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Posts Tagged ‘Christ Jesus’

Verse 7: “So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.”

While in college, I took care of my grandmother’s yard. Among all the different plants and bushes (potted or rooted), she had a hydrangea bush that wasn’t doing too well. It often got knocked into or broken, and even got run over by the lawn mower (I don’t recall it being me!). She was ready to give up on it. I asked her to let me take a try at “saving” it. First thing I did was make a border of big rocks around it to protect it. I’d water it, especially during the hot summer days. Slowly but surely over the next few years, it made a comeback and developed back into a nice sized bush that blossomed some beautiful flowers.

Now, for the rhetorical question: did I cause the plant to grow? Of course not. Did I help care for it and water it? Yes. But the actual growth was caused by…God (of course!)

This is what Paul is trying to drill into the Corinthian church. All argument about who brought someone to saving grace through Christ Jesus (whether Paul, Apollos, or someone else) doesn’t matter in the importance of things. What matters is that Jesus saved them! It is only through Him that we are saved. Paul couldn’t get them into Heaven; neither could Apollos. They were tools in the hands of God to spread the Gospel. The verses go on to mention that those who helped plant and water would “receive his own reward according to his labor.”

Remember what a wonderful feeling it is to be used by God!

Something to think about.

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Hebrews 4:11: “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”

A good night’s sleep. As you get older, it becomes a lot easier to appreciate a good night’s sleep. Seems like when we were younger, you could fall asleep easily…almost on anything. I remember when I was in college, I fell asleep briefly at a table in a restaurant with my head leaning on my cupped hand, waking to see my friends smiling and chuckling at how tired I was at the time.

Sometimes it’s hard to get to sleep due to physical problems: you can be so physically tired that you ache and find it hard to fall asleep. You might be sick and have difficulty going to sleep because of a stuffed-up head or sore throat. Sometimes it’s other ailments that can interfere, like a bad back.

Sometimes, though, we take our worries and concerns to bed with us. These can really interfere with sleeping, with getting rest. We sleep fitfully.

Paul here was commenting on how God wants us to “enter that rest”: ultimately, our heavenly rest, as believers in Christ. While here on earth, we rest in the grace of Christ Jesus. It’s in Him that we find the solace, the peace, and the rest our bodies need. We need to live our waking lives obedient in His service and to keep from sinful behavior that keeps us from that rest He has provided. When the work is done, He wants us to rest in Him…and to enjoy that rest as well.

Something to think about.

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Verses 3-4: “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints,”

It’s amazing what a letter of encouragement can do. Cade Foster #43, the 2013 starting placekicker for the University of Alabama football team, didn’t have a good night at Auburn in the 2013 Iron Bowl. In a tough, hard-fought game between these two intra-state rivals, Foster missed two field goals and had another attempt blocked. Auburn won the game 34-28 on a dramatic play: a field goal try that was missed by Alabama teammate Adam Griffith and returned by Auburn’s Chris Davis 109 yards for a game-winning touchdown with one second left on the clock.

All players have good games and bad games; Foster probably felt like he had lost the game for his team (which is incorrect, football is a team sport, but a lot of folks seem to forget that sometimes). Foster had been the hero before in other games. The life of a placekicker is like hot and cold water; most times, you’re either the hero or the goat. Fans for these two teams also tend to forget these players are 18-22 year old kids, and they aren’t deserving of the hate-filled wrath that gets spewed at them on social media (and this was the case for Foster here; thankfully, more level-headed fans came to his defense in the face of such unwarranted personal attacks).

In the midst of this highly-charged emotional moment, Foster received an unexpected letter of support that carried more impact than those anonymous posts; he received a note from “another 43” encouraging him…none other than the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. Talk about a confidence booster; you can read more about this note at the following link: http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/76463/president-bush-sends-cade-foster-support

It’s amazing what a letter of encouragement can do. I discovered in my Bible reading and study that the church at Colosse was not one founded by Paul or visited by him. Yet he wrote them a letter from prison, and one of the first things he does is tell them how they thank God for them, for their faith in Christ and love for all the saints. Paul goes on later in this book to speak to them on other issues, but what a boost the opening comments make to that church.

Encouragement is a gift that is best shared with others; have you encouraged someone in the Lord today?

Something to think about.

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Verse 12: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”

Sometimes, you just can’t say an analogy or thought any better than how a hymn writer said it; so without further ado, in the words that Johnson Oatman, Jr. put to pen:

Higher Ground

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on heaven’s table-land,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

Something to think about.

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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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Verse 6: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”

I am the President of the United States…can I be saved through Jesus? “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”
I am a homeless person…can I be saved through Jesus? “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”
I am a rich and famous celebrity…can I be saved through Jesus? “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”
I am a person no one has ever heard of…can I be saved through Jesus? “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”
I am African-American. I am Asian. I grew up in a Muslim household. I am a woman. I am a good person. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”
I am the criminal on the a cross beside you, Jesus…can you save me? “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”
I am Saul, the man who killed countless Christians…can I be saved through Jesus? “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”
..and by the way, remember that Saul, once converted, became Paul.

It doesn’t matter who or what you are, who or what you did; accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and you will be saved, your life transformed!

Have a blessed day in Jesus!

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