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2.2.18 – Phi 2:3

Many years ago I found myself in a canoe with a girl I was dating. I was no expert but had been in a canoe before and knew the basics. Well, it turned out to be a really bad day because she did not know much about canoeing. However, I was the real problem. For a canoe to go straight the person on each side should apply a similar stroke. Me being stronger and more experienced delivered more power so the canoe turned to the opposite side as she couldn’t match my strokes. Instead of realizing this and adapting, I got mad, rowed harder and made things worse. My selfish ambition got in the way of the task at hand and our journey was rough.
In our world we are taught to look out for number one, that we’ll never get anywhere by looking out for anyone but ourselves. Like many things, God would have us think differently. That by putting others needs before our own, we work to build his kingdom. By investing time in the welfare of others he, not we, will compete the work he has in us. (Phi 1:6) God’s plan for your life is greater than anything you could design for yourself and all he asks is that we put others before ourselves. Unlike my failed canoe trip, if we work to bring others along with us, God will make it a glorious journey! Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. #devotionals

1.27.18 – Phi 1:19

Each and every day of our lives comes with absolutes. Some greater than others but nonetheless they are certain. Yours may range from a morning cup of coffee to a child running to hug you as you walk through the door at the end of the day. It’s comforting to have things in our lives that we look forward to with confidence. Can you place prayer in this category? Paul, while in-prisoned by the Romans, writes of his joy, partly due to the fact he knew the Philippians were in prayer for him. Paul himself being a man of prayer knew the power that prayer holds. James 5:16b – The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Do you devote time each day to spend with God in prayer? If not, why not? If you desire to be closer to God, there is no better way to do that then spending time with him. In doing so, sharing your concerns and desires, via prayer, is very much the same as we would with any other dear friend. As we experience answered prayer, our confidence (faith) and relationship with Him grows. It is powerful, it is meaningful, it is absolute! Philippians 1:19 – for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, #devotionals

1.21.18 – Eph 6:4,9

“With great power, comes great responsibility” These words have been attributed to Stan Lee, writer of Spider-Man. In actuality they first appeared around 1817 in the works of William Lamb, English Prime Minister. However, I’d like to think it was Jesus that provided the inspiration in Luke 12:48 – Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. Jesus not only understood the pitfalls of power, he demonstrated to us that true leadership comes through leading by example. People in positions of power generally lead by either encouragement or intimidation. From the parent/child to the employer/employee relationship and everything in between, there is understood hierarchy. We’ve all found ourselves in places of power and inadvertently abused that position. Have you lashed out at your children over a repeated offense? Have you intimidated an employee with your words out of anger? While these seem somewhat appropriate reactions, God wants us to look at things differently. In every such situation we have the choice to react or respond. Reacting is an unthoughtful action to a situation. Responding takes into account all things and the best course of action. You see God knows there’s more at stake then that moment in time. He wants us to carefully consider our words and actions, especially when we interact with so-called subordinates. Mind you, this is not about soft peddling discipline, but it is a call to change how it’s delivered. If there ever were a true “what would Jesus do” moment, this would be it. The next time you find yourself in a position of power choose encouragement over intimidation, response over reaction and above all let Love be your motivation.
Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:9 – Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

1.13.18 – Eph 5:32

My wife and I cook together on a regular basis. We enjoy trying different recipes that we see on TV, Facebook, etc.. The collaborative effort usually includes a tasting or two along the way. It’s not uncommon for one of us to say something’s missing. It might be that all is needed is a little salt but something is definitely missing. However, once added we innately know that it is right.
Such is true in our lives as well. Have you ever thought to yourself, “something’s missing”. Let me offer this for your consideration. In Ephesians 5 Paul is speaking on the marital relationship. In doing so he refers to the “marriage” of Jesus and the church. How neither are complete without the other. We were made to be in communion with the opposite sex. It is part of God’s grand plan. The same holds true for a personal relationship with God through Jesus. As created, we are incomplete without this relationship. We attempt to fill this void with things of this world, from wealth to perversion. Yet still we remain unfulfilled and yearning for more.
If today your “recipe of life” needs a little something, if it doesn’t seem complete, try adding the salt that is Jesus and begin to experience the life you were created for. Ephesians 5:32 – This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

1.6.18 – Eph 4

I have a regular quiet time where among other things, I read my Bible. Now the grand plan is to do this every day. However, that’s rarely the case, most days definitely but every day? Nope. Through the years I’ve been amazed at how God has arranged these meetings and books of the Bible to coincide with a season in my life.
Another such occurrence happened this past week. I turn to Ephesians 4 and begin to read what I believe to be an outline everyone of us should follow for the new year.
Below are a few select verses that I felt the need to share:

Ephesians 4:1-3 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Who among us would not want to do this everyday of their lives?

Ephesians 4:17-18 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

Two things here, we must first remain stead fast in our discipline to steer clear of things that corrupt our hearts. Secondly, to those who doubt, their hearts and minds are obscured, so the best thing we can do is live a life worthy of witness.

Ephesians 4:26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

Deal with conflict in a civil and expedient manner. Don’t let things fester, especially with those you love.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Our words are powerful. Choose to use yours to be an encourager of others. Not one who tears people down.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Why waste time on the negative? Such things are never made better by acts of revenge. In word or deed.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

How can we not do what Christ modeled for us in his life and ultimately on the cross. Choose to be the one that offers the branch of forgiveness and love.

Like I said it’s a pretty solid outline to live by, delivered by God at the perfect time. My hope and prayer for you is that this year is all you dream for. That you grow closer to God or maybe make that wonderful decision to accept Jesus into your life and experience the life you were created to live and share with others.

12.30.17 – Eph 3:20

Well here we are, another year coming to a close. Undoubtedly we look back at 2017 with a myriad of thought and emotion. Reflecting is a good thing, it gives us perspective as to where we want to go from here. What are your hopes and dreams for the new year? Is it time for a course correction or will 2018 be steady as she goes? I’ve made a list of mostly task oriented things I need to get done, but they’re not life changers. Many people set such resolutions, habits that need to broken, a life changing this or that, that will transform them into a new version of themselves.
I’ve been reading Ephesians 3 for the better part of the last few weeks. I’ve picked it up, read it and thought about what God wanted me to glean from it on no less than 6 occasions. Each time I’ve been comforted by Paul’s words but really couldn’t hear the message. This morning, after listening to some music, I dug in once more. What I heard was so simplistic its no wonder I’ve missed it in my previous study.
The truth about next year is none of us know what it will bring. There are far too many variables to come our way. However, there is one constant, God’s desire to be closer to you. Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. God has a plan for your life. It is so grand that it is sometimes beyond earthly comprehension. I’m constantly amazed by what I’ve seen him do in my life and the lives of others. All we need do is give a little of ourselves and let Jesus do the rest. Yes, there is sacrifice involved but that’s how true change occurs. Allow Jesus the opportunity to guide your steps in the coming year, He has a plan to make it better than you’ve ever imagined.
Ephesians 3:20 – Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

12.15.17 – Eph 2:10

There are few things I enjoy more than the creative process. I love creating & building things. I gravitate to TV programs centered on the creative process, from cooking to forging cold steel into weapons, from conception to completion, it’s a beautiful thing to observe.
It’s not a mistake that in this, we see a snapshot of our own lives. Especially for our reconciliation in Christ.
We are God’s conception, a perfect design from day one. Then we take over and the trial and error process begins. Yes, just like the creative process, our lives ebb and flow. One day things are going great, the next, we want a do over. Try as we may, our plans apart from God, lead to an incomplete work. However, in Philippians 1:6, Paul reassures us of God’s “creative process” in us; And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
When we accept Jesus into our lives his love is the catalyst that allows God’s design to come to fruition. David Guzik paints a great picture of this; “God’s love is a transforming love. It meets us right where we are at, but when we receive this love it always takes us where we should be going. The love of God that saves my soul will also change my life.” A wonderful by-product of this process is serving others. This is actually where God does his best work on us. it’s a symbiotic process of refining who we are in him while we serve others, all to his glory.
We are ALL a work in progress. We’ve been designed by greatness, to achieve the same. Never doubt that you are beautifully and wonderfully made! Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

12.9.17 – Eph 1:11

n the early 90’s a 17 yr old waitress befriended an elderly widower who regularly ate at the restaurant where she worked. They became such good friends that she also helped him around the house and ran errands for him. In 1992 he became ill and unfortunately passed away. To her surprise he included her in his will to the tune of $500,000, a grand inheritance.
If you search the internet you can find many stories of this nature. One of the sad things is in a lot of these cases you also read how the inheritance was wasted and gone in virtually no time at all. No real appreciation existed for what was inherited.
In the opening of Paul’s letter to to the Ephesians he speaks to some of the blessings we have in Christ. One of which is our inheritance. This is such an apropos word for what he has given to us. An inheritance is given, not earned. An inheritance carries a great responsibility. It can be nurtured and grown or flittered away without care.
One inheritance you hear about is a Trust Fund. Trust funds are set aside to be used at a later date. This better describes what we have in Christ. You see our true inheritance is heaven. The promise given to us by Jesus himself, In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? ~John 14:2. However, if we don’t accept the inheritance and take responsibility for that relationship here and now, it will never be ours to receive. This inheritance is greater than any monetary gifts we’ll ever be given. It is also ours to share with others.
The waitress took the money she received and invested it. She also used it to earn a degree in financial planning. She now has that inheritance and then some.
I leave you with this to think about. Have you accepted your inheritance from Christ? If so, how responsible have you been with it?
Ephesians 1:11 – In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

11.28.17 – Gal 6:11

Have you ever received an Email or text from someone that contained ALL CAPS? Generally such communications have a distinct point the author is trying to make. So if by chance the language wasn’t clear enough, the caps say “hey, these words here, are pretty darn important”.
Interestingly enough this is not a new concept. In his writings to the various churches, it was common for Paul, who dictated most of his letters, to write the last paragraph himself. This accomplished a couple things. It allowed him to add a personal message and it was also a means of authentication.
In his closing words to the Galatian Church he urges them to not be led astray by those who held the law more closely than the gospel of Jesus he had previously shared. That God’s grace alone should be revered and pursued. He wrote these closing remarks in ALL CAPS. The Galatians and their salvation were so important to Paul, he did all he could, by pen, to emphasize his love for them.
We should embrace Paul’s zeal in communicating the Gospel to our friends and families. THE SAVING GRACE THAT ALLOWS ALL TO LIVE A LIFE OF TRUE FREEDOM!
Galatians 6:11 – See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.

11.16.17 – Gal 5:13

I recently happened upon an old Reader’s Digest story about a former slave and his owner. Jourdan and his family had been the property of Colonel Patrick Anderson. Upon Emancipation Jourdan moved his family to Ohio where they were doing very well. Anderson however found that running his Cotton plantation without Jourdan was overwhelming and soon fell on hard times. He sought out his former slave, all but begging Jourdan to return to help him run the plantation. He promised them their freedom and a better life than the one Jourdan and his family previously had on the Tennessee plantation.

Jourdan’s reply spoke to those he missed seeing, an oddly enough, a fondness for the only life he had ever known. He also made it clear that it was never in any man’s power to grant him freedom. He passed on the offer to return and lived a full life. The plantation however, soon went into receivership and the Colonel died a couple of years later.

You see Jourdan knew the freedom that is Jesus and in many ways, Colonel Anderson was more a slave than Jourdan and his family ever were. Anytime our focus is on the material, we become a slave to that thing. When we seek happiness from anything other than living a righteous life, we’re in perpetual pursuit of our next high, sometimes quite literally. Slavery has many faces and often its the one we see in the mirror.

If you desire to experience true freedom I urge you to first accept Jesus as your savior, then allow him to turn your attention to loving/serving your fellow man.

Galatians 5:13 – For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.