We opened the book of Ruth last week and were reminded of the power of fresh beginnings and the desire God has to call us home, even when we’ve made choices of unbelief and disobedience. I hope you made that new beginning choice, and if you did, I’d love to hear from you and guide you through those next steps so you don’t turn back to Moab (the world). Feel free to write me or message me through social media!
Every morning God whispers – in same way or another – “make space for Me.” He wants us to ensure we have a prepared room for him, just like Paul encouraged Philemon to prepare a guest room for his visit. How does your room look for Christ? Is there “white space” in your day? Is it clutter-free so God has a place to sit? Is there room in the margins for you to allow Him to pen you notes? He’s worth your time. He’s worth your day. He’s worth your life. Christ died for you. It’s time to live for Him.
Seems like we just kicked-off Colossians yesterday, but I **blinked** and this week we wrap up with a short 18 verse study. Beginning in early May we will do a quick stint in Philemon and read of Paul’s plea for his friend, Onesimus (Philemon is only one chapter, and it’s the final of Paul’s Prison Epistles).
And speaking of thinking…we are to set our minds on things above, not earthly things. That is hard. It’s a process for God to re-wire our mind so that it’s focused on His Kingdom and not this broken world and the cares we’re loaded down with. This truth is repeated to us in Romans 12:1-2 which says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Death to self = Renewed in Christ.
We live in a world that loves to market that positive self-talk, feel-good, “live a happy life” message. It’s on the radio, in the bookstore, and touted from the pulpit because it’s what our itching ears want to hear. It’s a “light and fat-free” message of comfort, and it is exactly the noise that Satan wants us to hear.
With this fresh spring season comes a new Bible study to tuck under your floral belt (I hear florals are all the rage in fashion this year). Sometimes life is beige. It’s “eh.” It feels a little blah, blah, blah. But those average moments multiply and begin to formulate our lives as believers. Therefore, we must stay in our lane and run hard. Be tenacious!
This week we conclude the book of Ephesians. We’ve studied it for six weeks – verse-by-verse and chapter by chapter. Next week, we’ll continue our journey studying the Prison Epistles, which Paul wrote, and turn our attention to Colossians. But until then, chapter 6 of Ephesians is hard not to love because it contains practical instructions on how to act (and the world could use more of that these days!).
Learned this lesson: I should’ve gone directly to God in prayer and allowed Him to give me a better perspective. I didn’t honor God by valuing unity over the temporary pleasure of gossiping (in an effort to gain sympathy from others). I was wrong...find out more about this situation in this week's Ephesians 4 study.
What we once thought was worthwhile and we worked tirelessly to gain, we now discover it brings no satisfaction. In Paul’s words, it is considered a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. It’s garbage in Paul’s book – or, in modern terms, we could insert the “pile of poo” emoji. This world offers stinky bile (you’ll not forget that reference the next time you get a text message!).
Amidst the turmoil and pain, Paul excavated a sublime treasure available to us: joy. Divided into four episodes (chapters), you have the opportunity to become both Paul’s housemate and fellow bondslave to Christ. Paul wasn’t in a dark and damp chamber, but was under house arrest. During this two-year period, Paul was under guard, yet was permitted to receive guests and to teach freely. This puts things into perspective for us. This world can seem like a prison at times – it’s not our forever home or place of rest. Nevertheless, God commissions us to receive others and to teach them His word (Matthew 28:19-20). Let’s live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ by listening to what God speaks to us through the book of Philippians:
I'm not into New Year resolutions. Mainly because they set our human flesh up for disappointment and failure, and I've pretty much got that covered for life. However, these last couple of years I've had a word. Not a goal, not a resolute, but a single word the Lord stamped on my soul. Last year, it was sit (link provided if you want to read it). The year prior it was white space.
No matter how you choose to celebrate Christ this season, let the Messiah–not the mayhem–reign in your heart. May you be richly blessed in Him!
Read: Titus 3:3—7
3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Reflect: So often, religions try to tack on extra to-dos we must accomplish or achieve in order to be “good” and receive Christ’s acceptance. But Titus 3 reminds us that we’re all “foolish, disobedient, deceived, and enslaved.” There is no righteousness in us, but God–in His kindness and love–sent Jesus. Don’t undermine grace–there’s nothing you can add to it so you’re found worthy of salvation. Simply accept it as a free gift and let God be magnified.
Respond: Loving Father, it says in 1 John 4:8 that You are love. This is difficult for my feeble mind to comprehend. Therefore, I choose to stand in awe of the unknown and ask for You to continue to expand my understanding of the width, height, and depth of Your love (Ephesians 3:18).
Tot Time: God is kind and He is love. Ask your tots, “What these two words mean? How can we show kindness and love to others?”