When difficult times come

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession, since we were predestined according to the one purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, would be to the praise of his glory. And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation) – when you believed in Christ – you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1.11-14

God has had a plan that has existed since before the world was created. It laid the ground rules for his will to be put into action. It also determined who would receive redemption. If we obey the ground rules which are laid out clearly in the Bible, then we set our hope in Jesus and become a part of his body.

How do we become a part of Christ’s body? First we have to hear the word by reading the scriptures which is why it is so important to read the Bible. It contains the word of truth which is the good news of the gospel. However, just hearing the word is not enough, I have to believe what it says which will lead me to obey it.

Upon obeying the word, I receive the seal of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the first part of the promise that God has made to those who obey him. At the end of time, we will be redeemed and collected by God to be forever with him through eternity singing his praises.

When difficult times come, and they shall, I can look forward to heaven. As the song goes, “Heaven will surely be worth it all!”

#risingjoy #Ephesians #redemption

Had God not chosen to reveal himself

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us in all wisdom and insight. He did this when he revealed to us the secret of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, Ephesians 1.7-9

Without the Bible, what could we know about God? Very little could be known about God had he not chosen to reveal himself. That revelation came in the form of his son, Jesus, who often said that he and the Father were one.

Through Jesus we are able to know what God wants and expects of us. He passed to us what God told him to say. The New Testament is this message in written form. It is through Jesus that we have redemption or forgiveness of our sins. His life was given in place of my own. His blood was shed though it should have been mine.

I do not now nor will I ever deserve God’s grace. But he gives it freely to any who would agree to the terms that he set forth. Have you received his grace? Are you forgiven?

#risingjoy #Ephesians #forgiveness

Nothing lacking

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ. For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love. Ephesians 1.3-4

God is generous and loving. He gives certain things like rain and sunshine both to those who worship him as well as those who do not. However, to those who are in Christ through faith and obedience, he has a special relationship. He blesses us with every spiritual blessing. There is nothing lacking.

Before the world was created, God determined how he would save mankind. He made his plans and then put them into action. The Creator determined how man who has fallen from grace can return to him. He set the rules into play. We must be in Christ. In Christ, we may be holy or set apart from the world. Best of all, we are forgiven for we are unblemished in his sight. Do you have joy knowing that you are in Christ? We are blessed!

#risingjoy #Ephesians #in-Christ

In this arena called life

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them. Ephesians 2.8-10

God puts everyone on an even playing field. Even though some are better equipped to do things for others, that is not what God has determined will save a person. No matter how many good works I do, I cannot earn my salvation.

We are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus. Faith is belief in what the Bible states about Jesus: who he is, what he did while on earth, obedience to his commands. It is and was God’s initiative. It is his gift to us.

It is true that some have the gift of service to others. Some have the financial means to help others. But our eternal salvation is not based on these things. There is no room for boasting in this arena called life.

We are the accomplishment of God in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3.28 states that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. We are all one in Jesus. We were created for good works that God had already prepared.

One of these is to share the good news with others. Another would be to love one another. What better way to demonstrate that love than through serving one another. Jesus said that we would be known by our love for each other. This paints a much different picture of how the world could be. Better yet, of how it should be.

#risingjoy #Ephesians #goodworks

One of our characteristics

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you are saved! – and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2.4-7

We were dead in transgressions and God loved us anyway. His love was so huge that he sent his son to die in our place.

Ephesians 2.1-3 paints a very stark picture of who we were. We were living in sin. We were sons of disobedience which means that disobedience was one of our characteristics. We lived out our lives following the carnal cravings that we followed somewhat blindly. We were children of wrath who were indulgent, especially when it came to our fleshly desires and to our minds which were far from pure. We did not know God.

Enter grace. More specifically, God’s grace. He loved us so much. His mercy is so great. He made our redemption possible. We were made alive together with Christ. Through baptism I was raised up with Jesus in a spiritual resurrection after which it became possible to enter the heavenly realm.

When there was nothing I could do myself, God did it all through Jesus. Make no mistake. It was God’s grace.

#risingjoy #Ephesians #grace

Fight boldly

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6.11

Most of us have watched movies that show a serf helping his lord put on his armor before battle. There is a way to do this correctly. You do not see a knight go into battle half dressed. He goes in fully prepared.

Paul tells the Ephesians to dress for battle. The enemy is a powerful one. Satan uses schemes to make his attack. The battle is fought on the spiritual realm.

Paul instructs them to clothe themselves with the full armor of God. He gives reassurance to them of their ability to stand against the devil’s schemes. God’s armor consists of truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, and the word of God, 6.14-17. Those who clothe themselves with these things can fight boldly and with confidence.

We need to heed the call of Paul to dress for battle and put on our armor. Of what is your armor made? Do you have an armor to help you fight against the devil and his schemes? Have you let your armor get rusty? Let us make ready. Let us clothe ourselves with God’s armor! May we be well prepared to fight!

#risingjoy #Ephesians #armor

If we want to know

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

for you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light -Ephesians 5.8

Darkness and light. Such a contrast. In true darkness, nothing can be seen. However, light makes everything visible and clear. Paul uses this contrast to describe the difference between the evil that exists where God is not present and light in the Lord. The child of God is a light in the Lord. Then the apostle commands that we walk as children of the light. He goes on to say in the following verses that the fruit of the light is: all goodness, righteousness, and truth – trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. We must be readers of God’s word if we want to know how to please him. God will not accept just any kind of worship. If that were so, he would not have left instructions on how to worship. He teaches us what is good. We might have differing opinions on the matter. Neither opinion has any value if it does not match what God has left in his word. Truth. If you stop to think about it, opposite positions cannot both be truth. Who determines what truth is? Again, my opinion is just as good as your opinion! Therefore we must return to the Bible for our answers and read, read, and read again. It is hard to understand, you say? God is just. How just would it be for him to leave instructions on how to live life pleasing to him in a language that could not be understood? Many times we do not want to take the time to read his word. We are too caught up in living life in the fast lane. Or it may be that reading his word will demand that we make changes in our lives. Sometimes that is hard to do. We do not like change. Walk as children of the light!

#risingjoy #Ephesians #light

Responsible for the wife

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body but feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. (…) Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5.28-31, 33

The two become one. Paul has much to say to the husband in these verses. As the spiritual leader, he is ultimately responsible for the spiritual and physical welfare of his family but especially his wife. He should love his wife as his own body. A man will take care of his own body, feeding it, clothing it, and in general doing what is good for it. Since the two are one after marriage, he has that same responsibility to his wife. More importantly, he is to be the spiritual head of the family who serves under the guidance of Jesus. To be able to do this, he needs to be in the Word and sharing what he has learned with her. This love is not the emotional stars in the eyes. It is a decision to do what is best for her. The wife must respect her husband. It is not a choice. Nor is it difficult if he is faithful to the Lord. With the love and respect in place in the marriage, it will not only survive, but will bring joy to both of your lives.

#risingjoy #Ephesians #marriage

Do your part

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love. Ephesians 4.15-16

Growth is important. If a newborn baby does not grow, the parents become worried and rightly so. If a plant does not grow, it indicates that there is a problem. It will not produce fruit if there is a problem. I need to grow up into Christ. As a small child grows, he learns to eat solid food, he learns to crawl, and then he learns to walk. He learns to do these things through practice. He does not one day start eating solid food. Nor does he suddenly crawl across the floor with a speed that surprises those watching. Nor does he suddenly walk as if it were the most natural thing in the world. It takes practice. Paul tells us that we will grow into Christ by practicing the truth in love. Christ is the head of the body, the church. He gives us gifts which are to be used to build up his body. We are to strive for maturity in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. When we are practicing the truth in love, the body grows strong. The church grows in love. The church grows strong. But, each one must do his part. Are you doing your part to help the body grow?

#risingjoy #Ephesians #growth

Once we understand

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you are saved! – and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2.5-7

I remember one time when one of my children had just been disciplined for something they had done wrong. They did not think very highly of me at the time. I remember them telling me that they wished I were not their mother. Now, folks, that comment made out of anger still had the power to hurt this mother’s heart even though I knew that they did not really mean it. Once the anger on their part had cooled, everything was fine again. Imagine how God must feel when in our selfishness we prefer to die in our sins rather than live in communion with him. It is mind-blowing once we understand exactly what God’s grace did on our behalf. There had to be a sacrifice. Jesus became that sacrifice. His purpose was to come here, obey God, and die for me and for you. God makes me alive again because of that sacrifice when I obey him. I have a new home in the heavenly realm! That is cause for joy!

#risingjoy #Ephesians #sacrifice-of-Christ

I must change

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth. Ephesians 4.22-24

When a person is taught to obey the truth, changes have to take place. There are things that we must quit doing because it is sin. We are taught what those things are. Earlier in chapter 4, Paul talks about the life that the one who does not know God lives. They are tied to deceitful desires which corrupt us and keep us in a state separated from God. We have to pass from the old man to the new man. We must be renewed in the spirit of our mind. I cannot continue to act and think like I once did. I must change. I must tell the truth instead of the white lie. I must watch what I say that it be edifying. I must try to serve other people instead of myself. I must die to myself and live for God in Christ. I become a new creature, a new man. One that is created in God’s image. God is righteous and holy. So must I be. It is not relative to my situation. It comes from truth, God’s truth. How do I know God’s truth? By hearing and reading it. It is within my grasp. I just have to make the effort.

#risingjoy #Ephesians #change

Brought near

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2.13

Far away. That is how I often feel in regards to family and friends. Living on another continent has a tendency to increase that feeling. It can sometimes bring feelings of helplessness when you hear what is going on with loved ones and cannot be there to help. Brought near. O what joy that brings! To arrive on the scene and share the hugs and laughter. To be able to catch up on all that you have missed since the last meeting.

God is so good. I was once so very far away in my sins, feeling helpless and unable to do anything about it. You see, once fallen, it is no longer up to me to do anything about my situation. I do not have that capacity. I will say it again. God is so good! He brought me near to Him by the blood of His Son, Jesus. When there was nothing I could do except receive His condemnation, He sacrificed Jesus to bring me near to Him. Actually there is something that I have to do to be brought near. I have to accept what He offers.

Are you still far away, feeling hopeless, lost, and in despair? Do you want to be brought near to God? Have you accepted what He offers? Do you even know what He offers? Read His word, do it, and be brought near.

#risingjoy #Ephesians #reconciliation

MOST: Always humble and gentle

Meditate on this verse:

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient and accept each other with love, Eph 4.2 ICB.

Offer this prayer:

Sovereign Lord, show me the way to humility. May I learn the gentleness of Christ. Soften my hardness of impatience with situations and with others.

Savor this thought:

God’s patience with me frees me to be patient with others.

Take this action:

Recall the ways Christ showed himself to be humble.

#most #humility #Ephesians

We are all members of the same body, Ephesians 4.25

“So then, get rid of lies. Speak the truth to each other, because we are all members of the same body.”

Ephesians 4.25 GW

Lies do harm. Honesty blesses others. Why then do harm to yourself by lying, since Christians all belong to the body of Christ?

Some people disfigure parts of their bodies. We wonder why they would do this. But many Christians harm Christ’s body with dishonesty and hypocrisy.

#votd #Ephesians #truth

The fullness of him: Ephesians 1.23

“Now the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

Ephesians 1.23

The theme of the letter is the magnificent universal church. This is Paul’s first mention of the word and he ties it to Christ and his fullness.

The first chapter is all about prayer and praise for God’s work, which is focused in uniting people in the church. Am I united to Christ and to his people? This is central to his will.

#votd #Ephesians #church