Monday, November 17, 2008

Words of Encouragement

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. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves - Ephesians 1:3-6

I have been studying this week about the selfishness of man and how we have moved God out of his rightful place.  As I was studying this, I thought about what it is we have recieved from God.  We will look this week at the glorious gift of salvation we have been given from God.  The scripture today is one of rejoicing.  The writer is telling us to rejoice in God because before the earth was formed (man either) God had us on his mind.  He knew long, long ago that he was going to adopt us (bring man back) into a relationship with himself through his Son Jesus Christ.  We should rejoice because this gift has been freely offered to us. We should see that God took great care in preparing this gift for us.  He wants to lavish on mankind his gift.

Thought for Today - Have you taken the time lately to think about salvation as a gift given to you because of the unchanging love of God?  Have you thought about what price it cost him to give you this gift?

Prayer -  Lord we thank you this day for having us on your mind before time began as we know it.  We thank you for preparing us a way to be in your presence and to enjoy fellowship with you.  Help us to be thankful for this gift.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. - Ephesians 1:7-10

Because of this offer of salvation we have been set free from sin by the blood of Christ.  Not a little free, but abundantly free.  We are free to be in fellowship with God.  He has let us in on his plan of salvation that we must now become a part of as we tell others. He has allowed us to understand the hidden things as he fulfills his plan in the lives of all mankind.  We are no longer strangers, enemies left out of the will and plan of God.  Not only does he save us but he makes everything we need available to us.  We have a storehouse of provisions for us to fulfill our purpose here on earth.

Thought for Today - If all is provided for us to live successfully on this earth, why do we faulter?  Why do we live unsuccessful lives as believers (living in sin, not discerning the will of God)?

Prayer - Lord today we are thankful for your revelation of yourself through your word and through you Spirit. Jesus was the word made flesh so that we could see and know the plans of the Father.  Lord help us this day to be the followers of Christ you have called us to be.  Help us to live with a kingdom focus not only for ourselves but for the glory of your name. Amen.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory - Ephesians 1:11-12

What an exciting thing to understand that before we even heard about Christ, he was already purposing in his heart how he would save us. He had a design on us for glorious living. This was so we could praise him.  He changes us to look like himself.  Some often thing of predestined as God having chosen individuals to be saved.  This does not mean that God has determined before hand who would be saved, but he determined before hand how all could be saved.

Thought for Today - If God took the time to set up a plan for mankind why do you think so many still resist his love?  On a personal note, are there anythings about God's ways that you resist?

Prayer - Lord today we are thankful for allowing us the opportunity to worship you.  You determined before time began to allow us this avenue to you.  Help us to access you, your way.  Help us to be removed from selfishness.  Seeing things our own way, doing things our way and missing your Spirit telling us what is your good and perfect will.  Today, give us a spirit of discernment so that we can understand your will for our lives. Amen.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory. - Ephesians 1:13-14

It was the hearing and accepting the word of salvation that placed you in Christ.  Once we believed we were sealed with his Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit was promised by Christ as the comforter for his disciples. The Holy Spirit also serves as a reminder of who we belong to.  Without the Spirit of God we cannot be as we ought to be children of God. He is a guarentee a deposit to keep us until Jesus returns.  As children belonging to God, His Spirit helps us to be kept until Jesus' return.  We can praise God because we have his assurance through salvation.  This means that God will not only save you, but he is able to keep you from falling. 

Thought for Today - If we have the Spirit of God do we exhibit the fruits of the Spirit?  Take a personal inventory, is there any manifestation of the fruits that are missing from your life?

Prayer - Lord we are thankful for your Spirit.  He comes to help us in this life.  He comes to guide us, direct us and help us to walk worthy of the calling we have in Christ Jesus. Lord if there is anything in me that is contrary to your Spirit, reveal it and then give me the strength to walk rightly in those areas. Amen.

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. - Ephesians 1:15-23

Thanks is given for those that have accepted God through Jesus. Not thanks only, but a prayer for God to open  their eyes so they can clearly see what is the will of the Father. This request is so that the people of God can know him better.  If we know him better, we can use this understanding to discern what the true will of the Father is and no longer have to "guess at it".  Often time we won't admit it, but we are guessing at what is pleasing to God.  We make up our minds about something and we determine it is okay.  I have often asked God when I have seen some of the results of people making decisions without God, how did that happen?  What he showed me is this, we are guessing.  We have not stopped, taken the time to ask him and then waited to hear the responses.  We sometimes may ask, but if we do not hear a "no" immediately we take it to mean yes.  Maybe when we do not hear a "no" is because it means "wait".  Maybe God wants to see how long we will wait on him before we do our own things. The scripture goes on to tell us that Jesus is the head of the church it is his body. 

Thought for Today - If the church is under the authority of Christ, who then should the church answer to?  If we are the body of Christ, who should we represent in every action, every event every thing we do?

Prayer - Lord we are thankful this week for you allowing us to be reminded of the great gift of salvation you have given to us.  We are thankful that you desire us to live rightly and have made available to the tools to do so.  Help us as we begin to prepare for the Christmas season to look anew at the things we do and think about you.  Let our lives bring total glory to you and you alone. Amen.