By Series - You Say You Want a New Year’s Revolution

You Say You Want a New Year’s Revolution

Friday

February 24, 2017

Fig Tree Facade

Read

Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”.
Colossians 1:10, “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God”.

Think

Have you ever wondered why Jesus cursed a fig tree? It seems capricious and cruel, right? Well, He never wasted an opportunity to teach a spiritual lesson with a physical illustration. To answer our initial question, we must backtrack to where He was going to and coming from. Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem when they saw a fig tree fully covered with green leaves. Hungry, He approached it only to discover it bore no fruit. So, Jesus cursed the tree and they went on their way. Now, you know the disciples were exchanging glances and shrugging their shoulders thinking, “What’s that about?” The men arrived in the city, and as they approached the temple, they saw people wheeling and dealing animals in the temple courts. This greatly angered Jesus, and rightfully so. He upended the moneychanger’s tables and drove them all out for disrespecting His Father’s house. The next day after leaving Jerusalem, Simon Peter pointed out that the cursed tree had totally withered and died.

In the Old Testament, the fig tree often symbolized the nation of Israel. The Jewish faith, like the fig tree that looked so outwardly supple, wasn’t producing any spiritual fruit. Jesus does not like pretension. He says His people will be known by the fruit they produce. So, we can go to church every week and occupy a seat, but if we’re not growing in our faith or truly following the path God has set before us, we’re spiritually dead. No matter how impressive our actions might be to others, works achieved through our own effort have zero value in God’s eyes. Are you hiding behind a faith facade or are you producing fruit? Because, remember, God will always uncover what we try to cover up and He cuts off what’s dead.

Pray

Father God, I want to be pruned and in tune with Your purpose. Uncover any deceptions or falsehoods barring me from being who You want me to be. And give me the strength to make wise choices so I can abundantly blossom with the fruit of Your Spirit.

Act

Read Mark 11:12-25. Then ask yourself, “Is my life producing fruit? Do people see Jesus in me? What am I hiding? Which spiritual fruit do I want to see more of in my life? What areas am I lacking in faith?

 

Thursday

February 23, 2017

Going G.O.M.O.

Read

Revelation 3:15-16, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of My mouth." 

Think

Isn’t it amazing how many internet acronyms there are. One website listed 668! And not only do more keep cropping up, there’s even one for a new phobic phenomenon called FOMO, which stands for the ‘fear of missing out’. It’s defined as “an anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media”. Hmm… seems ridiculous, right? Wrong! It happens all the time; it’s an epidemic. Well, sometimes in our walk with Jesus we experience FOMO about what’s happening elsewhere. But what we need to do is forget about our FOMO and think GOMO, which means ‘God offers more opportunities’ than anything people are posting about on social media.

Yesterday we talked about the importance of leaving the past behind, growing more like Christ, and the necessity of staying on track with God’s plan. But once we’ve committed to our faith, we might be trekking right along when we encounter a new challenge that befalls all Christ followers somewhere along the way—spiritual lethargy. In fact, in today’s verse, Jesus is rebuking the church in Laodicea for being lukewarm. Surely He caught their attention with, “I’m about to spit you out of My mouth”. Yikes! However, the key word here is ‘about’, which leaves a small space for grace. It makes room for reigniting a passion for the gospel. Yet it’s also an imperative command meaning don’t wait, do it now! Are you taking a spiritual nap? Are you more concerned about what others are doing than you are for what God wants to do through you? Forget about missing the meaningless, and be mindful of all the amazing opportunities God has in store for your life.

Pray

Father God, I take to heart Jesus’ warning about being lukewarm. Make me hot! Reignite in me a new passion to be active in my faith and help me to treasure my relationship with You. I’m sorry for allowing myself to elevate my own interests and desires above Yours. And I thank You in advance for all of the amazing things I know You will do in and through my life.

Act

Check your spiritual temperature by asking yourself the following questions:
• Do I depend on God on a daily basis?
• Do I rarely share my faith because it makes me feel uncomfortable?
• Do I care more about being free from the penalty of sin than being saved?
• Do I live by faith or do I always prefer to play it safe?

 

Wednesday

February 22, 2017

So Long, Yesterday!

Read

Ephesians 4:22-24, “ You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness”.

Think

We all like the idea of a fresh start or a new beginning. And as the saying goes, “Out with the old and in with new”. However, we also long for yesterday. We like to hold on to certain things from the past. Those ah—nostalgia moments, back in the day, and remember when’s… are totally fine—great even. But in our walk with Christ, our yesterdays, previous lifestyles, and former ways of thinking are futile—they’re no-no’s and definitely not okay! They lead to double-mindedness and duplicity in our character. Today’s verse says to ‘put off our old self’ by ridding ourselves of old habits and unhealthy appetites. This means we’ve got to shake off yesterday’s dirt and ‘put on our new self’, which is being clothed in the righteousness of Christ. The Bible also says ‘all our righteous acts are like filthy rags’. Huh? Before we knew Jesus, even when we were at our best and performed wonderful deeds, we were still filthy. Our number one desire as Christ followers should be growing more and more like Jesus. This requires making a conscious decision every day to put on our new self in every aspect of our lives.

We are all very familiar with who we were yesterday, but are we certain of who we are today? Absolutely! Our identity is in Christ. But if we know this and are striving to become more like Jesus, why then do we so often find ourselves playing the spiritual ‘hokey pokey’ with one foot in and one foot out of God’s will?  We don’t need to ask God for guidance in what’s already clearly delineated in His Word! Instead, we should pray for His strength to keep our past in the past and the fortitude to step forward in our faith. Remember, the Bible says we are not our own; we were bought at a price. Therefore, we must identify what’s holding us back as well as identify what God is cultivating in our lives right now. It’s time to commit to repentance and lay our old habits and desires at the foot of the Cross.

Pray

Father God, change my thinking. Teach me to not think with my own instincts, but to cling to the truth as it is revealed in Your Word. Give me the discernment to flee from past temptations and to run toward Your strength and protection. And thank You, God, for sending Jesus to model who and what You desire for me to be.

Act

Here’s the phrase that pays: “Don’t let YESTERDAY hinder your decision TODAY to become who God wants you to be TOMORROW”. Write this down as a personal reminder to put on your new self every day. And take it a step further by posting it on social media with #FellowshipChurch.

 

Tuesday

February 21, 2017

Spiritual Nourishment

Read

Ephesians 4:14-16, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Think

Healthy faith in action is measured by our growth, because growth is God’s method of transformation. Brand new believers, eager for growth, are often dismayed because they want their lives to change overnight. And many new Christians–although seeking life change—find themselves resistant to change. But as time passes, through the working of the Holy Spirit, we become more and more aware of our human limitations, weaknesses, and sinfulness.  As we mature spiritually, our desire to please and obey God outweighs our desire for rebellion.

The Bible says that we cannot simultaneously love God and love the world. Without the support of the body of Christ, we are subject to cultural relativism and conditional truth. Yes, we are to go into the world and shine Christ’s light—but we are not of the world. With full involvement in the local church we are refueled and revitalized every week to stand on God’s absolute truth no matter where we are. This means we are accountable and devoted to being the same people at church, at home, and in the world. And we require relationships with other believers who speak truth into our lives no matter the circumstance. Thus, our spiritual health soars when we are nourished and supported by the entire body—built in love, under one head—our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Pray

Father God, thank You for the church! Thank You for my friendships with the right THEY. Help me to be a person of integrity in every aspect of my life. I love You with all my heart, and all my mind, and all my soul! In Christ Jesus I pray, Amen.

Act

Where are you in your personal growth with God? Are you like an infant, being tossed back and forth by waves? Are you on the brink of a breakthrough? Do you consider yourself to be mature in faith? Why is it so crucial to not only mature in Christ, but also to mature with the body of Christ?

 

Monday

February 20, 2017

Worthy of the Calling

Read

Ephesians 4:1-3, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Think

People who don’t know God have a completely skewed sense of purpose. They have no basis for absolute truth. Living a life without God’s guidance leads to decisions that produce regret, shame, the inability to forgive, and a long list of avoidable consequences. But life does not have to be this way.

The minute Jesus enters into the equation, our perspective on life completely changes. Even the vilest lives riddled with shame and regret can be supernaturally transformed. Reborn through the grace and mercy of God, our lives become a brand new creation. And everything is possible through Christ who gives us strength.  Therefore, don’t let yesterday hinder your decision today to be who God wants you to be tomorrow.  Live a life worthy of God’s calling and encourage others to do the same.

Pray

Thank God for His discernment and wisdom available to us 24/7. And ask Him to help you live a life worthy of His calling.

Act

Read Ephesians 3 and 4 in the NIV translation.

 

Friday

February 10, 2017

Limitless and Immeasurably More

Read

Ephesians 3:17b—21, "And I pray that you... may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people to grasp... and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen."

Think

There's no such thing as love at first sight. There's not! Yes, we are to love everyone, but we don't walk just down the street one day and decide to be in love with a complete stranger. Why? Because, true love requires knowledge of both the head and the heart. But before we can acquire heart knowledge, we have to intentionally seek out knowledge of their heart. When we love someone it is due to their unique traits, personality, and character qualities that we come to know over time.

Now, let's flip the script. Love must have an object and we are the objects of God's love. He made us, He knows us, and despite our flaws and sinfulness, He still loves us. In fact, there's nothing we could ever do or not do to make Him love us any more or any less. Conversely, we can have knowledge of God without having love for God.  Essentially, we will never truly know God until we understand the magnitude of His love and choose love Him back.  And our great and limitless God can do "immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine". Can you imagine that? Oh wait, you can't! Ha! As the church, we unite to grow in what we know about God. And the more we know Him, the more we will seek to do for Him. That's our calling—together with the saints—to bring Him glory and to make His name known! Amen!

Pray

Thank You, Lord for the power of imagination and for doing more than I can even ask or imagine. May my heart be overflowing with Your fullness so I can love You more and serve You better.

Act

Today, simply remember that you are chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, saved, sealed, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and YOU ARE LOVED!!!

Thursday

February 9, 2017

Power Up

Read

Ephesians 3:16-18, "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and how long and how high and how deep is the love of Christ."

Think

When we think about the word power, we think of strength, a physical force, the President and even chargers for electronic devices. But in his prayer to the Ephesians, Paul clearly means that supernatural spark that ignites God's power available to us 24/7 through the Holy Spirit. He's asking for strength to build power, not only for personal devotion to God, but also in obedience and conviction that flows from the heart. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to receive Christ as the Lord of our lives in all things. Therefore, the human mind—finite and sinful in nature—cannot receive God's power. Essentially, He chose us before we chose Him.

When our hearts and minds are powered by Christ,  we should have a huge desire to pool that power within the local church. As Paul's prayer continues, he leads us to the core of the gospel message, which is to grasp the limitless dimensions and depth of Christ's love. A love so vast it requires a supernatural power to even wrap our brain around it. This is why it's crucial for us to gather weekly! It's not optional! Only together—united in Jesus—can we understand the full impact of the resurrection power that allowed Jesus to burst forth from the grave forever defeating sin and death for us. So the gospel is not a "me" thing; it's a "we" thing. Our power potential ratchets up the more we know. The more we know, the more we grow. And the more we grow, the more we will show all of creation the magnificent works of the one and only living God Who was, Who is, and Who is to come.

Pray

Father God, thank You for the gift of the gospel and Your saving grace. Teach me to rely on Your Spirit for faith, confidence, and power. And help me to know You as the source of everything good in me.

Act

Read Paul's prayer for the in Ephesians 3:14-21 in the Amplified Bible (AMP) translation. And, you don't want to miss C3 Nights tonight at 7:00! It's free and open to the public at the Fellowship Church Grapevine campus!

 

 

Wednesday

February 8, 2017

Making a Statement

Read

Ephesians 10-12, “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose that He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

Think

In Ephesians 3:10-12, Paul communicates two distinct messages. The first is a mission statement for the church. The second serves as a reminder that our relationship with God is not about us and that the freedom and confidence we share in Christ is due to His strength and not our own. Verse 10 states that the church’s mission is “to make known the manifold wisdom of God”.  Question: Who is our audience? In this scenario, Paul is referring to created beings in the spiritual realm. Christ’s work surpasses all barriers, physical and spiritual. So, he’s saying the church witnesses to everything and every being including Satan himself! A unified and faithful church is just one more reminder of his defeat as well as a powerful display of God’s truth and love for all of creation.

We like to make things about us, don’t we? How easily do we forget what our lives would really be like if we were reliant upon our own strength and power!  We even prioritize our own needs, wants, and desires in our relationship with God in prayer. But the key to effective prayer is to put aside our natural selfishness and autonomous attitude and make it all about God. Jesus is the mediator of our salvation and of all other dimensions in our relationship to the Father. Our confidence is based on what He accomplished! And freedom rings as we live in Christ, through Christ, and with Christ for eternity! Want to make a statement? Humbly praise God with an attitude of gratitude for His omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent power!

Pray

Thank You, God, for giving me hope and confidence in Your strength and power. Help me to not trust in myself, but in Jesus. And remind me of the cross every time my thoughts or actions are motivated by my own selfishness.

Act

Select a life verse that serves as a reminder of God’s strength, provision, and power. Proverbs 3:5-6 is a great place to start!

Tuesday

February 7, 2017

We’ve All Got A Story To Tell

Read

Ephesians 3:7-9, "I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of His power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord's people, this grace was given to me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things."

Think

In Ephesians chapters 1-2, Paul explains that although salvation came first to the Jews, that it was always God's plan—even before He laid the foundations of the earth—for salvation to be available to all humankind. In chapter 3, Paul expands on his call to preach the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles. In verse 7, he references his own conversion due to God's all-encompassing power found in Acts 9. In verse 8, he humbly refers to his own sordid past as a murderer of Christians. But miraculously, out of God's "unsearchable riches" he was saved. This means that although God revealed His plan for salvation, no one can fully grasp the vast intricacies involved.  So, Paul is saying that regardless of his former self, God chose him to help explain the mystery of the gospel. Verse 9 reaffirms that God the Creator of all offers salvation to all.

We can learn a lot from today's Scripture passage. Although Paul's mission had far greater implications within the foundational aspects of the Christian faith, although he wrote 2/3 of the New Testament, and although His conversion experience likely makes our own seem insignificant—our mission is the same: to make salvation through Christ known and to glorify God. No matter if we prayed for salvation at the age of 7, 37, or 77, God wants us to share our story: our life before Christ, what led us to Christ, our conversion, and life transformation. We don't have to be biblical scholars, ordained pastors, or even understand the entire Bible to explain what God is doing in and through our lives. All it takes is an otherworldly love, a passion, and a willingness to make the name of Jesus known.

Pray

Thank God for working through your past to lead you to Christ. Express your willingness to share your story, and pray high-risk prayers for such opportunities to arise.

Act

Read the story of Paul's conversion in Acts 9:1-31. Then practice telling your own story in two minutes or less.

Monday

February 6, 2017

Heirs, Members, & Sharers

Read

Ephesians 3:6, “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”

Think

In the technology-driven world we live in today, we are required to have logins and passwords to gain access to sites that have information we may need and to prove our membership of those sites. If we don’t have the correct logins and passwords, access is denied.  In essence, this is what the Gentiles (anyone who was not Jewish) in Ephesus were experiencing.  Their access to God’s promise in Christ Jesus was denied.  But Paul had good news for them.

The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the amazing mystery that Paul had the privilege of unveiling to the Gentiles.  Previously it had only been spoken about to the Jews, the chosen nation of God.  But God’s gift of Jesus’ sacrifice was not only for them, but for the Gentiles too.  This means that, through Jesus Christ, the world can be co-heirs with Israel to God’s promises.  They can be members of the body of Christ; His church.  And they can share in the promise of eternity in Christ Jesus.  This is not only true for the Ephesians and the rest of the Gentiles in Paul’s day, but it is true for us today also.  By accepting the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice we too gain access to become heirs, members and sharers of God’s gift of eternity with Him.  That is the amazing Good News of Jesus Christ!

Pray

Father God, thank You for the precious gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Enable me to discover more and more of Your love for me each day.  And help me not to share it accordingly with those around me.

Act

Read Ephesians 3 in the NIV translation and bask the dimensional magnitude of God’s love.

Friday

February 3, 2017

Peace, Love, & Rock Your Role

Read

Ephesians 2:21-22, “In Christ the whole building is joined together, and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.”

Think

Who we are outside of church represents our relationship to the church, and ultimately to Christ Himself. Spiritual growth comes to an abrupt halt if we are not actively serving and engaging in the body of Christ. And sadly, the majority of our culture thinks of church in geographical terms, a specific location. However, in Matthew 16:18, when Jesus said, “On this rock I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”, He was obviously referring to something far greater than a building with a physical address. Rather, He was casting vision for the unity of all Christ followers worldwide. In today’s verse, when Paul describes the church as a holy temple he’s talking about us! We are the temple; a dwelling place for God fortified and empowered by His Spirit. So, the body of Christ, both corporately and individually, is purposed to extend the reach of the local church.

The phrase “one another” appears in the New Testament fifty-nine times. We are to serve, love, submit, greet, encourage, make peace with one another and the list goes on. Each part of the body of Christ matters greatly to God, because He gifted us with unique talents and abilities that no one else can do. If we’re not leveraging our individual giftedness, then the body of Christ is incomplete. Are you rocking the house playing your vital role within the local church?  Are you inviting people to experience life change on a regular basis?

Pray

Praise God for the local church. Thank Him for the great relationships in your life. And pray for the FC staff and volunteers that will be working together to make the C3 Conference 2017 a smashing success!

Act

If you’re not already signed up to serve at the upcoming C3 Conference click here

 

 

Thursday

February 2, 2017

Peace Plan

Read

Ephesians 2:19-20, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone”.

Think

The United States of America was founded on one primary principle—individual rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And as American citizens, we are graced with countless freedoms including economic, religious, and social. Our country is unique in that we are the only nation under God whose governing authority was predicated upon the establishment of specific rules and regulations for our protection. In Ephesians 2:19, Paul mentions another kind of citizenship—one that surpasses all else. No matter where we live, our nationality, who we are, or what we’ve done, if we know Jesus then we are citizens in the Kingdom of Heaven. We are under His authority and protected by His power. Only in Him can true freedom and peace be found. But that’s not all—we are also intimate members of God’s household—the church. We are saved by grace through faith made possible by the gospel of peace and reconciliation. In this, God had a plan. Through the church, “the manifold wisdom of Christ” would be taught and made known. You see, Christianity is not a solo sport. In fact, the Bible refers to us a “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God”.

In first century architecture, the cornerstone was the first stone to be laid. It defined the shape, size, and infrastructure for the entire building. Jesus is the foundation, the cornerstone, of our entire faith. Thus, He is the head of the church and we are joined together as one body with each specific member playing an integral part in God’s plan. Therefore, if we call Jesus our personal Lord and Savior and are not active within the local church, we will never discover God’s best for our lives. We, united in Christ as the messengers of peace, are called to be a beacon of God’s light within the world.

Pray

Thank God for calling you His child. Praise the name of Jesus. And pray for growth within the body of Christ.

Act

Read through Paul’s prayer for the believers in Ephesians 3:14-21 twice, paying careful attention to the beauty, detail, and power of his words. Then read it aloud as a proclamation to God and feel the strength and power made yours in Christ.

Wednesday

February 1, 2017

Peace Span

Read

Ephesians 2:16-18, “And in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”

Think

Reconciliation between two opposing parties requires one very vital element—a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our horizontal relationships with one another can only reach true peace when our vertical relationship is right with God. Merely ceasing hostilities is not a conduit for grace and harmony. Yet we often confuse passivity for peace. But peace isn’t passive; it’s active and takes a lot of hard work! Life isn’t simple and sometimes we have to travel through a tunnel of chaos before we see the light on the other side—and it’s worth it! The great thing is, that no matter what, there is always a level playing field for reconciliation at the foot of the cross.

Through the gospel of reconciliation, we can always find peace when we look to Jesus for the resolution solution. The Bible teaches us that when we approach someone else with a problem, we must humbly communicate the issue without attacking. We must be willing to take responsibility for what we’ve done wrong as soon as possible. And we must never simply apologize without asking for forgiveness and be willing to forgive. Restoration happens when we seek to do the will of God and remember how greatly He forgave us. As Christ followers, we should rush to reconcile and make peace with others. So, when our vertical relationship is intact with Jesus, we can span the horizontal and bridge the gap as we unite in Christ.

Pray

Father God, until I knew Jesus I had no concept of real peace. Thank You for your overwhelming love, mercy, and forgiveness. Today guide me to represent who You are to the world and to model Your peace that “surpasses all understanding.”

Act

Read I John 4:7-21, “God’s Love and Ours”. In this passage, the word love is used over twenty-five times. Why do you think John chose to use so much repetition to make his point? What does the phrase, “The one who fears is not made perfect in love” mean to you? Journal your response.

 

Tuesday

January 31, 2017

Peace Man

Read

Ephesians 2:13-15, “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace.”

Think

In ancient times, there was a wall at the temple to separate the Gentiles from entering Jewish “holy ground”. Any Gentile attempting to cross this boundary faced death. Thus, a very real tension existed between the two groups. The Jews, God’s chosen people, believed that Gentiles were ceremonially unclean and less in the eyes of the Lord. But peace was not only lacking in a religious sense, but also in a true spiritual sense. You see, unless we are at peace with God, we are devoid of God’s peace. And what these religious elitists failed miserably to understand was that the wall of division at the temple wasn’t the issue. It was the wall of sin, racism, and hostility. Hence, they were at war with the wrong enemy. Nothing the Gentiles did could defile them from the outside in—it was their own sin nature that afflicted them from the inside out.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to redeem the sin of all mankind, not just the sin of Israel. He obliterated the wall of separation between God and man. Remember, peace isn’t just the halting of hostilities; it’s the coming together of all who call Jesus their Savior—the unity of oneness in faith. When we are one in Christ, we are one with Christ, and therefore, one with the Father through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The gospel—the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ—is the only path to true peace. And once we’re at peace with God through the blood of Christ, then we become carriers of peace called to share His peace in a hostile world.

Pray

Thank God for making peace a possibility through Christ. Pray for any areas in your life lacking peace and praise Jesus for calling you out of the darkness and into the light.

Act

Read about living as a child of light in Ephesians 4:17-5:21. Journal what words and phrases stand out to you the most. Then pray through the passage allowing God to speak into your heart.

 

Monday

January 30, 2017

Peace Ban

Read

Ephesians 2:11-12, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) – 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.”

Think

Peace can be defined as a halting of hostilities or a putting down of weapons.  In the book of Ephesians, Paul describes it as “oneness”.  For someone who has not experienced peace, this could seem like a foreign concept.  It’s easy to get caught up in the hostilities going on in the world around us.  The hostilities of others can easily spill over and create hostility in those around them.  As a result, that hostility pours over into relationships and those relationships begin to lack peace because of said hostility.  It becomes an evil cycle that creates a chasm of separation and alienation.

God desires for us to have peace, oneness, and harmony with Him.  But because of sin there is a chasm created that separates us from Him. And when we are separated from God, we are separated from our source of peace.  It is no wonder that hostility rises to the surface due to this separation.  Only God, through the power of His son’s sacrifice on the cross, can bridge that chasm of separation that sin creates.  It is the only way that sin can be forgiven and true peace can be present in our lives.  The result of having peace that only God can bring creates the antithesis of what hostility creates.  It bridges separation, heals relationships and creates harmony.  Invite peace into your life today by bringing your sin to God and asking for His forgiveness.

Pray

Heavenly Father, thank you for the grace and mercy you have given us through Jesus Christ.  Take this sin from us that has caused separation and hostility.  Let us experience the peace, oneness and harmony that only you can bring.

Act

Allow God to renew your heart and your mind.  Take a break and do as Philippians 4:8 directs:  “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Friday

January 27, 2017

A Little Less Talk and A Lot More Walk

Read

Matthew 7:21, 23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven… Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you evildoers!’”

Think

Many people who think they’re Christians really aren’t. We don’t like to talk about this—it’s a scary thought—but it’s a pertinent fact when only God knows what tomorrow will bring. Scores of self-proclaimed “Christ followers” may think their eternities are secure, but they’re not! Believing in and receiving Christ aren’t the same thing. One can believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for their sins without having received the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of Christ in us. Satan believes in Jesus, and he is definitely NOT going to heaven. So, we can’t just talk the talk, we’ve got to walk the walk. We can’t live like hell and expect to be ushered into God’s presence. Jesus never minced words. He said, “If you love Me, then obey My commands”. Are you living out Christ’s description of love?

Today’s verse depicts people banging on the door to salvation claiming they had performed mighty works in Jesus’ name, yet they were not declared righteous before a holy God. In response did Jesus say, “Well, I used to know you, but we’ve grown apart”? No! He said, “I never knew you!” Yikes! It’s not enough to say, “I know Jesus Christ”. The question we must ask is, does He know me?! This isn’t an easy pill to swallow—but it is God’s honest truth. If we are active in our faith, then we are working out what Jesus has worked into our hearts. Thus, heaven starts here! And the time for salvation is now. So if you’re questioning your eternity, repent and invite Jesus into your life. Because, the most horrific thing ever would be to hear Jesus say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you”.

Pray

Thank God for His Word, ask His Spirit to help you be more heavenly-minded, and continue praying for the lost people in your life to receive Christ.

Act

Read James 4:1-10, then read it again out loud. What words or phrases stand out to you the most and why? Journal your response.

Thursday

January 26, 2017

Narrow-Minded

Read

Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.”

Think

What if every attendee, every single concession worker, all maintenance staff, the players, coaches, media and technology people, cheerleaders, and even Jerry Jones himself had to line up single file and enter through a very narrow door at the Cowboys Stadium? Now picture all 7.5 billion people in the world trying to fit through a very narrow gate. The masses would give up and look for superhighways and other paths of less resistance. The same is true spiritually. Today’s verse says that the wide gate leads to destruction. Following Jesus—the narrow gate—makes our lives 100% better, but definitely no easier. In fact, suffering is within God’s will to teach us, shape us, strengthen us, and draw us back to Him. We no longer wander aimlessly allowing feelings to dictate our next step. We are chosen and adopted children of God living to carry out His pre-ordained plan.

Jesus pulls no punches in letting us know that following Him comes at a price. So to avoid pitfalls, let’s look at why the wide gate is so appealing. First, by default, if we stiff-arm God we are unequivocally destined for doom. It’s also easier to bend the truth to fit our individual wants and desires than believing in and adhering to God’s absolute truth. The broad way leads to immediate self-gratification over the hope of eternity. Plus, it’s always easier to go with the flow than to stand firmly on the foundation of our faith. And finally, there’s no opposition from the devil for those already on the route to destruction. The choice is ours. We can experience difficulty here with the hope of a perfect eternity or live a self-indulgent and autonomous life and spend a Christ-less eternity in hell. So, let’s be diligent and narrow-minded with our eyes on the prize of someday seeing Jesus face-to-face.

Pray

Before God, commit to being more narrow-minded in your walk with Christ. Praise Him for His favor and countless blessings. And pray for at least four people you know currently on the path to destruction.

Act

Read Matthew 7—often referred to as the scariest chapter in the Bible. Then consider the following questions. Do you find it frightening? Does it make you fear for the lost people in your life? It should! So keep them in your prayers and keep on inviting them to church.

 

Wednesday

January 25, 2017

By, Through, and Don’t Forget the For

Read

Ephesians 2:8-10, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Think

The sinfulness of sin—the world, Satan, and the indulgence of the flesh—can only be eradicated by the greatness of God’s grace. After the basic tenets of the gospel foundation and acknowledging our need for repentance, it is crucial to understand how we are saved. We are saved by grace through faith—that’s it! God needs nothing from us. And there’s nothing within the human realm that can save us from His wrath. We’re sinners deserving of eternal death. Grace simply means unmerited favor, and it’s a gift from God when we choose to make Jesus the Lord of our lives. This, of course, means we have faith in Him and believe that His promises will be fulfilled. Here we must note—especially for new Christians—the marked difference between faith and belief. We can believe in something without repentance and transformation. The Bible says that even the demons believe in Jesus, and they are definitely not recipients of grace. This is the point Paul is making in Ephesians 2:8-9, but that’s not all when we continue reading.

Knowing they are saved by grace through faith, too many Christians conveniently gloss over verse 10. We’ve got the why and the how, but what about the “for” factor? We were created for works. True faith requires action. Because we are now alive in Christ we should strive for obedience, transformation, and growth. We aim to please God. We are here to serve Him and fulfill His plans and purpose for our lives that will continue in heaven. We are God’s handiwork created to do the good works we were intended to do before He laid the foundations of the earth. If we love God, if our faith is in His strength and promise, then we do the work. We should be trophies of God’s grace on display for the world to see. And we’re here to push the ball downfield for the glory and praise of God.

Pray

As a reminder that you are God’s handiwork, pray through Psalm 139:1-18. Then ask God to use you in great ways to further His purpose, and once again thank Him for the gift of grace.

Act

Read Ephesians 2 in the Message Translation Bible (MSG). If you are not currently serving in the house or are interested in additional serving opportunities click here: Start Serving

 

Tuesday

January 24, 2017

Incomparable Riches

Read

Ephesians 2:4-7, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

Think

One bad mood, one off day, one impure thought, or even one cross look separates us from God. Incapable of perfection, selfish, and sinful by nature, we are destined for doom! We can choose our choices, but we can’t choose our consequences, and the Bible says the wages of sin is death. God is not capricious and cruel; His wrath is proportionate to our sinful behavior, it’s what we deserve. BUT due to God’s intrinsic love He has shown us mercy. This is not getting what we deserve. No matter what we’ve done or where we’ve been, God will forgive every sin. Is mercy available to all? Yes! Is it granted to everyone? No. The Bible says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Therefore, recipients of God’s incomparable riches have a personal relationship with Christ.  How great is our God?  Not only are we spared from what we do deserve, we receive what we don’t—His amazing grace.

It’s very popular to talk about God’s mercy, grace, and kindness. And it’s great to be joyful and celebrate God’s abounding love.  He doesn’t want us to dwell on our past. He wants us to look forward—but we must always keep in mind what we’ve overcome and the sacrifice that made it possible. This should encourage us to seek out people that will get what they deserve in a Christ-less eternity.

Pray

Thank God for His mercy and grace. Ask Him to speak to you through His word and thank Him again.

Act

Read Ephesians 2 in the New King James Version (NKJV). And don’t forget to invite people who need Jesus to join in on our God-led revolution.

 

Monday

January 23, 2017

Sin-i-ty

Read

Ephesians 2:1-3, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”

Think

There is a fascination with zombies in our current culture. We talk about what we’d do if there was a zombie apocalypse and “The Walking Dead” is all the rage. The interesting thing, though, is although brainless, tattered, and torn looking monsters aren’t trying to take over the world, we pass by zombies—walking dead people—every day within the spiritual realm. When sin entered the world, so did the Law of Inevitable Consequences – the wrath that we deserve due to our sinful and selfish nature. Paul reminds us of this in Ephesians 2. It’s called the sinfulness of sin, the “sin-i-ty”: the world, Satan, and the flesh. Too often we let the world squeeze us into its mold. The devil is trying to distort our perception of the gospel just enough to thwart us from God’s purpose. And we are always faced with the temptation to indulge in God-given desires in ungodly ways.

This scenario has the potential to become a very sad song in our lives full of the hopelessness that sin brings. But there is good news – God can make that sad song better. We can break the world’s mold! We can refuse to buy into Satan’s lies! And we can resist temptation! When we lean on the gospel of peace—the righteous life, sacrificial death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have the security of life change and forgiveness. No longer are we among the spiritually dead when we live out a life of fullness, blessing, purpose, and passion for Jesus. If you’re among the living, then you need to be shining the light of Christ among the dead. If you’re among the dead, then seek the light of God’s grace through Christ.

Pray

If you’re among the living in Christ, pray for at least two “dead” people to accept your invitation to experience the great things going on at FC. If you have yet to ask Jesus into your life and want to pray for salvation simply say: "God, I admit to you that I am a sinner. I’ve tried to do life on my own and have failed miserably. I turn from my sin and turn to you. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead. I choose to die to myself and rise into the life you created for me in Lord Jesus. And in His name I pray, Amen."

Act

Read Ephesians 2 in the New Living Translation (NLT). If you have just prayed the salvation prayer for the first time, then click here to learn about taking the next step.

 

Friday

January 20, 2017

He Reigns

Read

Ephesians 1:19-21, “These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (NASB)

Think

We often forget just how great and powerful Jesus really is. We decaffeinate the magnitude of what it means to sit at the right hand of God, as if He is second in command or some assistant coach. But Jesus isn’t sitting in a press box coordinating our lives play by play. He is not sequestered in some control room making things happen behind the scenes. No, He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords reigning supremely above all things. The right hand of God is the utmost position of authority; there’s nothing or no one greater than He. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end, the Almighty Sovereign Living God.

In this post-election season, there’s a lot of discussion about the President of the United States being the most powerful person on the planet…with access to the nuclear codes…and so on. But—and it’s a big but—as important as he is, the President’s power can’t even hold a candle to the God of the universe. You want to talk power? Power is the ability to give sight to the blind and make the lame walk. Power is the ability to calm a raging sea. Power is the ability to speak the world into existence and make the dead rise. So no matter if we are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a high-powered attorney, a teacher, or a janitor, if we love Jesus and surrender to His ultimate authority we are all VIPs in His sight. Why? Because He chose us to demonstrate what His power looks like in practice. We’ve been called to live a life of obedience and purpose as His mighty power is at work within us, enabling us to make a difference everywhere we go to the praise and glory of God.

Pray

Pray for our country in this time of transition. And give thanks to God for His ultimate authority on earth and in heaven.

Act

Ask yourself the following questions and journal each response: Am I growing in Christ? Am I tapping into God’s power and relying on His truth? Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone and take a leap of faith? Do my words and actions reflect Christ? Am I living in a way that’s worthy of my calling?

 

Thursday

January 19, 2017

Here Comes the Son

Read

Ephesians 1:19-20, “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms.” (NLT)

Think

The Beatle’s hit “Here Comes The Sun” is arguably the best rock-n-roll song of all time. Numerous critics have given it the number one spot on their lists of “The 100 Greatest Hits”. Within the lyrics it says, “Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting. Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear. Here comes the sun…” 2,000 years ago, John the Baptist watched Jesus approach the Jordan River and he too declared, “Here comes the Son”. Then God Himself confirmed the Savior’s identity audibly from heaven. Our Lord Jesus stepped down through time and space to melt our hardened hearts and to help us see clearly through the lens of Scripture.

In yesterday’s devotional, we discussed God’s Almighty Power and its impact on our lives as we strive to attain God’s wisdom and live it out. And we talked about our ability to tap into the supernatural resurrection power that brought Christ up from the grave. Well, not only do we have His resurrection power, we also share in the same ascension power that seated Jesus at the right hand of His Father in heaven. The Son came, the Son ascended, and the Son forever reigns at the ultimate position of authority. When Christ is the epicenter of our lives our confidence abounds. We know that in every situation or circumstance—from the uttermost to the guttermost—God has us where we are for His divine purpose. And without a doubt, like the Son, we too will someday ascend to our Father in heaven.

Pray

Thank God for life, eternity, and His unmerited grace. And praise His name expressing your love and appreciation for all that He is and all that He has done.

Act

Enlighten the eyes of your heart to God’s glorious display of power by reading the account of Christ’s death in Matthew 27:45-56, His resurrection in Matthew 28:1-10, and His ascension in Acts 1:1-11. Absorb it and read it again out loud.

 

Wednesday

January 18, 2017

Power Source

Read

Ephesians 1:18-19, “I pray also 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 the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength.”

Think

Power must have a source. There are natural energy sources such as hydroelectric, solar, and wind. The electricity we so readily rely on everywhere we go is generated at power plants primarily using coal. As Christ followers, we have the most vast and potent energy source available to us 24/7. It is neither natural nor man-made—it’s the supernatural power we have in Christ! In Ephesians 1:18-19, Paul is not praying for God to empower us—He is praying for us to understand the power we’ve already received and to use it! Unfortunately, though, we frequently fail to recognize the extreme importance of tapping into this amazing force generated by the sheer love and grace of God. You see, apart from Jesus we are utterly powerless, devoid of hope, and incapable of pleasing God. With Him, we have the same supernatural resurrection power of Christ as He burst forth from the grave and put death to death.

The first step in applying the power within us is understanding we are not the source. Next, we must note the definition of power, which is the ability to get things done. This means we are not here to carry out our own plans and purpose; rather we are here to serve God and orchestrate His sovereign agenda. To do this we must pray for discernment and wisdom to understand how to put the power we have in Christ to work and live it out. We must also study and pray through Scripture and allow it to study us. So no matter what we face, we can firmly stand on the foundational power and promise of the Almighty God—Whose strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Pray

Thank God for providing you with the resurrection power of Christ. And as you seek His wisdom through Scripture ask Him to guard your mind and heart against complacency.

Act

Spend a few moments reflecting on times in the past when you tried to rely on your own strength. What was the outcome? Now bask in the radiant energy made yours through the Son and the impact it has on your life every day.

 

Tuesday

January 17, 2017

The Hope of His Calling

Read

Ephesians 1:18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”.

Think

The Apostle Paul was no stranger to understanding the parallel between physical and spiritual blindness. On his way to persecute Christ followers, a radiant light blinded him and Jesus Himself called out his actions. For three days he experienced physical blindness as God opened the eyes of his greatly hardened heart. And ironically, this man with blood on his hands from killing those who professed their faith in the Son of God became the greatest church planter ever known and wrote two-thirds of the New Testament. With this in mind, we should pay special attention to Paul’s prayers. In Ephesians 1:18, he prays for God to open the eyes of the hearts of those experiencing spiritual blindness. You see true enlightenment is the wisdom and revelation of putting God’s word into action.

When our hearts are led by the guardrails and guidelines of God’s word and the qualities that define His very nature and character, only then can we truly understand the depth of hope we have in Christ. Essentially, the better we know Jesus the better we know ourselves. The “hope of His calling” then transcends feelings and attaches to God’s truth. Biblical hope is the assurance of future fact—the ability to live by faith no matter the situation or circumstances. A heart that yields to God despite personal feelings produces the greatest amount of true hope, faith, and trust. And our spiritual vision abounds in the strength of knowing the here and now will always give way to the eternal. Thus, the eyes of our heart—our faith—perform at maximum capacity when we focus on God’s plans and purpose and not our own.

Pray

Pray for God to alert your heart the next time you allow your personal feelings and objectives to transcend the power and purpose of His plan. And ask Him to enlighten the eyes of your heart to truly recognize the “hope of His calling”.

Act

Do a good deed today. Donate a couple of dollars to feed homeless pets, help someone with their groceries, or buy a complete stranger’s cup of coffee. No matter the deed, simply help another in need.

 

Monday

January 16, 2017

Heart Knowledge

Read

“For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;” - Ephesians 1:15-17 (NASB)

Think

It’s great to gain knowledge of a subject. Chances are that when you have that knowledge you’ll even want to share it with others. But in order to apply that knowledge to our life we have to not only have head knowledge, but heart knowledge too. In other words, to be truly effective we don’t just know about the subject, but we are putting it in practice and applying it to our lives.

This is really what the Christian life is about. Many times we will read God’s word, we may even talk about Him too. But we don’t really put into application what His word says. This is what happens when we know the Bible but don’t allow the Bible to know us. The words stay only in our minds, but they never make it those several inches to our heart. God’s word isn’t meant to only be stored away in our minds. It is meant to be applied and displayed in our sphere of influence and ultimately to the world. Truth known is cool, but truth applied can change the world. Let your faith show to the world around you.

Pray

Thank God for His truth – His Word. Ask Him to reveal His word to you every time you read it. Ask Him to allow His word to not just dwell in your mind, but seep into your heart in order to change you. Ask Him to help you live His word out in your life daily.

Act

Before stepping out into the world, ask God to help you see others through His eyes. Pray for those you will cross paths with today. Ask God to let His light shine through you.

Friday

January 13, 2017

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Read

Ephesians 1:13-14, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.”

Think

With identity theft so rampant in our world today, we often have to verify who we are with passwords and fingerprints. Legal documents are signed before a witness for authenticity and notarized with a specific stamp. Such precautionary measures are nothing new. In ancient times, important documents and decrees were sealed with hot wax stamped with the impression of the owner’s ring. In today’s verse, Paul uses this word picture to illustrate a believer’s faith being sealed by the Holy Spirit—the essence of ultimate security. God wants us to be absolutely certain of our salvation. Jesus is forever branded on our hearts and His Spirit always leads us back to God’s promise and absolute truth.

No one walks into a car dealership and expects to buy a car without some form of down payment. No, the purchaser enters into a contract promising to make payments until the balance is paid in full. The moment we put our trust in Jesus we are given a very real and immediate earnest deposit guaranteeing us the promise of greater blessing and a Christ-filled eternity in heaven. Our names are signed in the Book of Life by the blood of Christ. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit from the inside out, and delivered from the bondage of sin and death by the outpouring of God’s grace through faith. Our identity is found in Christ alone. So in the words of Stevie Wonder let’s praise Him by saying, “Signed, sealed, delivered—I’m Yours!”

Pray

Spend a few moments “Facetiming” with God. Seek His face and praise His name with an attitude of utter gratitude, and let His Spirit guide the rest of your time spent in prayer.

Act

Read Ephesians 1 in the Amplified Bible (AMP) translation.

 

Thursday

January 12, 2017

We’re Rich!

Read

Ephesians 1:11-12, “Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory”.

Think

Love must have an object, and we are the object of God’s love. And like any great parent, His love is unconditional and we love Him in return. He chose us as His own and for His purpose to receive an inheritance. Yes, we are in God’s will! Why we were chosen we will never know. But we do know that at the center of all God’s blessings is Jesus. We have nothing apart from Christ—but in Him we have everything! Our confidence is found in knowing we are never alone, we are never without purpose, and we are never uncertain about where we’ll spend eternity. We have God-fidence; we walk with a spiritual swagger.

The moment we put our trust in Jesus, we have never-ending wealth. We are rich in Christ—He is our inheritance. And guess what? He inherits us! We draw on Him to fulfill every need, and He draws on us to carry out God’s predestined plan and purpose. Therefore, we’re rich due to God’s abounding grace and we are to spend our inheritance through works. This means we should be walking, talking, living, breathing billboards for “the praise of God’s glory” in everything we say and do, leading others toward the life-saving message of hope only found in Jesus Christ.

Pray

Thank God for orchestrating the circumstances that led you to Christ and for working through all things for your benefit. Then, wholeheartedly express your love to Him as your Heavenly Father.

Act

Today, read Ephesians 1 using the New International Version (NIV) Bible.

 

Wednesday

January 11, 2017

The Cost of Freedom

Read

Ephesians 1:7-10, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ”.

Think

In today’s crazy culture, we thrive on being “free”. We think freedom is the ability to do whatever we feel like doing regardless of anyone else’s opinion. But is freedom merely about lifestyle choices? What does it really mean to experience true freedom? Because even though our “free” society has detached from God, God is not some detached deity—He is the essence of freedom.

Freedom isn’t free. We were bought at a price so great that even King Solomon with all his riches couldn’t foot the bill. The Bible says the wages of sin is death.  Therefore, as sinners, we deserve the full extent of God’s wrath. But because God did not spare His Son, because Jesus willingly stood in our place, and because He spilled His precious blood as an atonement for our sins—we are FREE! We are free from transgressions, free from condemnation, free from fear, and free from eternal death. All we have to do is believe that Jesus died and rose again for the forgiveness of our sins. And, Jesus has revealed God’s will for our lives so that we are free to become who He created us to be as He lavishes His grace upon us.

Pray

Spend a few moments meditating on the implications of your freedom in Christ. Thank God for calling you out of darkness and into the light, and praise Him for lavishing His grace upon you.

Act

This week as we recognize and remember who we are in Christ, continue reading Ephesians 1 in the New Living Translation (NLT).

Tuesday

January 10, 2017

Trin-I-D

Read

Ephesians 1:4-6, "For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves."

Think

A revolution takes place when we understand our identity, and our identity is found in the Trinity: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Godhead, 3 in 1 and 1 in 3, is something we'll never fully grasp on this side of eternity. The Bible does, though, explain the implications of our relationship with each manifestation of God. In Ephesians 1:4-6, the apostle Paul details three aspects to understanding our identity in God the Father; we are chosen, adopted, and accepted by Him who spared His own Son to make our relationship with Him possible.

God chose you! Right now, say it loud and proud, "God chose me!" That's right! And it's not as if one day He decided to pick you out of a crowd. No, He chose you before He laid the foundations of the earth. He knew what you would look like, He knew your name, He loved you, and He gave you a very specific purpose. But He also knew that you would be born outside of His family. We were born into a fallible and fallen world. Sin separated us from entering the presence of a perfect and holy God. Through His Son, He made a way to reconcile us to Himself. Thereby we were reborn of His Spirit and adopted as His children. So, God chose you, He adopted you, and He has accepted you. God knows you are a work in progress, but by grace He now looks at you and sees the righteousness of His beloved Son. Remember, you are a child of God, chosen, adopted, and accepted—it's who you are—it's your Trin-I-D!

Pray

Thank God for choosing you, for calling you His child, and accepting you as a work in progress.

Act

Read Ephesians chapter 1 in the Message (MSG) translation.

Monday

January 9, 2017

A Perfect Fit

Read

Ephesians 1:1-3 (NASB), “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”.

Think

Isn’t it true that we sometimes try way too hard to fit in? Throughout our lives we have been drawn to various groups that seemingly have it all together. We think if we can win their approval, then we’ll have finally made it. But upon further inspection, are they truly who we want to be? Because, apart from God we’ll never be as together as we’d like everyone to think. Our lives can only peak with maximum potential when we stop playing to the crowd and play for an audience of One—God.

As Christians, our identity is solely found in the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We are forgiven by the Father’s gift of unmerited grace through the Son. Then, the moment we accept Jesus as the Lord and Savior of our lives, the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in our hearts. From this we gain a supernatural confidence with God in us. We fit in with Perfection! Why? Because we know we’re here on purpose for a purpose—to glorify the name above all names, Jesus Christ.

Pray

Thank God for His forgiveness and acceptance of you. Ask Him to lead your steps with the knowledge of both who and Whose you truly are.

Act

Begin developing a solid understanding of your identity in the Trinity.  Continue reading Ephesians chapter 1 in the NASB translation.