Posts

Showing posts from February, 2018

The Transfiguration and Revelation

Scripture

Mark 9:2   Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them,  3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.  4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.  5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.  7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”  8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

Observation

This incident, known as the Transfiguration. is a moment where God bears witness to his son. The curtain is held back just a little for us to see what is happening behind the scenes. Jesus’ Divinity is exposed for those present where they cat…

Mutual Submission

Scripture:
Eph. 5:21   Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Eph. 5:22   Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. 24 Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Eph. 5:25   Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, 27 so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “For th…

Changing Times

Scripture:
Eph. 5:15   Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20 giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Observation:
The times were changing, and it was necessary to live in the wisdom of the Spirit. This means intentional turning from folly, refusing to live as the unwise. Instead, this wisdom is reflected in the wise use of time, in true worship and a heart of thanksgiving.
This is a season where the faithless hold dominion, and in this time, it is prudent for God’s people to live in a careful manner, to avoid scandal. Live, faithful in conduct, especially among tho…

What Makes God Angry

Scripture:
Ephesians 5:6
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient.
Observation:
Paul continues to encourage the church in Ephesus to avoid the pagan practices of the world. This city was full of pagan worship, especially in regard to the goddess Artemis or Diana. The great temple was in the middle of the city, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. 
Notice here that God is not upset at the sinner, but at the one who might, through deception, try to hurt those who are growing in their faith. These are the people who may have been mocking the new believers or trying to distract them into other types of worship. They had empty words, a faith that would leave people with nothing. The souvenir salesmen in Ephesus were furious because the Christian revival was cutting into their business. One can imagine that they began to come up with elaborate schemes to get the people back to Diana’s temple and to investin…

Vehicles of Lust

Scripture:
Eph. 5:3   But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. 5 Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Observation:
We continue to hear Paul’s heart of compassion for the life of the church. Those who are “the saints,” or who are God’s holy people are to consistently find ways to reflect Christ’s holiness. Paul begins to list behaviors that may become vehicles of lust, which are not consistent with life in the church.
Fornication was generally used to refer to sexual activity with a prostitute, and this was to be avoided at all costs. Any kind of sexual impurity was seen as a distraction from the life of a believer. Interestingly, greed is right up there with these great concerns. The root of greed…

Rend Your Heart

Scripture:
Joel 2:12-13
Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.
Matthew 6:16-18
Concerning Fasting “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Observation:
The people of God knew that there were rules and rituals to be followed but they were only engaged outwardly. In their hearts, they were still worshiping the idols of the secular world. God never has been interested in outward appearances of religiosity, but desire…

Acting Like Beloved Children

Scripture:
Eph. 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Observation:
Paul is affirming that the church is not to live like the world. That’s why he brings us to this point and says, “therefore.” For the people in the church to move away from their pagan lifestyle, they are to live into their adoption. for they are children of God. It's very important to recognize that this adoption is entire and complete, and now we are beloved children; children who are lavished in the love of the Father. 
Basically, Paul is saying that it’s time to live into this adoption and imitate your heavenly Father. Because we are beloved and God’s love is lavished on us, we are to live in that love. It’s like swimming in the deep end of the pool that has been filled with God’s holy love. This love permeates every pore of our being and we are transformed, right down to the core, into t…

Let’s Talk About Anger

Scripture:
Eph. 4:25   So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. 28 Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
Observation:
Paul continues to educate the church as to her role as a community of faith. Most certainly this is in the develop…

Yes, a Life of Holiness is Possible

Scripture:
Ephesians 4:17-24
The Old Life and the New Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Observation:
While it may sound that the Apostle is picking on the Gentiles here, he really is not. He is referring to the pagans within the world who have had no exposure to God. The Jews …

Spirit-filled Synapses

Scripture:
Ephesians 4:14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
Observation:
These verses are a continuation of Paul’s thought found in the previous verses. Verses 11-16 are actually one long sentence in the Greek. The whole concept provided here is that the church will be knit together in unity by being united with Christ. When we are “in Christ” we are rooted into a firm foundation. Paul, himself, remembers what it was like to be young and to be vulnerable to the teachings of various individuals. There will always be those who use religion for their own personal benefit and ther…

The Church, A Place of Nurture

Scripture:
Ephesians 4:11-13 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
Observation:
Gifts were given to the church so that she could fulfill her purpose of bringing all to “unity of the faith,” and this is to be seen in maturity, or perfection. The leaders in the church were to disciple the followers so that they could become more like Christ. The gifts to the church included the very first apostles, those who witnessed the resurrection of Christ.  But the gift continues and includes the prophets who are those who can point toward a future, to the place where God is leading the people. It also includes evangelists who can speak about the past and bring the good news to a needy world. Pastors w…

Oneness

Scripture:
Eph. 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
Observation:
The nature of the church is repeated time and again by Paul. He has already prayed that the church would begin to comprehend the beauty of being united in diversity. Now, he breaks this out in a seven-fold declaration of oneness. These can be broken down into two groups of three, and then a final affirmation of the unity of God. 
The first three, or triad refers to the visible signs of the church: 
One Body...Beginning with the incarnation of Christ, in a human body, the church is called to be “the body.” This includes those who have served faithfully in the past, in the present and in the days to come. We are a part of a community which is much larger than ourselves, or that is visible to the naked eye. We are surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses and we p…