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.
Scripture: Proverbs 21:17Whoever loves pleasure will suffer want; whoever loves wine and oil will not be rich. Observation:
Some have said that this verse speaks of the dangers of an Epicurean life-style. What does that mean? Generally we have attributed this to the teaching of Epicurus, a philosopher who was born in 341 BC. He encouraged people to find a static state of pleasure where one was satiated — or full. When the pleasures have been completely, or entirely satisfied, then one feels full. Later Epicurean societies adopted a motto: Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo ("I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care”). In contemporary society this phrase has been adopted to be used at humanist funerals, or to be carved as an epitaph on a headstone.
The problem is that they don’t understand what Wisdom was trying to say. Pleasure alone would ultimately leave one wanting. The Epicurean life of rich foods and drink, as well as the investment in oils and cosmetics could not be sustained. T…
Proverbs 15:17Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it. Observation:
The guests are invited to dinner but the host is concerned that there is little to offer. Without the financial resources of the wealthy, they are unable to kill a fatted ox and can only serve vegetables. While some may be discouraged by this, wisdom tells us that the satisfaction depends upon the appetite of the guest. If the guests who are invited are hungry, then even a small meal will be enjoyed and received with gratitude. They will experience the love of the host who was willing to share all he had with his guests. Application:
I was born in Germany where my parents served as missionaries. It seems that our financial resources were often limited, and yet, there was an endless supply of guests at our table. Not only did we have our dear German friends gathering with us at the table, but also many visitors from other countries who would stop by, wanting to see “t…
Scripture: Job 38:1-2 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Observation: Trying to give a reason for Job’s circumstances, his friends had provided every explanation imaginable to the human mind. Now, it was time for God’s response and reality is brought into focus. The friends were bringing counsel to Job, but they did not have knowledge. There was far too much that they did not understand. Following this question God reminds Job that God alone has power over creation, and this knowledge is far beyond Job’s understanding. Therefore, the words of Job’s friends are hollow with misunderstanding. They do not know God, and should not presume to speak for God, for their counsel becomes words without knowledge. Application: If our first instinct is not to run to the Lord in difficult circumstances, we may be allowing ourselves to be counseled by words without knowledge. There are plenty of people who are willing to give us ad…