Friday, October 20, 2017

Ephesians 1

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." (Ephesians 1:3)

In Christ alone we experience everything we need for time and for eternity!  As His children we have already been made recipients of every possible blessing.  Some of these spiritual blessings we will not experience fully until we are eternally with the Lord.  They are so sure a future reality, however, that we can claim them now!  Hence, our attitudes must be different than the people of the world. When we face difficulties in this world we know we have a faithful God who will protect us and guide us. When we face difficulties in this world, we know we have a sure and eternal future with the Lord! Therefore, we can face each new day with assurance and joy.

As children of God we experience many awesome spiritual blessings.  First, the Lord chose us and then adopted us to be His children!  Secondly, in the Lord Jesus Christ we also according to Ephesians 1:7-8 "have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding."  Slaves in Biblical times were freed by the payment of ransom.  The payment required for our ransom from sin and the devil was the blood of Jesus.  Jesus had to suffer hell on the cross for us, so we would not need to suffer the just punishment for our sins.  In the unconditional and unbounded love and grace of God we were forgiven of our sins and made His children!

Another spiritual blessing we receive from the Lord is according to Ephesians 1:10b His bringing "all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ."  In a world where many things do not make sense in our minds we can anticipate with excitement a time when all things will be brought together under Christ's headship.  In eternity the things that we can not understand on this earth will all fall into place and make sense!  We will then fully see that the Lord's plan and purpose through it all was good and right.

Finally, according to Ephesians 1:13b-14 we have the spiritual blessing of being "marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of His glory."  The seal of the Holy Spirit on us means we belong to the Lord for time and for eternity!  This seal is a a kind of down payment on the glories we will experience for all of eternity!

We are given salvation and all of God's spiritual blessings for a purpose, however.  That purpose is to bring glory and honor to the Lord with our lives.  Ephesians 1:4b says that He chose us "to be holy and blameless in His sight."  Only the blood of the cross was sufficient to purchase our salvation, and because of that blood we stand righteous before the Holy God.  As His children, however, we also need to grow in practical day to day holiness in our lives.  As children of God we need to reflect the character of Jesus more and more in our lives.  According to Ephesians 1:12b  it is our purpose as the Lord's children that we "might be for the praise of His glory."  Only as we are living for the Lord and for His glory are we ever going to find purpose and meaning in our lives.  It is the only way to joy and peace.

According to Ephesians 1:17b It should be our consuming passion that we "may know Him better." We should desire with all of our hearts to have not just a head knowledge of the Lord, but also a growing experience of His love and working in our lives.  The Lord promises us that we have His strength to live for His glory.  According to Ephesians 1:19-20 we have "His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead."  We have His resurrection power in our lives!  Isn't that an awesome thought?  May it be our passion to live our lives in holiness and in His resurrection power!  May it be our passion to live for His glory!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Isaiah 51:1-16

"Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord:  Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn." Isaiah 51:1

There are many things going on in this world which could cause us to succumb to fear.  This Scripture passage in Isaiah chapter fifty-one offers comfort when we we are becoming entangled in the tentacles of fear.  A child of God need not be controlled by fear.  When we begin to fear anything or anyone, we must quickly run to the Lord for comfort and protection.  The Lord in His sovereignty already has our lives all planned, so we need not fear.

When we begin to sink into despair or fear for any reason; the Lord says to us in Isaiah 51:1, "Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord:  Look to the rock from which you were cut."  We, who are the Lord's children and are seeking to live for Him, can look to Jesus, our rock and foundation.  Jesus Christ is "the rock" from which you and I "were cut." Jesus is the rock to whom we need to turn in times of great fear.  The Lord Jesus gives our lives a sure foundation even in times of uncertainty and fear.

Verse two of Isaiah fifty-one also suggests that we can follow the examples of the Biblical heroes of faith for inspiration in our own walk of faith.  Hebrews chapter eleven gives us a wonderful account of many of these Biblical heroes of faith.  Furthermore, we can emulate those examples of people in our current life who are walking in faith without fear and with sure confidence in their Lord. These people are all links in the chain of faith, and they can be an inspiration to us.

Isaiah 51:3 says that "the Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord." Zion was a name for God's people in Isaiah's day.  The Lord will comfort His people when they go through fearful or difficult situations. He will turn the "ruins" and "deserts" of our lives into blessings.  A believer in the Lord Jesus Christ will proceed from victory to victory.  No ultimate spiritual harm can ever come to a child of God.  Even if we die we will immediately go to be with the Lord.  What have we to fear?  Therefore, Isaiah 51:3b goes on to say, "joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving, and the sound of singing."  Among God's people there need not be crippling fear, but rather joy, thanksgiving, and singing!

As children of God we need not fear, because the Lord is a just and righteous God.  God says in Isaiah 51:6 that the heavens and earth will vanish someday.  But then in that same verse the Lord goes one to say, "But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail."  We need to fear nothing, because our righteous and faithful God is always with us to comfort and protect us. God says to us in Isaiah 51:12, "I, even I, am He who comforts you."

With the Lord on our side we need never retreat of cower in fear.  The Lord can diffuse any situation that we consider to be potentially dangerous or fearful!  The great God of the universe says to us His children "For is am the Lord your God who churns up the sea so that its waves roar-the Lord Almighty, is His name." (Isaiah 51:15)  The great Lord of the universe personally cares about and loves us!  He knows us by name.  He knows everything about us.  He has our entire futures planned out moment by moment!  He will always give comfort and strength enough for every difficult and fearful situation in our lives!  Praise His name!  Let's rest our lives in Him in joy and thanksgiving and not in fear!  Romans 8:31 b promises, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"