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My response to Ephesians … Jesus does it all

What a privilege it has been to be a part of this Ephesians study.  The study itself has been so good for me and I have been very encouraged to see what God has been teaching all of you. I pray that your thirst for his word continues to grow.

I love how very organized Paul is in his writings. In Ephesians Paul spends the first half of the letter teaching us about some heavy doctrines and in the second half he tells us very practically how those doctrines should affect our everyday lives. (He does the same thing in the book of Romans.) Here are a few things that I am taking away from our Ephesians study.

Jesus Chooses (Eph. 1; 2:8-9)

There are moments, usually right after I have barked at the kids, or disciplined in the heat of the moment or when I have been in a generally unpleasant mood that I look at myself and think, “Why in the world did God ever chose me?” I can tell you, it certainly wasn’t because I have it all together or because I am so awesome. No, he chooses the unlovely (me), the annoying (me), the grumpy (me), the sinner (me) because of his immeasurable grace and mercy. This humbles me and gives me joy.

Jesus Redeems (Eph. 1)

Sometimes I feel like I suffer from spiritual amnesia because I am constantly forgetting how much Christ has done for me. Christ has paid a very heavy price for my release from the slavery of sin and instead of crawling back into that dark mess I need to live like one who is free. Free to run away from sin and free to love and obey God.

Jesus Forgives (Eph. 4:32 )

I am a forgiven sinner, but it is not just my past sins that Jesus has blotted out, he also willingly suffered for the sins that I have not yet committed. That is deep love and I need to imitate Jesus by making sure I forgive those who wrong me. When I feel pride creeping in all I need to do is look to the cross and I am humbled.

Jesus has all power (Eph. 1:19-20)

One thing I have learned is that life is unpredictable. It doesn’t matter how organized I try to be are or how many lists I make,  things will not always go according to my plan. I am not in control. Jesus is. He has all the power, not only to save me and change me, but also to give me all the strength I need to make it through this topsy turvy life.

I am in “Christ” (Eph 2:18-22 )

I am in Christ and so are you! We have a lot in common. We struggle with the same sins and we have similar victories. We also have the same goals. What an encouragement this is to me knowing that I have sisters all over the world who are praying, studying and striving to be more like Jesus.  We are all soldiers in the army of God, serving Christ our King and fighting sin and Satan. I love this, because it means I am not alone and neither are you.

As summer nears and the school year comes to an end it is easy to get thrown off by a new schedule.  I am going to pray and work hard to keep Jesus as my focus. I hope you will too and God willing I will see you here again for the next Good Morning Girls Bible study.

Looking to Jesus,

My response to Ephesians… I surrender all. Again.

 

I have walked with God for much of my life.  And after someone like me gets comfortable in that walk, I start taking over again.  It happens quite subtly, actually.  Little by little, over time, so gradually sometimes that I barely even notice that it’s happening.  I don’t know about you, but I’m a girl who likes to be in control.  Give me enough time, and I can almost talk myself into thinking that self-reliance is a good thing.  Surely God desires for me to put those critical thinking skills to good use, right?  Or to rely on past experience, or even my education.  Or to work really hard at being a hard-working and responsible individual.  While all of these things can be qualities used for good, God never intended for me to take the lead without Him.   If you’re anything like me, you know that can be a pretty frustrating and futile way to live.  Still, often times before I know it, I’ve taken back the reigns on my life that were never meant to be mine in the first place. 

 

What I’ve come to adore about studying the Bible with Good Morning Girls is the method of breaking the text down verse by verse.  And God got me on the very first verse of Ephesians.

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God

God has a great plan for your life.  For mine.  But like Paul, we have to know who we are in Christ before the rest of the story makes sense.

Think about it, really.  If Paul was going to spend time in prison and still fully submit to and accept God’s will for his life, his identity had to be secure.  Really secure.  So before Paul gives a bunch of disciplines to strive towards in order to grow in Christ-like maturity, he begins Ephesians by simply telling us who we are.  He sets us up for spiritual success.  And the reminder that I need in my life over and over again?  Real success in the end doesn’t depend on me.  Now there’s a load off. 

My identity apart from Christ is lacking and without hope.  My identity with Christ is everything! 

Oh, to read Ephesians 1 and to refresh in my heart and mind that I am a child of the Most High God, who:

… has blessed me with every spiritual blessing.

chose me before the creation of the world.

adopted me as His child.

… gives me His grace freely.

… offers me redemption and forgiveness.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened

in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,

the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. 

That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead…“ 

~Ephesians 1:18

Why in the world do I fall back into the pattern of doing things on my own strength when the very same power that raised Christ from the dead is accessible to me as His child?  It’s incomparably great power for us who believe!  Once I let this truth sink in, I can “walk the aisle” in obedience, ready to fully surrender, once again, to whatever His will is for my life.  Mountains and valleys will come, and I can follow His lead, confident of who I am in Christ.

And He will be enough.

Take the reigns, Father.  They’re rightfully Yours.  Give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know You better (Eph. 1:17), and lead me all the way.

At His feet,

My response to Ephesians…Live a life of love!

Tonight as I sit at my computer resting from celebrating my Savior’s resurrection with my family, I look over the verses we have just covered the past 12 weeks together and these verses pop out at me:

Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” –Ephesians 2:12-13

At one time I was without hope…..without God.

At one time I was far away from God…but Jesus brought me near.

Thank you Jesus for the hope and relationship we have with you! Though once we were far from you, thank you for bringing us near through your precious blood.

Thank you for living and dying a life of love for us!

For me personally the one verse that sums up Ephesians would be Ephesians 5:1

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Be an imitator…be like Christ.

How did Christ live his life? He lived a life of love.

He loved us so much he sacrificed everything…..HE became the offering.

I want to imitate Christ with my life as a wife, mom, daughter, friend…..as a sister in Christ.

Be imitators of God….live a life of love….

As I take my place in God’s family…I need to live a life of love.

As a child of God who has been adopted into his family by grace…Eph 2:8

As I go through life with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ…I need to live a life of love.

With my brothers and sisters in Christ, be humble, gentle, patient….bear with one another in love. Eph 4:2

As I pursue my role as a wife …I need to live a life of love.

Wives, submit to your husband, as to the LORD.Eph 5:22

As a daughter and a mother …I need to live a life of love.

Honor your father and mother…do not exasperate your children…Eph 6:4

The whole book of Ephesians is about living our lives loving others, and loving God. Paul concludes by  encouraging us to be STRONG in the LORD and His mighty power….we will have struggles….living a life of love and sacrifice isn’t easy. We will need God’s help. There is a battle going on and we are the targets. We are reminded in verse 6:12 that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world…”

My advice to all of us….

Pray….work on making it a habit to be in constant communion with God.
Focus……focus on Jesus and don’t look around at what others are doing,  just stay focused on him and in his Word.
Love….imitate Christ and live a life of love.

 

Thank you again from the bottom of MY heart for joining me these past 12 weeks as we have studied the book of Ephesians together! You are a blessing to me!

 

Please join us this summer as we study the life of the Proverbs 31 woman!!!! God has great things in store for us this summer!

For more information about our summer study, click here!

Until next time…

 

Love God Greatly!!!

 

 

 

It’s Time To Fight

A few years ago our two oldest children began taking Tae Kwon Do classes and later our son started wrestling. We wanted Elias to learn how to defend himself and to have the ability and the willingness to defend others. We wanted the same for our daughter since we live in a time and place of much bullying and abuse. Sometimes you just have to fight.

The Christian life is no different. We are called to “fight the good fight” (1 Tim 6:12), to put on the armor made for us by God himself (Eph 6) and enter into this battle between darkness and light (2 Cor. 10:3-6), between the devil and his followers, and Christ and his (the book of Revelation).

In Eph. 6 Paul gives us a list of the armor that we are to put on. We have a belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes we are to put on readiness, which comes from knowing the gospel. And we have the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. To defend ourselves and keep ourselves safe we need all of this as well as the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation. Our spiritual armor gives us confidence as we face whatever the devil throws our way.

The question we have to ask ourselves is, “What exactly am I fighting?” Satan is not going to kick in your front door, drag you on to the front lawn, where the two of you will battle it out with flaming swords. The devil is generally more subtle. He is sly, deceptive, and sometimes quite. He wants to confuse or dazzle us, and he patiently waits for the right moment to tighten the noose that can choke out your life. His one consuming obsession is to destroy (1 Peter 5:8) and he has no compassion.

As Christians we live in a hostile land where we are attacked from many angles. Here are a few fights we need to be ready for.

We are to fight against our sinful nature.

Our sinful hearts can really get the best of us sometimes which is why we need to constantly be in God’s word in order to cut down our sinful desires. We all struggle with selfishness, impatience, and unkindness (just to name a few). Most often it ends up being directed at our families.

How do we fight against our sin?

We must examine ourselves regularly to know precisely where we are struggling. We must repent of those sins and turn towards righteousness by seeing Jesus as Lord and the conqueror over sin. It is also really helpful and important to live in community with other believers who can encourage and gently correct us.

We are to fight against the world.

Day after day we are fed lies that come from the world. “You weigh too much.”
“Your clothes are not the right style.”
“Your home does not have the right decor.”
“You need more stuff in order to be happy.”
“If you are not happy in your marriage, get out.”
“Getting older is bad, bad, bad.”
“Forget responsibility, just have fun.”

The world lies and we are tempted to believe it. We get into debt in order to buy stuff that ends up being the cause of our messy and disorganized homes. We make ourselves crazy dieting in order to fit into certain sizes. We put careers before family, and the approval of man before the approval of Christ all because we buy into the lies that the world feeds us. All of this is spiritual warfare!

How do we fight against the world?

We must be sure that we are grounded in God’s word, and therefore see things as they really are. The only way we can detect the lies of the world is by being sure of the truth of Scripture, where we see the excellencies of Jesus, the beauty of the Kingdom, and future hope of God’s people and our worth in Christ.

“In heaven we shall appear, not in armour, but in robes of glory. But here these [pieces of armor] are to be worn night and day; we must walk, work, and sleep in them, or else we are not true soldiers of Christ.” (William Gurnall)

We fight against Satan

Satan is very real and his desire is to destroy those who love Jesus. He wants to create in us weakness and doubt and he does so through deceit, manipulation, and temptation. One his favorite strategies is to lead us into doubt concerning God’s love and acceptance of us in Jesus.

For example, when you are not walking as closely to Jesus as you should be do you worry that God does not love you as much? That he won’t hear your prayers? Do you feel worthless, hopeless and down because you struggle with sin? Do you sometimes feel like the Christian life is just too hard, that you can’t do it? Do you secretly entertain the thought of walking away? These are some of the doubts and fears Satan whispers to us. It is an age-old trick that he used back in the garden with Adam and Eve and he still uses it today because it works.

How do we fight against Satan?

James  tells us to submit ourselves to God, to resist the devil, and that Satan will flee from us. You must also remember to not be afraid. The devil is not your master. He has no authority over you. Hold on to the truths you find in scripture and Satan will not be able to lie to you. Martin Luther said, “It is almost incredible how God enables us, weak flesh and blood, to enter combat with the devil, and to beat and overcome so powerful a spirit as he, and with no other weapon but only his Word, which by faith we take hold on. This must grieve and vex that great and powerful enemy.”

I was struck by the fact that in all thing we must know God’s word well if we want to be effective soldiers for Christ. Then we will be strong in our personal struggles, in our marriage and parenting, in our battles against the world and against the schemes of Satan.  Cling to God’s word, it is a living book and in it you will encounter the power of God.

Looking to Jesus,

{Week 12} WIWW Link-Up Party… Suit Up, Ladies. There’s a battle going on..

 

I’m a mom to three boys.  You know what that means, don’t you?  No matter how often I remind them to be gentle and compassionate, they always find a way to remind me that God made them ALL boy.  In their world, sticks become swords.  Chopsticks become wands.  Peanut butter sandwiches become guns.  And no one had to teach them how to make those awesome sound effects either.  It’s like they were born with it.  Be warned, friends: if you stop by our house unannounced, there’s a pretty high chance you’ll walk into a living room full of pushed back furniture to make room for a night of “college wrestling”, and it doesn’t even have to be the weekend.

Somebody please tell me you can relate.  Geesh.

The theme is always the same.  There’s a dark side and a light side.  Good versus evil.  And on a good night – if I’m lucky- true heroism shines through, and they rescue their little sister from the bad guys.  They’ve figured out that she can play a pretty good little Tinkerbell when she puts her mind to it.

It’s crazy, but they never seem to run out of stories to act out.  Even if the bad guys were defeated the night before, another villain inevitably arrives to take the last one’s place.  But somehow they’re ready.  They know there will be a struggle, but they’re determined to stand their ground.  And without fail?

The good guys always win.

 

 There’s a huge contrast between those boys and this lone girl of mine.  If given the option, she prefers to “mommy” her baby dolls all day, every day.  She’s a born nurturer, and she doesn’t need prompted to love and sway and sing and pat until the cows come home.

But every so often, if the cast needs another player, she puts on her cape and joins forces with the boys.  It may not seem as natural to her as playing babies, but she doesn’t let that stop her.  She’s tough and determined and focused when she needs to be, and when summoned, she’ll rise to the occasion.

In Ephesians this week, we’re reminded of another battle that’s raging as we speak.  But this is no make-believe battle fought with sticks for swords and pan lids for shields.  It’s the battle between good versus evil alright, and Satan is trying ever so strategically to convince you to join forces with him.

He tries to tell us that because we’re women, fighting in a battle is really not our first preference.   He messes with our minds and convinces us to compare our lives with others until we’re dissatisfied, depend on our emotions far too much, desire for people to like us even if it means compromising, struggle with where our confidence and value come from.  He finds us where we’re weak (and oh, you better believe that he knows), and tries to lure us over to his side.

Ephesians reminds us that with Satan, we can’t just be a spectator in the battle.  Ladies, it’s time to suit up.  To choose which side we’re on, then to intelligently prepare for battle.  Let’s show Satan that with Christ we’re tough and determined and focused, and we can rise to the occasion.  What are some practical ways you and I can do that?  John MacArthur gives us a battle pep talk in his sermon here:

1.  Remember that the death blow has already been dealt – Christ has defeated Satan.  Amen!  (1 John 3:8)

2.  Remember that the power that defeated Satan is dwelling in you! (1 John 4:4)

3.  Be watchful and steadfast in your faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

4.  Don’t give Satan a place in your life. (Eph. 4:27)

5.  Don’t be ignorant of Satan’s devices. (2 Cor. 2:11)

6.  Flee the devil when you see him coming. (James 4:7)

We can be ready.  We know there will be a struggle, but we can be determined, with the power of God on our side, to stand our ground.  And about that battle?

We know Who has already won.


“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Ephesians 6:13

 At His feet,

 

 

 

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