My plan to blog through the entire book of Ephesians during Lent was off by only 1 day. Here are the concluding verses of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
21 “To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you.
23 Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. 24 May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 6:21-24
What did Paul send to his friends that lived in Ephesus? He sent an actual person to deliver the letter. Besides the written words of Paul, they would have Tychicus to talk to about Paul, so they could personally find out how he was doing physically, the conditions he was living under, how his ministry was going, etc. All of this Paul knew would be an encouragement to his friends. Then he ends with a final blessing to all who read this letter- peace, love filled with faithfulness and eternal grace (God’s undeserved favor) upon all who believe and follow Jesus. Each of us can receive Paul’s blessing and know that he meant the peace, love, and grace to be ours in Jesus, too.
Paul’s letter started with praise and thanksgiving for the faith of the Ephesian believers and ended with his desire that they continue to walk in faith filled with Jesus’ love and peace for themselves and towards others. Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be blessed by His peace, love and eternal grace and I can share these blessings with others in His name. Thank you Jesus.
Ephesians Chapter 3 ends with a powerful benediction to Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers. He eloquently tells them and us about God, who He is, and His power as seen in Christ and the church. God’s is: glorious, omnipotent in power, provides us with His indwelling Holy Spirit, has power that endures for eternity and has a plan that lives from generation to generation.
Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
What comfort do you receive from reading these words? I am encouraged even in these difficult times that our God is bigger than any virus, is Sovereign over heaven and earth now and in the future. Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” God is able to do even greater things than which we could even think to ask Him to do in our lives for Him. 2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. “ God does not give us His Holy Spirit to indwell us without reason and purpose. John 3:16 shows us God’s purpose “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Romans 5:3-5 shows the Holy Spirit at work in our lives for a purpose. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” God loves us and desires that our character be refined and matured.
Use Paul’s words today as you pray. Stand on the hope you have in Jesus, the power of His Spirit to lead and guide you, and God’s unfailing love for you. God has a purpose for you, for your life and He desires that you know Him and live and grow in His love. His love is transforming for now and into the future. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we have His indwelling Holy Spirit to empower us with His love for His glory and our good.
Reach out to others today, however you can, and let God’s transforming love flow through you to them in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Today we celebrate the birth of the Christ. His birth was foretold by the ancient prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born…” The place was foretold in Micah 5:3 “But you Bethlehem…”. He came to earth that day born as a human child, yet one who would lead a sinless life and die to save us from our sins. We believe that only God’s Son, Jesus, could satisfy Holy God and bring us back into relationship with God. Isaiah foretold in Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him.” So where does that leave us? If we believe He was born miraculously as a man who was both fully human and fully God, and He was able to die to save us from our sins, what more is there for us to believe? He is coming again. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
As we celebrate Jesus’ birth, we need to remember the story does not end in the manger or at the cross. The story of the redemption of mankind will end with us living with God for eternity. Just as His first coming was heralded by angels so will His second coming. Just as His first coming was miraculous, awesome and breathtaking so will His second coming be worthy of King Jesus when we meet Him in the air.
What do these events say about God? God is eternal. God exists outside of time. He is not measured by anything. We measure time by the movement of the planets and stars, which God created. God has always been and always will be. No one is like Him. We are not eternal because we have a beginning and an end. Because God is eternal, He can give us eternal life. David described God in Psalm 90:2 “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, form everlasting to everlasting you are God.” John wrote in Revelation 4:8 “Holy, holy, holy is he Lord God Almighty, who was, and is and is to come.”
With our finite minds, the eternality of God is difficult to grasp. However, we can be assured that God is who He says He is and will do as He has planned for eternity. Jesus is the one who holds the key to our eternal life. John 4:13-14 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Come to Him this Christmas and be filled with His eternal blessing. Look past the manger, past the cross and look forward to His return!
Being a primary teacher for years, I love choral response readings. All the kids are chiming in together, listening to one another and speaking as one voice. Psalm 136 was used as a liturgy of praise. Let’s look at the first 3 verses.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
I love this repetition of reason for our complete trust in God, His steadfast love endures forever. What else in all creation endures forever? God alone is eternal. Therefore, we need to thank Him for His goodness and love, and that He is the Almighty God, above all other gods. He alone is to be our LORD.
I would encourage you today to repeat these lines with a sincere, prayer-filled heart and mind and see if it doesn’t bring His love right into your life. You can depend upon His steadfast love, no matter what. His enduring steadfast love is worthy of our thanks and praise.
Have a blessed day,
Today I needed to focus on God and remember to be thankful. I love Psalm 100. Its simple message is timeless and always uplifting.
A Psalm for giving thanks.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Being in the Lord’s presence
Come into his presence with singing! always brings joy to the believer.
3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his; He is creator God and He
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. cares for me.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise! His name is above all names
Give thanks to him; bless his name! and worthy of our praises.
5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever, God is good and He will love
and his faithfulness to all generations. us faithfully forever.
I pray the joy of the Lord will be yours as you worship our creator, caretaker, good, loving, faithful, eternal and Almighty God.
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
David described his state of thanksgiving as being eternal in Psalm 30:11-12 . Why was he going to be thankful forever? Earlier in the Psalm David said God had lifted him out of the pit, saved him from his enemies, healed him physically and spiritually, had shown him forgiveness and favor. David had experienced God’s forgiveness as he mourned over his sins. In Romans 4:7-8 Paul quotes David’s words from Psalm 32 ““Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” Experiencing God’s forgiveness, seeing that God had covered his sins and that his sins would never be used against him in judgement made David eternally thankful and filled him with joy.
What about you? Have you experienced God’s hand lifting you out of despair or trouble, has He rescued you from your enemies or from a really bad situation? Has God touched you physically or spiritually to heal you? Have you been given favor by God in blessings you did not expect and in no way deserved? God had shown himself faithful to David, and David recognized this. His responds was eternal thanks that was filled with joy. What is your response to God’s grace and forgiveness in your life?
Begin today to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving that is based on God’s grace and forgiveness. You will experience joy from now to eternity.
Psalm 28 is a thankful response from David for God’s deliverance. I want to focus on the verses 6-9. What was David thankful for in these verses that we know to be absolutely true of God?
Praise the Lord!
For he has heard my cry for mercy. God is accessible, He hears our prayers.
7 The Lord is my strength and shield. God is our protector.
I trust him with all my heart. God is trustworthy.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. God gives us joy.
8 The Lord gives his people strength. God gives us strength to meet the day.
He is a safe fortress for his anointed king.
9 Save your people! God saves those who believe in Him.
Bless Israel, your special possession. God blesses.
Lead them like a shepherd, God is our good shepherd.
and carry them in your arms forever. God is eternal and saves us for eternity with Him.
For which of these attributes are you most thankful today? I had a friend tell me yesterday that when times are hard she focuses on her joy in the Lord. What about you? As you go through today, meditate on God’s goodness and blessings towards you, then take time to thank Him.
God refers to himself as Creator in Isaiah 43:15 “I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.” In Isaiah 40:28 Isaiah speaks of the hope that this Creator brings to us, “Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.” This Creator of heaven and earth, the one who made us and everything in the universe wants to be our King. Isaiah’s passage tell us this creator is eternal, has unlimited energy and power, is not subject to human weaknesses like being tired, weary or falling away and His knowledge is beyond end.
Have you ever spent time gazing at God’s creation? Those things that we make reflect on our abilities, ingenuity, creativity, dexterity, resources and perseverance. How much more so with God and His creation of the universe. It speaks of His majesty, unlimited knowledge, sense of humor and creativity, grandeur and power. Psalm 19:1-2 puts it so eloquently, “The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.”
I hope you have had some time this summer to go out and about in God’s grand creation. Did you reflect on the Creator as you gazed at His marvelous creation all around you? As summer wanes and we head into the busy fall season with school and multiple activities, I pray you will take some time to think about how awesome our God is and all He has created for you to enjoy. All creation, including you, is made to bring glory and honor to God, the Creator. Let us strive today to bring glory to Him in what we say and do.
40 days is a long time and it is enough time to establish a habit, overcome an adversary or endure a trial. Do you feel like you are enduring a trying time in your life this Lent? Then, look to Daniel today and see God from His perspective. Daniel was a Jew who was taken from Jerusalem and deported to Babylon. He and his friends were smart and resourceful and were a part of the king’s wise men. The king had a dream and no one seemed to be able to tell him the meaning of it. He got frustrated and ordered all the ‘wise’ men killed. Daniel heard about this and ran to tell his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah. He asked them to pray and ask God for mercy concerning this mystery. During the night God revealed to Daniel the meaning of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Here is Daniel’s praise to God from Daniel 2:20-23.
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
Do you share Daniel’s high view of God? Daniel knew from first hand experience that God was sovereign, all powerful, eternal, wise, light, and worthy of praise. Where do you need strength or knowledge today? Ask Him like Daniel did then praise Him even before He answers.
Suggestion: As you journey through this day, keep Daniel’s prayer of praise in your mind. When you encounter difficulties, pray immediately and leave it to God. Then wait expectantly for His answers.
It is fitting today we will conclude Advent with the Hallelujah Chorus. Tradition calls for standing during this chorus but no one really knows the reason for this. Some say it was when the King stood upon hearing this glorious chorus in 1743 at it’s premier because he was so moved. When the king or queen stand, etiquette requires that everyone else stand and so the tradition continues to this day. What ever the reason, the music is glorious and pays tribute to our God who Reigns forever. The words were taken from Revelation 19:6, 11:15 and 19:16. The facts of these verses are gloriously woven into this Chorus.
Blessings to you this Christmas and thanks for going with me on this journey through the Messiah. I have seen prophesies that I had not realized before and heard them put to song in a marvelous way. I pray it was a blessing to you and to our Savior. I truly believe the sentiment of my Christmas Greeting given in John 1:16 “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” We are blessed by His marvelous Grace each day. Hallelujah and Merry Christmas!
Revelation 19:6 speaks of the glorious gathering to celebrate the lamb of God, Jesus and His bride the church. “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.“
Revelation 11:15 “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” This kingdom rule was foretold in Zechariah 14:9 “And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.”
Revelation 19:16 “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
Christmas Blessings as you listen!