Posts tagged ‘Ephesians’

March 26, 2014

843 Acres Lent: Supernatural Good and Evil

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 13 (txt | aud, 3:01 min)
Eph 6 (txt | aud, 2:59 min)
Highlighted: Eph 6:11-12

Choice: In The Fall by Albert Camus, Jean-Baptiste Clamence is a successful, well-respected and charitable lawyer in Paris, who primarily takes “widow and orphan” cases. One day, he’s crossing the Pont Royal and comes across a woman dressed in black leaning over the edge of the bridge. He hesitates for a moment, but continues walking. Suddenly, he hears splashing water and knows that she has jumped in. What does he do?

Realization: He has three choices: (1) he can jump in and save her, but then—he reasons—he himself might drown; (2) he can run and get help, but then—he reasons—someone might suspect him of wrongdoing; or (3) he can walk away, which is what he does. His choice plagues him. He considers himself good and altruistic, but he realizes that he is duplicitous and selfish. He realizes that he isn’t committed to anything other than his own comfort, that he has lived his whole life in search of honor, recognition, and power over others. Ultimately, he responds by withdrawing from the world—closing his law practice, avoiding people, throwing himself into debauchery.

Supernatural: Tim Keller says that Clamence’s crisis is not merely emotional or intellectual; it’s also spiritual. “There is human good and evil and supernatural good and evil. Every inch is claimed by God and counterclaimed by the enemy. Christians see that life is a fight, and that there is a battle for your soul.” [1] How do we engage in this battle? Paul writes, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” [2] Evil is multi-dimensional; our problems are not merely human or natural.

Prayer: Lord, Evil is complex; it stems from the flesh, the world, and the enemy. We confess that we often do not take it as seriously as we should. We attribute our problems mainly to our intellect, our morality, or other things. Yet the spiritual realm is real. There is a battle for our hearts and souls. Teach us to discern it and fight it in our lives, and may we put on the full armor of God—truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the word, and prayer. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Tim Keller. “The Strategies of Darkness.” Sermon. 11/24/91. | [2] Ephesians 6:11-12 ESV

March 25, 2014

843 Acres Lent Tweetables: Our Complicated, Conflicting Inner Lives

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 12 (txt | aud, 3:02 min)
Eph 5 (txt | aud, 3:42 min)

Discerning Brokenness

We have trouble understanding our dynamic, complicated, sometimes conflicting and warring emotions that we feel inside of us.

And it’s hard for others to understand them, too: “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy. Proverbs 14:10

We are complex beings – physical, moral, philosophical, emotional, relational, existential. #solitaryinnerlife

Imagining Redemption

Anxiety in a man’s heart weights him down, but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25

If a kind word from the outside makes us glad, but if no one else truly understands us, then what hope do we have?

By this we reassure our heart before him: “for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” 1Jn3

Praying ACTS

Lord, We #adore you for being a wholehearted Savior, knowing us in our many facets and speaking to our hearts with kind words of grace.

For we #confess that anxiety and confusion and the complex realities of life enslave our hearts and that we have no hope apart from Christ.

We give you #thanks for sharing in our joys and struggles in Christ, who became incarnate and took on the weaknesses of humanity.

May we love the things that you have given us, but may we treasure Christ above them all so that our loves may be ordered. #supplication

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 Lent - logo

We invite you to join us and the Women’s Bible Society to a Lenten Bible Listening Event on Thursday morning, April 10th. Click here for more details.
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March 24, 2014

843 Acres Lent: The Good News About Injustice

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 11 (txt | aud, 3:38 min)
Eph 4 (txt | aud, 3:58 min)
Highlighted: Prov 11:10

Injustice: Even if the exact circumstances considered unjust can vary from culture to culture, the sense of injustice is universal. And it’s universally hated. No one likes to be misused, abused, or neglected. Is there any good news, though, about injustice?

Good News: In The Good News About Injustice, IJM founder Gary Haugen says that the good news about injustice is that God cares. He writes, “Amid a world of injustice, oppression, and abuse, we can know some simple truths about God if we study his Word … In regard to injustice, our heavenly Father bids us to trust in four solid truths about his character: (1) God loves justice and, conversely, hates injustice; (2) God has compassion for those who suffer injustice—everywhere around the world, without distinction or favor; (3) God judges and condemns those who perpetrate injustice; and (4) God seeks active rescue for the victims of injustice.”

Tsaddiqim: Here, in Proverbs 11:10, for example, we read: “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.” [1] In Kingdom Calling, Amy Sherman argues that “the consummated kingdom” is marked by two features: justice and shalom. Concerning justice, she writes, “In Proverbs 11:10, there is a connection between the ‘righteous prospering’ on the one hand, and the ‘wicked perishing’ on the other. Notice that both events—the righteous prospering and the wicked perishing—produce the same reaction: wild rejoicing. Jubilation arises when the wicked—who are described over and over in the Old Testament as doers of injustice and inequity—are cast down and replaced by the tsaddiqim, the doers of justice. When the righteous prosper, justice prevails. The tsaddiqim seek to bring into reality three dimensions of justice that mark the consummated kingdom.”

Prayer: Lord, We long to live in a rejoiced city and, therefore, we long for your justice to be on earth as it is in heaven. Yet we confess that we have been lovers and doers of injustice. We have been witnesses of injustice and have remained silent. Therefore, we pray first for our own hearts to be reformed by the gospel. Then we pray for our cities to be places for tsaddiqim to flourish, as you raise up lovers and doers of justice. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Proverbs 11:10 NIV

March 21, 2014

843 Acres Lent: The Grace Beyond Grace of Election

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 8 (txt | aud, 3:19 min)
Eph 1 (txt | aud, 2:40 min)
Highlighted: Eph 1:1-14

Order: In Ephesians 2:1-10, we read the order of salvation from our perspective—being dead in sin, becoming alive, developing faith by the Spirit, doing good works. Here, in Ephesians 1:1-14, however, we read the order of salvation from God’s perspective—choosing, redeeming by the blood of Christ, forgiving, adopting, keeping safe forever, being brought into glory. Why does the order matter?

Chosen: Paul writes, “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, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” [1] Here, Paul makes it clear that God chooses us before the foundation of the world. But what does that mean?

Non-Meaning: First, it does not mean that we don’t have free will. We choose what we want. Yet the Bible teaches us that we are incapable of wanting God; apart from Christ, we are at “enmity” against Him. [2] Second, it also does not mean that we lose any incentive to do good because, in Christ, our incentive to live out the gospel is rooted in love, not fear. What, then, does it mean? 

Implication: Tim Keller says, “As long as you make your choice the ultimate reason for your faith, then the real bottom line is that you’re better—more open, more humble. That goes against everything Scripture teaches. As Paul says, ‘By the grace of God, I am what I am.’ [3] This is the doctrine of election. You cannot make yourself a Christian; you did not make yourself a Christian. You can’t even want to be a Christian unless God has opened your heart. Therefore, pride and superiority are excluded.” He continues, “When you realize that His choice is ultimate and your choice is penultimate, then when someone asks you whether you’re a Christian, you can say, ‘Yes, it’s astonishing. It’s amazing. It’s almost a joke. Why me? But it’s true.’”

Prayer: Lord, The doctrine of the your sovereignty in election, the doctrine of the ultimacy of your choice, the doctrine of the absolute sheer graciousness of your love means that we will always have a sense of humor about ourselves. There’s no reason in us that we would ever want you. But we do. For you have given us grace beyond grace and love beyond love. Amen.

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 Lent - logo

We invite you to join us and the Women’s Bible Society to a Lenten Bible Listening Event on Thursday morning, April 10th. Click here for more details.
____________________________________ 

Footnotes

[1] Ephesians 1:3-4 ESV | [2] Romans 8:7 | [3] 1 Corinthians 15:10

October 4, 2013

843 Acres: Is there any distinctiveness in Christian ethics?

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Kings 7 (text | audio, 7:28 min)
Eph 4 (text | audio, 3:46 min)
Highlighted: Eph 4:25-32

Lifestyle: In Ephesians 4:25-32, Paul covers a lot of topics:

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another [honesty]. Be angry and do not sin [righteous anger]; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil [sinful anger]. Let the thief no longer steal [theft], but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands [integrity], so that he may have something to share with anyone in need [work]. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths [communications], but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear [relationships]. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you [bitterness, anger, slander], along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another [kindness, love, forgiveness], as God in Christ forgave you.

Distinction: Most religions—Islam, Confucianism, Judaism, Buddhism—say that it is wrong to steal and lie, that a healthy anger is good, that our work should be honest, that our communications and relationships are important, that we should pursue kindness, love, and forgiveness. Is there any distinctiveness, then, in Christian ethics?

Heart: Paul tells the Ephesians to “put off your old self” and “put on the new self.” Tim Keller comments, “To put off the old self means to live an examined life. You look at every part of your life and ask, ‘Is this what Jesus wants?’” [1] In reply, however, we find an astounding answer—Jesus wants our hearts. Jesus once said that the Pharisees were “whitewashed tombs” because they were clean on the outside and dead on the inside. [2] As Keller says, “[Christian] righteousness is not simply a matter of external behavior, but is essentially a matter of the mind, the imagination, the attitudes, and the motives. Apart from this, morality is repression—cold and artificial.”

Prayer: Lord, When we read your commands that target our sanctification, may we never separate our actions from our hearts. Ultimately, you want our hearts. Awaken an affection for Jesus within us this morning so that we obey out of love. Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Readings

Saturday, October 5: 1 Kings 8 (text | audio, 11:02 min) & Eph 5 (text | audio, 3:28 min)
Sunday, October 6: 1 Kings 9 (text | audio, 4:14 min) & Eph 6 (text | audio, 2:59 min)

Footnotes

[1] Tim Keller. “The Christian Lifestyle.” Sermon. January 13, 1991. | [2] Matthew 23:27-28 ESV

October 3, 2013

843 Acres: #TBT Watson: There is no want with the infinite.

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Kings 6 (text | audio, 4:58)
Eph 3 (text | audio, 2:23 min)
Highlighted: Eph 3:8, 20

Ephesians 3:8, 20

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ … Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us …

Thomas Watson. A Body of Divinity (an excerpt)

His fullness is an infinite fullness; and he is infinitely sweet, as well as infinitely full. If a conduit be filled with wine, there is a sweet fullness, but still it is finite; but God is a sweet fullness, and it is infinite. He is infinitely full of beauty and of love. His riches are called unsearchable, because they are infinite. Eph. 3:8. Stretch your thoughts as much as you can, there is that in God which exceeds; it is an infinite fullness.

He is said to do abundantly for us, above all that we can ask. Eph 3:20. What can an ambitious spirit ask? He can ask crowns and kingdoms, millions of worlds; but God can give more than we can ask, nay, or think, because he is infinite. We can think, what if all the dust were turned to silver, if every flower were a ruby, every sand in the sea a diamond; yet God can give more than we can think, because he is infinite.

Oh how rich are they who have the infinite God for their portion! Well might David say, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places, and I have a goodly heritage.” Psa. 16:5, 6 …

God being an infinite fullness, there is no fear of want for any of the heirs of heaven; though there be millions of saints and angels, which have a share in God’s riches, yet he has enough for them all, because he is infinite. Though a thousand men behold the sun, there is light enough for them all: put never so many buckets into the sea, there is water enough to fill them. Though an innumerable company of saints and angels are to be filled out of God’s fullness, yet God, being infinite, has enough to satisfy them. God has land enough to give to all his heirs.

There can be no want in that which is infinite.

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October 2, 2013

843 Acres: Keeping Grace/Faith/Works in the Right Order

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Kings 4-5 (text | audio, 6:54 min)
Eph 2 (text | audio, 2:42 min)
Highlighted: Eph 2:8-10

Ephesians: Ephesians was a circular letter—that is, it was sent to the churches around Ephesus, not just one particular church. Paul wrote it “to display the scope of God’s eternal plan for all humanity—for Jews and Gentiles alike.” [1] Here, in Ephesians 2, Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” [2]

Grace Before Faith: It is grace, not good works, that leads to faith. A Christian has gone through a profound change—from death to life, from slavery to freedom, from condemnation to acceptance. Grace—that is, “favor given to someone who deserves the opposite”—starts it all. [3] If you feel that you do not have faith, but you yearn for it, do not despair. Tim Keller says, “What is this yearning for faith? It’s the beginning of faith. It’s a consciousness of God. Don’t you see? If you’re distressed that you don’t have faith, the kiss of God is already upon you. You’re not capable of being distressed and wanting faith … Here’s the principle: To even want him means grace has awakened faith in you … Do you want him? It’s because the kiss of God is already upon you.” [4]

Faith Before Good Works: True faith, however, changes our character and behavior. Keller continues, “Two things always result from grace and faith: you become God’s workmanship and, as a result of that, you walk in good works.” When Paul says that we are God’s “workmanship,” Paul is saying that we are “an expression of the inner being of the divine artist.” Jesus died to make us beautiful. He is the artist; we are the art. This means that our families, experiences, relationships, etc., are like brushes painting the splendor that He envisions for us.

Prayer: Lord, What wondrous love is this—that the right order is grace and faith before good works, not good works before faith and grace! We are your workmanship; you are changing our character and behavior daily, making us into your image-bearers. Today, may we put your redeeming and contraconditional love on display. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] “Introduction to Ephesians.” ESV. | [2] Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV (emphasis added) | [3] Tim Keller. “God’s Workmanship.” Sermon. December 13, 1992. | [4] Id.

October 1, 2013

843 Acres: Tuesday Tweetables: Wisdom and Idolatry

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Kings 3 (text | audio, 4:28 min)
Eph 1 (text | audio, 2:40 min)
Highlighted: 1 Kings 3:28

Discerning Brokenness

First class or coach? Break up or stay together? New York or Austin? How do we make decisions when there are no “rules” to guide us?

“Any wisdom that emanates from any king but the true king is actually foolishness on its own terms.” @timkellernyc

Picture of Motherhood as Idol: “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.” (wanted motherhood more than child’s life). 1 Kgs 3:26

Imagining Redemption

Solomon: Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people, to discern bw good/evil. For who is able to govern your great people?

Picture of Motherhood as Gift: “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” (gave up motherhood to save son)

All Israel “stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice.” 1 Kings 3:28

Praying ACTS

Lord, You are the true king for you are wisdom itself. You illuminate the world and by your light shall we see light. #adoration

Lord, We confess that our idolatrous hearts often pursue wisdom apart from pursuing Christ. Yet he himself is wisdom. #confession

Lord, Thank you for sending wisdom incarnate, not a method for gaining it. For our hearts are deceitful above all and we need Jesus. #thanks

Lord, Give us wisdom (“competence w/regard to life’s realities” @timkellernyc) that we may discern good/evil in our lives. #supplication

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March 26, 2012

Standing Against the Evilness of Evil

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Eph. 6:12
Full Text: Prov. 13; Eph. 6
Photo of the Day: #TPFperspective

United | Harry Potter is a great story that reminds us “how evil Evil is” – as Christian singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson put it [1]. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, three wizarding schools – represented by their chosen champions – compete for prize money and a trophy. At the end, however, just as two champions simultaneously grab the trophy, Lord Voldemort – the most powerful Dark wizard in history, who up until this moment has been merely a rumor – appears. He kills one champion, but Harry escapes. Voldemort once again disappears into the darkness and the head of Harry’s wizarding school, Dumbledore, gathers all three schools together for an address. Although they had been competitors throughout the tournament, he encourages them to stand united:

“Every guest in this Hall,” said Dumbledore … “will be welcomed back here at any time, should they wish to come. I say to you all, once again – in the light of Lord Voldemort’s return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open” [2].

Enemy | As the Church, our differences of worship styles and denominations are nothing at all since our aims are identical and our hearts are open. We have a common enemy – the Evil One. As Paul reminded the Ephesians, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” [3]. His gift for spreading discord and enmity is great and, therefore, we must stand firm – in truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Word, prayer, readiness, perseverance and boldness [4].

Prayer | Lord, Jesus prayed that we would be one, as the Father and the Son are one [5]. Let us, therefore, not argue with one another about non-essential things. Instead, remind us how evil Evil is and how important it is for us to put on the armor of faith. Give us sensitivity to the presence of evil, especially when discord and enmity spread among us. Root us in the Word, prayer and community, as we continually exhort one another toward love and good works. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Andrew Peterson. Harry Potter, Jesus and MeRabbit Room. 11 July 2011.  |  [2] J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. p. 723.  |  [3] Eph. 6:12 ESV  |  [4] See Eph. 6:13-20  |  [5] See John 17.

March 23, 2012

Why the Gentiles Can Claim the Old Testament Promises

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Eph. 3:6
Full Text: Prov. 10; Eph. 3
Photo of the Day: #TPFperspective

Decision | The early church leaders – who were mainly Jewish and circumcised – had a hard time deciding what to do about the new, uncircumcised Gentile believers: Should they require circumcision as the mark of belonging to the people of God according to the law? Then came Paul. He was the Lord’s “chosen instrument … before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” [1]. What was his message? That the “mystery of Christ” was that Jews and Gentiles – alike and on equal terms – were in the family of God: “That the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel[2].

Importance | Yet this issue was about more than race and culture. It was about whether the Gentiles – that is, most of us – can claim the promises that were made to Israel. After all, if we are not heirs to the promises that God made to Abraham, then we have no claim to his inheritance. If we are not part of Israel, then we cannot say that, for example, Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you … to give you a future and a hope” – applies to us. Thus, this is of great importance to us today.

Old | This wasn’t new, however, to the first century Christians. The law and the prophets pointed to circumcision of the heart, not the flesh, as the mark of “true Israel.” Jeremiah even put Israel in the same category of unbelief as the pagan nations because their Jewishness was meaningless without their being circumcised in heart [3]. Then Paul later said that “true Israel” was by faith, not circumcision, and that the Jewish and Gentile believers were the true heirs of the promise. Therefore, all those who believe in Jesus as Lord – Jews and Gentiles – are heirs according to the promise, which means that every Old Testament promise can be claimed by every Christian. For we are the true Israel, heirs according to the promise.

Prayer | Lord, We praise you for not keeping us far off, but bringing us into your family. We thank you for circumcising our hearts so that we are the true Israel. Even today, as we read your promises, show us how much Christ is the linchpin of our being able to claim those astounding truths – in the law, the prophets and the psalms. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Acts 9:15 ESV  |  [2] Eph. 3:6 ESV  |  [3] See Jer. 9:25-26

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