Our Lives Matter to God

In today’s passage Paul exhorts believers to be wise, make the most of every opportunity to witness for Christ, be thoughtful, temperate with our drinking, filled with the Holy Spirit and always have an attitude of thankfulness.  Does that describe you? 

ephesians 5 15So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and Ephesians 5 20hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”   Ephesians 5:15-20

Do you look for opportunities to tell others about Jesus?  Are you prone to overindulgence or letting addictions control your actions? Or do you rejoice with other Christians in singing, worship and studying together to bring praise and honor to God.  Are you thankful in all circumstances?  The pressures of life pile upon us each day, and it is how we handle those pressures that counts.  Do you turn to God for help, assurance or courage?   Or do you try to go it alone with an ‘I can do it attitude’?  Dependence upon God is not weakness but an opportunity for His grace to abound even 2Corinthians 12 -more.  Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Our weaknesses allow Him to show His strength through us.  His grace, his undeserved favor, is enough to cover all situations.

Paul is serious about how we live our lives and the impact we  have upon those around us for both believers and non- believers.  It matters to God how we live and work in the lifemattersworld.  It matters to Him as He desires the best for us which is only available through Christ.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, how I live my life for Him matters.

Let His grace abound in your life today as you strive to glorify Him in all you say and do.

Linda

Straight talk by Paul (points us to Christ like behavior)

In this last section of Ephesians 4 Paul gets down to serious talk about sins that he has seen or heard of among the believers.  He mentions lying or speaking untruthfully with each other.  Anger that is not righteous but rooted in resentment, hostility or jealousy.  Also some had been thieves prior to becoming believers, and Paul tells them they must work and be useful so they will have things to share with those in need.  He mentions gossip or unwholesome talk, saying things that bring others down instead of building  them up.  He straight out tells them to get rid of bitterness, rage, anger fighting, backbiting, slander, and any and all kinds of malice.   All of these things are undesirable and incompatible with a life given to Christ.

Several verses jumped out at me in this section, Ephesians 4:26, 30 and 32.  26 “Be angry ephesians 4 26and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”  This verse is frequently said, “don’t go to bed angry”.   Anger that is rooted in sin is filled with resentment, jealousy, bitterness and even hatred.  Paul is saying, anger is a valid emotion but do not let it be for the wrong reasons.  Jesus was angry with the money changers buying and selling in the temple and threw them out (Matthew 21:12).  He was angry with the Pharisees for wanting to trap him and keep a man from being healed on the Sabbath (Mark 3:5).  Both of these were cases of righteous anger.  They were not rooted in self but in wrongs done towards God.  When we harbor or coddle our anger, it will fester and grow.  Paul is telling us to not let that happen as the results will be harmful to us and to those around us.

30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”   What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit?   As a believer, Jesus’ Holy Spirit lives within us.  When we deliberately sin- steal, lie, cheat, act with wrong motives in anger, harbor bitterness, etc, it grieves the Holy Spirit that is within us.  God hates sin and doing sinful acts gives His Spirit grief, or makes His Spirit sad over our sin.  Paul reminds us that when we received Christ,  we were sealed by God’s Holy Spirit forever.  That is a wonderful privilege and honor,  and we should love Jesus enough to desire to not deliberately sin against Him.

32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  I love this verse as Paul lays it out directly for us as to what kinds of actions should characterize a believer.  These will bring delight to our Savior.  They should be our response to His marvelous forgiveness and grace.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,  we are made for righteous actions and thoughts towards ourselves and others which bring joy to God. 

ephesians 4 32Focus today on right living, good thoughts and actions towards others, putting away all bitterness, jealousy, anger …..  Don’t let  yourself fall into anger over your current circumstances,  but look for the good and seek to see how you can ‘be Jesus’ to each one you speak with today.

Linda

 

Full text in the New Living Translation:

25″ So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,  guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

The Cross = oneness and giftedness in Christ!

Ephesians 4:4-7 is a beautiful passage to be cherished by believers.  We are all called to be a part of God’s family and share in what we have in Christ,  and yet God sees us as epheisans 4 4-7individuals with different needs.

“For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.   There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all,   who is over all, in all, and living through all.  However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.”

God,  the creator,  who is Sovereign, Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient  is our Heavenly Father.   He is in everything we do, everywhere we go and in every action we take.  We are to be in His presence daily, walking with Him and letting His Holy Spirit guide and direct us.  I love the fact that we are individuals before God.  He gave us special gifts through Christ when we became believers.  Each one of us is seen as useful and productive for the kingdom and are given gifts so we can successfully work and live for Him.

Do you feel isolated or a part of the body of Christ?   Are you connected in meaningful ways to other believers?  What about your gifts?  Are you using your God given talents to accomplish work for the Lord?  Lent is a time of reflection.  Ponder what your gifts may be, read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 to seek clarity about gifts, think about the things you do for others in Jesus’ name- what brings you the most joy and peace?   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,  we are one in Christ, specially gifted through His grace.

ephesians 4 7May you be lifted up as you pray and meditate on the power of God’s family in your life and your gifts.  Be encouraged as God has special gifts for each of us though the grace of Christ!

Linda

How Big is your God? He is ABLE!

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 Ephesians 3-20 He Is Abletoday 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,and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,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 Ephesians-3-21rose 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.

Linda

 

 

3rd Sunday of Lent, 2020 Need a place to worship? Join us on YouTube

This second week of Lent has given us important action verbs of faith from Ephesians- brought near, united as one Spirit and family,  founded in Christ, privileged in faith and having access to Almighty God.  What a week filled with truths in the midst of panic, fear and doubt due to the Corona-19 virus.   New words have occurred- social distancing and self-quarantining that seek to limit and restrain us.  The truths from Ephesians are free, open and available even in a crisis.  They will transform our lives, assure us in faith and move us forward together in Christ.  Let the truths from Ephesians 2 and 3 seep into your soul and let the Holy Spirit use them to transform your faith.  Let them replace any fears you are feeling.

Truths:

  •  we are brought near to God through the blood of Christ.   Ephesians 2:13
  • we are one in Spirit.   Ephesians 2: 14,18
  • we are united in Christ as He is our foundation and chief cornerstone.  Ephesians 2:19-23
  • we are part of God’s family plan that is filled with His blessings in Christ.  Ephesians 3:6
  • we are privileged to show God’s love and the good news of Jesus to the world.   Ephesians 3:7-11
  • we have access to the Father in prayer.  Ephesians 3:12

Blessings as you worship today- in most places virtually,  as we practice social distancing due to the Corona-19 Virus.  Our church service will be live streamed on YouTube today-you can tune in at 10:30 am PST to hear our worship band and Pastor Aaron Gonzenbach preach from the Word.  You simply type:  wearecrossroads  into Youtube and it should take you there.

Blessings as you seek to live fearlessly for Him,

Linda

 

The Cross = unity for all believers

Paul concludes this Chapter 2 of Ephesians with very persuasive words for the Ephesian Christians.   They are all indeed part of the family of God!   Gentiles are no longer considered aliens but full members in God’s house.  This house of God is built on Jesus, as the builders would say, He is the chief cornerstone of the church and it is filled with His Holy Spirit. The faith of those before us, the apostles and prophets, are solidly at the foundational level of this building called God’s church.   All believers in Jesus add levels to the ‘building’ God is building with us.  Paul also wants us to know that no one is without family, all belong with the Father through faith in Jesus.

ephesians 2 20Ephesians 2:19-23  “So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.”   

I am sure that Paul’s letter was a great relief to the leader’s of the Ephesian church as Paul tried to settle the issue of differences, entitlement, arrogance and snobbery.  We are family of Godall one in God’s church and Jesus is our foundation.  Praise God!  I love this message and have been a part of several Interdenominational Bible Studies for many years.  I love the community of believers and the strength of the gospel message that we are all believers in the same cross, the same Lord and the same Spirit.  Paul’s message brings unity to believers and open handedness  among believers.

Who can you reach out to today with an open heart of love and acceptance?   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are united in Christ as He is our foundation and chief cornerstone.

Linda

Cross of Christ = peace and equal access through the Holy Spirit

Paul continues to speak to the Ephesians about their disconnectedness and hostility towards each other, and their great need to see themselves as one in Christ.  wall of hostilityEphesians 2:14 “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.”   He concludes in verse 18, “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.”

How often do you see differences in the practices of faith as divisive?  On matters of baptism, dress, communion, music, worship styles, we can and do differ.  On matters of the heart of Ephesians 2-18the gospel- the saving power of Jesus and His death and resurrection, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and His transforming power there should be no division.  As Paul says we are united and can approach God or have access to God through His Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.  Jesus has brought us peace and equal access to God the Father. 

ephesians-2-14Let the heart of the gospel guide you as you connect with other Christians and unbelievers,  so that the truth of His Spirit will shine through your life.  Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are one in access to His Spirit and can have His peace.   Praise God for His powerful Holy Spirit that allows us access to God and His peace.

Linda

Second Sunday of Lent, 2020

This first full week of Lent we have uncovered some amazing truths.     Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave:  we can go directly to God in prayer, Ephesians 1:15-16,   we can experience His Holy Spirit within us, Ephesians 1:18-19,  we are connected with Him and to all other believers, Ephesians 1:20-23,  we are no longer slaves to sin and will not suffer God’s wrath,  Ephesians 2:1-3, we are saved by grace, Ephesians 2:4-7, and we are God’s masterpieces, Ephesians 2:8-10.    I pray these truths will seep into your soul and cause you to trust God more and more and that they will add knowledge to your faith in Him.  We serve an amazing, grace-filled, loving God!

Let us praise God together today:  Psalm 100 

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

psalm-100Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

Have a blessed Sunday!

Linda

Lenten Sunday #1

As you reflect today and prepare for another week, here are some truths we’ve uncovered so far in Ephesians.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead:

I can be His saint and faithfully, walk in His grace and experiencing His peace. Ephesians 1:1-2

I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places. Ephesians 1:3

I can be encouraged by God’s love, the redemption plan made perfect in Christ and the hope I now have in Him.  Ephesians 1:4-6, 7-10

I now have His Holy Spirit living within me through faith affirming, testifying and guaranteeing my inheritance in Him.   Ephesians 1:13-14

Praise God for His grace and goodness today knowing you are loved and that God Almighty has a plan for you that is perfected in Christ and guaranteed by His Holy Spirit.

Psalm 103 1 5 BlessTheLordLet Psalm 103:1-5 be on your lips today!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Linda

Here’s a guarantee you can count on!

ephesians 1 13-14Today’s verses are some of the most precious in the New Testament and I refer to them often in my writing and speaking.  They tell of our wonderful inheritance of salvation through faith in Christ and inclusion in God’s family through the power of the Holy Spirit.  His power within us is our guarantee of God’s hope and promises to come.  Be encouraged as you read, Ephesians 1:13-14 “And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.”

I love that God knew us so well.  He knew that our finite minds would need a guarantee to confirm our faith and help us cling to His promises.  Praise God for the Holy Spirit that He has placed within us through faith.  The Holy Spirit confirms and testifies with our spirit giving us hope and assurance in Him.  For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.”  Romans 8:16

romans 8 16Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I now have His Holy Spirit living within me through faith affirming, testifying and guaranteeing my inheritance in Him.  Praise God!  Thank you Jesus!

Linda