Saturday, July 22, 2017

redeemed by the blood of the Lamb

artwork by Lena Zieber

As I gazed at this beautiful work of art by Lena Zieber, my heart was 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 over 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...

Lord Jesus, thank You for giving Yourself as an offering so that I could be free! As I receive the Father’s forgiveness through Your offering of Yourself, I will praise You and thank You for the freedom that forgiveness gives! I entrust my spirit, my very life, into Your hands this day. You are mighty beyond my ability to imagine, and You have made the way for me to do so…through the blood of Jesus. How I praise You for prayer, for through it I can let go and give over control of my life to You! With all my heart I thank you, Jesus, for being the perfect sacrifice for my sins and the sins of the whole world. When Your blood was presented on the heavenly mercy seat and You offered up Your Spirit, the veil of the temple was forever rent, providing me access into the very presence of the Father. "It is finished!" How I thank You. Lord...in Your precious name I pray, amen.


Look up – Meditate on Ephesians 1:7-8 . . . Pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look in – Meditate on Ephesians 1:7-8 . . .Pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: “Because God is ______________, I will ______________.”
Look out – Meditate on Ephesians 1:7-8 . . . Pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.  


* If you liked this post you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ



Saturday, July 15, 2017

covered in the fleece of the Lamb


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 covered in the fleece of the Lamb who died. God has accepted us in the Beloved. Praise His Holy Name!

Lord Jesus, Thank You that I am accepted in the Beloved Son of God, and because of that, I can rest in Your finished work on the Cross. Thank You that I can rest as You carry my burdens for me. I give them all to You and I gladly receive Your rest! Teach me Your wisdom that is humble and pure, and help me to walk in the ways You set before me. Thank You for Your mercy and love that invite me to continually experience Your Peace and enjoy Your Presence, living my life resting and trusting in You! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.



Look Up—meditate on Ephesians 1:5-6 … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on Ephesians 1:5-6 … pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on Ephesians 1:5-6 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.


* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – 
Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ


Weekly LinkUps…

Saturday, July 8, 2017

reviewing our resources...

artwork by Tamara Peterson

When I saw Tamara Peterson’s beautiful work of art, I immediately thought of the beautiful hymn with that title written by John Mark McMillan. These words remind 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 remembered 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 now and then, 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.


Heavenly Father, thank You that in Christ I am blessed with every spiritual blessing. I know that I know that I know that because I have placed my trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, I am redeemed by His precious blood, He has crowned me, surrounded me, encircled me with His glory and blessing. Jesus is alive, He has come and is coming again! Thank you for surrounding me with the shield of your love and favor. Thank you for how Your favor is operating and functioning in my life. It surrounds me and encircles me like a shield. Your favor goes before me and prepares my way. Your favor opens doors of blessing and opportunity in my life. Wherever I go and whatever I do, Your favor is with me, surrounding me, encircling me. Your favor fills my life with overflowing blessing, peace, joy, fulfillment, and abundance. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.


Look Up—meditate on Ephesians 1:3-4…pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on Ephesians 1:3-4…pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out
—as you meditate on Ephesians 1:3-4…pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.


* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ


Weekly LinkUps…


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

it is well...

artwork by Amy Scott

When I saw Amy Scott’s
delightful work of art on the Artful Story Journaling Facebook page, I was drawn to its color and charm, and even more so when I read this description that Amy included with her artwork, I started this in one of my favorite spots on our university campus in Korea. I finished it in bits and pieces in various places. I'm giving a copy to a friend today who's moving to a new location and situation. Please pray for her.


As I prayed peace for Amy’s friend, I was reminded of the wonderful new hymn by MercyMe, Even If ... I know You're able and I know You can, Save through the fire with Your mighty hand , But even if You don't , My hope is You alone, I know the sorrow, I know the hurt, Would all go away if You'd just say the word, But even if You don't, My hope is You alone...It is well with my soul, It is well, it is well with my soul.

Singing that hymn led me to a word study of the word peace from Ephesians 1:1-2


Amplified: Paul, an apostle (special messenger) of Christ Jesus (the Messiah), by the divine will (the purpose and the choice of God) to the saints (the consecrated, set-apart ones) at Ephesus who are also faithful and loyal and steadfast in Christ Jesus: May grace (God’s unmerited favor) and spiritual peace [which means peace with God and harmony, unity, and undisturbedness] be yours from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.


NLT: This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Phillips: Paul, messenger of Jesus Christ by God’s choice, to all faithful Christians at Ephesus (and other places where this letter is read): grace and peace be to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wuest: Paul, an ambassador of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints, the ones who are [in Ephesus], namely, believing ones in Christ Jesus. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


Young’s Literal: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Peace (eirene from the verb eiro) literally pictures the binding or joining together again of that which had been separated or divided; it conveys the idea of setting at one again. Eirene is the tranquility which results in the joining together again those who were separated, such as a sinner and a holy God through the blood of Christ..


Eirene also conveys the sense of an inner rest, well-being, and harmony. The ultimate peace is the state of reconciliation with God, effected by placing one's faith in the gospel.


Eirene is a condition of freedom from disturbance, whether outwardly, as of a nation from war or enemies or inwardly, as in the current context, within the soul. Eirene implies health, well-being, and prosperity. Christ Jesus through the blood of His Cross binds together that which was separated by human sin when the sinner puts his or her faith in Christ Jesus the Lord.

Eirene is the root word for our English word "serene" (serenity) which means clear and free of storms or unpleasant change, stresses an unclouded and lofty tranquility. In secular Greek, eirene referred to cessation or absence of war. Eirene is also the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew shalom, a word which speaks of spiritual prosperity.

Greek scholar Kenneth S. Wuest states, "B
y His (Messiah's) death, (Jesus) satisfied the just demands of the law which we broke, thus making it possible for a righteous and holy God to bestow mercy upon a believing sinner and do so without violating His justice. Our Lord thus bound together again the believing sinner and God (in an indissoluble, living union), thus making peace. There is therefore a state of untroubled, undisturbed wellbeing for the sinner who places his faith in the Savior. The law of God has nothing against him, and he can look up into the Father’s face unafraid and unashamed. This is justifying peace."

Theologian Charles Spurgeon said, "
I find myself frequently depressed—perhaps more so than any other person here. And I find no better cure for that depression than to trust in the Lord with all my heart, and seek to realize afresh the power of the peace-speaking blood of Jesus, and His infinite love in dying upon the cross to put away all my transgressions."

Horatio Spafford had just been ruined financially by the great Chicago Fire of October, 1871. Shortly thereafter, while crossing the Atlantic, all four of Spafford’s daughters died in a collision with another ship. Spafford’s wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, “Saved alone.” Several weeks later, as Spafford’s own ship passed near the spot where his daughters died, the Holy Spirit suddenly overwhelmed him with what can only be described as an inrush of  supernatural peace, the peace of God. With tears streaming down his face, he picked up a pen to record his feelings and from his heart, filled with the peace of God, flowed the timeless words that speak of that peace God provides even though our world is falling apart...
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.



Heavenly Father, I need Your peace today. I ask you to help me to do these things: to lean on you, to meditate on your character and attributes, and to trust you with all my heart. Thank You for Your promise that Your perfect peace will guard my heart and mind. In Christ, I am relaxed and at peace in the midst of the confusions, bewilderments, and perplexities of this life, because I trust in You...it is well, it is well, with my soul...In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


Look Up—meditate on Ephesians 1:1-2  pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.


Look In—as you meditate on  Ephesians 1:1-2  pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."



Look Out—as you meditate on  Ephesians 1:1-2  pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.



* If you liked this post you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ 




Saturday, May 13, 2017

blessed, accepted, adopted, chosen, redeemed, forgiven, loved

artwork by Tamara Peterson
This delightfully beautiful work of art by Tamara Peterson illustrates so well the joyous, loving, and encouraging Truth from God’s Word contained in the first chapter of Ephesians.

When I was recently asked to speak to a ladies Bible study group, I shared this Truth that encourages me on a daily basis. Because I have been so encouraged by the study of Ephesians Chapter One, I wrote a series of 12 word studies on that chapter here.

These Truths from God’s Word encourage me, and I pray they will be an encouragement to you, too!

You are who God says you are…

In Christ, you are...

BLESSED with every spiritual blessing, 
         ACCEPTED in the Beloved Son of God, 
                 ADOPTED as a child of the King, 
                         CHOSEN before the foundation of the world, 
                                 REDEEMED by His Blood, 
                                          FORGIVEN by His Grace, 
                                                   LOVED with an everlasting love, and
                                                   underneath are the everlasting arms.

When you feel betrayed, God says: You are BLESSED
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)

When you feel ignored, God says: You are ACCEPTED
"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. (Ephesians 1:5-6)

When you feel abandoned, God says: You are ADOPTED
“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. (Ephesians 1:4-5)

When you feel inadequate, God says: You are CHOSEN
“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” (Ephesians 1:4)

When you feel rejected, God says: You are REDEEMED
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us.” (Ephesians 1:7-8)

When you feel condemned, God says: You are FORGIVEN
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us.” (Ephesians 1:7-8)

When you feel forgotten, God says: You are LOVED
“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” (Ephesians 1:4“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)


Lord Jesus, Thank You for this encouraging Truth from Your Word, that in Christ, we are who You say we are. Thank You for the free gift of salvation, that we are justified on the basis of Your finished work on the Cross. Thank You that, right now, we are under the completely sufficient imputed righteousness of Christ. Because we have placed our trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, we are redeemed by Your precious blood. The threat of failure, judgment, and condemnation has been removed. Knowing that God’s love for us and approval of us will never be determined by our performance is the most encouraging promise to which we cling—what great things You have done! We love You, Lord. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on Ephesians 1 …pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In—as you meditate on Ephesians 1 …pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on Ephesians 1…pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.


* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – 
Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ


Weekly LinkUps…

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