Tag Archives: Ephesians

Truthful Love

Honestly, chapters 4-6, of Ephesians should be read together and not in pieces.  Ephesians chapters 1-3 are about God’s love. Chapters 4-6 are about loving others and how we should relate to people in a godly way. Unity is a nice thing and Ephesians 4:1-7 addresses unity, but we need to see the rest of Ephesians to see what pitfalls threaten unity and how to deal with them. For example in Ephesians 5:11, God is pretty clear that we can have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. How does this relate to longsuffering and forebearing (Ephesians 4:2)?  We have to read Ephesians 4:23-27 and other sections to read verse 2 of chapter 4 correctly.

23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:23-27)

This is not hard to understand because it is specific. It is much more difficult to just read Ephesians 4:1-7 without the context; one would have to extrapolate one’s own theology on the true meaning of unity. ‘Putting away lying’ is an important concept. Lying can be a tool in manipulation, gossip and very subtle conversational tact.  Speaking the truth in love can dispel genuine anger maybe not for every side involved. When one person loves the  truth, the sun will not go down on that person’s wrath. It is speaking the truth in love that causes one to peacefully grow up!

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Thankful for The Mystery

The mystery  is the great topic of the church epistles written by Paul.  Very few people really understand it completely. It is not nearly as hard to understand as it is to put into practice. Yes, it is “Christ in you” (Romans 8:16-17, Ephesians 3, Colossians 1:27),  but what does that mean in practical living?

In Ephesians 1:18 and 19 God says:

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

And there is a lot more where that comes from! What does that mean?  It says that the believer can see and know and utilize the power that God has given us.  Imagine that! If God has enlightened our eyes, and given us all this power, why don’t we use it? We don’t because we haven’t dared to believe it! Many things in the world talk us out of it. The world is all too ready to offer alternatives to believing God. We have not been taught how to practically live it.

When I was first learning how to read the Bible for myself,  I had a wonderful friend that loved to teach the Word.  One day I asked him about something I was having a problem with and he told me he knew how much I loved God’s Word and that I needed to check in with God as to how to handle the problem. (Hey! listen, I had been raised behind the altar rail in the pews and still had somewhat of a stained glass idea of religion. My friend had at one time been there too and he was an expert on how to get out of that mindset) It was a huge turning point in my approach to God. I truly began to get real answers for myself.

It starts in Romans in realizing what has been actually been accomplished for us that none of us really deserved. That includes everybody! (Mother Teresa, the Dalai Llama, even the apostle Paul are no exceptions)  Romans is the book that when we get finished reading and assimilating, we are extremely thankful. Next, there are so many things brought up in Corinthians that help people to see how to live that thankfulness and not get caught up with things that pull people down. Natural man is pretty self-centered and seeks his own remedies for fear. The culture very quickly tries to explain human nature away and make excuses for that fear.

This precious thankfulness is further protected by the book of Galatians when man attempts to outdo God in perfecting his own practice of religion. Man sets up his own levels of accomplishment and in the process pushes God aside to watch. It is brutal to others who have not reached man’s estimation of what is required. God makes it plain in Galatians in clear, straightforward grace. Believing pleases Him. Sometimes people get so wrapped up with the “Believing is action” performance mentality that they forget that believing starts with ‘God so loved the world’! We love Him because He first loved us (I John 4:19).

As we wind our way to reach Ephesians, the groundwork in Romans, the weeding of Corinthians and the rocky ground removal of Galatians helps our hearts to readily receive the unlimited supply that the big heart of God offers us without reservation. God has always been faithful. The problem is not with God; it is in man’s heart where the problem lies. We could blame it on someone else like Adam. (“Why wasn’t he thankful in Eden?”) Adam was Adam; but Jesus Christ opened a new door for each of us.  We have nobody to blame. Thankfulness starts with each of us individually and it turns everything around!

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Lowliness

When one hears the word ‘lowliness’ a common picture flashes in most minds, that of the downtrodden Christian who is the doormat of the world. This view is not accurate.

The name ‘Christ’ refers to the Messiah. He was the risen one! Christ rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God.  In the corporate world, this would be equivalent to the ‘top of the ladder’ and the ‘cornerstone office with a view’. Seated in his elevated position he is the head of the body of Christ to which we belong. We have awesome rights because  of his position and he didn’t get there by clawing his way up, quite the contrary. He did it God’s way.

The Greek word for ‘lowliness’ is tapeinophrosune.  It is used 7 times in the NewTestament. In Colossians there are a couple of uses that are very interesting:

Colossans 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen , vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. 20Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21(Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

 ‘Will worship’ comes from man when man decides that he can go far beyond what God expects  and  focuses on his own self-righteousness as a result. It is ultimately the source of man-made religions. It negates grace and refocuses on the works of man.

Our worship should come from a heart for God and respect for His son. We worship God by that which is spiritually true. We have his Word and we have holy spirit.  We are completely outfitted for all that we need to do. 

In Ephesians 4:3, ‘lowliness’ is the first and foremost step in keeping the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.  It’ is really a humbleness of mind that is built on the integrity and accuracy of God’s Word.  Nothing worthwhile happens without it. 

Even in a worldly corporation where everyone is not jockeying for place but focused on doing their own part, the result is an organization that excels and exceeds expectations. Everyone is honored. Even more so in the body of Christ, accomplishing God’s business is beyond expectations because of God’s wonderful power. Everyone gets a great corner window view cause we’re seated in the heavenlies with the Head.

 

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Influence

The apostle Paul is a great example of one of the greatest leaders of human history. (Read Ephesians if  you doubt this) In the course of his life he became more and more committed to God’s infinite grace. He understood the way, Jesus Christ, and as a result grew to be one of the great influences in Christianity. He was a leader in the true sense of the Word (no pun intended).

His leadership qualities of continuing to ‘press toward the mark’ drove his growth. The mark was the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:10-14 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

A lot of books have been written on leadership in the hopes of isolating a set pattern to identify with. ‘Leader’ does not mean the same as a manager.  A manager maintains and directs the status quo. ‘Leader’ does not mean the same as head ‘honcho’ or ‘super brain’ or ‘front man’. Leadership is not positional.   A leader is not necessarily a great salesman.  Salesmanship sells the moment, leadership instills enduring growth in others (Read Ephesians again!). A true leader is hardly aware of the tag ‘leader’ in his life, he is way to busy going somewhere.  He is not a leader for the sake of being a leader.

In the Old Testament, Israel was always looking for a King. Lots of problems resulted. It was not God’s heart to set up a monarchy. Theocracy (God’s in charge) was His first choice! Paul was not a king.  What position did he hold? At the end of his life he had absolutely no title! He loved the Lord Jesus Christ and he only wanted people to ‘follow his ways that be in Christ’ and Christ was the way to God. Up until he hit to the road to Damascus he was quite recognized as a  man of importance. That day changed his life. His path was altered to a point of setting in his heart the seed of true leadership, the heart of a man born again of God’s spirit!

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Purpose

In the movie ‘The Graduate’, Benjamin has the following  dialogue with his father:

Mr. Braddock: What’s the matter? The guests are all downstairs, Ben, waiting to see you.

Benjamin: Look, Dad, could you explain to them that I have to be alone for a while?

Mr. Braddock: These are all our good friends, Ben. Most of them have known you since, well, practically since you were born. What is it, Ben?

Benjamin: I’m just…

Mr. Braddock: Worried?

Benjamin: Well…

Mr. Braddock: About what?

Benjamin: I guess about my future.

Mr. Braddock: What about it?

Benjamin: I don’t know… I want it to be…

Mr. Braddock: To be what?

Benjamin: [looks at his father] … Different.

Haven’t we all gone through this thinking at some time or another? Why are we here? What should we do? Haven’t we all desired to have some meaning to our existence?  God, our very own Father has provided some very satisfying answers to this question. ‘Satisfying’ is a very good descriptive of the following verse:

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Effective, productive work stimulates the mind. It is the ‘meat and potatoes’ of life. Are we supposed to guess about this? My earthly Dad (and Mom too!) wanted the very best for my life. Our Heavenly Dad can go beyond ‘best’, being the designer and creator of the universe. He has all the resources to go ‘exceedingly’ beyond anything we could ever ask of think (another Ephesians verse!)

To do what?  We enter into a relationship with the most powerful force in the universe to achieve what is really our heart’s desire. Since God is the most powerful force in the universe he had no insecurities or fears about our lives and he offers it to us without being controlling. The only thing that limits us is our ceiling that we put on our lives which can be quite controlling! Remember: The sky isn’t the limit!

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God is Real!

Just recently, I was reading a book by Jay Adams, From Forgiven To Forgiving.  It is a tremendous book and many of his points reminded me of the Joseph record in the Old Testament. Several years ago, I did a study on Joseph, one of the sons of Jacob. Many chapters in Genesis are devoted to the events in this man’s life. His life was not easy but to his credit he is described as a man on whom the spirit of God resided. Perhaps because of this he had huge challenges, but through them all God guided and strengthened him as he handled them one by one. He is an amazing example of how forgiveness is brought about. He handled things God’s way.  He had the humility to not try to outdo God and thus was able to be an instrument of true deliverance.

Forgiveness is a much written about subject. There is no question in my mind that the adversary wants to muddle and twist people’s ideas in this particular area.

Ephesians 4:32 (King James Version)And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

‘Even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you’.  That sets the standard. Jesus Christ died for our sins once and for all.  This doesn’t mean we have to be crucified to serve God but it does mean that we have answers to life’s challenges and that we extend those answers to others. When we teach God’s word to others and help them to apply God’s word to every situation we are ‘kind’.

Joseph’s goal was restoration.  His brothers were pretty much a mess and had displayed very cruel behavior toward him in the past.  God worked in Joseph’s heart to help facilitate the change that was necessary to cause them to see what changes they needed to make. God knew how to handle them and Joseph carried it out.  God knew also that Judah would change and he showed Joseph how to bring that out. The whole record takes place over a substantial amount of time. Several steps were needed. At one point Joseph spoke roughly to them and threw them in prison. It was there that they started to admit their lives had not been sterling and they repented of what they had done to their brother. It is a great record, one to be digested and re-digested.

God is real and he knows the best way to deal with life’s issues. In the age that we live in of secular humanism, we need to take heed to a man like Joseph and how he did things. Our relationships with others should be based on truth, not feeling. Our goal is to help others come up and out of the quicksand of this world. It is  a world of competition, strife, ambition, greed and control. We can’t just do that by patting someone on the head and saying nice things. We need to help people by giving them the words of God and telling them how Jesus Christ stood in the gap for us and that we have full access to the throne room of God. That is the promotion of true forgiveness!

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‘Righteous Anger’ in Ephesians

What is righteous anger? There is a great example of how to have righteous anger in Ephesians 4:26 Paul writes: Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Several verses later  in verse 31 is an example of unrighteous anger. This anger doesn’t come from the Word. It is self-centered.

Anger can be justified when something violates the Word.  There are many examples of this throughout the Word. By looking at Psalm 4 we can find the proper way of handling righteous anger.

1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness (uprightness, justice, and right standing with You)! You have freed me when I was hemmed in and enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me and hear my prayer.

2 O you sons of men, how long will you turn my honor and glory into shame? How long will you love vanity and futility and seek after lies? Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

3 But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself [and given distinction to] him who is godly [the man of loving-kindness]. The Lord listens and heeds when I call to Him.

4 Be angry [or stand in awe] and sin not; commune with your own hearts upon your beds and be silent (sorry for the things you say in your hearts). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

5 Offer just and right sacrifices; trust (lean on and be confident) in the Lord.

6 Many say, Oh, that we might see some good! Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord.

7 You have put more joy and rejoicing in my heart than [they know] when their wheat and new wine have yielded abundantly.

8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You, Lord, alone make me dwell in safety and confident trust. (Amplified)

Jesus Christ must have had righteous anger when he dealt with the moneychangers in the temple.  Paul had righteous anger when he addressed the Galatians. At night when they laid their head on the pillow they didn’t fret or stew but gave it to God. Their fellowship was sweet and so was their sleep as they leaned on the sufficiency of trusting God.

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