Monday, 30 December 2019
For he himself is our peace, he has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to one God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. Eph. 2. 14-16
Jesus is peace. He also brings peace to all who look to Him. The reference here to two becoming one, I take to refer to the Jew and the Christian. Christ was a Jew. He was also the Christ. He destroyed the barrier that was between the two groups of people. He removed the dividing wall. He also overcame the regulations that caused separation between the two peoples and God. He brought them together as one, the united body of Christ. Through Christ and the cross, the two separate entities were reconciled and united. In God there is no separation. How sad it is that separation still exists in reality.
I move now from the separate entities of the Jewish and Christian peoples to the divisions that exist within the community of Christian denominations. The differences and barriers are, surely, the most ungodly manifestations of religious practices. Where is the unity of which the psalmist spoke (psalm 133)? where is the peace that Jesus made available to all who would receive it? Paul reminds us of our true identity. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. ( 1 Cor. 12.27) There are many parts, but only one body. If only the church, in its various guises, would come together as the one, true body of Christ! Christ’s mission fails through the divisions of humanity. One day we will be called to account. I pray I can answer in the affirmative, and the positive, and with integrity and truth.
Most Loving God,
I feel for the ways in which Your body dishonours You. I repent on behalf of all who profess to be Christian believers, yet who do not follow Your ways and do not live and practice as You would have us do.I pray that You will rise us up in a revived body. Let us know, and become, true Christians obedient to all Your ways, and giving ourselves fully into Your will. Amen.
Sunday, 29 December 2019
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” - (that done in the body by the hands of men) - remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in your world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Eph. 2.11-14
This is quite a lengthy quote but it so beautifully describes the entry of the Gentile into faith. Excluded by the Jews and separated by them through the human and “man practiced” rite of circumcision, the barrier is removed by Christ, and the way opened up for ALL to enter into relationship with the one, true, powerful and loving God.
Jesus Christ is the hope of all. By His sinless death He conquered sin, and this is for everyone; no one is excluded, except by their own decision. Circumcision separated the Gentiles from the Jews. No such separation exists in the Christian faith. Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11.28)
Jesus stands ready to take our burdens and bring us to a place of peace. I know I can rest in Him. I will know the rest and the safety that only He can give. I am assured by Him; I am complete in Him. I was once lost, separated from Him by my own choosing. But He took hold of me and drew me into the sweetest of relationships. I will not let go. He is my Saviour, my friend, my all. And He is there for any who will come to Him. Hallelujah!
I thank You for this reminder that ALL are welcome in You and by You. Salvation is a reality for all who desire it and turn to the One who is the way.
I pray Your blessing on those who know You and live in You. I cry out for the salvation of those who are not yet with You. May Your grace extend and Your love cover all. Hallelujah! Amen.
Friday, 27 December 2019
For it is by grace we have been saved, through faith – and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2. 8 -10
It’s all about grace, something we can do nothing about. Grace is purely, simply and totally a gift from God. We cannot fabricate or manufacture grace. We cannot earn it. All we can do is wait on God and be ready to receive the gift of grace from Him together with other gifts He may choose to bestow upon us.
Faith is also a gift from God. It is a free gift, like grace, which cannot be brought into reality by human endeavour. With these gifts emanating from God, there is no place for human boasting. We have nothing to do with the origin or distribution of them. It is all God’s work.
The gifts of grace and faith have many functions, a primary one of which is to do with good works. I believe that God will help us with these. He created us to live in relationship with Himself. Through the generosity and love of God we receive grace and faith. As we exercise these gifts, we will grow in God and prosper in the work He would have us do.
As God’s creation and children all the attributes and gifts of God are available to us, including grace and faith. We may think and feel that we do not have these gifts. Jesus very clearly says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find,” (Matt. 7.7) I believe these promises are conditioned by what we ask for, which I see as those things that are pleasing to God. The gifts of grace and faith will certainly please God, and it is good that we are able to ask for them.
Lord God,We know the generosity You extend to Uour children. We know and are grateful. As Your child I come in humble petition that You grant faith and grace to those who believe and earnestly seek these and other gifts, from You. Lead us forward in Your way and Your will for is, in Jesus’ name we ask. Amen
Saturday, 14 December 2019
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, and the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Eph. 1.18, 19a
What are “the eyes of my heart”? My eyes are those amazing organs through which I see. I am most grateful for my eyes. If I were to reflect on my life without seeing, I think I would be troubled. I have much admiration and respect for those who live, and cope, and thrive without the facility of physical sight. I look, and I see, but I do not always understand. I think this is where my heart helps me. To a degree my mind and thinking also become involved but, I believe, to a minor degree. My thinking is often, hopefully, logical and orderly. This is extremely helpful in navigating through the challenges of a life of worldly thought and action.
However, when we align ourselves with God, worldly thinking and doing are not always helpful. God has told us host clearly, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18.36) Equally clearly, He said, “As it is, you do not belong to the world.” (John 15.19) The ways of the world have limited application in the thinking and the behaviour of the true believer. We are called to follow a different way of thinking, a way that is alien and often incomprehensible to “the world”: For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.” (1 Cor. 3.19)
God sees the foolishness of worldly wisdom. Does the world consider the mind to be more important that the heart? Maybe! But God sees the heart as the source of all life and living: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Prov. 4.23) There is an inbuilt stress in these words: Above all else. We are to put the heart before anything else. I also believe that we need to surrender our hearts to God, to let Him have His way in our heart-led doings and behaviour. How I long to know God’s heart and to live in harmony with it. May the eyes of my heart be clear and focused on Him. I truly believe that what I focus on becomes a part of me. With the “eyes of my heart” focused on God, I come closer to Him, I experience more of His ways, and I grow into the being He created me to be.
Through all of this will grow in me the hope to which He has called me. My hope is on Him, and He will not let me down. It is a hope of riches in Him. To them (the saints, the believers) God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1.27) Part of “God’s riches” is the great power, given to those who truly believe in Him. In God, all the might and power of heaven is made available to me. Hallelujah!
Most Mighty and Loving God,I quote the words of a Christian chorus: Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I pray for a full opening of the eyes of my heart to the glory and riches that are in You. Let me see You, if You will, in the splendour of Your being, Your might and power, Your grace, mercy and love. I love You Lord. I can’t get enough of You. Open my eyes and fill my heart, in Jesus’ wonderful name I ask. Amen.
Dear Friends, next week I undergo further surgery. I don't know if the blog will continue with regularity. I will endeavour to post when I can.
Meanwhile, I thank you for your company during this journey with Jesus, and I pray every blessing in your ongoing adventure with Him.
Monday, 9 December 2019
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Eph. 1. 15 - 17
Paul does not say what “this reason” is but, if we refer to previous verses, it could mean the seal of the Spirit which marks believers and guarantees their inheritance as God’s possession to the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1.14b)
Paul has heard of the faith of the Ephesians in Jesus. He gives thanks for them and remembers them in his prayers. He further requests the gift of the Spirit for them, especially the gifts of wisdom and revelation. His main reason for requesting these gifts is so that the believers may come to know God better. By “God” I am believing that Paul is embracing the three-fold deity: Father, Son and Spirit.
The three persons of the Trinity act as one. They may engage in different acts at different times, gut there is always consistency in all that they do. There will never be differences or disputes between the members of the Triune God.
This is part of the wisdom and revelation that I believe Paul is requesting in his payer. We are not told whether the people of faith whom Paul is praying for are new or mature Christians. I don’t believe this matters, for believers need the wisdom and revelation that God gives by His Spirit. In addition, we need all of the gifts of the Spirit that God chooses to bless us with.
Paul sees the consequence of this giving of the Spirit as being a “better knowing” of our wonderful, great and loving God. I deliberately use the word “knowing” and not “knowledge of” because knowing about God, or mere knowledge of Him is not enough. We need to know Him in the reality of relationship, a sweet, honest, strong and true relationship of love.
I am reminded that my relationship with You is real, personal, and loving. I receive, and thank You for, every gift You bless me with. May I use them and live them to Your praise and glory. Amen.
Friday, 6 December 2019
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked 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.
Eph. 1. 13,14
The Holy Scriptures contain so much encouragement and honest truth about the reality of living in Christ, the essence of which is the wonderful gift of salvation, release and eternal life that we receive through our Lord and Saviour.
Having heard the gospel of salvation, how Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins which allows us restitution into the love of God, we respond in belief. This is followed by the “mark” of the Holy Spirit on us, a holy deposit that guarantees our redemption into the fullness of a life of love in God. We are God’s children, we belong to no one else, not even ourselves. We are God’s alone.
Our release into God is the most wonderful mew birth. All of any ugly past is swept away as He touches us and releases us by His Holy Spirit. Jesus said to Nicodemus, and to us: “You must be born again.” (John 2.7)
This is a second birth, a birth in the Holy Spirit. We are connected to God in this present life by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just like Jesus did when He lived on this earth, we need to look to the Spirit in all things. The Spirit guides us; the Spirit prepares and equips us; the Spirit provides opportunities for us to witness to Jesus (Acts 1.8); the Spirit brings fulfilment to our life and to our ministry. All that we do for our Lord and Saviour, we need to do to the praise and glory of our most wonderful Lord, our Saviour, our Father, our Friend and our Lover.
Most Loving Father,
I am reminded of the fullness of Your Spirit equipping me. I open myself anew to receive all that Your Spirit will bless me with. Let me live in the Spirit in obedience to Your command, and the outworking of Your plans and purposes for me. I see wonders being displayed and worked out in Your Spirit. I delight that You have chosen me to be part of this adventure. I give You praise and glory for all that You are, and all that You do. Amen.
Tuesday, 3 December 2019
In him we were chosen. Chosen, being predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. Eph. 1. 11,12
Again I am reminded that I have been chosen. My God has chosen me, and He predestined me from the beginning to live in accordance with the plan He has for me. His plan works everything out in accordance with His will, His purposeful will. His purpose for me, through hope in Christ is to live for His glory and praise.
Moses knew the glory of God (Exod. 33.18-23), and His face was radiant so much so that the Israelites were afraid to come near him when they saw him. Exod. 34.30) Here is something of the glory of God. Moses saw this glory when the Lord passed by him. He was not allowed to see the face of God For no one may see me and live. (V20)
The Lord’s “psssing-by” presence was enough to bring the face of His servant to the most glorious radiance. I have seen glimpses of God’s glory in the faces of those who are so in love with their maker that His presence shines in them and through them.
The world needs to see and know the glory of God. They will not see His face for to do so would bring death. However, they can see reflections of Him, of course not with the intensity that comes directly from Him, but through the countenance of His believers and lovers.
I have seen the faces of those in whom God shines something of His glory. Sadly they are few, but the light shines brightly in them and through them. I pray that this number will increase, that out loving God will continue to draw others to Him in increasing numbers.
I can inly imagine how Moses felt when Your presence passed by him. With his face in the radiance of Your glory, He would have been a powerful witness to the people.I pray for more believers to see the glory and radiance that emanates through You. May their radiance in You reveal Your radiance to others. I ask this in Jesus name.
Monday, 2 December 2019
He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, Jesus Christ. Eph. 1. 9,10
Paul talks of a “mystery” in God. He may well be referring to things formerly hidden or obscure that are now revealed by God for the knowledge and understanding of those chosen.
Jesus spoke in parables. A certain understanding was gained by many who heard Him. But there was further understanding and the most amazing revelations beneath the surface of the basic message. This deeper understanding was only revealed to those of God’s choosing: Jesus replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of heaven are given to you, nut not to them.” (Matt. 13.11)
Why are the deeper meanings of the parables revealed to some, but not to all? The real answer belongs, I think, in the category of “secrets of heaven.” They likely form part of the mystery that Paul refers to. Maybe Jesus opens the secrets only to those who are genuinely seeking them. He had many followers, but not all of them were looking for a deeper experience of God and a closer relationship with Jesus.
I believe those to whom the secrets, or some of them, are revealed are truly blessed. I like to think that God has included me in this blessing. Ultimately the secrets will be revealed, the times will be fulfilled, God will bring together all things in heaven and on earth under the headship of Jesus Christ. God’s purposes for the earth and humanity will have been realised. Heaven will be fully opened up. What wonderful jewels will be further revealed as we pass into another realm?
Most Wonderful God and Lord,I thrill at the thought of further revelation from You. I receive with full gratitude those things that You have already revealed to me, but I ask for more. May I know more of Your secrets of heaven? May I gain further understanding of the “mystery” of the Holy One, the Trinity of the Triune God, and the joy of relationship that is mine in You? I wait on Your further revelations, in joy and eager expectation. Amen.