Sunday, May 17, 2015

You put the skip in my stroll...

artwork by Lena Zieber 
We recently attended a concert with the Vertical Church Band on their Church Songs Tour. Worship leader and singer/songwriter, Jon Guerra, opened the concert with selections from his newly released album, Little Songs, which is filled with one anointed song after another, beginning with his exuberant song, Nothing Better, You put the song in my heart, You put the drum in my march…You put the song in my soul, You put the skip in my stroll…Nothing better than Your love, Nothing better than love that never ends, never ends…The joyous work of art, O Happy Day by Lena Zieber seems to be the perfect visual for this jubilant song! The mysterious source of this joy drew my heart back to Ephesians Chapter One for a word study on the word, mystery, from Ephesians 1:9-10…

Amplified Bible: Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention) which He had previously purposed and set forth in Him, [He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them in Christ, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth.

New Living Translation: God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.

J.B. Phillips:
For God had allowed us to know the secret of his plan, and it is this: he purposes in his sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfillment in him.

Wuest: having made known to us the mystery of His will according to that which seemed good to Him, which good thing He purposed in himself, with respect to an administration of the completion of the epochs of time to bring back again to their original state all things in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in Him.

Young's Literal: having made known to us the secret of His will, according to His good pleasure, that He purposed in Himself, in regard to the dispensation of the fullness of the times, to bring into one the whole in the Christ, both the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth -- in him.

Mystery (musterion) as used in the New Testament is not mysterious or mystical but describes previously hidden truth now revealed by God and in fact describes truth that can be known only through revelation mediated from God. That which was once hidden is now revealed and a secret out in the open…it does not convey the idea of something that we cannot take in or understand even when it is declared to us. Musterion in the Bible means those truths which are part of God's plan and can only be understood as He reveals them by His Spirit through His Word. Stated another way musterion is "a secret purpose of God which when uncovered is understood by the Spirit-taught believer." It refers to a truth which without special revelation would have been unknown and  is commonly used with words denoting revelation or knowledge. Musterion is a divine secret or truth which is unknowable apart from divine revelation and which has now been revealed in Christ and the surrounding context stresses the fact that the mystery was hidden from pre-cross times, but now has been manifested to the saints of the church age.


This is an amazing illustration of the mysterious ways in which God moves—how God took two men who were mortal enemies, brought them together, and led them to Himself. He is in control…He knows what He is doing. Jacob DeShazer served the US Army Air Corps in World War II as a bombardier in the squadron of General Doolittle. While participating in Doolittle's raid on Japan in 1942, DeShazer and his crew ran out of fuel and bailed out over China. He was taken to a Japanese prison camp where he trusted Jesus as his Savior. After his release, he became a missionary to Japan. One day DeShazer handed a tract with his story in it to a man named Mitsuo Fuchida. He didn't know that Mitsuo was on his way to a trial for his wartime role as the commander of Japanese forces that attacked Pearl Harbor. Fuchida read the pamphlet and got a Bible. He soon became a Christian and an evangelist to his people. Eventually, DeShazer and Fuchida met again and became friends.

My daily relationship with our living Lord Jesus Christ reinforces my belief in the sovereignty of God, that nothing comes into my life that is not filtered through God's hands of love. I believe there are no “accidents.”  I believe that God sees the end from the beginning. He knows me intimately, He knit me together in my mother's womb, one day I will see Him face-to-face and I will know as I am known. It is His plan that’s important, not my desire. I didn't bring myself into this world, and I can’t take myself into heaven. I really don’t know what is best for me or for those I love. I ask God to make me sensitive to the reality that He is in control, and that He is using this--even this--to conform me to the image of His Son. I want that most of all. I train my mind to acknowledge God’s hand in whatever it is I'm living with. I pray, “Jesus, You know what You’re doing,”  “I will trust,” “I release it all,” because God is sovereign. He is the beginning, He will be the ending, and in between, by His grace, He lets us be part of His perfect plan, for His glory and for our good. In the meantime, I am trusting Him, resting in the mystery...

Previous posts from Ephesians Chapter One...

Ephesians 1:3-4


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Saturday, May 9, 2015

God's superabounding Niagara Falls grace...

artwork by Lisa Plefka Haskin
As I pondered this beautiful work of art by Lisa Plefka Haskin, I could hear Chris Tomlin’s All My Fountains playing in my heart…Open the heavens, Come Living Water, All my fountains are in You, You're strong like a river, Your love is running through, All my fountains are in You.

Suddenly, the memory of a devotional from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers echoes in my mind…Is your source based on your own understanding or is it grounded on the redemption of Jesus Christ? Continually look back to the foundation of your love and affection and remember where your Source of power lies…remember that He is your supply…All my fountains are in You. (Psalm 87:7)


Thinking about my Source,
my Fountain, Jesus Christ, led me back to Ephesians Chapter One for a word study on His superabounding Niagara Falls grace from Ephesians 1:7-8..

Amplified: In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor, which He lavished upon us in every kind of wisdom and understanding (practical insight and prudence)

NET Bible: 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.

Phillips: It is through the Son, at the cost of his own blood, that we are redeemed, freely forgiven through that full and generous grace which has overflowed into our lives and opened our eyes to the truth.

Wuest: in Whom we are having our redemption through His blood, the putting away of our trespasses according to the wealth of His grace which He caused to superabound to us in the sphere of every wisdom and understanding.

Young’s Literal: in whom we have the redemption through his blood, the remission of the trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, in which He did abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence

A word study of grace (charis) reveals the definition is to rejoice. Grace is God's unmerited favor and supernatural enablement and empowerment for salvation and for daily sanctification. Grace is everything for nothing to those who don't deserve anything. Grace is what everyone needs, what none can earn, and what God alone can and does freely give. John Eadie, in his commentary on Ephesians, writes that grace (charis) is that goodwill on God's part which not only provides and applies salvation, but blesses, cheers, and assists believers…that many-sided favor that comes in the form of hope to saints in despondency, of joy to them in sorrow, of patience to them in suffering, of victory to them under assault, and of final triumph to them in the hour of death.

It has been said that the gravity of grace works like the earth’s water system, which always flows from the highest to the lowest point. Just as the waters of Niagara roll over the fall and plunge down to make a river below, and just as that river flows ever downward to still more low-lying areas where it brings life and growth, so too it is with God’s river of grace. Grace’s gravity carries it to the lowly in heart, where it brings life and blessing. Grace goes to the humble. The unbowed soul standing proudly before God receives no benefit from God’s falling grace. It may descend upon him, but it does not penetrate, and drips away like rain from a statue. But the soul lying humbly before God is immersed—and even swims—in a sea of grace.


A wonderful illustration of God’s grace
in Jesus Christ is experienced by those who have visited Niagara Falls, awed by the sight and sound and overpowering sense of it all. Every minute, about 200,000 tons of water plunge into the Niagara River gorge in a thunderous ovation to the lavish, generous nature of God. The Lord could have used a lot less water, but He didn't. He could have made the falls lower, but He built them 12 stories high. And because they are what they are from the creative hand of God, people come from all over the world to see Niagara Falls. What a picture of God's grace in Jesus Christ...in Whom we are having our redemption through His blood, the putting away of our trespasses according to the wealth of His grace which He caused to superabound to us in the sphere of every wisdom and understanding. The Greek word translated superabound means an exceeding measure, something above the ordinary. God's grace toward us is not squeezed out from an eye-dropper or carefully rationed like water during a drought. His grace is a Niagara of superabundance so lavish that we marvel at its display. Praise His Holy Name!

Take five minutes to marvel at God's superabounding Niagara Falls grace...

 
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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

You change the atmosphere...

artwork by Lena Zieber

As I gazed at this beautiful work of art by Lena Zieber while listening to an anointed new hymn by Jenn Johnson & Bethel Music, I Can Feel YouI suddenly became so aware of the presence of my Redeemer, Jesus Christ…Here You surround me, I am held by love, I can feel You, Jesus all around, Now hope is rushing through my veins, With everything You've rearranged, I am peaceful, I am brave, When You're here with me, all my questions find their answers here, When You come You change the atmosphere, I am focused, I am clear, When You're here with me, There is nothing in this world that will satisfy my soul like You do…
 
My heart continues to be drawn back to Ephesians Chapter One for a word study on redemption from Ephesians 1:7-8..

Amplified: In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor, which He lavished upon us in every kind of wisdom and understanding (practical insight and prudence)

TLB: So overflowing is his kindness toward us that he took away all our sins through the blood of his Son, by whom we are saved; and he has showered down upon us the richness of his grace—for how well he understands us and knows what is best for us at all times.

NLT: He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

NET Bible: 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.

Phillips: It is through the Son, at the cost of his own blood, that we are redeemed, freely forgiven through that full and generous grace which has overflowed into our lives and opened our eyes to the truth.

Wuest: in Whom we are having our redemption through His blood, the putting away of our trespasses according to the wealth of His grace which He caused to superabound to us in the sphere of every wisdom and understanding.

Young’s Literal: in whom we have the redemption through his blood, the remission of the trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, in which He did abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence

Our redemption is "in Christ" and we now and forever live in the atmosphere of the light, truth, and power of that same eternal redemption. It's as if the "redemption" Christ has provided is now the air in which we believers live and breathe and have our being. In Christ and through the efficacious work accomplished by His blood shed on the Cross 2000 years ago, we have truly been set free. The present tense indicates durative action, paraphrased, “in Whom we are continually having redemption” or "we have and are still having it." In Christ, now redemption is our present and our continual possession. Redemption is an abiding fact, past, present, and future.

Redemption (apolutrosis) is the payment of a price to ransom, to release, to buy back or to deliver one from a situation from which one is powerless to liberate themselves from or for which the penalty was so costly that they could never hope to pay the ransom price. In other words, the idea of redemption is deliverance or release by payment of a ransom.

When was this price of blood that effected our redemption paid? On the Cross when Jesus declared, "It is finished," the Greek verb Tetelestai which translated means, Paid in Full! When someone had a debt in ancient times and it was paid off, they would write Tetelestai on that certificate which means Paid in Full, the exact words Jesus declared in His moment of ultimate triumph over satan and sin! Tetelestai was used by various people in everyday life. Receipts for taxes found in the the secular Greek writings have written across them this single Greek word Tetelestai! When a Roman citizen was convicted of a crime, the law of that day slammed him in prison, prepared a "Certificate of Debt" that listed all the crimes he was convicted of on it and nailed the certificate to his cell door for all to see. It remained nailed there so all would be assured that he served his full sentence, and "paid in full" the penalty for his crimes. When Jesus, dying for us on the Cross, announced His great victory cry with the Greek word Tetelestai, it would have resonated with many watching this spectacle for it was a very familiar phrase. Tetelestai was the same word that the authorities stamped across the Certificate of Debt after a criminal had completed his prison term. It literally meant that he had Paid in Full for all his crimes. Then the criminal was given the certificate which he could produce to show that his debts and obligations had been paid in full. He could never be a victim of double jeopardy, or paying for the same crime twice. In a similar way, when an artist completed a picture or a writer finished his manuscript, he might say, It is finished! When the servant completed the task the master had assigned to him, he would declare, It is finished!, when the master returned. The death of Jesus on the Cross completes the picture that God had been painting since before the foundation of the world, the story that He had written from all eternity.

A missionary in West Africa was trying to convey the meaning of the word redeem in the Bambara language. So he asked his African assistant to express it in his native tongue. "We say," the assistant replied, "that God took our heads out." "But how does that explain redemption?" the perplexed missionary asked. The man told him that many years ago some of his ancestors had been captured by slave-traders, chained together, and driven to the seacoast. Each of the prisoners had a heavy iron collar around his neck. As the slaves passed through a village, a chief might notice a friend of his among the captives and offer to pay the slave-traders in gold, ivory, silver, or brass. The prisoner would be redeemed by the payment. His head then would be taken out of his iron collar. What an unusual and graphic illustration of the word redeem! As Ephesians 1:7 states, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." Jesus died on the cross to purchase our freedom from the bondage of sin...I know my Redeemer lives...I spoke with Him this morning...

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

accepted in the Beloved...


As I was listening to this beautiful rendition of the hymn, My Beloved, by Kari Jobe, my heart was drawn back to Ephesians Chapter One for a word study of the phrase accepted in the Beloved from Ephesians 1:5-6…

Amplified: For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]— [So that we might be] to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace (favor and mercy), which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

NLT: God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.

Phillips: He planned, in his purpose of love, that we should be adopted as his own children through Jesus Christ—that we might learn to praise that glorious generosity of his which has made us welcome in the everlasting love he bears towards the Son.

Wuest: having previously marked us out to be placed as adult sons through the intermediate agency of Jesus Christ for Himself according to that which seemed good in His heart’s desire resulting in praise of the glory of His grace which He freely bestowed upon us in the Beloved.

Young’s Literal: having foreordained us to the adoption of sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, in which He did make us accepted in the beloved.

Jubilee Bible: having marked out beforehand the way for us to be adopted as sons by Jesus Christ in himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he has made us accepted in the beloved.
NKJV:  having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

A word study of beloved (agapao) speaks especially of love as based on evaluation and choice, a matter of will and action. The Beloved is Christ, the one the Father loves. God the Father has always loved God the Son with this love which is permanent.

In this scripture, beloved is in the perfect tense, which is very expressive. It speaks of an action that took place in the past, which was completed in past time, and the existence of its finished results. For instance, you might say, “I have closed the door," which speaks of a past completed action. But the implication is that, as a result, the door is still closed. The entire meaning is, “I have closed the door and it is closed at present."
In this context beloved is in the perfect tense, which conveys the idea of permanence and speaks of the Father having always loved Son. Christ is the One Who is ever in the state of being loved by the Father, and where are saved sinners? Accepted in the Beloved.

I heard a story several years ago which is a beautiful illustration of this Truth. A man was the guest of sheep-raisers. It was lambing time and every morning they went out to see the lambs. One morning, the man was startled to see an old ewe walking across the road, followed by a strange looking lamb. It apparently had six legs, and the skin seemed to be partially torn from its body. One of the herders caught the lamb and explained the mystery—that lamb did not really belong originally to that ewe. She had a lamb which was bitten by a rattlesnake and died. This lamb was an orphan and needed a mother’s care. But at first, the grieving ewe refused to have anything to do with it. She sniffed at it when it was brought to her, then pushed it away, as if to say, “That is not our family odor!” So the herders skinned the lamb that had died and very carefully drew the fleece over the living lamb. This left the hind-leg coverings dragging loose. After it was covered, the lamb was brought again to the ewe. She smelled it once more and this time seemed thoroughly satisfied and adopted it as her own.

What a beautiful picture of the grace of God to sinners. We are all outcasts and have no claim upon His love. But God’s own Son, the "Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the World," has died for us, and now we who believe are dressed up in the fleece of the Lamb who died. God has accepted us in the Beloved. Praise His Holy Name!

Monday, April 20, 2015

blessed with every spiritual blessing...

artwork by Tamara Peterson http://artfulstory.com/
When I saw Tamara Peterson’s beautiful work of art, I immediately began to hear the modern hymn, Crowder’s How He Loves ...this is a song which reminds me of the Truth in Ephesians Chapter One, Scripture passages I wrap around my heart, like the Loving Arms of my Savior Jesus Christ, when I feel discouraged.

I remember reading years ago about an old Navajo Indian who had become rich because oil had been found on his property. He took all the money and put it in a bank. His banker became familiar with the habits of this old gentleman. Every once in a while the Indian would show up at the bank and say to the banker, "Grass all gone, sheep all sick, water holes dry." The banker wouldn't say a word—he knew what needed to be done. He'd bring the old man inside and seat him in the vault. Then he'd bring out several bags of silver dollars and say, "These are yours." The old man would spend about an hour in there looking at his money, stacking up the dollars and counting them. Then he'd come out and say, "Grass all green, sheep all well, water holes all full." He was simply reviewing his resources.
That is where encouragement is found—when you look at the resources in God’s Word which are yours, the riches, the facts which undergird your faith. Here are just a few of those treasures found in Ephesians 1:3-4:

NASB: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him in love.

TLB: How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every blessing in heaven because we belong to Christ. Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us; He decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault—we who stand before Him covered with his love.

Amplified: May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm! Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love. 
 
Phillips: Praise be to God for giving us through Christ every possible spiritual benefit as citizens of Heaven! For consider what He has done—before the foundation of the world he chose us to become, in Christ, his holy and blameless children living within his constant care.

NET: 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.

Wuest: May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be eulogized, the One Who conferred benefactions upon us in the sphere of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, even as He selected us out for Himself in Him before the foundations of the universe were laid, to be holy ones and without blemish before His searching, penetrating gaze in love.


Young’s Literal: Blessed [is] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who did bless us in every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, according as He did choose us in him before the foundation of the world, for our being holy and unblemished before Him, in love.

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