Monday, November 28, 2011

Please Be Patient!

Hi Everyone!  I am asking for your may have read my last post where I told you I was moving.  Unfortunately that means that I am without internet for a few days.  I PROMISE I will be back up and running soon!  I'm sorry that I haven't been able to get the comments to show up until today; this has been the first time I have logged in since Friday.  Thank you for your prayers and I hope to get things back on schedule soon.

Friday, November 25, 2011

All To Give Him Glory

John 17:1-4

This is going to be a short post because I am in the process of moving.  In fact, if you are reading this on Saturday morning, I am moving even as we speak.  It is not a major move; it is an in-town move.  However, we have faced some other difficulties over the last few weeks (such as funky computer issues) and I just want this move to be done!

Today the verses I am looking at are a prayer that Jesus is praying for Himself, but as His role as God's Son.  Please turn to John 17:1-4.  In these verses, we see that Jesus is asking God to glorify Himself because He wants God glorified.  He wants all people to see that God is the only true God and when Jesus is glorified, God is glorified.

This makes me ask myself if I am always doing things so that God is glorified.  It is nice to be recognized and get compliments; however, we are to be doing things not for our own recognition but for God's.  That is not easy for our human nature and that is when we are to be allowing our new nature to take over.  Our new nature will always want God glorified.  Jesus said that He brought glory to God by completing the work God had given Him to do on earth.  That is the best way we can show God's glory, because the work He wants us to do is never going to be something that we can do on our own.

Are you doing the work God called you to do?  Are you giving God the glory for the things He has done through you?

Linking up with Spiritual Sundays.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for God

1 Corinthians 8:4-6

Happy Thanksgiving!  For those of you who visit from other countries, Thanksgiving in the United States of America is a holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November to give thanks.  A traditional Thanksgiving meal would include turkey (some have ham or both), stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, and pie (often pumpkin, apple, or pecan, but definitely any pie is good!).  All month long, I've been reading wonderful blog posts from other bloggers about giving thanks to God.  I believe that when we have a spirit of thankfulness, we find ourselves content with what God has given us and with what He is doing in our lives.  So, thank you to all my blogging friends for helping to keep all our hearts focused on thankfulness toward God.  With my study being Only God, I wanted to share how thankful I am for God (even though I don't think I can completely convey my feelings in a post).  Please read 1 Corinthians 8:4-6.

In these verses, we are reminded that God is the only God.  I love the way it is translated in the New Living Translation when Paul says, "...there may be so-called gods..."  Isn't that true?  I have always enjoyed Greek and Roman mythology because the stories are so interesting to read, but this was the culture that Paul was writing to.  These are the people who believed in Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, and so on.  They believed that there was a god of the sky and a god of the earth (who was not very friendly).  They were also fearful that there may be a god that they didn't know about.  The problem with these "gods or goddesses" is that they never interacted with humans except in their stories.  No one had a personal encounter with their god.

Our God is different because He is real and He is the only real God.  These verses remind us that He created us and we live for Him.  But it goes beyond that because we are also told that He has given us life through Christ Jesus.  This life isn't just living and breathing on earth; it is eternal life.  It is grace and salvation.  Oh how am so deeply grateful that God loves us that much!  God says in Isaiah 46:4, "I will be your God throughout your lifetime - until your hair is white with age.  I made you and I will care for you.  I will carry you along and save you."  I am so thankful that God's work didn't end with the creation story; He continues to interact with us and care for us.  This is a life-long commitment!  I am so thankful that He doesn't stop working on me!  He is the One who has given me physical life and He has given me eternal life even when I did nothing to deserve it.

Are you thankful for God?  Are you thankful for the life you have been given?

Linking up with Brag On God Friday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

There Is No Other

Deuteronomy 4:32-39

I just have to share what a beautiful, loving Father we have!  I am preparing to speak for a couple hundred women at our Women's Ministry Christmas Event in a few weeks.  I am not a public speaker; I get very nervous and stumble over my words.  Maybe that's why I prefer writing (maybe some of you bloggers can relate); I can think through what I am typing and fix my errors when I am done before another person gets to read what I wrote.  I know this is something that God wants me to do and I also know that He will empower me to do this.  I have also been dealing with a string of events that put together is making me realize that I am dealing with some spiritual attacks (so please pray for me).  One attack I was dealing with today had to do with a silly insecurity I have.  I don't like my speaking voice, and I began to worry about what it would sound like over a microphone.  I was really becoming self-conscious about it when I felt God reminding me of Philippians 4:8-9, which tells us to think on the good things of God.  Later in the day, I was making a phone call at work when the person on the other line said, "Oh what a sweet voice you have!  I wish every one who called had the voice you have..."  I know it seems insignificant, but I had been allowing the enemy speak lies into my heart today, and God came down and grabbed my hand and picked me back up.  God loves each of us so much and He meets us where we are to show us that He is real and He cares.  He does both the big and little things so we can know that He is the one true God and there is no other.  Please read Deuteronomy 4:32-39.

I got so excited about this section of scripture, I had to interrupt my husbands newspaper to read it to him.  What an incredible testimony the Israelites were to the fact that there is only one true God.  The first thing that Moses asks is if anyone has ever seen anything like what they have seen since the creation of the world.  He pointed out to them that as a nation, they have audibly heard the voice of God speak to them out of a pillar of fire.  He reminds them that no other "god" has ever declared a nation as their own possession.  God gave them the Promised Land!

Remember, we are a part of this nation as well.  1 Peter 2:9 says, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His wonderful light."  All of us who know Christ have been called out of darkness and have become His special possession.  But sometimes we forget where we came from and need to be reminded of the amazing work God has done in us.  God does the things in our lives big and small so that we can declare that He alone is God and there is no other.  He can create a miracle that only He could do, or He could do the small personal moments such as bringing confidence back to an area of insecurity and weakness.  Just know that God does the things He does because He loves you, but He also wants you to experience that He does the impossible because there is no other living God.

Do you believe that there is no other?  Do you look for the big and small works of God to see that He is the one and only living God?

Linking up with Word Filled Wednesday and iFellowship Blog Hop.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Only Living God

Isaiah 37:17-20

I can catch myself finding comfort and depending on many things that are material and not living.   These things can include money, my job, food, clothing, and shelter.  Not a single one of these things will always be around forever - the money will get spent, I could lose my job, I can run out of food, my clothes will get worn out, and a natural disaster could take out my shelter.  You can see where putting our faith and trust in these things really only brings more worries and stress.  There is a better way!  There is someone who is alive and cares about us and He is the One on whom we should depend.  Our human eyes like to see substance and create dependence on what we can see.  This is why it is so important to remember the things God has done for ourselves and others that demonstrate that He is the Living God.  Please read Isaiah 37:17-20.

King Sennecherib was the king of Assyria and was known for his brutality.  He had made very strong threats against the Israelites and claimed that God would not be able to protect them against his might just as the gods of all the other nations failed them.  This prayer is the prayer the king Hezekiah prayed to God in the temple after hearing this threat.  Hezekiah spoke his faith in his prayer before God by saying that all the other gods failed to help them because they were only made of wood and stone and were destroyed by the Assyrians.  He prayed that God would show His protection and might so that the Assyrians would see that He is the only living God.

Yesterday, I briefly explored the idea that the work God does in our lives happens so we can be a witness to the fact that God is real and alive and powerful.  We can be a witness that He is the only God.  If you continue to read through the story of Sennacherib and Hezekiah, you will see that God speaks a word against Sennacherib telling him that he was only given power because God gave him that power.  God killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers that night, so Sennacherib went back to Nineveh where he was killed by two of his sons.  God doesn't need our witness to the fact that He is the only living God because He can defend Himself just  fine; however, He chooses to work through us to show us He cares like only the one living God can care.  We then become a standing stone of the fact that the living God loves and cares for us all.  We can find comfort and dependence in the one true and living God.

Do you believe that God is the one and only living God.  Do you seek comfort in God?

Linking up with A Pause On the Path and Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Lord Is the Only God

Isaiah 43:1-13

I am very excited about this new study!  As I prayed and thought about what I was going to study next, I kept going back to the post I wrote a little over a month ago entitled, "Only God."  I have really felt led to study how we can claim, "Only God," in our lives, circumstances and how we relate to God.  Just the other day, my husband experienced a series of events play out that we declared, "Only God would have done that!"  As I heard his story, I was so blessed to hear how God protected him and my daughter from a likely accident.  Then even after that, my husband and daughter got to witness His guidance and provision during their circumstance that was beyond their control.  I love those only God moments because I am reminded of His amazing power.  As I was worshiping in church this weekend, I was singing a worship song that reminded me that it is only because of God that I am who I am today.  God has healed me and made me whole and I am so grateful for the work He has done in my life.

Before we look at anything else, we need to look at who God is (as much as we can comprehend).  I want to explore what it means that the Lord is the only God.  Isaiah 43:1-13 tells us that God is the only God.  This is an incredible section of scripture because God reveals so much of who He is, but I want to focus mainly on a statement that He makes in a couple of verses.  In verse 10, God is telling Israel that they were chosen to believe that He is the only God.  He continues on by telling us that there never was another god before Him and there will never be a god after Him.  In verse 12, God reminds the Israelites that they are His witnesses that He is the only God.  As I think about those statements, they were spoken to the Israelites; however, we can see how they apply to us today.  We are told that when we choose to follow Christ, we are adopted into God's family. 

Ephesians 1:4-6 says, "Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.  So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son." 

Galatians 4:4-6 says, "But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law.  God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.  And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, 'Abba, Father.'"
When we accept and believe that the only way to receive salvation is through Jesus and we are willing to follow Him, we become a part of God's family.  So, it makes me think of the things that God has done in my life and how I can be a witness to the fact that He is the only God.  This is His plan.  We witness His power, provision, and love so we can declare Him the only God.

Do you believe the Lord is the only God?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New Study - Only God

Several weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled, "Only God."  I wrote about an experience I had while in Zambia and how it lead me to think about how the statement, "Only God," could be used.  As I have been working on my study on Ephesians, I really felt led that this was to be my next study.  I hope you'll join me as I spend the next few weeks looking what only God can do!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ephesians Review

"For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago."  Ephesians 2:10

Today is the last day that I am studying Ephesians.  What a wonderful 12 week study this has been for me, and I hope that this has been a blessing for you as well.  Every day, I pray for all of you who come to read my blog that you will grow and learn from spending time reading and reflecting on God's Word.  I also pray that you will continue to study the Bible on your own to experience the richness and love that is found throughout the Bible.  My life has been changed by spending time digging in the Bible and I am always amazed that after all these years, God continues to make His Word fresh every day!  I would like to wrap up Ephesians by just giving a couple of thoughts on some overarching themes found in the book.

The first main theme that we encounter as we read through Ephesians is unity.  Ephesians 1 - 4 (first half) speaks about unity in different ways.  In chapter 1 we read that we are united as a family of God and that because we are united with Christ in this family, we will receive an inheritance from God.  We learn that God is our inheritance; He is our portion.  We also learned that the word inheritance was perfect to use because it usually represents a gift that is passed down to family or friends after someone dies.  Christ died for us so we could receive this inheritance.  In chapter 2, we learn that because of grace both Jews and Gentiles are united in an unprecedented body.  We learn that our unity means that we are built into a temple for God.

In chapter 3, we learn that this unity was ordained by God show everyone His amazing wisdom.  We also learn that because of this unity, we can come boldly to the throne of God through Christ Jesus.  In chapter 4, we learn that we are united in the body of Christ being bound together through peace just as ligaments connect the muscles and bones.  Just as in the human body, each part has its own job to do yet depends on all the other parts, we are interdependent on each other to do the jobs that God has gifted us to do.

Beginning in chapter 4, we begin to see what should happen as a result of this unity with Christ in the body.  The second half of chapter introduces the theme of Christian living.  In chapter 5, we even explore the fact that we are to follow the example that Christ lived out for us.  We learn that the unity we have with Christ gives us the power to be able to do this because we have the Holy Spirit living in us.  In Ephesians chapter 5-6, we learn that this unity with Christ means that we live a life of mutual submission with one another.  In each part that God has given us within the body, we learn that we are all to submit to one another.  It is a mutual respect that we have for one another as part of the body of Christ.

In chapter 6, we also read through another main theme of the power we have as a result of this unity.  We are to put on the armor of God as we go throughout our days so we will be ready when the enemy attacks.  We also are reminded of the importance of prayer and praying in the Spirit (or with the Spirit).  We can stand firm knowing that because of the unity we have with Christ, we are not alone in this world.  We have the protection and power of Christ's authority (which is mentioned in chapter 1).

With all this said, I am going to say that the main theme of the book of Ephesians is the fact that we are unified as a body with Christ.  Everything else that is mentioned in the book is an explanation of what is happening in our lives as a result of this unity.  I put Ephesians 2:10 at the top of this post because I want to remind you that when we chose to believe and follow Christ, we are made anew.  Remember, the word for being made anew in the Greek also means to make habitable.  God made our hearts new and habitable for Christ so we could be unified with Him.

Are you living your life as though you are unified with Christ?  Are you interacting with those in the body of Christ with a heart of submission?  Are you living with the confidence that you have the protection and authority of Christ covering you?

Thank you so much for following along with me through Ephesians!  I pray that you have been blessed.  Tomorrow, I will be posting what I am planning to study next (I'm excited about it!).  You are welcome to visit Seeds of Faith Women to read my post.

Linking up with Spiritual Sundays and Brag On God Friday.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Letter To Dear Friends

Ephesians 6:21-24

Most of us do not write letters any more because it is so easy to keep in touch with cell phones, texts, email, instant messaging, and social networks.  I have to admit that I cannot remember the last time I wrote a handwritten a letter.  This is because I can jot my thoughts down so much faster by typing, and if I am going to type out what I want to say, I may as well send it via email.  I used to spend my summers in college writing letters to my boyfriend who would become my husband.  One summer, my best friend was out of the country and I wrote regularly to her only to find out that she received about two letters from me (some countries do not have a dependable postal system).  I would write several pages in each letter letting them know how I was doing and how much I missed them.  As I read through the last few verses in Ephesians, it reminded me of how a good friend would end a letter with some personal statements.  Please read what Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:21-24.

The first thing that Paul says in this letter is how he has sent Tychicus to give them a report on how Paul is doing.  I think this is a beautiful statement of how much love there was between Paul and the church in Ephesus.  Paul is making sure that the church hears a report of how he is doing because he knows they care and want to know.  Paul establishes Tychicus's credibility by telling them that he is "a beloved brother and faithful helper," which will help Tychicus while he is with the church in Ephesus.  Paul also lets the church know that Tychicus is there to encourage them as well.  I think this was important for the church because they were facing a lot of opposition.  I'm sure that after a while, they were feeling discouraged.  Have you ever been through a tough time and finding yourself feeling discouraged?  Sometimes all you need is to have someone who is outside of your circumstances to step into your world and give you encouragement.  This is what we are to do as the body of Christ!  When a member of the body is hurting, we should all be praying for them and stepping in to encourage them.

The last thing I want to look at is the blessing that Paul writes in closing.  "Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness.  May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ."  What a beautiful blessing!  First Paul prays for peace over the believers in Ephesus.  I think that having the peace of God is what allows us to do the good things He has planned for us.  We find peace in the hope we have in Christ.  The next thing Paul prays over them is that they would experience God's faithful love; this is a love that will never fail.  He also prays eternal grace over all believers.  Eternal grace.  That is something that just overwhelms me!  What a wonderful hope we have in Christ; to experience grace eternally.  What a personal and beautiful ending to an incredible letter.

Are you establishing a personal relationship to those in the body of Christ?  Do you recognize and believe in the hope, grace, peace, and faithful love we have in Christ?

Linking up with Thought Provoking Thursday and Experiencing the Love of Koinonia.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Persevering Prayer

Ephesians 6:18-20

Today, I struggled in my prayer time because I found myself perseverating on something that was bothering me and the thing that was more annoying was that it really wasn't that big of an issue.  I was ashamed because that was my time with God and I felt like I wasted it.  But, I kept trying to go back and focus on praying.  Then God reminded me that He doesn't waste anything and He guided me to pray about the situation and let it go.  I found it incredibly ironic that the very day that I would be studying about prayer I would be struggling during my prayer time.  When we have a lot going on in life, we can often find ourselves skipping prayer time or not focusing during our prayer time.  But those are the times when we need to be in prayer and giving it to God.  Please turn to Ephesians 6:18-20.

We are reminded in these verse the importance of praying - always praying.  But, I want to make a quick note that we are told to "pray in the Spirit," which makes me think that we are not necessarily praying what we want but we are praying what God wants.  I'm not saying that we can never give our desires to God in prayer; we are told to give everything to God in prayer which would include the things that we desire.  I think that this verse in particular is speaking the importance of praying with the Spirit, which is going to guide to be praying God's will.  We are told to pray for all believers everywhere, which is something that I usually forget to do.  I pray for my friends and family; however, I often forget to pray for the believers I never met who are facing political upheaval or persecution.  Paul asks for prayer himself, which reminds me the importance to pray for our pastors and other spiritual leaders.  They have sacrificed to follow God's call on their lives and they face a lot of opposition and need prayer for direction and guidance.

The thing that really struck me this morning was the phrase, "stay alert and be persistent in your prayers..."  When I looked up the Greek, I found the word translated as persistent is the word proskarterēsis.  This word is translated as perseverance, which means to continue to do something even if it is difficult or if you are facing opposition.  It made me think of my prayers this morning and how I was having difficulties in focusing.  We are told that even when it is hard to pray, we are to continue praying.  This verse in particular is referring to the fact that we are to continue praying for all the believers no matter what.

We are all part of one body and when a part of the body suffers, we all suffer.  We may not feel like we are effected by the difficulties someone around the world is facing but the body as a whole is effected.  We may not see direct and immediate effects, but they will eventually trickle down to every believer.  We need to be alert to what other believers are going through around the world and  praying for the body as a whole no matter what.

Are you praying with perseverance?  Are you praying for all believers?  Are you praying for spiritual leaders?

Linking up with iFellowship Blog Hop and Word Filled Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Spiritual Armor

Ephesians 6:13-17
Copyright: Deposit Photos: Nejron

If you are like me, you probably do not feel like a mighty soldier ready for battle.  In fact, for years I knew what the Bible had to say about putting on spiritual armor and to be ready for battle in Ephesians; however, I felt so wimpy and engulfed in fear.  Yesterday, I looked at how we are told in Ephesians to be strong in the Lord because are real enemies are not human; we are fighting against spiritual rulers.  The fear I faced was not from God and it was another part of the spiritual warfare that Paul was writing about.  It wasn't until I truly believed that through Christ I had authority over that fear that I was able to stop cowering.  I also feel like the more time I spend with God and reading the Bible, the more I can stand firm in faith.  Please read Ephesians 6:13-17.

I am not spending a great amount of time with these verses, because earlier in the year I spent about nine weeks studying the armor of God (you can find a link to all those posts in the "Topics" side-bar).  One thing I began doing since April is to pray through the armor of God each day.  I do this both as a reminder to me that I have the armor of God and as a request that God would help me walk through my day prepared for whatever I may face.  We are told to put on this armor so we are able to resist the enemy; James 4:7 tells us to "resist the devil and he will flee from you."  I have experienced myself that the more I pray through the armor of God, the more I have believed that I have the armor of God.  This is how I pray through the armor of God:

I begin by praying that I will stand firm in truth; not my version of truth but the indisputable truth of God.  I also pray that God will give me the strength to speak the truth.  I pray that I can discern the difference between God's truth and the lies of the enemy, but it is important to understand that knowledge of God's truth is found by spending time in the Bible.  When I was studying about the armor of God, I learned that the "breastplate of righteousness" was really God's righteousness.  This is important because we can never be righteous enough to save ourselves and we are not covered by our own power.  We are covered in Christ's righteousness, which is another protection from the lies of the enemy.  The enemy wants to condemn us; however, we are told in Romans 8:1 that "there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ."  I pray that I can recognize the difference between the Holy Spirit convicting me to change and the enemy heaping condemnation on me.

I pray that I will wear peace for shoes.  I pray that I can have peace throughout my day knowing and believing the hope that I have in Christ.  I also pray that I will have peace to share the love of Christ to the people I am around.  It is also good to remember that we are not doing life alone, we are united with Christ and that knowledge can give us peace.  I also pray that God will help me hold up my shield of faith to stop the arrows the enemy will aim at me.  These arrows include lies, condemnation, oppression, and much more; the enemy knows our weaknesses and will aim directly at them.  When we hold up the shield of faith, we are believing what God says about Himself, us, and our relationship with Him.  A good study on faith is Believing God by Beth Moore where she points out the difference between believing in God and believing God.

I pray that God help me put on the helmet of salvation.  When we recognize and receive the saving power of God's grace, it should be changing us.  Our thought processes are an area that starts the changes.  We are reminded in Philippians 4:8 to fix our thoughts on the good things of God and when we focus on the things of God, we are protecting our mind from the evil thoughts of the enemy.  Finally, we are told to "take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."  I pray that God will help me to learn more about His Word and that I will learn each day how to use it in my life better.  I pray that I will learn how to us His Word to fight the enemy.  I believe that the best way to use the Word of God in battle is to have it in my heart.  That is why I am working on memorizing scripture.

I cannot emphasize enough how each and every piece of this spiritual armor is linked to spending time with God and spending time reading the Bible every day.  This is so essential to our faith walk and our growing stronger in Christ.  The more we spend time with God and in His Word, the more we will believe and understand what He wants for our lives.  We will also understand more about His strength and we will not rely on our own strength.

Are you putting on the armor of God?

Linking up with On Your Heart Tuesdays.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Be Strong In the Lord

Ephesians 6:10-12

If you knew me personally, you would know that I am not physically strong or even physically fit.  I used to exercise starting in college and I continued when I was a young adult; however, as I became busier after my third child was born, I let go of my good workout habits.  I mentioned that I have started a membership at a gym in one of my recent posts, and even though it has only been a few weeks, I am already noticing subtle differences.  I would like to become more physically fit and stronger because there are just so many health benefits with making those changes.  We have a spiritual health that we need to consider as well, and this week I am study about the armor of God.  Please read Ephesians 6:10-12.

Paul starts out this last part of his letter to the church in Ephesus by saying to be "strong in the Lord and in His mighty power."  I want to stop there for a moment and point out that he is not saying to just be strong, because our human strength is not good enough; we are to be strong in the Lord.  How do we become strong in the Lord?  First, I want to remind you that a major theme in Ephesians is the unity we have with Christ as His body.  The other thing that is interesting about being strong "in" the Lord is that the word translated as "in" is en in Greek. This is a preposition that not only means in, but it can also mean "by" or "with."  So, it could be read as "be strong with the Lord."  That unity means that we can be strong.

Another thing that makes us stronger is spending time in prayer and spending time in the Bible.  I know that I say that a lot in my posts, but I just cannot emphasize it enough.  When we are spending time in prayer, we are becoming more intimate with God and can stand firm on His promises and in the hope we have in Christ.  When we are spending time in the Bible, we become more aware of God's love for us and how He wants us to live.  We also begin to understand the hope and promises He has given us.  Those things make us stronger spiritually.

We are told in the next 2 verses why it is so important to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  Even though we feel like we are fighting against the physical things we can see and feel, we are actually in a spiritual battle.  We are fighting against things that we cannot see and it is important to strengthen our spiritual lives.  Remember, we are not fighting on our own; God is with us.  We are unified with Christ, and we are unified as a church.  We can cover each other in prayer, and we can have confidence knowing that God is greater.

Are you doing spiritual exercises?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Memory Verse #22

Hebrews 4:12

"For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires."

I really enjoy reading the Bible.  There are many reasons why I enjoy it so much.  One reason is because it is so rich and full and it seems that every time I pick it up I am learning something new.  I also enjoy the fact that it is the Word of God.  When we are reading the Bible, we are reading what God has spoken to us and it all is just as applicable today as the day it was first written.  The idea of the Word of God being a sword is mentioned in this verse and is also mentioned in Ephesians 6 as part of the armor of God.  It is so true that it exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.  How many times have I been convicted as I read the Bible about an attitude or thought that needs to change!  It is truth and life and in is everything we need to live a life that glorifies God.  If you are not spending some time everyday reading and reflecting on the Bible, please start!  You may not see it right away, but your life will never be the same.

Linking up with Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Working For Man or God?

Ephesians 6:5-9

Finishing up this week of submission, I want to look at the mutual submission that God expects in our working relationships.  I'm sure that at some point in their working career, every adult will have a difficult boss.  The boss may be difficult because of personality differences, or the boss may be difficult because of the way they treat people.  Either way, when you work for a difficult boss, they can make your life at work miserable.  You may even notice that your attitude at work is deteriorating when working for someone difficult.  On the flip side, a boss may have a difficult employee working for them, which can make the work environment unhealthy.  Ephesians 6 has some things to tell both the employee and the boss; please read Ephesians 6:5-9.

When Paul is addressing the slaves, I also look at this section as addressing employees.  Most people have a boss that oversees their work whether it is day to day or answering to a board at meetings.  Even though we are not forced to work for our bosses (except that we need to provide for our family), I want to quickly look at the Greek word translated as slave.  The word is doulos and can mean slave or servant, but it can also designate someone who willingly serves.  Even though we have to work, we also willingly work.  We are reminded in these verses that when we are working, we should work as though we are working for God.  When our mindset is on pleasing God in our work, we will work differently.  We will work hard even when no eyes are on us because we will not be seeking man's approval in our work; we will be seeking God's approval.

We are reminded again that God wants to see us do good things.  Just as we are told earlier in Ephesians 2:10, God has planned for us long ago to do good things.  We can see here that this isn't just ministry and outreach related, this is in our daily lives.  The good things includes honoring God in the jobs we do at work.  We are also told that we are to respect our "masters" or bosses.  That is not always easy!  What makes it even harder is that we are to show respect for them not only in our actions, but we are to respect them in our hearts.  All week long, I have studied how submission is not just an outward appearance, it is an attitude of the heart.  I believe that if we are struggling to respect a difficult boss, we should look heavenward and pray that God can give us a change of heart in the workplace.  To have a good attitude toward the people we work with requires an intentional practice of thinking of the things of God.

Bosses are also to submit to their employees.  The submission is one of respect toward their employee and to treat them with kindness.  I also think that when a boss works along side an employee and carries the burden as well shows respect toward the people they are working with.  If someone is struggling, instead of berating them the boss can see what they can do to help them learn their job better.  Just as I have studied throughout the week, the boss will only hurt themselves if they hurt their employees.  We are told in verse 9 that we all serve the same Lord and God does not play favorites.  When the boss can remember that we are all equal in God's eyes, the boss will have more respect for their employees.

Bosses are you showing submission through respect for your employees?  Employees do you work with enthusiasm as though working for God?

Linking up with Brag On God Friday.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Submitting To Parents

Ephesians 6:1-4

Growing up, I was an obedient child - a lot of the time.  There were times that I didn't obey and I suffered either natural consequences for my actions or discipline from my parents.  I often obeyed because I wanted to please my parents, and sometimes my obedience was because I didn't want to suffer the consequences.  Sometimes I obeyed the rules because I just knew it was the right thing to do.  But now that I am a parent, I understand that there is more to obedience than following a rule.  I want my children to want to obey me; I want it to be in their hearts.  I want them to do what they have been asked to do without questioning it.  I want them to grow up understanding that what we are teaching them now are the things that God wants to see in their lives.  Please turn to Ephesians 6:1-4.

I doubt there are young children reading my blog, but I do want to remind all of us that we are adult children.  I am not going to focus strongly on this; however, I am challenging myself as in the next question I am asking you.  Are you honoring or respecting your parents and in-laws?  I do want to focus on the verses about parenting.  I know that it is addressed to fathers, but I think that all parents can benefit from verse 4.  We are told not to provoke our children to anger, or exasperate our children in the NIV.  I can say from my own experience that this is not easy, especially when our children are pushing our own buttons.  Remember, we are not parenting on our own, but we are parenting with God.

I also want to look at this verse from the angle that God is our heavenly Father.  Just as we parents want our children to grow up with a heart of obedience, God wants our obedience as well.  God was pointing out to me that even though I may obey Him in my actions, my heart isn't always matching in obedience.  In my heart, I may be questioning God why He is asking something of me and whining to Him.  He wants an obedient heart along with the behavior.  As we learn to obey God in our hearts, we will learn to honor and respect our earthly parents even more.

Do you have a heart of obedience toward your Heavenly Father?  Do you have a heart of obedience and respect toward your parents?

Linking up with Thought Provoking Thursday and Experiencing the Love of Koinonia.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mutual Submission

Ephesians 5:21-33

I love my husband and I know that he loves me.  Some of the things I love about him is that is he is spontaneous (which balances me out), he is funny and has fun making me laugh, he is a great father to our kids, and he cares about other people.  We have been married for 18 years and I can say that there is no other human being that knows me inside and out the way he does.  I love him more today than I loved him on our wedding day.  But not every day of our marriage has been sunshine and roses and we have learned that marriage is intentional work.  God has used our marriage to teach each one of us how to let go of our own preferences and consider what the other person may need.  I believe that is what God is telling us that is how we are to treat each other in our marriage relationship in Ephesians 5:21-33.

Reading through these verses, I see a beautiful relationship between a husband and wife that symbolizes Christ's relationship with the church.  Just as the church is to submit to Christ, wives are to submit to their husbands.  And just as Christ showed His love for the church through sacrifice, the husband is to show love for their wives.  Thinking again how we are yoked with Christ when we are following Christ, we are also yoked to each other in our marriage and become as one unit.  If the wife does not willingly submit to her husband, they will not accomplish anything because they will be pulling against each other in the yoke.  It just doesn't work.  If the husband isn't willing to sacrifice and show care for his wife, he will not only hurt his wife but he will hurt himself as well.  He will be dragging her along carrying the entire load.  Paul sums it up by telling wives to respect their husbands and telling husbands to love their wives.

This is a mutual submission that is happening in the relationship.  Remember that the Greek word used for submission means to cooperate, to carry a burden, to assume responsibility, and to voluntarily give in.  When you look at both partners in the marriage, both have a responsibility that God has given them in the marriage.  Both are carrying the burden of their relationship when they are yoked together.  Both need to cooperate with each other, and both partners need to give in to each other in different ways.  For the wife, giving in means following her husband's lead and respecting him and for the husband giving in means to lovingly care for the wife and make sure she is able to follow the lead and sacrifice some of what his preferences are.  This is the model that Christ gave us, and it is a beautiful way to look at the relationship.

Are you submitting to each other in your marriage?

Linking up with Word Filled Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Ephesians 5:25-30

I have to admit that I find going through these verses a little intimidating.  One reason is because I do not by any means consider myself an expert on marriage.  Another reason is because these verses have always been verses of controversy in the American church (especially the wives submitting to their husbands).  The American culture is built on the fact that every person has rights, and I am glad that I have been able to grow up and exercise freedom of religion and thought.  However, because we have these rights the idea of submitting is counter-cultural.  Today's post really builds on what I explored yesterday, and with that said I am going to ask you to read yesterdays post if you haven't already (I also apologize because I rarely ever ask people to back track and read another post of mine).  I shared some things I learned about submitting that I am continuing to look at today.  With all that said, please read Ephesians 5:25-30.

Going with the idea that these verses are written in context of the book of Ephesians, we can see that Paul references the fact that we are all part of the body of Christ.  I also want to look back at verse 21 where we are told to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  The submitting isn't one sided in the marriage relationship, it just takes on a different look for each role in the marriage.  For wives, we learned that submitting means to voluntarily follow our husband's lead.  I love the idea that just as we are yoked to Christ, in the marriage wives are yoked to their husband.  With that word picture in mind, what does that mean for the husband?

If you notice as you read through these verses, Paul talks about what Christ has done for the church.  Christ is the model for how husbands should be treating and relating to their wives.  We see that the reference to the body is used again and that Christ loved the church so much that He sacrificed Himself to present the church as holy and without fault.  In the same way, husbands are to love their wives.  This doesn't mean that a husband is going to spiritually save their wife by sacrificing their life; however, the idea of loving through sacrifice is something to consider.  Consider the idea that once a husband and wife are united, they are yoked together and one.

With the idea of yoke, the role of the husband is very different from the wife.  The wife learns that submission means to follow the lead of the husband, but the husband learns that he must care for his wife.  If the leader in the yoke leads without caring about the partner, they may find themselves just dragging their partner along.  That doesn't work, just as the wife not following doesn't work.  The husband will find that if he doesn't love and care about his wife, he will not be caring for himself as well.  So, in a sense, the husband finds that when he loves and cares about his wife, he is submitting to the needs of the wife.  Remember that submission can mean to carry a burden and to assume responsibility.  This may mean that the husband will have to sacrifice some things so the wife is able to share the load and follow.  When thinking of the sacrifice Christ made so we could follow Him, we can understand why Christ wants this in our marriages.

Husbands, do you love and sacrifice for your wife?

Linking up with On Your Heart Tuesdays.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Submit To One Another

Ephesians 5:21-24

I find comfort in control.  Who knows why.  Maybe I could psycho-analyze myself and say that it is because I'm the youngest in my family and never had control among my siblings; however, I really think that is just making up an excuse.  It is an excuse because I am aware of this trait and I should no longer possess it.  I shouldn't possess it because it is not what God wants in my life.  This week will be all about submission, which is not a fun topic to discuss.  I have a feeling that I am not the only person that struggles with a desire to be in control of their environment.  I hope you stick with me this week, it is always worth reading the Bible even when it makes us uncomfortable.  Please read Ephesians 5:21-24.

I want to quickly draw out two main themes that I have studied through the book of Ephesians because I feel that it all builds on the idea of submission.  One main theme is the idea of unity; unity as the church, which is the body of Christ.  The next main theme is how our unity with Christ should be changing us so we are living out godly lives.  Now we are delving into submission.  The word submission has such a bad reputation, especially here in America where we are free to exercise our rights.  But I want to look a little deeper at the word submission in relation to the entire book of Ephesians.  On Saturday, I explored a little about submitting to government authority.  The word that is used for submit in Romans is the same used in these verses.  It is the word hypotassō, which was primarily used as a military term meaning to place in ranks under the command of another.  When it was not used as a military terminology, it meant to carry a burden, cooperating, assume responsibility, and to have an attitude of voluntarily giving in (please see footnote 1.).

I think when these verses are placed in context of the two themes of unity and godly living, the idea of using the military terminology doesn't make as much sense.  If we are thinking about the fact that we are part of the body of Christ, it fits so much better to consider that Paul was using this word in the non-military context.  When looking through these verses, it is also important to note that everyone is being told to submit to one another.  The first group of people Paul addresses are wives.  Wives are told to submit to their husbands in everything.  So much for control!  But let's look at this from the angle of unity and godly living.  When wives look at submission from the idea that we are all a part of the body of Christ, we can see that it is part of the task that they are given by Christ.  This word means that wives are to cooperate with their husbands - not control their husbands.  This word can also mean that wives have a burden to carry in the relationship and household and have to assume a responsibility in the relationship.

It is important to notice that Paul used the word, Lord, when speaking of God in this verse.  Lord was a word that was used in reference to someone in authority and God is our heavenly Lord.  But, God isn't like the lords of that day.  He is loving and kind and He deserves respect and obedience; however, He wants to do life with us.  Jesus refers to being yoked with Him in Matthew 11:30, which gives the word picture that we are ministering with Christ.  Wives are told to submit to husbands in the same way that the church submits to Christ.  When we think about the idea of submitting to Christ and being yoked with Him, we can see that God wants marriage to be a beautiful and working partnership.  Wives are yoked with their husbands and share the burden.  Wives follow their husband's lead go the same direction.  Wives voluntarily give in to the direction of their husband.  Without that, the marriage will not go anywhere.  So, really when we think about it, the idea of submission is absolutely beautiful!  It is doing life with our spouse.

Wives, are you willing to submit to Christ's authority over the church?  Are you willing to submit to your husband?

1. Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for hypotassō (Strong's 5293)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 6 Nov 2011. < http://
Strongs=G5293&t=NLT >

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Governing Authority

"Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God."  Romans 13:1

When this verse was written, people had to submit to the Roman Empire which was notorious for its harsh rule.  This meant that being a Christian was not easy.  Christians were persecuted from the Jews, Gentiles, and the government, but they were told to continue to submit to those in positions of authority.  I'm sure when they read this statement they said to themselves, "Those in positions of authority have been place there by God?  That doesn't make any sense!  Why would God put such harsh and unfair rulers in place?"  But they were still told to submit.

I wonder sometimes, if we really understand what submission means.  The word submit in Greek is hypotassō, which was primarily used as a military term.  It was used for the dividing of troops under someone's command.  When it is not used as a military term, it meant to have an attitude of voluntarily giving in, to carry a burden, or to assume responsibility.  It would also mean to cooperate (please see footnote 1.).  I think it interesting that this word that we translate as submit seems to have a fuller meaning than to do what your told.  It means that it is to assume responsibility in the role that God has given us.  It means that we carry a burden along with our leaders.  It means that we are cooperating.

At the end of October, the approval rating for congress dropped to nine percent; its lowest rating ever.  Many people believe that the government is out of touch with the concerns of the average citizen.  Our government is different than the Roman government because everyone who is a citizen in this country has the opportunity to vote.  Do you realize that in 2010 only 41 percent of eligible voters in America exercised their right to vote?  I'm just thinking about what this means in relation to the word, hypotassō.  We complain quite a bit about the way our government is running; however, are we carrying the burden for our country as well?  Are we voting?  Are we writing to our senators and representatives about the issues that are important to us? Do we as citizens understand that we have a role or burden that we carry for our country as well?  Do we believe that at this moment, God is still in control and has put those in authority for a reason?  Submission is more than just obeying, it is an attitude and a responsibility.

Are you willing to submit?

1. Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for hypotassō (Strong's 5293)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 4 Nov 2011. < http://
Strongs=G5293&t=NLT >

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wisdom For Living

Ephesians 5:15-20

I like being around wise people.  When I am with them, I try to glean all I can from them and hope their wisdom rubs off on me.  I never want my conversations with them to end because I want to continue hearing their wisdom so I can live my life with wisdom.  I wonder if the church in Ephesus understood how God's wisdom was being spoken to them through Paul.  I wonder how his letter to the church was received as they were reading it.  Did they accept that it was written to them in love?  Did they understand that it wasn't just Paul's words on the page but that it was God's words?  The section of scripture that I am reading today is a summary of how to live out the life that children of God should be living.  As I was reading through it, it seemed like a father speaking words of wisdom to his children.  Please read Ephesians 5:15-20 with the idea that God is speaking His fatherly wisdom to you.

After looking at the second half of chapter four and the first half of chapter five, this is a summary of everything that Paul had written.  It almost feels like a bunch of bullet points for us to keep living out.  The first bullet point is to be careful how we live.  We are told not to live like fools, but we are to live like those who are wise.  This statement is deeper than it sounds because if we don't think we are wise, how do we live like the wise?  I think there are two things to remember - God's wisdom on how to live is found all over the Bible. The book of Proverbs gives us a lot of information on how to live wisely.  The other thing to remember is that you can find someone who lives out a godly life.  Godly people live out godly lives because they have been living in God's wisdom for a long time.  We can all learn from them!  The next bullet points are also tools for living a wise and godly life.

The second bullet point is to not act thoughtlessly.  This sounds like a simple statement, but earlier I studied the fact that is actually very easy to live life without purpose.  The verse continues by telling us to "understand what the Lord wants you to do."  We need to live the way the Lord wants us to live intentionally.  If we are not thinking about the things that please God, we will unintentionally do what displeases Him.  But whether or not we meant to do the wrong thing isn't the issue; God wants us to do the right thing on purpose.  We are reminded that we are to make the most of every opportunity.  This makes me ask myself if I always view everything I do as an opportunity.  Live life on purpose!

The next bullet point is to not be drunk because it will ruin our lives.  As a child of an alcoholic, I can testify that living through life drunk will not just ruin your life, but it will effect the people you care about.  Even one episode of drunkenness can muddle your thoughts enough so that you can do something that will ruin your life.  We are told that instead of being filled with alcohol we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit can take us to a place of true joy that alcohol will never be able to provide.  We can find a closeness with God when we worship and praise Him that will satisfy us better than wine.

The last bullet point that is listed here is to give thanks to God.  Remember, it is in giving thanks for what we have that guards our hearts from coveting what we do not have.  When we are focusing on the blessings that God has given us, we can find contentment with what we have.  This morning, I can enjoy a beautiful sunrise because of the direction the window in our apartment faces.  That is a blessing!  Let's live our lives with purpose to please God.

Are you living like one who is wise?

You are invited to read my post at Seeds of Faith Women today!  Linking up with Brag On God Friday and Spiritual Sundays.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pleasing God

Ephesians 5:8-14

I used to work very hard to please all the people around me.  I learned what it took to make my professors happy in college and completed my work to the best of my ability.  I learned what made my bosses happy at work and made the necessary changes to do my job the way they wanted it done.  Even though I knew it is impossible to please everyone, I still tried.  I've been learning over time; however, that I've been trying to please the wrong people for the wrong reasons.  When I look at it from a Biblical perspective and see that God is the Only One whom I should be working to please, I realize that I have formed a new version of idolatry.  Please read Ephesians 5:8-14.

Earlier this week, I studied about what shapes our identity and how that can show where our priorities lie.  Whatever priority takes place of God becomes an idol to us.  That may sound harsh or too "black and white," but if I have placed something in God's place (such as striving to please people), then it is idolatry.  We are told in verse 10 to "Carefully determine what pleases the Lord."  We are not told to determine what pleases God and then see if it makes the people around us happy.  This is because, when we choose to please God, it will not always please the people around us.  We are told in these verses that people living in the light find out what pleases God.

The Greek word for "carefully determine" is dokimazō, which means to scrutinize, to test, to examine, or to deem worthy (please see footnote 1.).  To me, this implies that we spend considerable time finding out what pleases God, and I think the best way to find out is reading the Bible.  When we carefully determine what pleases God, the light within us shines on the areas in our lives that don't match up with what we are reading in the Bible.  It seems that God shines light on an area He wants changed in my life on a daily basis and they are not always easy things to change.  But I want to live a life that pleases Him, so I am willing to continue lining up my life to match what He desires.

Paul goes even further by telling us that we shouldn't just find out what pleases God, but we should stay away from the things that are dark or evil.  Not only should we stay away from those things, but we shouldn't even talk about it!  I wonder if this is because it takes our focus off what we should be looking at.  Even if we don't intend to do those things, our focus is all wrong.  We are told in Philippians 4:8-9 that we should "fix" our thoughts on the things that are pleasing to God.  The Greek word for "fix" is logizomai, which means to take into account, to reckon, to weigh, or to meditate on (see footnote 2.).  Doesn't that word seem to go well with "carefully determine?"  After we have found what pleases God, we are to fix our thoughts on those things.

Do your thoughts and behavior match up with what pleases God?

Linking up with Thought Provoking Thursday and Experiencing the Love of Koinonia.

1. Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for dokimazō (Strong's 1381)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 2 Nov 2011. < http://
Strongs=G1381&t=NLT >

2. Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for logizomai (Strong's 3049)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 2 Nov 2011. < http://
Strongs=G3049&t=NLT >

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Ephesians 5:6-9

I am physically out of shape and there is no other reason for it other than there are lifestyle changes that I need to make that I haven't wanted to make.  I rationalized it with excuses such as, "I don't have time," or "I can't afford a gym membership."  But the reality is that if it was a priority I would find the time and find a way to workout at home.  The good news is that I recently joined a gym that only charges $10 a month and my husband and I are getting up extremely early to workout.  As I have grown in my walk with God, I have noticed that there are some things that I used to do and I now know that God doesn't want that behavior in my life.  He has pointed out to me things that need to change.  One thing I have noticed is that before changing, I also found myself trying to rationalize why my behavior was an exception to the rule.  God doesn't want rationalizations; however, He wants obedience and change.  Please read Ephesians 5:6-9.

Yesterday, I looked at how we are not to engage in immorality, impurity, and greed.  Today, we see that there will be people who will try to make excuses for these sins and God doesn't take excuses.  God wants change, and He gives us the Holy Spirit who empowers us to make these changes.  I'm not saying that makes it easy to change, but it is not impossible to change.  In fact it is necessary.  When you think of it from the perspective that Christ sacrificed Himself so we could have the seal of God on our lives, it is understandable why God doesn't want excuses.  He paid the greatest price for our salvation.

We are reminded that we are no longer in darkness - we have the light of God in us.  When we are in the dark, we cannot see the things that need to change; however, the light in us exposes the behaviors that no longer fit with our new selves.  As I am working out and becoming more fit, the clothes I currently wear will no longer fit.  It is the same with our new selves - all those old behaviors don't fit us any more and we are to put on our new nature (Ephesians 4:24) and live like children of the light.  Galatians 3:26-27 tells us what we put on as children of God, "For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes."

Are you making the changes that living in the light exposes?  Are you putting on the new behaviors that unity with Christ requires?

Linking up with iFellowship Blog Hop.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Ephesians 5:3-5

What identifies you?  Is it your job or family?  Is it your position in life?  Is it your talent?  Is it your behavior?  How do people identify who you are?  Maybe who you are depends on who you are with - you are the dependable worker during the day and the life of the party at night.  I've observed that the very thing that identifies a person usually is their priority.  So maybe my question should be, what are your priorities?  Do you live to please people, or you do you live for attention?  Do you seek to gain more things or money?  These are not easy questions to answer!  But they are questions we should be asking ourselves on a regular basis to check where we are in our relationship with God.  Please read Ephesians 5:3-5.

You may be wondering why I am titling my post "Identity" when these verses seem to express warnings against immorality, impurity, and greed.  As I thought about these verses, I felt that the strongest statement is found in verse 5 where it says, "For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of the world."  Yikes!  I think we often look at the word greedy, we thing of someone who wants more money; however, the word for greed in Greek actually means covetous.  So this means that the person not only wants more, but wants what others have.  In a sense greed is looking not at what you already have, but greed is looking at what you don't have.  Greed can live in the hearts of both the rich and poor.

What do you want more of?  The problem with this is that when we become children of God, our focus should no longer be on the things of this world.  Our focus should no longer be on what we don't have or on whether or not we please people.  We are told in verse 4 tells us that thankfulness toward God should be replacing these things.  Thankfulness helps us focus on the blessings we have received from God rather than what we don't have.  Trust me, the blessings we have received from Him have a greater value than anything in this world can provide.  Once again, I think greed tells us what we value and where our identity truly lies.  When we are children of God, our identity is supposed to be from Him and the seal He has placed on us (Ephesians 4:30).  If our identity is coming from anything else, it signals a problem.  If we long for anything, it should be a deeper longing for God.

What is your identity?  Do you want more of Christ or more of the world?

Linking up with A Pause On the Path.