“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
The key to understanding the Apostle Paul’s point is the word ‘therefore‘. It connects back to Ephesians 4:20, where Paul contrasts the Ephesian Christians with the Gentiles who only lived for themselves. The believers (relate to yourself) had put off the old selfish nature and pursued God and His righteousness. We should, therefore, imitate what we’ve learned about God from watching His Son in action.
As God gave up His Son, and as Jesus gave up His life, we should, likewise, change our behavior to focus on eternal goals, not temporal goals. No one lives forever. We will be judged for our choices down here. Let Jesus be your guide.
“David and all the Israelites marched to Jerusalem (that is, Jebus). The Jebusites who lived there said to David, ‘You will not get in here.’ Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David” (1 Chronicles 11: 4-5).
The people who possessed the fortified city declared that David could not have it. The Lord had declared he could have it. He needed to decide if he would believe the words of the people or the words of the Lord. Its the same decision we all need to make today. Who will we obey and whose words motivate us to action?
I’ve learned that it really doesn’t matter what people say. What matters is what God says to me and how I react to what He says.
What makes you angry? We’re going to talk about being mad at Giants this weekend at New Hope. Giants are problems and situations that are way beyond our reach. The odds are overwhelming. There may be little we can do against giants, but we still ought to get angry at the injustice it represents.
Surely there are things on the national scene that anger you. We should get angry at the shooting down of MH17 in Ukraine. We should get angry about the stalemate in Washington by both parties Americans elected. And we should get angry that there are more Americans per capita incarcerated in prison in the United States than any other country on earth.
But are we angry enough to do anything about it? The world will never change until someone gets angry enough to change something. Let’s become change agents for America.
Several years ago Anita and I were browsing through an antique store in Auburn. She commented to me about how she really liked a ring in the display case. I noted the tag said, “30 Pals”. I had a little money set back for an anniversary gift, and thought that might be a good idea. The next day I went back alone and asked to see the ring out of the display case. I asked the owner, “What does ’30 Pals’ mean?” She chuckled and replied, “That’s 3 Opals”.
Its amazing what a little space can do for interpreting a tag. The meaning completely changed when the digits were put in correct order. The Apostle Paul advised that all things should be done “decently and in order”. Is there an area of your life out of order? Let God help you put it back in order again. He’ll be your main Pal.
“And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route” (Matthew 2:12).
Ever had a dream that bugged you? You woke up in the morning with that dream still running through your mind, or the emotions you felt still affecting you. Perhaps that was a dream warning you of something you need to do or not do. Dreams are one of the tools God can use to warn us or guide us or enlighten us.
Dreams don’t always come true, of course. They are simply our minds acting out unresolved conflict from our lives. Coupled with the promise from Joel that God would give spiritual people dreams and visions, we can expect our unresolved conflicts to become resolved in or through our dreams.
What is God saying to you in your dreams?
My first car was a shiny black 1958 Chevy BelAir. It had a 348 engine with a truck clutch, 3-speed on the floor and an automatic rear end. That car would move. The car could beat most competitors in a drag race. I maxed it out at 120 mph on a road build for 65 mph. I should be dead and likely could have taken others with me. Cars didn’t have the safety features they do today. I felt I had authority when behind that wheel. That super car made me feel like Superman.
Its amazing how we attach externals to our self worth. Clothing fads, hair coloring, jewelry, tattoos, hair arrangements and cars. They all make us feel better about ourselves. But, who we are, we are. None of the dew-dads and decorations and stuff really identifies who we are. What identifies me is who I am in Christ. He gives me my self worth.
Nehemiah had returned to a ruined Jerusalem. He carefully examined the situation then gathered a meeting of the leaders.
“Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.’ I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.
They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’ So they began this good work” (Nehemiah 2:17-18).
Take a good look at your life. Can you see the trouble you’re in? Is there an area of your life that lies in ruins and has been burnt? Come, let us rebuild that area of your life, so you will no longer be in disgrace. Let’s start rebuilding.