So long 

The farmer looked up into the grey skies, from the view from the farmhouse window it looked as if the farmer was evaluating the chance for rain, yet the wife knew better. She didn’t see a man evaluating the weather, she saw a man evaluating the harvest. A barefoot little boy with mud smeared on his jeans pulled on her apron and asked “mama, why does papa walk around the field looking at the clouds?” She smirked the way mothers do and bent down so his eyes met hers. He’s not looking at the clouds, he’s looking past them.” The child looked confused. “How?” She gently wiped the dirt off his face with a wet clothe and stroked his blonde hair out of his eyes as she pulled the answer from the vault of her heart. “Your father is praying over the harvest my child because he knows that every seed grows from the grace of God.” Content with the answer the child scurried away. She was drawn back to the farmhouse window. He was still out there, hands lifted toward the heavens. His tanned weather worn face shone with faith and patience. It had been so long since rain had bathed the corn. It all was drying up before their eyes. They couldn’t do anything but throw their hands toward the heavenlies. All the other farmers had given up on the harvest for that year. “It’s a lost cause…” the preacher whispered Sunday after church as he wagged his head back and forth. But the farmer wasn’t so easily deterred. His faith bubbled out of his mouth in response to the poison of discouragement “I merely planted the seed it’s not my job to make the harvest grow..” “But it’s been so long…” the preacher responded “God won’t reject the seed we’ve sown in faith.” The farmer shakes his hand and walked off with his family in tow. “Papa, how do you know for sure?” The inquisitive boy asked. “I don’t son-but faith doesn’t require us to know in advance.” Her heart fluttered as she thought of that; faith is believing even when we can’t see in advance. “But it’s been so long Lord…” she whispered as she washed potatoes off in the sink. As she washed the dirt off of the potato, she heard a gentle whisper from heaven “your holding proof of my faithfulness.”. Her heart sank as she remembered last years bumper crop. The farmer walked the fields, hands uplifted, eyes turned heavenward, just like he is today. “they trusted and were not put to shame…” the words of Psalms 22 bled out of her heart.

(The word shame in the Hebrew language is “bosh” and means: dried up, embarrassed, disappointed, delayed, and so long. Is used when farmers experience distress over no harvest.)

She looked out at a man whose entire life echoed the heartbeat of faith. He trusted God in the bumper crop and in the drought; even though everything was drying up all around them he trusted the heart of God. As she mixed up the pie filling she glanced back out the window; he was on his knees now, face still uplifted and hands reaching high. She heard herself repeat the words “it’s been so long…too long Lord” as she laid the final plate on the old plank table she paused,she heard a strange sound…a melody she hadn’t heard in so long. She ran to the window, and gasp at what she saw; the window of heaven had been thrown wide open. The bottom was falling out of there sky, instead of the bottom falling out of their harvest. The farmer was still there, on bended knee, eyes turned heavenward, hands lifted high. She ran to him and threw her arms around him. He looked her in the eyes,his hat brim dripping with the blessings of God and said “we trusted in Him and we will not be put to shame.”.

“It’s been so long…” I don’t know if you’ve ever uttered those words.. If you’ve ever had something that seemed like an illusion etched in the front of your mind. The distant memory of a better time is vague and hazy now. Time seems to elapse the faithfulness of God after awhile. We can get caught up in the tick of the clock, with every passing minute that we wait our faith is being attacked by the subtle enemy of time. We have a plan and a time table laid out before the throne of God but He’s never been good at reading time tables.

Time begs us to throw in the towel but faith tells us to wipe our brow with it and keep trudging onward. So, whatever it is you have planted, keep looking upward. Looking past the circumstances into the heart of God. He will not reject the seed you’ve sowed in faith.

He’s got a plan-trust His heart when you can’t see His hand.

Surrender 

We feel forgotten. It’s easy to in this hurricane of life. We are blown from here to there, one ballgame to another, from cooking breakfast to making doctor appointments, from going to work and comuting home, deadlines and due dates, school work and babysitting gigs…somehow in the midst of everyday life we get left behind. Life has seemed to charge forward and we’re left eating the dust. So, we go faster and faster;the hurricane around us is nothing like the one within us. We feel disheveled and restrained. Life isn’t turning out at all like we had thought. No, this drama was never in the script but neither was this joy.

Joy is found in surrender; when we turn in our dreams and desires to the throne of heaven. Surrender has a stigma of defeat tied to it, maybe that’s why we don’t like it. We think we have to give up on our dreams and desires. That God will crush the fragile seed of our calling if we lay it in his mighty hands. But what if instead of crushing it, He plants it…and waters it…and prunes it…and grows it.

What if we really aren’t forgotten? What if in the frenzy of the pursuit of higher things, we are being pursued by the Most High?

My heart was doing sommersaults as I got ready for worship service. Theses lyrics

It’s a relentless pursuit, relentless pursuit 

I will not stop chasing after you

It’s a relentless pursuit, a passionate pursuit

I will not stop chasing after you

 Rang from my simple heart to the vault of glory in the heavenlies.

We all climbed into the mini van and headed on our way…all the way my soul sang

It’s a relentless pursuit, relentless pursuit

I will not stop chasing after you

It’s a relentless pursuit, a passionate pursuit

I will not stop chasing after you

We unloaded and headed our different directions, one here and the other there…I drifted to the back of the sanctuary where I found “my” seat and I settled in with expectancy to hear the word unleashed. It was a good sermon, our preacher is anointed so I wasn’t surprised by the Spirits presence but then these words flashed on the projector like lightening from heaven

“God is passionately and relentlessly pursuing you”

It wasn’t his main point so he moved on with the message, but I hung there like a kite stuck in the heights of the clouds.

The gentle whisper of the voice of God blew through the ears of my soul…”I’m the one relentlessly pursuing you”. The melody of His song has played round robin with my mind; “You never out pursue Me my child”

A.W. Tozer in the classic Pursuit of God says “the impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him; all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand.”

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

So, no my friend you are not forgotten. As we mill and tow through this existence, grappling for Divine favor, we are swaddled in His mighty grasp. Guarded by His kindness, He is patient with us, wooing us out into the garden. The place where contentment reigns with joy on the throne of surrender.

Ephesians Chapter 2 RECAP

“For you are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

 

 

Thank you so much for choosing to stop by! We are being changed by the Word of God weekly as we dive into the depths of the riches of Ephesians. This week we set our sights onto verse 10. Here’s the recap. (The link for chapter 2 study guide is at the bottom of the page.)

 

YOU ARE GOD’S MASTERPIECE

The word “workmanship” is the Greek word “poiemia- it is where we pull the English word poem from. It is sued for various terms of art like: poetry, paintings, sculptures…etc. The idea is of something that has been skillfully crafted.

 

When someone creates “art” they are expressing the cries of their heart. A masterpiece is the outworking and the unveiling of the master’s heart. Each of our lives is a canvas on which the Master is producing a work that will adequately portray His heart and His intentions to the world. Because we are a piece of the Master, we are a WORKING, animated display of His glory.

 

In Genesis 1, as Gods eyes surveyed His creation, HE said “it is good”. Now, on this side of the cross, as He looks at the new creation in Christ, He says “behold this is a masterpiece!”

 

CREATED FOR GOOD WORKS

 

    The Greek term for “works” here in this passage is the word “ergon” which means: that which has been called and ordained to accomplish.

 

When we are talking about our works, in this context, it is referring to more than just activity. This goes beyond being busy, it is what reaches down into the depths of Gods heart and reveal our callings. these works are pieces of our calling. When we stand at the end of our lives and look back at the overview, all our works will fit together like puzzle pieces and we can say we accomplished what the Lord set before us; we fulfilled our callings.

 

These works, have been created for us before we were even created. Before the foundation of the world was laid, God laid the foundation of our callings. Since these works were created for us, they were molded by the great Artist Himself, so that we would fit perfectly into them; cohesively and completely.

Concept flows out of context; so, in order to understand more about these works we must look at what the council of the word says.

 

Genesis 2:15 is the first mention of the mans “works”. Here we see man placed in the garden and given something to accomplish. In order to bring about the completion of the task, man cultivated the land that was given to him to work. This springs to life a concept about our “works” that we often overlook; cultivation.

To cultivate a field in order for it to be ready to produce a harvest, there is s preparation period.

We must go through a season of preparation, when God prepares us for our works that are prepared for us. otherwise, our works would smother and crush us.

For us to be prepared for our prepared works we, like the field for the harvest, must be ploughed. When a farmer ploughs a field, the ground is fallow (it is idle and dormant). So, in order for the seed to be planted to bring about a harvest, the ground must be loosened and “upturned”.

There are areas in our lives, in our hearts and minds, that needs to be upturned. There are things in our heart that needs to be loosened and turned up toward the heavens. There are things that we withhold from our Maker; a heart full of pride and bitterness, plans and aspirations, heartbreaks and disappointments. These things make our hearts fallow ground; they need to be upturned.

 

Hosea 10:12 New International Version (NIV)
Sow righteousness for yourselves reap the fruit of unfailing love and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord,until he come and showers his righteousness on you.

 

Two types of works

 

Galatians 6:8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

 

If we looked back to Genesis 2:3-17, God freely gave Adam and Eve free range from any tree in the garden. However, there was one tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil that God set off limits. This represents to us the choice between the flesh and the Spirit. yet, we can see from history that when we choose the flesh, like Adam and Eve did, that our works are turned into toil. What was once pleasing and liberating, now turned into labor and a struggle. (Woman’s work, to bear children, was now painful. Man’s work of the field now was labor.) Sowing to the flesh steals the joy from our works!

 

It was ultimately deception that turned their works into toil, that persuaded Adam and Eve that what God had given them wasn’t enough and to cross the border of the flesh. Satan cannot have our salvation, we are sealed in the Spirit (Ephesians 1), yet he can steal our effectiveness. And if he cannot get our effectiveness than he will deceive us into believing that we aren’t being effective. Think about it, what’s heavier to bear than ineffectiveness? And so, he turns our works into toil.

 

Man lost privilege to cultivate for the kingdom, after they sowed to the flesh. Now, Christ has given us back that privilege.

 

He has given us something to accomplish!

 

John 4 is the beautiful display of an exchange between one who was thirsty and One who had what she thirsted for. Yet, within the verses we can see the heartbeat of Jesus’s works; He was hungry, his disciples went to get Him something to eat. When they returned, HE said in verse 34

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work”

What gives us fulfillment and satisfies that hunger in the pit of our souls is to accomplish these works that have been prepared for us and us for them.

 

But as humans usually do, we get all twisted and tangled in our works. We tie our identities to our harvest and so when things don’t pan out like we had hoped we grow weary in doing good.

Webster’s definition for accomplishment is: very skillful, very successful, having done many important things.

The Greek definition for the word is: to complete or to finish a goal.

 

The world gauges’ accomplishment by quantity, God gauges it by quality; if we did what He laid before us with our entire hearts turned “upward”.

 

 

Ephesians 2 study guide

Wildfire faith

I hit the snooze button and fell back into a mindless slumber. The extra 20 minutes felt necessary at the moment. I slept right through my meeting time with God. It had been a long week, long nights and even longer days. I was exhausted and the soft pillow comforted my aching mind. As I jumped out of bed in a frenzy, kicking myself for choosing the few extra minutes over Jesus, I thought of the words Jesus muttered to two of his most devoted followers: “Mary has chosen what is best and it will not be taken from her.” It wasn’t the first time those words rolled through my soul, just a few nights before as I sat preparing for a lesson, my eyes caught the dim light of the oven clock; 12:41. “What? How is it already past midnight?” As I debated on closing the sacred writings and turning in, those words echoed encouragement from the heavenlies. But this morning was different, now they were a reminder of what I lost in a mere 20 minutes of extra sleep. A lot can happen at the feet of Jesus. Hearts are healed, paths are made clear, conditions  change, mountains are moved, doubts are erased and minds are cleared. No doubt I needed rest, sleep is good but it’s not what’s best. Intimacy with the Savior; that’s what’s best.  

As the day marched on, this story, these two women were dictating my mind. The contrast between the two is stuff sermons are made of, their lives preach. Yet, something popped out that I hadn’t noticed before, there within the short story we see a contrast of passion. Here in the all too familiar pages of Luke 10 our zeal is being challenged.

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:11

 It’s so easy for our passion to be kindled. Our lives get in the way and throws a wet towel over the fire within our bones. The world is good at that; extinguishing the tiniest spark of holy. Satan has an entire arsenal of fire extinguishers, ready to go at any given moment. Zeal is His worst nightmare. So he comes for it with all the power of hell. As a result we get our feelings hurt, we are exhausted, we’re overwhelmed, frustrated and overworked. The demands of life pile up on us and stifle out that flame. Passion gets overtaken by duty and the fire within us is depressed.

Zeal has to be fed or it will starve to death. We get busy,so the fire dies from starvation.

“For this reason I urge you to fan the flame, the gift of God that is in you….” 2 Timothy 1:6

Paul told this to his young son in the faith, because he knew of all the things that vie for our time, zeal will be suffocated if it’s not stirred. When you stir the coals of a fire, it’s as if are giving it cpr. It causes air to start circulating and the fire catches its breath and the blaze grows larger and hotter. A life without zeal isn’t much of a life and a ministry without zeal is ineffective. In order to maximize the influence given to us, zeal has got to be alive and well. Nobody is attracted to someone who is dejected and depressed. Without passion our point will never be made. No passion, no point. In 2 Corinthians 9
we see an example through the eagerness of the Corinthians, “your zeal stirred them up…”. Our zeal breeds zeal, just like fire brings more fire. 

Zeal means heat according the Greek New Testament. There’s a lot of things in the world that can get us heated up; football (or any sport), politics, careers etc. Passion projects where our heart is. Answer this question: what are you passionate about? What cause your blood to get hot and your heart to race? The answer to that question will no doubt lead us to the throne of our heart.

Zeal requires us to be intentional. We’ve all seen a flame fizzle out in someone, something that once drove them, now is obsolete; it lost its power. A passion that has lost its power has lost its effect. Whatever it was, for some reason, that thing ceased to burn within our souls, it no longer ignites response. Where there was once a raging blaze, now is cold embers; ashes, the relics of a once blazing fire. 

“Hell trembles when men kindle.”

I have that wrote above my desk as a reminder that the Flame within needs to be stirred regularly.

“Be a woman who when your feet hit the floor, the devil says “oh no she’s up.” I don’t want to sound cynical, but this has been rolling around in my mind for a while. I see that quote all over the place. It’s a worthy goal, yet as many of us that want to be this woman, very few are willing to do the work that is required for this to actually become reality; early morning prayer times, late night bible study, inconvenient service opportunities. All of this is required for a valiant soilder of the kingdom, but something else fuels all of that; zeal. If we don’t have zeal our prayers will be ineffective. Without zeal bible study becomes more about gathering knowledge then about getting to know the Writer. For zeal without knowledge is folly, but knowledge without zeal is legalism. And if our service is lacking zeal it will be cold and ineffective. Our service was meant to spread the fire not stifle it. Mary and Martha both had zeal. However one was misplaced. One was zealous about serving, the other zealous about Jesus. Whenever the two are seperated our hearts will freeze. Zeal must come before service or our hearts will ice over from lack of the Spirits heat.

 

Zeal does more than fuel these things, it is an indicator of our hearts. A life void of zeal highlights a cold heart. I can’t think of a single thing would break the heart of God more than for a child of God to be cold toward the kingdom of God. Many, many things transpire out of the coldness of a zeal-less heart; all manner of sin and strongholds as well as defeat and despair. Martha’s words were like icicle daggers that came from her heart “Jesus tell her to help me!” Martha, Martha you are worried and upset about MANY things…”. A cold heart collapses under the weight. It is constructed out of worry, bitterness and strife, none of which is strong enough to hold the weight of our emotions. Cold people are often the most emotional and demanding.

Coldness is the direct opposite of zeal. Two extremes, that most of us try to avoid. We don’t want to be cold but we don’t want to be a fanatic either. Interestingly enough Jesus has something to say about that lukewarm; it’s repulsive.  

So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16

We are commanded to be zealous, so there’s no excuse for apathy. Jesus will not accept our pathetic alibis for our cold indifference. So how do we get it- this holy fire? How do we infuse these minds that are bent toward the dark with the warmth of the sacred blaze? How do you melt a heart that is froze solid? 

The answer is pretty simple; sit at His feet. As we sit before Him, something stirs within us. A longing for the divine, a hunger for glory, adoration and sacrifice, it all collides within us causing a spark to ignite. It’s here that our cold hearts melt and become engulfed with the fire of the Spirit.

That’s what we are called to; a wildfire faith

Ephesians Bible study part 1

Thanks so much for taking the time to do our online portion of our study on the epistle of Ephesians. I pray God meets you right where you are. At the bottom of the page you will see a link that says “Ephesian notes”, that is the link for the study guide. This will be our “landing page” for Chapter 1. Feel free to use the comment section for discussion!

 

To get started please read Ephesians chapter 1 in its entirety. If you had to give this chapter a theme what would it be?

 

 

 

For me this first chapter screams of our identity and our resources in Christ. The eloquent language that gushes out of the inspired pen can often seem like a mystical allusion, it’s nice to think about but that’s where we leave it. perhaps that’s why we are in a rut in our walk, maybe that’s why we are trapped in a cycle of defeat and maybe that’s why we are deflated and depressed. This book carries with it the weight of our inheritance. Every word is saturated with the love and the grace of God. If we gather the proper perspective this epistle has the capabilities to change our entire lives.

 

This is a book about our spiritual heritage in Christ as adopted children of the Father. It’s here that we will find our definition and our direction: what outlines our identity and what moves us to our purpose.

 

The word heritage isn’t in the book itself, but the concept is all over the pages.

 

Heritage by definition is- something that descends from an heir; something that is transmitted or possessed as a result of one’s situation or birth.

 

Ephesians 1:3-5 says “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who had 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 to be holy and blameless before Him, in love HE predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.”

 

This verse tells us that we have EVERY spiritual blessing because of our “situation” (being in Christ), so then we are as adopted children brought into the wealth of the Father.

 

Romans 8:16-17 says “The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are children of God, and if children then heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…”

Colossians 1:12 tells us that the Father has qualified us to share in the inheritance, by adopting us through Christ we now are co-heirs with Christ. Meaning; that we are now participants of His wealth and partakers of His bounty. That what Christ has is now made available to us.

 

Romans 5 discusses the contrast between our past life in “Adam” and our new life in “Christ”. Adam represents the fallen-ness of man. That through him the curse was handed down to all mankind. It explains that the inheritance from Adam was death. Before Christ came as a sacrifice for our sin, our heritage was death but now those who are in Christ inherit life. verse 17 says “For if, because of one man’s trespasses death reigned, through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness to reign in life through on man Jesus Christ.”

 

Reign carries the overtones of victory, now because we reign with Jesus, our lives should be marked by the abundance and victory. Many scholars are divided on writher or not this verse means we reign in life with Christ now or in the future. I believe it’s both. The focus of the new testament epistles isn’t the future in heaven, in fact it is rarely mentioned. The writers under the unction of the Spirit were more concerned with the Christians present life being lived out in the fulness of Christ.

 

Ephesians is a book that is focused on the believer taking their place and reigning in life with Christ. This is the only way to experience victory and abundance; to lay hold of the blessing that we inherited upon our arrival into the kingdom. Too many Christians are wasting away in indignance and defeat, while the pages of Ephesian’s is beckoning us to come and grasp the reality of our sonship in Christ.

 

Abundant life is quiet simply living full; living a life full of the riches of Christ and living in the heritage given to us.

 

I once heard a story of a homeless beggar who slept under bridges, on the sidewalk and in the allies of England. This man begged for scrapes to fill his gnawing hunger, his shoes were worn, the holes allowed water to seep in and cause all kinds of infection. His clothes weren’t much better. This man lived the life of a pauper yet one day an add was ran in the newspaper looking for this very man. It so happened that his long-lost uncle passed and left the homeless beggar millions. The man never responded to the ad, weeks passed and then months, finally one day the man was found on the streets of England, froze to death. He had the resources of a millionaire yet he wasted away in his poverty.

 

Sadly, many of us would fit into this storyline in spiritual terms. We have all the riches of Christ yet we are living as spiritual paupers.

To have “every spiritual blessing” is to draw our identity and our resources from a higher plane. Though we live in this world it does not define us and we do not draw our strength from it. “Spiritual” describes these blessings, in that they are ANYTHING that is supplied and prompted by the Spirit. the Spirit manifests our inheritance as well as guards it (Ephesians 1:14).

 

Resources are simply: a stock or supply of assets that can be drawn on by a person in order to function effectively.

 

Everything we need to live an effective life in Christ is given to us and comes from a higher source. Our resources are in heavenly places.

 

To say our “resources” are in a higher plane is to simply state that the supply needed in order to function effectively in this life come from something higher than we are.

 

2 Peter 1:3-4 says “His divine power has granted to you all things that pertain to life and to godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, in order that we may be partakers of the divine nature…”

 

Power. We need it in order to be effective. The Greek word for power is “dunamis”, it is where we get our word “dynamite” from and it relies the idea of something being effected in such a way that it is forever altered, that makeup of an object is drastically changed. It is the same word used in the Gospels for the miracles done by Christ. Its most stunning attribute is that it is has accomplishing power over resistance.

 

Ephesians 1:19 uses the same word, it describes this power as resurrection power, but not only that its elevating power as well.

“his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, “

 

We have many things coming against us, in all areas, but we have more backing us than can ever come against us. Unless your situation requires more power than a resurrection and an ascension, then we have enough power working within us to blow down any wall of resistance standing in our path to abundance and victory. But there is a contingency on that promise in Ephesians 1; it works for those who are believing.

“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Mark 11:23

I think we are scared of this verse. For many of us this verse is one of those that we tuck into the category of “nice but not useful”. It sounds really good but we don’t really believe it. when was the last time you saw a mountain move? For most of us we can’t remember. A cautious approach to abundance and victory is never recommended in scripture. The “mountain” in this verse is anything that stands between where we are and our God given abundance and victory. Many things that are blocking our pathway to abundance needs divine dynamite laid at before it and blown to smithereens.

 

Gods will for you is to live fully in the heritage given to you in Christ Jesus and that requires a resource much stouter than anything within us; it calls for the power of the Spirit.

 

Is there a power shortage in your life? Than we need the eyes of our hearts to be enlightened. (Ephesians 1:18) what happens when our hearts are enlightened is the veil that was hindering the penetration of that power has been removed. For many of us the perception of our hearts need to be altered if we are ever going to live effectively. To be endowed with such power and not know we have it is a great tragedy among the modern Church. For the Spirit to leave His imprint on our lives in drastic fashion our hearts must be filled with the knowledge of Him and submit to His authority. So

 

Now we will look at what it means for our identity to come from a higher plane.

 

“In Christ” appears 164 times in Paul’s epistles, 36 times in the letter to the Ephesians and 11 times alone in chapter 1.

 

The word “in” is locative, meaning that we are position ally in Christ. It’s the position we hold, making us one spiritual body with Him. This means that whatever is true of Him is true of us!!!

We see examples throughout scripture: marriage, branches and the vine, spiritual temple (Jesus being the cornerstone and we being the building blocks), the body as one living organism. All of these have the idea of the union between two different entities that now make up one whole. We often here the expression “invite Jesus into your heart”, we have missed it if this is our perception. For we are the ones who have been invited in, not Him! So, from Paul’s standpoint, to be Christ is to be consumed with Him.

 

Look at 2 Peter 1 again, it says “Him who called us to His own glory and excellence” and latter “so that we may become partakers of the divine nature.” We have been invited to come into His bounty. The word partakers is the Greek word for fellowship. HE has called us to come and fellowship in this divine nature.

Since we are positionally in Christ, that means that Christ sets the parameters of your identity. Not your circumstances, your past, your failure, your accomplishments…none of that has the authority to define you-only Jesus!!

 

You are not limited by your accomplishments and you are more than what you are not-because Jesus is more!

Much too often we treat Christ as a resource instead of as our source. The former aids, the latter supplies.

 

What would happen if we started to operate out of Christs bounty instead of our poverty? I pray that through this study we will learn how to do just that. We will spend the next 6 weeks learning about our definition (who Christ says we are) and our direction (what and how we are called to) in Christ. on a piece of paper please copy this diagram. From now on every time the Lord reveals to us something about our identity we will write it in the vertical line. When He tells us something about our mission we will place it in the horizontal line. At the end we will see what the cross has to say about our definition and our direction.

 

 

 

 

 

EPHESIANS NOTES

 

HIDDEN MANNA

To the one that conquers I will give some of the hidden manna…” Revelation 2:17

Manna was the sustenance for the people of Israel in the dessert. As they journeyed on toward the Promise land, God would cover the ground with a wafer like substance every morning. This bread was given in response to the people’s grumbling. They were famished;they were lacking. The hunger pain made them quick to complain about their current circumstances. To them, it seemed like God had forgotten about His chosen people. It seemed as if He had forsaken them, for they were hungry.

Hunger does something to the psyche. It is a tyrant that demands satisfaction at once and if it is not satisfied that hunger drives us to grumbling. Complaining about what we are missing, this beast within, causes us to whine and moan. Hunger focuses on what it doesn’t have and will not be silenced until the craving is satisfied.

But it’s not just the stomach that rumbles from hunger, the soul does as well. If you listen closely you can probably hear the rumbling for satisfaction. Or if you can’t hear it you may at least can feel it; that gnawing within for something you are lacking.

As the grumbles of the Israelites reached the throne of heaven, manna covered the ground of the earth. This was a strange substance, nothing like they had ever received before. The wafer like dew was sweet and filled their grappling need. Their hunger was the catalyst for their blessing.

In Exodus 16, Moses tells the people over and over that they can have as much of this bread from heaven as they want; they could eat their fill. God sent manna not to pacify them but to fill the pit of hunger deep within. However, there was one catch; the people would have to harvest it for themselves. Early in the morning in order to get their sustenance for the day, they would get up and go gather the heavenly bread. If they were sluggish it would melt from the heat and their chance for fulfillment would tarry over to the evening.

What is your soul hungry for? What are you seeking? We are all hungry. The hunger within is vital,without it we would miss out on the blessings of God. You see that hunger within tells us there’s something more. That hunger is a testament that there is more to life than what we can see and touch. That this life isn’t limited to this world. That hunger is for something from heaven; divine delicacies.

Jesus said “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall no longer hunger…” John 6:35

As I studied about this manna I came across an interesting tradition that was passed down through the ages. God told the people to save some of the manna and put it in the ark of the covenant. This “hidden manna” was kept safe and sound in the temple, locked away in the ark of the covenant until the time of the Babylonian invasion. Then it is said, that God told Jeremiah the prophet to get the manna and bury it at mount Sinai and then when the Messiah would come the manna would be “revealed”. I don’t know how much merit that holds or if it’s true or not since we don’t find it in scripture but what we do know is that God answered the cry of our hungry souls by sending the Bread of heaven.

Yet in Revelation we see a promise to all who conquer the sly temptation of settling for lesser things. Our temptation will be to fill our souls with anything that seems religious. But it will not work. That hunger within us can only be stilled by something from Heaven.

It was still dark, the women clung to one another as they approached the sealed tomb. They new it was too early to be at the tomb but they didn’t care. They could not wait another moment; their souls were gnawing at them. They fumbled through the garden to the place Joseph laid their Lord. As they approached the tomb, they gasped for their breath….the seal was broken, the tomb was open. Perplexed, they cautiously entered the cave. Their eyes were staining to see in the dark, when they realized His body was gone. Suddenly light filled the dark and two angels said “why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen….” The women fled the scene, scared out of their minds…all except Mary.

As the sun peeked over the horizon Mary Magadelene searched the garden. Her tears must have echoed through the country side, they told the story of a hungry woman, a woman who had found what her soul craved. But now she had lost it.

Suddenly someone asked her “Woman why are ahoy crying? Whom are you seeking?

Beside herself she said “Sir, if you have taken him away tell me where you laid Him and I will go get Him.”

Desperate.

She was to the point that she would do anything to find Him. That’s what happens once Jesus has satisfied your hunger; you become more desperate for Him then ever.

Moved with compassion Jesus called her name “Mary…”

He was under her nose the entire time. What she had mistaken as the Gardner turned out to be the one who held her heart. There He was; what was hidden in the tomb was now revealed.

The same Greek word for hidden in Revelation 2, is the same word for “seal” used in the account of Jesus’ burial.
Also, in John 6:27

“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Father has set His seal.” 
The Bread of life has been revealed to you;The Hidden Manna exposed. Hear Him call you name, as an invitation to come and partake of the hidden manna your soul craves. Just like the manna in the wilderness, you may have all you can bear of the Bread of Life.  

Come eat your fill. There is enough the satisfy the most hungry of souls. And we can exclaim, along with Mary “I have seen the Lord”

Weak Willed Woman 

“For among them are those who CREEP into households and CAPTURE weak willed woman, burdened down with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning but never able to arrive at a knowledge of truth.”

This verse stirs up something within me, it causes my heart to start pumping faster and my blood to get hot. I hate those two words; creep and capture. They relay the strategy behind deception; to seduce and to seize. Those two words bookend the weak will; what creates it and then the outcome of it. But more than that,the term weak willed woman slays my heart. Maybe  because I know from experience how this one feels. I know how painful the effects can be, how hopeless and beat down we feel when our wills are weak and lethargic. We can all be here, this verse can describe any number of us. For captivity is not a respecter of persons, it doesn’t care who you are or what you’ve done. It’s only motive; to capture our influence for the gospel and the abundance it brings. It’s not after our souls, that matter was settled on the cross. (If we are in Christ.) It’s out to plunder our heritage. (And that makes me mad.)

Maybe the word “weak” doesn’t seem to fit you so let’s get this out in the open; Strength and prominence has nothing to do with it, some of the most influential woman who ever lived where captives to their flesh. Cleopatra exemplifies a weak willed woman; risking it all for desire and ultimately that desire becoming her demise.

Here in these verses, we see a poster illustration of what happens when deception takes over our minds. When lies overwhelm the truth and our minds go haywire; a weak will.


DOING WHAT I HATE

“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. “Romans 7:15

Obedience is a choice. As Christians I believe we all want to follow God and be obedient to His will. Then why don’t we? Why is it so hard to submit to the will of our Lord? We really do want to be faithful. Then what’s the hold up? For me, I wanted that, I really did. It wasn’t so much my heart as it was my mind! ( I’m not claiming my heart was perfect but I did want to be obedient, but that desire was beat to death by my flesh.) You can have a heart as big as Texas, but if you have a weak will, the desires of your heart will be pushed over the cliff for the sake of gratification. You see it is more than our minds that are captive, our obedience is too. The captivity of our minds starts off in the privacy of our own psyche but it never stays there, it will take our actions with it and captivity becomes a way of life.

Romans 8:7- “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to Gods law; indeed it cannot.”

Weak willed woman let the desires of the flesh make the call. Somehow we are persuaded that we are powerless to stop it. So many times we do the same stupid thing over and over and over. (We go out on another date with a guy we KNOW isn’t right for us, we dive deeper and deeper into debt, we look at that image on the computer again, we go places in our mind that we know we shouldn’t; be it worry, lust, covetesness, hate, doubt, criticalness, etc. We buy another bottle of alcohol even though it threatens our very life.The examples could go on and on.) We don’t really want to, we wish we weren’t like that, but when the opportunity arises we will do it again and again and again. Because the enemy has us in a stronghold-our minds have turned on us. But it doesn’t have to be that way Romans 8:9 “you, however, are not of the flesh but of the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in you.” And 2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now, the Lord is Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

He wants your mind free sweet one. Free from the addiction, free from the unrelenting hunger for love and the bully of insecurity,free from the anguish of pride and the repulsiveness of a vain imagination.

Free so we can know Him more intimately. He wants to demolish any barrier that hinders our relationship and puts a hurtle in our callings. 

Make up your mind

In 1 Peter 1 the apostle says “do not fashion yourself according to your old desires”. In Greek fashion is syschēmatizō and means : to conform one’s self (i.e. one’s mind and character) to another’s pattern, (fashion one’s self according to) Used also in Romans 12:2, in this word you can see our English word psyche. So we get our word for the conformation of the mind.

Take a moment and ask yourself: What is your thoughts made up of?

We have been ordered over and over to watch how we are fashioning our mind sets. To inspect the foundation of our thinking. Why? Because a shaky foundation could cause the entire building to come to the ground. If we do not take hold of our thoughts then those that oppose the truth ,that seemed so innocent will lead us off into captivity. They sneak in, creeping through our television sets, our radios and our smart phones, as they slowly place chains around our minds. In the age we live in we are constantly being bombarded with deception. It lurks around every corner. 

A very wise preacher has said ” our minds are never free. There’s no such thing as a free thought.” Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones. 

What he meant by that is, that our thoughts are patterned after something. Whatever we immerse ourselves in will imprint our way of thinking. They are always captives to something or Someone. It’s only when they are captivated by the beauty and majesty of Christ that true freedom can be experienced. 

The word captive in 2 Timothy 3 is:

Aichmalōtizō and means: 1. to lead away captive; metaph. to capture ones mind, captivate

 

As those thoughts creep in undetected, they slowly take over our thought process and before long it holds such power over us that we cannot act apart from it. It alters our wills and dictates our decisions.

We will never live differently if we don’t change our thinking. We can hear countless sermons and study until are bibles fall out of the bind but unless we take every thought captive to Christ-our minds will lead us astray. “…always learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

We have to counter the attack. How?

2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Romans 8 says that there is two mind sets; flesh or Spirit. No grey areas. But that’s what we prefer, we like a little mixture; a little “churchy” stuff and then a little “worldly” stuff. The flesh likes nothing better than to tell us we can have our proverbial cake and eat it to. The truth of the word contradicts that lie. We have to make up our minds which one we want. Which master will it be?

The KJV translates “weak willed” as a “silly” woman. That’s exactly how the enemy wants to make us feel; silly and stupid. He lures us in and then shames us over our decisions. We drown in the whirlpool of our own choices. You are not senseless!The organ that fills the space between your ears is powerful. Scientists say it weighs approximately 3lbs, yet the capabilities of it is immeasurable. Such power can be dangerous if it is not harnessed. You have been given a will by God so that you can make a choice of whose your mind will be captive to; flesh or Christ. There’s no riding the fence on this one. Deception will lure us to a seemingly safe place called: the middle ground. We think we’re not too far gone, we think we have control of the situation and we can return at any moment we want. Lot found himself in the false security of the “middle ground” as well. He pitched his tent outside of Sodom and Gomorrah, a seemingly safe distance but it drew him in. There is no safe “middle ground.”

That’s why so many of us fall pray to the tactics of the fleshly mind-we think it’s okay to have a little of both worlds–NO! And hear me say it again NO! We cannot. God wants our minds sanctified (2 Thessalonians 5) so that we can fulfill our callings and our purpose (2 Tim 2:20-21). There is a reason the enemy wants our minds–because our minds are the margin between God and our hearts. To have any kind of experience or to learn anything or to obey in any way, it is processed first through our minds! Our hearts hold the throne but our minds hold the crown. Our minds digest the material that our hearts consume and it makes the call to bow or to refuse. If our minds are not trained with the word of God then we will fall victim to our own feeble emotions over and over. It’s when our emotions are going haywire that a mind that is fashioned by scripture will say “That’s not true…that’s a lie”. Emotions are good, they are indicators of what’s going on but if our minds are not whole so that it can gauge them, then our emotions will dictate us. And that’s dangerous. Because then we make decisions based on fickle feelings rather than truth. Our conformed minds hold back the reins of our emotions and keep them in check. 

Examples: If you lost another boyfriend, your emotions would tell you something’s wrong with you. Your unloveable. Rejection will cause you to seek acceptance by anyone who will give it. Low self esteem about your looks is controlled by the dictator “Comparison” that steals joy and stomps out confidence. Failure can become your identity instead of just an occasion. Pride is the sneakiest of all emotions, it slides in under the banner of entitlement and hides under the brush of selfish ambition and throws out the bait that lures in the thoughts that reaffirm how right you are and how wrong everyone else is. Doubt is like a tsunami to the Psyche. All the what ifs and maybes drown out the solid truth such as “I am confident of this that the one who I have entrusted with is able to guard…” And “he will do an what he started a good work in me will see it through to completion..”as a result God given dreams never come to the God given destiny they were intended to, purpose is pulverized as faith is famished from lack of sustenance that the Bread of the word brings. A mind that is fashioned after truth will catch those runaway emotions and bring them to the cross. Emotions can be a very strong force, we all know that. That’s why we need an even stronger will. 

The prison of a rut

Our minds are obsessive. They are constantly turning and prodding, that constant obsessive motion causes ruts to form within our psyche. Ruts that serve as the enemy’s dungeon. I’ve heard it said by people much smarter than I, that the devil cannot read our minds, he’s not as powerful as all that. But make no mistake, his number one tactic is to use our minds against us. This small complex organ within our craniums are as fickle as they are obsessive. It’s the combination of fickleness and obsessiveness that makes it a vulnerable target for the enemy’s darts.

2 Timothy 2:25 tells us Satan has a will for our lives, one that completely counters Gods good and purposeful will.We are either fulfilling Gods will for our lives or we are playing right into satans plot against us. Satan is a dark copycat, everything God does he try’s to turn it on its head by creating an evil replica. So make no mistake as good and as pure and purposeful as Gods plan is, Satan too has a plan, a plot that is demoralizing, one that seeks to keep us out of the abundance that comes from Gods plan. When we are bent on our own way, fulfilling our own plan, don’t be fooled; self is the enemy’s territory. Satan uses selfish ambition to trip and trap us as he robs us of our inheritance. That’s why we are always learning but never able to grasp the truth. We are in church every Sunday, attended every bible study, all the conferences we can, but we are still captives;.our minds are conformed instead of being transformed. To fulfill Gods will our minds have got to morph.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind so that by testing you may discern what THE WILL OF GOD IS.

It’s hard to see a path God cut out for you when your in an entirely different world.

The mind of Christ

We’re not talking about “the power of positive thinking”, that’s a crock. You cannot merely be positive and expect to knock down strongholds. It takes divine power; The Spirit plus the Word. Nothing can stand against Them.

We are talking about what Paul called “the mind of Christ”, what happens when we allow the Spirit and the Word of Truth to sanctify our minds. A mind that is governed by the Spirit of truth infuses our wills and so a “weak willed woman” becomes a free woman. That’s why Jesus prayed for The Father to sanctify  our minds with the truth, so we will be free. You may argue that “Jesus has already made us free on the cross.” Absolutely true, His death and resurrection gave us the ABILITY to experience freedom. It is like a convict who has been pardoned but still remains behind bars, all the charges have been dropped against him and the jailer leaves the key in the prison door. Yet unless he uses the key given to him he will not experience the freedom given to him.He’s a free man that is still held captive, all because he hasn’t turned the key.

One of simplest statement that helps set my mind free is: starve the flesh, feed the Spirit. What you feed will thrive and what you starve will dry up. And as we have seen scripture is clear, you cannot feed the Spirit and the flesh at the same time, one starves while the other gorges. That’s how it goes.

A weak willed woman risks her heritage of abundance for momentary fleeting gratification.

 

Loaded down & led astray

“Loaded down with sins and led astray by freshly desires.” 2 Timothy 3. These two things WILL cause our wills to disintegrate .

Loaded down with sin, the Greek word loaded down means: to overwhelm with heaping upon. What happens is we can’t bear the weight of our own sins, they are much too heavy for us. So are wills are broken under the strain. The wonderful news of the gospel is we don’t have to carry that burden anymore….Jesus bears them all for us. Isn’t it ironic that we are overwhelmed by the very thing we are meant to overcome in Christ? I’ve been there, so loaded down with the shame of sin that I run from God. His will seemed like it was just another burden to bear. I was scared to death that when I couldn’t live up to His expectations there would be more shame and condemnation. I had enough of that. I didn’t understand that Gods will is soaked in His grace and that He is much easier to please than I thought, He remembers we are dust people.

I know this one, because it has been my story. My kids are memorizing Hebrews 4:12 this week. As I explained this verse to them, tears started flowing out of my eyes, because I KNOW for a fact that the word is alive and active and able to get down the recesses of our being and breathe life where there was none. When hope is strangled the word breathes vitality back into our weary souls. When we are devastated and hurting the word pours its soothing balm on our wounds. When we do not know where to go, the word lights up as a beacon and shows the path. But the reason why this verse brought tears was the miracle that The word saved me from myself. God used it to deliver me from my captivity. Don’t ever look at the Word as merely ink on a page, don’t cheat yourself! It’s the key to the stronghold, that you have been searching for. It’s your way out. Turn the key and use it to crown all your emotions. As you do the Spirit will arise in ways you have never experienced before. It’s not enough friends, just to know it, you have to submit to it. Bowing before the truth strongholds will be demolished and a miraculous thing will happen…a weak willed woman will turn into a virtuous woman.