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Posts Tagged ‘Paul’

Origin Stories

July 25, 2018 2 comments

I love a good origin story.

A young man is attending the show with his parents. A lowlife approaches them demanding their money. When they resist, the parents are shot leaving the boy all alone, save a kindhearted butler. Driven by those events to the point of demanding justice and revenge, young Bruce becomes someone, something else as he grows into adulthood.

During a field trip, a high school student is bitten by a spider. Selfishness costs him the opportunity to stop the man who would later kill his uncle. Driven by guilt and grief, Peter realizes that with great power comes great responsibility.

There are countless others. People all around us with origins of their own. It’s even in the Bible.

A fisherman is told by a carpenter to follow him. He does so for three years. He has a bad moment and denies the carpenter three times. Later, Peter is restored and becomes one of the central leaders of those that follow the Way.

A man holds a crowd’s coats while they stone one they consider a blasphemer. He’s on the fast track to greatness and power. He takes a trip to Damascus to round up a group of these traitors of the faith until he is knocked off his horse by a great Light that speaks to him. Saul’s later Paul’s, course of life changes direction quickly.

There are others that could be mentioned. A father of a nation. A man who sees a burning bush. A shepherd who would later become king.

They all had origin stories.

So do you. This is how it was. I met Jesus. Now it’s like this.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. The new has come.

What’s your origin story?

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Is The Gospel Affecting You?

Yesterday I wrote a post that focused on the first verse of the Gospel of Mark.  Another thought came out of that, really in the middle of speaking to my group of campers at the campground.

What I realized is that Mark was a gospel focused guy.  Why?  Because the gospel had changed and affected his life.

Mark was a kid who took off on what he thought was the adventure of a lifetime.  He joined Paul and Barnabas, his cousin, on a missionary journey.  Something happened and he abandoned them.  He headed back home.  Maybe he was homesick.  Perhaps Paul was an intense jerk.  Who really knows?

Afterwards, Paul and Barnabas began planning another trip.  Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them.  That’s who Barnabas was.  He was an encourager, most likely an optimist.  Paul?  He wanted no part of taking Mark with them.  He didn’t trust him to stick with it.  Neither one of them was entirely wrong, but neither entirely right either.  They disagreed and split up.

What’ really neat is that later Mark become useful to Paul’s ministry.  Somewhere along the way, he was rehabilitated.  Barnabas surely played a role.  So did the apostle, Peter.  It was most likely from Peter that Mark heard what he wrote in his Gospel.

Now, here is the big idea I had.  Mark knew the power of the gospel, how it is the power of God.  He knew how it could change someone and not just once, but on a continuing basis.  He understood what it was to live a Gospel life.

You see, I think we need to quit living a Christian life.  Christian makes a fine noun, but a terrible adjective.  Instead, we need to live a gospel focused life.  Let’s pray and strive to let the gospel transform every aspect of our lives.  Let it transform how we spend our money at the store.  Let it transform how we work for our employers.  Let it transform, well, everything in our lives.

That’s the kind of life Mark lived.  It transformed him from being a scared kid to being a useful colleague in the gospel and even writing of the accounts of Christ’s life.  Pretty crazy, huh?

Is the gospel affecting your entire life?

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags: , ,

Why Does Christ Give Gifts?

We probably all like receiving gifts.  Me?  I love receiving gifts.  In fact, gifts is my love language.  It doesn’t take much.  If my wife buys me a Reese’s Cup,  I’m in hog heaven.

In today’s scripture, Paul tells us about God giving us gifts through Christ.  He tells us from a broad view about the gift of God.  He gives us a view of how Christ went about it.  He describes some of those who receives gifts and why they were given their gifts.

In Ephesians 4:7, Paul writes that each of us is given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Paul had just written that about the unity of the Spirit, where there is one body and one Spirit.  That does not mean that each gift is the same or that they are even dispersed evenly.  Each of us are given grace, but Christ’s gift may be measured out differently for each of us.

Paul continues that Christ descended from His home to rescue us.  Not only did He descend for us, but He ascended with us when He returned.

Next, Paul writes that He gave some as prophets, apostles, evangelists and pastors and teachers.  For what purpose?  For their work of service to the building up of the body of Christ until we attain the unity of the faith.  Not only that, but also the knowledge of  the Son of God to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which  belongs to the fullness of Christ.  In other words, their purpose is to build us into who Christ intends us to be.]

Why does this happen?  Because we are no longer to be children.  Children are tossed here and there by waves and carried down by every wind of doctrine, or the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.  Instead, through the speaking of truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects in Him who is the head, Christ.  From Him the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.  In other words, Christ gives His gifts to the individual pieces of the body so that the body will grow and build itself up in love.

 

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We Are Called To Our Calling

Now that Paul has spent the first half of Ephesians explaining what God has done for us, he shifts gears.  In chapter 4, he begins to tell us what difference that should make in our lives.

Therefore refers, of course, to everything that has written before and what he is about to write.  It is a transition from what God had done for us to how we should now live.

Paul refers himself to himself as  the prisoner of the Lord.  He looked around at his circumstances and didn’t just bemoan them or  simply wish that things were different.  He believes that his circumstances were part of furthering the gospel for the Lord.

Paul implores his readers to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which they have been called.  The calling, of course, refers to being called into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Paul refers to the Christian life as a walk.  Our walk should be worthy of our call into our relationship with Christ.

Our walk should have certain characteristics as we walk through life.  It should exhibit gentleness, patience,  and tolerance for one another in love.  We should be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  In light of all that Christ has done, those who come into a relationship with Christ must maintain their unity together.  Those characteristics help maintain that unity.

Paul, next, puts forth the idea that we are all formed into one body.  We must be focused on the body of Christ more than our own individuality.  There is one Spirit that binds the body together.  One hope joins the two, our hope in Christ and what he has done for us.

Paul continues with characteristics that bind us all together.  We  have one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father of all.  He is over all, through all and in all.

What does all this mean for us?  We share all of this together.  Our walk should demonstrate certain characteristics and is tied together by our faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Dead Now Alive

Chapter 2 takes a different turn as move out of the first chapter.  After Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Christians, he presents a picture of life before Christ, of salvation and the ultimate results of faith in Christ.

First we have to realize our condition that we are naturally born into.  Paul writes that we were dead in our trespasses and sins.  We formerly walked  in this condition, according to the course of the world and the prince of the power of the power of the air and the spirit of the sons of disobedience.  We formerly lived in the lusts of the flesh and the mind and were by nature children of wrath.

Paul writes two important words next.  But God.

God steps into our lives to save us.  He is rich in mercy because of his great mercy.  What does He do?  He changes our condition.  Where we were dead, now He makes us alive.  He loved us even when were were dead in our transgressions making us alive together in Christ.  Not only that, but he has raised us and seated us with Christ in the heavenly places.  We are already seated in our ultimate destination.  He does this so that He can show the surpassing riches of His grace.

What is the result?  By His grace we are saved.  This is not of ourselves, it’s the gift of God,  It’s not the result of works, so that we cannot boast.

What are we saved to?  Works.  We are His workmanship, created for good works which God prepared beforehand for us to walk in.

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Paul’s Prayer For The Ephesians (And You And Me)

As we wind down the first chapter of Ephesians, we see how Paul prays for the believers of Ephesus.

First, Paul had heard, while in prison, of their faith in Christ and love the saints, prayed for them.  He did not cease giving thanks for them while making mention of them in his prayers.  He did not just give thanks for them, though.  Paul prayed for specific things.

The second component of his prayer for the Ephesians was that the eyes of their heart would be enlightened.  What Paul is getting at is that he desires for their minds to grow in the knowledge of Christ.

Next, he prayed that they would have the hope of His calling.  Paul wants them to have the assurance that comes from the hope of this calling.

Paul also wants them to know the riches of the glory of His inheritance among the saints.  Each believer is an heir of the kingdom.  Knowing this changes one’s outlook on life.

Finally, Paul prays that they will know the surpassing greatness of His power toward those who believe.  God has given His power to those of us who believe.  This power is demonstrated through the working of the strength of His might.  This same power is what raised Christ from the dead.

Not only was Christ raised from the dead, but He was seated at God’s right hand, above all other rule, authority, power, dominion or name that is named.  He named Him head of the church, which is Christ’s body, which is the fullness of Christ.

What does this mean for us?

We have been prayed for before.  Yes Paul prayed for the Ephesians, but to think that he did not pray this for all believers to come would be to not know Paul.

We can know Christ, not just wish to know.

We have an assured hope of His calling.  We don’t have to just wish to know it.

We have an inheritance.  We are heirs of Christ.

We have God’s power.  We don’t have to ask Him for it.  He has already given it to us.

Why My Sisters Are Sons Of God

I don’t know when I started paying attention to the gender wars of our faith.  I’m sure that it was sometime in the last two decades.  I have definitely been more sensitive to it during the past few years.

Part of that war has been the gender language in the Bible.  Sometimes you will run across a phrase that is masculine and some people want to change it to include both male and female language.

A good example of this is Ephesians 1:5 where Paul writes that “He predestined us to adoptions as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself.”  Some might want that changed to sons and daughters or even to children of God.  There’s a problem that would cause though.

It would totally devalue our sisters in Christ if we did that.

*****

When Paul says that we are adopted as sons, he doesn’t say just men are adopted.  He says that all who are listening to his letter being written or reading it are adopted.  This means our wives, daughters, sisters and friends.

Some ladies might be gritting their teeth at this, but they really shouldn’t.

Back in those days women had few, if any, rights.  They didn’t inherit anything.  The boys got it all and if the girls were married off.

Paul actually raises the value of women here by saying that the women who are in the faith would be treated equally with the men.  In God’s family, there is no male or female.  We are just all “sons’, sharing in the inheritance  that comes with joining the family of God.

So, my wife, my daughter and all my sisters in Christ are adopted as sons, everyone equal, everyone sharing the same inheritance that comes with Christ being our Savior.

How would your wife or daughter feel about being a “son” of God?

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