Books of the Bible

Archives

November 2014
S M T W T F S
« Oct    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 478 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 10,861 hits

Blog By KSean

Reciprocal Links

Make The Most of Your Life


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


The passages we’ve been studying over the past few days discuss how the life of a believer should not be the same as the life of a non-believer. Those of us who are God’s children through faith [John 1:12-13] should live differently.

It is our responsibility to make sure we don’t live as the darkness we used to be but as the light we now are. Living like the unsaved sinners we were is unwise. But God wants us to live wise lives. To do this we need to look carefully as we go through life. The Greek word translated “carefully” is βλεπο (pronounced: blep’-o). It means “to consider; to examine; to contemplate”. God instructs us to think before we act.

Too often we just rush into things without thinking through the consequences. We do this out of habit or because we don’t want to waste time. But in this verse God tells us that taking the time to contemplate our life will result in the best use of our time.

The word “time” here does not refer to chronological time. It refers to our life. God wants us to make the most of our life because the days are evil [1 John 5:19]. There is much activity in our world that is sin. It is certainly easy for one of God’s children to partake in the evil that is around them, especially if they do not take the time to carefully consider their choices.

To live wisely we need to understand what the will of the Lord is. We need to know what is pleasing to God. Having an affair may seem like fun. But that would not be pleasing to God. Berating someone who hurt you may seem like the right move. But that would not be pleasing to God. Looking at pornography might not seem that bad. But it would not be pleasing to God.

God does not wave magic wands over people to instantly change them into what they should be. If He did, He wouldn’t have to give us instructions as He does in today’s verses. It is our responsibility to understand His will by studying – not just reading – the Bible [Proverbs 2:6] and to practice the art of self-discipline [1 Timothy 4:7]. Going through life any other way is foolish.

God has given us life. That is a great gift. He does not want us using the short time we have in ways that harm us and other people. He wants us to live wisely – as an example to the evil world around us.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+

Wake Up & Illuminate The World Around You


Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:11-14 ESV)


Today’s verse is a quote by Paul. But the source of the quote is not known. It is possibly a saying from the early church and may have been derived from Isaiah 60:1.

Paul’s purpose in referencing these words is to call believers to stop living like the darkness they used to be. In our previous lifestyles we practiced sin, which results in spiritual death [Romans 6:23]. We are not to live that way any longer.

During sleep our central nervous system is mostly inactive and consciousness is suspended. When we are asleep we do not know we are asleep. Likewise, many children of God are still living like the unsaved world around them. They are living like sinners without realizing it. God wants those people to awake and arise. He wants them to become conscious again so that Christ will shine on them.

As we’ve been reading over the past few days, when a person becomes born-again they stop being darkness and become light. God calls on that person to live in such a way that their light exposes the deceitful practices of those around them. But its important to know where our light comes from. It does not come from us. It comes from Christ.

The moon does not radiate its own light. Rather it reflects light originating from the sun. Similarly, God’s children – born-again believers who have been forgiven of all their sins [John 1:12-13] – do not generate our own light. The light we bring to the world is nothing more than a reflection of the light that God is shining upon us. There is nothing inherently good within us that could be considered light [Romans 7:18]. Good can only come from God [James 1:17].

One tool a photographer might use is a reflector. A reflector is placed on the opposite of the subject from a light source (e.g. sun or flash) and bounces light back onto the subject to illuminate the side that is in darkness. Such reflectors are usually bright in color such as white or silver. But there are also black reflectors that are sometimes used to intentionally remove light from a subject as black, unlike white, does not reflect light.

There are many Christians who, despite being truly saved, are like the black reflector. They are not reflecting God’s light. In fact, they are adding darkness to the world by their lifestyle. This verse is calling on these people to wake up and become a white reflector and illuminate their world by shining God’s light on those around them.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+

Our Lifestyle Should Reveal Truth


Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:11-14)


Over the past few days we’ve been reading how God wants His children to live as the light that we are. We were once darkness, as all people are. But now we are light. Because of this we are not to participate in the works of darkness, which serve no meaningful purpose (are unfruitful).

Rather we are to act as the light [Ephesians 5:8]. When we live this way we expose the works of darkness; we make visible the evilness and pointlessness of those deeds. Darkness hides. Light reveals.

God wants His children to reveal truth to the world around them by the way we live. He does not call on us to tell others of their sin with our words, although that sometimes is called for, because it is shameful to even speak of those things. It is by our lifestyle that we primarily expose the sin of those around us.

When we live according to God’s word people will notice because the things that God tells us to do and the things God tells us not to do are vastly different than the way the world lives.

There is a clear distinction between darkness and light; conditions at midnight are far different than conditions at noon. God wants His children to live like noon in a world that lives like midnight. Sadly, though, many Christians live like they are dusk – a combination of darkness and light. They are afraid of ridicule so they conform to the world to some degree or another. But such a mixed message does nothing to help our friends and family.

God has always used this technique to get people’s attention. When He brought Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land He commanded them to live in such a way as to stand out from their neighbors. He did not want to them to do the same things the nations around them were doing so that they (Israel) would be noticed and would therefore bring attention to God with the goal people being saved.

God calls on His children today to live differently for the very same reason. When we live differently from the world around us we expose their actions for what they are: sin that separates them from God. Therefore our lifestyle is helpful. It helps others recognize their own sin. It helps others come to know that there is a God. And, hopefully, it convinces others that God is a forgiving, loving, father who wants to be with them forever.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+

Characteristics of A Life Of Light


Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
(Ephesians 5:7-10 ESV)


Its interesting that those of us who are God’s children are light (as we learned yesterday), yet God still commands us to walk as children of light. Just because we are something doesn’t mean we act accordingly.

Recently Prince William and his wife, Kate, welcomed a new baby. That child is royalty. But that does not mean that he will always act in a way that is appropriate for a member of royalty to behave. As he grows up he will be tempted to do things that royalty does not do. He will have to be reminded at times to act in accordance with his status in life. The same is true for children of God.

God has changed us from being darkness to being light. We are light. There is no question about that [Matthew 5:13-16; Ephesians 5:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:5]. But we have to learn to live as light. The Christian life is one of surrendering our old selves and becoming our new selves [Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 5:17]. It is an intentional process of forming new habits. And sometimes God has to remind us of this.

When we live as the light we are we demonstrate certain characteristics, called fruit in this verse and elsewhere in the Bible. Here we are told that God’s children should be characterized by being good, right, and true. These words are very interesting. They identify how we relate to others, God, and ourselves, respectively.

By looking at the original Greek text we can understand the meaning of each of these three words. The life of a good person makes a positive difference in the lives of others. They add value. Someone who is right has a positive relationship with God. Such a person is open with God and does not hide their sins, or fears, or anger from God. Finally, someone who is true is honest with him/herself. They don’t lie to themselves in an effort to convince themselves they are something they are not. Specifically, this verse refers to being honest with oneself about all the things God tells us, both the negative (we are sinners) and the positive (we are forgiven).

Living like this does not come naturally. When we were darkness we were defined by just the opposite behavior as are those who are still darkness. Once we are saved God did not wave a magic wand over us so that we live as light all the time. We have to try to live this way by discerning what is pleasing to the Lord.

The Christian life is is a life marked by intentionality in which we purposely learn about God (through the Bible, prayer, sermons, etc) and then live our lives according to what we learn. This is the kind of life that pleases God.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+

Darkness Is Bondage; Light Is Freedom


Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
(Ephesians 5:7-10 ESV)


Yesterday God warned His children not to engage in the same activities as those who are not His children. Only those who have been born-again by repenting of their sins and accepting Jesus’ death as necessary and complete for the payment of those sins are God’s children [John 1:12-13]. Everyone else is not. As we have been learning recently, those who are not God’s children make poor choices in life. Their lives are controlled by sin.

This is how God’s children used to be. At one time [we] were darkness, but now [we] are light. This is the reason (for) why we should not engage in these sinful practices any longer. We are no longer what we were.

Notice that God does not say we were in darkness and now are in light. He says we were darkness and are now light. This is very interesting.

If we stop to think about what it means to be darkness it isn’t pretty. Darkness is our enemy. It hides reality and increases the chance of harm. None of us would drive down an unlit street at night with our headlights off. We wouldn’t be able to tell where the road turns or what might be in front of us. Darkness is dangerous.

When people don’t know God they are darkness – they hide reality from the people around them and, hence, are dangerous. Such people are enemies of God [Colossians 1:21] and are also the enemies of mankind. This is why God has warned us not to become partners with them.

But when a person is born-again we become light. Light illuminates. Light is helpful. Light allows us to see reality and it keeps us from harm. What a contrast. People who don’t know God are harmful to the world. People who do know God are beneficial.

Sadly, the world thinks just the opposite. Governments and anti-Christian organizations believe that the Bible (i.e. Jesus) takes away freedom. False. Darkness is bondage. Light provides freedom. No one can look at world events over the past few decades and claim that, as we have removed Jesus from our lives, the world is getting better. The evidence is overwhelmingly to the contrary.

When we remove Jesus we take away our freedom because we plunge ourselves into darkness. We take away our ability to see reality and as a result, make bad decisions based on faulty theories (e.g. global warming).

God is light [John 8:12; 1 John 1:5]. The only way a person can be light to others is to be in the Lord. Conversely, anyone who does not know God is darkness: dangerous and harmful to the world.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+

Using Our Lives To Influence Others


Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
(Ephesians 5:7-10 ESV)


Yesterday we read how we – those who have been adopted into God’s family through faith in Christ – should not practice sexual impurity. We should instead, practice lives of righteousness to the best of our ability through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul refers to people who don’t do this as “sons of disobedience”. This is the them referred to in today’s verse.

Because these people practice (i.e. make a habit of) disobeying God when it comes to sexual sin, we should not become partakers with them. The Greek word translated “partakers” is συμμετοχηοσ (pronounced: soom-met’-okh-os). This word means “to be involved with”. It was used to refer to the mutual participation in a civic or community endeavor. Those of us who are practicing lives of integrity should not partake in the same activities as those who are practicing sin.

The immediate context of Paul’s words regard sexual sin, but can certainly be applied in a broader sense. Often when we are around people who are not interested in obeying God there will be temptation to sin. Temptation, of course, is the first step to disobedience.

God warns us, therefore, not to get too close to people who do not belong to Him [2 Corinthians 6:14-18]. This does not mean that we can’t have any non-believing friends. Of course we should. God calls on us to reach people with His message of love and forgiveness. Our actions and words will demonstrate the love of God, but only if someone is around to observe and hear them.

We can’t do that if we isolate ourselves, as the Amish do. They separate themselves from society to keep themselves pure. But in so doing they have become a cultural oddity and have no impact for Christ on the lost world around them.

On the other hand, God’s children are to be in the world, but not of the world [John 17:14-19; Romans 8:12] (once again, prepositions are very important when studying the Bible). We are to have friends, neighbors, and coworkers to whom we can show Christ through what we do and say.

But we need to be careful. People who do not know God are practicing sin, even if they don’t realize it. They may pressure us – or we may pressure ourselves – into doing what they do. But this is just the opposite of what God commands. The lives of non-believers should not be influencing our behavior. Rather, our behavior should be influencing theirs.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+

We Practice What We Believe


For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
(Ephesians 5:5-6 ESV)


One of the drawbacks of studying just a verse or two of the Bible a day is we can forget the context within which each day’s words were written. As a result it is easy to apply incorrect meaning to a passage, such as today’s.

In this section of Paul’s letter he has been contrasting the behavioral characteristics of people who are God’s children and those who are not. Yesterday, we learned that people who are part of God’s family should not engage in inappropriate sexual conduct. That is what the world does. But God does not want His children to live like that. Paul continues to expand on that topic today.

Everyone who is sexually immoral, or impure, or covetous (in a sexual way; who idolizes sex) has no claim to God’s inheritance. Now, its safe to say that all human beings fall into this category more or less, even those of us who are God’s born-again children [John 1:12-13]. None of us live 100% pure lives. But God’s children have an inheritance awaiting us in heaven because our sins have been forgiven by God [Ephesians 1:11-12]. So Paul cannot be referring to us here.

Paul’s point is not that any sexual sin keeps a person out of heaven. Believers may fall into sexual sin or may carry sexual sin from their past, unsaved life, into their life as a believer. It happens. God does not condemn such a person. God condemns people who practice sin [1 John 3:7-8].

If you want to play a musical instrument you practice playing it. You intentionally try to become better at it. In the process, though, you will occasionally play bad notes. But your goal is to eliminate such mistakes.

Likewise, those who want to live according to God’s design will practice living that way. This does not mean they won’t mess up at times. Of course they will. But the fact that they are intentionally trying to live God’s way is proof they are saved and are on their way to heaven.

On the other hand, those who are deceived into thinking their behavior is not sin will incur God’s wrath. We are responsible for the information we receive and what we do with that information. We may receive false information – empty words – but the responsibility for knowing it is false rests with us. We can’t blame anyone else for our own deception.

Those who practice sin without regard for what God says will not be in heaven because they see nothing wrong with their behavior [Galatians 5:19-21]. They live in disobedience and don’t see a need to repent. The result is their sins are not forgiven and hence they will have to face judgement.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+

Misuse Of Sex Is Inappropriate For God’s Children


But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
(Ephesians 5:3-4 ESV)


Yesterday we read that God wants His children to love like He loves – sacrificially. We learned that love is not an emotion nor does love seek to satisfy self. Love is selfless. To that end, Paul explains some behaviors that should not be a part of a believer’s life because they are self-serving and therefore do not exhibit love.

The practices Paul discusses today are related to sex. It seems that the Ephesians, like us, mistake lust for love. Love is an expression for someone else’s well being. Lust is an desire to satisfy self.

Paul’s comments would have resonated with the Ephesians. As we learned in our introduction, the Temple of Diana (Artemis) stood in Ephesus. Diana was, among other things, a fertility goddess and over time religious prostitution became a common practice on the grounds of her temple. But such behavior, or any sexual behavior outside of God’s boundaries (a heterosexual married male and female), is not fitting for a saint (on the word saint, see this post).

Practices such as sexual immorality (in Greek: πορνεια (pronounced: por-ni’-ah), a general term for all sexual sin), impurity, greed (in a sexual sense) fall into this category. In fact, such things shouldn’t be discussed (named). We all know how powerful sexual thoughts and words are. Just the slightest thought can be tempting and can lead to sin. God knows this. So He tells us to not even discuss sex in an inappropriate context otherwise we, or someone we are talking to, might fall into sin.

Likewise, any filthiness, foolish talk, or crude joking are out of place for those who are God’s children. In the original Greek the context of these words imply sexual humor, vulgar comments, double-entendre, etc. When we joke about a topic we degrade it. God considers sex to be a venerable topic and disapproves of talk that would reduce its importance.

God invented sex and, used appropriately, it is not sin or dirty. In fact, the very first command God gave Adam & Eve was “go have sex!” [Genesis 1:28]. Note that Adam & Even had already been married at this point [Genesis 2:22].

Rather than living a life that attempts to find meaning and satisfaction in sex, God commands us to instead fill ourselves with thanksgiving. When we are thankful for what God has given us, we can live in a way that serves others because we know our needs are being / will be met.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+

Giving Is A Byproduct Of Love


Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.
(Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV)


Yesterday we learned that people who have been adopted into God’s family as children through faith in Christ should imitate God who loves us. Paul expands on that today by telling us that we imitate God when we live in love.

The Greek word translated “live” here is περιπατεο (pronounced: per-ee-pat-eh’-o). This word means “walk”. When we walk we take one step at a time. Every step we take through life should be filled with love. It is the way Jesus lived. God is calling us to love just as Christ also loved and gave Himself for us.

What the world calls love is really lust. It is self-focused. It seeks self-gratification. But that is not how God defines love. God’s definition of love (which is the accurate definition) is sacrificial. When we love someone we seek their good at the possible expense of our own.

God’s love for us caused Him to give [John 3:16]. God sent His son from heaven to earth to die for our sins even though His son was 100% innocent. God had our greater good in mind. Jesus’ love for us caused Him to give up His place in heaven and take on the dire penalty of our sins so that we could be free [Philippians 2:5-8]. God is love [1 John 4:8].

Giving is the byproduct of love. When you love others, you want the best for them and you do what you can to bring it about.

As a result love is costly. It may require we sacrifice our time or our pride. Too many marriages fail because one or both partners only want to take. They don’t want to give. The vast majority of people who get married really have no idea that they are not in love, but that they are in lust.

Love also requires a commitment regardless of the possible consequences. Our culture thinks that love is a warm, fuzzy feeling and if they don’t get that then they decide they aren’t in love. But Jesus debunks this definition of love. Jesus willingly allowed nails to be driven through His wrists and feet and then hung on a cross for hours in incredible pain because He loved us. There was no warm, fuzzy feeling. There was incredible pain. But He stayed committed because He loved.

Jesus gave His life as a sacrificial and fragrant (pleasing) offering to God. God was pleased with this not because He is sadistic but because through Jesus’ love human beings could be washed clean of their sins and spend eternity with Him in heaven. He had our good in mind.

God wants us to live similarly. We should love others by seeking their good at the expense of our own. An incredibly high standard.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+

Be Imitators Of God


Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.
(Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV)


After giving instructions in five ways the behavior of God’s children should be different than the world around us, Paul sums up what he is saying by telling us to be imitators of God as dearly loved children. All the characteristics we read over the previous days – telling the truth, working hard, speaking kindly, getting angry appropriately, and controlling our emotions – are some of the characteristics of God.

Just like children imitate their parents, those of us who are God’s children should imitate Him for He is our father. Its important to note that while every human being is created in God’s image [Genesis 1:26-27] not every human being is a child of God. Only those who have been born-again are part of God’s family [John 1:12-13, 3:3; 1 Peter 1:3]. We have been adopted and are now His children with the same standing as His son, Jesus.

In order to imitate someone we must know them. We can’t imitate someone we don’t know. If an actress is portraying a famous person in a biopic she must first study that person. She must learn her mannerisms, speech patterns, and facial expressions. In a similar way, God’s children cannot truly imitate Him unless we know Him. To know Him we have to study – not just read – the Bible.

God has revealed Himself to us in His word. God came to earth as Jesus for several reasons, one of which was to pay our sin penalty. But during His 33 or so years on this planet He also showed us what God is like. Those of us living today can learn from Jesus by reading the four gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) of Jesus’ life. In them we will see the heart of God.

Another way we can get to know God is through prayer. Just like we have to spend time talking with a friend or neighbor in order to know them, we have to spend time talking with God to know Him.

Sadly, though, most people know more about their coworkers and fictional TV characters than they do about God. Today many people pattern their lives after people like Oprah or the Kardashians.

We are God’s ambassadors on this earth – we represent Him [2 Corinthians 5:20]. To represent Him well we have to know Him. When we know Him we can imitate Him. When we imitate Him we live lives that reflect who He is and thereby spread His message of love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness to the world around us so that they can come into a relationship with Him also.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle+

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 478 other followers

%d bloggers like this: