7/19/19

Ephesians 6:5-8

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5 Slaves, respect and fear your earthly masters. Obey and serve them with the same sincerity of heart as you serve the Anointed One. 6 Don’t put on a show just because they are looking (as if you were a people pleaser); but as a slave of the Anointed, do the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve them in good faith as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because all good deeds are gifted back from the Lord, and they are yours whether you are a slave or not. (Ephesians 6:5-8)

Christian employees are under obligation to those who hire them to do what they say, as long as it is in keeping with God's word. I'm sure you noticed that Paul did not suggest that we should rise up and revolt against our bosses. God encourages a measured and calm approach when differences arise. Rising up in protest only causes the power structures to shift from one side to the other, in ceaseless cycles. 

Now, there is a better way, and it does not look like it is the way. But in the realm of history, wherever it has been tried, it has always worked.  Paul writes, "(Employees) Slaves, respect and fear your earthly masters. Obey and serve them with the same sincerity of heart as you serve the Anointed One." It must be done "with respect and fear." We must be careful to approach this with respect and fear, or we will fail to trust God. And, His involvement is of utmost importance. If we do not follow His instructions, we will not have His blessing.

In v.6 Paul encourages us to obey the Lord from the heart. Granted, we must work under man's direction, but we must always work as unto the Lord. If we approach our work like this we will not be men pleasers or eye pleasers. Our attitude must be to do the type of job for the boss that I would do for the LORD.

According to v.8, we must perform like this "because all good deeds are gifted back from the Lord, and they are yours whether you are a slave or not." It does not make any difference what our status in life is. When work is done unto the Lord, He undertakes to correct the conditions that make for unhappiness, or else, He repays us on another level. God does not promise always to correct the condition, because His will is that we manifest the grace that we have received from Him. And, this may very well result in our boss coming to know the Lord for himself.

I am sure that you remember the story of Joseph from Genesis 37-50. Joseph's life story was predicated on his understanding that what God had spoken to him and declared about him was true no matter what the circumstances. This explains his ability to resist the flesh (the evil desires within that cause us to miss God's culture) choosing to forgive his brothers for selling him into slavery. He was separated from his father for 13 years as a result of being sold into slavery. Every other decision he made comes out of this one HUGE decision. Such is the nature of walking in the ways of the LORD, one door opens to another. Joseph saw some tough times while in Egypt but in the end he was the second most powerful figure in the land.

Finally, through Joseph’s example, we recognize the importance of seeking God even more when things are going well. Prosperity and success will test our character infinitely more than hardship! When we’re in trouble and our back is against the wall, we know we need help. And, we know that success has corrupted more individuals than hardship ever has? It’s prosperity that often causes people to lose sight of their God-given vision or to attempt to bring it to pass through their own natural ability. Even with extreme wealth and power at his disposal, Joseph waited on the Lord and watched in faith as He brought His dream to fulfillment!

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7/18/19

Ephesians 6:4


And, fathers, do not drive your children mad, but nurture them in the discipline and teaching that come from the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Paul addresses fathers in our text for today. He tells us, "do not cross your kid's for no good purpose. Show them something great to live for, so that when you cross their will, it's because you are fitting them for some great purpose of God!"

Fathers must nurture our children. This involves creating a desire within them to want God for themselves. This word "nurture" comes from the Old Testament practice which the Hebrew midwife would use just as the baby was being birthed. As soon as the child came from the mother, the midwife would dip her finger into a jar of date juice, which was very sweet, and then she would stick her finger into the mouth of the newborn. This would create the desire of the child to suck for obvious reasons. The father best creates this desire by knowing each of his kid's bents and orientations on life and training them accordingly.

Children feel anger toward their father when his rules are petty and trivial, when they don't have anything to do with something of real value. Someone once said, "rules without relationship breeds rebellion." Parents must be authentic in our faith for our children to be more positioned to adopt our convictions on life. In addition, "rules with relationship will breed respect." Treating our children as the people they are, created in the image of God is of ultimate purpose. Otherwise, we will not connect in a way that trust will be forged in the relationship.

The child who sees that the rules of the home and their consistent enforcement are connected to some great vision of life and some great cause to live for will not harbor resentment toward their parents. They may complain now and then about the toughness of the training but would die any day with the captain, because the cause he stands for is so great.  

In order for the father's convictions to be adopted by the children, these convictions must be of a life or death matter to the father. I am not saying that we must be perfect, the kids do not expect us to be. What I am saying is we must be authentic with regard to what we believe. God's word must define us, and when He is gray, we must be gray. This is to say when God is explicit, we must be explicit. But when God is implicit, we must be implicit. The authenticity that emanates from this posture will enable the father to connect with his kids better.

To be authentic the father must be given to prayer. Prayer is the the most important thing we do in this world. It is the way that we join our hearts with God in His activity in this world. Our children must see and hear us interact with God naturally. If it is phony, they will know immediately. We must pour our hearts out in secret to God who will fashion our hearts to His will. From this perch, we will be more affective in training our kids in the way they should go.

In addition, we must pray in the presence of our children so that they can hear our longings and read our hearts and learn themselves to pray. And we need to pray with our children so that they have a chance to pray in a loving environment.

Also, we must raise up our children to hope in God for themselves. We must challenge them to make the Bible the most important book in their lives. We must show them the Bible is the most important resource in our lives and that it contains the answers to life's greatest questions and that it is the communication of the mind of God to man.

7/17/19

Ephesians 6:1-3

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Now to you, children, obey your parents in the Lord because this is right in God’s eyes. 2 This is the first commandment onto which He added a promise: “Honor your father and your mother, and 3 if you do, you will live long and well in this land.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)

The Apostle opens Ephesians 6 by addressing the children of the family. He writes, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord." Note the phrase, "in the Lord." Children are to obey, because this is what the Lord Jesus wants.

The Greek word used for "obey" literally means "to be under another's authority." Most children in America scoff at this command not knowing that it is to their advantage to be defined by the Lord in this matter. This practice provides for children the internal infrastructure that will later in life enable them to live under the authority of those whom God will place in their lives.

Now, in v.2-3, the apostle moves on to press deeper into this subject. He says the same thing again, but he goes on to say that the attitude of obedience is very important. We all know, that it is possible to obey with a hardened heart. This kind of obedience is dishonoring because it depersonalizes the parent. It treats the parent as a thing, an obstacle, certainly not as a person from whom life has come, and also love and concern and care. It is to ignore every generous gift of parental love and to treat them as though they were nothing but an obstacle in the way. 

This fifth of the Ten Commandments is the first that comes with a promise. "Honor your father and mother." (Exodus 20:12). The promise that was linked to it was this: "... that you will live long and well in the land the Eternal your God has promised to give you.,"( Exodus 20:12). 

The word of God was given to us that we might know Him and His ways. His ways or culture provides the best life we can have living in this fallen world. His culture does not rescue us from the presence of sin, but it has rescued us from the penalty and power of sin. We do not have to obey sin. That is not to say that we will ever be sinless while on this earth, but we can transcend above the darkness of sin because we have seen His light.

Through modern medicine, we have discovered that a bitter and resentful heart causes all kinds of serious physical distresses. This is why the Word of God promises that honor of father and mother means a lengthening of life. We are at our best when we honor our father and mother from the heart, because we are not harboring any bitterness in our hearts. It is this bitterness and other expressions of the flesh that robs us of the quality of life that God wants to give us while living in this fallen world.


This is not to say that God has promised us good health and much wealth while we are on this earth. This may be, but God has been known to use bad health and poverty to bless us with far more than the blessings of this world. I speak of the blessings of the world to come. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal ...” 

Finally, this is NOT to say that we are earning now that which we will get in heaven. The Lord Jesus wants us to be free from anxiety, seeking His kingdom, laying up treasure in heaven and not on earth. This is the fruit of trusting Him as our Lord and Savior and Treasure. This is the normal Christian life, radical freedom from earthly things and earthly security, with a joyful pursuit of God and His righteousness as our treasure. When we get to heaven, we will understand fully, and then, we will say I am glad I allowed Jesus to define me while on planet earth.


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7/16/19

Ephesians 5:28-33

Ephesians 5:28-33 Podcast

28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:28-33)

In our text for today, Paul continues to address husbands regarding our relationship with our wives. In v.28, Paul tells us to love our wives because they are their own bodies. The rest of the verse, "He who loves his wife loves himself" bears this out. When we love our wives, we are actually loving ourselves. Most of us just lack the transcendent perspective to realize it. In fact, men who do not love their wives like this are telling on themselves. They are saying, "I am insecure and immature." People who are complete are selfless and hungry not for themselves, they are hungry for the benefit of God and others.


Now, this type of maturity is not seen in how the husband does not hurt his wife only, the husband must also be careful to show positive love toward his wife. This is what Paul is getting at in the remainder of v.29 when he writes, "but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church." The word "feed" delivers the idea of maturing her emotionally, physically and spiritually. 


We all have five love languages: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service and gifts of kindness. We are all motivated by our love languages, but those who really get love are those who discover their spouses love language(s) and love them accordingly. This is a very practical way for a husband to love or feed his wife.

In addition, Paul calls the husband to care for or cherish his wife. The phrase “care for” means “to soften or warm with body heat.” This word is used in Deuteronomy 22:6 to describe a bird sitting on her nest to provide body heat for her eggs, and in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 for how a nursing mother tenderly cares for her newborn child. 


To care for our wives includes the idea that we will protect them. The best protection is discovered in the word of God. Therefore, the husband must be in the word daily, so that he can provide the wisdom that his wife needs to navigate the dangers in this sin-cursed world. And, when the husband does this, according to v.30, he heralds the gospel, because we are members of the body of Christ. Our loving relationship with our wives is a reflection of His loving relationship toward us and our understanding of such.


In v.31, the husband is told to "leave his father and mother and be united to his wife." To leave one's parents means that our parents are no longer our first priority. Our spouse and  family are now our primary priority. If a husband choses to please his mother more than his wife, he is ignoring God on the subject. If a wife continues to go to her parents for emotional support, she is also ignoring God. For optimal growth as a husband and wife, the husband, by example, must lead his wife to leave her father and mother.


Paul closes our text for today by pointing us back to the mystery. The mystery is having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus who trains us in how we most effectively relate with others. In Genesis 3:8 we are told "
Then they heard the sound of the Eternal God walking in the cool misting shadows of the garden. The man and his wife took cover among the trees and hid from the Eternal God." God still desires to go through life with us. He wants to provide His best for us. And, He has communicated His desires for us through His word. We do well to seek Him for understanding His word, so that WE CAN OBEY HIM. It is His word that contains the keys to real life.

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7/15/19

Ephesians 5:25-27

Ephesians 5:25-27 Podcast

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)

The most misunderstood word is love. In fact, in the Greek language, there are four to choose from. The type of love that Paul is describing in our text for today causes a husband to lay down his life for his wife. However, our culture has strayed so far from God's definition of real love, it has no idea of its depth. We live in a world that has defined love in such a way that husbands love themselves more than do their wives and family.




Paul writes in v.25, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." The Lord Jesus gave His life that the church might be holy, that He might present us to the Father in His completeness. These same goals apply to the husband and wife relationship.

The husband is to give himself up for his wife in order that he might enable her to be defined by the One who is the only complete One. The word "holy" means "put to the proper use." It is not a religious word. Anything that is put to its proper use is holy, and that is what the word means here.

The Lord Jesus gave himself up on the cross in order that those redeemed by His grace, might be put to the proper use for which God intended them. This is also to be the goal of the husband. He is to give himself up for the wife in order that she might fulfill God's call on her life. This calling is to be a helper to her husband. 

According to v.26, the instrument the Lord uses to make us holy or more mature in our walk with Him is His word. Paul writes, "by the washing with water through the word." By defining things for us through His word, God makes us more useful for His purposes. The Lord Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32). 

A husband who is walking with the Lord and being defined by Him will have a wife who in submission to His leadership. Of course, this is dependent upon her walking with the Lord and being defined by Him. We are best defined by God when we are following what He has said on a given subject in His word.

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7/12/19

Ephesians 5:22-24

Ephesians 5:22-24 Podcast 

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

In our text today, the Apostle Paul applies the previous teaching to the wife's relationship with her husband. There is no relationship in which conflict is more widespread than the marriage. The enemy knows that the health to any society begins with the family, therefore he attacks the most important of human relationships. The laminin of any society is the workings of the Lord in the nuclear family.


In v.22 Paul turns his attention to the wife. God calls all believers to a life of submission, including wives, which is couched in our submission to Him. The key phrase here is "to the Lord." The wife is to submit to her husband because she is submitted to the Lord Jesus. The phrase "to the Lord" does not mean that the wife is to worship her husband as though he were the Lord! It means she is to yield to her husband, and such she is yielding to the Lord. 


As indicated in v.23, the Lord has given to the husband the role of the head of the wife. The word used for head is kephale in the GreekThis role that God has given the husband is that of servant leadership for his wife and their family. If the husband is being Christlike, then the wife will have no problem submitting to the servant-leadership of her husband.



In v.23-24, the apostle likens the husband's role to that of Christ toward the Church. Of course, this means that when the husband is laying down his life for his wife, she will find it easier to submit to his servant leadership. Yet, God does not qualify His instructions to the wife with this caveat. She is to submit whether or not He loves like the Lord Jesus.

The infrastructure that God's definition brings to our lives, homes and society should never be taken lightly. Just as headship or servant-leadership for the husband is his right to love the Lord and his wife, so the role of submission to her husband's servant leadership is her right to show her love for her Lord and her husband. Without the infrastructure of the Lord's definition of things, the family and the society will suffer great harm.


If parents only knew how our relationship with one another impacts our kids, more than any other relationship, we would take God's instructions to the family far more serious than we do. The relationship of a husband and wife reflect the relationship between the Lord Jesus and the church. The Lord Jesus does not choose His bride because she is lovely but because He is loving. What a picture of what love should be. This type of love withstands the harshest of moments in any relationship, especially marriage.


Finally, our ability to love our spouse parallels our ability to love God. C. S. Lewis put it well: “When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall … not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.”


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7/11/19

Ephesians 5:21

Ephesians 5:21 Podcast And the Spirit makes it possible to submit humbly to one another out of respect for the Anointed.  (Ephesians 5:21 The Voice)

In Hebrews 6:1, we read, "So let’s push on toward a more perfect understanding and move beyond just the basic teachings of the Anointed One."  As noted in Hebrews 6:1, many Christians make Christianity about the lesser teachings in the Bible because of our doctrinal shallowness. We lack depth, spiritual depth therefore we want to keep talking about the basics of the faith. Yet, when we walk by the Spirit and are filled by the Spirit, we will be concerned with that which concerns God. 

Our text today makes it clear that humility, submission, and respect are high on God's list of what is important. The reason these are so important to God is that these qualities provide the rebar for every relationship we have, including our relationship with Him. The remainder of Ephesians bears this out, for Paul talks about our relationships with others beginning with our spouse and ending with our relationship with the Lord Himself.

Despite the fact that the word "submit" is mentioned before the word "humbly" in this verse, we will not be submissive with humility. "God opposes the proud but He gives grace to the humble," we are told in James 4:6. Pride is the opposite of humility and it inaugurated sin.  

Now we come to the second word, 'submit.' Paul uses the Greek word "hupotasso" which is an old military term for lining up under our commanding officer. Hupotasso carries the idea of knowing our commanding officer and following His lead. The Lord Jesus is the ultimate example of humility. He freely gave Himself up in every situation so that Father’s will could be done and God could be glorified through His life.

The problem, however, is that the unregenerate man has an incorrect idea of what gives a person power, and how that power should be used. Over and over in the Gospels the disciples of Jesus argued about who would be the greatest in His kingdom. Each of them thought they had earned power, position and prestige with Jesus.

But Jesus said to them, “You have it all backwards. The kings and rulers of this world seek the greatest positions of power and importance. But it is not this way in My Kingdom. In My Kingdom, the greatest are those who serve.” Greatness in God's eyes begins with submitting oneself to Him and then serving people.

In today's text, Paul writes that we should submit to one another. The Lord Jesus came to be a servant, but about half of His ministry was spent standing up to those who were abusing their power. Twice, He cleansed the temple, He rebuked the religious leaders for their hypocrisy. As the Lord Jesus modeled, being submissive to one another does not include being submissive to those who are working against the will of God. 

Our final term under consideration in today's text is the word respect, "respect for the Anointed." The word Anointed is referring to the Lord Jesus Himself. The anointing came upon the Lord Jesus at His baptism as He humbly submitted Himself to the will of the Father. This act of submission led John the Baptist to conclude, "more of Him and less of me."

The Holy Spirit lives to point us to the Anointed One, the Lord Jesus Himself. The Holy Spirit, one could say, is the shy person of the Trinity. He does not draw attention to Himself. He always points us to the Servant of all, the Lord Jesus Himself. He is the Servant Leader, from whom all of us learn to serve. He is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah who pours out his life unto death and is numbered with the transgressors (Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12). He is the Humble Servant who washes the dirty feet (and souls) of his disciples (John 13:4-17). He is the Son of Man who does not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). 

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7/10/19

Ephesians 5:18-20

Ephesians 5:18-20 Podcast
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20 NIV)

In our text today Paul tells us, "Do not get drunk on wine." There is a thing called responsible drinking. The problem is we live in a culture which isn't responsible. So, Paul prohibits excessive consumption of alcohol. Paul is not prohibiting the consumption of alcohol, he is prohibiting the excessive consumption of alcohol. 


The problem with the consumption of excessive alcohol is it so easily leads to lack of self control or debauchery. The Greek word the apostle uses here for debauchery is "asotia", means "without any limits, with reckless abandonment." The real issue in our text today is who is in control.
In contrast, Paul writes, "we must be being filled with the Spirit."  "Be filled" is an imperative, but it is written in the passive voice and indicates that we receive the action being delivered in our lives. The Holy Spirit performs the action, it is He who is filling us. And, with his filling, comes His control. Although, we do not produce the filling, our volition is involved as we choose to be defined by God.

The Greek word Paul uses here for filled is "pleroo" which describes the inertia behind the action. This is a description of the wind blowing the sails on a boat, providing the power to move the vessel across the water. This gives the picture of the Holy Spirit providing the thrust to move the believer down the pathway of wisdom, obedience and Christlikeness. 


When we believed in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit came to live within us. At the moment of our New Birth, He awakened our once dead spirit and made it alive to God. At that point in time we received all of the Holy Spirit, but He didn't get all of us. The filling of the Spirit in the believer describes the process of the believer giving up control to the Holy Spirit (sanctification).


As we are being filled by Him daily, we are being changed by His ever increasing control over our souls (our minds, wills, and emotions). Mind you, we are not getting better, He is just able to express Himself through our increasingly yielded lives. The filling of the Holy Spirit is about Him gaining more and more control over us. This filling of the believer by the Holy Spirit happens in our lives when we yield control to Him in a given situation.

There are two specific ways that we know that we are being filled with the Spirit according to this passage: the first is we will have a joyful heart (v.19), and the second is that we will have a thankful heart (v.20). Joy and gratitude are the products of a Spirit-filled life. Note that these psalms, hymns, and songs are from the Spirit. Note, also, that this music is a product of a heart that has been influenced by the Lord Himself. In addition, we sing to the Lord and to other believers. 

When we experiences the tuning of our heart to our creator by means of being filled by the Holy Spirit, joy is created in our heart. In addition, the filling of the Spirit produces a freed heart that sees from a transcendent perspective. This point of view enables us to recognize the sovereign control of God in our lives. The result is the rest the Lord Jesus spoke of in Matthew 11:27-28. The Voice translation puts it this way, "27 The Father has handed over everything to My care. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son—and those to whom the Son wishes to reveal the Father. 28 Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." This rest is non-threatening and freeing. This rest renders in us a joy and a gratitude which flows freely.

Finally, the filling of the Spirit creates in us the ability to stop striving and to begin trusting. We were meant to trust before we were meant to work. Trusting doesn't eliminate working, but it does eliminate striving. This is part of the reason we struggle with surrendering to the filling of the Spirit in our lives. Like Jacob in the Old Testament, our striving and stressing in life is over when we come under the control of the Holy Spirit. When He controls, we discover our sweet spot. When He controls, we find ourselves at home.

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7/9/19

Ephesians 5:15-17

Ephesians 5:15-17 Podcast

15 So be careful how you live; be mindful of your steps. Don’t run around like idiots as the rest of the world does. Instead, walk as the wise! 16 Make the most of every living and breathing moment because these are evil times. 17 So understand and be confident in God’s will, and don’t live thoughtlessly. (Ephesians 5:15-17 the Voice)



In our text today, the apostle is describing how the believer in Christ should live by using the metaphor of walking. We should walk with observant understanding. We are to be aware of the ways of the world and how God addresses it. Since the days are evil, we must make the most of the opportunities which we have to influence others regarding eternity. 

The word for "make the most" in v.16 can also be translated "redeemingmeaning "to buy up." As we look for bargains at the store, we should look for bargaining opportunities that will effect the souls of people because we know these opportunities will not last long; they are passing us by. Therefore, make the most of them and buy them up. 

Years ago, God arrested my attention when I heard Billy Graham say, "there are two things in this world which will last forever, the word of God and the souls of people." He also said, "most people are converted to Christ before they are eighteen years of age." This has largely motivated me in my thirty-seven years of ministry. 
We clearly live in evil times. Most, consider evil times as an obstacle, but not the Lord. He sees them as opportunities. We must have God's transcendent view of this world and eternity, making the most of the opportunities because the evil around us is really making the opportunity possible. If we did not go through trials, how could we show the lost people of this world that God is sufficient for every trial? The evil times create these opportunities. 
Trials come into our lives in order to advance what is most important, getting people into the word of God. When this happens, people will be informed by God's definition of things. Therefore, we must look at trials for what they are, opportunities to demonstrate what it is to be a Christian. Therefore, we must not walk according to the flesh or the evil default mode which we find inside of us. We must walk with the framing understanding that God's word brings to our existence, offering solutions to life's problems, rendering a life that is transcendent with the touch of eternity upon it.
The Apostle emphasizes in v.15, we are to not walk or live as idiots, but we are to be wise. When we live by God's definitions, we will be gracious and loving to those whom we work with in the midst of demanding circumstances. The Bible refers to this as being controlled by the Holy Spirit. We will talk more about that tomorrow.

We are to live biblically informed lives.  As Christians, we know the truth, the truth as it is in the Bible, the basic, fundamental reality of life. We are to walk in that way. Of course, in order for us to live according to His definition of things, we must be in His word daily, allowing Him to teach us. It also helps to be in a Bible believing church where the word of God is considered and taught thoughtfully every week.

Finally, let me conclude with a true story. Many months ago, Debbie and I had a couple come to us who were talking divorce. They had a young son, and they were not happy together. As they discovered, they were not happy because they were not living according to God's descriptions of life. We met with this couple for months, and as time went on, we saw a transformation take place. They started reading the word for themselves, they started attending a Bible-believing church. But, the biggest thing that happened was this: they started praying for and with one another. I have never been more encouraged in ministry that I was when I saw God turn this couple around. I am truly grateful for this young couple for they demonstrated the power of God's definition of marriage and family. They are not perfect, they will tell you that. But, they have learned, when they do it God's way, they experience the eternal type of life that Jesus died to give us.

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7/8/19

Ephesians 5:11-14

Ephesians 5:11-14 Podcast
11 Don’t get involved with the fruitless works of darkness; instead, expose them to the light of God. 12 You see, it’s a disgrace to speak of their secrets (so don’t even talk about what they do when no one is looking). 13-14 When the light shines, it exposes even the dark and shadowy things and turns them into pure reflections of light. This is why they sing, Awake, you sleeper! Rise from your grave, And the Anointed One will shine on you. (Ephesians 5:11-14 The Voice)


The Apostle enlightens the believer to expose the dark nature of sin. The believer is to be the source of correct information on things human to those who are in darkness. And, we will expose it as such when we have realized it is fruitless. However, we will not expose it if we are engaged in it.  
The believer is to influence those who are held hostage in darkness. We are to reveal God's definitions regarding any given subject. In v.11, the apostle writes, "Don’t get involved with the fruitless works of darkness; instead, expose them to the light of God.Paul is saying, "make the fruitlessness of sin obvious." The Apostle does not mean for us to denounce our friends. We are most effective when we show the truth about God's definition on a given subject. To do this, we must know the truth for ourselves. Then we are to let those in darkness know what God intended for us, that His definition of things is for our best.
In v.12, Paul takes us by the hand and charges us to not focus on the sin, but to focus on the explanation regarding why we should not engage in sin. God gave us His word to provide His best for us and to protect us from that which will harm us.
In v.14 Paul directs us to wake ourselves up first. "Awake, you sleeper! Rise from your grave, And the Anointed One will shine on you." We must recognize that all of mankind's hearts and minds are arrested by the enemy and we must be careful turn not just our minds and hearts to the Lord Jesus, but also those whom we have influence over. We must first realize that in the Word of God we have been given the facts as they are, truth as it really is. 
As a result, Christ gives us light. Then, we will be poised to tell those in darkness what we have uncovered. This will lead us to the discovery that helping people to see God's great heart for them through His definition of life is what our calling is all about. Through God's word, we discover that God desires to bring all mankind back into wholeness and fullness. 

Be careful, we are not to be the moral police, condemning people for their sin. After all, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5 that we’re not to judge those outside the church. We expose the deeds of darkness simply by living consistently with God's definitions of things. We must remember those living in darkness are blind. They don’t realize what they’re doing to themselves or what the consequences of their choices will produce. But when they’re exposed to the light, they will see the substantiveness of the new life the Lord Jesus offers us. Then, they will see the contrast, they will see the difference between loving people and using people, between immorality and purity, between walking in truth and fooling oneself. 

Paul concludes, For this reason it says, "Awake, you sleeper! Rise from your grave, And the Anointed One will shine on you." Living consistently with who we really are in Christ, will not only benefit us, it will benefit the people around us. A child of light will never be happy living in darkness. The reason being, we were created to influence others.


I love the story Tony Campolo tells of one of his visits to Honolulu. A few years ago Tony flew to Hawaii to speak at a conference. The way he tells it, he checks into his hotel and tries to get some sleep. Unfortunately, his internal clock wakes him at 3:00 a.m. The night is dark, the streets are silent, the world is asleep, but Tony is wide awake and his stomach is growling.

He gets up and prowls the streets looking for a place to get some bacon and eggs for an early breakfast. Everything is closed except for a grungy dive in an alley. He goes in and sits down at the counter. The fat guy behind the counter comes over and asks, "What d'ya want?"

Well, Tony isn't so hungry anymore so eying some donuts under a plastic cover he says, "I'll have a donut and black coffee."

As he sits there munching on his donut and sipping his coffee at 3:30, in walk eight or nine provocative, loud prostitutes just finished with their night's work. They plop down at the counter and Tony finds himself uncomfortably surrounded by this group of smoking, swearing hookers. He gulps his coffee, planning to make a quick getaway. Then the woman next to him says to her friend, "You know what? Tomorrow's my birthday. I'm gonna be 39." To which her friend nastily replies, "So what d'ya want from me? A birthday party? Huh? You want me to get a cake, and sing happy birthday to you?"

The first woman says, "Aw, come on, why do you have to be so mean? Why do you have to put me down? I'm just sayin' it's my birthday. I don't want anything from you. I mean, why should I have a birthday party? I've never had a birthday party in my whole life. Why should I have one now?"

Well, when Tony Campolo heard that, he said he made a decision. He sat and waited until the women left, and then he asked the fat guy at the counter, "Do they come in here every night?"

"Yeah," he answered.

"The one right next to me," he asked, "she comes in every night?"

"Yeah," he said, "that's Agnes. Yeah, she's here every night. She's been comin' here for years. Why do you want to know?"

"Because she just said that tomorrow is her birthday. What do you think? Do you think we could maybe throw a little birthday party for her right here in the diner?"

A cute kind of smile crept over the fat man's chubby cheeks. "That's great," he says, "yeah, that's great. I like it." He turns to the kitchen and shouts to his wife, "Hey, come on out here. This guy's got a great idea. Tomorrow is Agnes' birthday and he wants to throw a party for her right here."

His wife comes out. "That's terrific," she says. "You know, Agnes is really nice. She's always trying to help other people and nobody does anything nice for her."

So they make their plans. Tony says he'll be back at 2:30 the next morning with some decorations and the man, whose name turns out to be Harry, says he'll make a cake.

At 2:30 the next morning, Tony is back. He has crepe paper and other decorations and a sign made of big pieces of cardboard that says, "Happy Birthday, Agnes!" They decorate the place from one end to the other and get it looking great. Harry had gotten the word out on the streets about the party and by 3:15 it seemed that every prostitute in Honolulu was in the place. There were hookers wall to wall.

At 3:30 on the dot, the door swings open and in walks Agnes and her friend. Tony has everybody ready. They all shout and scream "Happy Birthday, Agnes!" Agnes is absolutely flabbergasted. She's stunned, her mouth falls open, her knees started to buckle, and she almost falls over.

And when the birthday cake with all the candles is carried out, that's when she totally loses it. Now she's sobbing and crying. Harry, who's not used to seeing a prostitute cry, gruffly mumbles, "Blow out the candles, Agnes. Cut the cake."

So she pulls herself together and blows them out. Everyone cheers and yells, "Cut the cake, Agnes, cut the cake!"

But Agnes looks down at the cake and, without taking her eyes off it, slowly and softly says, "Look, Harry, is it all right with you if...I mean, if I don't...I mean, what I want to ask, is it OK if I keep the cake a little while? Is it all right if we don't eat it right away?"

Harry doesn't know what to say so he shrugs and says, "Sure, if that's what you want to do. Keep the cake. Take it home if you want."

"Oh, could I?" she asks. Looking at Tony she says, "I live just down the street a couple of doors; I want to take the cake home, is that okay? I'll be right back, honest."

She gets off her stool, picks up the cake, and carries it high in front of her like it was the Holy Grail. Everybody watches in stunned silence and when the door closes behind her, nobody seems to know what to do. They look at each other. They look at Tony.

So Tony gets up on a chair and says, "What do you say that we pray together?"

And there they are in a hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon, half the prostitutes in Honolulu, at 3:30 a.m. listening to Tony Campolo as he prays for Agnes, for her life, her health, and her salvation. Tony recalls, "I prayed that her life would be changed, and that God would be good to her."

When he's finished, Harry leans over, and with a trace of hostility in his voice, he says, "Hey, you never told me you was a preacher. What kind of church do you belong to anyway?"

In one of those moments when just the right words came, Tony answers him quietly, "I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning."

Harry thinks for a moment, and in a mocking way says, "No you don't. There ain't no church like that. If there was, I'd join it. Yep, I'd join a church like that."

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