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
“The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life (John 6:63*).”
Thank You, Lord, that Your Spirit gives us life. You are the Vine. We are the branches. We draw our nourishment from You. (John 15:4-5) Depending on my own thinking and doing what looks good to me has never benefited anyone. I see that more as I trust You more.
Jesus, You said Your words are spirit and life. I want to fill up on Your words. But I see that if I want to partake of the life they give, I must also put those words into practice, doing what You say and persevering in that. [“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”–Matthew 7:24-27* (Emphasis mine.)]
So if I find out what You said, write it down, and even memorize it, I can still miss out on the life You want me to have. To enjoy Your abundant life, I need to do what You say—obey You. I need the power of the Holy Spirit working in me to do that. And that is just what You promised!
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him (Philippians 2:13*).
Oh thank You, Lord, that Your Holy Spirit helps me today to feed on Your Word and do what it says. Amen.
(*Scripture quotes are New Living Translation.)
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.)
God gave us good gifts on Good Friday, such as the forgiveness of our sins through the death of Jesus on the cross, direct access to God when the temple curtain in front of the Most Holy Place was torn in two, and most important, the proof of His astounding love for us.
Today I want to remember what it cost the Triune God to give these gifts to us. Jesus laid aside His glory, honor, and equality with God to become a lowly human baby and experience temptation, rejection and other struggles as a man. Finally He suffered the agony of Gethsemane and the humiliation and excruciating pain of betrayal, abandonment, mockery, beating, the torturous death of the cross, and the separation of the “Tri-unity” when our sin was laid on Him. The Almighty Father could have said, “These humans aren’t worth letting my beloved Son go through all this,” and then sent His angels to the rescue. But He didn’t. He watched it all.
And God did it all for us when we were still sinners, rebellious and determined to go our own way (Romans 5:8). Incredible love! Yet true. I’m reminded of an old hymn that includes the lines, “Why should my Savior to Calvary go? Why should He love me so?” (“Why Should He Love Me So?”—words and music by Robert Harkness.) I also think of the chorus of another hymn, “Lest I forget Gethsemane, lest I forget Thine agony, lest I forget Thy love for me, lead me to Calvary.” (“Lead Me to Calvary”—words by Jennie E. Hussey.)
Yes, God gave us wonderful things on Good Friday. May I never forget or take for granted the great love He showed at such great cost.
I don’t have to be perfect because Jesus Christ died for me and exchanged His righteousness and perfection for my sin and failure, and He rose again leaving sin and failure at the cross, and He lives forever at the Father’s right hand. He intercedes for us (me), and His Holy Spirit lives in me to work out Christ’s righteousness in my life.
My trying to be perfect and pretending to myself that I am–these prevent me from receiving the mercy and forgiveness Jesus went through so much to provide for me. “If we say we have no sin, we are calling God a liar” (1 John 1:10), and we can’t partake of the pardon and cleansing offered in 1 John 1:9.
I’m through trying to hide my sin, failure, and mistakes (from others and myself) behind a façade of personal goodness. I choose instead to hide them in the blood of Jesus where they are dissolved and carried away.
Let me cease from trying so I can rest in trusting.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 New Living Translation)
The old me was touchy, irritable, grumpy, and rude. She sought only self and her way. She spent time with gossip, deception, unfaithfulness, anger, greed, quarreling, and jealousy. (See Galatians 5:19-21.)
The new me is patient, loving, pure in heart, and hardly even notices a wrong done to her (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). She fellowships with peace, kindness, joy, forgiveness, honest and loving speech, generosity, courtesy, and other such companions.
O Lord, please grant me grace to take off and dispose of the rags of the old me and put on the clothing of the new me which is renewed in the likeness of Christ. Holy Spirit, please help me do that more! (See Colossians 3:5-10.)
Psalm 42:11 says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” (New King James Version)
This is what I need to tell myself when I get disappointed or discouraged: “Self, hope in God. Let the disappointment go and trust God to work it for my good and His glory. O my soul, don’t look to others nor hope in satisfactory solutions. Let God satisfy you. Trust His wisdom, not your own. Remember, soul, that you find rest in God alone (Psalm 62:1). Hope and trust in Jesus our Lord.
“Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.” (from the hymn “I must tell Jesus”)
O Lord our God, the God who hears,
The only God who loves and cares,
The holy One who answers prayers,
You hear our cries, for You are near.
Omniscient God, God all wise
Your love extends beyond the skies.
Let us see truth with open eyes,
Believe Your Word, reject the lies.
We praise You, Lord. In You we hope.
We trust in You because we know
You deliver us from every foe
And comfort, heal, and make us whole.