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Weekly posts and an opportunity to ask questions or give your perspective. Let's study the Bible TOGETHER!

29 February 2012

Walking the Talk - 29 February

But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 ( In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Eph 4:7-16 (ESV)

To whom was grace given? How did we receive grace?

God has given special gifts to some men – the apostles, prophets, shepherds, teachers. These men are to equip the rest of us. What specific task did God give to these men? The emphasis is on what the gifts of the men will do to equip us.

“Saints” means holy ones – those of us who are set apart through salvation.
“Equipping” is the translation of the Greek word used in the New Testament for mending nets, setting a bone, realizing a purpose. It means to put right.

On Monday, we read:

… eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph 4:3 (ESV)

Today, we read:

… until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ… Eph 4:13 (ESV)

What is the difference between the two? How are they similar? Do we have the same responsibility toward each? What is our responsibility?

Do we need anything else to mature? What measure do we have for our level of maturity?

How do you measure up? Which areas need more maturity? Which areas are strongest? How can you help others gain maturity?

On Friday, I will discuss ways to attain maturity. I pray that you will take some time for God-inspired evaluation of your life to determine where your walk is most Christlike, where your walk is least Christlike, and what steps you need to take to better walk the talk. Remember to ask Christ – don’t just navel gaze. Only God can give you the answers you need!

See you Friday.

27 February 2012

Walking the Talk - 27 February

We’ve seen that we are saved by grace. Does this mean that we can live however we want? Is our salvation a “magic pill” that will allow us into heaven no matter how we behave? Or is there more – a way to live that honors the name of Christ? How important is it that we walk the talk?

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph 4:1- (ESV)

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. Eph 4:17-19 (ESV)

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Eph 5:1-2 (ESV)

for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Eph 5:8-10 (ESV)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Eph 5:15-17 (ESV)

We have many commands to walk differently once we’re in Christ! In the last two weeks, we’ve listened to Paul as he tells us who we are in Christ, and now Paul is turning his attention to the way we should walk. Let’s go back Ephesians 4:1-8 for more details.

Therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5  one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Eph 4:1-7 (ESV)

Paul wrote this letter from prison. Even as a prisoner, he had a heart for the churches under his care. He wanted to make sure that they understood their duties as believers. It amazes me to read his letters, knowing that he was in an uncomfortable situation himself – yet his love and compassion for fellow believers was so great.

What did he urge us to do?
What specific behaviors/attributes are we to show the world?
What is the basis of our unity in Christ?

How accurately does your walk reflect the qualities that Paul listed? What areas need work? Are you patient when your kids, spouse, or boss is acting rudely toward you? Do you look at your friends with love – even though they drive you crazy – and pray for them instead of gossiping about them? Are you humble or arrogant?

Take some time to really look at these verses. Ask God to tell you which areas your walk matches these attitudes – and where you need work. We need to live our lives as Christ lived. He was a humble servant, not arrogant. His anger was only evident when God was offended. He stooped to wash the disciple’s feet. He trudged up that hill to die for us. He could have “had it all” on this earth, but He chose the path God had set out for Him. We need to model His behaviors, and thereby show Jesus to the world.

I know that I have areas where my modeling doesn’t match my mouth. I will pray – and I hope you will, too!

See you Wednesday!

24 February 2012

Walking the Talk -- 22 February

1  And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Eph 2:1-10 (ESV)

Hello! We’re going to look at a tremendous passage which shows us who we were and who we are because of God’s love.

Look at verse 4-6.

When did God make us alive through Christ?
How are we saved?
Who are we saved for?
Why did God set up this particular way of salvation?

Having looked at these verses, do you think that there any way that we can work for (earn) that salvation?

Based on what you’ve read so far about who you are through and in Christ, and when and how God chose to love you, do you think that you need to alter your daily walk? If you really believed that God says in this passage, no matter how you feel or what others say about you, would it change your attitude for the better? Would you feel more secure? Would you walk more confidently?

You are His workmanship.
You were known from before the foundation of the world.
God knew you and loved you.
He created you uniquely.
He offers you a free gift of salvation. You can’t earn it.

I suggest that you take the time to read this passage three times every day – morning, noon and night. Hide these words in your heart. Memorize them. Use them to counter Satan’s attacks against you!

There will be no blog post on Friday. I would like you to take some time to really think about who you are. If you’re a list maker, write down who you think you are. Write all your good points and all your bad points. Assess yourself honestly. Look at who you have become because of the experiences you’ve had in your life.
After you’ve written that long and possibly discouraging list, take a look at who God thinks you are. Write down the attributes He sees in you. Review Ephesians 1 and 2 – this week’s passages – and assess yourself again through God’s eyes. Thank Him for who you are because of Christ Jesus!

Please remember that these positive attributes are only seen through God’s eyes once you’ve accepted the free gift of salvation through Christ Jesus. You must accept the gift through faith. You don’t need anyone or anything special to talk to God and tell Him that you are sorry for your sins and that you’d like to accept His free gift. You need to acknowledge that Jesus IS Lord and ask Him to come into your heart. Tell Him that you want to be all God has made you to be. Once you’ve done that, then tell someone! Proclaim your salvation – and ask a pastor what steps you need to take now. You have accepted the free gift, but now you need to know what to do with the gift. The Owner’s Manual is the Bible, and you will learn how to live your life to honor Jesus by studying just as you are now.

If you have accepted God’s free gift, I pray you will also email me so I can share in your joy – and pray for you – and answer any questions you may have.

Meanwhile, I will see you all again next Monday.


Walking the Talk - 20 February

Have you ever stopped – really stopped – to think how much God loves you? Paul knew that knowing you are loved can make all the difference in your walk, so he made sure to tell the believers in Ephesus just who they were to God as well as God’s purpose for them individually and collectively. These words are just as true for us today!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ: 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: 5 having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved: 7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 making known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him 10 unto a dispensation of the fulness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth; in him, I say, 11 in whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his will; 12 to the end that we should be unto the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ: 13 in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation,-- in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of God's own possession, unto the praise of his glory. Eph 1:3-14 (ASV)

(I know we saw these verses last week!)
There are many promises in these verses. What do we have in Christ? What aspect of the Holy Spirit is emphasized here?

There is a “progression” for all who come to Christ listed in verses 13-14:
We hear
We believe
We are sealed by the Holy Spirit as a part of our inheritance

Look back at those verses. When did God first love us? It’s amazing to me that He loved me before He created the world!

Grace, in the Greek, is charis, which means “favor”. We talk about grace as “unmerited favor” when we talk of our salvation. That means that our salvation can’t be earned in any way! Grace is something that God gives to us freely – when we believe in His Son, Jesus Christ! God loves us in spite of who we are and what we do or don’t do. God loved us before were were knitted in our mother’s womb. God knew who we would be and made each of us unique. God’s love has been with us since the foundation of the world. God loves us unconditionally through Christ Jesus.

Take the next couple days to really think about who you are in God’s eyes; to who you are because of Jesus Christ. Thank Him and praise Him for your position, for His love, and for His unmerited grace!

Please let me know what thinking about your position in God’s eyes has done for your life, for your prayer life, for your worship experience, and for your relationships.

See you Wednesday!

17 February 2012

Walking the Talk - 17 February

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5  he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us. Eph 1:2-8a (ESV)

Predestined: there are many theological positions on the term “predestination”, so it’s important to know what it means as well as who has been predestined to what! Predestined, in the language of the New Testament, is proorzio. It’s two words combined that means “to limit in advance” or “to predetermine”.

Redemption: in Greek, it’s apolutrosis and refers to releasing someone/something upon payment of a ransom. According to this passage, the ransom was paid through Christ’s blood.
Let’s look at the text. What do you learn about we and us?

Where are our blessings?

What does the phrase according to connect?

Are you certain that these blessings are meant for you? If not, please email me – or talk to Stephen, Robert or Mark. We can show you the free gift that God has for you if you just place your faith in Jesus, repent of your sins and make Him the Lord and Savior of your life. Once you’ve done that, you can be assured that all the blessings of the Bible are yours!

Read those blessings again. How does God’s Word’s description of you compare to the way you normally see yourself? Ouch! Maybe we don’t walk the walk as well as we should because we don’t understand who we are in Christ Jesus!

Please continue to apply the 5Ws and an H to at least one verse every day as you continue the Read Through The Bible Challenge. It will strengthen your understanding of the Word and may give you unexpected blessings!

See you Monday.