Do We Really Believe This?

Ephesians 2:18 is a remarkable verse when we really think about what it means!  I have heard many quote this ‘access stuff’ often. I’ve heard it quoted in churches, conversations, small group gatherings, families and read it in books.

The living of this thinking is actually less often seen.  It is an amazing concept and privilege. We should repeat it over and over and plaster it everywhere. This verse represents security, confidence, boldness, peace, freedom, power, satisfaction, soundness and ultimately the real kind of love! It eradicates blame, false judgment, shame, angst, conflict, dissonance, the stinky kind of pride, arrogance and any other type of controlling behavior that jumps up with the pressures of this world.

Spiritual authority comes from God and God chose to make access to his authority available to everyone who chooses to believe. Even though we get older and older and grow in wisdom, we may have sagacity but it has to be accurately applied with meekness to the source. The greatest sages I have ever known are the quietest, most patient and also are continually learning and listening themselves. I have seen bible believing, pure-hearted children say wise, timely, and breathtaking comments that encourage and amaze arising from inherent spontaneous meekness. The implications of Ephesians 2:18 and its context go far beyond our own limited thinking.

The more we recognize and see God working in others, the more we can learn ourselves. This builds respect and promotes relationships that thrive and flourish with spiritual impact. It keeps us out of the oh so! damaging and ignorant, busybody category that promulgates gossip and ill-feelings.

The greatest thing we can do for others is to help them see the ‘access stuff’. It is the apex of the grace administration in which we live. The great David lived in a time that only certain individuals had access.  Out of his lineage came another man, a mediator who eventually through his function as The Messiah, ushered in the new age of access for anyone who believes.  One man believing God had a larger widespread responsibility (which may be too much) than everyman believing God in his own easily defined sphere of influence. Yes, we ought to plaster this verse everywhere and maybe even re-nail it to the Wittenberg door as a reminder of the  re-form-u-lation of the New Testament grace administration. Failure to see this keeps the grace administration in a box. Grace is free.

Context:

Ephesians 2:13-22

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

After God’s Own Heart

In the first book of Samuel, we begin to learn about David. David succeeded Saul in ruling over Israel as the king o Israel:

22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Acts 13:22

David was not perfect. He was human and made several mistakes in his life, some of which had major consequences. Nevertheless, God called him a man after his own heart. David is referred to throughout the Word of God and he is someone we can learn from.

David is first mentioned at the end of the book of Ruth specifically referring to his lineage. Naomi was Ruth’s daughter-in-law and she eventually married Boaz. They begot Obed who begot Jesse who was David’s father. David’s lineage was important as it was part of the Christ line.

In I Samuel 16, the record of David starts with events that led up as his replacement for Saul as King of Israel. In chapter 16, David was young still, but the scene was set up for him to move towards God’s intended place for him.

We all know the story of David and Goliath. The heart of David is shown vividly in the record.  Two key components of his thinking separated him from all those dealing with the problem of Goliath.

First, he believed in his authority to remedy the situation:

45 Then said David to the Philistine (Goliath), Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.1 Samuel 17:45

Second, he believed he had the power to accomplish what he had to do:

38 And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. 39 And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. 40 And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. I Samuel 17:38-40

Authority comes from the kingdom of God and power is what an individual has internally to carry that authority out. Jesus Christ amazed people when he performed great miracles:

36 And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out. Luke 4:36

As believers today, we have the same authority and power to carry out the works of God:

12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. John 14:12

Notice the repetition of the word ‘verily’ (or in other words truly, truly!).  God calls our attention to what he is about to say. Believing is the key to the heart.  We can have authority from God and we have the power to carry out whatever God sets before us.  Whatever ‘Goliath’ stands in our way, no matter what, God will support us to deal with it effectively without heavy amour and with simple confidence just as David did.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

Head and Heart

God summarized the law by focusing on two simple truths : love God and love your neighbor. These two concepts pretty much cover everything else. The how of love is from God. It involves the heart, mind, soul and strength. The heart is composed of both the feeling and the thinking center of the will in connection with the activities of the soul(life) and strength. We are to love ourselves and our neighbor as ourselves.

28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:28-31 (Matthew 22:35-40, Luke 10:25-28, Deuteronomy 6:4-6

True love should always involve the love of God. We love others by being truthful, honest and encouraging. Love is spiritual and rises way above the human version of benevolent humanism. Love has power and it is involves the commitment and discipline of our feelings and thinking. It takes commitment to love, it is not just a whimsical affectation which is here one moment and gone the next minute when we don’t feel like being loving.

God’s love in any situation is the right answer. It cannot be dumbed down to human speculation. True acts of love always glorify God. True acts of love lift people out of the quicksand of the negative dramas of life.

By loving God, we are loving ourselves and then can do the same for others. This is a genuine type of self-love that overflows to others. Our actions toward others should come from a heart filled with the love of God not by man’s definition and expectation of a good heart. We need to remember that we hurt people when we try to take God’s place or glory in their lives. The greatest action toward those around us is to provide a springboard for them to get to know God and encourage them to trust his love to help them.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Maimonides

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

One Another – Relationships

‘Submission’ occurs in all relationships whether it be with a spouse, friend, mere acquaintance or  family member.  A simple example might involve any type of conversation between two people. If you are involved in a conversation with someone else there should be submission on both sides. One person talks and then the other. Each person takes turns listening otherwise it is not a conversation. Another examplecould involve the simple task of walking through a door. Two people cannot walk through a door together (with most size doors). Someone has to go first and the other follow. There’s a logical arrangement.

Another consideration in a relationship centers on opinion. We don’t always agree but our motives involving opinions should not center on who’s right and who’s wrong. The conversations in such relationships can accelerate higher and higher until someone gets plowed down. No matter who is right or wrong, arguments can be a battle of egos, pride, self-righteousness and the relationship becomes unbalanced and doomed. There is no service, there is no unity, there is no good outcome.  

We should respect the rights of others to have a different opinion. Free-will choice is a right. At the same time, we are not expected to respect an opinion another holds that is contrary to the word of God. If there is an opportunity to help someone understand God’s word better we can influence the outcome of a relationship challenge. God has asked us to serve one another. Our respect and love for God motivates us to do just that.  Having God’s authority enables us to accomplish the will of God. It is based on godly love.

21Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear (respect, reverence and love) of God. Ephesians 5:21

This is not easy and may be oversimplified because human nature would have us look sideways instead of up first for answers. Accusation, competition, pride, indignation and other things start to take root which only send relationships south. The only way to look is up by looking at what the word says about a particular situation, praying and listening to God in patient trust on how to handle it and remembering that nothing is earth-shattering.  This is how we can respect others and love them the way God wants us to love them. When we react on what God asks us to do, we don’t have to worry, the outcome will ultimately be the way it needs to be.

3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

Dominion

The word ‘dominion’  used in Genesis 1:26 and 28 is an interesting word. Words in our culture such as leadership, control, domination, and authority come to mind and relate  to what we perceive the word ‘dominion’ to mean.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

God always wanted man to have dominion over this world. But, alas, man surrendered that dominion even after God had provided a beautiful, idyllic environment to enjoy. We got “dominion” back with Jesus Christ. As you look at ‘dominion’ in the word, it is quite a bit different from the world’s view of ‘dominion’. A study of this word tells a beautiful reality.

Man needs the help of God to overcome the pressures and negatives that the world has to offer. However, throughout the historical accounts in the Old Testament, we can read about man establishing his own way. Even religious leaders had problems.  The same is true today what Jeremiah referred to in Jeremiah 5:31 (24th use of the the same word for dominion or rule):

The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means;
and my people love to have it so:and what will ye do in the end thereof?
Jeremiah 5:31 

Why do people ‘love to have it so’ ?   People have a tendency toward ‘spiritual co-dependency’ in two ways.  One is that they’d rather not think about it. Second, they are willing to let someone else think for them in this category. They give over control to someone else. Genesis 3 all over again!

The seventh use of the word for dominion is in Numbers 24:19a:

Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion,

This is reference to the coming of Jesus Christ who is the source of the dominion we can have today :

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13

Jesus Christ does not lord over us, he IS the Lord and he helps us. In the four gospels his authority is recognized throughout, but he really did not display authoritarian behavior. He presented the truth in a powerful way and gave people a choice.

5 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. I Peter 5:1-3

We are not to lord over one another either (see Leviticus, 25:43,46, 53, the 3rd, 4th and 5th uses of the word for dominion). We serve each other as we believe God for ourselves. As we mature in the application of the word in our own lives we really have something to share because we learn a thing or two about God because we’ve seen a thing or two spiritually.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

Godly Jealousy

Recently I listened to a popular TV preacher who compared godly jealousy to human self-orientated jealously.  As I went to check scriptures about his statements about godly jealousy, his comments really healed my heart.

For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Exodus 34:14

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy:  2 Corinthians 11:2a

I can honestly say I have experienced the godly jealousy in regards to my family and people I love. When someone or some false ideology starts hanging around, alarms go off in my head. Handling it the right way keeps the godly emotion in the ‘godly’ category. There is nothing wrong with sharing the truth in love.

Godly jealousy should be construed as love and not considered a product of a negative heart.  It is not the same as human jealousy that arises out of self-interest that produces negative emotions like envy (I haven’t found any references to God being an envious God), ungodly anger (to see what is said about godly anger look in the Bible-Ephesians 4:26) and pride (there may be a godly pride-Galatians 6:4) to name a few.

Jealousy can be a positive feeling about what is the best benefit of living according God’s wisdom. We, as believers, are going to feel that same godly jealousy in response to things that misdirect people.  It is not something to be ashamed of.  Our culture, our ceremonies, celebrations, holidays and entertainment are loaded with subtle and not so subtle pagan substitutions for truth. Lack of truth has its effects. Its substitute practices drag people away from the beautiful joyful reality of God’s peace and his love.

We need to be mindful when the Bible says the evil in the world will wax worse and worse. Just turn on the news and negative emotion and clouds of deception are everywhere:

13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation (deliverance) through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. II Timothy 3:13-17

True godly love furnishes us with the tools to handle life. Chaos and drama swirls around constantly and tries to cut these tools out of our lives. All scripture is given by inspiration of God for the purpose that those who love God can be furnished with the right tools! 💗

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

First Fruits of the Spirit

20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. 24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Romans 8:20-23

Romans 8 is a great chapter as it magnifies the great significance of the the resurrection of Jesus Christ in our lives. It starts out comparing the walk after the flesh to the walk after the spirit. The word ‘flesh’ represents our human qualities; the walk after the spirit reflects the holy spirit as it works in our lives. When Jesus said he had come that people might have life more than abundant (John 10:10). the spiritual walk is what is at the root of this abundant life.

Many people do not understand the effect of holy spirit in our lives and probably wouldn’t have any concept of what is meant by  ‘first fruits’ of the spirit.   ‘First fruits’ refers to the  the earnest (partial down payment) of the of our full inheritance from God:

12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:12-14

One thing implied in the word ‘first fruits’ is that there is more coming.  Depending on the context of how it is used, it can refer to people (Romans 11:16, , I Corinthians 15:20,23, I Corinthians 16:15, James 1:8, Romans 14:4), and first fruits of the spirit in Romans 8:23 as the new initial qualities that come with the spirit that are the earnest until the full manifestation of the redemption. This word is used 8 times in the New Testament (new beginning)

‘First fruits of Achaia’ indicate that there would be more of Achaia that would believe. Christ as the ‘first fruit’ of them that slept (I Corinthians 15:20) indicating that more resurrections would follow.

As far as the the’ first fruits’ of the spirit and its benefits, we don’t exactly have the whole enchilada now as we are not living in the evil-free world of eternity. We have the expectation of eternal life which is what hope is more accurately. Now what we have  is power in the nine manifestations of holy spirit (I Corinthians 12:7-11), righteousness, sonship, justification, fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-24) and we are set apart from this world in not  allowing it to effect our lives. Yet we still live in this world and that’s why ‘groaning’ occurs.
Things are not perfect now but we look to the expectation that someday it will be:

9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. I Corinthians 13:9-10

In the meantime, we have the first fruits of the spirit that enable us with power, love and a sound mind! (II Timothy 1:7).

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible