Leggings, envy and florescent lights…

Two vanity-laden observations: mirror

  • Everyone these days loves leggings. However, after trying on almost every top in my closet that covers my rear, I have decided that I am not buying another pair until I lose 20 pounds. (And although that would put me into that ideal “skinny” range, it would also require a daily regimen of only eating three raisins and smelling a diet Coke.) Without a mumu over them, I look…curvier than I prefer.
  • My bathroom lights are fritzy. My side of the counter is never well-lit so I rely on experience and memory to put my makeup on properly. Tonight the lights came on in all their florescent glory.

    I either want different lights or a facelift.

Sometimes the Scriptures do that to me too. Yeah, you know where I’m going with this. My leggings don’t make me look curvy. My thighs make me look that way. My lights don’t make me look…well, they are florescent, so they don’t help but neither does my age.

It is very easy to read Scripture and think of the power it has to free people in this dark world that we live in. I love to teach and when I read certain passages, they almost immediately start “to preach” in my mind. Lesson illustrations begin to form and I get excited. Then the stark florescent light of God’s Word shines bright and I see words like jealousy and selfish ambition in there among murder and adultery.

There is a passage in Romans that has been resonating with me lately and I just read it again:
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkeness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”
(Romans 13:12-14)

That isn’t just flicking on a florescent light. That one utilizes a magnification mirror.

Revelry, drunkeness, lewdness – pretty much in check. “The day is at hand…Put on the armor of light.” Those are exciting exhortations! But strife can mean having a contentious spirit and I have been known to be argumentative a time or two. Envy or jealousy ties in with rivalry. Rivalry with other Kingdom builders is far uglier than uncovered leggings.

mirror Tonight I wore a longer top and used bronzer. But the light that the Scripture shines on our weakness is not meant to be ignored. God gives us grace and never wants us to walk in shame. But He also gives us the wonderful convicting voice of His Holy Spirit, urging self-reflection and prayer that we can discern just what we need to do to show the beauty of our Jesus.


green-swirls

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He calls me holy…

Ephesians_RegimensWithGrace“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
“just as He chose us to Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,”
Ephesians 1:3-4

Do you ever just have those days when one small thing sets you off on to a path of discouragement?

Why do I…? Does anyone…? Should I even…? The thoughts take off.

And if we allow it, the enemy will eventually twist those thoughts until we question our calling.

Spouse, parent, employee, student, teacher, minister. Whatever it is that God has called us to do with excellence, “the wiles of the devil,” as Paul calls them, will work against us to make us think that it isn’t making a difference.

And eventually we’ll think it is because we are lousy at whatever it is we’re trying to do.

Today started out as one of those days.

Why do you teach? Why do you write? A handful of readers. A handful of attendees. You’re fooling yourself. Wah. Wah. Wah.

(And I thought pride was my problem.)

Then I thought of the passage on which I was about to write.

“Holy”

“Without blame”

Wait a sec.

The Creator of the universe “chose [me] in Him before the foundation of the world, that [I] should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”

Okay, the “wah, wah” is starting to recede.

He loved me before He created the first sunset.
He chose me before He carved the first canyon in place.
He wanted me before He whipped the first mountains into a peak.
Tetons

He did that because He wanted to set me aside as holy and without blame.

That word “holy” means “prepared for God with solemn rite. Pure. Clean.”

Like a virgin bride.

Me.

“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.” (Eph. 5:27)

Now if I let it, this could get even more depressing because I am often less than holy and definitely not without blame.

But…

the verse before that is the clincher.

Ephesians 5:25&26 tells us that “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, that he might wash and sanctify her.”

We don’t use words like “sanctify” outside of Bible studies much so let’s bring that to today’s terms. Jesus gave up His life for us to make us holy.

Me?BeFunky_holy-ppt-backgrounds-powerpoint.jpg

Not so much.

Through Jesus?

I am holy.

I am without blame.

When we skip down to Ephesians 1:7, we see “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

I’ve accepted His forgiveness. I’ve been given His grace.

He has called me holy and deemed me blameless.

The junk that causes discouragement may not disappear. Nothing changed for me today.

But my perspective changes when my focus changes.

    The God of everything loved me enough not to just see past my flaws but through His Son to declare me without them.

And now I can tell my husband that the burning smell coming from the kitchen is not my fault.

Blameless through Jesus.

Father, no matter how many times my thoughts spiral, continue to remind me how You think of me. Thank You so much that before You created anything – You loved me. And You wanted to make me holy. Thanks Lord, for not seeing me as a mess, but beautiful and without fault before You.

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Chosen

BeFunky_Ephesians.jpg “Blessed be the God and Father our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” (Ephesians 1:3-4)

Chosen.
What a beautiful word.

Do you remember being on the playground as a child? We would designate captains for whatever game we were playing – tag, hide-n-seek, Red Rover – and the leaders would choose their teams. It was wonderful to be the first one chosen (I never was) and horribly embarrassing to be the last. That meant you were the one no one wanted. The slow one. The geeky one. The little one. For whatever reason, you weren’t chosen. You were tolerated.

God doesn’t just tolerate us.

He doesn’t think, “Well, I sent Jesus to die for everyone and she asked for forgiveness so I have to put up with her.”BeFunky_chosen-ppt-backgrounds-powerpoint.jpg

No one is last on God’s team.

You are chosen.
He wants you.

He picked you.

Strong’s concordance defines this Greek word for chosen as “I pick out for myself, choose, elect, select. HELPS Word tells us that it means “to select out of, by a highly deliberate choice (i.e. real heart-preference) with a definite outcome.

In this particular passage, it is specifically used so that the grounds of the choice are based on Christ and His merits.

It doesn’t matter if I’m the geeky one. My Team Captain is awesome enough for all of us!

And He chose me!

Father, I can’t thank you enough that Jesus is so perfect, so awesome, that You chose me to be Your child. Thank you for sending Him to die for me, for His resurrection, in order that You might choose us in Him. Thank You for being such a loving God that You make this available for everyone.

I encourage you to read this passage in Ephesians with today’s devotion. To do so online, you may click here: Ephesians 1:1-6

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Feeling poor?

BeFunky_Ephesians.jpg“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”

It sounds like just another generic entry to another one of Paul’s letters, doesn’t it? “Dear Mom & Dad, How are you. Things here are good. I’m doing fine.”

Well, let’s see:

Romans: “Paul…to all who are in Rome…grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:1-7)

Corinthians: “Paul…to the church of God which is at Corinth…Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:1-3)“Paul…to the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:1-2)

Galatians: “Paul…to the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:1-3)

Philippians: “Paul and Timothy…to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi…Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus christ.” (Philippians 1:1-2)

Colossians: “Paul…to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Colossians 1:1-2)

Thessalonians: “Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:1)“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 1:1-2) I almost said “ditto” on this one but it didn’t seem very respectful.

Timothy: “Paul…to Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Timothy 1:1-2)“Paul…to Timothy, a beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (2 Timothy 1:1-2)

Titus: “Paul…to Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 1:1-4)

Philemon: “Paul…to Philemon, our beloved friend and fellow laborer, to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philemon 1:1-3)

Hmmm…notice anything?Paul to Ephesians

The second verse in Ephesians is Paul’s standard greeting of “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” To keep things short I did not include the follow-up verse for each book. However, in most of the other letters, he follows that part of his greeting by letting them know how thankful he is for them. A couple of times he just launches right into the purpose of the letter.

When writing to the Ephesians, he begins by giving God praise and then by reminding them that God has caused them to prosper with all the blessings of Christianity.

The believers in Ephesus weren’t very different from many of us today. I don’t know if they were financially rich or poor but Ephesus was a happening place full of wealthy, hip people. There were bound to be times these folks felt out-of-place.

Most of them weren’t Jews, they were Greek. They didn’t worship at any of the beautiful temples there that people came from everywhere to see. No, they had to walk past all of the stalls selling beautiful statues of Diana on their way to someone’s house to meet with a few other people who probably also felt very uncool.

Paul knew. He’d been there. He spent three years with them in the middle of a city where temple prostitutes were the norm and these very Christians had given up sorcery and burnt their magic books. He knew the pressures of living and working in that society where everything was god but God.

So he greeted them and he told them they were blessed. Not just a little. Not just “Have a happy day” kind of blessed. Not just a good day in the tent-making business kind of blessed.

Blessed – the given every spiritual benefit available in heaven kind of blessed.

And he spends the rest of three chapters telling them what those benefits are.

Feeling poor? A little left out? Like your Facebook pictures aren’t as cool as everyone else’s?

Read Ephesians. Paul will tell you how blessed you really are.

Thank you Lord, so very much, for all of Your many blessings. Not just for a house to live in, food to eat, and a car to drive – although I don’t want to ever take those for granted. Thank You for choosing me to be Your daughter, for adopting me into Your family, and for giving me all of the riches that come with being Your child.

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Faithful in…

Ephesians_RegimensWithGraceSunday night was on its way and I was supposed to teach on Ephesians. I was thrilled at the chance and rather daunted as well. We have a class full of “meat” Christians and I felt a tremendous responsibility to see that they walked away fed.

So I read and prayed. Researched and prayed. And prayed some more. I read over notes I had jotted in my Bible, phrases I had underlined, and God allowed a few leaves to fall from the tree I was shaking.

Jotted in the margins of my Bible, I have all of the times in Ephesians 1 that we see who we are or what we have in Christ. So I dug deeper and He stopped me at the first verse.

“To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:”

Why faithful in and not faithful to?

That wording seemed a little odd to me. I don’t say I’m faithful in my husband.

So I looked it up.cropped-o-WOMAN-PRAYING-HANDS-facebook.jpg

The Greek word as used here means believing, confiding, trusting; one who trusts in God’s promises; relating to the person in whom faith or trust is reposed. And, believing the faith God imparts.

So in this verse, it isn’t about being loyal, where the responsibility rests on us, it is simply about confiding and trusting in Jesus.

Wow.

It isn’t about my effort or trying hard to stay loyal. It is about trusting in Jesus. And I don’t even have to do that on my own. That is the kind of faith that only God can give!

“He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory,so that your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Peter 1:20-21

That word believe is the same word as the one used for faithful in Ephesians 1:1.

And the word faith?

This is really cool. The Greek word for that is pistis. Again, it is the kind only God can give. In my searches of Strong’s and HELPS, I found that in secular antiquity, the word referred to a guarantee or warranty.

Do you see how all of this ties together? All we have to do is fully place our confidence and our trust in Jesus. He gives us our faith. We are given a guarantee.

I don’t have to struggle to “have faith.” I do have to remember to let go and trust.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus
(and Dallas, and Dehli, and Denver, and Detroit!)
and
faithful in Christ Jesus..
.

 

Oh thank you God, that when we let go of control and provide the trust, that You provide the faith.

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