Archives For Ephesians

Recently I’ve had the frustrating experience of trying to get three of the largest churches in my city to come around a family in need. The situation at hand is a low-income single mother with six children, whose minivan was recently involved in an accident and totaled. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. One church never responded, one said they get too many requests to be able to help but did ask what my own church was doing about the situation, and the final church – the one I attend and have been financially supporting – responded they only helped with rent and utility bills and would not be able to contribute towards purchasing a vehicle for the family.

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Being a preacher’s kid, I understand the inner workings and dynamics of a church better than most, but I was still left flabbergasted by the lack of assistance these local churches were willing to extend.

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There is no quicker path to destruction than to take your eyes off Jesus. Let your focus waver for even a minute and you will be heading down a path you never intended and have no interest in following. It’s troubling how we can spend hours on our knees with God, and seconds later lose our focus and find ourselves in a dark place. It comes down to discipline, but focus is taxing of our energy, so we often tire and give up.

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Still, if we are serious about living a life worthy of Christ, we’ve got to get better at keeping our focus on Him. One slip can cause years of damage. As you approach this day, this hour, this moment, let me ask you: “Where is your focus?”

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Perhaps more than anyone else, I believe it is incumbent upon disciples of Jesus to lead by example. Christ told us to be His witnesses throughout the earth (Acts 1:8). In other words, wherever we go, we are the representatives of Jesus and His Kingdom. No pressure there, right? But in truth there should be no pressure. If our lives are fully devoted to Christ, it will be natural to walk in His footsteps.

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The problem is the majority of Christians I’ve observed have not taken their commitment to Christ seriously. They said the prayer and have moved on. That’s not going to get it done, and it dishonors the name and character of God to live in such a manner.

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Every so often, I like to increase the amount of hate mail I receive. There’s no better way to assure this than discussing the faith (or grace) vs. works topic. As I have stated previously, I don’t fall into either the faith or works camp. I believe one without the other is useless, and believe there is strong Scriptural support to say the answer isn’t either faith or works, but rather faith and works. James says plainly in his letter faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).

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Coming from the brother of Jesus, I’m going to consider him a strong authority. There’s more to say about this, however. To those in either the faith or works camp, I urge you to keep reading. Not so I might persuade you to agree with me, but rather to take an honest look at what Scripture says about this and consider the eventual logic behind each view.

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I recently wrote a blog post about personalizing the armor of God for yourself (see, “The Armor of God”).  During my time of study this morning I was given some new insights which excited me and I hope will prove useful to you as well. The idea came while listening to Bruxy Cavey teach about using the morning ritual of getting dressed as a reminder to pray for certain things.

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It clicked in my mind we could pray through putting on the armor of God as we actually put on our own clothing. I’m going to walk through this so you can see a practical example of what praying through putting on the armor of God might look like.

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Jesus is a personal savior. This isn’t news for any who grew up in church. We’ve heard all our lives how we need to accept Jesus as our personal savior. But how often do we take the time to marvel at what that actually means? Why is a personal savior better than any other kind of savior? As long as we’re saved, who cares, right? The difference comes down to love. Jesus is a personal savior because of how much love He has for you, for me, and for every single other soul on this planet.

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This means while Jesus died for the entire race of humanity – past, present, and future – He would have died for you alone. That’s pretty crazy. Even if no one else mattered, you would have mattered enough for Jesus to give up His life. That definitely puts the personal in Him being a personal Savior for us.

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What does the armor of God look like in your life? Ephesians 6:10-18 is a familiar passage of Scripture detailing the armor of God. Like many familiar passages, it can be easy to overlook and never take the time to apply it to your own life. Paul gave us a great gift when he outlined the weapons of our warfare. Though I have distant memories of a flannel-graph (remember those?) soldier in Sunday School, there is nothing childish about the depth of this passage.

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Within these words are the strategic plans to counteract the attacks of the devil.  To best make use of the armor and weapons, we should know what they look like in our own lives.

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The early Church recognized the reality of the spiritual warfare raging around them. They understood everything in life was affected by battles being waged in their midst. While unseen, these battles often manifested themselves into the realities of the day to day lives of early believers.

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They were so keenly aware of what was going on they focused on fighting spiritual battles as long as they lived, looking forward to the day they would lay down their swords and join Jesus in Heaven. Here’s a news flash: nothing has changed. The same spiritual warfare encountered by the early Church still surrounds us today.

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In the beginning, we were created for and lived in perfect peace and harmony with God. Then we gave it all away for a stupid grab for an inconceivable “more”, something better than community with God. It was of course something which did not exist because dwelling in the presence of our Creator is the greatest form of happiness, fulfillment, and joy we can ever know.

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Still, we reached for something else. We were deceived to believe there was more we could desire than God Himself. From this one horrible mistake, stress was born. From that moment, stress has become a favorite tool of Satan to continue to keep us from God.

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At its core, this blog is about discipleship. It’s about living your life wholly devoted to Christ so you can live out the life He created you to live. What this looks like in practice will vary from person to person, but the one thing all disciples have in common is obedience to God.  By definition, obedience to God implies you have to do something in order to be His disciple. This isn’t a works based salvation; it’s works because of salvation.

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As A.W. Tozer once said, “Salvation without obedience is a self-contradicting impossibility!” Many people have bought into the teaching of salvation through grace alone to the exclusion of any responsibility for works of obedience. That’s a cheap and easy salvation never put forth by Jesus.

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