Monday, 31 March 2014


Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, - Ephesians 6.5-7

It is hard to imagine that the Bible addresses such mundane things as how we are to act at work. True, the Bible addresses the attitude of servants to their masters, but the principle applies to anyone who is bound to his employer. If we get paid for a job we are bound to certain things.

With that background lets see what God says to workers.

First, let's explain what a bondservant is. While this may refer to slaves, it is not by any means limited to slaves. A bond servant might be someone who is service because of a debt, or someone who is contracted to labour as payment for a service provided. In a sense an contracted worker can be seen as bound by their contract, but in these days that contract may be broken by simply walking out the door.

By while we are in service to someone else there is a principle to obey.

Be obedient to your masters (bosses).

It is clear from the start that we don't obey for the sake of our boss. We obey for the cause of Christ and to be a testimony for Him. It is to be unreserved obedience with fear and trembling and sincerity and with the same dedication we would have if we were following Christ. Our service is an opportunity to show Christ to the world.

After reading 'Uncle Tom' I can't help but think of his godly testimony, even as he served under the vile Simon Legree.

 'Mas'r Legree, as ye bought me, I'll be a true and faithful servant to ye. I'll give ye all the work of my hands, all my time, all my strength; but my soul I won't give up to mortal man. I will hold on to the Lord, and put his commands before all,--die or live; you may be sure on 't. Mas'r Legree, I ain't a grain afeard to die. I'd as soon die as not. Ye may whip me, starve me, burn me,--it'll only send me sooner where I want to go." "I'll make ye give out, though, 'fore I've done!" said Legree, in a rage. "I shall have help," said Tom; "you'll never do it." "Who the devil's going to help you?" said Legree, scornfully. "The Lord Almighty," said Tom.'

While obviously a hyperbolic illustration it does remind us of the benefit of being good hard workers. We have a testimony to maintain. We don't do it to please men, or to gratify our boss. We do it because it is the will of God and we do it as though we were serving the Lord.

We ought to be the best workers in our jobs. We ought to be the hardest workers. We ought to be the most helpful and cooperative workers. We ought to act as though we were working for Christ Himself. 

Sunday, 30 March 2014


And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  – Ephesians 6.4

I called this reflection 'Parents' even though the verse says 'fathers' because the notion of raising children is a joint one between mom and dad. Even though the primary responsibility is to the dad, it is a partnership.

So, with the knowledge that this is addressed to dads, but applicable to both, lets see that we have.

There is a don't and there is a do.

Say, that reminds me of  Mr. Do-bee and Mr. Don't-bee from Romper Room.

Don't be provoking you children to wrath
Do be bringing them up in the nuture and admonition of the Lord.

I am a dad. It is an awesome role. I am a grampy - it is even an awesomer role.

But with that awesomeness comes responsibility. We are responsible to make sure our children, and to some extent our grandchildren, are properly trained and properly instructed in the ways of the Lord.

But while we do that there is a way it is supposed to be done - we must be careful not to provoke them as as we train them.

Now that’s hard sometimes. Children can be terribly frustrating at times no matter how much we love them. It is easy for us to get provoked and then provoke them in response.

But we are supposed to be the adults here.

Sure we are supposed to raise our children in the ways of the Lord. We saw yesterday that they need to obey and that we need to teach them to obey.

But we need to be doubly sure that we don't provoke them with our attitudes or our hypocrisy or our pride or our selfishness.

Its a two way street - they have to obey, but we are not to be tyrants.

That's what submitting to each other is all about.

Saturday, 29 March 2014


Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” – Ephesians 6.1-3

After we talk about the importance of mom and dad and their lifetime commitment we move on to the natural result of their relationship - children.

Childhood is the ideal training ground for submission. It is where children see the pattern set for the rest of their lives.

No matter what we do we have to learn to submit. We have to submit to the government. We have to submit to laws. We have to submit to each other. We have to  submit to the Lord.

That is why loving parents will use the home as a training ground in submission.

It is not easy to teach submission. Kids rarely are natural born submitters. We may come across an occasional placid, quiet, obedient, child who rarely needs correction - but they are rare. Most child want their own way. They don't want to go to bed or they want sweets or don't want to take a bath or whatever. If that is not corralled while young they never learn how to submit in real life.

If they never learn to submit in our homes they are going to face real struggles in life.

It doesn't seem like much, and sometimes it can feel selfish. If we don't do it right we can even get our children to obey just to make our lives easier. The next verse gives the balance to ‘children obey your parents in the Lord’ so it is not a matter of submission to parental tyranny.

We focus on ‘children obey your parents’ but it is our job to teach them to do it properly. We can't dislove our children by not teaching and expecting obedience. 

Friday, 28 March 2014

Marriage - a beautiful picture

Marriage - A wonderful illustration

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. – Ephesians 5.31-33

I love this picture. I love the imagery of husband and wife and marriage and how it all pictures the relationship between Christ and His church. I am still a little old fashioned. I believe  marriage is for life. I realise divorce happens and understand the sadness, but I believe God's plan is for one man to marry one woman, that they become one, and that they stay married 'till death do they part.'

I don't apologise for that. I think that is what the Bible teaches and I think there us a reason we can often overlook.

Marriage is a mysterious picture of Christ and the church.

Marriage is forever because the relationship between Christ is forever. Marriage is not disposable because our relationship with Christ is not disposable.

In the real world of real trouble and real people marriages break down, even Christian marriages. But that is not God's way. God's way is that the martial bonds illustrate the bonds of salvation.

That is why it is so important that those considering marriage don't rush into it and realise the enormity of the import of their decision.

Even in these days of confusion and disarray and questioning the church is still designed to illustrate Christ and the church. Let eacj of do our part to show the world what Christ is like through our marriages. 

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Members of His body

For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.  – Ephesians 5.29-30

Most of us generally like to take care of our bodies, at least to some extent. Few of us just totally let our bodies go. If we burn a finger we put something on it. If we get a cut we put on a plaster. If we break an arm we put it in a cast. If, heaven forbid, we get a toothache we get it treated or extracted. We take care of all the parts of our body. We feed it, sometimes too much. We cherish it, sometimes at the expense of others.

Husbands and wives take care of each other because we are one. Paul takes this a step further and applies it to the whole church. As husbands and wives are one in Christ so the church is Christ's flesh and bones.

Since we are indeed all part of the same body we have a responsibility to take care of each other, but especially as husband and wife. We are to watch out for each other, care for each other, and even cherish each other.

It’s not about me. It is not about me in my marriage and it is not about me in the church. It is about each of us looking out for the other. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014


Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. – Ephesians 5.25-28

So now it is the turn of the husband. What is hs role. Obviously, we saw yesterday, he is the boss, right? The wife has to do what ever he says! What a great place to be, huh guys?

Not quite. Jesus sets quite a standard for us.

Love the wives the same way Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.

That is really quite a love. It is a love that submits to his wife's needs at the expense of his own wants and desires. It is a sacrificial love that accedes to her needs first.

That goes back to the previous verse that tells us to always be submitting to each other. As the wife submits to her husband's leadership he submits sacrificially to her needs and her protection. After all, husband and wife are one flesh so if the husband is looking after the wife he is really looking after himself. It is a win-win proposition.

It is important now to remember that this works best when both husband and wife are doing their bits. If one falls down it hurts the unit. If wife is not submitting to the husband's leadership and he loving her and sacrificially giving for her the partnership is a beautiful thing to behold.

Love my wife like Christ loved the church. Love her so much that I am willing to give my life up for her.

It is quite a charge, but certainly worth the effort. 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. – Ephesians 5.22-24

Like so much of scripture the Bible teaching runs counter to our modern culture. This passage has become very out of synch with modern thinking and many Christians have simply abandoned the teaching all together, or simply ignore it.

But the Bible doesn't change when culture changes and the Bible way always works when properly applied. God's standard for the marital relationship are different than what the world in general has today. We are going to look at this more in a few days, but God says that the simple plan is one man, one woman, for life.

But God also specifies the role of the husband and wife. Those plans may bother some people, but if applied properly the roles of the husband and wife complement each other perfectly.

It is hard to write about one role without the other, but we'll look at husbands tomorrow.

The role of the Christian wife is to submit to her husband's loving leadership. Her submission is a visible picture for all the world to see of how the church submits to Christ.

There is not doubt that this is a hard role to follow. But a godly wife who loves her husband and loves her saviour will submit to loving leadership in sacrificial obedience to the word of God with faith that God is working out His perfect plan.

But remember, God said submit to each other. More from the husband’s side tomorrow. 

Monday, 24 March 2014

Submitting to each other

submitting to one another in the fear of God. - Ephesians 5.21

Paul is beginning here a whole section on proper submission. He is going to discuss issues related to marriage, children, and the workplace. There are various principles of authority and submission and consideration.

But he starts with a very simple overall statement. 'Submitting to one another in the fear of the Lord.'

Paul starts with a general statement that all of us are to be submitting to each other for the edifying of the chuch. We do this because of the 'fear of the Lord.'

This 'fear of the Lord' is an acknowledgement of who He is. It is a holy reverence. It is a clear understanding of His awesomeness and recognising in His awesomeness that our life is not about us, but all about Him.

I don’t like to submit to anyone – I don’t think I ever have. It goes against my grain. But there is only one explanation for that kind of attitude. Pride gets in the way.

But if I am walking in reverence to a holy God and understanding His awesomeness I have no reason for pride. And if I can get rid of my pride I can start to learn the lessons of submission that are needed for the rest of this marvellous book of Ephesians. 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Giving thanks always for all things

giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, - Ephesians 5.20

It seems like we have to consider thanks a lot, doesn’t it? I wonder why God focuses so much on thanksgiving.

There is something required before we can be thankful. Thankfulness is based on contentment.

But there is something that precedes contentment. In order to be content there must be faith.

It goes like this.

If I trust God, I mean really trust that He loves me and wants what is best for me, then I have the confidence to know that what He gives me is for the best. If I really believe that then I learn that then I learn to be content. And, if I do that I can be thankful no mater what comes my way.

Giving thanks is a test of my faith.

I sure wish I had that sorted. I don't always give thanks for all things. When I do it indicates that I really don't have the faith to trust.

May God give me the faith to be thankful for everything that comes my way.  

Saturday, 22 March 2014


speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, - Ephesians 5.19

I am not a great singer – no, I am barely a singer at all. I am one of those people who is glad the Bible says ‘make a joyful noise unto the Lord.’

But I do like to sing, especially in church. I am in a situation where despite my lack of musical knowledge, skills, or ability I have to pick out and lead the music in our services. The only reason I don't mind it is because I like to do it so much. Sometimes I get carried away wih the message of the songs and end up preaching my way through them.

It is nice because 'psalms and hymns and spiritual songs' are part of what God has given us to build each other up.  Our singing ought always be directed toward God and be sung to edify each other, make melody in our own hearts, and be sung to honour or God.

I don’t know enough about music to offer up ideas or critiques of church music. I do know that singing is to be a part of our worship, that it should be done in such a way that we are building each other up, that it ought to create a melody in our hearts that is pleasing to us and to our God.

Don’t miss out on the blessing of taking part in singing in your church tomorrow.

I have included a link to an interesting article on church music I read yesterday.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Don't be drunk with wine

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, - Ephesians 5.18

I doubt there are a whole lot of topics that are as devisive to the church as the topic of drink. For some reason it stirs passions on both sides. I have chosen to to totally abstain from alcohol. To some that makes me an object of scorn because I am not 'exercising my liberty.' That is one of many views on the subject of drink. This passage always comes up in the debate, But I am not going to that discussion today. I want to address the application of this verse. 

Here Paul talks about what controls our lives. He specifically addresses drunkenness as he says that it will lead to an abandoned or dissolute life. No matter what the debate on drinking alcohol comes up with there is no question that God’s word clearly forbids drunkenness because it leads to debauchery. 

Drunkenness is so bad because it leads to something else being in control of our lives. That is why I quit drinking 1976, long before I developed any kind of conviction. I quit because drink conrolled my life and I couldn't handle that.

I think we can put anything here that contols us. Don't be drunk with power. Don't be drunk with possessions. Don't be drunk with pleasure.

But there is an alternative. Instead of being controlled by drink (or anything else) I can be filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit. 

My problem is that I still dont like to give up control. I still like to be in charge, especially of me. That might be called being drunk with 'self.'

But when we are filled with the Spirit we will live the spirit filled life and there will be no room for being full of self.

Whereas I gave up drink so that it won't control me, I ought to always give up me so that the Spirit can control. 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Walk circumspectly

Walk circumspectly

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. - Ephesians 5:15-16

Every time I read this verse I remember teaching it to children in a song. I think we learned it as a family camp in Cork years and years ago. It always sticks out in my mind when a mother told us, not even a Christian family mind you, that her child was belting it out loud in a supermarket trolley. It was a nice little tune and it made the verse easy to remember.

The focus here is this circumspect walk. Circumspectly is a fun word. You can almost see the sense of the word just by looking at it. Walking circumspectly mean walks with caution awareness. My first thought is of the secret service agents who guard the American president. They look all around. They look everywhere. They are constantly on guard speaking into their wrist mics and watching every little movement.

That is what our Christian walk should be like. There is no room for slackness or letting our guard down. We need always be aware. It is foolish to ever not be on guard.

Paul doesn’t mince words here. He says that if we let down our guard and don’t stay on guard we are foolish. I know the reality of that. Whenever I am foolish enough to let my guard down, even for an instant, I find myself slipping in my spiritual walk.

Paul lived in evil days. We live in evil days. Because we live in evil days we must be always redeeming the time.

We don’t have time to mess around with foolishness. We don’t have time to take it easy. It is too dangerous to let our guard down. When we do, when we don’t redeem the time, we will fail and we will waste the precious time God gives us. 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Light in darkness

No fellowship

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. - Ephesians 5:11-12

It makes me sad often Christians today will accept the fact that it is okay to act like the world. It makes me even sadder how often I have done it.

Notice here that there is nothing about not fellowshipping with people. It doesn't say to leave the lost alone. If we do that we can't ever reach them. We don't have to fellowship with darkness to spend time with people in darkness. 

But it does say that we are to have no fellowship or association with the unfruitful works of darkness.

Okay, that's fine. But what about the next part - 'but rather expose them.'

I wondered how all this fit together so I looked into it in context. Our place is never, ever to fellowship ot take part with unfruitful works of darkness. Instead, as we walk as children of light our light is going to expose that wickedness. The result is that we are often not going to be well received. When the light shines in a dark place all the hidden corners are going to be exposed.

People will reject our light shining just like they rejected Jesus as the Light of the world.

We can’t just coast along hoping for the best. When opportunities are there we need to take them. I have been in many situations, dark situations, where I was able to expose darkness and error. Sure, I am not always well received, but when done lovingly it normally at least makes people consider their ways.

Our light shining means sometimes the light is put someone on the spot. Let’s use those chances to lovingly shine the light of the gospel. 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Simple fruit

 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. – Ephesians 5.9-10

There are other places where the fruit of the Spirit is more fully described. But here we see three things that should mark out the Christian. I we are to be known by our fruit we ought to know what kind of fruit we should be bearing. 

Here we have goodness, and righteousness, and truth. 

I like how the word of God is able to take complicated things and make them simple and understandable. We don't have a whole lot to remember here. We are to be good, do right, and be truthful. That is a wonderful summary of the fruit of the Spirit. 

So, according to this verse, how do we show the fruit of the Holy Spirit?

Be good
Do right
Be true

Big lists scare me, but little lists make a goal seem achievable. 

Saturday I took AJ and Hudson to a rugby training programme for young kids. The coaches were brilliant. They broke everything down into simple steps with simple words. There are three simple instructiosn for scoring a try, for example. They are knee, ball, hip. go to your knee, touch the ball down, and roll on your hip. Simple but complete. Understandable, but precise. When I drop AJ at school I say ‘Be good, obey your teacher, be nice to your friends.’ Again, simple but clear.

So we have three little things to do. 

This is a good place to start. We can all be good, do right, and be true can't we? In fact, we don't even have to do it - all we really have to do it let the Holy Spirit produce that fruit in us. 

Monday, 17 March 2014

Children of light

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light – Ephesians 5.8

This is a dark, dark world. It seems to be getting darker and darker all the time. Sin becomes more and more prevalent that the world accepts it more and more. Long ago Christ was sent into the world of darkness to bring light. He was the Light of the world, but the world rejected Him because they loved their darkness more than they loved His light. His light exposes sin and people don't like to have their sin exposed.

All of us were once trapped in that darkness. Those who have accepted the Light of Christ are now lights in this world. We are called to walk in the light so that we can introduce them to the Light that is in Christ.

Our walk as children of light is how we are going to show a way out of the darkness.

But there may be times and places when it seems especially dark and when our light is all the light that there is. It is those times when walking as children of light is the most important of all. It is then that we have the chance to shine the brightest. Sometimes it may be that one glimmer of light may the all the light that some people will ever have. 

'This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...'

One of the first verses I ever memorised sticks in my head today. Funny thing is that I didn’t learn it in church or even in a Christian organisation. It was in a civic group for teen boys. They stressed things like doing good things and being model citizens and helping other. So they used Matthew 5.16 as one of their teachings. It worked there, but it works even better for those of us who are indeed the children of light.

‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.’ 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Don't partake

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. – Ephesians 5.5-7

The first part of this verse mentions a few things that mark the world. The result of not repenting of all of that stuff is that there is no inheritance in God's kingdom. These are things that the lost world does. It because of these sins that that wrath of God is poured out.

But there are those who will try to deceive us with their vain and empty words. They will say it really doesn't matter. They will tell us that our liberty in Christ overrides those things.  Do whatever you want, it'll be grand

But Paul says 'don't be deceived - don't be partakers with them.'

That is a lot easier said than done. The world calls out one thing and the Spirit another. Our friends and family and co-workers may all want us to go one way and the Spirit wants us to go another.

And God gives a simple answer – or seemingly simple – don’t take part in this stuff.

By the grace of God may we each heed these words and stay away from the way of the world. 

Saturday, 15 March 2014

But giving of thanks

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. – Ephesians 5.3-4

So we avoid all of these bad things, hopefully. We eliminate them as we realise that this is not what God wants from us.

There is something that we are always, always, always safe doing - always. It is something that is always appropriate. It is something that should dominate our lives.

Preachers sometimes talk about the principle of replacement. Here is something to replace all that foolish talking and coarse jesting filthiness and all that junk with.

Instead of all of that we have 'giving of thanks.'

How important is that?

In everything give thanks.
Give thanks for everything.
Don't be full of cares in everything...with thanksgiving.
The sacrifice of thanksgiving

That and so much more are part of what God says about thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a great indication of our faith, but more on that in a few days.

For now its a simple enough idea - replace all of that other stuff with something that edifies - replace it with thanksgiving. 

Friday, 14 March 2014

Not even named

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. – Ephesians 5.3-4

There are certain things that just don't fit in with the Christian life.  And yet some of these things seem to be almost acceptable.

I hope most of us don't have problems with fornication and uncleanness and filthiness. Those thing are obvious and still rightfully looked down on as sin in the church. 

But what about?

Foolish talking
Course jesting

Let's pin it down a little bit further, though all of these things can be troublesome an can't be ignored. We just don't have the space to go down the whole list so I am going to focus on two - foolish talking and course jesting.

Exactly what are those things?

Foolish talking is speech which wasteful and empty and vain and non-edifying.
Course jesting is the kind of mind that is 'easily turned' to make something innocent into something that is corrupt or impure.

This is the kind of thing that I think even the godliest Christian can battle.  We all know how it goes. We avoid 'dirty' talk and filth, but we get in those conversations that are just slightly off colour and though we may not cross over the line on purpose we get as close to the line as we can and we might even get bumped or drawn across the line. At the time it all seems like a little innocent fun and we might even be a little embarrassed or enjoy the embarrassment of someone else.

Yes, I know, I can do this as quickly as anyone else.

But that's not how we are supposed to walk.

This kind of stuff shouldn't even be mentioned among us. That is the way the world acts. That is not how we act. It’s far better to stay as far away from that line as possible.

It really isn't good enough just be 'not as bad as' the world. There is a higher standard for God's people. There are things that not only should not be a part of lives, but there are things that should not even been named among us.

It’s time we stop dabbling with the ways of the world – even in these subtle areas. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Walk in love

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. – Ephesians 5.2

Here is another example of Paul's walking instructions. Our walk is to be a walk of love.

We see a lot about love in the word of God. I think the reason we see it so much is because love is what is going to set us apart. In a world that seems out to take care of itself and where we look out for 'number one' it makes a difference when our walks are marked by love.

Walk in love means that love dominates all of our decisions and responses.

This love walk might sound at first like some kind of fluffy walk that doesn't have any kind of substance until we see that pattern of the love walk that ties into imitating Christ. What is the pattern and what is the goal of our love walk?

Walk in the way that Jesus walked when He loved us and gave Himself for us.
Walk in such a way that our lives send up a 'sweet smelling savour’ to God.

Is our walk a love walk? Does our walk reflect the self-giving sacrificial life of Christ? How does our love stack up to His? 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Imitate Christ

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. – Ephesians 5.1

It is great to have children around again. They are so much fun. AJ and Hud are at that stage when they pretend they are super heroes. The have the pyjamas, the costumes, and all the other accoutrements. They have seen the videos. They always want to be Spiderman, or Ironman, or Batman.

When I was young, way, way back, I liked American football. I liked the Baltimore Colts, and I like Johnny Unitas. When I played American football I wanted to be like Johnny Unitas. I wanted to wear high top black football boots. I practiced throwing the football just like he did. If I imitated him maybe I could be as good as he was.

I guess there is nothing wrong with a little bit of imitation. Most of the time it can be innocent fun.

But the problem is that we too often are tempted to imitate the wrong things. The world and its ways has a certain appeal. We are drawn to it like anyone else is drawn to it.

And too often we choose to follow the world in our actions and attitudes and ways.

But Paul says 'imitate God.'

Not THAT is quite a goal. In another place Paul writes about following him as he follows Christ, but ultimately our pattern is always to be Christ and He is the one we strive to imitate. The old saying 'what would Jesus do' may not be perfect, but it is certainly apt.

We are blessed that we can see the pattern we are to follow in His word. We don't have to guess about how to follow God. Obviously we are not God and cannot follow Him perfectly, but there are things about God we can follow. We can love. We can walk in holiness. We can do right.

When people look at my life do they see a replica of the world or do they see a replica of Christ?

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Be nice

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4.31-32

For years we have had one rule, and only one rule for our Kids Klub. It is really simple. Are you ready?

Be nice.

Be nice says so much. It means you don’t tease other kids. It means you don’t cheat in games. It means you be polite in snack time. It means you obey the teacher. 

It’s not really a bad basic rule, is it? 

And according to this passage it’s not a bad rule for Christian living. 

Let’s look at it. 

Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking, and malice are not nice things to do. 

Kindness, tender-heartedness, and forgiveness are nice. 

In this light being nice is a godly trait. I want to be a nice guy in this regard. 

By the way, what ever happened to niceness? When did ugliness and meanness become somethingto be proud of? 

Lord, help me to be a nice guy.  Especially looking back to the cross at what Christ did for me. Id HE can forgive me, how can I do less?

Monday, 10 March 2014

Don't grieve the Spirit

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. – Ephesians 4.30

We looked yesterday about why we should learn to control out tongues and put away all kinds of corrupt communication. Is is destructive. Instead of tearing each other down we should be building each other up.

There are two reasons why that is so important.

1) So that we can impart grace, or pleasure to those who hear our words
2) And that point for today, because we grieve the Holy Spirit of God

Our words do more than just hurt each other - it also grieves the Holy Spirit of God.

I think I can see that. When our children were younger it was sad to see them in their immaturity get mean to each other and say mean things. It made us sad.

Though we can’t accurately understand God’s emotions I think that is a sense of how it affects God when our words are full of evil and corruption – He is grieved.

By the grace of God may my words never grieve the One who seals my salvation until the day I am filly redeemed. 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Raisers, not razers

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. – Ephesians 4.29

I wish there was a lot more space here to deal with this passage. It is an area that I think is far too often ignored and neglected today. Getting this right does not seem to be real high on the priority list for today's believers. In fact, sometimes we seem to be proud of our ability to cut down with our tongues. 

When Christians ‘fight’ it seems that we can be as bad as, or even worse than, the world. Some of the most vicious speech I have ever seen as been from Christians directed at other Christians. It is a terrible, ugly, sad, and tragic thing to see Christians acting that way.  It’s no wonder that people reject our gospel when we speak to and about each other the way we do. Who would want to be a part of that?

We need to watch our mouths. We need to make sure our speech always edifies and never corrupts. We are all one body. We get talked about enough from the outside. We can’t afford to corrupt each other from the inside. Let’s be sure we are raisers and not razers. 

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Why we work

Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labour, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. – Ephesians 4.28

Let him that stole stop stealing. That seems simple enough, but there is all kinds of stealing. We can steal money from the till or shoplift or any number of things.

Then there is stealing songs and software and films online.

Then there is being less than honest on out taxes or government or paperwork.

Then there is not giving a full day’s works for a full day’s pay.

Just stop stealing.

But the thing I want to examine today is why? Why are we supposed to work?

Of course we have to buy the groceries and pay the bills and meet our obligations.

But there is something else there that we don't hear a whole lot about - why?

'So that you may have something to give him who has need.'

Once again we see the clear instruction that one of the key ministries of the church is to care for those who don't have. I wonder how many of us view our work as a way to meet the needs of the poor. I wonder if, as we log our hours, we think of those we are going to help. How often do we see our overtime hours or that little bit of extra income as a chance to help someone? 

Christ’s body has always helped those in need. In a lot of circles today that seems to have fallen by the wayside.

How many of us, me included, even think about how we can use our jobs to help others who have needs?

Friday, 7 March 2014

Be angry, but...

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. - Ephesians 4.26-27

Anger is real. It is something we all are familiar with. It doesn’t take long for any one of us to remember that terrible feeling of anger that swells up in us. We know how it often starts. Something gets us frustrated or perturbed or perplexed and the more we think about it and dwell on it the worse it gets.

Anger is going to happen. We can't help it. The word in this verse talks about frustration or irritation or being provoked. We can't help that. Things are going to happen to put us in a spot where that can't be helped.

The question we have to ask ourselves is where we go from there. What do we do with the frustration or irritations or even the provocations that come into our lives.

I think about a footballer named Eric Cantona. Years ago he was being taunted from the stands. I am sure he found it frustrating and felt like it was the provocation to do what he did next.

Suddenly he left the pitch, charged into the stands, and attacked the fan who was taunting him.

He was provoked, agitated, irritated, and frustrated - and he responded in fury.

That is exactly what we are not supposed to do - when we are provoked, we don't let the provocation or irritation lead us to sin.

And then we make sure to deal with it. We nip it in the bud. We don't let the sun set on our anger. I like to put it this way - 'never go to bed angry - ever.'

We are going to get angry, frustrated, irritated, aggravated, put out, or whatever. But we need to deal with quickly and not let it become sinful fury. 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Put away lying

Put away lying

 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. - Ephesians 4.25

In the rest of Ephesians we find a wonderful, clear, practical explaination about how to put things off and put things on with our new minds.

Paul starts with what seems to be a very simple instruction - put away lying. He follows that by saying what we are to put on instead - let everyone speak truth to his neighbour.

And then he gives a reason why- we are members of each other.

Telling the truth is such a simple, yet vital part of the Christian life. Lying is always opposed to God’s way. Lies are never of God – never.

Satan is the father of lies and he wants us to believe God is a liar. When he first tempted Eve he accused God of lying. We are responsible to make sure that we are not associated with lies because of who the father of lies is. 

I think we need to be very careful of our social media postings. We often see posts that appeal to us or own agenda or sensationalism and we can share them without ever checking if they are the truth or not. So, we click the button and pass on a lie.

Why is this so bad? Because lies affect our witness for Christ and they affect the reputation of believers. We are all hurt when any one of us is caught in a lie.

Put away lying. Put on the truth, 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Put on

Put on

and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. - Ephesians 4.23-24

It wouldn't be enough if all we did was to put of the old, dead, rotten, corrupt, stinking, powerless old man with all his influences if we did not replace it with something else.

And Paul tells us what to replace it with.

But first he gives us an important piece of information about what we do before we put anything on - 'be renewed in the spirit of your mind.'

That’s the same thing he told the church in Rome when he said 'don't be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.'  What we need before we need anything else is a new mind.

So we put off the old man, we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us by giving us the mind of Christ, and then we put on the new man.

The new man is God created. It is a man marked by righteousness and holiness.

The old man and the new man could not be more different. The old man was marked by corruption and deceitful lusts. The new man is marked by righteousness and holiness.

Which man better describes our lives? Which man better describes what goes on in the depths of our hearts? 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Put off

that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, - Ephesians 4.22-23

There is a theme of the believer putting some things off and putting things on in our Christian lives. Several times Paul goes into specifics, but here he gives the general pattern of putting off and putting on, with a little bit in between.

Paul writes here that we are too ‘put off’ the old man. That only makes sense because our old man was crucified with Christ. But too many of us carry that old dead body with us and are affected by what the old man used to do. We let the old man direct our conduct just like he used to do.

Why do we do that? Why are we led and controlled by a dead man?

Its pretty simple. We like the old man. We are comfortable there. That is the life we are accustomed to. We follow the old man's ways we don't have to face the unknown.

Being dead doesn't mean there is no influence. Hebrews speaks of Abel, who being dead, still speaks. We all can think of the impact of people who have died and still impact our lives for good or bad. Dead people still influence all of us.

It is like that with our old man. He is dead, crucified with Christ, and powerless. And yet we still choose to let him run our lives. The answer to realise that he really is dead. His impact is gone. We need to put him away with all of his deceits and lies and influence.

It does none of us any good to carry an old, dead, rotten, stinking, corrupt corpse with us. It only makes sense to put him away. 

Monday, 3 March 2014

Who is our teacher?

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: - Ephesians 4.20-21

Paul makes it pretty clear that Christians are not going to live like the world. He tell us here that that if indeed we really have heard the teachings of Christ, if we really have let Him teach us through His word, and we are living according to the truth that is in Christ, then we are not going to live like the folks he wrote about in the previous verses.

We cannot be exclusivists. We have to live and function and work and play in this world. We can't shut it out. We are always going to be in it. The problem occurs when we are swayed and led by what the world teaches us. All the time the world is teaching us its way with mass media, advertising, and philosophies in films, books, and websites.  

But we have another Teacher - Christ the Master Teacher. His teaching is the Truth, no matter what else we might encounter. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

More often than not these teachings are in conflict. They are often mutually exclusive. We can’t follow the teaching of the world and at the same time follow Christ’s teaching.

So what does my life reflect? What do my words and attitudes and reactions and responses evidence? Do they reflect what I learn from the world or do they reflect what I have learned from Christ?

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Don't walk this way

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. – Ephesians 4.17-19

Paul talks a lot about walking a different kind of walk once we are saved. It is the principle of separation. 

I know, I know, that is a scary thought. The principle of separation can easily border on legalism. Principles of separation can become limits on Christian liberty. The traditions of men can indeed replace the doctines of God. 

But that does not negate the fact that there is still a Biblical principle of separation. It is not based on a tick list of dos and don'ts, but on a few basic principles. We are instructed not to walk like the Gentiles walk, then the old Gentile walk is explained. 

It is a walk of futility of the mind
It is a walk of darkened understanding
It is a walk of blind ignorance
It is a walk which is passed feeling
It is a walk given over the lewdness 
It is a walk of greedy uncleanness 

These things don’t really need much expanding on. The church needs to walk a different walk than the world does. We need to walk in the mind of Christ. We need to walk with our pathway illuminated with the light of His word. We need to walk senstive to the Holy Spirit's leading. We need to walk in purity and holiness. 

I see a lot of Christians who say they are trying to win the world by acting like the world. You can't tell the difference between the two. We aren't going to do it that way and this passage spells out why. 

If we don't make a difference, how are we going to reach the world around us? 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Everyone doing their bit

from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. – Ephesians 4.16

We read earlier, several times, about growing. Paul has stressed the importance of growth for individuals and for the church as a whole. He has also stressed that growing up is not something that is going to take place alone.

So God gave His children the church. The church is where are are going to grow. He talked about the offices which are given to the church and what the job of the offices was and are.

But somehow we have accepted the line that the major part of the work of the body is to be done by the ministers and leaders. That is not how it is all. Every member of the body joined and knitted together works together. Every member does its share. What we think are the least important parts are often the ones that make the most impact. 

That is how the church is supposed to operate. When one member is not doing their part the work is not being properly done.

Are we all doing our parts today?