ephesians-identity

As we delve back into the Ephesians series, I want to remind each of us that in order for us to follow Jesus as a true disciple, we must be able to see Him for who He really is. Once we have a clear picture of Jesus, then we can truly understand who we are.

One of the truths that Tony Merida has already brought out in this study of Ephesians is that Jesus died in order to reconcile us to God. But Tony also points out, that another facet of Jesus’ death was to reconcile us to others.

Tony says,

As important as it is for us to live at peace with God (our vertical relationship), it’s vital for us to live at peace with others (our horizontal relationships). If that challenges you already, then good!


New Life In Community

When I think of rivalries, I begin to think sports. Yankees vs. Redsox. Auburn vs. Alabama. North Carolina Tarheels vs. the Duke Blue Devils. Rivalries! These are groups of people who don’t like each other. I’ll just say it out loud – they sometimes HATE each other.

When I think of rivalries, I don’t think of the church, but as some of you can attest, rivalries do happen inside the church and this weakens the church to do its purpose.

Anytime you bring people together there will be conflict, even in the church. Paul was explaining this to the church at Ephesus because there was conflict between two groups: The Jews & the Gentiles. (Gentiles are non-Jews).

Yet, because of what Christ did for them, these two groups of people had become friends. We see this in Ephesians 2:13-14:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…

What we have to understand is that it is the gospel that brings different groups of people together. Especially inside the church!

Tony points out that if we are in Christ, we not only have a new identity but we also have a new community – made up of new brothers and sisters in Christ. And we all make up the household of God.

That reminds me of the song by Bill Gather entitled “The Family Of God”. The chorus says:

I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.

I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!

Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,

For I’m part of the family, the family of God.

Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross of Calvary, we get to be part of God’s family!

Tony goes on to say:

Being reconciled with God doesn’t mean that working in unity with people is easy. But even though it’s not easy to live in unity with other believers, Jesus died to bring us together. So it must be important!

Jesus died for the church. That’s all of us – you, me, people who are different from us, and even people who are legitimately hard to get along with.

The church is made up of all different kinds of people with all different kinds of interest and will all different kinds of likes and dislikes. But it is the gospel that unites us and makes us One in Christ!

Galatians 3:28 says, “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:11 states, “In Christ there is not Greek or Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.

Diversity in the church is a glorious demonstration of the work of Christ. it is to be celebrated as it pictures heaven. – Tony Merida

So we come to the application part. Is there a conflict in your life with another Christian? Here are some practical steps to take:

  1. Pray for that person
  2. Ask God to soften your heart toward them
  3. Call, write, email or text them
  4. Talk with them face-to-face

Remember that no matter the circumstance or how different they are from you – if both parties are Christians, it is the gospel that brings us all together. 

 

 

 

Worship Wednesdays Banner

Today’s Worship Wednesday song comes to us from Bethel Music & singer Kristen Dimarco. The song is entitled “It Is Well”.

You may or may not have ever heard the story behind the great hymn “It Is Well With My Soul”. If you have then hang on; if you haven’t then here is the short version.

Horatio Spafford lost most of his entire fortune during the great Chicago fire in 1871. Shortly thereafter,  his four-year-old son died from scarlet fever. In 1873, he decided to take his family to Europe to visit D. L. Moody & Ira Sankey. When an urgent matter detained Horatio in New York, he decided to send his wife and four daughters on ahead and he would join them soon.

The French ship Ville du Havre traveled across the Atlantic Ocean heading for Europe. During the night, the ship collided with an iron sailing vessel. Water began to pour into the ship and soon it sank below the waters. There were a total of 226 fatalities that evening, which included Horatio’s four daughters. His wife was saved and escorted to the country of Wales. Upon arrival, she contacted her husband by cable and said “Saved Alone”.

Horatio quickly boarded another ship heading to meet his wife. As the vessel was passing over the site of the downed Ville De Havre, the captain of the ship contacted him to let him know. Horatio said the following words “It is well. The will of God be done.”

Upon reaching his wife, he quickly penned the words to this incredible hymn:

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”

Bethel Music has written “It Is Well” that talks about the same subject – when things get tough and the storms of life seem to be beating us down. Even in the middle of the storm, if we know Jesus, we can say … it is well!

The first verse & chorus of “It Is Well” says this:

Verse 1
Grander earth has quaked before moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred can be calmed and broken for my regard

Chorus
And through it all, through it all my eyes are on You
And through it all, through it all it is well
And through it all, through it all my eyes are on You
It is well with me

I don’t know what storms you are going through right now in your life but know this, Jesus Christ is the answer!

Matthew 8:23-27 says

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Let me encourage you today and let’s worship Him because He is the one that the wind and seas obey! I pray that we all can say in the middle of storms – “It is well. The will of God be done.”

 

Worship Wednesdays Banner

Today’s Worship Wednesday song comes from a combination of two things: 1) I have been reading through a book entitled “Grace Is Greater” by Kyle Idleman and 2) I love just about any song that Laura Story sings.

Because of this combination, today’s Worship Wednesday song is “Grace” by Laura Story.

God’s grace is an amazing thing. We sing about it in the church. We read about it in the Bible. But it is not until we truly experience God’s grace that it becomes real. Kyle Idleman said this about experiencing grace:

God’s grace is compelling when explained but irresistible when experienced.

The chorus to this songs goes like this:

“I ask you how many times will you pick me up when I keep on letting you down. And each time I will fall short of your glory. How far will forgiveness abound? And you answer my child, ‘I love you’. And as long as your seeking my face you’ll walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace.”

Idleman goes on to say in his book that:

Our ability to appreciate grace is in direct correlation to the degree to which we acknowledge our need for it. The more I recognize the ugliness of my sin, the more I can appreciate the beauty of God’s grace”.

I hope and pray that we will truly experience the grace of God and that we will understand our deep need for a Savior!

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! 

Points To Ponder

Disclaimer: These are articles or blog post that I have found interesting over the past few weeks. This does not mean that I agree with each and every point.


Does Jeremiah 29:11 Apply to You?

Russell Moore

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

These words are the John 3:16 of American cultural Christianity. Watch how often they show up on the Bible verse plaques sold in Bible Belt mall kiosks or posted on Facebook walls, even on tattoos. Whether as home decor or on social media posts, I see this passage claimed fervently by people I know haven’t been in a church service since the first Bush Administration. Naturally, this love for this verse has often led to more theologically-oriented Christians lamenting the out-of-context use of Jeremiah 29:11. So much so that a young Christian asked me recently, “Does Jeremiah 29:11 apply to me, or not?”

Read Full Article…


The Necessary First Step In Making Disciples

Dylan Blaine

In college, three good friends of mine were Indian nationals. They lived together––a Hindu, a Sikh, and a Muslim. I would visit their home and we would eat together, often bringing up spiritual topics. One day, I asked them what they thought about Jesus’ words in John 14:6:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Their reaction was incredulous disbelief that Jesus would say this. As a young Christian, I wasn’t aware of the traditional existence of these three religious beliefs in India, including the Islamic idea of Jesus as a mere prophet.  I confess that I found myself at a loss, unsure of how to answer their objections. Instead of an open Bible and a patient spirit, I said no more of the gospel, afraid that my apparent lack of understanding would somehow defame Christ. They had questions. I gave them silence.

READ FULL ARTICLE…


Why We Don’t  Commit To The Church

David Platt

I am increasingly convinced that the “me-centeredness” that is so prevalent in our church culture is in large part due to a deficient understanding of the church, its nature and essence.

Listen or Read Full Article…


Disciplining Your Children Without Losing Your Cool

Ginger Plowman – Family Life

I can relate to the frustrations of parenting little ones all day. Been there, done that! I also know how easy it is for mom to lose her cool. I was really struggling one day in particular when my children were younger. Feeling guilty for the harsh words and not-so-sweet tone of voice I had used all day, I decided to write down some guidelines that would enable me to keep myself in check.

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