“Snapshot of a Spirit Controlled Life” October 4

 

Snapshot of a Spirit Controlled Life

In the first three chapters of Ephesians Paul tells us a great deal about who we are in Christ. He begins chapter 4 by saying, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.”

Because of everything Christ has done for you, I’m begging you walk worthy of that calling.

In the next three chapters he gives us a snapshot at what a believer’s life should look like when we are under the control of the Holy Spirit and living out that calling.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 59 & 60
Psalm 115.1-8
Proverbs 26.23
Ephesians 5.17-33

 

Snapshot of a Spirit Controlled Life

 

Ephesians 5.17-33:

Not Wine, but the Spirit

 

For the last two days we’ve been talking about what a mature or Spirit-controlled life should look like from Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 4-6. Today we’ll look at the second half of chapter 5 beginning in verse 17.

17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.

As believers we should not allow anything other than God to control our lives—not a substance like alcohol or drugs, nor anything else that our hearts crave like power, wealth or prestige. Instead we should be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit.

One major way we should be changed, when we do, is in the way we communicate.

We’re to speak “to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (v. 19).

Paul isn’t suggesting we behave like a character in The Sound of Music by bursting into  a song in the middle of a conversation, but there should be joy in our lives and our conversations should be filled with praise for all that God has done for us.

We should have an attitude of gratitude, “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 20).

It should affect our relationships toward each other, “submitting to one another in the fear of God” (v. 21).

Submitting isn’t just for those under one kind of authority or another. The Holy Spirit’s work in us enables us to submit our selfish wants and desires and prefer others above ourselves.

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it (Lk. 9).

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Phil. 2).

Within the husband and wife relationship, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord … Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her (vss. 22, 25).

Wives are called to submit to the leadership of their husbands and husbands are to lay down their lives for their wives, each in unique ways. This is a sacrificial love that involves laying down what we want (those selfish desires, Matt. 9.23-24), preferring each other as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2.3-4), submitting even when the other one isn’t doing his or her part (1 Pet. 3.1-6), giving honor (1 Pet. 3.7), and showing respect (Eph. 5.33).

We’ll continue tomorrow with more of Paul’s snapshot of a Spirit controlled life.

 


Today’s Other Readings:

 

Isaiah 59 & 60:

Headlines: Our Courts Oppose the Righteous!

 

Wow! As I reread today’s passage, it occurred to me the phrases could be headlines in today’s newspapers!

Headlines like: “Our courts oppose the righteous,” “Justice is nowhere to be found,” “Truth stumbles in the streets,” “Honesty has been outlawed,” “Truth is gone,” and “Anyone who renounces evil is attacked” Look at chapter 59.13-15 in the NLT:

13 We know we have rebelled and have denied the LORD.
We have turned our backs on our God.
We know how unfair and oppressive we have been,
carefully planning our deceitful lies.
14 Our courts oppose the righteous,
and justice is nowhere to be found.
Truth stumbles in the streets,
and honesty has been outlawed.
15 Yes, truth is gone,
and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.

Verse 13 reminds us that all sin is first against the Lord. Notice it says, “We have turned our backs on our God.” When we deny and turn our backs on the Lord we are expressing contempt for Him, in effect, saying that we are dissatisfied with His blessings, that He is not good, that we want and deserve something better than what He has given us.

This passage says we sin willingly, knowingly, “We know we have rebelled … we know how unfair and oppressive we have been, carefully planning our deceitful lies.”

And when the believers in a nation begin to compromise and live like the rest of the world, all of society suffers. Look at the list in verses 14 & 15 again: Continue reading

“4 Ways to Improve Your Spiritual Curb Appeal” February 27

 

4 Way to Improve Your Spiritual Curb Appeal - How's your spiritual curb appeal? How do you look from the outside? Do you live in a way that gives others the right opinion of the One who's living in you? If some spiritual real estate agent evaluated your life and mine, how would we do? And if we come up short, how do we change that? Here are 4 ways to improve your spiritual curb appeal.

How’s your spiritual curb appeal? How do you look from the outside? Do you live in a way that gives others the right opinion of the One who’s living in you? If some spiritual real estate agent evaluated your life and mine, how would we do? And if we would come up short, how do we change that? Here are 4 ways to improve your spiritual curb appeal.

 

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 23 & 24
Psalm 28.1-5
Proverbs 10.17-18
Mark 6.1-29

 

4 Ways to Improve Your Spiritual Curb Appeal

 

Leviticus 23 & 24:

 

Does He really “occupy” your life?

 

As we continue reading through the book of Leviticus, I’m reminded that not only is “all Scripture” profitable to our everyday lives (1 Tim. 3.16-17), but we can begin reading anywhere and glean great, practical truths.

Leviticus 23 gives instructions concerning the feasts that Israel was to celebrate. These feasts acknowledged and helped them remember God’s sovereign work in their lives, just as Easter and Christmas should do for us.

That’s part of the tragedy with the commercialization of those holidays. Easter has become more about bunnies and eggs and less about Christ’s resurrection. Christmas is more about “what will I get” than remembering that the Creator of the Universe humbled Himself to be born in a stable, to be a little baby with dirty diapers, to grow to be a boy who respected and obeyed His parents, and finally, to be a man who was willing to be beaten, stripped and crucified for me and you!

Here in chapter 23, notice the feasts and the sacrifices involved food: meat and grain, oil and wine, things used in the preparation of a meal.

Remember that God repeatedly told His people He desired to dwell with them. In Revelation 3.20 Jesus said:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

1 Corinthians 6.19 says that we are the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” And in John 1.14 it says that Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us.” The Old Testament feasts and sacrifices, in part, reminded them that the Creator God wanted to dwell with them.

That word “dwell” comes from a root word meaning “to tent or encamp, to occupy (as a mansion) or to reside as God did in the Tabernacle of old.”

His dwelling with us speaks of protection and communion.

The word “occupy” stood out to me. Does He really “occupy” your life? Have you allowed him to take over the whole mansion or is He expected to stay in the back room most of the time? Maybe He’s only with you on Sundays? Or maybe you’d say “no, He’s here all the time! I’m always talking about God and church!”

 

Spiritual Curb Appeal

 

Then the question becomes, how are you doing at living your life in a way that makes Him pleased to be there? Are you going places, watching things, reading things, listening to things or saying things that grieve the Holy Spirit who lives in you?

And how does His residence look to others? Real estate agents talk about curb appeal, how a home (or mansion) looks from the street. How do you look to others? How is your spiritual curb appeal? Do you live in a way that gives others the right opinion of God?

God wants a relationship with His people. He wants to live in us and through us so we can be salt and light to the world. What a privilege and what a responsibility! If some spiritual real estate agent evaluated your life and mine, how would we do? And if we came up short, how can we change that? Continue reading

“Why doesn’t God deal with that?” November 7

 

Why doesn't God deal with that?Abuse, rejection, abandonment, criticism … when we’re the victim of such things, we often wonder “Why doesn’t God deal with that?”

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 5 & 6
Psalm 119.169-176
Proverbs 28.14
Hebrews 3.1-19

 

Why doesn’t God deal with that?

 

Ezekiel 5 & 6:

Getting Away with Sin

 

God works very hard to help us understand His truths. In the New Testament Jesus told parables, used illustrations from the agricultural world, and told stories like that of the prodigal son to help explain the Word.

Here God instructed the prophet Ezekiel to act out many of his prophecies. In these verses he was to cut his hair and use it as a picture of the nation of Israel: burning a portion of it, chopping a portion with the sword, scattering a portion to the wind, and binding a small “remnant” in his clothing to protect it. This was an illustrated warning of the coming judgment along with God’s promise to protect His faithful remnant.

God is good, but He is also holy and righteous, and although, His patience and mercy cause Him to hold back the hand of judgment, there will be a time when it must be carried out.

On a personal level, we often look at someone else’s life, especially if they’ve sinned against us, and ask “Why doesn’t God deal with that?”

But when it’s us, we want mercy and cry foul when we suffer the consequences of our actions.

The reality is, we must trust in the sovereignty and wisdom of God in every situation whether in our own lives or the lives of others, knowing that God is faithful to His Word in His own perfect timing.

If we’re experiencing God’s discipline, we need to know it’s because of His love for us. Hebrews 12.5b-6:

5 … “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

And when we are sinned against we need to remember Romans 12.17-21:

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

And finally, Galatians 6.7-10 reminds us:

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap,” and “’Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” In reality, no one “gets away with anything.” God knows everything that is going on both externally and in our hearts. There will be a day of accounting for those who never surrender to the Lord. Even for believers, God disciplines His children. God will not be mocked, but because He has perfect wisdom, He knows the exact balance of justice and mercy required in every situation.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 119.169-176:

I Have Gone Astray

 

I have gone astray.

Verse 176 says, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.”

After extolling the wisdom and virtues of the Word and his love for it … for 176 verses … the psalmist still recognized his own sinful nature, “I have gone astray …” and understood that he needed God to keep seeking him!  Continue reading