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Archive for January, 2013

Verse 10: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

In the movie The Avengers, Loki is speaking to the mob he has herded into the street in Stuttgart after ordering them to kneel; among other things he arrogantly insults humanity by stating “you were made to be ruled.” One older German man rises and replies back, “not to men like you.” The reference was clear in his reply to another time and another tyrant. Of course, Captain America, who leaps in to save him from Loki’s blast, echoes his reply: “You know, the last time I was in Germany, and I saw a man standing above everybody else, we ended up disagreeing.” (The movie quotes can be found at http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Avengers_(2012_film) .)

In the verse above, Paul reminds the Ephesians that we were “created in Christ Jesus for good works”. Now, this doesn’t mean we do good works on our own, and that gets us into Heaven. As pointed out in a statement in the Holman Concordance on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians (page 113): “It means God does a good work through us as we are faithful and obedient to Him. God is at work. In faith we join Him in that work to the praise of His glory.”

Now that is a feeling of almost like none other…to be used by God to do good! Or to echo what the old Winter Warlock said in Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town (1970 by Rankin-Bass)…(you remember the musical number after Kris Kringle’s gift to him melts his icy heart and changes his outlook from bad to good):

“If I want to change the reflection
I see in the mirror each morn,
You mean that it’s just my election
To vote for a chance to be reborn?
Wah-hoo!”

Have you made that election? Ready to be made for good works…in Him?

Something to think about.

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Ephesians 2:8-9

Verses 8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

It’s not about who we are that gets us into Heaven…earthly society’s designations mean nothing in the Kingdom.
It’s not about our achievements that get us into Heaven…we are born into sin, and thus the strike/ball count is already 2 strikes against us.
It’s not about what we can do that gets us into Heaven…man seems to place more value on the material things of this world than the eternal things of the Kingdom.
It’s not about who we know that gets us into Heaven…you can state ad nauseum how important you are and all the important people you know…

EXCEPT:

If you know Jesus Christ, confess your sins and acknowledge Him, accept Him as Lord and Savior in your life…”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

There’s nothing you can do on your own or by your own power, but you can accept the grace God extends through His Son.

You see, to paraphrase an old saying, it’s not about you…it’s about Jesus!

That old phrase you hear “if not for the grace of God”….it is about the grace of God!

Something to think about.

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Verse 1: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,”
Verse 5: “even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),”

A few memorable quotes about being alive:

    Henry Frankenstein: “it’s alive, it’s alive, IT’S ALIVE!” –from Frankenstein, 1931 Universal movie
    Inspector Gadget (after crashing on the ground from being blown into the sky by a bomb): “Not to worry. I only landed on my head.”
    G2: “They’re alive!” –from Inspector Gadget 2, 2003 Disney movie
    Number 5: “Number 5…is alive!” — from Short Circuit, 1986 Tristar Pictures movie
    Brian (to Kathy when he sees her come out of the spaceship): “You’re alive!” –from Spaced Invaders, 1990 Touchstone Pictures movie

Notice the theme here? Much is made about the state of being alive, and rightfully so, when compared to the state of being dead!

Now think about your spiritual state. Paul was reminding the Ephesians of the contrast of spiritual death and spiritual life…and The One who made them alive. We, like those Ephesians, were dead “in trespasses and sins”. Only in the forgiving salvation of Jesus Christ are we born again…truly alive. Winston Churchill once said, “There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.” (http://www.quotedb.com/quotes/3461). This indeed is probably true, but to be born again, and know you have eternal life, should be even more exhilarating!

Have a blessed day!

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Verses 18-20: “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,”

Paul here is voicing a prayer for the Ephesians; according to some reading I did in the Holman Concordance on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians (page 94), he prays that we might comprehend our hope, our riches, and God’s power.

I got to thinking about the U.S. dollar, our currency. My son once asked me is it still backed by gold, as it was in the past. I looked up the information today on the Federal Reserve’s website, http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12770.htm . Per that information, in short, our currency “shall be redeemed in lawful money on demand at the Treasury Department of the United States, in the city of Washington, District of Columbia, or at any Federal Reserve bank”. It is no longer redeemable in gold. We have the hope/faith that our paper money is legal currency. A lot of folks base the worth of their riches on U.S. currency, and the power of the federal government to make good on that promise.

As Christians, our hope is “built on nothing less than Jesus’s blood and righteousness” as the old hymn, The Solid Rock, goes.
We have riches in Christ that far outstrip anything this old world has to offer. I chuckle to remember the old story joke about the old rich man trying to take one precious item into Heaven, and the angel’s reaction when he sees it is gold bars…”pavement? You want to bring pavement into Heaven?” (streets of gold).
Our faith which supports our hope and our riches is the power of God Himself. The petty pursuits of man, fictional or real, to pursue what they think is power on this world, pale in comparison to the real power our Lord has.

Something to think about.

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Verses 8-10: “which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all thing in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth – in Him.”

I enjoy watching the old episodes of Columbo on TV; I guess part of the reason besides the inverted detective format is the fact that I enjoy trying to guess where he is going with his investigations when he is exploring a murder. I sometimes feel a little satisfied when I correctly guess the mystery of just why Lt. Columbo is going down a certain path, or asking a certain question, or researching some little detail, which in the end, always comes back to haunt the killer. My wife and I like knowing ahead of the rest of our family when we are all watching it together. I have a friend who is the same way when watching a stage magician and figuring out how they perform a trick.

There’s a mystery that non-believers don’t understand, that we, as believers are privy to. God enlightens us when we come to know Jesus Christ, and that one day, God will unite all things on earth and in Heaven under Jesus’s rule. To those who don’t know Him, it is a mystery they don’t understand. But we see it just as plainly as Lt. Columbo sees the evidence of “whodunit”.

Something to think about.

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Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to the other side of the Mayan calendar. 🙂
To continue with Ephesians:

Verse 5: “ having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,”

In the February 1962 issue (#9) of Justice League of America, the group was sharing with Snapper Carr and Green Arrow the story of how they formed the JLA. Each member wound up fending off an alien attack on Earth by claimants to a throne of the world of Appellax. Teaming together, the Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Flash, travelled to the site of where the last alien had landed. Superman and Batman were already teamed up, tackling the menace together. Each alien inhabited a body made of some mineral or form (stone, mercury, glass, etc.), and this one was in a diamond form. Leaping to the attack after Batman saved him from a Kryptonite ambush, Superman used super-friction to turn the diamond-skinned creature into a statue of coal.

At this point, Snapper Carr (the honorary member of the JLA and recorder of their adventures) exclaims, “ Whoa, Superman! I know you can change coal into diamond by rubbing it with your super-hands…but how could you change diamond to coal?” Superman replies, “Quite simply, Snapper…I simply rubbed the diamond being…the wrong way!”

Half-puzzled and half-bemused, Snapper’s response is in the hipster 60’s language of the day: “I don’t read you…but you have such hi-fi thoughts, I’ll just cool my engine until I’m on your wavelength!”

Sometimes the truth of something is so far beyond our understanding, we can’t fathom it, not even with all our human intelligence. This verse in Ephesians makes reference to one of those mysteries: how can God have given humans free will, yet predestined us to be “sons by Jesus Christ to Himself”? Aren’t the two mutually exclusive?

Check out some of these other verses (Romans 8:29-30, John 1:12, and Luke 12:32). You’ll find that God knows what we’ll do…after all, He’s God! He made us. But He does want us to come to salvation through Jesus Christ by our choice…that’s why He gave us free will. Does He know who will accept His Son? Yes. The choice is still ours to make; He didn’t make us robots. We can wrap our finite minds (or try to) around this mystery till the cows come home and still not comprehend it fully, but as God said in Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, sayeth the LORD”.

Something to think about.

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