Daily Word

Ephesians 4

Read Ephesians 4 – For Christ’s sake – I was raised with that expression; it wasn’t said in reverence to the LORD, much like people say o.m.g. today without thinking about the Lord they are offending.  But hear the words as the truth that they are…

For Christ’s sake live worthy of your calling.  For Christ’s sake always be humble and gentle.  For Christ’s sake live in unity with the church, your eternal brothers and sisters, by the power of the Holy Spirit in you. (:1-3)

And let’s talk about church.  Many people have strayed from church or go merely as spectators.  Verses :11-16 address the importance and purpose of church.  

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church body.”  :11-12

The leadership is to equip us and our responsibility is to build up the church body.  No spectators and no immature believers… you are not called to make things up as you go.  You are called to:

“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.”  :15

It’s time to live for Christ’s sake… in the past you may have lied, been ruled by anger, stolen, used harsh/foul language and brought sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit in any number of ways.  Jesus is calling you to turn from that to a life of honesty, generosity, helpful and encouraging talk, forgiveness, kindness and tenderheartedness.  Can you feel your soul relax as you read the last sentence?  The things the Lord expects you to give up are garbage and everything he calls you to is beautiful. 

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

Daily Word

Ephesians 3

Read Ephesians 3 – Be awed. Be truly and fully AWED by our holy, benevolent, glorious Heavenly Father.

As I read I couldn’t help but want more of Jesus. I don’t think I have even scratched the surface of how awesome he is.

Paul mentions that “the stewardship of God’s grace” (:2) was given to him for the Gentiles (like me). The words struck me as especially wonderful…. I may have read them countless times before, but today they are precious. He even says the mystery was made known to him (:3). What an incredible and joyful privilege… how very special to introduce a person to the most excellent nature of God’s grace, especially a Gentile who may have felt outside of the Lord’s love prior to Jesus.

Paul’s prayer is that we, and all God’s people, have the power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (:18). I am small in the presence of His love, even my little understanding is so enormous it makes everything else small. The God of the universe, the LORD God Almighty loves us fully and eternally… wow!

Beloved, may we both ask for more today…. More understanding of God’s love, and more understanding of our privilege to know and share Jesus.

Daily Word

Ephesians 1

Read Ephesians 1 – It’s a fountain of wonderful! We talked about the importance of remembering and looking back at God’s hand over our life a few days ago, and hear Paul is doing that very thing for the church at Ephesus.

Paul reminds them of God’s goodness and power. He reminds them they were chosen before the creation of the world, predestined for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ simply because it pleased Him(God).

Paul shared his thanks and prayer support for the church. (:16) He prays that the glorious Father may give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they would know him better. (:17)

That is a great prayer to pray over yourself, your pastor, your loved ones in Christ… that all would know Jesus better.

Paul writes about this age and the age to come (:10, :21) – life is about infinitely more than this moment!

These truths were for the Jewish and Gentile believers then and even now, you, me, all who are Saved, always. Read this chapter with the eyes of your heart wide open. May you unwrap each verse like the gift that it is and look confidently and expectantly for all that is to come.

Daily Word

Ephesians

Read Ephesians 1:1-2 – Back to book… Back to the Good Book.  Today we are going to return to our reading with the book of Ephesians.  It is in the New Testament.  The New Testament starts with the four gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  They covered Jesus’s birth, life, death and resurrection.  Acts comes next and covers the early beginning of the Church, the arrival of the Holy Spirit, Stephen’s death (the first person martyred for the Christian faith), and Saul/Paul’s road to Damascus experience.  Then Romans, Paul’s letter to Rome, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth, then the shorter epistles of Galations, EPHESIANS, Philippians and Colossians.  

I learned an acronym GENERAL ELECTRIC POWER COMPANY, to keep these epistles straight.  My friend later taught me the Sunday school method – GO EAT POP CORN; isn’t that cute?  I hope  this is helpful.  I want you to know your way around the Bible as we go.

Ephesians was written by Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome.  If your bible contains an introduction to Ephesians, please read it along with verses :1-2:

“This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.  I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.  May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.”

Paul was chosen by God to be an apostle of Jesus… This happened after Jesus’s death, as Paul was on the road to Damascus with the intent to persecute Christians there.  It is an incredible conversion and you can read about it in Acts 9.  

Beloved, we are on a mission with Paul for more grace and peace found in Jesus.  God bless your day.

Daily Word

Confession – part 1

Confession part 1 – When I was about 5 years old I was shopping with my grandma at JCPenney.  They used to have bins of hard candy for sale by the register.   I asked for some butterscotch and she said no.   She never said no.  I decided in my heart that this was a mistake and that I really deserved that butterscotch. I took one. My grandma discovered my disobedience to her and my theft from the store…. The guilt and shame were awful! 

I hadn’t thought about that in forever, but the LORD put it on my heart recently and I have to admit, I was perplexed as to why.

At the retreat last month we did an exercise on confession.  We were to confess one thing on paper – that was all ours – we weren’t going to share it, no one was going to read it besides me and Jesus.  

I wrote mine, but didn’t know what to do next.   I saw it as a situation out of my control, and knew I would repeat the sin the next time it came around. That’s not repentance, the thing I’m supposed to do after my confession and his forgiveness.  

I started to cry which in turn caused my mascara to melt and burned my eyes. I got distracted from the emotion and had to go wash my face. That made me laugh, but still cry. I felt like a mess inside and out. 

By the time I got back we were on to the next thing.  We were to confess something else to a partner (we were instructed to go with a PG confession for this).  I silently asked the LORD what he wanted me to confess as I walked outside with a younger mom.  As clear as day, Jesus brought up the butterscotch!

Beloved, what comes to mind as you read my story?  Do you have guilt over something you did when you were little?  Do you recognize the difference between conviction from the Holy Spirit and guilt from the enemy?

“Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”  Psalm 139:23-24

Daily Word

Matthew 28

Read Matthew 28 – It’s a brand new day!  Beloved, everything matters because of Jesus’s resurrection!  Our Savior lives.  His atoning sacrifice, his very life was given and accepted as payment for my sin and yours. Yet, had he not risen he would have been no more than a good man.  Jesus’s resurrection is the ultimate display of God’s authority over life and death, and it is our assurance that we will also be raised from death to life, covered in Christ Jesus and alive with him for all eternity… but I am getting ahead of myself.

“Early Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.  Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.  His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow.” :1-3

Where does one begin with all this great news?  For some reason, it tickles me to picture this mighty and fearsome angel sitting on the stone that had sealed Jesus’s grave…. The grave means nothing, death is conquered.   He speaks great truth to the Mary’s.  Can you recieve his words as if you were there? Don’t be afraid.  He is risen.  See for yourself…. :5-7  

Meanwhile the cover-up is going on in the city.  There are a few things wrong with this plan.  First of all, the guards would have been killed for falling asleep on the job and letting their one duty be taken.  Second, it implies that Jesus remained dead, yet we know he will be seen by many in the coming days.

Now, Jesus gives what we call THE GREAT COMMISSION in verses :18-20.  Go make disciples; baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them.  I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Hallelujah!  

Beloved, how can one keep quiet in light of this Good News???  May your assurance grow!  May your boldness grow!  Jesus is alive!  Hallelujah!!

Daily Word

Matthew 27, part two

Read Matthew 27:32-65 – take your time and consider each detail.   Jesus was offered sour wine… this would have had a narcotic effect,  but Jesus declined.   In trying times being numb might be tempting to the common man, but Jesus kept his full wits. :34

The humiliation continued throughout Jesus’s crucifixion.  They placed a sarcastic charge above his head which read,  “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”  :37, but truer words were never spoken. 

At midday, the sky darkened for three hours… your bible may say the 6th-9th hour (counting hours from sunrise) or noon to 3.  This was a remarkable darkness. It is said to be,”the agony of creation itself in the Creator’s suffering. ” (David Gusik commentary)

Verse :46, serves as a marker for Psalm 22, and Jesus’s experience of true separation from God, having taken on our punishment for sin. It would have been something he never experienced before. 

Try to wrap your thoughts around the extraordinary events that happened at the moment of Jesus’s death in verses :51-53.  The veil was torn, the earth quaked, rocks were split in two, tombs were opened, godly men and women were raised from the dead and appeared to many… Wow, right?

Jesus is buried in a wealthy man’s tomb, Joseph of Arimathea. It was sealed with a stone and guards.  Those in authority feared Jesus’s words about being raised back to life in three days and took every human precaution against it. 

And many today want Jesus put away.  They want to cling to their illusion of control and will accept nearly anything but Jesus… That is one more reason why we must stay in God’s Word, living close to Jesus; our blessed hope and joy is a light to many.

Daily Word

Matthew 27, part 1

Read Matthew 27:1-31 – This is hard.   It’s hard to imagine this level of corruption as the religious authorities bully the governor to kill Jesus. It’s hard to swallow their callousness when Judas tried to undo his betrayal by returning the silver. Judas killed himself…. He was a disciple of Jesus Christ and sinned so harshly against him that he hanged himself. The religious leaders response is just sickening. :3-10

The people joined the religious leaders,  shouting to crucify him, when Pilot made a last ditch effort to set Jesus free.  And though it was Pilots responsibility to  judge fairly, he instead gave in to mob justice, ordering Jesus flogged and crucified. :11-26 

Beginning in :27 the soldiers mocked Jesus…. Why? Why? Why?  It’s so cruel, yet it is the fulfillment of prophecy and just one more part of the cost Jesus was willing to pay. 

My heart aches at these verses. Our silent Savior let these heinous things play out upon him.  This is Jesus paying the cost of my sin and yours.   

Beloved,  let the weight of these verses sink in.   This is love in action, his love for you.   If there would have been any other way to reconcile us to the LORD,  then these things would not have had to happen. Jesus is the way,  the truth and the life and no one gets to the Father except through him. (From John 14:6)

Daily Word

Matthew 26 part 2

Read Matthew 26:31-35 and :69-75 again. Jesus’s love of Peter is so wonderful to me. I just want to spend a little more time with them.

There is a verse in 1 Corinthians 13 that captures what is going on here. It says: FOR NOW WE SEE ONLY A REFLECTION, AS IN A MIRROR, THEN WE SHALL SEE FACE TO FACE. NOW I KNOW IN PART; THEN I SHALL KNOW IN FULL, EVEN AS I AM FULLY KNOWN. 13:12

Peter thought he knew himself, but Jesus knew him even beyond Peter’s own comprehension. I think I know myself, but sometimes I do things that take me by surprise. Can you relate to that?

Peter told Jesus he would stand with him, even if it meant death. I think that was meant to encourage Jesus. He was probably expecting Jesus to say thank you. It must have been bewildering when Jesus responded the way he did.

Jesus fully knew Peter and loved him still. Jesus fully knows you, and still loves you. Let’s be honest, that is amazing love!

And when Peter starts blending in with the crowd, saying Jesus who? I don’t know him, over and over again like Jesus said he would…. Oh beloved, what did that feel like? Think of a time when you disappointed yourself…. Is shame still ruling in your heart or were you able to bring your fall before the LORD in confession and repentance?

Think about the way Jesus loved and did great things through Peter even though this abandonment happened. What if Peter would have stopped there? What if he would have let shame hold him prisoner? We get to see the difference Peter made through the gift of Scriptures. What will your story say about your love for Jesus? Will you trust him and get up when you fall, knowing He still loves you and has great things to accomplish through your surrendered life?

Daily Word

Matthew 26

Read Matthew 26 – To be humble is to have strength restrained. Jesus, our Lord and Savior, shows us ultimate humility in our chapter. 

As you read, think about Jesus the man, who fully knew and understood the sacrifice that lay before him on this night.  Read these verses and listen like you would if a friend were telling you the story. 

In verses :9-13 Jesus includes the precious moment when a woman comes in and pours expensive perfume on his head. The disciples are indignant and Jesus stops them, calling what she did a beautiful thing. 

Beloved, Jesus cares about every act of love towards him. 

The night progresses, the disciples are told one of them will betray Jesus and all of them will fall away before the night is through. :21-35.  The act we call Communion, is recorded for the first time in :26-29 (it’s also recorded in Mark 14, Luke 22 and 1 Corinthians 11).  May Jesus explaining it here in Scripture always echo in your heart when you take Communion. 

Jesus’s prediction to Peter is very special to me… I’ll share on that tomorrow. 

Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, asking the disciples to watch and pray, but they kept falling asleep… :36-46. He is betrayed by Judas’ kiss, arrested and handed over to the council.  :47-68. Beloved,  this is BIG stuff.   What pierced your heart as you read what our Savior did for you?