I have been relishing every moment of studying the first chapter of Ephesians. I’ve been drinking from the cup of God’s glorious grace and learning what it means to be blessed with “every spiritual blessing in Christ.” That is a monumental undertaking isn’t it? We are not talking about simply being given a gift. We are talking about “every spiritual blessing in Christ.” To try and discover what it means to be blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ is not something you learn from a quick glance or from listening to someone recite a verse or two. To truly discover the magnitude to which we have been blessed by God takes time, it takes extended periods of quiet, prayer, and reflection.
Just last week we learned that we “have redemption through His blood.” We have been freed from the shackles of captivity to sin and leading a life opposed to God’s purpose for us. God’s act of redeeming us, freeing us, buying us off the slave block of servitude to our self-centered and sinful ways is the key that leads to even greater blessings. I have been thinking this past week about the “redemption” that takes place in the life of a believer when he or she cries out to Jesus in repentance and surrender. God holds the key that unlocks the possibility for the great future He desires for us. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, can happen until He places the key in the lock and the chains fall away. Let me give you an example. Continue reading “Forgiven
Like the Hebrew slaves who had been suffering under the hand of Pharaoh for 400 years. Like the countless millions of conquered people who were forced into servitude under the Roman Empire. Like the multitude of Africans who were crammed into ships for a voyage to hopelessness in lands they never wanted to see. Like present-day slaves who are forced to serve in rebel armies around the world or perform back-breaking work for endless hours each day in their captor’s fields. Like tens of thousands of young teenage girls who are being used up as sex slaves by traffickers who look at them as nothing more than commodities to be used for profit. There are millions of souls suffering under slavery on this very morning around the globe. It is estimated that there are between 27 and 30 million people who are slaves in our world today. Slavery kills. It kills the will. It kills the spirit.
On December 6, 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified with these words, “Neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Almost 150 years later, slavery is alive and well in the United States and around the world. Let me share just a couple of their stories with you. The first story comes from the website humanwrong.org, a website of World Vision. Continue reading “Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb
God’s ways boggle our minds. His methods of accomplishing His will in each of our lives, and in the history of all of creation, are beyond our comprehension, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t interject our thoughts and opinions about what we think God can do, should do, or will do in any given situation. God has made it plain to us that His ways are not our ways. In Isaiah 55:8 we read,
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8 NIV)
When we are confronted with any situation in life, our immediate response should be, “What does God’s Word say?” Not, “What do I think about this situation?”
When it comes to the question of “how” we can relate to God our thoughts lead us way out into left field. For many people today, the path to God is paved by good works. If I can only be “good enough” then God will accept me, be pleased with me, and I will then be primed and ready for Heaven. This is the mindset of the majority of people today even though the Bible is clear that the path of good works is a dead-end road. The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)
Continue reading “Who Am I? I Am His!