SERVANT’S HEART

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  1 Peter 5:1-4

After my devotional reading this morning in 1 Peter 5, I wanted to take a specific passage and apply it to a larger theme of SERVANT-HOOD answering the question that many of us deal with:  “How can I help my Church?”

What do you call a chicken crossing the road?

Poultry in motion.

What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t work?

A stick.

Where do you find a dog with no legs?

Right where you left him.

What do call cheese that isn’t yours?

Nacho cheese.

What do you call a Christian who isn’t serving?

A CONTRADICTION~

You and I have been redeemed for a reason…

Another way to say it is, we’ve been SAVED to SERVE… we’ve been mobilized for ministry?  That’s why when we are NOT serving in some way, in and through the church, it’s a contradiction.  Because to be a follower of Christ means you are a servant of Christ Jesus.

As we go through this passage of Scripture, I want to apply the words of Peter to a larger theme of SERVANT-HOOD and answer the questions.

Help Your Church By Serving “willingly” (verse 2 a.)

  • “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing…”

I’m not a Bible teacher or a Christian Blogger because that’s what I chose to do.

I could have chosen to do many other things in furthering the cause of Christ.  But God CHOSE me to teach and write.  Since I know that this is my calling, then I SERVE willingly.

I’m not fighting to surrender; I’m freely and willingly serving.

So many Christians today are useful in their churches to advance the gospel but they are not willing, they refuse.  That has always confused me over the years.  Some may feel unworthy and inadequate; some feel that it will cost them too much.nnSome may feel like it will require too much sacrifice.  On and on the list could go, but the Scripture is clear.  If we have been CALLED to serve, or if we have talents and abilities to serve, then we must not reject His call!

The Scripture says, “but because you are willing, as God wants you to  be” (NIV)

It’s God’s desire to surrender your life to Him – Your talents and your abilities to be used by Him in His service.  You surrender willingly, not because you are forced.

Help Your Church By Serving Eagerly – (vs. 2) “but eager to serve”

DEFINITION:  eager : An adjective. 

synonyms:  enthusiastic, fervent, zealous, passionate, motivated, wholehearted, dedicated.

I love to watch someone who is fairly new to the church, and they’re a fairly new believer, and the first opportunity they can do something in the church for the Lord, you can see the eagerness they have.  They get to the church doors early and they stay late to help clean up.  They are EAGER to serve.  They can’t wait to get after it.

Losing the Eagerness –

How in the world do we get to the place in our Christian lives, where we lose that eagerness to serve?

There’s also a flip side of the person that is eager when that person who does some type of service because no one else will take it!

Usually, the ACT OF SERVICE is done without any heartfelt sense of service to God, because quite frankly. we didn’t feel called to do it –  “I know it needs to be done, but no one else sees the need, so I guess I’ll have to do it again!”

The Scripture says that ALL of us, not 20 percent of the people doing 100 percent of the work, but ALL of us be eager to serve.  Not because I’m obligated to do it, or any other matter for that reason, but because I want to have an impact in the kingdom for eternity – “but be eager to serve.”

Helping Your Church By Serving As An Example For Others –  (verse 3)

“being examples (patterns and models of Christians living) to the flock (the congregation)”  [AMP]

This is what can really hurt the church body of believers.  When we SERVE as an example, not preaching and teaching one thing, then doing another.

If “Mel” is going to be an example, then my walk will match my talk, and my talk will match my walk,

Titus 2:7 (NLT)

If I’m going to be an EXAMPLE for others, then I need to truly be a person of INTEGRITY.

Integrity means that you are the same person when no one else is looking.  In other words, if I claim to be a “good Christian” on Sundays to everyone at church, but when I get home, I view pornography, I drink till I can’t stand up. that’s not a person of integrity, that’s a true genuine hypocrite.

With us as genuine believers, the person we are on Sundays needs to be the same person the rest of the week.  If I’m going to help the church, then I need to SERVE as an example for others.

Helping Your Church Will Ensure A Heavenly Reward – (verse 4)

[4]  And [then] when the Chief Shepherd is revealed, you will win the conqueror’s crown of glory.  [AMP]

This is why we do what we do, this is why we stay up late getting ready for acts of service, whether it’s a special event, studying for a Sunday school lesson, or going over a song, or praying with someone who is hurting.  This is why we do all those things.  For the approval of Jesus!

Every single one of us, when we meet Jesus one day, will want Him to say, “Well done good and faithful servant, you have done everything I equipped you to do.  You used every talent I give, every ability I allow you to have or learn, every opportunity I set before you to SERVE…you took it.  WELL DONE!!”

The Apostle Paul reminds each one of us in Ephesians 6:8…

A Story of An Old Potato Farmer –

After lightning struck on an old shed, a farmer was relieved because now he didn’t have to tear it down.

The rains came and cleaned off his car, and that saved him from having to wash it.

When asked what he was doing now, he replied, “I’m waiting for an earthquake to shake the potatoes out of the ground.”

If we are going to have a SERVANT’S HEART, we can’t just wait for something to happen.  Jesus said we’re blessed when we do something.

I’ve found in my own life over the years of service FOUR ACTIONS…steps that you might apply to your own life:

  1. SERVE whenever you can.
  2. SERVE wherever you can.
  3. SERVE whoever is in need.
  4. BE WILLING to do whatever it takes.

Let’s live our lives as obedient and humble servants.  Don’t be a contradiction!!

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CREDITS:

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New Living Translation (NLT); Ling James Version (KJV).

 

 

 

 

When Things Seem Insurmountable, Always Remember the Three “C”‘s

BIBLE TEXT:  1 Peter 1:2; Romans 5:1-11

The Apostle Peter’s letter was addressed to the followers of Christ who lived in the area we know today as Turkey.  Peter was writing to Christians scattered far from home, some because of persecution and others because of circumstance.  It included words of encouragement to people who were lonely, afraid and discouraged in their doing.

Have you ever been in this state?  Of course, you have.  We all have.

The words that Peter wrote so long ago are an encouragement to us today.  Look closely at these words in 1 Peter 1:2 (NLT) –

There are THREE THINGS I hope you can see, as I saw in Peter’s words:

#1.  God the Father CHOSE you.

#2.  God the Holy Spirit CHANGES you.

#3.  God the Son CLEANSES you.

Let me take each of the above, one at a time.

GOD THE FATHER CHOSE YOU!

Ephesians 1:4 tells us,  “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight”  (NIV).

That’s an amazing verse:  We’ve been chosen, You’ve been chosen, and I have been chosen.  Chosen because of God’s LOVE for us!

Even before He made the WORLD, God LOVED us and chose us in Christ Jesus to be HOLY without fault in His eyes.

The FIRST “C”:  God has CHOSEN us!

We are special to Him…

We belong to His family…

We are children of the living God.

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago – The GREEK WORD used here is eklektos (ek-lek-tos’), meaning set apart, chosen before, elect, selected.  [Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary]

God is ETERNAL.  He knows the end from the beginning and everything in between.

He knew you from the start of time as we understand time, and loved you and chose you to be His.

God CHOSE those whom He knew would believe and trust in Him.  God has given us all FREEWILL, yet He knew who would willingly REPENT and turn to Him.

In ALL THINGS, especially in SALVATION, God is sovereign!

He KNEW who would believe.

He KNEW who would know their need of a Saviour.

He KNEW who would turn to Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour.

God the Father knew everything and everyone even before He spoke the universe into existence.

You and I, and all who have FAITH in the one TRUE GOD are LOVED & CHOSEN to be the people of God.

2 Timothy 2:19 REMINDS US,

If you are a Christian, if you have repented of your sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, then you have been LOVED AND CHOSEN by God.

The SECOND “C”:  God the Holy Spirit CHANGED You!

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago and His Spirit made you holy.  The NIV Bible says “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit”.

The Oxford dictionary defines sanctified as “Set apart”, “declared holy”, “consecrated”, “Freed from sin” or “purified”.

As disciples of Christ, we are “set apart” for God’s purposes in this world.

At the moment we give our lives to Christ we are SAVED,  BUT…there’s an ongoing process of CHANGE and SANCTIFICATION that continues in our lives until God calls us to step into eternity.

The Holy Spirit works IN US to be His holy people.  In fact, His command, not His suggestion to us in 1 Peter 1:16 is “You MUST be holy because I AM holy”.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me, sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me.”

The Holy Spirit Helps Us to Be Obedient to Our Heavenly Father.

HOLY SPIRIT works in us…

  • He helps us FOCUS on God’s plans and purposes for us.
  • He reminds us we are LOVED.
  • He reminds us we BELONG to God.
  • He reminds us we are CHOSEN by God.

The Holy Spirit can CHANGE & TRANSFORM our lives.

Here’s a QUESTION for you to ponder:

Do you allow Holy Spirit to change you?  I mean really change you, your thoughts, your actions, your words.

Do you ever make CHOICES based on what you want rather than what you know God expects of you?

Do you allow God SOME control or FULL control of your life?

The Holy Spirit makes us Holy.  His presence IN us is meant to CHANGE us; to reflect the character and holiness of God to those around us.

In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul encourages us to let our bodies be a living and holy SACRIFICE to God.  I heard someone once say, that “A SACRIFICE is something given that comes with a cost.”  So if it doesn’t “cost” you something, then it’s not a sacrifice.  Deductive reasoning on my part I guess.

The NLT Bible says it this way:  “But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think [even when things seem insurmountable].  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  — (I added the brackets in the verse.)

The “FULLNESS” of God’s Spirit Operating, HELPING, GUIDING, TRANSFORMING, EMPOWERING You in ALL Areas–Each of us needs the Holy Spirit, to daily bring about CHANGE in our lives, to make us holy.

Try squeezing a full aluminium can of soda and then an empty can.  Which is the easier to CRUSH?  The empty can, of course.  Being FILLED with the Spirit of the living God works the same.  Our lives are easily CRUSHED when we are empty, yet when FILLED with the Holy Spirit, we are not “cramped or crushed”.

2 Corinthians 4:7-8 says it this way:

[7] But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 

[8] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not destroyed.

The THIRD “C”:  God the Son CLEANSES you.

God the Father knew you and CHOSE you long ago and His Spirit has made you Holy.  As a result, you have OBEYED Him and made CLEAN by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

Peter tells us so because we have been SET APART by our OBEDIENCE, living our lives as children of God, DISCIPLES of Jesus.

You might be thinking, “Well, not exactly living my life in TOTAL obedience.”

Remember, “Transformation” isn’t a one-time event that happens when you are SAVED.  It’s an ongoing process enacted by the Holy Spirit.

Casual, convenient Christianity isn’t OBEDIENCE to God.  God wants us to be FAITHFUL…NOT FAITHLESS!  It’s about commitment.

So our “OBEDIENCE demands something from us–that we give it without regard to circumstances or results” (quote by Chuck Colson).

You have OBEYED Him and have been CLEANSED by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

In Old Testament times, people were sprinkled with some blood from an animal sacrifice to remind them of their vows to God and God’s great promises to them.  It was a COVENANT relationship, an agreement that was SEALED with BLOOD.

In the New Covenant, God has established with us, the PERFECT SACRIFICE, Jesus: We are CLEANSED, SET APART and PLEDGED to OBEDIENCE.

When we turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, when we REPENT… turn completely in a different direction from our sinful life and ask God to forgive us, and because of our FAITH in Jesus, WE ARE SAVED!

Our SINS, past, present and future are FORGIVEN because Christ shed His blood for us on the Cross.  Jesus has washed away the PENALTY for our sins by His BLOOD.  We have been purchased, bought and paid for with a price and our lives are not our own, God has SAVED us and the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within us.

READ the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-11

ENDURANCE Provided When Things Appear to be Insurmountable.

The verses here in Romans tells us to “REJOICE in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” (Rom. 5:3).

The KEY to pick up here is to find JOY “IN” our trials, our problems, our sufferings and not “for” them!

This is where ENDURANCE comes from (Rom. 5:4).  It produces HOPE, the strength of character; and CHARACTER strengthens our confident HOPE OF SALVATION.  And this HOPE will not lead to disappointment for we know how dearly God loves us, and He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our innermost being with His love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ Jesus came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the CLEANSING BLOOD of Christ, He will certainly SAVE US from God’s condemnation.

God loved you then, loves you now and will continue to love you!

Despite your faults, despite your imperfections, and Lord knows, we all have plenty, God knows you and He loves you.

  • God CHOSE you.
  • God has CALLED you.
  • God has SELECTED you.
  • God has a PLAN for you.

God wants you to DISCOVER this plan, your destiny He has ordained for you.

The Holy Spirit lives IN you.

He has CHANGED you, is changing you while I write this POST, and will continue to work IN you and THROUGH you.

JESUS DIED for you and me.

JESUS SAVED you.

JESUS CLEANSED you.

The SACRIFICE Jesus made on the Cross was made on our account and set us free from the penalty of your SIN.

May God help us to become the people He has called us to be!

“Chosen, Changed, Cleansed” and committed to discovering our destiny!

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CREDITS HONORED –

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings: Advance search.

Dictionary:  Oxford Dictionary.

Sermon Notes:  Dean Courtier, Pastor at Estuary Elim Church Group.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in the text.

 

If God Wrote Your Obituary…

“IF GOD WROTE YOUR OBITUARY, WHAT WOULD HE SAY?”

“OBITUARY” –  “a published announcement of a death, often accompanied by a short biography of the dead person”  (*See Footnote [i]).

Fill in the Blanks
Filling in the Blanks

TEXT:  1 Chronicles 10:1-14 and 1 Samuel

[13]  So Saul died for his trespass against the Lord [in sparing Amalek], for his unfaithfulness in not keeping God’s word, and also for consulting [a medium with] a spirit of the dead to inquire pleadingly of it.

[14]  And inquired not so of the Lord  [in earnest penitence]. Therefore the Lord slew him and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

Often when I read a great book, I want to read even more by the same author.  My last blog-post was a study in the Book of Ezra in the Old Testament, and since Ezra was the author/writer of the volumes of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, why not dig into 1 Chronicles.  Some scholars attribute the possibility that Ezra may have been the author of Ester as well.

So for the past week, I’ve been reading and studying 1 Chronicles which brings me to this particular blog-post in Chapter 10.

Verse 13-14 of 1 Chronicles 10 provides a sad OBITUARY of a man who had been called of God but whose life ended in tragedy and ruin.  God cuts no quarters in telling us exactly what brought down this man of God.

In this WORD DETECTIVE investigation into the Scripture provided, I want for us to consider what God has to say concerning Saul that might be a warning for all us to take heed.

SAUL BREACHED FAITH WITH GOD–

What does a person do when they BREACH a thing?  Going to my Thesaurus and Google Search, I came up with this brief definition:

#1. An act of breaking or failing to observe a law, agreement, or code of conduct.  

#2. To make a gap in…

We have a definition, so let’s begin to search out the Spirit of God and dig deeper into the Word.

THE KING WAS SO PRIVILEGED, SO WHAT HAPPENED?

From a natural point he was outstanding:

“…a choice young man and handsome; among all the Israelites there was not a man more handsome than he.  He was a head taller than any other of the people”  (1 Samuel 9:2b AMP).

Saul was given a new heart besides by God–

“The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily…and you will be turned into another man”  (1 Samuel 10:6)

“…God gave him another heart…”  (1 Samuel 10:9).

Saul was chosen by God for a TASK: To SAVE Israel–

“And Samuel said to all the people,  Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen, that none like him is among all the people?  And all the people shouted and said, Long live the king!”  (1 Samuel 10:24).

God touched the hearts of other lives around him–

“Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of valiant men whose hearts God had touched”  (1 Samuel 10:26).

Everything seemed to be in Saul’s favor:

–  Had a good standing in the nation.

–  Distinctly called and commissioned by God.

–  Honored with the friendship of Samuel.

–  Surrounded by a band of men whose hearts God had touched.

Wow!  What privilege Saul must have had and thought of himself in having.  Do you ever feel like a PRIVILEGED one in your ministry?  Not you?

THE CHRISTIAN’S PRIVILEGE–

Believers in JESUS have been chosen by God to take the message of salvation to the world:

“You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting…”  (John 15:16).

God doesn’t want for us to be “Lone Ranger Christians” and provides and touches the lives of others to co-labor with us:

“For we are fellow workmen (joint promoters, laborers together) with and for God…”  (1 Corinthians 3:9).

Saul Disobeyed God’s Command!

Saul OBEYED God’s command but NOT to the letter.

In 1 Samuel 15, we see Saul in obedience to God’s command with his valiant men fighting the Amalekites.  He won the battle, but failed to do everything the LORD said.  Rather, he chose to do it his way.

Some feel that the end justifies the means–that’s REBELLION!  Note what God’s Word says in 1 Samuel 15:23-24:

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim (household good luck images).  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.  [24] And Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.”

A Lovely Thought, But Still Disobedience…

While vacationing, a little girl was told not to go by the cliff, and wandered out toward it when her dad fell asleep.  She reached out over the rocks and grabbed a pretty flower and ran back to her dad and said,  “Look what I brought to you.”  He grabbed the flower and threw it down and clutched his little daughter and said,  “You have disobeyed. I’d rather have you than anything you could give me.”  Sound a bit harsh?  Perhaps.  But to DISOBEY God is the ultimate REBELLION–the scowl, the folded arms in position of defiance.

The Regrets From Unfaithfulness–1 Chronicles 10:13:  

So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the LORD.

Verse 13 (ESV):  So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD.

Seeking the Advice of the World–

According to Verse 13, Saul not only ignored God’s Word, but sought out and consulted the world–“…[a medium with] a spirit of the dead…”

WHAT IS WISDOM OF THE WORLD?

“Then Saul said to his servants, Find me a woman who is a medium [between the living and the dead], that I may go and inquire of her.  His servants said,  Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at Endor”  (1 Samuel 28:7).

The apostle Paul warns the BELIEVER to beware of the “wisdom of this world” (1 Corinthians 1:20; 2:6; 3:19).

In study for this blog, I discovered the WORLD SYSTEM is committed to at least FOUR major objectives:  [*See Footnote [ii] ] 

– FORTUNE,

– FAME,

– POWER,

– PLEASURE.

FIRST and foremost: Fortune, money.

The WORLD SYSTEM is driven by money, feeding on materialism.  Remember, the Bible never says “money is the root of all evil”, it reads “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10; 2 Timothy 3:2; Hebrews 13:5).

I ran across this quote the other day in my reading to share–

“I LOVE MONEY.  I love everything about it!  I bought some pretty good stuff.  Got me a $300 pair of socks.  Got a fur sink.  An electric dog polisher.  A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater.  And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too”  ~ by Steve Martin.

SECOND:  FAME –  

That’s another word for popularity.  It’s the longing to be known, to be a somebody in someone else’s eyes.

THIRD:  POWER –  

This is having influence, maintaining control over individuals or groups or companies or whatever.  It is the DESIRE to manipulate and maneuver others to do something for one’s own benefit.

FOURTH: PLEASURE –  

At its basic level, PLEASURE has to do with fulfilling one’s SENSUAL DESIRES.  It is the same mindset that’s behind an all together familiar slogan:  “If it FEELS GOOD, do it!”

God’s System Vs. The World’s System:

“But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then ALL THESE THINGS taken together will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33).

“BLESSED  (HAPPY,  fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly  [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands  [submissive and inactive] in the pth where sinners walk, nor sits down  [to relax and rest] where the scornful  [and the mockers] gather” (Psalm 1:1).

FAILING TO SEEK GOD AND HIS WILL–His Word

In 1 Chronicles 14, Saul,  “He did not seek guidance from the Lord.  Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse”  (English Standard Version-ESV).

Th Jameison-Faussett-Brown Bible in their commenting on the statement given in 1 Samuel 28:6 says, Saul inquired of God alright, but Saul  “…had done so in form, but not in the spirit of a humble penitent, nor with the believing confidence of a sincere worshipper.”

“Whoa!,” I thought when I first read the comments.  At times, I have asked questions of my heavenly Father, just as a matter of form in my prayers, not expecting an actual answer.  Did I really have the “believing confidence” that God would answer?

Saul’s inquiry was, in fact, mere mockery.  His total want was really for all right religious impressions toward others surrounding him in his kingdom manifested by his rushing FROM GOD TO an imposter “in the service of the devil.”

James 1:5 (AMP):

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God  [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or fault-finding, and it will be given him.”

Many today who are like Saul, operating in their own kingdom, seeking counsel from everywhere but God and His Word!  Usually, it’s because they don’t really want to hear what God has to say!

Saul Lost Everything God Had Given Him (Vs. 14 b.)

Saul had lost contact with God, lost God’s anointing; an enablement for the task at hand.  Saul lost his character, he lost his kingdom and lost everything that God had given.

Sin has devastating consequences for not only us, but our descendants as well.

Exodus 34:6, 7:

“The Lord!  the Lord! a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth.  [7] Keeping mercy and loving-kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, BUT…Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”

1 Chronicles 10:6-7:

[6] So Saul died; he and his three sons and all his house died together,  [7] And when all the men of Israel who were in the valley saw that the army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook their cities and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.

Sin & A Rotten Apple
Sin & A Rotten Apple

We don’t operate in a vacuum and that one person’s sin affects others beyond himself.  It’s like the saying your parents may have referred to when they were unhappy with the crowd you were hanging out with:  “One rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel!”

Saul committed a BREACH OF FAITH that cost him dearly.

When you accepted Christ Jesus, you pledged your FAITH in Him and Him alone.  Have you breached that faith by your actions, or lack thereof?

Thank God for His Word in 1 John 1:8-9:

“[8] If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us  [does not dwell in our hearts].  [9] If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].”

 

GOD IS FOREVER FAITHFUL–

THERE IS NO BREACH OF FAITH IN HIM!

 


 Blog Credits & Footnotes:

Photos:  Photo Pin/shutterstock

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted.

Footnote:  [i] The Free Dictionary.com; [ii] Charles Swindoll’s Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, p. 219

 

 

“A Match Made In Heaven”

TEXT:  Ephesians Chapter  One.

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“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  [4] For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love [5] He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will”  (Ephesians 1:3-5 NIV).

[*NOTE: Capitalizations–“He”, “Him”, “His”–are inserted by this writer out of respect for God’s Majesty.  The original text in the NIV Bible doesn’t capitalize].

 

FIRST of all, this study is NOT about Calvinism or Arminianism doctrines.  It IS a study on BLESSINGS:

BLESSING #1.  God pursued us in the past–called ELECTION and…

BLESSING #2.  He makes us family in the present–called ADOPTION.

BLESSING #3.  GOD will make us COMPLETE in the future–called UNIFICATION.

I could end this blog right here…but I won’t, for there is so much more to learn from Scripture.  My hope is by the end of this study, you will grasp the LOVE of God has for you and the beauty of this BLESSING regarding ELECTION or CHOICE.

WHAT IS “ELECTION”?

The Greek New Testament, the word is eklegomai – “CHOOSE” [See Footnote [i] ].   In the context of DIVINE ELECTION, God is said to “choose” His people – (Mark 13:20; Acts 13:17; 15:7; and of course, here in Ephesians 1:4).

In Ephesians 1:4, Paul begins with “Long ago, even before he made the world…”- long before anything at all was made, God was there–this was the ETERNITY before CREATION.

God was completely sufficient and not needing anything.  But before CREATION, God did something–He thought about you and me with a PURPOSE in His mind.  This PURPOSE included JESUS and us – It says “God LOVED us and CHOSE us in Christ  Jesus…”

This CHOOSING of us by God is called ELECTION, based on “A Match Made In Heaven”. After 50 years of marriage, my wife and I can look back at all the naysayers, the trials, the disappointments along the way, and truly say our marriage was “a match made in heaven!” 

In Eternity–Before time began…

A MATCH was made in heaven where God Almighty matched us together with JESUS in His mind!  He did this because His LOVE–He specifically and purposefully CHOSE you, He chose me.

IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE!

There are some arguments about where the concept of LOVE belongs in verse 4 of the text; actually three different arguments.  But I like the New Living Translation (NLT) talking about God CHOOSING US in relation to His LOVE–and nothing else:

“Even before he made the world, God LOVED us and CHOSE us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”

THE FIRST TRUTH–That God’s LOVE should revolutionize and transform the Christian life.

MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS IMPORTANT TO HIM:

God CHOSE to have a relationship with you–GOD CHOSE YOU!  You were important to Him!  Take a second and PRAISE GOD, right where you are, for that!

We were like a puppy at the local Animal Shelter.  But you know what?  God didn’t need to choose you.  There’re others far more eloquent than you and me–more compassionate–more holy than us that He could have chosen for His service in our place.

But God, who looks out over all of humanity, knows every skill, every weakness, knows every sin and every part of goodness in every person, and out of all those CHOICES, He decided to CHOOSE you and me.

And notice that Paul wrote “God chose us” – It’s NOT about me being chosen (focused on PRIDE)–It’s about God CHOOSING me (focused on humility).

But in LOVE to God and humility, I can say, if you are a CHRISTIAN, you are God’s CHOSEN–His ELECT.

The Concept of Election…

The idea of “ELECTION” plays against what we’ve always thought.  We think that WE need to pursue our relationship with God!  CHRISTIANS DON’T NEED TO PURSUE GOD – He has already pursued you, chosen you, and developed a relationship with you.  The fact is, it’s not all about PURSUIT, but about OBEDIENCE to the call.

In Tommy Tenney’s popular book, The God Catchers:  “God doesn’t hide Himself from you so that He can’t be found; He hides Himself from you so that He can be found”  (page 11).

Your RELATIONSHIP with God is more important to Him than it is to you by a long shot–considering all that He has done in advance through Christ to establish it.  What we need to do is let HIM continue to RELATE to you.

Don’t insult God by acting as if you bother Him, or a nuisance,  or you annoy Him.  He went to great LENGTHS to make you His ELECT, His CHOSEN.  You have the relationship–start honoring God today by letting Him take back control of the relationship.  TALK TO HIM and let Him talk to you…to guide and to love you.

God pursues US!

See, you might not have known this before, and so before…when you WORSHIPED unenthusiastically; before… when you PRAYED, timid and shy; before… when you read your Bible and you didn’t expect anything…that’s where I found myself years ago, so I know…but NOT ANYMORE!

Forget that stuff that’s behind!  Now you know that when you come into the PRESENCE OF GOD, He says “MY CHOSEN ONE!  I have sought you.  I have bought you with the blood of the LAMB.  Come on in!”

But there is more– The “BLESSING OF ELECTION” (Ephesians 1:4):

“God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes”

In the Amplified Bible, it reads “He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ…that we should be HOLY and BLAMELESS”

The words “HOLY” and “BLAMELESS” are two important terms in the BLESSING OF ELECTION–

The first term is “HOLY”:

Back in verse one, Paul addressed this letter “to the saints (the consecrated, set-apart ones).”  If something is set-apart, it’s made “HOLY.”    VERSE 1 and VERSE 4 uses the same Greek word – “hagios” – holy [Footnote [ii] ].

GOD’S LOVE TRANSFORMS OUR LIVES–

God made you HOLY, and HOLINESS is being set-apart for God’s use.  In other words, if you are a “true believer” in Christ, God CHOSE you from the beginning of time so He could USE you today!  God doesn’t just set something apart so it can sit and collect dust.  He has a specific plan for our lives in Jesus’ name.

That idea doesn’t set well with some people–that God would have a different plan for your life than the one you’ve chosen–

“I don’t want to live in a jungle as a missionary!”

Or here’s a personal statement I made when my pastor approached me with a bible study for dementia/Alzheimer at a group home:  “I want to teach Lord, but not here!”  He had a different plan for my life, and full of many blessings.

The fact is, we don’t TRUST God with our lives.  If you’ve never seen that missionary movie, Edge of the Spear, you should.

But God made us HOLY so He could use you and make your life SIGNIFICANT for JESUS’ sake.  Our lives are important to God whether we believe it or not!

But there’s more! – God made us “HOLY” and…”BLAMELESS” in His sight–(without fault).

Paul is making reference to the requirements in the OT system; where lambs were sacrificed.  The SACRIFICIAL lambs represented Jesus Christ–the SINLESS, SPOTLESS Lamb of God who would be SACRIFICED for all of us.

Peter uses the same word:  “But  [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot”  (1 Peter 1:19 AMP).

FACTS DON’T LIE!

MY PURITY IS IMPORTANT TO GOD–

God considers you right where you are now, WITHOUT a blemish, not bearing the effects of sin, carrying no blame because you are “in Christ.”

JESUS paid for our sin on the cross.  If He hadn’t died…we wouldn’t be “blameless.”  But because He did, when we placed our TRUST in the cross of Christ, God looked at us and said “You are spotless.”  It ALL comes back to God making that possible in eternity past through His love.

But what a slap in the face we give God…when we willingly turn our backs and choose to live in sin–when we treat our BLAMELESSNESS dishonorably, sinning without so much as the beat of an eyelash.

Our PURITY is important to God–so important that He gave us the title of BLAMELESS in eternity past–before Genesis 1:1.

THE THREE BLESSINGS I FOUND IN EPHESIANS CHAPTER ONE:

ELECTION is the FIRST of Paul’s’ three blessings in Chapter One.  Or as I like to call it, “A Match Made In Heaven.”

It reveals the LOVE God had for me; it presents me with some truths about God that absolutely revolutionized my own spiritual life.

My RELATIONSHIP with God is important to him and…my life’s DIRECTION is important to my Father, while at the same time, my PURITY is important to God.

A Match Made In Heaven
A Match Made In Heaven

My POST has been directed primarily for those of us who have accepted JESUS as our Forgiver and Lord.  When we understand how BLESSED we are to have been chosen by God as HOLY and BLAMELESS through Jesus Christ, when we realize that our DESTINY is to be part of God’s family; when we comprehend that God has poured out all His grace into our lives; how can we help but humble ourselves before Him and give Him the PRAISE and GLORY!

But maybe after reading this message, you’re asking – “Am I really one of God’s chosen, ‘a match made in heaven’?  

I believe, if that’s your thoughts in asking, it’s the evidence that God is drawing you to Himself.  He’s been waiting for your decision.

SHARE your questions, your decision below in the comment section of this Blog and I’ll try to answer your questions.

 

Bible References: New International Version [NLT]; Amplified Bible; New Living Translation Bible [NLT].

Photo Credits:  Ephesians 1:4-5 – mazmagi.blogspot.com; Shutterstock.

Footnotes:  [i]; [ii] – Expository Dictionary Of Bible Words.