love

The One thing we All Want

This devotional is inspired by a friend of ours at church, whom I had  conversation with today about how so many people just really want love, but don’t know how to obtain it, and often times come off annoying, really bad, or even violent. Love is one thing that all of humanity wants, desires, craves, and will do a lot to get.

The definition of the world is: a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person; attraction that includes sexual desire : the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship. You will see that this is not what the Bible describes love to be.

The world sees love as someone fulfilling another persons selfish needs. The world sees love as a sensual force or being physical with another person. The world sees love as an uncontrollable, the heart wants what it wants, and an excuse for fulfilling selfish needs by multiple partners. The word sees love by demanding respect from others, through force, harm, or violence. All in all, the worlds view of love is fulfilling self selfishness. When someone does not meet the world’s view of love, it’s time to move onto someone else who will. This is what a parasite does. Move from host to host to satisfy ones own needs.

There are three questions:

  1. What is real love?
  2. How do you obtain real love?
  3. How do we love others?

These are key questions, because if we don’t know what real love is we either try and get something that we think is love, or we rely on what other people tell us, which is often not correct. Also, if most people don’t know what real love is, and we rely on those people to learn, how can we obtain it?

Have you ever thought that people try to get love through demanding respect? Other times people try and get love by demanding it through force, by screaming, or being mean. Every person wants love, and they will do anything to get their version of it.

What is real love?

The Greek word for Love is ἀγάπη (agapē), means: affection, good will, love, benevolence, brotherly love.  Scripture provides us with the  characteristics of real and true love: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. As you can see, love is very intentional!

Scripture also tells us where love comes from, its inventor.. and no it is not cupid. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:7-9

Jesus, Emmanuel – God with us, came from God, and demonstrated Gods character and love while He was here on Earth. So when you say you love someone, compare your definition and intention of love against God’s definition.

How do we obtain real love?

If love comes from God, then to obtain love, God must love us. How do we obtain God’s love?  Scripture answers this for us too. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” – 1 John 4:9-10

To obtain God’s love, we simply need to receive it, it is a gift from God. How do you receive it? Scripture tells us that if we repent of our sins, and receive Jesus as our Savior, believing that He died on the cross in our place, taking our sins upon Himself, and raising from the dead 3 days later defeating death, that we too will risen when He returns, then we will live with God for eternity. Remember, a gift is not something you have to work for, so no work is required to receive God’s love.

We don’t have to do “good deeds” to obtain love. In reality, “good deeds” as an outward action, to receive an inward feeling, is selfishness. By receiving Jesus as Savior, we receive God’s love in us, the Holy Spirit, which creates outward love, such as deeds of love. Outward love is allowing the Holy Spirit to conform us, more and more, into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29).

How do we Love others?

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” – 1 John 4:11-12

Love is also having joy. Joy is a fruit of the spirit. This means that when we receive Jesus as Savior, we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit changes us. Where we used to be temporarily happy by satisfying our own desires. The Holy Spirit changes us to become content with God’s love, that He is all we need. Our desires become less for what we want, more joy to love others, and to lead them to the cross through the Gospel (salvation in Jesus).

How do we love others?

  • We share the Gospel with them.
  • Where God has provided you with an abundance, you share in your abundance to those who are in need. Sharing not to receive gratitude, but to share that it is a blessing from God, in the name of Jesus. This draws them not to you, but to the cross, to God’s love.
  • When we are driving toward a parking spot, and someone takes the spot before us. We keep our cool, we don’t get angry, we resist the want to get back at them, we don’t say something back at them, and we don’t go steal someone else’s spot. Instead, we show love, by turning the other cheek, and just go find another spot.
  • When you are at work, and you get a phone call from someone who drives you crazy, and you just don’t want to talk to. As my friend today at church said, often times this person is simply craving love, and their approach is asking for is is annoying. What if you picked up the phone and said that it is so nice to hear from them, and you would love to help them with their request? That might really surprise them.

Remember, love is a free gift from God. To have love is to know God in Jesus. To truly love others is to share the Gospel. To truly love others is to love them the way Jesus loved people. To love others is to be humble, putting others first ahead of yourself. To love others is to recognize the needs of others, and in your abundance, share. To love others is to use the talents and skills God has given you, and help others in their need. To love others, is when another is oppressed,  in your ability, whether by prayer or action, stand up for what is right.

Love is very simple, not intended to be complicated. Love is God, from God, and to be freely received to those who believe in Jesus. Everyone craves and desires love. To be loved by God in Jesus changes you. When you know you have the love of God, the Holy Spirit helps you to crave human love less, and enjoy God’s love more. Why? Because the craving of human love means that you don’t feel enough love from God. Scripture tells us that God’s love is sufficient for His children.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

prayer

Is Prayer a Waste of Time?

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, and you mention prayer, and they reply, “Pssshh prayer doesn’t do anything..”? I have..

What is the definition of prayer: a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.

You may recognize this scripture, as it is on t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc, “Rejoice always, pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I want to first share an illustration I heard listening to Pastor Voddie Baucham, of how to see prayer. Image a boat and a dock. A boat is tied to the dock to keep it secured. God is the dock, and we are the dock. Prayer is the rope that we the boat, pulls on to be closer to God. So now the question, how often do you pray? Is the distance between God the dock, and you the boat, becoming really far? Or, are you rejoicing always, and praying continually, growing closer and closer to God? To expend this illustration. What happens when the boat is further and further from the dock, and into more open waters? The water becomes extremely choppy, and you the boat can easily capsize and go under. .. Now let’s break this puzzle down into its pieces.

Rejoice always.. Rejoice (verb): Greek word “χαίρω” (chairō), means: that no matter the situation, we will be actively praising God, because we know His plans for us are for our good, even though we may not like it. Why does rejoicing come before prayer?

The only way to be rejoicing is to have joy and peace. This is received from by God, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, salvation in Jesus. Romans 15:13 tells us, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  

And why is being filled with joy, and to be rejoicing so important? “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:11-13.

God fills the Christian with the Holy Spirit, which helps us to get to know His character, that we can trust Him, that He has plans for us, good plans, great plans, because He wants the best for us. As we seek Him will all of our heart, our joy and peace grow, and we rejoice, knowing Him more, being in His presence in prayer, and experiencing His love, as a parents loves their child. This is how we come before our God, our Father in prayer. Like a little child, climbing up in their Fathers lap, to love Him, because He loved us first (1 John 4:19).

Why is all of this important? Because without Jesus, a person is not a child of God, but rather an object of His wrath, because of their sinful nature, living in their fleshy and selfish desires, which is against God. A person who seeks after their own desires, wants their own desires. When a person only wants what they want, the list of wants never ends, they are never content, and can only feel happy for the moment, because they are temporarily satisfied.

God does not make us guess, but tells us what the acts of the flesh are, so we can identify them in our lives. “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:16-21.

“Lives like this” means a consistent lifestyle without repentance. This makes perfect sense as we look at the world around us. For example, look at the media. When a situation arises, how often do we see the masses praying together for God’s hand to come over what is going on, or for peace? Instead, we respond by our flesh, with anger, by yelling, with rioting, hating, etc. When a person reacts to life like this, over and over, it grows in them, becoming more and more of their “what is normal” lifestyle. When more and more people live like this, it becomes the “standard”, and prayer is either left out completely and forgotten, or twisted into something false.

Matthew 5:11-12 below tells us, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Being a Christian is not easy! When a true Christian shares the Gospel, lives their life to love and honor God, to love others, to be Jesus in the flesh (Matthew 22:37-40), to mature in their faith walking with Jesus, to be molded more and more into the image of Jesus.. Do you think the strength it takes to face this world, that opposes God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God’s Word, comes from the Christian person themselves..? No way! A true Christian is completely dependent upon God’s strength. One of my prayers, is to receive God’s strength, peace, wisdom each day, as some days can be very challenging. It is not blind faith.. rather having seen God’s amazingness, because the Holy Spirit gives me the eyes to see, and to share.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” – John 3:19-21

When a non-believer faces challenges, they often fall and crumble, because they have only themselves to hold onto when their world shakes. They go to people with their challenges, who have no ability to help them, only hear them, and are left with the same challenges with no resolution. As this keeps happening, they slip deeper an deeper into sinful habits, and grab at anything that will provide a temporary rest, which is something that usually causes them more harm, creating an infinite loop that never ends. Jesus is their only solution, which is usually the last anything on their mind.

Now what about praying continually?

First off the Greek word for Pray (verb) is “προσεύχομαι” (proseuchomai). Proseuchomai is from two Greek words. The first being πρὸς (pros), meaning: to, towards, with, with regard to. The second being εὔχομαι (euchomai) (verb) meaning: to wish, to pray, to pray for.

It is very important to understand the meaning of euchomai because this tells us what to pray, what to approach God with. More often than not, when we pray, we are praying for our own selfish desires, what we want, what will make us happy, what will satisfy us, what God can do for us to make us happy, or what God can do to make us love Him more. God is not a magic genie or a puppy desiring to make us happy so we love on Him more.

A popular question people have is does God hear the prayers of the nonbeliever? This we will answer further down.

1 John 5:13-15, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we askwe know that we have what we asked of him.

See the part that says, “IF we ask ACCORDING to HIS WILL.. HE WILL hear us”. This means that when we come before God in prayer and “asking” (euchomai) in accordance with His will, it is guaranteed that He will hear us. So you know He is not ignoring you. So the question comes, “what is God’s will, and how do we pray according to it“? The answer to the first question is, “we don’t know God’s plan, only God does” So if we don’t know God’s plan, how can we pray according to it? Great question!

Where our prayers used to be to satisfy our own desires, for our own wants, for our own plans for our life. Now we know that God hears our prayers when we pray according to His will, and His plan. Our prayer should now be “to pray for God’s will to be done”, in our lives and in others. Why? Because God’s will is perfect. Psalm 18:30 tells us, “As for God, his way is perfectThe Lord’s word is flawlesshe shields all who take refuge in him.” When we trust in and remain in God’s will, we can have peace in it, even if the outcome does not result the way we wanted. As we trust in His will, the Holy Spirit opens our spiritual eyes, and we receive peace, confirmations, to see doors opening, and we trust Him to take steps by faith.

When we pray, it should be without ceasing, continually, over and over. To pray continually does not mean to quit your job, and lock yourself in your room and pray non-stop, and do nothing else. It means that when we pray on something, we continue to pray upon it, over and over.

As an example, if you are unemployed and searching. If the end result of God’s will is that you will be blessed with a new job in 1 month, until that day comes, which you don’t know before hand, keep praying, each day, multiple times a day, that God will lead you, bring you to the place where you can extend the Kingdom in the name of Jesus, that the lost will be found. In the mean time, pray for God’s provision, with anticipation and expectation of God’s blessing. Pray also that through all of this, you will grow closer to God, and experience His love in a new way, that will deepen your love for Him, and share your testimony with others, which will draw their eyes to Him as well.

There will also be times when you are praying for something specific, for someone’s health, for someone to get a job, for the church, for the country, or for your children. Since we are to pray according to God’s will, and you don’t know if what you are praying for is God’s will, your prayer does not change, “this is my desire, but your will be done”. This is the same thing Jesus prayed before they arrested Him to be crucified. “He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” – Luke 22:41-42. Jesus did not want to go to the cross, as He knew what He was going to face, but He also knew it was His Fathers will, and that was what He lived for, and was His purpose. Jesus prayed for strength to take the next step according to His Fathers will.

Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lordand he will give you the desires of your heartCommit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. – Psalm 37:1-7 I encourage you to read the entire Psalm 37 as it is a great expression of prayer and thanksgiving from David.

Please see a few things here, “trust in the Lord“, “take delight in the Lord“, “commit your way to the Lord“, and again, “trust in Him“, “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him“. Now look at the last part, “and He will do this“. This means, do this and this and this, AND this will happen.

This is the biggest challenge that Christian have and also why nonbelievers don’t like or think prayer is ineffective.

First off those who reject God and His Son Jesus (agnostics or atheists). They are not filled with the Holy Spirit, and therefore do not seek or desire for the will of God in their lives, rather their own desires. Therefore they not praying for God’s will in their lives, rather their desires of what will make them happy and satisfied. So therefore, if they are not praying for God’s will, according to scripture, their prayers are not heard. This is what nonbelievers do not like and do not understand. They want God to answer their selfish prayers, but do not want God in their lives. So because they “pray”, and do not get what they want, they choose to believe that God does not exist, that God does not love them, that God is being mean, that God does not care about them, that God is not real, and they reject God and His Son. So because of this, they choose to live a lifestyle against God, and do the things that His Word says not to, because they think God is just being mean. This is called living a defiant life. Defiant means: to be boldly resistant or challenging. This is very sad! Sad because as an nonbeliever, they are an object of God’s wrath, in their current state, destined for an eternity without God, in hell.

You also from nonbelievers, “there is so much bad happening in the world, why does God not do anything about it?” Remember the illustration of the dock and boat? If you are not close with God, how will you see when He does something that is not as obvious to your eyes as let’s say fireworks. If my eyes are fixed on God, I am getting to know Him, and the Holy Spirit gives me spiritual eyes to see little details, then I will see more than someone who does not have the Holy Spirit. Is God doing something in these bad situation.. most definitely! God’s will is perfect.

I heard a story of a tornado that hit a city. A mom and her 10 month old baby were in a house, and the walls fell down because of the winds. When this happened the mom slipped, and the winds grabbed the baby, taking her 15 miles away, and landing her in a wet mud. The baby survived, and is alive many years later to tell tell the story. Many might have said, “how could God allow that to happen?” God’s will is perfect, and the baby may have died from the house falling down had God not relocated her. This is called faith in God’s perfect plan. Do you think the mom began praying right away for her child? I’m sure yes. Do you think this brought both mom, child, and many who heard this story closer to God in Jesus? I’m sure yes.

For Christians, where prayer could be our strongest weapon, next to the Bible, for showing the world God’s amazingness, our human nature often kicks in. We often allow the devil to mess with us, in the same way he messed with Adam and Eve, making us think that God did not hear us, does not love or care about us, and other lies. These lies can make us doubt God’s answers to our prayers. These doubts make us loose our patience for waiting on God’s timing, that He forgot about us, or that He wants us to suffer without His help. These lies can make us believe that God has kicked us out of His safe pasture. These lies can move us to trust less in God’s promises to us. When a Christian begins to believe these lies, is a sign that they are drifting from God. In the illustration I started with, that the boat is drifting away from the peaceful water nearer to the dock, and  away into  the choppy waters.

The hope here is that another Christian brother or sister will notice this and  pray for them, with them, and ask God for guidance, wisdom, and mercy to bring them back toward the dock, and into repentance.

Prayer is not a waste of time, but rather, next to God’s Word, our strongest weapon against the devil and his stronghold on our friends, family, and those whom we come across who are nonbelievers.

2 Corinthians 10:2-4, “I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

Ephesians 6:18, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

An illustration for God’s answer to prayer is a phone. When you are expecting it to ring, you are alert, listening for it, expecting it to ring. When we pray, it may take time, along time, but when we stay alert, keep our spiritual eyes and ears open, we can be blessed to witness God’s answer, and that is a wow experience.

For the true Christians, I beg that we would see the bigger picture. That we would use this most valuable weapon, that never wears out, that is available to us 24/7/365, and that God’s ears are always open for.  It is so important that we the boat, keep pulling the rope that will bring us closer to the dock. The dock never moves, we do.

The problem with this world is us, people. We have allowed the devil to destroy, lie, and kill humanity. Because of our human nature, our sinful nature, our desire for self, the devil has used it, without much effort, to turn us against God, His Son, and each other. Our guns, our anger, our opinions, our self desires have broken this world. Sin has broken this world. Jesus is the only solution to the problems in this world.

I go to God in prayer, that in accordance with His will, according to scripture, that those who are under the devils lies, who be broken free by your mercy of the Gospel, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. I go before God in prayer, that the body of Christ, the Kingdom of God, that more souls would be won for Jesus, and that we would all be in prayer together, as the Body is supposed to, according to scripture. I pray for God’s mercy on those who are living a life of defiant sin, defined by scripture, that they would see this sin, acknowledge it, repent of it, receive Jesus’s death as payment of their sins, God’s mercy,  and be wiped clean, their sins forgiven, and to be white as snow, a new creation, a child of God.

I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”” – Luke 15:9

Greek: Jesus

Have you ever looked up your name to know what it means? Did you know that the name Jesus has a meaning too?

The Greek word for Jesus is “Ἰησοῦς: (Iésous)… Which comes from the Hebrew word “יְהוֹשׁ֫וּעַ” (Yehoshua), means: the LORD is salvation.

The Greek word for salvation is “σωτηρία” (sótéria), means: God’s rescue which delivers believers out of destruction and into His safety. Another word “to save” in the Greek is “σῴζω” (sózó), means: I save, rescue. Look at Matthew 1:21, “Jesus, for He will save His people“. The root of sózó is σωτήρ (sótér), means: a savior, deliverer, preserver. The Savior, Jesus Christ who saves believers from their sins and delivers them into His safety.

Many think that Jesus’s name is Jesus Christ, first and last name.. not so. The proper name address should be Jesus the Christ. Christ is His title, means: Messiah or anointed One.

Now that you know what His name means, might you still think of Him as just a nice man and good teacher… or … more?

thanksgiving

Restoring Thanks Giving

This devotional was inspired by a message our Pastor delivered last Sunday. As I was listening, I felt that it would be a great Thanksgiving devotional.

What does it mean to be “Thanks Giving”? Thanks (is a noun) Giving (is a verb).  Thanks giving means to be giving praise to someone for something.

The word “Thanks” in the Greek is “יָדָה” (yadah), means: to give thanks, laud, praise. Praise as a result of blessing.

So the question comes, what are we thankful for, and to whom are we thankful for it? When we give thanks, we are praising the One whom all good things come from, God. James 1:16-17, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

There are people who love to praise God, dropping to their knees in the name of Jesus, and His sacrifice for them on the cross. These people are called the children of God, and love their Father.

Then there are others who say they don’t experience good things from God, that life is unfair, that they don’t feel His love, they do not like God, and are angry at Him.. so why should they be thankful to Him?

The reason why a person doesn’t feel thankfulness or love toward God is because they are out of fellowship with God. In order to give thanks, you have to have fellowship with that someone. The Greek word for “fellowship” is “κοινωνία“, meaning: what is shared in common as the basis of fellowship.

The common basis is love.  If you lack love, you lack fellowship. Look back at Genesis chapter 1. In each of the 6 days of creation God says the same thing after He creates, “and God saw that it was good.” Why? Because God takes pleasure in what He creates. Look also at verse 27, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Why would God created us in His own image if He did not love us? 1 John 4:8 tells us that “God is love“. 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.

And if this wasn’t enough, we didn’t even get 3 chapters into the first book of the Bible and we sin, choosing, power, selfishness, and trusting the devil (serpent), over God’s love. Sin in Greek is “ἁμαρτία” (hamartia), means: missing the mark, to be without a share in, wander from the path of uprightness and honour, an offense to God. Romans 3:23 says it well, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Have fallen short of what? God’s standard. God is perfect, so His standard is perfect. Perfection is not something we are capable of. Jesus is the only man who did not sin, lived a perfect life. How? Because He is God (incarnate – God in the flesh). John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” God is perfect, cannot sin. This is why Jesus was the only and perfect sacrifice in our place, to defeat death, raising from the grave. For those who repent of their sins, believe in Jesus, they are reconciled (restore friendly relations between) to God in/through Jesus.

So now tell me that God has no love for you. So not tell me that you don’t owe Him thanks, praise, and worship. How can you not love Him back? How can you not desire to be in fellowship with Him?

By the way, many people have a big issue with the word worship. For many it might sound scary, strange, does not sit right in their ears. The Greek word for “worship” is “σέβομαι” (sebó), means: to show reverence, personally esteem, to hold in the highest respect. To worship God means that He is first in your life, that you want to show Him your love and devotion, and how much He means to you. (Luke 10:27)

If you are not in fellowship with God, if you have no joy in God, if you are not thankful to Him, I pray you will have the desire to restore this relationship. To restore fellowship requires 3 parts: commemorate, thank, and praise. (1 Chronicles 16:4)

Commemorate: Greek “זָכַר” (zakar), means: to remember, recall, call to mind. This is what we did earlier in this post. We remembered 2 out of i’m sure many many many amazing things God has done in your life, your family, friends, stories you have heard. God created us, provides a way back to Him through Jesus, and does so much in between.

Thanks: Greek “יָדָה” (yadah), means: to give thanks. Giving thanks is to be grateful.

Praise: Greek “הָלַל” (halal), means: to praise, to boast. This means to make God popular. When you remember something God did, you share the story, you are bragging about what God did, making Him popular.

If you do not have fellowship with God, you have no joy, and you have no thanksgiving. This year when you celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving with family and friends, please remember that it is not about the food, nor the football, and especially not about the black Friday deals at the store the next day. Thanksgiving is to remember all God has done in your life, being thankful to Him for everything He has done, and praising Him in the name of Jesus. Thanksgiving is being in fellowship with the one who created you, loves you, and desires that none would perish, but all come to repentance. This Thanksgiving, if you are believer, restore your fellowship with God. If you have never trusted in Jesus, and Jesus alone for your salvation, I pray you would believe, repent, and begin your fellowship with God in the living Jesus.

A very Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Ephesians

A Messenger of God’s Good News

Think of a time when you have listened to someone speak, or have read a sentence in an article, or book. Did you ever stop and ask yourself, “I wonder why they chose the words or the tone they did?” What about the last conversation you had. Why did you use the words or the tone? You had a purpose, a message to deliver, and you wanted the other person to understand that message. You wanted the other person to hear your tones to feel what you were telling them.

The Bible is the same way. The authors were inspired by God to write what they did. There was a purpose, a message they wanted to deliver to the reader. Many books of the Bible are letters, sent to a specific city, or person, with an important purpose.

The “Book of Ephesians” is a book of the Bible, a letter in fact from Paul, to the people of the city of Ephesus.

Paul’s introduction, first line in his letter reads, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” (Ephesians 1:1 NIV)

Why did Paul begin his letter with this sentence?  Why did he introduce himself in this way? There are literally pages that could be written on Paul’s first sentence, verse 1, alone. There are words and phrases here like “apostle”, “Christ”, and “by the will of”. Let’s dive in to better understand what Paul wants to tell you, me, and the people of Ephesus. So let’s go back a in time, and look at the original Greek and Hebrew.

We start with Paul’s third word, “apostle“. Apostle in the Greek is ἀπόστολος (apostolos), which means: a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders. So Paul is a representative with a messenge to deliver. Who is he representing, and what message does he have to deliver? Our answer is next.

In the Greek, the word for Christ, comes from the Hebrew word Messiah. Messiah in Hebrew is “מָשִׁ֫יחַ” (mashiach), means: the promised deliverer. In the New Testament Greek, is translated to, “Χριστός” (Christos), meaning: anointed, or the anointed [One].

In the Greek, the word for Jesus is, “Ἰησοῦς” (Iēsous), meaning: Jesus = “Jehovah is salvation”. So Christ is the title for Jesus. That Jesus is the Messiah, the promised deliverer, the anointed One, and that Jesus is salvation. Many see Jesus as simply a nice guy, a really good teacher, and someone who lived a really good life. Before reading on, please re-read this paragraph again, and I pray that God opens your eyes to who Jesus truly is.

The Greek word for salvation is “σωτηρία” (sótéria), meaning: God’s rescue which delivers believers out of destruction and into His safety. Humanity falls into sin, back in the book of Genesis chapter 3, choosing selfishness and power, over trusting in God’s love. As time went forward, humanity falls more and more into sin, into the temptations of the devil, and everyone did as they saw fit (Judges 21:25). The people forgot the God who had saved them, and chose their own ways (Psalm 106:21; 78:11). The Bible tells us that Jesus is salvation, humanities only hope to not spend an eternity in hell with the devil in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). Salvation is found in Jesus, in believing in Him, repenting of your sins, dying to self, and becoming a new creation. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

So now we know that Paul is bringing the message that saves life, the message of salvation in Jesus. To me, there no more important message for people to hear.

Now let’s look at the second half, “.. by the will of..“. This phrase in the Greek is “θέλημα” (thelēma), which means: what one wishes or has determined shall be done. What does this mean?

If you look at John 4:34, ““My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” To me this means that Jesus came from God, God in the flesh (Noel – God with us), and lived to, thrived on, loved, desired, and came to deliver the message of life. This is better known as “the Gospel – God’s good news”. His desire was to do the will of the one who sent Him, to share the best news ever.

The same Greek word is used here too, “θέλημα” (thelēma). Jesus came to share and spread the Gospel, “εὐαγγέλιον” (euaggelion), which literally means: God’s good news. This is the news of salvation, God’s love, mercy compassion, to restore humanity from sin to life, and into His safety. Jesus said it very simply, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:16).

His desire was to share the God’s good news to those who would listen, and after hearing would see and desire life in Jesus, instead of the death they were living in, and headed to. Was Paul forced? No.. he lived to, thrived on, loved, desired to deliver the message of life.

The word God in the Greek is “θεός” (theos), means: the one true God. God is simply amazing, giving us His Word, Bible, for the people throughout history to read, to know His truth, to know life in Jesus, and to repent of their sin to receive the gift of salvation.

So now let’s put all of the puzzle pieces together..

So “Paul is a messenger, sent by the will of God, to deliver Gods good news of life in Jesus, to those who will hear it and repent of their sins“.

Are you a true believer? Are you a Christian? Did you know that you are a messenger as well? What message do you deliver to the people you encounter each day, or that simply see you during the day? You have heard this same message of life in Jesus, repented of your sins, and become a child of God. You have left your old life behind, now living in your born again, new life, in Jesus, in the love and forgiveness of God. There is no better purpose in life. Wherever God has you right now, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” .. “Love your neighbor as you would yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39). Go now, and continue this mission, to share the “Gospel – God’s good news” to those who have not heard it, to those who need it, so that they may come to know salvation in Jesus too. Remember, there are other Christian brothers and sisters who are doing the same. Pray for and with each other, support each other, and do it all in the love of God. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, (Colossians 3:23)

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