesus and have lives filled with love.  Ephesians 5:1-2

I can choose light and life with HimEphesians 5:3-8

His light can be seen in me.  Ephesians 5:9-14

How I live my life for Him matters.  Ephesians 5:15-20

May you have a Sunday filled with His love and be able to spend time praying and mediating on His Sovereignty and His wonderful truths from Ephesians.

Linda

It is your Choice, light or dark?

Paul gives us a list of what characterizes a non-believer in contrast to true believers.  The Ephesians were new converts, still learning and growing in faith.  They had recently come out of idolatry and had many old habits to rid themselves of as they endeavored to grow more and more like their Savior, Jesus.  Paul was very forthright with them letting them know what behaviors were OUT and would not be tolerated or found in God’s Kingdom.

Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. 7 Don’t participate in the things these people do. 

ephesians 5 8For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!

In the midst of this list of things to avoid you find verse 4b let there be thankfulness and 8 be people of the light!    Paul wants them, and us, to know that belonging to Christ, being a believer involves a life filled with thankfulness and light!  Praise God!  God does not want us to cling to old sinful behaviors and attitudes but to shed them and walk in His light.  Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  He is the light that dispels all darkness and evil.  I love 1 John 1:5 and 7 “This is the message we have heard from him and 1 john 1 5proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”   There is hope, forgiveness and life in the light of Jesus.  Choose to walk in it and be ready to be clean, whole and made right with God.

Paul wanted them and us to see the contrast between their former lives and their new life in Jesus.  Light and dark, hope and despair, freedom and condemnation, forgiveness and being held by sin, Christ makes all the difference in the focus and direction of our lives.  Listed side by side light overwhelms darkness.  Light is open, pure, holy and welcoming and the darkness of sin brings shame, hiding and imprisonment.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead I can choose light and life with Him.   Choose the light of  Jesus today.

Linda

Being real imitators = Life filled with Love

Paul begins Ephesian Chapter 5:1-2 having arrived at a conclusion as to how believers ephesians 5 1-2in Jesus should act.  “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us  and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”   He exhorts us to imitate GodWhat does that mean to you?   Think of God’s attributes and consider the ones that He desires we have – like being forgiving, loving, kind, gentle, compassionate, thankful, pure, holy, ….  God desires that we follow Christ’s example and imitate Him because He dearly loves us and we are His children.  Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross pleased God as it redeemed all mankind from death and enabled us to come before Him.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can be imitators of Jesus and have lives filled with love.

Where do you need to imitate Christ in your life?  With your family, at work or school, on committees or groups you belong to??   Living a life of authentic Christianity is a call to sacrifice, humility and openness before God.  I love Philippians 1:6 because it assures me that I am not in this struggle to live for Christ alone,  “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 4:19  assures me that He has what I need to live for Him, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”   We can have hope that God Jesus-likewill finish what He started in us when we became believers.  He always completes what He starts!  We can do this because God has the resources for all our needs.  We just need to ask and be willing to serve Him.  Be imitators of Christ today and experience His love in your life.

Linda

Do you reflect Christ? If so, do others see a difference in you??

ephesians 4 17-24In Ephesians 4:17-24 Paul describes to the Ephesians what man is like in mind, body and action without Christ and then contrasts it to their present state of mind, body and actions with Christ in their lives.

Without Christ- verses 17-19Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”    Before they came to know Jesus, their minds were confused about God, they were ignorant of what a life with God could be like, they had hardened their hearts to the things of God and they practiced all kinds of immorality in their lives.”  

With Christverse 20-24  “But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,  which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true ephesians 4 20righteousness and holiness.”     Knowing Christ has changed them and will change us from the inside out!  The truth of who Jesus is and what He did on the cross transforms our thinking, our hearts and motivates us to speak and act as unto God.  Paul calls it putting off the old nature, the way we did things before faith and putting on a new self.  This new self is rooted and grounded in Jesus and His righteousness and holiness.

Paul challenged the Ephesians to put off the old and put on the new, make being a believer a conscious choice that involves a change of mind, body and actions.  Giving yourself to God wholeheartedly allows the Holy Spirit to transform you from the inside out and makes you new in Christ. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be a new creation in Jesus!  2 Corinthians 5:17 puts it this way,  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  Christ in our lives, hearts and minds brings transformation for our good and His glory.

2 Corinthians 5 17Be that transformed believer today! Reach out to others in love.  Call, text, email, have a Zoom gathering, Face Time or use Google Chat or Duo with someone in these troubled days showing them you care about them and stand with them in the name of Christ.

Linda

4th Sunday of Lent, 2020 Facing the world through Christ not the virus

We had some amazing truths this week in Ephesians 3 and 4 that affirmed who we are in Christ and the purpose God has for believers’ lives.

  • we have the privilege and obligation to intercede on behalf of other believers.  Ephesians 3:14-19   PRAY, PRAY, PRAY for one another!
  • we have His indwelling Holy Spirit to empower us with His love for His glory and our good. Ephesians 3:20-21   Empowered to give and show LOVE!
  • we are indwelt, empowered and enabled to act and be more and more like Jesus as we grow in Him.  Ephesians 4:1-3    Sanctification-growing more like Jesus!
  • we are one in Christ, specially gifted through His grace.   Ephesians 4:7  Show His grace to the world around us.
  • we can trust God’s Word to grow and mature us so we can be fully and completely equipped to live for Him. Ephesians 4:11-13   God will bring growth in our lives so we can serve those around us in Him.
  • so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.   Ephesians 4:14-16   We can be contributors to the body of Christ as we work together in unity of love and Spirit.

God teaches us we need to pray for others, be indwelt and empowered by His Holy Spirit, are gifted by His grace, can be fully equipped through His Word to serve others, and grow ourselves more and more like Christ.  What powerful messages for our times!   Our togetherworld is in need of Christ and His redeeming love, our love as believers and the Truth of His Word.   Endeavor to reach out to others this week in love, pray for those hurting around you, look for His truth in the Word of God as you open it this coming week. Read the Book (the Bible) to grow in wisdom, truth, love and knowledge of God.

Linda

Don’t be a victim of the winds, going to and fro!

In Ephesians 4:14-16 Paul expands on the truth from yesterday, we can trust God’s Word to grow and mature us so we can be fully and completely equipped to live for Him.   But what do we do if new ideas come along that seem to contradict what we know about God?   We are reminded in James to look out for doctrines that would sway us away from the truth of the gospel and lead us astray.  James compares our vacillating on truth to the effect of the wind, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”  James 1:6   Likewise, Paul concludes in Ephesians 4:14-16 that being grounded and rooted in God’s Word will keep us stable and lead us to lives that contribute to the body of believers. 

ephesians 4 14Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

If we desire to move towards maturity in Christ, we need to be grounded in the truth of the gospel, knowledgeable about what scripture teaches  for righteous living and willing to stand firm on God’s Word of truth.  Paul says that this grounding in truth will lead to fuller, richer lives that ephesians 4 16will build up the body of believers and help the whole body of Christ (the church) be stronger.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can mature into Christians that support and love one another.

What are you doing to grow in maturity?  Do you attend church regularly and mediate on what your pastor is preaching on?  Are you in a Bible Study group at your church or elsewhere?  Growing and maturing in Christ does not happen by chance but requires attention to the Word and study.  Be growing in Christ and open to the Holy Spirit’s leading when He presents you with an opportunity for growth.

Linda

Here are two International Bible Study organizations that have classes throughout the world.  Check them out and see if they are near you.  Right now all classes are on-line due to the virus, but they are still going strong as our God is unstoppable.

Bible Study Fellowshiphttp://www.bsf.org

Community Bible Studyhttp://www.cbs.org