Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Influence of an Example

Philippians 1:12-14

Just at daylight, I awoke and glanced out the window to see what the weather looked like. One of my neighbor’s cows, a large yellowish crossbred cow had her head stuck through my fence and was lunging and jerking in an effort to get her body through. Staples and ties loosened, and she was able to force her body through, although she got hung up several times. Before I could get dressed, another cow approached the same spot and forced her way through as well. By the time I arrived to stop them eight cows had forced their way through, and the fence was pushed down to where the last one through didn’t have to try nearly so hard to get through.

Crawling through the hole, I chased the rest of my neighbors cows away, then enlarged the hole and drove the cows back through it into his pasture. By the time I had them back where they belonged, and my fence fixed, I was late for work.

A few days later, I saw the same cow do the same thing, and others follow her again. Fortunately, that day it was not through my fence, but through one of the owner’s fences into another of his pastures. I suggested that he would be wise to get rid of that cow because she was teaching the others to tear down fences and get out. I hope he listens.

Most of the other cows would not have made such a struggle to get out. However, once they had seen that they could do so, they would try the same thing. Paul recognized that people are very much the same way. They will avoid many things, until they see an example. Once they see an example, they are encouraged to try for themselves. This can be either good or bad depending on what they are encouraged to attempt.

The things Paul had gone through would have been expected to discourage others. II Corinthians 11:24-27 Describes a few of the things. “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”

Rather than discouraging others, the problems encouraged them by seeing Paul’s survival. They were willing to take the similar chances, because they had seen God deliver him in these problems. It also called attention to the difference between what he had and that others had.

“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear;” (Philippians 1:12-14)

When we are going through such struggles, it is easy to develop the same attitude Elijah had when Jezebel threatened his life and he fled to the mountain, hiding in a cave.

“And it was so, when Elijah heard it that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” (I Kings 19:13-14)

Despite his feeling that he was the only one, God informed him that there were seven thousand more, and that God still had a job for him to do. It is so easy to forget that fact, and that God controls what happens to us, and how bad it will be. As I Corinthians 10:13 tells us, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

We’re not the only ones to have the problem, it is common. While not every Christian suffers exactly the same things, all Christians will experience problems. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” (II Timothy 3:12). Problems are normal. It is the absence of problems that is not normal.

Fortunately, we have some promises about the trials and temptations. We don’t need to worry or be upset. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

We can be assured that the end result will be good, although the event itself may not be. Romans 8:28 Reminds us, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Some of the things may be to benefit others, while others may benefit us, as James 1: 2-4 points out. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Philippian Epistle

The Empty Nest
Philippians 1:1-11

It’s hard for loving parents when their children leave home. Every where you look, you see reminders of the child. The picture on the shelf brings back memories of a camping trip. Preparing a certain meal reminds you of trying to get your son to eat his baby food. A mother holding a little child reminds you of the first time you held your child. The times you spent with them, whether few or many, are some of the greatest memories you have.

You think of them constantly, wondering if they are okay, and how they are getting along, and who their friends are. You are excited for them that they are learning new things ane having new experiences, and wishing you could share in it, but the separation prevents it. Sometimes they share a little of what is happening, and it you feel so privileged to even have that tiny part, because you love them so much. Sometimes your feelings are so intense you can’t express them.

The love for them never goes away, but the experiences you haven’t shared create connections to others that you can’t share in the same way. They have their own life, and what you have shared is only a part of it. Sometimes as parents, we need to remember they are not our baby any longer, but a mature person. Our relationship must grow accordingly.

Good pastors and teachers have the same feelings toward those they have taught. Paul shares his concern and love for the church a Philippi. He is not trying to make the relationship like it was, but to help them develop mature relationships, with Paul, and with their current pastor and church. It is a letter to everyone in the church.

“Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:1-8)

So often kids seem a little resentful of their parents desire to know, yet it is normal and natural if the parents love their children. It becomes a problem if the parents try to force the child to stay a child, refusing to let the relationship grow.

I was interested in Michael Jackson’s statement that he most closely identified with Peter Pan, the little boy who never grew up. His efforts to stay that little boy resulted in a terribly messed up life. Over the years, I have seen a number of parents try to prevent the natural change in their relationship with their children, and mess up their, and their children’s lives.

Paul recognizes that the Growth is produced by God, who can be trusted to help them grow into what is right , despite his concerns and desire to prevent some of the painful experiences they may have. One thing he does not want is for them to forget their past, or their values. Unfortunately, some people get so caught up in change they do forget

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Praying in the Spirit

Ephesians 6:18-24

Driving through Albuquerque, I observed a guy standing on a street corner with Bible in hand. Since it was rush hour, and all the lanes were filled on both streets, it was nearly impossible to distinguish any thing he said above the roar of the traffic. When the light changed, less than two minutes after I stopped, I probably would not have been impacted if I could have heard him. While there were hundreds of people passing by, there was almost no possibility of anyone hearing enough to desire to learn more. Almost any other approach to spreading the gospel would have been more effective, whether placing tracts on cars in a parking lot, or visiting in a hospital, or just talking to people at a ball game.

So often we get caught up in a religious activity with no consideration whether it is effective or not. The street preacher may have been putting out the word of God, but it was not entering the hearts. It was like the seed that fell by the wayside in the story of the sower. There was no possibility of growing. The seed was scattered, but not sown, although many would have been impressed by his dedication, but he was ineffective.

Paul instructs us in how to pray that other believers may be effective in their witnessing, redeeming rather than wasting time, and especially for himself.

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:18-20)

A key feature in his instruction is praying in the Spirit. Rather than trying to impress others with our prayers, or trying to pressure God into doing what we want, which Matthew 6:5-8 forbids, we’ll allow the Holy Spirit to direct our prayers. Romans 8:26-27 explains , “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

Paul’s request was not just that they’d pray that he’d be able to speak boldly, but boldly in a way that people heard and understood, that he would be an effective ambassador, as God would want.

Effective prayer requires a sincere interest in those we are praying for. This requires a personal connection, a personal interest. It also requires an awareness of how God is working to maintain real concern. Paul sends some personal information to help in their prayers. Generic prayers are of little value. God knows what is in the heart.

“But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.” (Ephesians 6:21-24)

Though couched in different words, he concludes By expressing a desire for them to experience the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and to receive God’s wonderful gifts.

Putting On The Armour of God

Ephesians 6:10-18

Several years ago, I worked for a Mormon plumber. In an effort to proselyte me, he gave me a book, Putting on the Whole Armour of God. Written by a Mormon Theologian, it is an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Living in a predominantly Mormon community, I am familiar with many Mormon doctrines, and accepted the book in hopes that I would be able to use it to show contradictions to the Bible, and raise questions in my boss’s mind. Reading the book was a real eye opener. There was no significant difference between what it said and what most other preachers had said about the passage in Ephesians 6:10-18. A sermon I had heard a week before was nearly identical, but preached by a Baptist.

Knowing how much difference there is between our beliefs and those of the Mormon church, I was shocked. It was not hard to understand why so many Baptists convert to Mormonism. Going back and looking at the passage again, I was amazed at how carelessly most of the sermons I had heard had handled the scripture. In effect, many of those sermons were false doctrine. I’d like to look closely at what this very familiar passage actually says.

Ephesians 6:10 is the key to the entire passage. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Most of the preachers focused on actions we could take to prepare for the battle, always telling the truth, and doing what is right. Unfortunately, even unsaved people can tell the truth and do what is right in their own power. The next few verses explain why our own power is not sufficient.

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:11-13)

I was a volunteer fireman for several years. At 4:00 am. Easter Sunday morning, we received a call to a fire at the Window Rock High School in Fort Defiance, Arizona. By the time we got to the truck and drove from Navajo, New Mexico, the East wing was totally engulfed. Hooking up to the fire hydrant, we discovered that the water system had been shut off. The only water available was the 1000 gallons in our truck.

Since a 2 ½ inch nozzle requires 250 gallons of water a minute. We would be out of water in about four minutes, not even enough to completely put the fire out in a single classroom. We could not even slow the spread of the fire without more water. It would have been as effective as using a squirt gun. We needed more water power to win the fight.

God has provided weapons capable of defeating the enemy we face. Paul describes the power of our weapons in II Corinthians 10:3-5. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” Only when we have the proper weapons will we be able to stand against Satanic power, so put the armor on, and stand fast..

“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:14-18)

The loins are the waist area. Many vital organs are in this area, and have no bony structure to protect them, making it an especially vulnerable area. Because the intestines fill much of the area, and contain many chemicals and germs, minor injuries are likely to result in a fatal infection. Our most vulnerable area is to be surrounded with truth, but it is God’s truth. Jesus, in prayer said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). He also described himself as the truth. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John14:6)

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32) While we ought to be truthful, it is knowing God’s truth that makes us free, and protects us from Spiritual death.

The breastplate protects the chest and upper abdomen. The heart and lungs are at least partially protected by the ribs, but other vital organs are not, making the breastplate essential. Righteousness is the breastplate, but Paul is specific that it was not his own righteousness. “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” (Philippians 3:9). It is the armor of God that protects us. Substituting our own righteousness may be fatal.

The feet are our very foundation, enabling us to stand, to walk, and to sidestep attacks. Galatians 5:16 tells us, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Walking in the spirit, our feet are protected sin. In addition, the Holy Spirit will prepare us with the Gospel, teaching us everything. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26).

Each of these pieces of armor are secondary defenses. They are the last line of defense, blocking weapons that have gotten past the sword and shield. The shield is a primary defense. It is able to turn weapons aside before they get too close. Faith should stop most attacks before they pose a serious hazard. Faith is powerful enough to stop any attack. I John 5:4 makes this clear. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

This faith is not merely believing in God, but actually committing ourselves to him. It is a result of God’s action, not our efforts. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Ephesians 2:8). I Corinthians 12:8-9 reiterates the idea. “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit.” It is part of the fruit of the Spirit, an automatic result of allowing him to control us.

The head is the most exposed part of the body, and while protected with bone, most injuries to the head are potentially deadly. Without salvation, we are already dead. John 3:18 makes this very clear. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” That salvation is received solely by faith is clear from Ephesians 2:8-9. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

The Holy Spirit is the proof of our salvation according to Ephesians 1:13-14. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” He is responsible for giving assurance according to Romans 8:16. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” We need to verify that we are saved. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (I Corinthians 13:5). Without that assurance, we are still susceptible to attack. Human efforts may lead to false assurance.

Our only offensive weapon is the Word of God, and it is also a defensive weapon. II Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that it is capable of completely equipping us to do everything God wants. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Just as one must learn to use a sword effectively, one must also learn to use the scriptures. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15) The Holy Spirit will teach, as we study, according to John 14:26.

Prayer is our line of Communication, and we need to keep it open continuously. I Thessalonians 5:17 instructs us to “Pray without ceasing.” Four hours of prayer will not do the job, continuous communication is required.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Who Wants To Be The Boss?

Ephesians 6:9

Earl was one of the county road department supervisors. He was constantly yelling at the guys, cussing them out and threatening to get rid of them. In the six months I worked for the county, I realized his crew was in constant turmoil. Guys would refuse to go out to the job with him, even quitting to keep from having to go. One employee became so angry he tried to kill him by hitting him in the head with a rock, and another tried to run over him with a truck.

One of the truck drivers would work with him until he got tired of his constant anger and yelling. When he’d had enough, he’d pop the clutch on break the drive shaft on his truck. It would take a couple of weeks to get the parts in and the truck repaired, and until it was fixed he’d be sent with another crew.

We were doing a special project, and Earl was put in charge of that crew. I was assigned to learn to run some special equipment, but none of the crew had done the particular type work. Every time he wanted something changed, Earl would start yelling. Since you couldn’t understand what he was saying above the machine noise, the entire crew would look to see what he was yelling about. Because we were distracted, the flow of work would be disturbed, which would make him angry, and he’d start cussing at the ones who messed up.

By the end of the day, the entire crew was so keyed up they were constantly making mistakes, and after about three days, I asked to forget learning to run the machine, as I was unable to focus on running it. One of the other guys asked me how I’d managed to stay so long. Everyone else had quit the after their first day. As he pointed out, when Earl had to go back to the office for a couple hours on the second day, the job ran smoothly, until he returned. The County finally gave earl early retirement in an effort to reduce the conflict.

Paul warns that such behavior by an employer or boss is unacceptable. “And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.” (Ephesians 6:9) That boss or employer is working for God, and will be held accountable for the way he manages his crew. The boss has the same responsibility treat his employees with respect as they do to him. Being the boss does not free him from his responsibility.

Labor is a major expense on many jobs, and many employers are looking to cut labor expenses. We are warned not to under pay our employees in Colossians 4:1. “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.” Ultimately, we are accountable to God for how we have treated the employees, and will be judged for treating them unfairly. God will not bless a business which takes unfair advantage of people. James describes what happens.

“Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.” (James 5:1-4)

God will cause the income to lose value, until the business is struggling to profit despite their efforts to make extra money. It is a key principle that has been ignored by many in our day, but it is the basic promise of the Old Testament, that God would bless financially when Israel obeyed him in such areas. Paul warns that the greed which causes one to cheat leads to sin, and eventually destruction.

“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” (I Timothy 6:8-11)

As Christians, we are to be walking in the Spirit rather than the flesh, and when we are, we will be characterized by a spiritual attitude, revealing the fruit of the Spirit, rather than by carnal actions.

Working for a Living

Ephesians 6:5-8

When I was in Bible College, I worked for a while in a welding shop. One man’s welding station was located where he could easily see anyone coming from the office, but would not be readily seen himself.

The fellow was a student at another college, and only worked part time. Unfortunately, he would spend most of his time at work talking to the other guys, only going back to his station if someone came out of the office. Because of the location of his station, he was able to get by with it for a long time. Much of his time was spent gripping about how little the company paid and the working conditions. Most of the other employees had been there for years, and were quite happy.

We manufactured various gas and water tanks, for different purposes. Most guys could produce 8-10 of our easiest tanks to build in a single day, after a little experience, but this guy rarely produced more than one. One day, we had an urgent call for these tanks, and he built 20, more than anyone else. That got the boss’s attention. As he said later, if the guy had been doing his part all along, we’d have had enough in stock to meet the demand, and not been under such pressure. When business slowed down, he was laid off, although no one else was.

As Christians, the Bible tells us a great deal about our responsibilities as employees. The word servants is used, and could refer to hired servants, bond servants, or slaves. Our work is to be done, as the employer wants it. We are to be obedient to him.

“Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.” (Ephesians 6:5-8)

We are to do our job as if we were working for the Lord himself, because we are. I am a little offended when they ask all the full time Christian workers to stand and be recognized. Every Christian is supposed to be a full time worker, but some have their checks signed by someone else. A proper respect and obedience will draw people to God, but a poor attitude or work ethic can cause people to resent God. It is especially easy to get lax with a less demanding boss. Christian employers should be more considerate of their employees.. We ought not take advantage of it , but respect and serve just as much as anyone else.

“Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.” (I Timothy 6:1-2)

Some employers are not considerate of their workers. We are not to rebel and take advantage because of their lack. We can trust God to reward us for their poor treatment. “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” (IPeter 2:18-19)

Employee theft is a major source of loss for many companies. I should never happen with Christians, nor should there be a problem with disrespect or backtalk. “Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.” (Titus 2:9-10) Proper behaviour and attitude will encourage those around, both employer and fellow employees to come to Christ.

Sometimes a job interferes with church attendance or other activities. In the United States, we have some freedom to move to other jobs, if they are available. God has left us freedom in many of these areas. Having to work will not take away your rewards. If you have the opportunity to switch to a Job where you can serve the lord more freely, take advantage of the opportunity, Don’t get yourself in debt or any other situation that locks you into having to stay no matter what they demand.

“Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.” (I Corinthians 7:20-24)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Don’t Make Him Mad

Ephesians 6:1-4

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:1-4)

Probably every child who has attended Sunday school more than a few times has heard about the need to obey their parents till they are almost sick of it. Christian kids still disobey. It is generally accepted that children are naturally rebellious, and some groups, such as the Amish accept a period of total rebellion as just part of growing up. Many children either pretend to do as their parents expect, while hiding what they are really doing, or flagrantly rebel, even running away from home to do as they please.

It is true that all humans have inherited a rebellious nature, including our children. Proverbs 22:15 tells us “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child”. Ephesians 6:1-4 was written to help overcome these natural tendencies. Heeding what the verses are saying can greatly help our children in pleasing God.

While children are to obey their parents, there is a limit imposed by the phrase “in the Lord.” When the parent is demanding something that is unfitting for children of God, such as sexual favors, prostitution, murder, or other overt sins, the parent is exceeding his authority. The child may be forced to do what the parent is demanding, but it does not excuse the wrong.

Honor or respect for their parents is presented as a basis for a long and happy life. Children are born with a certain amount of respect for their parents. To retain and receive more respect, requires earning it. Paul instructed Timothy how to earn respect despite his youth, in I Timothy 4:12. “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Timothy would need to earn the respect by behaving himself properly.

It is very hard to respect people who behave in a manner which doesn’t deserve respect. Parents are responsible to behave themselves in a way that earns respect, as well as the children freely giving respect. It is not uncommon for parents to teach their children not to respect the other parent in our society. A father or mother who abuses, degrades, criticizes or is rude to their mate is teaching the children to disrespect the other parent. Their children will suffer for their teaching. Even if they are that bad, let them demonstrate it, don’t teach the children to be disrespectful.

During the Great Depression, a man was placing bets that no one could ride his horse. Everyone was quickly thrown. My grandfather said he could ride the horse with no saddle or bridle for fifty dollars. Several offered to put up the money if he could, and large bets were placed that he couldn’t. After just a few bucks, the horse stopped bucking. Someone asked why.

Grandad’s answer? “I didn’t make him mad. He didn‘t have any reason to buck.”

Inconsistent and unreasonable rules, unfair punishments, and selfish demands may well produce anger and rebellion in children and young adults. Paul tells us not to behave in such a manner as to make the children angry. Rebellion is nearly certain with angry people. Colossians3:21 instructs “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Don’t give a reason to rebel or to give up.

We need to be sure our demands are legitimate and fair because it is easy to take advantage of our position, Hebrews 12:9-10 points out that while we should obey our parents, sometimes the demands are selfish. “ Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.”

God never uses capricious and selfish demands, focusing always on what is good for us. He is to be our example. By following it, our children will experience the nurturing and admonishing of the Lord. Our efforts will be directed to correcting, rather than punishing. Though the child’s nature is sinful and foolish, as Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

The Surgical Team

Ephesians 5:22-32

A year or so ago, the news reported the surgical separation of conjoined twins. A special team of doctors was assembled to do the surgery. Each doctor was a specialist in a particular area of medicine. All of the doctors were the best in their field.

One doctor was the lead doctor. He was to coordinate the actions of all the others. All the others submitted themselves to his leadership because they understood that every aspect of the job was critical. It was necessary that every part be done in the best way possible, if the patients were to survive. By dividing the responsibilities, it would be possible to do the job. Without the team, it would not.

Any of the doctors who insisted on having their own way, whether the lead doctor, or one of the assisting doctors, risked killing the patient. Each one had to voluntarily give up some of their pride and authority for the good of the patient. The lead doctor must leave the others free to do their job, while helping them to coordinate their work so that each is able to accomplish this part effectively.

By enabling each doctor to focus on their specialties, and trust the others to take care of other things, the chances of successful surgery are greatly improved. No doctor is distracted by something he is unskilled at, and no doctor is carrying an undue burden.

A lead doctor, on the other hand, who shows no respect for the skills of the others, and dictates each action of the other doctors, may cause distraction, lack of focus, or rebellion, resulting in mistakes, or even one of the assisting surgeons refusing to continue. He may cause death or permanent harm to the patient. He has the assistants because he needs their skills to do the job. He is a fool if he refuses to utilize their skill to prove his power. He will deserve any lawsuit that results.

The assisting surgeon is a prime example of the helpmeet mentioned in Genesis 2. They have complementary skills to the lead surgeon, being strong in areas where he is weak. They voluntarily allow him to lead, for the benefit of the patient, though they may well be more skilled than the lead doctor in some areas. This is the concept of submission of the wife to her husband.

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)

Like the lead surgeon, The husband bears primary responsibility for the success of the surgery. He is to facilitate and coordinate his and his wife’s work so that she is enabled to do her job in the best way possible, with her skills. Sometimes he will need to assist her, or seek her input to because she is better qualified in certain areas than he is . He also needs to share the purpose of his decisions so she can be successful in assisting him. Christ freed us to serve him, not dictating the details, and the husband needs to free his wife in the same way. He needs to see her as an equal, because as Galatians 3:28 tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” (Ephesians 5:25-29)

The husbands life ought to result in his providing for her to be the best she possibly can. This includes respect for her skills and abilities, and taking them into account, as I Peter 3:7 describes. “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” Failure to do so interferes with spiritual development of both husband and wife.

Proverbs 31:10-31 describes the virtuous woman. This submissive wife is free to make financial decisions, such as buying land, or running a business. She makes decisions about clothing and food for her family, and fixes herself up in an attractive manner, and has time to help others. It is the responsibility of the husband to respect her abilities in these areas, and as a result of his love, help her to be her best at them. Because she frees him from certain details, he is able to reach out and be involved in a larger circle as well, gaining respect and authority himself. In her submission to him, she adapts her efforts to further the primary goal of a home that is pleasing to God.

“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” (Ephesians 5:31-33)

Both husband and wife are to respect each other as equals, She is not to worship him, nor he her. As children in the parents homes, they were both inferior in position. Leaving home, they become equals, as part of each other. Realizing that, think what our position as joint heirs and the body of Christ means. What a picture!

Controlling behavior, nagging, rudeness and criticism are indications of a lack of respect, and have no place in a Godly home, by husband, wife, or children.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Look Close

Ephesians 5:16-23

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:16-18)

Most Americans spend little time in the woods or desert. We are used to having streets with sidewalks, street signs, stoplights, and police officers. As a result, we have become far less aware of the kinds of dangers our ancestors faced daily, with the result that we have become far less observant of our surroundings.

Several years ago, my brothers took some guests for a hike. Suddenly my brothers came into the house wanting help. One of their guests had not been paying attention to where he was walking. He had stepped on a patch of snow and slid down a steep incline. He had come to a stop on hump that dropped of vertically for another thirty feet or so. They were afraid that he would slip off the hump and fall the rest of the way, and they couldn’t climb down to where he was. He was easily rescued, although considerable time elapsed getting ropes and returning to where he was. We became more careful about taking other people hiking, as we began to realize many paid no attention to the things around them.

Paul warns of the dangers and distractions that can cause us to lose our way or stop us serving God for a time. By staying alert, we can avoid these things, rather than wasting time getting ourselves out of trouble. By taking the time to understand God’s will, we will not be wasting our time on harmful or useless efforts.

A very real danger in New Mexico is poisonous snakes. Rattlesnakes are found throughout the state. Fortunately most snakes are not aggressive, and a little caution minimizes the danger, with the result that people are rarely bitten. Coral snakes are found in some parts of the state. While even less likely to be bitten by one. They are far more poisonous.

Coral snakes can be identified by a pattern of red, yellow, and black stripes. A couple of other kinds of snakes, the milk snake and the king snake, have similar markings, but are harmless. They are readily distinguished by the difference in the sequence of colors, but if one does not know how to tell the difference, he should avoid any snake with such coloration. A mistake can be fatal.

In the spiritual realm. several things may resemble what one expects of spiritual things. The resemblance may be very slight and still be mistaken for the real thing. The uninformed may not distinguish the reality and settle for a false conclusion. On the day of Pentecost, the Christians spoke with other languages, and some assumed they were just drunk. Those who were more observant realized they were speaking various languages and that something more was going on.

“Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.” (Acts 2:6-13)
A superficial look led to a conclusion of drunkeness, but a closer look dispelled that idea. Peter addressed them, and explained clearly what was happening. “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:” (Acts 2:14-17).

Alcohol can produce feelings of happiness and peace that people mistake for the peace of God,. Though not mentioned here similar feelings of euphoria can be induced from lack of sleep, hypnosis, intense emotion, certain types of music, or various drugs. The sensations are real, but the basis is pure illusion. Paul warns the Ephesians to avoid settling for that, but to be actually filled with the Holy Spirit instead.

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:18-21)

Being filled with the Spirit will produce an attitude of thankfulness, and joy in our hearts toward God. It also results in greater yielding our wills to others. At the same time, by doing these things, we allow the Holy Spirit greater control in our lives. This results in his producing more fruit in our lives. Galatians 5:22-23 describes the fruit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

I Peter assures us that by adding these things in our lives we guarantee a productive, successful Christian life. “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:” (II Peter 1:5-10)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Avoid the Appearance of Evil

Ephesians 5:3-16

Pete Rose was a great ball player. One day he was found gambling on games. Immediately, he was stripped of his position, and later his honors as a player were taken away. It was feared that his gambling might lead to his being forced to cheat to pay off debts incurred. A truly competitive player ought not gamble on the outcome.

Affiliations with known criminals make law enforcement officers, lawmakers, and judges suspect, and criminal activity forces their suspension or termination. Any suspicion should result in suspension pending investigation. They cannot return to work until cleared of wrong doing.

If we are children of God, free of sin. Certain things should not be even whispered about us. Paul warned the Thessalonians that they should “Abstain from all appearance of evil,” (I Thessalonians 5:22). There should be no hint of evil, even in our private life. Certain sins definitely imply a person is not of God.

“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Ephesians 5:3-5)

A person living these lifestyles cannot be genuinely saved. If a person can continue in that sin, he is not God’s child. It is not that he could not do the wrong, but that God will not permit his children to keep doing it. Hebrews 12:6-8 makes this very clear. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” One of the reasons we are to put such out of the church is to cause them to check whether their salvation is real. Paul warns that we are not to allow ourselves to be deceived about the matter. As he says, a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. There is a tendency for others to get involved because one got by with it.

"Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:6-10)

God is going to judge mankind for doing these things, and we should not participate in them in any form. We have been cleansed, and given a new nature, reprogrammed to do right, demonstrating what pleases God. The result of the Holy Spirit in our life will be seen in certain characteristics described in Galatians 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Our lifestyle should portray those characteristics if we are God’s children.

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” (Ephesians 5:11-14)

We should not be associated with the actions of those who do wrong, It is shameful even to talk about those things. We need to make them aware that it is wrong. This does not mean isolating ourselves from people in the world, but from their sin. I Corinthians 5:9-11gives instructions about this. “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators. Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:16-18)

The word circumspect come from two words meaning to inspect around. We are to be aware of what is going on, not blindly passing through life. We are surrounded by evil, and we are not alert, we will fall into the same pattern, wasting our time in the same things. Obey God instead.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A New Program

Ephesians 4:17-54

We contracted to do the plumbing for new dressing and restrooms at one of the City swimming pools. The city would provide the shower fixtures, while we would provide the rough-in materials and labor. They believed they could save a considerable amount of money because of their purchasing power.

We were given the specifications on the shower stalls they ordered, and roughed in for them. Because they were slightly different than what the architect had drawn, minor adjustments to the framing was required. When the shower stalls and faucets arrived, we discovered we had a problem. Everything we had roughed in was great. The shower stalls would fit perfectly.

The faucet assemblies that had been selected were designed to be installed in block shower walls, not fiberglass ones. They were pre assembled units with straight sides. The shower stalls were curved. Because they were special order material, the manufacturer would not take them back. To use different showers would require finding one that would work with the faucet assemblies, then re-framing and re-plumbing to fit.

After a great deal of experimentation and discussion, we were able to devise a way to modify both the faucet assembly and the shower stall and make an acceptable installation using the materials we had, but a great deal of additional time was needed to make the modifications.

The shower stalls and faucet assemblies could not work as a unit until the necessary modifications were made. The church will not work together until some necessary modifications are made in the parts to make them compatible. Carnal human beings are incompatible with a spiritual organization. Romans 8:6-8 describes the problem. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

In order for a human to please God, We are going to have to live in the Spirit, rather than the flesh according to Romans 8:11-13. “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Paul describes the natural instincts of the human being .

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Ephesians 4:17-19)

There is nothing good in our natural flesh. Every human being falls short of what God demands, and does things contrary to God.

But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:20-24)

New programs are continuously developed to do some of the same jobs on a computer. Sometimes an old program is retained to run certain applications that malfunction under the new program. In effect, Christ has installed a new program in us in a similar manner. Now we decide which one to run. Newer applications may not run properly under the old program, but force of habit may well lead us to continue using the old program rather than the new. Using the new program requires some changes in our actions. Paul describes some of these changes.

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4:25) It is pretty dumb to lie to yourself. We are of the truth, and no lie is part of the truth.

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27) When we let anger control us, we yield ourselves to Satan.

“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” (Ephesians 4:28) Become a giver rather than a taker. God loves a cheerful giver.

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:29-30) As James 1:26 tells us, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.” His religion is worthless.

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour..” (Ephesians 4:31-5:2) Eliminate the old attitudes of bitterness and anger, replacing them with an attitude of forgiveness and kindness. Follow the example of Jesus.
“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” (Ephesians 5:3-4) Sexual sin, pornography and lust don’t fit with holiness, and should not even be talked of among us, as it is a shame even to speak of them according to Ephesians 5;12. Silliness, dirty jokes and kidding around are also to be4 avoided. Instead, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (I Thessalonians 5:18)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Building the Church

Ephesians 4:11-16

I am plumber by trade. Down through the years, I have done almost every job in building a house, from pouring a foundation to finish carpentry, including building a couple of complete buildings. Most people who have experience in the building trades have a good idea of how to do each of the other trades job, my experience is not uncommon.

Despite the fact that I have done and can do most jobs relating to construction, I would prefer to focus on my specialty because while I can do the other jobs, I am not a specialist in them. I don’t know the best way of framing in a certain feature, or the details of the code for electrical installations. Compared to a roofer, I am very slow and inefficient at installing shingles. It is better to have a specialist in each of these fields to run these jobs, because he is more skilled at his job than I am, although I can be a valuable assistant.

As a qualified plumber, on the other hand, I can relieve each of the other trades of the burden of figuring out how to do the plumbing by doing it independently of, but in co-operation with them. I can save money and time because of my experience at the job, and guarantee the results. I have a better idea of special requirements, and codes, and can advise the others on special needs that they might not be aware of.

God has used the same idea in building the church. Specialization tends to produce more consistent good results. The workman can devote his energy to doing a particular job well, rather than trying to get by at everything.

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16)

The Apostle is very much like the architect. He is charged with communicating what the owner wants with the various craftsmen, translating those desires into drawings and specifications that can readily be understood. His job is usually finished before any others begin.

The prophet serves much like the surveyor, establishing corner locations, boundaries, and levels for the proposed construction, and sometimes overseeing the movement of dirt as needed to permit construction. If the lot is well defined, a separate surveyor may not be necessary.

The evangelist corresponds to the foundation crew, laying out, digging and framing the foundation, according to plan. They then compact the soil as needed, install reinforcement, and pour the concrete. The stability and strength of the building is largely dependent on the care with which this crew works. Many times this job is handled by the framing crew, especially when remodeling or adding a small addition.

Pastors and teachers are the framing and finishing crews who build the actual building on the foundation. They make adjustments for flaws in the foundation, and are responsible for producing the building the owner wanted by following the plans and specifications the architect provides. Failure to follow the plans results in conflicts with the owner, who, in the case of the church, is God.

Each job is critical to the accomplishing of what God wants, to do the work of the ministry, maturing the church, and strengthening and teaching it. Ultimately, the church should come to a unity of doctrine and understanding, with every Christian being like Christ, and doctrinally and emotionally stable. They will not be easily led to other things, becoming more like the Berean church of Acts 17:11. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” False Doctrine, tricks, and manipulation will be readily spotted as a result.

Love will become the characteristic of the church, resulting in an inter dependence on one another, so that the church functions as a body rather than as discrete individuals, each doing their part. The whole becomes more than the sum of the parts. Each part has it’s specific gifts to contribute, according to I Corinthians 12:4-14.

I Corinthians 3:9-17 and Ephesians 2:20-22 emphasize that we are built for and by God, and the part each workman plays.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Walking Worthy

Ephesians 4:1-10

Serving on jury duty, I was amazed to listen to the testimony about the police officers who arrested the suspect for drug possession. The male officer had been having an affair with the female undercover officer, although married to another woman. The defense offered their adultery as evidence that their testimony could not be depended upon.

Though it did not prove they were lying, it did emphasize the lack of character of the officers. Had the defense been able to offer any additional reason for distrusting the officers, it is probable that the defendant would have gone free. Their immoral conduct seriously hampered their credibility as police officers. As police officers, they had a responsibility to obey the laws and standards they enforce. They had been trained in what the law said in those areas, and ignoring it implied a casual disregard for the law, and the truth. The implication was that they really didn’t deserve to be officers.

There are things that should not be found in a Christian’s life. Their presence indicates a low level of respect for Christ. Either the person doesn’t care enough to find out what pleases God, or he is deliberately doing wrong. John 14: 23-24 tells us “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.”

As a person who loves the Lord, and wants to please him, there ought to be certain characteristic actions and attitudes in our life. If they are not there, people have no evidence of our Christianity.

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, Eph 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6)

Humility, patience, forgiveness and love ought to be natural for believers who are walking in a manner pleasing to God. They are part of the results of the Holy Spirit’s action in our life, according to Galatians 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

Since there is only one Holy Spirit, one church, one belief, one God, and one baptism, there should be no basis for conflict of purpose or belief among us. Unity of attitude among all Christians should be the norm, and conflict is evidence of not following Christ.

This does not mean we are all identical to each other. God has allotted different gifts to every Christian. The gifts are given based on the needs of the local people, and their walk with Christ, for the benefit of all Christians.

“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)” (Ephesians 4:7-10)

When Christ died and was resurrected, those who had died before were waiting in Abraham’s bosom because salvation was not yet complete. They needed to receive him and go into heaven as soon as their salvation was complete. Those who were still alive could wait until death to go into heaven. Each group was given what was needed. God still works in the same manner.

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” (I Corinthians 12:4-11)

The Holy Spirit makes every Christian different, with different gifts, to accomplish God’s purpose. Efforts to make everyone alike are not from God. Walking worthy of what he has called us to does not erase our identity.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Filling in The Gaps

Ephesians 3:14-21

Math has been a fascinating subject for me since I was a little boy. I have been amazed at the number of people who find it very difficult. I have learned that many times the difficulty is that people have never learned simple math facts, such as their addition or multiplication tables. Sometimes teachers were in a hurry to get to something more interesting, and neglected the basics. Other times students assumed the knew after a few tries and never became proficient. Sometimes curriculums were changed, and as a result students missed steps that teachers were not aware of.

Thanks to our moving students to other teachers and switching curriculums, such gaps in knowlege may not be spotted for several years, resulting in students deciding they are unable to understand math. A teacher who happens to explain one of these deficiencies may see tremendous improvement in a certain pupil, because they turned the light on. The majority of the knowledge was already known and that one point released the logjam.

Paul is concerned and praying that the Christians would have the logjam in their understanding released so they could experience his action in their lives. It would result in spiritual power, increased faith, greater love to others and greater experience and understanding of God’s love, being filled with the Holy Spirit.

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)

The understanding and experience must come from God, because it is humanly impossible to produce. Our best efforts to teach and practice fall short, because only the Spirit can enable us to understand. Curriculums, programs, emotional appeals, or media presentations will never substitute for God’s Spirit.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Corinthians 2:9-14)

Jesus tells us that the flesh has no spiritual value. God’s word is Spirit .and gives life. “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life,” (John 6:63). II Timothy 3:16-17 tells us “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” God has given his word for us to be completely prepared for everything he expects.

Timothy is repeatedly instructed to study the word of God. II Timothy 2:15 charges him to “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” When we do so, we are assured that the Holy Spirit will teach us the truth. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” (John 16:13-14)

John 8:31-32 makes the same promise. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Because of God’s willingness to do this, Paul could expect to see his prayers answered in an abundant fashion. We can expect the same. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Friday, June 12, 2009


Ephesians 3:1-13

When building the new interchange between I- 40 and I-25 in Albuquerque, it was necessary to build various temporary lanes and on and off ramps. Where it was possible, these temporary constructions were designed to be incorporated into the final design with minimal reconstruction. In the finished design, traffic sometimes flowed in different directions from that in the temporary use.

To prevent confusion, permanent lane markings and signs could not be installed until the temporary routing was no longer necessary. Temporary markings and signs were installed to direct traffic until the project was completed. The temporary markings and signs do not indicate changes in planning, but incomplete construction. When the project was completed and the permanent signs and markings installed, people who used the interchange during construction had to follow the new markings to avoid accidents. They could not continue the way they had in the past.

The old Testament Law was like that system of temporary lanes and ramps. Salvation was not complete, although the plan had been established before the creation of the world, as Ephesians 1:4 tells us. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” The design was complete, but the actions were not, and a temporary means of dealing with sin was required. Galatians 3:19 explains both the reason for the law and it’s temporary nature. “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.”

To have installed permanent signs and markings when the roads did not exist would have caused confusion, frustration, and accidents. To have demanded salvation without the way established would have caused greater confusion and left those affected without hope. Like a temporary lane, the law enabled people to get to where they could get salvation, though it didn’t get there itself.

Paul‘s message is like the new signs and markings along the finished interchange. They show us exactly how to get where we want to go in a direct manner. We no longer have to follow the temporary route, but can go directly to our destination. Information is available that didn’t apply to the temporary route.

“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.” (Ephesians 3:1-7)

It was not understood by people before that salvation did not come by keeping the law. It was only a detour that would allow the traveler to eventually get there. As such, like any detour, it would take him through things that the traveler has little interest in. God’s plan was for salvation through faith in Christ. Once the work was completed, the actions of the law would no longer be necessary, and the Jews would no longer have the advantage in having the law. They would become like the people living on the detour when the main road re-opens.

“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” (Ephesians 3:8-12)

The signs marking the permanent route present extra information and are located to be easily seen by people unfamiliar with the area, to inform them of what they need to do to get where they desire to go. Those who have businesses along the detour may resent the new signs because they no longer direct traffic to their door, leading to persecution. Don’t get turned off the main road and get lost just because others want you to take the detour.

“Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.” (Ephesians 3:13)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Workmanship of Christ

Ephesians 2:8-22

A mural depicting the development of the oilfield industry in the San Juan Basin was painted on the side of one of the buildings in Farmington. From time to time vandals paint their design over parts of the mural, and it must be cleaned off and repainted. The graffiti sometimes obscures parts of the picture, and other times just makes the picture look trashy. It is disgusting to me to see, so I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for the artist and his sponsors to see his workmanship destroyed by the selfishness of others.

Can you imagine how it must affect the Lord when we insist on putting our own work on what he has done? Our salvation, and our Christian life were completed through faith in his work. None of our effort was required, and in fact was excluded to prevent boasting on our part.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Just as the vandals add nothing of value to the mural, but detract from it, so our efforts to demonstrate our righteousness detract from what Christ has done. The works never help anyone. Galatians 2:16 describes the situation. “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

The insistence on our own good deeds frustrates God’s effort to provide a complete salvation. Paul says he refuses to frustrate God’s effort by insisting on works. “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” If our efforts are required, either to obtain or to keep salvation, then Christ wasted his life dying for us on the cross.

Looking at Ephesians 2:10 again, we find that we were created through his efforts to do good works. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Good works are the result of our conversion, not the cause of it. James 2:15-26 makes this very point. Faith that doesn’t result in action is dead, and has no power to save. The works demonstrate the reality of the faith, or as James 2:22 says, perfect or complete it.

As gentiles, we are fortunate that Salvation is not by the law. If it were, we would have no hope, as the Law would exclude us. It is only Christ that has made God’s covenant available to us. We need to recall where we stood and be reminded of this.

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:11-13)

Without Christ, we had no claim to any of the promises of God. Thanks to the sacrificing of his blood for our sins, we now have a part in the promises and covenants. Because it is not based on law, we have the same claim as the Jews. Our salvation is exactly the same as theirs. As Romans 10:12 says, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” Being Jewish gave an advantage in knowing what God’s standard was, according to Romans 3:1-2, making them aware of their inadequacy. It gave no advantage in receiving or serving him. Dependence on Christ eliminates any advantage. The Jew has no more to bragging rights than the gentile. Paul said he had to give up his bragging rights in order to receive Christ in Philippians 3:8.

“For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” (Ephesians 2:14-17)

For several years, my folks lived in a house built from two old trailers. Because of the care my brother and my dad devoted to joining them, most people did not realize that trailers had ever been part of the house, and could not decide where the joining had taken place. It was a single house in every way. Even floor and wall framing had been changed to interconnect everything. Christ has joined both Jew and gentile into a single construction even more completely.

“For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:18-22)

Converting two trailers into a single home required eliminating a hallway, an extra kitchen, and various windows and doors. Access to bathrooms and bedrooms had to change as well. To join various gentile groups to the Jews as a single entity required eliminating the separations between them, and especially the Law. Faith replaced the law, applying to both equally.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Prince And The Pauper

Ephesians 2:1-7

Mark Twain’s The Prince And The Pauper is the story of an extremely poor boy named Tom and a prince who are accidentally switched in their roles. Their adventures in their new roles are fascinating, and when the mix-up is finally corrected, they become friends.

Tom was raised by people who saw no possibility of improving their lives, except by criminal enterprise. The government of that time made it nearly impossible for ordinary people to progress. Common people had no importance or value.

Suddenly Tom finds himself protected and cared for by the nation. He received things he had only imagined before, from a clean bed and clothes to food and respect. His experience is similar to what we experience at salvation.

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)

Before we were saved, we were living under Satan’s dominion. He controlled our lives, using our sin and lusts to control us and keep us from any thing good. We were surrounded by evil, and could only expect more, with the end being our death and eternal judgment.

Tom’s being treated as a prince was the result of a mistake, but our being adopted as princes is a deliberate action by God. We have the right to experience these things. God knew what we were and gave us something better.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7)

God knew what we deserved, but because of his great love, gave us life, even though our sin had condemned us to death. It is his gift, not our right, but he has made us co-heirs with Jesus Christ. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:16-17)

We became his children as a result of our faith, according to John 1:12-13. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” It was God’s choice to make us his children, and his heirs.

As his heirs, and joint heirs with Christ, we have the same privileges as Christ. Our rights to a place at the table of God, and all that that implies are already ours. The only thing preventing us exercising that right is our present distance away. We are like a member of the king’s family. When they are out of the country, they cannot eat at his table, but they still have the right to do so.

In time to come, we will see all the benefits of being his children, though we may only see a few at the present time. God is anticipating the time he can show us the full benefit

Getting The Most From Your New Life

Ephesians 1:15-23

Older forced air furnaces were quite simple in design. Most were designed to work at about a sixty five to seventy percent efficiency, and used a simple limit switch to prevent the fire box overheating. If the temperature reached a preset level, the gas to the burner was turned off until it reduced to a safer level. As a result, changes in airflow were unlikely to be noticed by the homeowner, and the furnace would be assumed to be operating properly. To save on their fuel bill people would block off airflow to unused rooms.

New high efficiency furnaces, on the other hand, are much more complex and are designed to run at a specified airflow level, while maintaining a much narrower temperature range. Reduced airflow will cause the furnace to overheat, resulting in a total shutdown. To prevent this, one cannot shut down unused rooms, and duct sizing is much more critical.

It is frequently necessary to retrain people in the use of their furnace to avoid constant complaints. The customers have been used to doing things a certain way, and when it doesn’t work with the new unit, they assume the unit is malfunctioning. Understanding some of the differences avoids such complaints, and helps the customer get the maximum benefit from their new unit.

Understanding what Christ has done in our lives , why he has done it and how utilize his working effectively to obtain the maximum benefit of our salvation. While Paul rejoices at their salvation, he is concerned that they will learn how to obtain that benefit. Without such teaching, they may well wonder if their salvation is even real, and what the benefits are to them. They well might decide the old was better because they knew what to expect.

“Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Ephesians 1:15-23)

Many people view salvation as just a fire escape from hell. It is much more than that. There are effects in our daily life here on earth. We are no longer subject to sin and judgment here on earth. Our attitude changes, and our actions as a result. Some people think heaven will just be eternally sitting around playing a harp, rather boring. While God hasn’t told us a lot about it, we understand that we will no longer have to deal with today’s problems, but that we will be sharing everything with Jesus Christ. Understanding that he is the king of the entire universe, we begin to understand a little of what he is offering.

Our inheritance and power are far above anything we have ever known, but it is all through Jesus Christ. We can only understand it as God gives the ability. Every thing we used to know has changed. Until we know what the is available, we don’t know to expect the benefits. Until we know how to attain them, we do not get to experience them. Paul’s desire is that we might know what is offered, and how to attain it.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Heirs

Galatians 1:3-14

Campo is a tiny town in the very southeast corner of the state of Colorado. At one time much of the land was farmed, but due to a very dry climate, and no major sources of water, most of the country has been returned to grass lands.

One of the old timers, a single man with no known surviving family had accumulated many thousands of acres of land. When he died it was learned that he had designated nearly a million dollars for the construction of an indoor swimming pool in Campo. He also set up a trust fund to provide for it’s future maintenance, and for swimming lessons for people who had never been in water up to their knees.

The pool that was built is larger and nicer than those of many much larger towns, and better maintained. Since the local school is too small for a football or baseball team, swimming has become one of the major local sports. It provides a place where many older citizens can obtain needed exercise in a safe and enjoyable manner, and as such is a blessing in a town where the median age is nearly sixty.

Just as that man provided the pool, and everything to care for it, including heating, maintenance , and swimming lessons for the people of Campo, God has provided everything for our Christian life, for now and for eternity.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

Every person who lives in Campo or the surrounding area is predestined to be able to enjoy the swimming pool the man donated simply by living in the area. They were provided better equipment than any other pool in the area, by the man’s decision. By his will, he made sure that the pool would be received.

God has acted in a similar manner to ensure that we would be received as his children, because it pleased him to do so. We are fully equipped as his children to live for him. Paul describes it in I Corinthians 1:4-7. “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:” We are not only acceptable, we are accepted in him.

The people in Campo received the pool because the man paid for it and a lot more. It cost the people nothing, although it was very expensive. It was not received until the time of the donor’s death however. Our salvation is much the same.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:7-12)

Christ made payment for our sin, when we were unable to do so. He went far beyond merely paying for our sin, however, providing for our entering heaven at the proper time. He established an inheritance for us, and gave us the knowledge to enjoy that salvation. The results will be seen in our lives as a result.

The pool benefits all who go and use the facilities. Salvation benefits everyone who receives what God has done for them. By trusting Christ, we obtain salvation. This results in our receiving the Holy Spirit.

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1`:13-14)

The Holy Spirit is the earnest or proof of our salvation. Romans 8:9 tells us “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Like a corporate seal, his presence shows that we have official standing and approval, and are qualified to obtain what he has promised.