Friday, November 30, 2007

Devotions 30-11-07 (Eph 3:6)

The mystery "...that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel..."

I want to review again the three fold aspect of the mystery of Christ that was given to Paul and opened the way for Gentiles to have access to God. I have not written about this before but I have been working on this in a bible study for a few weeks now. I think this is so important for me to have a clear grip or understanding on what God is teaching me through this teaching of the apostle Paul.

Because of Christ I am now a fellow heir with the people of God and I am a member of Christ's body along with the Jews and we both have the same promise in Christ. That promise is that by faith in Christ I have forgiveness of sins and have eternal life. This truth has been hidden for generations but has now been revealed through the apostles and the prophets. This all came through the good news of Christ and his life, death and resurrection.

This is an amazing privilege and blessing by the grace of God. I have done nothing to merit this privilege but God has given it to me as a priceless gift.
All I can do is to thank Him and to praise Him. I can also be His humble servant and seek to proclaim this wonderful message to the world. Yet even in this I need God's grace for the wisdom and strength to proclaim such a priceless message.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Devotions 29-11-07 (Eph 3:20-21)

"Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."

I have said or prayed this statement many times over the years and thought I would do a little meditating on it today.

I like the Message translation as a fresh translation. "God can do anything, you know---far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!" It would be wonderful if I could maintain this truth all the days of my life and especially when I go to pray. This evening at our regular bible study time we are spending the evening in prayer. I pray I could take the truth and spirit of these verses into our time with God before His throne of Grace.

It is God who is working in us that is doing this great work. It is not an outside force or an angel who is doing something for us but His Spirit who dwells in us!

There is so much I need to learn about God and His mighty power at work in me. I desire to have the intimacy with God and trust or faith to allow Him to do the mighty works that I know He desires to do in or through me. Lord, guide me in what You want to do through me today. I want to give You the Glory for whatever You might do in me or through me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Devotions 28-11-07 (Eph 3:19)

" know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God."

This is a very amazing statement. The love of Christ is far beyond any knowledge I may have or acquire. The world puts a lot of value on knowledge and the attaining of degrees of knowledge but the love of Christ is greater than all this. When I know the love of Christ I am in position to be filled up to all the fullness of God. Col 2:9 says "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,"

I am so inadequate to express all that this really means to me. At this moment I am just grateful for the privilege and the awesomeness this great gift. I pray that I might live a life that would be pleasing to Him and others might see His love and kindness in me.

Lord, I am grateful for this knowledge of You and all You have given to me. I pray for the ability to grasp more and more of this knowledge of You. It is far more than a mental accumulation of facts or information but it is an intimacy of knowing You in Your complete being. Help me today to do what is right and pleasing to You in every way.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Devotions 27-11-07 (Eph 3:14-16)

"For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;"

This whole chapter 3 is an amazing study on what God has done for us in Christ. It is continuing to explain all the riches I have in Christ. Now the apostle Paul is praying for us "to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man". What does this really mean?

I think Paul was praying that the Holy Spirit who lives in us as believers would give us an inner strength to do those things that are truly pleasing to God. I think it depends on my resolve to truly do His will and not what I want to do. I think I should be eager to do what God desires for me to do. I know that I do not have the strength or the ability but God is eager to give it to me if I truly trust Him.

Lord, I desire to have strength in the inner man through the Holy Spirit to serve You and to honor You with my life. I know I have already seen this strength in my life for brief moments and I trust I would grow in being more in tune with the Spirit so He may work more freely through me. Lord, thank You for Your wonderful Grace and Lovingkindness to me.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Devotions 26-11-07 {Eph 3:8)

"To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ..."

I am studying the book of Ephesians with two different groups of folks in Estonia. I think we all have been learning a lot of the rich truths of God from this book. We did a portion of Chapter 3 this past week. What stood out to me was verse 8 of this chapter, which I have written above.

In several places in this chapter and also in this verse Paul humbles himself and speaks of himself as someone of no great importance. He wants to be sure that the Lord Jesus is the one that gets all the glory. He says that he is the least of all believers and has been given a great privilege. This was given to him by God and it was nothing he earned or deserved. The privilege to preach or proclaim to the Gentiles( this was anyone that was not a Jew) the unfathomable or unsearchable riches of Christ. There is not limit to the riches or wealth or treasures that I have in Jesus Christ.

What are some of these riches I have. I have forgiveness of my sins and a promise of a life that gives me freedom from all the things in the world that make me a slave. Many are a slave to drugs, big paying jobs, uncontrolled sex, positions of power or prestige and the list goes on. I have a joy and a peace that an unbeliever in Christ can never have because it is unreachable without Christ. You have to read the New Testament of the Bible to really see or understand all these riches we have in Christ.

So what did I learn from this? I must realize how wealthy I am in knowing Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I must share this wealth with others as a privilege and not as a duty. There must be no pride in any way in my sharing because this truth was given to me by others. I did not discover it myself and really no one has because it is God who has brought this truth to the world in the person of Jesus Christ. Thank You Lord for the wonderful riches You have given me in Christ.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Devotions 23-11-07 (I Thess 5:18)

"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day in the USA. We celebrated with a few friends in Estonia who are from the States. Our time was mostly around food and not a whole lot said about giving Thanks. That happens a lot in the States when Thanksgiving is more of a holiday rather than truly giving Thanks. You can do both but you must really work at it in order for it to happen.

My oldest son lost his job the day before Thanksgiving; all because of an error he made in "political correctness". How do you give thanks in such an unfair situation? You do it out of the will to do what God says. Why? The giving of thanks is acknowledging that God is sovereign and He has allowed this for a purpose. God is never out of control of my life. Every believer in Christ has this confidence that God has a plan for his life that can not be thwarted by others.

I am very aware that this is easy to say but much harder to actually do. Yet, I am convinced that this is what I must do by God's abundant Grace. I do want to be grateful for eveything in my life; the good and the bad. Of course this seems to be much easier when I am doing nothing wrong but I am not sure this is always true. It is never easy to face genuine disappointment unless my focus is truly on the Lord when it happens. Pray I would be able to do this in my life so God would be honored by my life.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Devotions 21-11-07 (I John 5:4-5)

"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God."

The world seems so strong at times and so hard to overcome but I can have victory by the power of God. Yesterday, I was fairly sick in bed most of the day and I could only pray. What did I learn? I am weak and I am very dependent on the Lord in everything. Even when I think I am strong I am weaker than I think. I must make my relationship with God my first priority. I know this but do I really know this? Am I so dependent on God that a day is not complete until I have spent some quality time with Him in His Word and Prayer. Only in this way can I have a dynamic faith that overcomes the world.

Lord, I marvel at my weakness and recognize the urgency of my time with You. This time with you is not just to check off a block and go about my day in my strength. I must have personal time with You and from this relationship to have the strength to do Your will. Oh, to get in my head and heart that You are the focus of my life. There is nothing in my day more important than having time with You. Matt 6:33

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Devotions 15-11-07 (II Peter 1:13-15)

"I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind."

Let me try to put this in my own words first and I will make some comments about these verses. "God has given me the calling to remind you of some very important things that you need in order to follow the Lord as you should. I am getting older every year and I do not know how much longer I will be with you but while I am here I want to be faithful to you. I want to be diligent in reminding you of your responsibility to the Lord to do your best and work hard knowing that all your diligence and good effort is given to you by the Lord. I want you to remember what God has said long after I am gone."

Again a little review on what I am talking about. We are to be diligent in our faith and to add to our faith the following qualities; moral excellence or virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. This is what I need to be reminded of as often as possible. Who is reminding me of these qualities and keeping me accountable? Who is helping me to keep these increasing in my life as I walk with the Lord?

I am amazed at all there is in these verses of II Peter 1. There is so much to chew on and meditate to make these truths more than just words that I remember. Oh, that they would indeed become qualities in my life that are increasing day by day and year by year. What a privilige to have a wife who does a good job of reminding me of these qualities. I think we can improve on being more faithful in reminding each other more. I would like at least two more people that would be faithful to God and to me to help me pursue these qualities. Two men who would be in the battle with me for these Christlike qualities.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Devotions 14-11-07 (II Peter 1:12)

"Therefore I shall always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you."

How good am I at taking reminders from others? How many times have I said to my friends or others, "Oh, yes I know that". But in truth am I really doing what I know I should be doing? I think I need to be more receptive to others that remind me of what I know but I could always be more faithful or diligent in my doing what I know.

I hope I have become more sensitive to what others remind me of concerning the truths of God. Maybe in my older age I realize how easy I tend to forget things that I really do not want to forget. So remind me as much as you desire and I will be grateful.

I love God's calling me to go and make disciples in all the nations. I love the personal friendship and intimacy I can have with those of like heart and mind. We can really be honest with each other and help one another to be faithful to the truths of God as we press on through life. I am so grateful for all the reminders of personal discipline needed in my walk with God as I observe my fellow believers and listen to their reminders of what God says to us in His Word.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Devotions 13-11-07 (II Peter 1:10-11)

"Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you."

Again we are talking about the qualities of a man walking with God. They are important and give meaning and purpose to my life. If I am having a problem then I need to examine my calling and my relationship with my Savior. When I know what I have in Christ I will be diligent to grow in these qualities day by day.

When sins gets a hold of me and I fail to live the life I know is God's desire for me I get discouraged and can be drawn back into my old way of life. Then I began to feel that God does not love me any longer and I keep going downhill in my relation to my wonderful Lord. This is a lie from the enemy of my soul and I must not allow this to happen.

Lord give me the diligence to pursue these qualities and to keep increasing in them and to treasure this intimacy with You. There is so much in the world to distract me and I need other believers to help me to stay on course and to follow You. Thank You Lord for those You have brought into my life to encourage me and to keep me pressing ahead. I Love You Lord.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Devotions 09-11-07 (II Peter 1:9)

"For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins."

Moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love. Seven qualities we need to be fruitful.

I do not want to be blind or short-sighted but I will be unless I exercise diligence in making these qualities above part of my life. It also means that I have forgotten what Christ has done for me when He cleansed me of my sin. This is a good cross-reference to Eph 2 concerning our salvation.

The problem is that I have forgotten what Christ did to make me a new person and I am drifting back into my old life. How sad and how awful to lose out on all I have in Christ because of my lack of diligence in my faith.

How awful is the pull of the world to draw me away from all the wonderful promises God has given to me in Christ. I must watch my time and my activities to prevent such short-sightedness or blindness happening to me. Oh, the power and strength I find in God's Word when I listen and obey what God says.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Devitions 08-11-07 (II Peter 1:8)

"For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

What we are doing is seeking to apply all diligence to our faith. There are seven qualities that we are seeking to have in our lives, they are listed below;

Moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.

Notice that these qualities are to be in my life and increasing. There is no end because life in dynamic. These will be increasing in my life or decreasing; there is no arrival point and then I can quit.

I am promised to have a useful part in God's purposes and I will be fruitful. This has to do with knowing the Lord Jesus Christ in an intimate and dynamic way. That is what my whole life should be about; having an intimate relationship with my Lord.

Lord, help me to keep these qualities in my heart so I am always reminded of these being a part of my life and increasing. Not just words but the truths that are in each one. I do long to have and maintain that intimacy with my great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Devotions 07-11-07 (II Peter 1:7)

"and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love."

Today is the last three building blocks I am instructed to have in my life; godliness, brotherly kindness and love.

Godliness is to be God like; to do those things that honor God because God created us to live in this manner. I need to spend much time with God in His Word and in Prayer in order to be godly. It does not come naturally but only as I submit my will to His.

Brotherly kindness is to be kind to your brother. This should seem to be so evident but it is not. Am I as kind to my christian brothers as I ought? I am afraid not. Even in this I must take the time to respect and be kind to my brothers and sisters in Christ. I must treat them with respect and dignity. This is kindness in attitude and in my actions toward them.

The last of these is agape love, unconditional love. The love that does not depend on the other person but I love because God gives me the strength to love. Only in this way can I love my enemies and love those that do me harm or seek to harm me. I need all those other building blocks in order to have and to maintain the ability to love as I ought.

It appears that these seven qualities of life are so important in my seeking to live a life honoring to God: moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverence, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. God has given me life in Christ through faith and I did not do anything to have it. He now expects me to be diligent in my faith and cooperate with Him in seeing these qualities in my life and growing as He gives me days to live.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Devotions 06-11-07 (II Peter 1:5-6)

"Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self control, and in your self-control , perseverance,..."

Today I want to look at the next three building blocks I need in my life; knowledge, self-control and perseverance.

Life is dynamic and never static. Things are always changing. I must keep learning because there is so much to learn especially in the spiritual realm. I must keep growing in my knowledge of God's Word and how it applies to me and the changing world all around me.

As I grow in knowledge I must be mature in how I handle it. I must exercise self-control and use it wisely and prayerfully. So much injury and hurt is brought to others when I do not exercise self-control with truths of God. Someone once said the bible is not a club but a sword. I must use skill in handling a sword when fighting evil.

I also need perseverance or endurance in living out my life. I get tired and even lazy and do not want to keep fighting problems but God urges me to keep going and not quit. Maybe I become weary of having to think so much in my exercise of self-control and just want to back away from issues completely. No, I must persevere and do what is right but in a godly manner and spirit.

Lord, help me to understand these words and how they apply to my life and ministry. I know they are all a part of the character You want to develop in my life. Lord, keep me ever growing and learning and applying Your truths to my life. I must realize that the Holy Spirit will help me in my self-control because that is a part of the fruit He wants me to possess. I think one of the harder things for me to do is to keep going and not giving up when things do not seem to improve. Lord, help me to finish my life strong and even more eager than when I began. I can only do it by Your Grace. I do want to bring You Praise.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Devotions 05-11-07 (II Peter 1:5)

"Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge;"

I think diligence must be applied to all of the other items listed. I begin with faith because that is where it all begins. I have faith in Jesus that He is God's son and He is the Savior of the world. He is my Savior. I must be diligent in my faith.

I now move from faith to something that I must be responsible for in the way I live out my faith. I must seek to have moral excellence or virtue. It has do with my character and how I respond to life and the circumstance of life. It is how I relate to others regardless of how they treat me or respond to me. A man of virtue is an example for others to follow. It has to do with purity, honesty, and many other important values.

Lord, help me to be a man of virtue or moral excellence. The longer I live I see the value of being a man of virtue. It is not easy in a world that does not appreciate a man of such character and morals. Yet such men are what keeps our world from falling apart and given completely to evil. Jesus was the true example of a man of virtue.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Devotions 01-11-07 (II Peter 1:5-7)

"Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

This is a very interesting passage that requires some time to think on each word and to see how they relate to each other. Why is the sequence of the words the way they are and what should we learn from it. Over the next few days I want to camp here and see what I can learn. I have done this many years ago and I think it is time to refresh my soul on these issues.

I know verse four was about the magnificent promises of God and now says for this reason we need to look at how diligent I am in my faith. What is diligence? One definition is "persevering application". It is a steady and consistent working at accomplishing some task. Diligent is said to be" characterized by steady, earnest and energetic application and effort"

God is expecting some human effort on my part but it is small in comparison to what God promises to do but it is important and significant. So how am I doing at my earnest and energetic application and effort of making God's truths a part of my life and character? I need to do some thinking and meditation on this.

Lord, I do want to be a man diligent in my faith. I must not think that I am earning something or it is me that is doing the work but I must apply what You have told me to do and I must focus on this with a consistency and with whole-heartedness. Thank You for Your Word that is so clear and specific on my responsibilities.