My posts come from my personal daily scripture readings and a part of my personal accountability. If we are going to grow as followers of Christ, we must be in the Word! If you miss these a few days, something has kept me from it; but if they're gone for too many days, call me on the carpet. We need to hold one another accountable. Join me on this journey as our lives are to Reflect the Image-and Jesus IS the image. Peace, Carla Sunberg
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Prisoner in the Lord
Remnants of the prison in Philippi where it is believed that Paul was held.
Eph. 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
This passage is an appeal to unity but before Paul goes into that detail, he wants to remind his readers that he is in chains in Rome. Following Christ is not necessarily an easy task and he wants those who will read his letter to know that they can, just as he has, rise above their circumstances. This includes ones personal and moral infirmities. Sometimes we are imprisoned by our own lives and Paul has intentionally given himself over to become a prisoner of Christ.
Paul then begs or urges his readers to “lead a life” which quite literally means “to walk” a life that is “worthy of the calling.” The entire journey is to be infused with intentionality in uniting the body of Christ, revealing love that reflects true freedom. Paul has an expectation that believers will grow in grace and will desire to conform their lives to reflect the pure and righteous God whom they have chosen to serve. All of this is not oppressive but develops develops in beauty.
Everyday there are things that keep us down, or hold us prisoner. It’s the tyranny of the urgent that remains before our eyes. For me, it’s another report to write, another sermon to prepare, more e-mails to answer, and more writing projects than I have time to prepare. It’s far too easy to become a prisoner to my in-box or to-do list. However, if I do that, I’m prone to miss out on the beauty and mystery to be found in God.
The unity to which Paul calls us is found in the Triune God. When we are united with Christ, then we too participate in the relationship found in God. The result is unity, not on human terms, but on God’s. There is too much ego involved in all of us for this to happen only by human will. Only when we give ourselves over to entire participation in God can we be filled with God’s love and unity, which then spills over to the inclusion of others. This is why we want to be prisoners of Jesus Christ, for only then will our walk in life be entirely reflective of the nature of God.
Paul believed that intentional imitation of Christ was like exercise for the spiritual life, strengthening the muscles and sinews of our lives and helping us to be formed into the image of God. This was not a works theology, but rather, a participation and willingness to imitate and be united with Christ. To be a prisoner in the Lord may include physical shackles, or, it may be glorious freedom resulting from a life of intentional and wholehearted devotion to Christ.
Lord, we pray for unity among your children which will spill over into the surrounding culture. Amen.
Rom. 6:22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Two sides of life are presented here in great contrast. One is a life of sin and enslavement to evil. The other side of life is freedom which provides the advantage of sanctification (or holiness as some translate the word) that leads to eternal life. The options here are a life of sin, slavery and death; or freedom, holiness and eternal life.
The advantage of holiness or sanctification is the benefit of the life of freedom. Jesus died so that we might be made holy like him and this is something that is offered as a “fruit” or “advantage” right now. The end is eternal life — but the living of life is that it can be lived out in holiness.
The next verse is really just an affirmation of the verse 22. Sin will lead …
Ex. 33:4 ¶ When the people heard these harsh words, they mourned, and no one put on ornaments. Ex. 33:5 For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, and I will decide what to do to you.’” Ex. 33:6 Therefore the Israelites stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.
The people had sinned before God by making and worshiping the golden calf! They had taken their golden jewelry — the earrings and other items they had gotten from the Egyptians and used them to create an idol. Now, in an act of humility and repentance they were to take off all of their jewelry and ornaments. It was a time of mourning over their sin and it included intentional action on the part of the Israelites. Application:
We don’t do all that well with humility and repentance! It seems that we live in a time when we try to carry on…
Scripture: Mark 8:31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Observation:
Peter had openly declared that Jesus was the Messiah when suddenly the conversation shifted to suffering, rejection and death. With his affirmation of Jesus as Messiah, Peter had brought with him all of the connotations of that term. Jesus was to be a great military leader, a Davidic Messiah, who would save the people from the earthly authorities. Jesus’ description was a paradigm that didn’t fit into Peter’s thinking.
Peter’s rebuke of Jesus was severe. The language reflects a long and unpleasant conversation. The…