Thursday, January 16, 2014
Bible Reading: Genesis 31-32; Psalm 14
Each Thursday is Floor Day—Clean Your Hard Floors—Hardwood, Laminate, Tile, or Linoleum
Give Extra Attention to the Floors in Your Focus Area
Plunging in to Ephesians
As I read a commentary to prepare to post this morning, I learned that there was controversy over whether this letter was to the Ephesians, the Laodiceans, or someone else. Then I went to the letter itself and Paul said I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus,a who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.
Some scholars are not believers but critics. Studying the Bible from the Bible instead of from books about the Bible will be more effective in changing your life. Whoever it was written to in around AD 60, today God will use it to speak to you and transform you into the person God wants you to be. Many of Paul’s letters to churches are to correct error in the church. Instead, the letter to Ephesians was to a mature church and tells them then and us now how to walk—how to live.
This is a letter. How would you read a letter that arrived in the mail? You would sit down and read the entire letter, not stopping and starting. Read the entire letter to the Ephesians this morning. Paul usually first gives us theological truth (Ephesians 1-3) Then gives us the practical information on how to live. (Ephesians 4-6)
Ephesians tells us who we are in Christ. Watch for the “in Him” statements as you read.
Ephesians One –Greetings from Paul
1This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.
I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus,a who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.
2May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
3All 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. 4Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.b 7He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
9God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. 10And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,c for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
12God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his ownd by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.
Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom
15Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere,e 16I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdomf and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.g
19I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.22God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
Made Alive with Christ
1Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.a He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
4But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
8God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10For 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.
Oneness and Peace in Christ
11Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. 12In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. 13But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
14For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.16Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
17He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. 18Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.
A Temple for the Lord
19So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.
a 2:2 Greek obeying the commander of the power of the air.
God’s Mysterious Plan Revealed
1When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentilesa . . . 2assuming, by the way, that you know God gave me the special responsibility of extending his grace to you Gentiles. 3As I briefly wrote earlier, God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me. 4As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ. 5God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets.
6And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.b 7By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.
8Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. 9I was chosen to explain to everyonec this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.
10God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.
12Because of Christ and our faith in him,d we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. 13So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.
Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Growth
14When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,e 15the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.f 16I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
20Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
a 3:1 Paul resumes this thought in verse 14: “When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father.”
b 3:6 Or because they are united with Christ Jesus.
c 3:9 Some manuscripts do not include to everyone.
d 3:12 Or Because of Christ’s faithfulness.
e 3:14 Some manuscripts read the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
f 3:15 Or from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.
Unity in the Body
1Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.
“When he ascended to the heights,
he led a crowd of captives
and gave gifts to his people.”b
9Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world.c 10And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.
11Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
14Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Living as Children of Light
17With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
20But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
25So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”d Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
28If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
31Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
a 4:7 Greek a grace.
b 4:8 Ps 68:18.
c 4:9 Or to the lowest parts of the earth.
d 4:26 Ps 4:4.
e 4:30 Or has put his seal on you.
Living in the Light
1Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved usa and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
3Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
6Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. 7Don’t participate in the things these people do. 8For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! 9For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.
10Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,
“Awake, O sleeper,
rise up from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”
Living by the Spirit’s Power
15So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Spirit-Guided Relationships: Wives and Husbands
21And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
25For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.b 27He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30And we are members of his body.
31As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”c 32This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
a 5:2 Some manuscripts read loved you.
b 5:26 Greek washed by water with the word.
c 5:31 Gen 2:24.
Children and Parents
1Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord,a for this is the right thing to do. 2“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: 3If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”b
4Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
Slaves and Masters
5Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. 6Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. 7Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 8Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.
9Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites.
The Whole Armor of God
10A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12For wec are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.d 16In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.e 17Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
19And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.g 20I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.
21To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. 22I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you.
23Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters,h and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. 24May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.
a 6:1 Or Children, obey your parents who belong to the Lord; some manuscripts read simply Children, obey your parents.
b 6:2-3 Exod 20:12; Deut 5:16.
c 6:12 Some manuscripts read you.
d 6:15 Or For shoes, put on the readiness to preach the Good News of peace with God.
e 6:16 Greek the evil one.
f 6:18 Greek all of God’s holy people.
g 6:19 Greek explain the mystery of the Good News; some manuscripts read simply explain the mystery.
h 6:23 Greek brothers.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007.
Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.
All Rights Reserved.
Tomorrow we will begin to look at Ephesians a little at a time.
BRINGING CLUTTER UNDER CONTROL
- Remember as you declutter to shop your home. Would you buy that piece of furniture, that pair of pants, or that décor item if you were shopping today with the resources you have available.
- You may need to use what you have until you can get what you need but make a list. Prioritize your list. Make purchases as you can afford them. Repair what can be repaired.
- I was watching a program where a woman said that shopping was her hobby. While we may enjoy an occasional day shopping for fun with friends, buying just to buy is not a hobby. Buying just to buy will increase the clutter in your home and decrease the money you have for things that are more important to you. If this is you, declare a moratorium on shopping until you get clutter under control and then institute a “One in, one out” rule. Replace what need to be replaced, buy what you need.
- When I see something in a store that I really like I walk away from it. If I continue to think about the item, I am willing to let go of something to have it, and I have the money to buy it I will go back and get it. When I find something that exactly fits a need I already know I have (priority list) and I have the money to buy it, I do buy it.
Friday, January 17, 2014
Bible Reading: Genesis 33-34; Psalm 15
The Area of Focus is The Master Bedroom, Closet, and En Suite Bathroom
Each Friday is Wrap Up Your Week Day
- Clean out your purse, backpack, diaper bag or whatever you carry with you when you go out the door
- Clean out your car
- Vacuum the traffic areas in your home—just the traffic areas in all but your Area of Focus. In your Area of Focus vacuum behind, under, and around—a more thorough vacuuming.