August 2, 2014

Today you should read: Ephesians 3:1-13

“And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.”Ephesians 3:6

When I first read this I didn’t think much about it. I thought it was a nice truth and I was certainly grateful but it didn’t strike me until I re-read it to write this post. This verse really packs a punch when you read it through the lense of the Old Testament and God’s bigger picture plan. God chose for Himself a people in the Old Testament, the Israelites, a nation from the lineage of Abraham. God had made so many promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the nation as a whole.  Promises of blessings, long life, peace, hope, protection, and salvation in a Messiah. To list them all would take too long but the problem in the Old Testament was that these promises were directed solely to the nation of Israel, God’s people. But even then God had a plan to bring the rest of us into His family.

“And I will bless those who bless you (talking to Abraham), and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” Genesis 12:3

Even when God was starting His family in the Israelite people He had in mind to adopt us into that family. This caused me to think about adoption and what happens in that process. Here are some things that I came up with that really parallel with our salvation.

  1. In adoption the one who has no family receives a family

When a child is adopted they have no family. When we are brought into God’s family we are rebels and enemies of God, alone and cut off. He rescues us from that.

  1. In adoption the one who has no love receives great love

Every family I have ever talked with about adoption has such a great love for the child they are going to adopt. I think part of the reason this is true is that we understand the weight of what is happening. We are about to give unconditional love to a child who probably has never seen or felt that love. We were dead in our sins and live in a world that only gives love with strings attached. God brought us into a family full of love with no strings.

  1. In adoption a heritage and inheritance is received where there was none

Most kids waiting to be adopted do not have much family connection and almost certainly do not have some inheritance waiting for them later in life. When they are adopted they get a new name and the promise of blessings and some kind of inheritance later in their lives. With God we are given a new name as well. We leave behind the names enemy, rebel, lost, dead, hopeless, helpless, slave to become child, brother, sister, hopeful, conqueror, found. And our inheritance, incredible.

“Now, if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,” Romans 8:17a

All that Jesus receives from God we will share in as well. All the glory Jesus receives, as His brothers and sisters, we will share in. So at the end of time we will reign with Jesus and spend eternity together worshipping God because of His great and mysterious plan. Think on this today and, if you can, post an encouraging word about what this promise means to you.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

August 1, 2014

Today you should read: Ephesians 2:11-22

Family can be messy.

There’s SEPERATION from divorce that causes kids to split time between parents. There’s ALIENATION when a parent abandons their spouse & kids for another person in an affair. Sometimes family member feel like STRANGERS to each other from family conflict.  Many kids feel HOPELESS that their family situations will never change or HOPELESS that they can reverse some of those same things from happening to their own future families. Many people become HOSTILE toward God and others from the anger and hurt they feel because of the above situations.

This is the stuff I hear when counseling families in crisis.

When the very people that’s supposed to love you, protect you, provide for you, sacrifice for you, show grace to you and discipline you out of love ends up hurting you in such ways the above capitalized words is the result.

This is also what Scripture describes of us when we are not in relationship with our loving, heavenly father & adopted into His Heavenly family.

In Ephesians 2:11-22, the words “Separated, Alienated, Strangers, Hopeless & Hostility” describes what it’s like when we are not Christians and adopted into God’s family. There’s a reason why our family dysfunction is so similar to our spiritual dysfunction outside of a relationship with God. There are similar consequences & feelings because FAMILY doesn’t just illustrate God’s Family but it’s an actual REPRESENTATION of God’s Family & the Gospel.

This is why the Gospel is important and keeping Christ at center of our marriages and parenting is important. The Gospel not only reconciles us with God but it’s the life source for the dysfunction in our family situations.

Ephesians 2:11-22 also shares that the good news of the Gospel is God making a covenant/promise with you by bringing you near to Him by the blood of Christ, giving us peace, making us ONE in His body, reconciling us back to God through the cross and makes those who were far off now near. However covenants being honored, peace at home and reconciliation between a Father and children is not just what we need in salvation but the same themes is what we need in our homes. Today show your family that there’s a reason why the our personal spiritual state without God is so similar to our family lives without Him and make the necessary changes to bring the Gospel back into your home.

Posted by: Erik Koliser

July 31, 2014

Today you should read: Ephesians 2:1-10

Ephesians is a great book!  It teaches us so much truth about who we are in Christ.  Today’s reading reveals that very idea.  It shows us the three parts to any good testimony.

Who you WERE…

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.  You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.  Ephesians 2:1-3

Before we met Jesus we were dead – without life – because life only comes in Jesus.  We were caught up in ourselves – in our disobedience and sins – living just like the others around us.  We were controlled by Satan – running after the passions and desires he placed in front of us that appealed to our sinful nature.  We were subject to God’s wrath because of our sin.  Just existing – day to day – trying to figure out what to do next.  Headed for a Christ-less eternity…  What was your life like before you met Jesus?

How you CHANGED…

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)  For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.  So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.  God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  Ephesians 2:4-9

Your change begins with God… God who was so rich in mercy.  He sought us out and extended mercy to us – not giving us what we really deserve.  He did this because of His incredible love for us – even though we were dead in our sins.  He saved us through the cross and changed our lives – raised us up with Him.  Someday in heaven, He will lavish his incredible grace and kindness to us for all eternity.  He did it all – it was a gift from Him and had nothing to do with anything we have done or could have done.  Do you remember when God saved you?

Who you ARE NOW…

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

After God saved us – He began the process of remaking us…changing the things that were damaged and damaging into things that were “exhibit A” of what only He can do.  He’s been at work to prepare us for heaven ever since that day.  How has meeting Jesus changed you?

Stop right now and thank Him for His grace that reached out to you.  Thank Him for His love that found you where you were and changed your life forever.  Thank Him for the gift of salvation that has made an eternal difference in your life.

Posted by: Tim Parsons

July 30, 2014

Today you should read: Ephesians 1:15-23

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet today so that you will feel like you have the time and freedom of mind to pray for a few minutes.

After hearing of the faith of the Ephesians, Paul said he unceasingly gives thanks for them while praying for them (vs. 15-16).  Then he goes on to list some things that he prays for them:

  1. That God would truly make Himself known to them (vs. 17)
  1. That God would enlighten their hearts so that they would know…
  • the hope of the great eternity that lies ahead for believers in Jesus (vs. 18).
  • the surpassing greatness of His power toward believers (vs. 19).
  1. That they would see that all of this is possible because of the power of God which He brought about and made available to them through Jesus Christ, who is over and above all things (vs. 19-23).

I don’t know about you, but when I read Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, I am compelled to pray these things for myself, my disciples, and my church.  Would you take a few minutes and join me in praying these things today?

Posted by: Rich Duffield