I got excited about Ephesians 1:3-4 this morning: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”*
Wow! I am “united with Christ” and “in Christ,” so these verses apply to me. I wrote: “I praise You, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! I praise and thank and love You, our Father in heaven, because you see me (and all Christ-followers) as holy and without fault, and you have blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm, and You loved and chose us before You made the world. And You are the One who placed us in Christ and united us with Him (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)! May Your name be ever praised!”
I heard a radio preacher say that God has “in-Christ-ed” us. He encouraged everyone to look in Scripture for the results of being in Christ. Besides Ephesians 1:3-4, one of my favorites is Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”*
*New Living Translation
“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 34:8 New Living Translation)
I always thought of “tasting” in this verse as “taking a little sample” of God, like tasting the soup to see if it has enough salt. Since the rest of the verse says that the taste reveals God’s goodness, that understanding is probably right.
However, today I thought about “tasting” God like I taste my favorite foods. As I eat them, I savor and enjoy them. They satisfy me and give me energy and nourishment. Today I think I’ll savor and enjoy God. He will nourish and satisfy me. As I wait on Him, He will renew my strength (Isaiah 40:31). I will delight more and more in His goodness.
Verses from Psalm 86: 1-5, 8, 12-13, New International Version, with my thoughts:
1. Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Am I poor and needy? Maybe not financially since any American is rich compared to most people in other parts of the world. But I am spiritually poor when my faith is small and I get discouraged. I’m needy because I am a broken person living in a broken world and both body and soul can be wounded and/or knocked off balance.
2. Guard my life, for I am faithful to You; save Your servant who trusts in You. You are my God. The key to receiving God’s help is for me to faithfully seek Him instead of other answers and to trust His power and care. I will have no other gods besides the living God, Almighty Maker of heaven and earth. I will be faithful to You, Lord.
3. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to You all day long. I will be persistent and patient in prayer.
4. Bring joy to Your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in You. I will trust in You, Lord, with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). (In Your presence is fullness of joy—from Psalm 16:11.)
5. You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You. Thank You, Lord, that You abound in love to me as I call on You.
8. Among the gods, there is none like You, Lord; no deeds can compare with Yours. For example, what other god could cause a dead stick to bud, blossom, and bear almonds as You did with Aaron’s staff?
12-13. I will praise You, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever. 13 For great is Your love toward me. You have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead. Yes, I will glorify Your name forever and praise You with all my heart, Lord, for great is Your love for me!
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God is the giver of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. They come from Him (Proverbs 2:6). I need to tune my ears to wisdom and concentrate on understanding, cry out in prayer for insight and ask for understanding. I’ll seek and search for them as the treasures that they are (Proverbs 2:2-4). That’s how I’ll prepare my heart to receive God’s Word, His communication to me. I’ll understand what it means to fear the Lord and will gain knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:5).
Then the wicked one won’t have a chance to snatch away what is sown in my heart. Nor will my heart become stony, preventing my roots from growing deep in love and truth. Likewise weeds of worldly cares and riches won’t have opportunity to crowd out knowledge of God and His ways, which would make me unfruitful in His kingdom. (Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23)
Dear Father, giver of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, grant me these things that I may learn to fear You and be fruitful in Your kingdom. Amen.
(Image from FreeImages.com/kristian stokholm
An article in my daily devotional booklet made me think about the purposes God has for my life. I used to spend most of my time (even as a Christ-follower) trying to run from difficulties, get people-approval, and make life comfortable and happy for me. But now I recognize that as the world’s way of life, not God’s way. His way is to love Him with all I am, keep His kingdom first, and love others—especially those who belong to His family. I think about the following verses (quoted from the New Living Translation):
Galatians 2:20: “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
From 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “…You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price….”
Since God bought me with such a high price, and now I belong to Him, I need to spend the remaining moments (or if God permits, years) of my life loving and serving God and bringing glory to Him.
Luke 8:11, 15, “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. …15 [T]he ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”
I want to be “good ground,” so when Jesus plants seeds from God’s Word in my heart., I will humbly receive them (James 1:21). Jesus gives me living water—His Word and His Spirit—for watering the plants. As they start to grow. I can nurture them with the plant food of faith that results in obedience. (James 2:17, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”) I will diligently practice applying God’s Word to my life. I need to pull out weeds like anger, bitterness, jealousy, regret, strife, pride, haughtiness, and anything else that interferes with nourishing my soul.
Then these plants in my heart can mature and produce Holy Spirit fruit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
(Scripture quotes are New King James.)
In Deuteronomy 4:26-28, God warns Israel (through Moses) that if they break His covenant with them, He will scatter them among the nations, and only a few of them will survive. But then Moses tells them in verses 29 and 31 of that chapter, “But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him. …For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors.”
What a wonderful promise from You, O merciful Father. Your mercies are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:23) Faithful Father, You won’t abandon me either (Hebrews 13:5). And You won’t forget the promises You have made to us who are in Christ Jesus. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Amen.
Isaiah 56:4 “For this is what the Lord says: I will bless those …who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me.”
Psalm 62:8 “O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.”
(Scripture verses are from the New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.