PRAYER: "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better." (Eph 1:17)
Do you notice the change, jumping from seeing the LORD resolve Israelite land inheritance problems to His solution for our spiritual inheritance? He blesses those people He chose, even before He created the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. His plan is to adopt these people as sons through Jesus Christ. All the instructions for daily, weekly, monthly, and special sacrifices from the altar are refocused upon the one sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth, so that we are redeemed and our sins are forgiven through His blood. The LORD knew when the time was right for Israel to take over the land of Canaan, and He knows when the time will be right to bring all things together under the Messiah. We have little idea of the complexity of His plan for us on Earth as He includes people in Christ when they hear and believe His message. Have you heard? Have you believed? Then you have been marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit, guarenteeing your inheritance in Him until we all are redeemed as God's possession. Praise Him for His plan!
Readers, I can't stop thanking the Father for you and your faith.
Father, give these believers the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so they can know you better and better. Let the eyes of their hearts be enlightened so they know the hope You have called them to find. This hope is the wealth of our inheritance! Our belief lets us enter into the great power You used to raise Jesus from the dead and into the heavens for all ages. Thank You that You appointed Jesus to be head over all things and over everything for the church, His body.
Remember how you used to live? Without going into specifics, each of us was dead in transgressions and sins. God had a different plan for us. In mercy, not for anything we did, He gave us the gift to come alive with Christ. This is called "grace." The Father re-worked us according to His longstanding plans. Many of us were Gentiles, not knowing what "Christ" meant, not likely to go to Israel much less become a citizen there. Maybe we knew the 10 Commandments, but we didn't know there was a covenant of promise with God. So without knowing God, we had no hope. But now in Christ we have been brought from far away to near the Father, all because of Jesus' blood. Do you see how His death brought peace? There was Jew and there was Gentile, both needing the Lord, and both divided by hostility, commandments, and regulations. Jesus' assignment was to provide one access to the Father for both. Some movie reviewers say "The Passion of the Christ" movie's message was anti-Semitic, but Ephesians 2:16 denies that, saying Jesus' death on the cross put the hostility of Jews and Gentiles to death. Gentile believers are now fellow citizens with God's people, Israel, as Jesus joins and builds us all together into a holy temple in the Lord where God lives by His Spirit. Before Jesus accomplished His mission, God kept the plan hidden as a mystery in Old Testament references. In the book of Numbers, we saw how gentile aliens with Israel were to obey the same rules and be treated the same. In the book of Ephesians, we see that we gentile aliens become heirs together with Israel in God and through faith in Him.
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derive its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may stengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (3:14-21)
PRAYER: "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." (6:18-20)
For Paul, living a life worthy of belonging to Jesus Christ included spending time in prison. What benefits could ever come out of being jailed? For Paul, it was yet another place where he could learn and practice being humble, gentle, and patient. Rather than grumble against the LORD (remember Israel in their wilderness?) Paul used the time to reflect on revelations about God. Did he identified with Joseph?
For one thing, he thought of the practical application of keeping the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace - between Jew and gentile, between God and man. The many believers are/is one body. The many individual baptisms are/is one baptism. There is one Spirit, one Lord, one God and Father of all. Some believers are given gifts to be apostles, evangelists, or pastors and teachers to prepare God's people for service to build up individual by individual in the body of Christ, until we all reach unity, coming together through the faith and knowledge of the Son of God. The goal is to keep growning and maturing into the fullness of Christ. Infant believers are eager to learn everything, but need to learn how to separate what is truth from what is deceit. We all grow up into Christ as each of us learns and practices speaking the truth in love. Christ is our focus for oneness, and the growing body is our example of different parts working together as one.
Are you following this? Then listen - stop living as unbelivers do! Their thinking, their understanding, and dare I say their logic, is not tracking along with the life of God. Do you hire an electrician who is ignorant of electricity? Then why live as people with hardened hearts who are ignorant of God? Does it look to you like they are getting benefits you aren't by being insensitive, sensual, impure, and lustful, like characters on HBO's "Sex and the City" for example?
If you need to backtrack, remember how you came to know Christ. You heard of him, then learned more about Jesus. You were taught to put off your old way of life with its deceitful desires and replace that life with a new attitude. You were a new person, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. If you once lied, practice speaking truth to your neighbor. If you get angry (Paul had trouble with this one, too), don't sin. When you think of going back to your old ways, like stealing for example, get to work doing something useful so you can share with people in need.
Don't kid yourself. You aren't learning to discipline yourself to get God's attention. You have already been chosen to run a race, to fight a battle, when you believed God, and you put yourself in training. This is not a cultural thing. If you have trouble with explitives and unwholesome talk, work on spicing your conversation up with appropriate scripture to build others up according to THEIR needs. How are you doing with getting rid of bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, maliciousness? Hold on to remembering the kindness and compassion of God's forgiveness to you in Christ, then go and do likewise. Imitate God the way you imitate a human father you love. Christ didn't love us from his comfortable chair, but from where he gave himself up, sacrificed to God for us. If something is not proper for God's holy people, then sacrifice and don't do those things. Get back in training - get rid of sexual immorality, impurity, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking. Replace these with thanking God. What a difference he makes in our lives!
You may not have thought about it in this way before, but immoral, impure, and greedy people are into idol worship. God does not share the spotlight with idols. You choose, one or the other - but not both. Don't be deceived, especially by people who are polished public speakers but contradict what scripture teaches. Don't partner with them. Hey, yes, you and I both were once in the dark about the Lord. But now we've seen the light, and are learning what pleases the Lord. Keep going! When you encounter dark behavior, expose it. We've recently seen what a difference it made when people got offended and vocal about the 2004 Superbowl halftime show. Don't be surprised at the warfare going on around and in us - the days are evil. Learn and practice how to make the most of every opportunity you get, to live according to the Lord's will. Have you had trouble because you get drunk? Give up liquor - instead be filled with the Holy Spirit. (see Acts 2:13) Look for opportunities to speak and sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to others and to the Lord. How is this for an assignment: "Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (5:19b)
Wives, husbands, children, parents, slaves/employees, masters/management - learn to submit to [and to love] each other out of reverence for Christ. As you do, watch for ways to learn more about Christ's relationship with those who follow him, i.e., his church. Can you understand any of this mystery about the relationship between Christ and the church? When you're at work or at school, obey your earthly masters not just when they are watching you but all the time, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.
Our training to live for the Lord is like putting on and exercising in full body armor. This armor is unique, because our enemy is not flesh and blood, but evil spiritual forces led by the devil's schemes. Evil comes, and with training we learn what to do to stand our ground. To reword the preceding admonitions, our armor is truth, righteousness (i.e., trusting God), the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the word of God, and praying in the Spirit. Be alert and keep on praying for other believers and for your spiritual leaders, pastors, and teachers. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. (also see the Intercessors Prayer Page)