Archive for October, 2012

– Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV

Both verses 1 and 2 of Ephesians 5 begins with a directive and a conclusion that supports, or summarizes, why the directive should be adhered to and carried out. The Apostle Paul begins the 5th chapter of Ephesians by exhorting definitively the mandate God ordained in the beginning when He declared that Man would be made in His image and likeness. In the beginning, it was God’s desire that man become an image bearer of His person. In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son Jesus Christ that we may, through faith in Christ, fulfill what He intended from the beginning.

Paul begins Ephesians 5 by stating the directive to be an imitator of God. His reason. Because we are dearly loved by God. Meaning, because God loves us dearly, we should seek to imitate Him in how we live. How should we live. Live a life of love. Why? Because Christ loved us and gave His life for us, in order that we may fulfill God’s will in being an imitator, or image bearer of His likeness, through faith in Christ, as He ordained for us to be in the beginning.

How significant is this mandate? Consider the way the Apostle John writes it in his letter 1 John. “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” – 1 John 2:6 NIV “

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” – 1 John 4:9 NIV

My purpose in life is my purpose in Christ, to be an imitator of God. The blessed man in Psalm 1 delighted in God’s law meditating on it day and night, which Jesus explained as abiding in His word in the gospel of John 15. Abiding in Christ is the proactive initiative of sincerely seeking to be an imitator of God by applying God’s word (living through Christ or walking as Jesus did). No amount of money can help me walk as Jesus did, live through Him, or validate me as one who does.

May God bless you and help you to live through Christ and walk as Jesus did, being an imitator of God, so you can experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

 

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

– 2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV

The challenge of sincerely seeking to live the Christian lifestyle is remaining tempered and balanced in understanding the true meaning of fulfillment and prosperity from the perspective of scripture in contrast to the world’s perspective. God told the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16) that man looks on the outward appearance, but He looks at the heart. Most often, then, success (fulfillment) and prosperity, from the world’s perspective, is usually measured by position, power, prestige, wealth, property, possessions, etc.

If God looks at the heart of a man, fulfillment and prosperity may very well begin with measuring the progress one makes in becoming more like God, in conduct, actions and speech that reflects the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. Jesus reiterated this concept through His teaching of the vine and the branches to His disciples in the gospel of John 15. We see this concept illustrated another way in 2 Peter, written by one of Christ’s disciples, Peter. Verse 5 of 2 Peter 1 begins with a statement (For this very reason) that supports the imperative of the information preceding verse 5. “Through these (God’s divine power of  His glory and goodness mentioned in verse 3) he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” – 2 Peter 1:4 NIV

Because of God’s divine power (glory and goodness), the provision of His word (great and precious promises) and Holy Spirit (divine nature), it is for this reason we should add to our faith, in increasing measure, the qualities Peter outlines in verses 5-8 of 2 Peter. Meaning, what impresses God more: a) an abundance of material possessions, wealth and worldly acclaim that He permitted, or b) a person who allows the fullness of the Deity to work in and through them for His glory that helps them to experience the fulfillment of being an image bearer? “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” – John 15:4 NIV

May God bless you and help you to abide in His word and participate in His divine nature to be effective and productive in your knowledge of Christ and experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

 

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”

– John 15:5, 7 NIV

The significance of what Ephesians 3:20 proclaims with regard to God doing immeasurably more than what we can ask or imagine is it refers to the power we allow to work within us. God doesn’t need us to do anything miraculous outside of us, because God is greater than us. But in order to encounter what God proclaims and promises in His word, in relation to experiencing the fullness of life Christ came for us to have, we must let His power work within us. In order to allow God’s power to work within me to encounter the immeasurably more He proclaims and promises, I must be willing to invest quality quiet time with Him in His word.

What would be the greater manifestation of God’s miraculous power: a) something God does around/outside of me, or b) something God does within me that transforms me and increases the intimacy between myself and Him? People who have no faith see the former every day, but those who desire the latter have an intimate, personal encounter with God that others will never know without faith in Christ. The blessed man in Psalm 1 delighted in God’s law and meditated on it and we can see in John 15 Jesus is reiterating the significance of the intimate relationship in association with God’s word. Jesus repeats the refrain of remaining in Him and in His word in verses 4-5 and 7 and 9 of John 15 that tells me He is trying to emphasize the priority and process by which real prosperity is achieved in a faith relationship with God.

In the beginning (see Genesis 1:25-27) God declared that being made in His image and likeness required us to be fruitful and we were given authority to do so. In the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul reveals the fruit of the Spirit, the character of Jesus Christ and nature of God’s person. Apart from Jesus Christ, we are incapable of producing these qualities (love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, patience, self-control, meekness and faithfulness), or develop them in increasing measure. God’s grace is His supernatural empowerment that equips, enables and empowers the believer to be progressive, productive and prosperous in living to the fullest potential of who they have been ordained to be in Jesus Christ while displaying the quality of Christ’s character to influence and inspire others to receive Christ. This is accomplished by God’s power (His word and His Spirit) at work within us according to Ephesians 3:20.

May God bless you and help you to experience His supernatural power to help you walk in the authority and anointing of His word and Spirit to experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

– Ephesians 3:20 NIV

At some point during our faith walk we begin to see clearly, left to ourselves to manage all of our duties, roles and responsibilities, we would fail miserably to maintain a level of consistency in being productive, progressive and prosperous. Somewhere along the line, including in our faith relationship with God, we would begin to pull back and lighten our burden by prioritizing one thing over another, leaving something undone or less of a priority on our daily ‘to do list.’

God invites the believer to trust in the wonder of His love and the display of His splendor to equip, enable and empower them and allow Him to work in and through them to achieve what they could not on their own, or in their own strength. The New Testament book of Hebrews explains it like this, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16 NIV It is at the throne of grace, through prayer, the believer positions him or her self to encounter the supernatural, immeasurably more God proclaims and promises for those who sincerely seek Him with persistence and confidence.

Prayer invites God to fulfill what He proclaims and promises in His word as He invites us to delight and meditate on it as the blessed man in Psalm 1 did. Prayer is the believer’s posture and disposition that expresses to God, ‘I believe that what you proclaim and promise is meant for me, but I will need you, LORD, in order for me to experience what is written in your word.’ This is what I believe Jesus meant when He declared to His disciples in John 15:5, ‘Apart from me you can do nothing.’ Meaning that what God promises and proclaims in His word cannot be achieved apart from faith and Jesus Christ.

May God bless you and help you to approach Him in prayer, with persistence and confidence, to experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

 

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Hebrews 4:12 NIV

The King James Version of the Bible says that the word of God is quick and powerful. The blessed man in Psalm 1 encountered a life that was prosperous and productive because he delighted in God’s word and meditated on it day and night. He was like a tree planted by the streams of water which yielded its fruit in season and his leaves never withered and whatever he did, he prospered at it.

The word of God is able to bring us from a place of lack and barrenness to a place of abundance and prosperity. The word of God can rescue us from a place of anxiety and distress and restore us to a place of peace, preserving our well-being, even in the midst of duress. The word of God can provide healing, deliverance, restoration, renewal and bring forth life from death. The word of God is His expressed plan, purpose and promise to the believer of what they should expect from Him, according to His word, in order to experience fulfillment in a faith relationship with Him as we walk by faith.

The word of God is an invitation for the reader to encounter an interactive relationship with its Author and experience the authority and power it provides as the reader engages the Author in allowing Him to work in and through them to bring about what is written in His word. The blessed man in Psalm 1 can attribute his prosperity and production to the action and disposition (attitude) of delighting in God’s law and meditating on it. The Apostle Paul (see Inspired to Share His Grace) declared that it was God’s energy (His word and His Spirit) that worked wonderfully within him as he labored to share God’s grace and truth with others. There is an encounter God desires us to have we can only experience with Him through His word.

May God bless you and help you to live by the authority and power of His word, as you spend time with Him in His word, so you may experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

“To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.”

– Colossians 1:29 NIV

Have you ever been so overwhelmed with how good God has been to you that you could not keep it to yourself, or so inspired by His truth that you were moved to share it with as many as possible as often as possible? This is what I think about when I reflect upon what is written by the Apostle Paul in Colossians 1:29. Within these 16 words I sense the passion, exhilaration and enthusiasm that comes from being enamored with the grace and truth of Jesus Christ and the motivation to share it with as many as possible so that others may be ignited as Paul is with God and His word.

The previous verse reads like this: We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” – Colossians 1:28 NIV Paul reveals his passion and sense of mission in proclaiming the grace and truth of Jesus Christ to others and describes it as an energy that produces power within him to follow through in fulfilling what he is moved to do by the same grace and truth he seeks to share with others.

The prophet Jeremiah described it as a fire shut up in his bones that compelled him to proclaim what stirred within him, even if he resolved not to speak. The New Testament book of Hebrews declares that the word of God as living and active and is capable of working deep within the individual (joint and marrow to soul and spirit). This indicates that the word of God is able to address both our physical, and spiritual/psychological, and deep internal mental/emotional concerns. So when the Apostle Paul expresses with passion the struggle with all of God’s energy that works wonderfully within him, I see him declaring how he senses and feels the word of God ministering to his physical and spiritual needs as he sincerely seeks to share his grace and truth with others.

May God bless you and help you to experience the energy of His grace and truth working within you, that inspires you to share His grace and truth with others, as you experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.