He Has Chosen Us In Him

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will: that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.”  Ephesians 1:3-14  (KJB)

Seven Letters to Seven Churches-Ephesus Part 10

Today this will be my main post. I really appreciate Brother Wally Fry’s study of the Church at Ephesus. I hope you do too.

Truth in Palmyra

Revelation 2:1-7

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Revelation 2:4

Part 10. Wow. I hope readers don’t mind us really taking our time and poking around a bit. Actually, it really doesn’t matter, as that is what I am going to do anyway! Writing blog posts is as much for me as for readers; it is my way of studying. We might say, my blog posts are my study notes. So, part 10 it is.

So, here we are again. Ephesus: hard-working, doctrinally pure, yet they have left their “first love.”

Today, we are going to just poke around very briefly in the language of our verse and talk about the significance of some of it. I have said before, and I will say again; I am not a Greek scholar and have never studied it as a subject. That is great if…

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Quench the Fiery Darts

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Ephesians 6:16 (KJB)

As if to say “Don’t forget the shield of faith” the Apostle  gives instruction on using our faith in the spiritual battle we face. We cannot face the enemy without it.

“…The wicked” of the verse above is definitely speaking of the enemy of God (who is Satan), and ours; but we must not forget that wickedness, evil can be found in the people who live around us, and are pawns of the evil one. As Christians we are warned to guard our own hearts and minds; if we do not, then evil can come into our own lives.

Wickedness is all around us.  Can you see it?  There are people who call what is good “evil” and call what is evil “good”.  As Christians we must stand for what the Bible, the Holy Bible, the Holy Scriptures say; the word of God stands sure.  Without Scripture we can have no genuine faith.

Christians, Stand by faith in  the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

From the Commentary of Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown…

Above all — rather, “Over all”; so as to cover all that has been put on before. Three integuments are specified, the breastplate, girdle, and shoes; two defenses, the helmet and shield; and two offensive weapons, the sword and the spear (prayer). Alford translates, “Besides all,” as the Greek is translated, Luk_3:20. But if it meant this, it would have come last in the list (compare Col_3:14).

shield — the large oblong oval door-like shield of the Romans, four feet long by two and a half feet broad; not the small round buckler.

ye shall be able — not merely, “ye may.” The shield of faith will certainly intercept, and so “quench, all the fiery darts” (an image from the ancient fire-darts, formed of cane, with tow and combustibles ignited on the head of the shaft, so as to set fire to woodwork, tents, etc.).

of the wicked — rather “of the EVIL ONE.” Faith conquers him (1Pe_5:9), and his darts of temptation to wrath, lust, revenge, despair, etc. It overcomes the world (1Jn_5:4), and so the prince of the world (1Jn_5:18).”

Do not remain blind to the Truth of who Jesus Christ is.  Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and He rose again.  He will one day return and put away all evil; and it will be what He declares as evil; not what men say.

 

…To Know the Love of Christ…

“Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Ephesians 3:13-21  (KJB)

This was the apostle  Paul’s prayer for the Ephesus Church, and all saints of God.  Let it be my prayer for the Lord’s Church where I serve, and all the Body of Christ.

Getting Equipped for the Battle

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
But that you also may know my affairs, how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that you might know our affairs, and he might comfort your hearts.  Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Grace with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.” Ephesians 6:10-24

REFERENCES: Isaiah 11:5; 54:17; 59:19; Luke 22:53; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; 1 John 5:4; Matthew 26:41; Philippians 1:4

O, The Blessings We Have in Jesus Christ

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly in Christ: according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the Beloved.  In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; wherein He has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He has purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; in Him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who works all things after the counsel of His own will: that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.  In whom you also, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set at His own right hand in the heavenlies, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and has put all under His feet, and gave Him the head over all to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all.  Ephesians 1:1-23

REFERENCES: Romans 1:7; Galatians 1:3; Exodus 33:19; Matthew 3:17; 1 Peter 1:18; Acts 20:28; Colossians 1:26; 1 Corinthians 3:22; Isaiah 46:10; James 1:18; John 1:17; Luke 21:28; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:4

The Church at Ephesus

Ephesus: Left Their First Love

Revelation 2:1-7
“…The church of Christ persecuted has been the church of Christ pure. The church of Christ patronized has always been the church of Christ impure.” G. Campbell Morgan
(2 Tim. 3:12)
REFERENCES – John 14:21, Genesis 2:9; 3:2-3, 22-24,

INTRODUCTION –
I. IN THIS LETTER TO EPHESUS JESUS REVEALS HIMSELF AS THE ONE WHO HOLDS THE SEVEN STARS, AND WALKS IN THE MIDST OF THE SEVEN CANDLESTICKS.
II. JESUS COMMENDS THEM FOR THEIR LABOR, SACRIFICE, AND PATIENCE.
III. ALL IS NOT WELL IN EPHESUS – THEY HAVE ABANDONED THEIR FIRST LOVE.
IV. THEY ARE IN NEED OF REMEMBERING, REPENTANCE, AND REPEATING.
V. THROUGH THEIR LOVE FOR CHRIST THEY CAN RECEIVE THE FRUIT OF THE TREE OF LIFE.

I. Jesus Reveals Himself as Holding the Stars In His Right Hand and Walking in the Midst of the Candlesticks (v. 1)
A. Scripture has previously spoken so (1:12, 13, 16, 20); but note that to Ephesus He says, “…who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks”.
B. Possibly saying that He is not just some ornament in the midst of the churches.

II. Ephesus is Commended For its Works of Labor, its Sacrifices, and Their Patience (vv. 2-3).
A. They were very busy doint their works of service.
B. They were busy unto it becoming burdensome – near to fainting mentally and physically.
C. They were enduring in their labors unto the end. Warren Wiersbe said, “Just think of it: it is possible to serve, sacrifice, and suffer “For My name’s sake” and yet not really love the Lord Jesus Christ.” From BE Commentary pg. 572

III. The Condemnation of Ephesus Was That They Had Left Their First Love (v. 4; John 14:21).
A. Warren Wiersbe said, “Just think of it: it is possible to serve, sacrifice, and suffer “For My name’s sake” and yet not really love the Lord Jesus Christ.” From BE Commentary pg. 572
1. One can get so busy, and tired they neglect to feed on their source of love for the Savior – The Scriptures and prayer.
2. One can become so overcome by the glamors, and distractions of the world of the flesh that they neglect to love the good and to hate evil.
3. Evil as is defined by God and Scripture; not by the world, the flesh, and the devil.
B. The Way of Renewal for Ephesus.
1. Remember from where you came.
2. Repent.
3. Repeat those things that you did when you loved Him
C. They are commended again in verse six for their stand against the Nicolaitans.
1. Known as “Conquerors of the people” they have been seen as the beginning of a dividing of powers in the Church.
2. A heirarchy of leadership – the priest over the people – or “Priest/Pastor” over the “Laity” ie. the people.

IV. If They Will Hear They Will Overcome and be Given the Tree of Life (v. 7; Gen. 2:9; 3:2-3, 22-24).
The phrase “Tree of Life” is used 9 times in Scripture. Four of those are in Proverbs 3, 11, 13 and 15. The other 5 are used in Gen. 2 and 3; and the Rev. 2 and 22.
A. The Tree of Life is for those who will hear and overcome.
B. The way to the Tree of Life is through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christmas Day Ten and Three

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want all the people; all the men, women and children in the world who are about to do  harm to others through a terrorist act, in a domestic dispute, or any possible family related murderous act to know that God loves you; and that He loves you so much that He gave us His only Son, that if you will believe in Him you will not perish, but have everlasting life with God; and even if you have already done these acts of violence God still loves you, and there is forgiveness and healing for you.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV)

“But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Christmas Day Two Hundred Fifty and Seven

What do I want for Christmas?

I want children, and youth who are students in public, private, and home schools to realize the greatest thing to know and learn is about God, His Word – the Holy Bible, and to do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with God through His Son Jesus Christ.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 (KJV)

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:1-4

Day Two Hundred Sixty and One

What do I want for Christmas?

I want the whole world; I want you to know that God loves you despite the way you are; and that He loves you too much to leave you the way you are.

That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:15-18 (KJV)

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

What Do I Want For Christmas? Day 363

What do I want for Christmas?

I want the sins of every charlatan Christian leader (especially in the U. S. of A.) to be exposed; their false teachings to be exposed, and the rebellious hearts of all who profess Jesus Christ to be exposed; that God may show Himself strong among those who love Him.

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.” Ephesians 5:11-13 (NKJV)

Since it is the ministry of every Christian pastor to preach the whole counsel of God’s word; to make God feel good; not themselves, and not any individual but the Lord Jesus Christ.

See also Psalm 119:126.

Through the Bible in a Year – 081113

Fellowship With GOD
Ephesians 3 – 6

1.  WE HAVE THE POWER OF GOD WITHIN (Ephesians 3:20-21).

2.  WALKING WORTHY OF OUR VOCATION (4:1-3)

3.  UNDERSTANDING THE WILL OF THE LORD (5:11-17).

4.  LIVING OBEDIENTLY AND EXPECTANTLY (6:1-4)

 

EVENING MESSAGE-

Christians Blessing the LORD
Psalms 89 – 108

1. CHRISTIANS KNOW THE JOYFUL SOUND (Psalm 89:15-18).

2. CHRISTIANS KNOW THE SOVEREIGN POWER OF THE LORD (Psalm 93:1-5; 97:1-7).

3. CHRISTIANS KNOW THE FUTURE OF OUR GOD (Psalm 102:12-17; 103:1-5).

4. CHRISTIANS KNOW THE POWER, MERCY AND GRACE OF THE ALMIGHTY (Psalm 106:6-12).

5. CHRISTIANS BLESS THE LORD WITH THEIR LIVES OF PRAISE (Psalm 108:1-6).

W4CL – Power

“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21 (KJV)

The human race is consumed by power.  People who want to have control over others; many of them are called politicians who are out to get all the power they can.  Many are preachers and pastors who desire to rule the Church they lead – sadly.

There is something the Christian must realize and that is that all power belongs to the Creator.  It is wonderful for the Christian to daily focus, fellowship with, and have faith in the One who is All-Powerful (Omnipotent).  It is a glorious thing to know that we have the One who empowered the life of Jesus as He walked on earth living within us too.  “…The power that worketh in us…”

How much power do we have?  All that is His; is ours.  Let us walk with Him, and it will be used rightly.

W4CL – Peace

“For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”  Ephesians 2:14-18 (KJV)

Many in our world are crying out for peace.  Peace between Israel and Palestine, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, etc..  Ever since I was a child I can remember people calling for “Peace”.  Not too many, however, really appreciate what “Peace” means.

Peace does not mean  the absence of conflict.    There can be conflict for the cause of peace.  The greatest peace is realized when a man, woman, boy or girl receives the peace of God.

The thing Paul speaks of in the above verses, “…Broken down the middle wall of partition…” is speaking of the wall between Jew and Gentile; the law, and heathenism.  By the death of Jesus Christ on the cross that wall has been broken down, and we are both reconciled to God.

If one does not believe in, trust in the death, burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ you are still at enmity with God.  Your heart is far from Him, and you cannot know peace.  With Christ Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior you will have the Holy Spirit and permanent access to the Father.

With this peace, even in the midst of the world’s greatest conflicts, you will be at peace.  Peace of heart and soul.  Peace of mind.  Peace with God.

W4CL – Holy Spirit

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”  Ephesians 1:13-14 (KJV)

We need not be fearful that God will not fulfill His Word.  He has promised that He will finish what He has began (Philippians 1:6).  There is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus (Romans 8:35-39).  Best of all we have God’s “Earnest” payment that He will do it.

“Earnest” is a real estate term.  One puts down an earnest payment as a guarantee of payment of a down payment on a house or land.  The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us as promise, evidence that He will complete what He has began in us.  You will note too, that “Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise”.

In Christ we are a sealed document, that cannot be opened until it is delivered into the hand of the King.  Please read Romans 8:9.

Words for Christian Living – God’s Will

“Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”  Ephesians 5:17

I have spent a big portion of my Christian life looking, searching for God’s will.  About a month ago I realized I do not need to search for the will of God; that I am living in it.  I am not saying I am perfect, that I have reached the state of full knowledge or anything so preposterous as that.

The MacArthur Study Bible says this…

“…God’s will revealed to us is that people should be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-4), Spirit filled (v. 18), sanctified (1 Thes. 4:3), submissive (1 Pet. 2:13-15), suffering (1 Pet.2:20) and thankful (1 Thes. 5:18).”

Knowing God, His will for our lives, and serving Him is as close as His Word and His Spirit.  When we are Saved, Spirit filled, Sanctified, Submissive, Suffering, and Serving; then we are in the will of God, doing the will of God; and there shall be nothing which will be withheld from us.

The Psalmist has written…

“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”  Psalm 37:4 (KJV)

When we know the LORD, are in His will, then God’s desires will be our desires.

Words for Christian Living 061613

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”  Ephesians 6:1-4 (KJV)

Remember your earthly father today.  It is Father’s Day.  Even more remember him, honor him every day.  Children it begins with being obedient to the instructions, and direction he gives you.

Fathers be sure to be an encouragement and blessing to your children.  If you constantly berate, belittle, and criticize them you will drive them away.  Nurture them in the love of the LORD.  With the same grace you have received be gracious to your children.

Happy Father’s Day.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Lifting the Standard in the Face of the Foe

The following is from the daily Spurgeon sponsored by Bible Gateway.

‘When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.’ Isaiah 59:19

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 6:10–18

Christian, you are in the land where foes abound. There are enemies within you; you are not clean delivered from the influence of inbred sin. The new nature is of divine origin, and it cannot sin because it is born of God; but the old nature, the carnal mind, is there too, and it is not reconciled to God, neither indeed can it be; and therefore it strives and struggles with the new nature. The house of Saul in our heart wars against the house of David, and tries to drive it out and despoil it of the crown. This conflict you must expect to have continued with more or less of violence till you enter into rest. Moreover, in the world without there are multitudes of foes. This vain world is no friend to the principle of the work of grace. If you were of the world the world would love its own, but as you are not of the world but of a heavenly race, you may expect to be treated as an alien and foreigner, no, as a hated and detested foe. All sorts of snares and traps will be laid for you; those who sought to entangle the Master in his speech will not be more lenient towards you. Moreover there is one whose name is called ‘the enemy,’ the ‘evil one;’ he is the leader among your adversaries; hating God with all his might, he hates that which he sees of God in you. He will not spare the arrows in his infernal quiver; he will shoot them all at you. There are no temptations which he knows of—and he understands the art well from long practice—there are no temptations which he will not exercise upon you. He will sometimes fawn upon you, and at other times will frown; he will lift you up, if possible, with self-righteousness, and then cast you down with despair. You will always find him your fierce, insatiable foe. Know this then, and put on the whole armour of God.

For meditation: Self, society and Satan are an unholy trinity to follow (Ephesians 2:2–3) and an unholy trinity to fight, but, in Christ, self (Romans 7:24–25), society (Galatians 1:3–4) and Satan (John 17:15; Hebrews 2:14–15) can all be overcome (Hebrews 2:18).

Sermon no. 718
28 October (1866)

What Spurgeon said on October 28, 1866 is just as applicable in October of 2012.

-T.A.

 

The Christian Walk

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  Be not ye therefore partakers with them.  For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.  But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.  Wherefore He saith, ‘Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.’  See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:5-16 (KJV)

The Christian Walk is similar to Christian Life and Living, and it is also the walk of Enoch of old, Elijah, and others.  That walk is in agreement with GOD, and His Word (Amos 3:3), and there is only one way to walk with GOD, and that is to agree with Him.

The Christian is a changed individual.  She/He will trust the Lord even when darkness seems set on derailing our walk.  We must cherish our walk with God.  Continue in it even when the way is rough, rocky, dark, and lonely.  Walk diligently, circumspectly in the Lord.

-T.A.

For Christian Life and Living

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.  But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.  Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.  Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:17-32 9KJV)

Put off the “old man” that old nature and put on Christ.  When a man, woman, boy or girl comes to faith in Jesus Christ we are changed into the likeness and image of Christ; therefore we are to live like Jesus Christ.  Far too often I hear professing Christians who speak corruptly; and that is not only vulgarity in the form of cursing, or what we may think of as bad language; that includes the ridicule of another individual, or showing them as being worthless.

Let us follow the way of Jesus Christ and live.

-T.A.

Reconciled By the Cross of Christ

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”  Ephesians 2:11-22 (KJV)

The only hope of the world, and its people is the cross of Jesus Christ.  It is the only means by which mankind can be or will be reconciled to God.

-T.A.

Day 82 – Spiritual Blessings

It could be said probably, that, everybody likes a blessing.  Those who do not believe in God, however, may not call it “Blessing”.  What would you have to be thankful for?  Who would you thank?  I do not have the answer.  My reading this morning was reading through Ephesians and Philippians.  Two Epistles [Letters] written by the apostle Paul with words of encouragement to the church of Ephesus and the church of Philippi.

To Ephesus Paul writes,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…” Ephesians 1:3 (KJV)

It is one thing to bless God with words, such as the apostle does above; but how are we at blessing Him with our lives too.  Both are a part of the faithful Christian’s life.  We are to bless God by remembering His blessings to and upon us.

While Paul is addressing “Spiritual blessings” which involve the things that are in the following verses; “He has chosen us in Him”,  “Predestinated us unto the adoption of children…”,  “…We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins…”.  He goes on and includes “…an inheritance”, and that “Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise…”.  The spiritual blessings go on and on.

Those spiritual blessing work themselves out into living in this world and life.  If we do not live with these spiritual blessings; having thankfulness for them, then, we will most likely be a negative, bitter, envious, carnal individual; probably not a true Christian.  Do you realize your spiritual blessings?  Are you thankful for them?  Particularly for the grace given to us by the Father, putting His own Son to death on the cross, and raising Him again bodily from the grave?

In Ephesians we are told about grace.  It is by grace we are saved; plus nothing, minus nothing.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:8-10

In chapter five we are admonished to “…Be filled with the Spirit”, not spirits; how husbands and wives are to respect and love one another, especially how the husband is love his wife as Christ loves the church, and gave Himself for her.  Children are to obey their parents, parents are not to “Provoke” their children (chapter 6).  Servants, even employees, are to serve their bosses as though they are serving Christ.

In Philippians we see that Jesus Christ was a man of humility; humbling Himself even to the death of the cross;

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  Philippians 2:5-8 (KJV)

It is one of the greatest spiritual blessings to know the God/Man who came to be with us and without sin, offer His life as an atonement for our sin, that we might be like Him.  Because of Him we have great cause for rejoicing, which the apostle addresses in the letter (4:4).

Let me end with just a note concerning the passing of a man of God.  Charles Colson who was the founder of Prison Fellowship and aided in many prison reforms; and many men and women coming to faith in Christ who were in prison; has gone home to be with Jesus.  Reading his book “Born Again” was a blessing to me.  I have also read several of his other books.   Thank God for men such as Charles Colson who devote their lives to the name and cause of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Death Grip

Anyone who thinks or believes that living the Christian life is “easy” has not begun to live the Christian life.  Several years ago, I was preaching in a Baptist Church [my conviction] on the difficulties of living the Christian life.  I had a woman who came to me afterwards and said, “I don’t find living the Christian life difficult.”  Now, I don’t know if she quite got a grasp of what I was saying, or if she did not know what the Christian life was about; but living it is difficult; even when we have the Spirit of God living within.

Death Grip is what sin has on those who are human.  The sad part of that is; that even when someone trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we still have a battle with sin’s death grip.  Every Christian struggles with sin.  We will continue to struggle with it until this body, this shell of flesh we live in takes its last breath, and the heart beats its last beat.

That is why as a Christian we are admonished by the Word of God to “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11).  The promise of the Word is that we are no longer a slave to sin (Romans 6:16-17), as long as long as we “have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you”.  That doctrine, of course, is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Yet, we struggle against sin.  Yes!  Christians still commit sin.  Not because we love it, but because of the death grip of sin.  The prophet Isaiah said, “Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope…” Isaiah 5:18.  Most of our struggle with sin is due to our own weakness to resist it.  We have the power to resist temptation because of the work of Jesus Christ and His “earnest payment” left us; the Holy Spirit.  Yet we are in that death grip.

Back during the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, AZ.  Dr. Al Mohler upset a lot of our folks by some comments he made using words, such as “Homophobic” and “Choice”.  It was falsely reported by one news agency that the SBC had recanted and changed its view of homosexuality; NOT SO.

Dr. Mohler believes as I do that homosexuality is sin.  Just as adultery is sin, murder is sin, stealing is sin, lust is sin, murderous thinking is sin, disobedience to God and His Word is sin.  Homosexuality, in scripture is called an abomination.

When an individual comes to faith in Christ we are not perfect, but we enter a state of growth where we are growing more into the image of Christ.  That, though, will not be perfected until we see Jesus face to face.

Sin’s Death Grip is like Isaiah’s iniquity, and cart rope; we still drag that sinful flesh along with us.  It is a burden, a drag, yet we desire to be free from it; and one day we will.  Until then, let us put off the works of the flesh, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  When we fall, let us take the hand of our Savior, arise forgiven, cleansed, and continue on the journey.

There is forgiveness for all who will call on the name of Jesus Christ in faith.  Christian remember this, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Grace At Work

Ephesians 4:7-16

PURPOSE:  To teach that those who are in the one Body [the Church] are recipients of grace, demonstrated and shown through ministry gifts, also of grace, for the purpose of bringing the total Body to the maturity of Jesus Christ.

Grace does not stop with our initial repentance, faith, and confession of Christ.  Grace continues with every breath we breathe; every step we take; every morning we rise from our beds.  Grace is the continuing work of God in the Christians life.

The following are some works of grace which God has bestowed upon us.

THE WORK OF GOD WHICH DELIVERED US FROM THE CONDEMNATION OF SIN AND DEATH (v. 7).  Grace is the means by which we are delivered from the condemnation of sin and its death.  It is provided for us through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This is only the propitiation or appeasement; God judging our sin [all sin] by placing it on the sinless, guiltless Jesus Christ.  Grace continues and becomes efficacious [effective] when we respond  to His grace by faith in Him.  That same grace provides not only salvation, but also gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit, for living by grace in His power.

“But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” 1 Corinthians 12:11 (KJV)

Just as every individual who is born again, by faith in Jesus, is in the one Body, so too, has everyone received a grace-gift(s) in which to serve the Body.  There is no one who is in Christ who is not also gifted to live for and serve Him.

All this is the “gift of Christ”.  We are brought into one Body by Christ; we are gifted by Him to serve in the Body as He [the Head] directs and leads by the person of the Holy Spirit.

THE WORK OF GOD ON THE CROSS WHICH DELIVERED US FROM CAPTIVITY (vv. 8-10).  Because of the cross on which Jesus bled and died God the Father was and is able to deliver us from the captivity of sin.  His resurrection gave us victory over hell and death.

If you watch  people; as I have a tendency to do; you will see many enslaved by sin.  Illegal and legal drugs, like cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, prescription drugs, etc., and you know what I mean.  You see some captive by other things in their lives.  Men and women, married and unmarried, are enslaved to their lustful desires; whether those desires are greed for wealth, or sex; makes little difference; they are none the less enslaved.  Some are enslaved to their comforts and entertainments.

When Jesus arose from the grave He led those who were Old Testament  saints out of captivity.  I believe this is vividly illustrated in Matthew 27:51-53:

“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

He then placed into captivity everything that places man in bondage – sin, hell, death, and Satan.

By ascending into heaven He opened the avenue for the Holy Spirit; in fact sent the Holy Spirit; to come and dwell within all who trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  The Holy Spirit would not have come to abide in all who know Jesus except He [Jesus] ascended into heaven first.  By ascending He not only gave us the person of the Spirit, but He also gifted us; gave us tools for ministry, and the Holy Spirit is the power of the gifts.

His descension is His incarnation [Jesus coming as God in flesh].  Because of His death, burial and resurrection His mortal body was changed into an immortal body.  The Scriptures  declare that there is a man (in bodily form) in heaven:

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”  1 Timothy 2:5 (KJV)

Because of and by the ministry of the Holy Spirit the Church is the Body of Christ on earth.  It is being made more and more into the image of Christ in heaven, in every individual who abides in His Body  on earth.  This by no means implies that individual’s in His Church are sinless, but contrary to that, His working in us shows that we are needy of Him.

Jesus’s desire, His heart is to be the FULNESS of everyone who will come to Him.

THE WORK OF GOD IN THE GIFTS WHICH HE GIVES US; CONTINUING THE WORK (vv. 11-12).  God desires, and Jesus desires to continually be at work in us; fulfilling His will and glory.  The reason for the gifts of the Spirit is His grace.

The gifts listed are not natural talents, but special gifts of the Spirit for glorifying Jesus in the ministry.  The apostles and prophets are the one’s upon whom the church is built (2:20).  There is no such thing as “apostolic succession”.  At least not in the sense of the Roman Catholic religion.  Apostles are not declared or made by a local congregation, but they are called out individually by God for the purpose of going to an unchurched, unevangelized area, and doing the ground work; preaching the word and the gospel of Christ to establish a local congregation.  In the truest New Testament sense an apostle today could be a missionary.  There can be no more apostles because the foundation has already been laid; there are no more eye witnesses of Jesus Christ risen from the grave; there are no more disciples who personally walked with Jesus in the land where He walked.  Missionaries do the work that the original apostles did in going about, preaching the gospel to people groups who have not heard, and showing them the love of Jesus Christ.

The prophets were preachers who were gifted with a special understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures, and given the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit for the New Testament Church and Scriptures.  They were and are those whom are sensitive about sin and its destruction in human life.  They have a heart for hearing God and His Word.  The Church is built on the apostles and prophets.  The prophet today would probably be better known as  “Preacher”.  This is still how local churches begin.  The local church is where the gifts and power of the Spirit are demonstrated.  The Body of Christ is manifest in the local church.

Evangelists are gifted by God to seek out the lost and are particularly gifted at presenting  the gospel of Jesus Christ in a clear and understandable way.  They are also gifted to teach others how to be soul-winners.

Where the previous three are itinerant [traveling] messengers the pastor/teacher is one who sticks around awhile.  He loves the people as his own family.  He preaches the Word of God to them and teaches them how to apply  the Word to their lives.  He is one who is really more concerned about their spiritual walk, spiritual growth than numerical growth.  The pastor will leave the numerical growth up to the Lord.  The pastor simply sows the seed of the Word and the gospel and leaves the increase up to the Holy Spirit.  He teaches by word and example.

In verse twelve we see a twofold purpose for these spiritual gifts;

1. The perfecting of the saints to do the work of the ministry;
2. Edifying the Body of Christ.

Number one, the ministry of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor/teacher is to equip the believers to do the work of the ministry.  These four are the equipping/leadership gifts of the Spirit.  There are other gifts listed in Romans 12:3-8;  1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 27-31; and here in Ephesians 4:11.  Each of these gifts of the Spirit are needed in the local church to for the people to grow and be healthy and powerful for the glory of Jesus Christ.  Number two, the equipped Body will be operating in the unity of the Spirit and truly “building up” the Body of Christ.  When everyone “in Christ” recognize their place of service, then, the Church has been built up and is honoring and pleasing to Jesus.

THE WORK OF GOD AND THE FRUIT OF THAT WORK (vv. 13-16).  When the Body of Christ is being equipped and built up there are four evidences of spiritual growth.

  1. We become more Christlike caring for the needs of others, experiencing others hurts and sorrows.  We grow in knowledge of Him and His Word and work of His Spirit.  We reach a place of maturity where we are not offended by truth; or the color of the carpet.  This lever of maturity is still seeking the fullness of Christ.
  2. We begin developing a stability of faith.  We begin to understand truth and are not tossed around by false doctrines and teachings.  We are learning to test all teachings by the Word of God.
  3. We have a love for truth, coupled with a lover for people, the lost, and even backsliden  When others are confronted with the truth love will not permit us to condemn, but we will admonish them by pointing to their real need; realizing from whence we have come.
  4. We realize that there must be a unified work.  We have purpose through cooperation.  By joining our hands, prayers, finances, families, ministries, and our hearts we are in cooperation with one another and ‘building up’ the Church.  That means we would be the most powerful force on earth; through Jesus Christ.

When you have grace working in you  through  Jesus Christ you will be the better for it, and the world will benefit from it.  Grace works everyday in the lives of those who follow Jesus Christ.  Let each of us submit to the work of grace and the Spirit of God every day.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Abundant Family of God

Ephesians 3:14-21

It has been the will and the plan of God to bring all people into one body, but according to God’s good will; not man’s.  It seems that man has endeavored to come together as one more than once; the first time being at Babel; and look what happened.

God is holy, and all people cannot come to Him in their own merit due to sin.  God loves humanity, and is the offended Deity to whom a price must be paid, and that price is death; the death of every sinner.  Just as sin entered the world and the human race by one man [Adam] so too, by only one man can sin’s debt be paid, and that debt, which was owed to God, has been paid by the death of His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12-21).

In verses 1-13 of Ephesians 3 Paul has given explanation how that God has displayed His love and grace by the cross of Jesus and has opened the way for the Gentiles (all who are not Jewish).

NAMED FOR THE FATHER OF THE FAMILY (vv. 14-15).  In the first two chapters and the first thirteen verses of this chapter the apostle has dealt with the “mystery of the gospel”, by which the Jew and the Gentile become one through Jesus Christ.  We understand through the previous thirteen verses of this chapter that it has always been God’s plan to bring Jew and Gentile together into one body.  God is sovereign and works all things for his purpose, will and glory.

God the Father is the source of “Fatherhood”.  This is not a verse supporting the heresy of the “Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man”.  God is only the Father of all who have trusted Him through faith in Jesus Christ and the finished work of Christ – His death on the cross, His burial, and His bodily resurrection.  The “whole family in heaven and earth” can only refer to the “saints” both living and dead [bodies sleeping awaiting their day of resurrection].  We are of the family of God, because God in His grace has made it so; without our aid or efforts.

We are of the “Household of faith”, with the name given us by our Father.

BEING FILLED WITH ALL THE FULNESS OF GOD (vv. 16-19).  When the lost man or woman comes to Jesus Christ they receive all of Jesus Christ that they will ever receive.  We are however, at times, very inept in practicing all the fulness of God we have been given.

God said through Zechariah the prophet;

“This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”  Zechariah 4:6 (KJV)

The Spirit of God is the person and source of our Fulness of God.  He is the catalyst of our fulness.  In this prayer Paul is asking these things from God for the Ephesians and us, “according to the riches of His glory…”

1.  “To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man”;
2.  “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”;
3.  “being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height…”;
4.  “to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge…”

It seems by the presence of these that would be having the fulness of God which Paul speaks of.

THE ABUNDANCE OF GOD’S POWER WORKING IN US (v. 20).  It seems as I am studying this I seem a bit unable to describe what this is dealing with.  God’s grace for salvation is more abundant than I can begin to imagine, and His grace for living is just as abundant, and when God says, that He will complete what He began (Philippians 1:6); that is part of that abundance.

God is far more able to do “Exceeding abundantly”, “far more abundantly”, “above and beyond” “all that we ask or think”, that we ought to know that anything God says we can rely on.

All of this accomplished “…according to the power that worketh in us…”.  The power working in us is limited, it seems, only by our faith at work.  Maybe I should say, “Limited only by our faith not working”.  If we are truly walking with God, in the Spirit, filled with the Spirit; then there is nothing that should stand in our way of fulfilling God’s will in our lives; and seeing God’s will accomplished in the lives of others.

We cannot muster up the power in ourselves.  It is through the Spirit of God in the child of God walking by faith in Jesus Christ.

THE CHURCH GIVING GLORY TO THE FATHER FOREVER (v. 21).  The purpose of all creation is to give glory to God, to praise and adore Him.

When sin has wrecked and mauled and destroyed a sinners life God gets no pleasure from his death (Ezekiel 18:32).  When that soul has been saved, set free from sin by God’s free gift of grace God glories in that child’s physical death (Psalm 116:15).  Why deos Scripture tell us this?  Because, it is God who has worked in that saved soul’s life to bring him to Himself.  It is God who works in you (Philippians 2:13) as a child of God to bring you to His glory.

Now, having siad that, it leads us to the Church.  The Church is the Bride of Jesus Christ.  He being “the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).  What glory it brings to God when finally the Church is brought as one into the eternal presence of God.  The Spirit habitating in the life center of every believer is the means  by which we glorify God.  The Holy Spirit is the power of the Church which brings every born again soul to God.  He is glorified because He sees the Church completed already seated with Jesus in heavenly places.

-Tim A. Blankenship