Safely Abide and Pray

In John 15, Jesus tells us to “Abide in Me.”  Like a branch connected to a vine…be connected and draw nourishment and bear fruit.  Our words will be His words and as we ask of Him it will be granted to us and in that God is glorified.  Love.  The love the Father has for the Son is the love the Son has for us and we love Him by abiding in Him and keeping His commandments.

All of this demonstrates a safe place with Jesus standing at the door calling us in to abide with Him.  When safely in, Jesus wants us to talk like Him and act like Him…obedient and to the glory of God.

So from our safety in Jesus, I invite you to take some time, turn in your bible and read Psalm 91.  Meditate on it and take God’s words given to us by inspiration and pray them on behalf of your home, your children, your grandchildren, and the children of our family in Jesus.

I offer you my version and leave you to yours.

“Dear Heavenly Father, me and my household have made You our dwelling place, the Most High, who is our refuge. I trust that because of this, no evil shall be allowed to befall me and my children, no plague can come near my home. For You will command angels concerning us to minister to my family.  On their hands they will bear me up lest I strike my foot against a stone. I will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent we will trample underfoot. As a father of the children You have blessed me with, I rest upon your promise: “I will rescue those who love Me. I will protect those who trust in My name. When they call on Me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them My salvation.  In name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.”

Only Steps Away

28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” 29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:  28-34; NKJV)

Today the sermon at South Macomb was a continuation of our working through the four gospels and focused on lessons in Mark 11 and 12.  There were many points to be made but I wanted to focus on a section found in chapter 12.  I encourage you to read the chapter as I am not going to lay down much background but want to focus on this encounter between Jesus and the scribe.  I want to attempt to paint a picture in your mind that was given today and then keep that image in our mind as we work through this week.

The image I want to paint is of a safe place, a dangerous place, and someone caught in the middle.  You might have your own version of this, but I am going to offer one of my own.  Imagine you are in a building and a battle rages outside with gunfire and explosions all around.  There is a group who is safe in their reinforced concrete bunker, with no windows and made to survive the kind of chaos and destruction going on.  They are safe, but someone cracks the door to see what is going on and notices a young man running down the street…unarmed, confused, scared, looking for shelter…to be safe and live.  The one looking out also notices he is wearing the wrong uniform…the uniform of the enemy.  Even more, the one looking is wearing the wrong uniform in the eyes of the man outside…the clothes of his enemy.  But the one inside calls out to him anyways…beckons him to come and be safe.  He hears the call and he sees the caller and even starts making his way to the door.  He is hesitant and unsure what to do as he gets closer.  What if it is a trap?  Even though the bunker gets him out of the gun battle going on outside and everything he has been taught about fighting tells him this is a secure place…how does he know what is inside is safer than outside?  Still the call goes out to him, encourages him, tells him it will be safe.  Others from inside gather with the one and join and shout this same message of safety…of friendship…of hope.  He comes closer and it is clear he really wants to live and wants to be safe and wants to believe that he can be inside the bunker.  He is right there…just a couple more steps and he will be in and safe and can live.  Everyone calls to him but he stops…he looks at them…they want to grab him but the bullets are flying and they can’t quite reach him…if only he would take one more step…but he stops.  Now he is out in the open and all the danger of the situation is upon him though he is only a step or two from safety…he is unsure, and he hesitates.  Surely he was about to come those two steps…they sure want him to…but a bullet hits its mark and he is gone.  It is too late…he was so close to safety…the caller was there to save him…they had a place for him to be safe…they called out to him…they wanted him with them…but his hesitation…his lack of faith in the caller’s intentions, their actions, and the offer left him just a couple steps too far from being saved.

I know you get the point.  So let me just end today with this.  I want us to look at these kinds of situations from three perspectives this week.  Jesus is the one calling out.  We are the ones who join with hHim to encourage.  Those in the world or those of our brethren who are astray are the man in harms way.  You saw that coming right?  But don’t stop there.  Take another look.  Jesus is still calling out, our brethren are still joining in the call, but are we the man in harms way?  That could be a likely scenario…right?  Could it be that it depends in any given situation or stage of our lives or the lives of others?  Read chapter 12.  Paint this image in your head.  Meditate and pray about what we can do about those 2 last steps…whether we are in harms way or with Jesus calling others to safety.  Take some time and work that over in your head and heart and let’s see what we can learn and apply this week.  I love you all…and thankfully Jesus loves us more.

Don’t be Afraid to Forgive Your Kids

Did you ask God yesterday or today to forgive you for something you knew you shouldn’t have done or have been admonished for doing in the past?  Did you really mean it?  Were your really sorry for what you did and committed to not doing it again?  I know I did.  I know we all find ourselves before our loving, merciful, longsuffering Father knowing we have violated His rules, hurt Him, or strayed from the straight path He has laid out for us.  So what?  Why start here?

I start here because I am not providing this same blessing to my children.  There are probably a lot of reasons for that but as we have been talking about…a lot of times my own insecurity or fear of the trajectory of my kids’ life is taking when considering their actions or decisions.  I want them to be safe…first and foremost spiritually and when I see them going or catch them in the far country, I am guilty of going straight to angry and sometimes that takes away any opportunity for them to say “I’m sorry” or ask for my help.  Certainly, I am expected to discipline my children, but I am not talking about constructively leading my children.  I am talking about being for them what I find in my Abba Father and Elder Brother…graceful, merciful, longsuffering, forgiving, loving, providing security, help…all of the tremendous blessings I have in Jesus.

So that is the thought for today.  How can we better forgive our children so that we can be a positive part of the solution?  Again, we should all endeavor to get ahead of trouble and teach our children to avoid it…but when they don’t…can we forgive them, love them, and take them by the hand as they stand up and get themselves back on the path they should be on?

Jesus demonstrated it.   (I Pet. 2:21; Phil. 2:3-5; Luke 23:34).  Jesus gave us the example.  Our Father forgives us daily.  We have our examples and they are worth following for our own sake and the sake of our children.

We have been forgiven. God, in Christ, has forgiven the sins of the Christian (Eph. 4:32). As Christ has forgiven us, then we should forgive others (Col. 3:13) and our kids need it so that they can feel safe and we might find opportunity to teach them and model a forgiving heart.

We must pattern our forgiveness after the forgiveness God has granted to us. It must be accompanied by actions which befit true forgiveness.  Forgiveness involves a kind attitude—abandoning all animosity and hatred. All bitterness, anger, wrath, clamor and evil speaking should be put away (Eph. 4:31). We can’t hold grudges.  We are the adult.  We have to act it.

We are going to have to forget.  Of course, we are not able to just erase it from our mind, but we can avoid holding our children accountable to something if they have come to use for forgiveness and with a true heart toward not doing it again.  Our forgiveness granted should be the end of the matter and we should assume the best of our kids to do their best moving forward.  God is for us.   He is for them.  We are in this together with our kids and I know forgiving isn’t always the first thing I think to do but when I can get that right I see a softened heart looking for my leadership and that is an awesome opportunity.

Like you, I have spent my children’s entire lives protecting them and providing them every advantage.  In the end, the best advantage they have is a life lived with Jesus.  That is our best advantage and if we are freed up in that security we can stand to forgive and love…just like our Abba Father forgives and loves us.

Leaning In

Eudokia: Properly, what seems good or beneficial to someone, “good-pleasure”

This word is used twice in Ephesians chapter one and is translated “kind intention”. In this chapter, while Paul is discussing “every spiritual blessing” that we have in Christ, he says that it seemed good to God to bless us. There are nine places in the New Testament where this word is used (Mt. 11:26, Luke 2:14, 10:21, Rom. 10:1, Eph. 1:5, 9, Phil. 1:15, 2:13, and II Thess. 1:11). Most of the time it is translated “well-pleasing” or “good pleasure”. In Romans 10:1, Paul is discussing his Jewish brethren and he says, “my heart’s desire” is for their salvation. So we could say that it was God’s heart’s desire to bless us in Christ.

This desire that God has must be kept in the context of Ephesians. Immediately after exploring all the things that God has done for us in Christ, he reminds us of what we were. Chapter two starts, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”

This idea is a foreign concept to me. When people reject me, treat me harsh, or are downright hostile my instinct is to strike back. On a good day I will just shut down our step back but God didn’t strike back or shut down, He leaned in and showed kindness.

This attribute of God has been particularly powerful for me lately in light of challenges we are having with one of our daughters. She is speeding towards her teenage years and has been struggling with our recent move, leaving her friends behind and being introduced to a new church family and school. She has been grumpy, irritable, distant, and at times rude and disrespectful. She doesn’t want to participate in anything and when we force her to comply with our expectations she manages to do it while clearly showing her disgust. She is happy in her own misery and seems to be trying to infect the rest of the family with it.

To my shame, I have failed her. Her attitude is so repulsive to me that most of my responses have been driven by my own anger and irritation. I have tried to control her through my “fatherly” authority and punishment. And I hate to admit it but it has become easier to just avoid her and attempt to isolate her impact on the rest of the family. In short, I’ve responded exactly the opposite of how God has responded to me.

My guess is that some of you dads have experienced, or are experiencing, similar situations with your children. I am not nearly arrogant enough to believe I’m qualified to provide advice on this subject. What I know is this: God’s love and kindness is what draws me to Him. I reject Him and I rebel and He is still there, leaning in. I fight and I kick and I scream against His will and He is still there, leaning in. I fail and I fail and I fail and He is still there, leaning in.

So this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to ask my Father for His forgiveness, which He has promised in abundance. I’m going to ask my daughter for her forgiveness which all my children have shown me in abundance. I’m going to lean in. I’m going to bless her.

Perspective. Present. Participate.

1 Let brotherly love continue… 5…For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:1, 5-6).

 

1 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved….13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:1, 13).

Our children need us. God has provide us His instruction so that we can lead them and be for them what they need. Still, we need our Heavenly Father and Savior. In them, we are going to be the best influence in our kids’ lives. In them, we are free to love, forgive, and risk having our hearts broken time and again. They will not forsake us and are for us even when it seems like nothing is going right in our relationships with our kids or we are frustrated with the choices they are making or are questioning what we might have done wrong to get to this point. There is going to be a lot of joy with our kids…but there is a lot of sorrow and frustration. How do we deal with those hardships?

Perspective. Living today in the context of eternity and understanding God is with us and with our kids and He is able to carry our weight, show us the way, and strengthen our spirit. Further, we can consider our own relationship with Him and in it we will see much of the same in the relationship with our children. There is unconditional love. There is clear expectation for behavior. There are times we fall short and God is disappointed. And in these times, when we go to Him, we find grace, mercy, forgiveness, love and encouragement. This process happens over and over…just like with our kids. He is available and able…we just have to go to Him.

Present. God is ever-present in our lives and we need to be present in the lives of our children. Present doesn’t only mean in the same room as them or we make it to every school, athletic, or other activity they are participating in. I have learned the hard way that is not enough. Present means that we have put the other distractions away and give your full attention to what they are doing or what we are doing together. Of course we will not be completely and fully engaged in everything they are doing when we are in the same place…that is especially difficult when we are talking multiple children. What it means is we be there for our kids, make ourselves available and when they come to us or invite us to participate we are all in and give our full attention to them. That is what God does for us…we need to do this for our kids.

Participate. We participate in their lives by example…by providing a consistent example of our love for Jesus and the way He dictates how we live, the choices we make, the things we say, etc. That our love for Him is at the forefront of our lives…that we demonstrate Jesus to them. We then are going to be part of their lives and so we will enjoy their highs and endure along with them their lows. We will teach them in that. We will treat them the way God expects them to treat others. We fulfill the responsibilities God has given us with joy. It matters…more than we might know day to day but as a brother told me yesterday… “they will love you more for it”. He is right and it is that unexpected moment when my son gives me a hug, or says thanks, or my daughter blows me away with her grace or mercy, or love for another. What a beautiful moment.

In Christ Jesus and with our Heavenly Father, be free to love your kids and when you are hurt or frustrated…go to the One who can truly help you and strengthen you. Then get back to work…it’s a work worth doing and in many cases a work only you can do.

Be Steadfast–He Will Not Forsake You

1 Let brotherly love continue… 5…For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say:  “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:1, 5-6)

1 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved….13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:1, 13)

This week, I want to focus on these verses.  I would encourage you to take time and read the entire chapters and even the books of Philippians and Hebrews.  These verses are taken out of context of larger discussions but I have used them to keep me focused in my life of service to God and others.  Because I am forgiven of my sins through the blood of Jesus and have been reconciled to God the Father…I am different.  Keeping these verses in mind helps me to remember that and remember that I am only a soujouner here even though the activiites of the world will get me off track, overwhelmed, and keep me from living “blessed” so that I can be a blessing to others.

The women in our lives are important and have a powerful impact on our lives.  Whether mothers, daughters, girl friends/friends, wives, or sisters (in Christ or by birth); the women in our lives can bring us great joy or bring us great sorrow…and visa versa us to them.  They are powerful relationships with powerful emotions.  We can even elevate them to hirer place than they should hold and we can put them at the center of lives where God belongs.  We are to honor and respect them for sure and we certainly should seek their affection, love, and approval.  However, that is not the source of our love.  That is not the source of our identitiy.  That is not the source of our contentment.  That is not the source of our hope.  We can’t start with them.

We start with our Father and our Savior.  In that, we can know that we are safe.  We can know that we are loved.  We can know that there is a greater relationship in play.  In that, we are free.  We are free to love and to offer ourselves and open ourselves up to be hurt because we have confidence in our Heavenly Father and He will not forsake us and we have confidence in our Savior and He will give us the strength needed to love no mater what…all things are possible.

This seems simple…but with real emotions, real relationships, real tragedy, real betrayal, real hurt, real problems…we can get off track and we can become toxic and so can our relationships with our women.

If we first start with God and Jesus, we can then be filled up and freed to then pour out love, grace, mercy, longsuffering as we have received it.  We can do all of that for God…to the benefit to the women in our lives.

This has been a powerful realization and shift in my life and it came at one of the darkest of times.  Since then, thought things haven’t always been easy, I have felt more full and effective in my marriage, my parenting, my fellowship…in all aspects of my life with the women in my life.

Take some time and think about how you might be putting a woman in your life where God should be, the grief it is causing you and her, and go to God and lay this at His feet and meditate on how He would want you to go for the benefit of all involved.

Shine Your Light

After giving the Beatitudes which describe who the people are who are blessed and belong in Christ’s kingdom, Jesus continues to describe who his people are. There is an identity that Christ’s people understand that they possess. First, Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth. It is not that we have salt but that we are salt. We are to influence people for Jesus. We asked who do we influence, where do we influence, and how do we influence. Jesus’ concern was that we would lose our saltiness. We are to influence in a way that brings grace to the person and to the situation. We must consider our words and actions to determine if we are bringing graciousness that glorifies Jesus. Jesus gives us another picture of our identity in Matthew 5:14-16.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14–16 ESV)

You Are the Light of the World. What does that mean? Are we talking influence? And if so…Who do we influence…Where do we influence…How do we influence?

Jesus answers these questions in the two illustrations given…a city on a hill that cannot be hidden and a lamp put upon a stand (not under a basket). In both, Jesus is talking about light and that it cannot and more importantly should not be hidden.

As disciples and men, we must not be hidden and should be obvious like a city set on a hill. God did not make us light so we would hide ourselves…but to shine. Jesus is our example and He says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV). God is light and His word provide us direction and guidance…it lights our way and in light there is life. His word is “…a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105 ESV).

What we see in Jesus calling himself the light of the world and David declaring that God’s word is a lamp and a light tells us that light is supposed to shine in the darkness so that people can see the way to live their lives. The light is to shine so that they can have direction because the world is full of darkness (cf. John 1:4-9.) Light shows the way. Light illuminates the path. Light provides the direction needed. Keep this idea in mind as we think about being the light of the world. We are to show the way. We are to give direction to the world. We are to illuminate the path.

So how do we take God’s light and let it shine in our lives so that others can see?

To start you thinking through your answer and what you could do differently today…or maybe more something you are already doing to purposefully shine light into the lives of others.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:14–16 ESV).

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:9–12 ESV)

Bitter Trap

Consider this description, this portrait of bitterness provide by Carol McGalliard in the Discipleship Journal, Issue 141, May/June, 2004.

“Long ago someone hurt you.  Your shoulders hunch up when you think about it.  You set your jaw and get a bad taste in your mouth.  When you talk about the hurt, your voice sounds crabby no matter how carefully you choose your words.  You hope God will get even with the one who hurt you, but you dream about your own revenge – just in case He doesn’t.”

Strong’s defines bitterness, or the Greek word “pikria” as acridity (especially poison), literally or figuratively.  If you are like me, you might not know exactly what “acridity” is so I looked that up too…and it means sharp or biting to the taste or smell; bitterly pungent…exceedingly caustic.  That…when I think about bitterness…makes sense and hits home.

So with that in mind, think about some qualities of a bitter person?  Someone who endlessly replays a wrong in their mind in detail (and perhaps exaggerated).  Someone with selective memory who might focus only on the bad times.  Someone full of self-pity or who is self-righteous…thinking they “have a right to be bitter”.  Someone who is only has cynical (and sometimes irrational) comments or who is only harsh with others.

The Psalmist gives us a pretty clear picture of bitterness.  “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before You.” (Psalm 73:21-22; NIV).  A brute beast.  That is a powerful image and one I am ashamed has described me at times…before my God, my wife, my children and pretty much everyone that has meant something to me.

Bitterness is a dangerous thing and it can destroy a family.  As a husband, I am told “do not be bitter toward my wife” (Colossians 3:19) and in general we are to avoid “any root of bitterness springing up” in our hearts (Hebrews 12:15).  Bitterness leads to wrath, wrath leads to anger, anger leads to clamor, clamor leads to evil speaking, evil speaking leads to malice.  (Ephesians 4:31).

The key to overcoming bitterness…or wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, malice?  The key is a deep conviction with reference to the existence and nature of God, a deep confidence in God and faith in God who can be trusted in all circumstance!

God has forgiven you and me in Jesus.  It is right that He expect us to grow and to show the same grace and mercy to others.  In Him we are safe and free to love.  In that safety and freedom, we can cast the burden of bitterness on Him and know that He cares for us and will not forsake us…even when it feels like the people most important and special to us have.

So why bring this to you today?  I bring it to you today because I know that bitterness can be a very real trap in our lives laid out by Satan to separate us from those we most care about.  I have heard it said “it hurts the most when it’s someone you know” and the hurt can be a number of different things.  I have been bitter and I have let that bitterness drive a wedge in my marriage, my relationships with sisters in Christ, with my own sister…with my friends.  It has disarmed me of any grace, mercy, love or other spiritual tool and blessing and has in some circumstances created a long road to come back from in terms of reconciling a relationship and truly looking to God for my strength and my peace.

Bitterness is a trap.  It can be avoided if we keep focused on our Abba Father.  It’s still a very real trap…so be careful where you step.

Disappointment

Disappointment is inevitable in a sin-cursed world.  Disappointment is all around each of us in our own lives or in the lives of others.  Why is this so?  Why is there such a thing as a “sin-cursed world” and is the disappointment in it necessary?

We see how this all came to be as a result of Adam and Eve rebelling against God and sinned, there were consequences.

To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”  (Genesis 3:16-19; NKJV).

And it is not just man and woman that is affected but creation in its entirety.

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:19-22; NKJV).

 Sorrow.  Pain and Suffering.  Sweat or Tears.  Physical Death.  These are the results of sin.  These all certainly sound disappointing if you don’t understand the why of them.  But in understanding the why we know that all of this is intended to drive us to God and His Son.

In doing so, we live today in the context of eternity and we understand that what is going on here is but a moment and the disappointment of this life does not measure up to the tremendous eternal rest and gain in Heaven.

But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”  (Hebrews 11:16; NKJV)

God is in His country which is Heaven.  Heaven is the country to which those who believe and obey the Gospel of Jesus go. We get to see His face!  What we will not see is deception, lies, temptation, sin, suffering, or death.  These things do not exist there!

In knowing this, we can then bring encouragement into the lives around us as they might be experiencing disappointment in this world.  We can demonstrate the great hope we have in Jesus and in our expectant Heavenly home.  We can live in such a way that clearly articulates “there is no disappointment in Heaven” and “I sure would like to help you get there”!

This will shine a light into someone’s life and if they let you help will lighten their load as they go.

The Calling and The Walk

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,”  Ephesians 4:1

I’ve been listening to a series of lessons by Andy Cantrell on the letter to the Ephesians.  I’ve provided the link below if you’d like to take a listen.  Among other things, Andy did a tremendous job in identifying and simplifying the structure of the letter.  I believe that if you can get an overall picture of a book it allows you to understand, and apply, the more specific instruction in a powerful way.

Andy looked at chapter four verse one as the pivot point in the letter.  Paul implores the Christians to “walk…worthy of the calling.”  Chapters one through three describes the “calling” and chapters four through six describe the walk.

When you think about the “calling” of the Christian, what do you think of?  Do you think of our behavior, our language, our attitude?  Do you think of being kind and generous and loving?  Maybe you think of the things we are not to do, avoiding sinful behavior.  That is how I used to think but in reality I was thinking of the walk.  Paul implores us to walk worthy of the calling, meaning the walk and the calling are two different things.  The calling is the “why” behind our walk.  In other words, our behavior, our language, our attitudes, avoiding sin is because we have been called.

So how does Paul describe our calling?  Well, we’d have to discuss all the amazing things in Ephesians chapters one through three and we don’t have time for that in this short article.  I’d like us to consider one of the recurring themes or phrases from the first three chapters.

“to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”  1:6

“to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.”  1:12

“who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” 1:14

In addition, notice how often God’s glory is referenced.

“the Father of glory” 1:17

“according to the riches of His glory” 3:16

“to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.” 3:21

One of the essential attributes of our calling is God’s glory.  The Greek word for glory (doksa) literally means “what evokes good opinion, i.e. that something has inherent, intrinsic worth.”  The mercy and grace and kindness and love that God has lavished upon us should result in praising God’s glory.  The planning and execution of our redemption should result in praising God’s glory.  Our entire purpose is to generate praise of His glory.

So why do I walk a certain way?  Why is my behavior and language and attitude different than the world around me?  Why are my relationships with my wife and kids and co-workers and neighbors different?  Why should I try to live up to a certain standard, trying to understand what pleases God?  Because I’ve been called to bring praise to the glory of God.

This understanding of my purpose, of my calling changes things.  All that I do in my walk is not about me.  It is not about being better than those around me.  It is not about avoiding eternal punishment or securing my place in heaven.  My walk is about God’s glory and when I conduct myself in a worthy manner I will help generate praise to God.

As we get up and get ready to go out and face the world this morning, let us consider what our walk says about our Father in heaven.  Do our lives praise the glory of God?

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