If the New Testament books are the Himalayas and Romans is Mount Everest, Ephesians is K2! I love this book! Having finished the Gospel of Mark, I am now studying Paul’s great letter to the church at Ephesus. This morning I noticed afresh the word “kind.” Verse five reads, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” In the ninth verse, Paul wrote “he made known to us the mystery of His will, according to the kind intention which He purposed in Him.” Munch on that. In eternity past, God decided He would be kind in time and space. Awesome! We need to reject any concept of a detached, emotion-less deity making arbitrary decisions at whim! Instead, the Bible proclaims an engaged, emotion-filled God making consciously specific decisions for His glory (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14) and the temporal and eternal good of His people (1:3, 4, 5, 7, 11, 13)! Yes, this chapter contains some amazing meat (Heb. 5:12-14). Predestination is a topic for the mature. But this passage is also overflowing with milk and honey! “In love, He predestined us…” (1:4, 5). His decisions were kind (1:5, 9). My friends, doesn’t this section of Scripture prove the axiom: “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8)? Indeed, it does! If you are an adopted child of God (1:5), enjoy the milk and honey. Then, savor the meat. Finally, conclude with praise!
I confess that I was spending time with a beautiful blonde rather than my gorgeous brunette wife. And, if I can be so honest, I really enjoyed it! Lest you pick up your phone in order to confront me, please allow me to make another confession. The beautiful blonde was Cascade Rhea Wehse, my two-year-old daughter. On the majority of Tuesday and Thursday mornings, Jodi (my gorgeous brunette wife) does my job at the Academy while I take Cascade on a date. We typically go to a local coffee house. Perhaps in the future we will hike the Appalachian Trail! I think I’d be stretching it to force a spiritual application at this point. Is one even needed? Dads–believers or unbelievers–should spend time with their kids. That’s a responsibility I take seriously! If you are a parent, I trust you do as well. Thanks for stopping by my blog tonight!
“He” is Christ. Strengthens means that He gives energy and endurance. The idiot is me (I stayed up to watch the Packers lose a sloppy football game). The confidence comes from the testimony of the Apostle Paul who declared: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). I’ve been thinking about Christ this morning because I read Ephesians chapter one again. The chapter is filled with references to Jesus (some seventeen mentions)! The particular verse I camped on today was verse three. Paul wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (NIV). On a day which finds me needlessly dragging, I am joyful that I am indeed blessed. Because I am “in Christ,” I have an abundance of spiritual blessings! I’ve got a lot of stuff on earth, but I’ll receive much more in glory! A glorious inheritance awaits (Eph. 1:18). In Christ, and because of Christ, I believe I can make it! It sure helps when we set our minds on things above (Col. 3:1,2)! Join me in doing just that today!
Having finished reading through the Gospel of Mark in my daily devotional time, I began the book of Ephesians today. Although I read all of chapter one, I decided only to meditate upon the first two verses. Verse one teaches us seven facts: (1) That Paul is the author, (2) That Paul is an apostle, (3) That Paul is an apostle of Christ Jesus, (4) That Paul’s apostleship was by the will of God, (5) That the recipients of this letter were saints (that’s another term for Christians), (6) That these particular saints resided in Ephesus, and (7) That the believers being addressed were faithful in Christ Jesus. The last point is what stood out to me this morning. The believers were described by Paul as “the faithful in Christ Jesus.” They were not simply believers. They were faithful believers. And that is exactly what I want to be. I want to be described as faithful because I want to be faithful! I suppose there are a lot of definitions for this concept. Here’s one that works for me: Doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons in the right way. Here’s an example: If someone agrees to teach a Sunday School class on a certain date, they prepare adequately, they show up on time and they do their best for God’s glory. And, in order to be considered a faithful individual, they do stuff like that consistently. That’s why it takes a little time to judge whether or not someone is indeed faithful. Well, I very much want to be faithful. I want to consistently do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons in the right way. My guess is that that is your desire as well. Did we do this today? I believe I attempted to do so. The day isn’t through yet, though. Tasks yet remain. Although I am tired, I want to do the right thing tonight. Will you join me? Let’s be accurately called “the faithful in Christ Jesus”!
My Saturday wasn’t so bad. I worked about three hours, took the kids out for ice cream, played the Wii with the boys, mopped the house and prepared for Sunday School. I know I wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t do too badly. Ryan Mallett had a bad day. You probably don’t know who he is. He’s the starting quarterback for Arkansas. Yesterday his tenth-ranked Razorbacks lost to the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. Mallett threw three interceptions. They probably would have won had he only thrown two, but he threw three. I feel for the kid. Well over a million football fans around the country saw him act like Brett Favre on a bad day. I hope Ryan bounces back. Brett has done so, becoming perhaps the greatest quarterback to play in the NFL. Go, Ryan, go! Retire, Brett (as a Wisconsin native I become nauseated at the mention of the Minnesota Vikings). So Ryan Mallett had a bad day, and everybody knows about it. Honestly, I am glad that my bad days are very limited in viewership! Trust me, I’ve had three-interception days! I’ve turned the ball over when I had the opportunity to win the game. So have you. We’re not perfect, either. Thankfully, I have a God Who is! Jesus lived the perfect life, fulfilling all righteousness (Mt. 3:15) as He continued to be about His Father’s business (Lk. 2:49). You want to know what I do when I stink up the place with my mistakes and sins (and, yes, there is a difference)? I run to the Perfect One, the Author and Perfecter of my faith (Heb. 12:2)! I go to Jesus who dispenses mercy and grace from His gracious throne (Heb. 4:16). How was your day? If it wasn’t so bad, thank God. If it was, run to God. And, if you think of it, say a prayer for Ryan.
We celebrated Grandparents’ Day yesterday at the Academy. Around seventy adults joined us for a special assembly and pizza lunch. The majority of those visitors were grandparents of our students. Granparents like our school because they approve of our priorities (Christ, character development, college-prepartion, etc.). My hope is that they join us in prayer, asking God to do great things for His glory in the lives of our students, and that they might do what they can to help us raise money for the new property. But I have an even greater hope. I hope that each of them personally knows God through Jesus Christ and that they are striving to pass that faith along–like Lois and Eunich (2 Tim. 1:5). Lois was Timothy’s grandmother. Eunich was his mom. Each possessed a “sincere faith.” As a result, they taught Timothy “the sacred Scriptures” (2 Tim. 3:15). They fleshed out Deuteronomy 6:7. Well done, ladies! My friend, David Delmotte, Pastor of Birchwood Baptist Church, shared a similar testimony in a chapel this week, mentioning his mother and grandmother as influential people in this spiritual journey. Are you in a position in which you can influence a child for truth? Are you a grandparent? Are you an aunt or an uncle? You have a tremendous opportunity before you! Don’t miss it! I’ve seen too many miss it! Quality time is important. Gifts are always appreciated. But the impartation of truth, namely truth about Christ, is invaluable! Live the faith. Pass the faith. Make a difference! You can do so today! Let’s walk in the footsteps of Lois and Eunice!
I have been a Christian for over twenty-five years. During that time, I cannot begin to count how many times I have enjoyed studying the Word of God. This morning Jodi and I read and discussed Psalm 118. This afternoon I prepared my Sunday School lesson on Hebrews 12. Like many of you who read this blog, I love the Bible and I love reading and studying it! And, even though I have degrees in Biblical Studies and Theology, I continue to learn more and more, seeing things I have never seen before! The Bible is indeed living (Heb. 4)! Did you spend time in God’s Word last night? Or maybe this morning? What did you see? How were you encouraged? Was it convicting? Did God speak to you? I’d love to hear! My friends, take advantage of this wonderful gift to aid you in your quest to know and show God! Fix your eyes upon Christ (Heb. 12:1), the Stone the builders rejected (Ps. 118:22) by spending time in His Word!
Wasn’t that the slogan for Burger King? Why do we insist on having it our way? Whether consciously or unconsciously, deep down the vast majority of us very much want “it” our way. Isn’t that why we grumble and complain so much? I’ve been overwhelmed lately with believers grumbling about—usually—small things. I could give examples, but won’t. I have to wonder, though, how do I sound to others? Am I marked by consistent verbal discontent? If so, I apologize! The author of the book of Hebrews seems to be on a mission to help his readers think about Christ and the blessings associated with Christ. I suppose the same could be said of the Apostle Paul and the other writers of the New Testament. When some of these books were written, believers were beginning to face persecution. Yet the exhortation given is: Fix your eyes upon Jesus…consider Him…” (Heb. 12:1,2). While imprisoned, Paul wrote, “Rejoice always” (Phil. 4:4). How contrary to the typical American attitude (Christian and non-Christian) of wanting it our way and griping when it doesn’t go our way! Earlier in the book of Philippians, Paul wrote, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing” (2:14). And you know—if we do that—we’ll prove ourselves to be God’s children and we will easily stand out in our complaining culture (2:15). May God convict me—all of us—of times when we needlessly grumble and complain. I think if I truly focused my attention upon Jesus Christ, if I genuinely contemplated more upon His nature and works, I would bless more than curse (curse defined as bum people out). What do you think?
Yesterday I took the 9th graders hiking at Laurel Pocket Wilderness here in Rhea County. It’s a beautiful, pie-sliced piece of land set aside for recreation. In reality, it is truly a pocket of glory—God’s glory! Although it was a bit warm, and the recent drought killed Laurel Falls, I very much enjoyed all the plant life, rocks and trees that Jesus made for His glory! When is the last time you got out in creation and saw the glorious handiwork of the Creator? This past weekend I previewed a video I plan to show to my students at the academy. It’s entitled God of Wonders: Exploring the Wonders of Creation, Conscience, and the Glory of God (Eternal Productions). A friend purchased it at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. It’s a great tribute to our great God, concentrating upon the majors (God as Creator, intelligent design, etc.) rather than the minors (young or old earth creationism, etc.). Worship God through His Word and prayer. And—from time to time—get out into a pocket of glory for the same purpose! So, go take a hike. I’m not doing so. My legs are sore. Have a good day!
One of the reasons I so appreciate the Reformers and Puritans and Princeton theologians is that they had such a big view of God. Under his section on God’s Omnipotence, Charles Hodge wrote, “We can do very little. God can do whatever He wills. We, beyond very narrow limits, must use means to accomplish our ends. With God means are unnecessary. He wills, and it is done. He said, Let there be light; and there was light. He, by a volition created the heavens and the earth. At the volition of Christ, the winds ceased, and there was a great calm. By an act of the will He healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, and raised the dead. This simple idea of the omnipotence of God, that He can do without effort, and by a volition, whatever He wills, is the highest conceivable idea of power, and is that which is clearly presented in the Scriptures…[Hodge here cites five Bible references to prove his point]…The Lord God omnipotent reigneth, and doeth his pleasure among the armies of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth, is the tribute of adoration which the Scriptures everywhere render unto God, and the truth which they everywhere present as the ground of confidence to his people” (Systematic Theology, Vol. I, p.407). Now that’s meat for a Monday. “Our God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing our God cannot do” (that’s a children’s song with great truth)! God is BIG! God is all-powerful (omnipotent). And that—today—is the ground of my confidence. Have you any needs today? Might I suggest you take them to the throne of the God of the Universe—Jesus Christ!