Christ’s sacrifice set us free from sin and death and took us out from under the weight of the law. We now receive salvation as a free gift offered through God’s grace. But Paul reminds us, in Ephesians, that our freedom should be used to become more Christlike and to serve more selflessly. Freedom was not extended so we could use it frivolously and sin more simply because we can. Let us, as believers, use our freedom for the good of others and glory of God.
- 1-17 – God acknowledges that he did allow the Israelites to go into exile, but tells them that he is going to restore them and their enemies will not be able to overtake them anymore.
- 1-13 – The words to the Israelites are restorative and healing. God paints a picture of taking great care of the Israelites.
- 1-13 – Here the Lord explains what happens if sinners don’t repent. He continues to mock all kinds of idolatry.
- 5-9 – Though we are free, this is a good word for how each of us should work too. We are to work hard for good. That good will be returned to us.
- 10-17 – These verses remind us that God gives us all kinds of tools to protect us from any attacks that might come our way. We simply have to use them.
- David is quick to encourage the hearer to praise God and remain humble that God is the one with the power.
- This goes further than don’t do evil. Don’t even plan to do evil.
Do you know that person who always offers to help after the work is done or always “wishes” they could help? Those sentiments are pretty meaningless – about as productive as a dog chasing his tail. That is how God feels about sacrifices to Him when people go on sinning and worshipping other gods. The sacrifices don’t mean anything. They’re empty. It sure makes you think, are our offerings of worship and service, at times, pretty meaningless?
- 1-8 – This is a prophecy promising to return Jerusalem to what it was intended to be.
- 9-11 – A call to arms to prepare to bring the Israelites back from exile.
- 17-2 – Jerusalem is being urged to wake up and prepare for restoration.
- 6 – So often, including the prophet Isaiah, biblical characters have responded with “here I am”. Here God explains that he will answer in this same way when it’s time for Israel to be restored.
- 7-12 – The “good news” this passage refers to is the salvation of Jerusalem. This beautiful, poetic explanation is a great reflection of the beauty of salvation.
- 1-12 – Now read this again recognizing that it is foretelling Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
- 1-5 – Following Christ is an act of allowing ourselves to be transformed to look more and more like him. We cannot continue on sinning and say that we are being transformed.
- 6-14 – There are lots of folks who will try to steer us off our pursuit of following Christ. This is easiest when our sins are hidden. When we bring them to the light they are far easier to deal with.
- 22-33 – This passage is often disliked and/or ignored in modern society. But if both spouses choose to love and respect one another as Scripture calls us to, both parties get a really good deal.
- 19-28 – David asks God to punish his enemies.
- 30-36 – Several times in Scripture God asks for humility or obedience instead of a bunch of meaningless sacrifices. David promises to do just that.
In Paul’s writings, including today’s excerpt from Ephesians, he often writes lists of sins to avoid. It’s important that we recognize that these lists are not exhaustive. Paul is writing to specific people groups who are struggling with specific sins so those are the sins he calls out. Like today, if you were talking to a group of teenagers you would talk about doing drugs, gossip, and premarital sex as sins. You probably wouldn’t mention embezzlement. Embezzlement is a sin, but not one those kids are struggling with at the time.
- 12-22 – God explains to the Israelites how much they could have prospered if they had just followed him.
- 1-6 – This is from the perspective of the servant who also spoke in chapter 42. This servant was called by God to speak to Israel.
- 14-26 – God promises Israel that he will restore them and that they will soon come out of exile.
- 17-20 – This is referring to Gentiles who have not been saved. The majority of Paul’s ministry was to Gentiles, so he obviously didn’t write them all off as heathens.
- 25-31 – Paul urges the Ephesians to avoid temptation and sin. This is not an exhaustive list, but most likely one that spoke to common temptations the Ephesians were facing.
- 1-6 – David does not deny that he has sinned but still cries out for help because of his enemies who have no cause for hating him.
- 7-18 – David is being judged and tormented for his commitment to God but he knows that his hope is in the Lord.
- Wisdom and knowledge are more than just nice things to have. They benefit us in a variety of practical ways. War was a big deal to the culture the proverbs were originally written for.
What have been the most formative times of your life? For me and for many I know, formation, and especially transformation, often comes during times of trial. Though God does not send us trials for this purpose, he does use the trials to bring about his purposes. In Isaiah, God explains that the Israelites have been refined through the significant trial of exile.
- 11-25 – The Lord establishes that he is God and there are no other gods above or beside him.
- 1-13 – God points out the ridiculousness of worshipping something you’ve created yourself. He lists off a few reasons that these gods clearly have no power. Humans created them. They can’t even control themselves.
- 1-15 – God chastises the Babylonians for mistreating the Israelites when they were in captivity and explains that they will be punished.
- 1-11 – The Lord explains that he was refining the Israelites through their trials. This is often a painful process but is necessary for our growth and faithfulness.
- 1-7 – Paul urges the Ephesians to be of one mind and heart. He reminds them that they were all saved by the same means and should use this as a bond.
- 11-16 – God had equipped the Ephesian believers through a variety of helpers so they could mature in their faith and not be swayed so easily by false prophets or temptations.
- 27 – Saul, the first king of Israel, was from the tribe of Benjamin, which would put that tribe in the lead.
- The psalmist calls on God to protect and prosper the Israelites and rounds everything out with praise for God’s abilities.
Who is in your mission field? This may sound like a strange question, but you may not be called to the poorest, lowliest, most remote tribe. But that shouldn’t stop you from ministering to the people in your realm. Your mission field may be the stock brokers in your office, the middle-class teenagers in your classroom, or the Starbucks barista who serves you coffee everyday. Today, in Ephesians, we see that Peter and Paul ministered to different groups, but both did God’s work faithfully.
- 18-20 – God was not trying to redeem the people in the same way they’d grown accustomed to, but he was going to provide for them in a new way.
- 1-8 – God is always actively working in taking what is dead and giving it life. We see dry ground but he is able to pour out his Spirit on it and give it new life.
- 9-20 – God makes it clear how silly it is to worship idols that you create with your own hands. The same elements that make the idol could have also been used to make food or to burn and give warmth, but we don’t worship those things.
- 8-10 – It is just as useless and out of place for us to question God’s work as it is for a pot to question the work of the potter.
- 6-7 – Paul’s specific mission was to share the gospel of redemption with gentiles. Some others, including Peter, felt called to share the gospel with Jews.
- 14-19 – It’s funny that we now often fear offending people by sharing the gospel. The gospel is meant for our good. Knowing Christ means knowing the vastness of God’s love, which is a blessing.
- 20-21 – The power of God is impossible for us to fully imagine. He can do all things.
- 1-10 – There are certain benefits and blessings God’s people receive that are not available to those who do not follow him.
- A sinful life often looks glamorous, but it leads to trouble and should not be envied.
Grace is a funny thing. Some churches emphasize it more than others, but for many of us it’s hard to comprehend, hard to accept, and hard to offer to others. Grace is intended as a free gift, one that cannot be earned. God offers grace to us through the death and resurrection of Christ. We can’t earn our sins away. We can only accept God’s free gift. Ephesians explains it nicely. Check it out.
- 17-24 – God promises to take care of those in need and also challenges other gods to try to do the same. He taunts other gods asking them to do something good or bad if they’re capable.
- 1-9 – Some believe this is referring to the call of servants and general and what God would have each of us do. Others focus this on a particular servant and most often associate the passage with Christ. In Jesus’ first public address found in Luke 4, he quotes verses 6 and 7.
- 18-25 – Israel, who God originally called to be his servants, failed to hear and see God’s messages.
- 1-13 – Such comforting words God speaks to his people reminding them that he will restore them and that he calls them by name. God is always faithful in his promises.
- 1-2 – The price for sin is death. When we sin but have not accepted God’s grace and forgiveness through Christ, we are dead in our sin.
- 4-10 – God offers us grace, which is a free gift, so no one can consider themselves higher or greater than anyone else. We are all in need of the good gifts of God through salvation.
- 18-22 – Though grace should humble us, it also exalts us to equality with all the saints. We are heirs to God’s kingdom with Jesus and all the saints.
- 1-2 – It is interesting that the psalmist asks that Gods’ face to “shine upon them”. People did not see God but when Moses was in God’s presence, his face shone afterwards. We also know that, when Jesus spent time with God on the Mount of Transfiguration, his clothes shone after being with him.
- Warnings against indulging in alcohol in excess. We lose our ability to control ourselves and thus cannot give God control.
How does the gospel inform your daily life? Take a few days to read Ephesians and you’ll learn how it should.
This is not my recipe, but I get compliments every time I make it. You should try it. It’s great for barbecues, potlucks, and the like. I’d suggest the addition of a little bit of salt. You see, when we find things that are good, whether it’s a movie, recipe, or thought, we tend to share it. This is what the psalmist is calling us to do today. When God does something great in your life, tell others. Make it known so they might experience Him too.
- 1-8 – Hezekiah started out faithful, but like several other kings, made some poor choices in his later years. He shows off his wealth to his Babylonian visitor. It seems that the sin in this is trying to befriend Babylon in an effort to have an ally against Assyria. God wants Judah to seek him as their only ally.
- 1-31 – God offers comfort to his people and assurance that he will care for them. There are several beautiful passages within the chapter that can speak comfort to us today.
- 3 – This verse is quoted regarding John the Baptist who was called to prepare the way for Christ.
- 8-10 – God continues to comfort the Israelites of Judah assuring them that he will hold them up and keep them safe.
- 3-10 – Paul praises God for allowing he and his fellow believers to know God and his grace. He thanks God for his plan of salvation.
- 15-23 – This is Paul’s prayer for the church that the Ephesians would understand God’s great works and the gifts he had given them.
- 5-7 – We see another reference to God’s great act of parting the Red Sea. The psalmist, who has great faith, knows that God’s acts are incredible and invites other simply to come and see what the Lord has done.
- 16-17 – Not only does the psalmist want the reader to see God’s good works, the psalmist also wants to tell personally of the great things God has done.
- Here the proverb tries to warn of the temptations and consequences of lust.
Yep, still in Isaiah. Settle in. We’ll be here for a while.
But, in the New Testament, in case you need a little reprieve from all the prophecies, we’ll look at two of Paul’s epistles (fancy word for letters – use it at parties – it will make you sound smart and holy). This week we read Galatians and Ephesians.
As you begin Ephesians, read it with this in mind: Paul was in prison when he wrote it. Even in the opening verses, as Paul exclaims, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” (Ephesians 1:3). His joy and faith are evident.
Though I hope to never be imprisoned for my faith, I hope my joy and eagerness to share Christ are comparable to that of Paul.