Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 23 June 2022:
Deuteronomy 13:1-4 — “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder… and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’… you shall not listen…. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.”
Today, more than any other time in history, people are being bombarded with “evidence” to counter the word of God, all false evidence, but enough to lead many astray. Are you firm in your faith?
Deuteronomy 13:4, 5 — “You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him…. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”
Obedience to God means removing those things in your life that dishonor Him. Does your entertainment honor God? Does what you read, watch, and listen to strengthen your purity or hinder it? Are your best friends Christ followers working with you to glorify God? “Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty you will be built up, if you remove injustice far from your tents, if you lay gold in the dust, and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent-bed, then the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver. For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God. You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows. You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways. For when they are humbled you say, ‘It is because of pride’; but he saves the lowly. He delivers even the one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.” Make God your absolute treasure; purge the evil from your life; and live as a powerful Christian. (Job 22:21-30)
Deuteronomy 13:11 – “And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.”
Punishment is not just for the person being punished but also for others in order that they may learn and not do the same thing the one who was punished did. Part of wisdom is understanding what you haven’t experienced – learning from observing consequences (good and bad) in the lives of others. The accounts in the Bible were provided that we might gain wisdom – “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11) But note, that ultimately, the Bible is not just pointing us to instructions for better living but to the One “on whom” all outcomes rest, “on whom” we have faith and hope. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4) The whole Bible points to Jesus.
Ephesians 1:1 — “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.”
Paul was an apostle because God willed it.
Ephesians 1:2 — “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Do you really believe what you believe is really real? The reality of God’s grace should give you peace. In perfect love, God, all powerful and all knowing, chose you as an adopted child, before the creation of the world to pour lavishly every spiritual blessing on you in Christ. Why? He chose you because he wanted to. His love is so great for you that he freely gave you the One He loves, Jesus, so you could have complete, total, unconditional, forgiveness of all your sins, past, present, and future. In God’s sight, due to this redemption through Christ, you are holy and blameless. You were specifically created by God for the praise of his glory. You have been marked with a seal as God’s treasured possession and filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit within you knows God as “Daddy,” and NOTHING can separate you from the perfect love of Daddy, “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,” not even yourself (Romans 8:38-39). Eternal life doesn’t start when you die, eternal life started when you first knew the Father and the Son – the day you were saved and born again (John 17:3). What an amazing thing! Pray that through the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation” you may know him better and that “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which [you have been] called.” Do you really believe what you believe is really real?
Ephesians 1:3 — With Christ comes every spiritual blessing.
Ephesians 1:4-6 — God chose you before Creation for His purposes.
Ephesians 1:8-9 – …[His grace] which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ.
“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch; like me! I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.” (John Newton, 1779)
Are you amazed by grace this morning? Does overwhelming awe, wonder, and gratitude compel your thoughts words, deeds, and how you treat others? Does the reality of God’s grace in your life convict you to lovingly share the truth of God’s grace, The Good News, with as many others as possible? And are you joyfully growing in grace, in your knowledge of Him, your love for Him, your trust in Him and your obedience to Him? Today’s readings from Ephesians 1 point out that, though God has already “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”, “we should be holy and blameless before him…. according to the purpose of his will (Ephesians 1:3-5),” God is now “making known to us the mystery of His will according to His purpose.” We are God’s children who are now growing up to maturity in His family. God has called us to a childlike faith, not a childish faith. We should diligently strive to “be conformed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:29)
By God’s grace, we have been freed from the penalty and bondage of sin in our lives, are being freed from the power of sin in our lives, and will one day be freed from the presence of sin in our lives when Christ returns and makes all things new. We have already been made righteous in Christ, and now we are called to grow up in that righteousness, to realize practically the gift we have already received in Him – “We exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:12)
- 1 Peter 2:2 — Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—
- 2 Peter 1:3-11 — His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
- 2 Peter 3:18 — But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
- Colossians 1:10 — So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
- Philippians 1:6 — And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Much like the excitement a newlywed feels, you might have been overwhelmed with joy and anticipation on your ‘wedding day,’ your salvation experience, but now, you must cultivate that first love, grow in fellowship, and become increasingly “one” as you walk with Him as the bride of Christ. As the perfect “spouse”, Jesus lavishes upon us perfect love, and His goal for us is our unity with Him; we need only learn how to receive His love and increasingly reciprocate.
- Isaiah 54:5 — For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
- 2 Corinthians 11:2 — For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
- Jeremiah 31:3 — I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you….
- John 17:21-23 — The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
- John 14:25-27 — These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
As with a marriage, if we don’t cultivate love, practicing the attitudes and practices of love, growing in our knowledge of our Loved One, and growing in our wisdom towards the relationship, we can begin to lose that loving feeling and get out of step with our Bridegroom.
- Revelation 2:4, 5 — But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
We must grow in the grace and love God has already lavished upon us through continual prayer, study of His Word, fellowship, and the other means of grace (Colossians 1:9–11; 2 Timothy 2:15; Philemon 4–7). As with any gift, though you have received it, you must use it in order to fully appreciate it.
Ephesians 1:10 — Heaven and earth will one day unite
Ephesians 1:16-23 — “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
A near life or death experience can really change a person’s perspective of life, helping that person reconsider what really matters and doesn’t matter, what is truly important and what isn’t truly important. Depending on the power of that experience, it may cause a person to make some major life changes after recognizing how distracted they had become on the wrong priorities. Well, the potential power of a near life or death experience is insignificant compared to the power of an eternal life experience through Jesus Christ. This does not result in a possibly changed life; this results in a positively completely new life, a person becoming a new Creation in Christ, freed from the penalty and bondage of sin, empowered with the Holy Spirit, in personal friendship with Jesus, with and eternal purpose and calling, and with direct access to the Father who treats the saved as His beloved children and empowers us for His purposes on earth. In the beginning of Ephesians, Paul explains that his incessant prayer is that the Ephesians’ eyes would be opened so they would TRULY know Jesus (not just about Jesus), TRULY understand the magnitude of the blessings they have received in Christ, and TRULY understand the immeasurable greatest of the power of God in their lives. He wants the Ephesians to fully understand that Christians serve as instruments to KING Jesus who the Father has placed “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet.” (Ephesians 1:21, 22) Paul apparently sees that, though saved, the Ephesians haven’t fully come to terms with their eternal life, its power, and the significance of their calling. As Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they KNOW you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent…. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:3, 22, 23) The bigger (more glorified) Christ is in our lives, the smaller everything else becomes, temptations, troubles, personal differences, worldly powers, enemies, etc. The bigger Christ is in our lives, the more his love naturally flows from us, creating a unity within the body that cannot be missed by the world around us. The bigger Christ is in our lives, the more boldly, enthusiastically, and faithfully we obey his commandments. I pray that we will all know Christ better each day and realize who we are in Christ, that, in Christ, we have the power to change the world.
Ephesians 1:17, 18 — “God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom.”
True wisdom comes only throughout the Spirit; it is not acquired through human effort or intelligence alone. It is God who opens our hearts to believe in Him and to know Him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 June 22: Be amazed by grace today, and appreciate the gifts of grace and love you have received in Jesus by walking in them, enjoying them, and practicing them.