Reflection–2014

I was reading in my devotions this morning that I was struck with a confirmation of what I have been thinking, experiencing, as well as feeling lately.  It is talked about in Phil Ware’s devotion in “A Year With Jesus,” I have been receiving these devotions since Phil Ware started posting these devotions last November.  I have found them to be very insightful and encouraging as he uses this as Jesus speaking to us and what he would be saying through this devotional.  Here is today’s devotion:

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Disciple,

Paul beautifully described the Father’s grace in the first part of his letter to the Ephesians. He emphasized that the Father’s grace saved you from sin, death, and the evil one:

As for you, don’t you remember how you used to just exist? Corpses, dead in life, buried by transgressions, wandering the course of this perverse world. You were the offspring of the prince of the power of air — oh, how he owned you, just as he still controls those living in disobedience.
(Ephesians 2:1-2)

But Paul went on to say that the Father didn’t just save you FROM this dead existence in bondage; he also saved you FOR a life of goodness and blessing:

For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.
(Ephesians 2:10)

In the second half of Paul’s letter to these Ephesian Christians — and to their brothers and sisters in Christ living in other parts of Asia Minor — Paul described the character and compassion of the Father that must characterize their lives, and yours. Paul emphasized the old way of life of bondage should no longer characterize them — notice the underlined phrases in the verses below. They should take on the new way of life, a life that clearly reflects the nature of the Father who re-created them for this new life — especially note the phrases in bold in the verses below. One sentence from Paul sums up this emphasis well:

[A]lthough you were once the personification of darkness, you are now light in the Lord.

The motivation for this new way of living comes from what the Father did to re-create you, the price I paid to redeem you, and the power the Spirit supplies to energize this new life. You are a child of the Father, a child of light; so step out of the darkness and live in ways that reflect the light — character and compassion of your Father. Go back and read Matthew’s collection of My teachings on the mountain — called Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7. Notice how the things I said there are emphasized by Paul in a slightly different way.

Your motivation for this new way of living is not a matter of obeying a set of rules or laws but of honoring your Father for what He has done for you and remembering the price I paid to redeem you. As Paul said to the Ephesians, “So imitate God. Follow Him like adored children, and live in love as the Anointed One loved you — so much that He gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God.” Let the world see your family resemblance to the Father!

Verses to Live

At first glance, you can view the following consecutive passages from Ephesians as a Christian set of laws. However, Paul’s emphasis on old life versus new life and on imitating the Father should remind you that this is about your relationship to God as Father, to Me as your older brother, and to the Spirit as the indwelling presence of Our family nature. This nature should “Spirit-naturally” come to life in you and produce this kind of fruit in your life(Galatians 5:16-23shares a similar understanding). Let your family resemblance shine through you in all you do!

Therefore, as a witness of the Lord, I insist on this: that you no longer walk in the outsiders’ ways — with minds devoted to worthless pursuits. They are blind to true understanding. They are strangers and aliens to the kind of life God has for them because they live in ignorance and immorality and because their hearts are cold, hard stones. And now, since they’ve lost all natural feelings, they have given themselves over to sensual, greedy, and reckless living. They stop at nothing to satisfy their impure appetites.

But this is not the path of the Anointed One, which you have learned. If you have heard Jesus and have been taught by Him according to the truth that is in Him, then you know to take off your former way of life, your crumpled old self — that dark blot of a soul corrupted by deceitful desire and lust — to take a fresh breath and to let God renew your attitude and spirit. Then you are ready to put on your new self, modeled after the very likeness of God: truthful, righteous, and holy.

So put away your lies and speak the truth to one another because we are all part of one another. When you are angry, don’t let it carry you into sin. Don’t let the sun set with anger in your heart or give the devil room to work. If you have been stealing, stop. Thieves must go to work like everyone else and work honestly with their hands so that they can share with anyone who has a need. Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them. It’s time to stop bringing grief to God’s Holy Spirit; you have been sealed with the Spirit, marked as His own for the day of rescue. Banish bitterness, rage and anger, shouting and slander, and any and all malicious thoughts — these are poison. Instead, be kind and compassionate. Graciously forgive one another just as God has forgiven you through the Anointed, our Liberating King
(Ephesians 4:17-32)

So imitate God. Follow Him like adored children, and live in love as the Anointed One loved you — so much that He gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God.

Listen, don’t let any kind of immorality be breathed among you. Any demoralizing behaviors (perverse sexual acts, uncleanliness, greediness, and the like) are inappropriate topics of conversation for those set apart as God’s people. Don’t swear or spurt nonsense. Don’t make harsh jokes or clown around. Make proper use of your words, and offer them thankfully in praise. This is what we know for certain: no one who engages in loose sex, impure actions, and greed — which is just a form of idolatry — has any inheritance in the kingdom of God and His Anointed.

Don’t be fooled by people whose sentences are compounded with useless words, empty words — they just show they are empty souls. For, in His wrath, God will judge all the children of disobedience for these kinds of sins. So don’t be persuaded into their ignorance; and don’t cast your lot with them because, although you were once the personification of darkness, you are now light in the Lord. So act like children of the light. For the fruit of the light is all that is good, right, and true. Make it your aim to learn what pleases our Lord. Don’t get involved with the fruitless works of darkness; instead, expose them to the light of God. You see, it’s a disgrace to speak of their secrets (so don’t even talk about what they do when no one is looking). When the light shines, it exposes even the dark and shadowy things and turns them into pure reflections of light. This is why they sing,

Awake, you sleeper! Rise from your grave, And the Anointed One will shine on you.

(Ephesians 5:1-14)

Response in Prayer

Father God, thank You for redeeming me and saving me from a fruitless life of sin and death while being enslaved to the forces that are seeking to destroy all that is good in the world. I pray that I remember Your great love, Jesus’ great sacrifice, and the Spirit’s great power so that Your righteous character and gracious compassion will shine through in my life and lead people to glorify You, my dear Father in heaven, my beloved Jesus, and the Holy Spirit Who is my guarantee of glory. This I pray through the intercession of the Holy Spirit and in the name of my Savior, Jesus. Amen.

Read it and see what you think.  These have been helping me get closer to God and helped me find my true identity in Christ.  I believe that I now who I am and I have a much better understanding of the person that I am suppose to become and who I need to be like.

Care to join me in this journey?  Let me know your thoughts.

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