ETERNAL PLAN

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Eph. 1:4 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,

Have you ever thought about eternity. Anyone who is honest with themselves cannot not believe in God when they ponder the universe and where it came from. Some say it started from a Big Bang. Well, where did the Big Bang come from? Science teaches us that matter can’t just appear, it has to come from somewhere. God has given us the answers in the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. The Bible also says that by faith we “UNDERSTAND that the worlds were framed by the Word of God”.

I can remember wondering about these questions as a small child, “Where did God come from?” My mom told me He has always been. That is the answer, everything that is came from our God, the fountain of all creation. Here are some thoughts from Tozer on the importance of understanding the eternal nature of God.

“Christian brethren, why are we not more faithful and serious in proclaiming God’s great eternal concerns?

How is this world all around us ever to learn that God is all in all unless we are faithful in our witness?

In a time when everything in the world seems to be vanity, God is depending on us to proclaim that He is the great Reality, and that only He can give meaning to all other realities.

How are the great unsatisfied throngs ever to discover and know that we are made by God and for Him?

The answer to the question, “Where did I come from?” can never be better answered than by the Christian mother who says, “God made you!” The great store of knowledge throughout today’s world cannot improve on this simple answer.”
Today’s verse says that I am part of God’s eternal plan. Before anything existed; before stars or galaxies, black holes or solar systems, before dinosaurs or amoebas, I was chosen by God. He has known me and loved me before creation, that is the shocking truth in today’s verse. So the Lord has a plan for you, your life is not an accident. Even if you have come through miserable circumstances and even messed your life up horribly, God has a plan of redemption. His plan is to display His glory through the incredible grace He has poured out on you.

RESURRECTION POWER

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Eph. 1:19-21 – and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

Several years ago there was an outpouring amongst the young adults in our church that spilled over into the entire congregation. There was a song by Kelanie Glockler that was a huge part of that time of renewal called “Resurrection Power”. The words to that short song went like this:
“Hallelujah, I am free

Sin and death have no hold on me

We’ve got resurrection power Flowing on the inside!’
It was a short little song that we must have sung hundreds of times. It seemed to carry Resurrection power in the song itself. This resurrection power that flows from the Lord is the very essence of our Christian faith. Christianity is not a dogma that we follow but supernatural life that has invaded our hearts. Today’s verse describes that power, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead has made us alive. We were dead in our sins but we have come alive by resurrection power to live new lives. Here are some thoughts from Bishop Ellicott on today’s passage.

“Paul adds that this power of God is not latent; it actually works according to, that is up to the full measure of the might of the strength of God- of that strength which is part of His nature. The whole phrase forms a glorious climax, in which the Apostle accumulates words ever stronger and stronger to approach to the description of the omnipotence of the Spirit. It is a force of exceeding greatness, it is an ever energetic force; its only measure is the immeasurable might of the divine nature.”
It was the unlimited power of God that raised Jesus from the dead. It was death that resulted from man’s sin that held us in its power. Only a greater power, the power of God seen in the Resurrection of the man Jesus of Nazareth, could hope to free us from sin and death. That is exactly what happened, when the Spirit of the Lord enters your heart, Resurrection power overcomes the power of death.

RESURRECTION POWER

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Eph. 1:19-21 – and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

Several years ago there was an outpouring amongst the young adults in our church that spilled over into the entire congregation. There was a song by Kelanie Glockler that was a huge part of that time of renewal called “Resurrection Power”. The words to that short song went like this:
“Hallelujah, I am free

Sin and death have no hold on me

We’ve got resurrection power Flowing on the inside!’
It was a short little song that we must have sung hundreds of times. It seemed to carry Resurrection power in the song itself. This resurrection power that flows from the Lord is the very essence of our Christian faith. Christianity is not a dogma that we follow but supernatural life that has invaded our hearts. Today’s verse describes that power, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead has made us alive. We were dead in our sins but we have come alive by resurrection power to live new lives. Here are some thoughts from Bishop Ellicott on today’s passage.

“Paul adds that this power of God is not latent; it actually works according to, that is up to the full measure of the might of the strength of God- of that strength which is part of His nature. The whole phrase forms a glorious climax, in which the Apostle accumulates words ever stronger and stronger to approach to the description of the omnipotence of the Spirit. It is a force of exceeding greatness, it is an ever energetic force; its only measure is the immeasurable might of the divine nature.”
It was the unlimited power of God that raised Jesus from the dead. It was death that resulted from man’s sin that held us in its power. Only a greater power, the power of God seen in the Resurrection of the man Jesus of Nazareth, could hope to free us from sin and death. That is exactly what happened, when the Spirit of the Lord enters your heart, Resurrection power overcomes the power of death.

FREE FROM MISERY

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Eph. 1:6,7 – So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.

Let’s face it, most misery is self inflicted. What do I mean? For example, financial chaos is likely the results of bad decisions with spending or laziness in regard to our employment, health issues can often be traced to poor eating habits, and alcohol and substance abuse lead to all sorts of miserable conclusions. Whether we are honest with ourselves or not, we are mostly victims of our own bad choices.

Obviously this is not always the case. Sometimes other people’s choices throw us into misery; a drinking parent, a cheating spouse, or a crooked boss. Other people can also lead us into the pit of despair. Whether our own choices or the behavior of others have messed up our lives, redemption brings us from the clutch of misery. Christ purchased us in our state of misery and brings us out. How does He do it? He does it by changing us. We are changed by His grace at the very core of our being; the results are that we start living our lives in a different way. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes it.

“God hath made man’s emptiness and misery, his low, lost and ruined state into which he is sunk by the fall, an occasion of the greater advancement of his own glory, as in other ways so particularly in this, that there is now a much more universal and apparent dependence of man on God. Though God be pleased to lift man out of that dismal abyss of sin and woe into which he has fallen, and exceedingly to exalt him in excellency and honor, and to an high pitch of glory and blessedness, yet the creature hath nothing in any respect to glory of; all the glory evidently belongs to God, all is in a mere, and most absolute and divine dependence on the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

If you have struggled with bouts of depression that may lead to alcohol or substance abuse or any other type of destructive behavior, redemption is the solution. It starts with forgiveness but doesn’t stop there. He continues with transformation; we are changed on the inside. We see our lives differently, we see the Lord differently and our behavior begins to change; not because we have to but because we want to. Redemption has made us new kinds of people.

HOLY PEOPLE

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Eph. 1:7 ¶ In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

Grace is the message of the New Testament. It was the nucleus of the preaching of the Apostle Paul which literally turned the world upside down in his day. Grace was also at the epicenter of the Protestant Reformation. An Augustinian, Catholic monk, by the name of Martin Luther unleashed a spiritual atomic blast with his teachings on “the just shall live by faith”. Justification by grace alone through faith alone became the earmark of the reformation. That message not only birthed the reformation but ultimately led to the struggle with the Puritans that birthed the United States of America. I am not saying that all of our founders were Christians, I am just saying the driving force behind our beginning was the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What is so amazing about grace that it causes the upheaval of nations? Really, it is a two fold message. First, it offers cleansing and forgiveness for every sin. There is no sin too dark that it doesn’t wash us clean. Secondly, it changes the very core of our being. Our desires change. Our desire for sinful pleasures are replaced with a passion for the Lord Himself. In other words grace leads to sanctification or holiness. My definition of holiness is this; holiness is the testimony of God’s grace. Here is how Adam Clarke explained this phenomenon in the Methodist revival.

“Ye are sanctified; ye are separated from earthly things to be connected with spiritual. Ye are separated from time to be connected with eternity. Ye are separated from idols to be joined to the living God. Separation from common, earthly, or sinful uses, to be wholly employed in the service of the true God, is the ideal meaning of this word, both in the Old and New Testaments. It was in consequence of their being separated from the world that they became a Church of God. Ye were formerly workers of iniquity, and associated with workers of iniquity; but now ye are separated from them, and united together to work out your salvation with fear and trembling before God.”
So grace causes an upheaval like nothing else. Criminals become pastors, pimps become protectors of virtue, prostitutes become holy women of God, and common thieves become funders of ministries and churches. Our present society needs a good infusion of grace; the kind of grace that changes lives from sinners to saints. Do it again Lord!!!

BLESSINGS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all the blessings of the Spirit in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.Ephesians 1:3.

We really have know idea of how blessed we really are. Just think about it, all the blessings of the Spirit of God have been made available to us by the redeeming blood of Jesus. Just some of His blessings or even just one would be amazing, but all of them? Really? How big is this promise. If God the Holy Spirit is infinite, that means there is no end to these blessings. They are truly limitless. They incorporate everything from illumination, the opening up of our spiritual senses to heavenly things, to access into the very presence of God. It includes Sonship, intercession, victorious living, power for ministry, and best of all intimacy and fellowship with our heavenly friend. It is by walking in the Spirit that we begin to implement these unspeakable blessings into our daily lives. We have more available to us than we can ever know. Here are some thoughts from A.B. Simpson on today’s verse.
“Ephesians is an unfolding of “all the blessings of the Spirit.” This is the true translation of the passage, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all the blessings of the Spirit in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.'” Ephesians 1:3. There is a great difference between the blessings of the Spirit and spiritual blessings. The person of the Holy Ghost is worth more than all His gifts. The blessings unfolded in this epistle are said to be “in the heavenlies”; that is, in the higher realm and element where we dwell in Christ, above the natural life, and in fellowship with the heavenly world. The apostle’s theme, in this sublime epistle, is the higher blessings of the Holy Ghost, which He makes known to those who enter into the fullness of Christ. May the Holy Spirit Himself enable us to see and enter into all the blessings of the Spirit!”
Learning how to walk in the Spirit becomes our lifelong quest. It all starts by recognizing your need of the Spirit in your daily life. From there, you learn how to drink, or take in, the Holy Spirit into your life. Once drinking becomes part of your life you are well on your way, you are tapping in to all the blessings of the Spirit purchased for you.

BLESSINGS OF THE SPIRIT #2

Eph. 1:3 ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

Once we see how blessed we are in Christ, we have no other recourse; we become radical worshippers of God. Suddenly, the angels, elders, and seraphim in the book of Revelation make a lot of sense. In light of His glory, worship becomes spontaneous. Apathy and disinterest are unthinkable. We see His sovereign plan that brought us to this place in our journey, we see the powerful effect of redemption in our lives, we become aware of His provision, guidance, correction, and encouragement in everything we do. We are sometimes stunned speechless by how He has us covered. Matthew Henry spoke about these blessings and how they are related to our worship.

“Spiritual blessings are the best blessings with which God blesses us, and for which we are to bless him. He blesses us by bestowing such things upon us as make us really blessed. We cannot thus bless God again; but must do it by praising, and magnifying, and speaking well of him on that account. Those whom God blesses with some he blesses with all spiritual blessings; to whom he gives Christ, he freely gives all these things. It is not so with temporal blessings; some are favoured with health, and not with riches; some with riches, and not with health. But, where God blesses with spiritual blessings, he blesses with all.”

The blessings of the Spirit are limitless. When you receive the Holy Spirit you are receiving God Himself into your life. His presence upon you and in you effects everything. He effects our thoughts, our joy, our health, our actions, our lifestyle, and our words. He effects every part of our lives. We could try to number these blessings and never finish counting. Here is how John Calvin describes it.

“I have no objection to Chrysostom’s remark, that the word spiritual conveys an implied contrast between the blessing of Moses and of Christ. The law had its blessings; but in Christ only is perfection found, because he gives us a perfect revelation of the kingdom of God, which leads us directly to heaven. When the body itself is presented to us, figures are no longer needed.”

So I am blessed. I am blessed in the temporal world but those blessings are just shadows pointing to the brilliant light seen in Christ. We are blessed with all the blessings of the Spirit, it will take heaven’s eternity to begin to understand what that means.

BLESSINGS OF THE SPIRIT #1

Eph. 1:3 ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

We are blessed. The Bible says we have received every spiritual blessing in Christ. A.B. Simpson says that we have received all the blessings of the Spirit. The first question you have to answer is this, “Am I in Christ?”. If the answer is yes, then you are blessed with unlimited blessings. If you are not, it is time to make your peace with God. The ESV Study Bible brings out the way we know if we are in Christ in it’s comments on this verse, the Holy Spirit is the guarantee or foretaste of heaven.

“The blessing that opens Paul’s prayer is similar to those that began first-century Jewish prayers that were commonly recited throughout the day. in Christ. Paul’s praise emphasizes the mediation of Christ for all God’s blessings by repeating that these good things are ours “in Christ”, “in the Beloved”, or “in him”. Spiritual (Gk. pneumatikos) here communicates that the saving gifts of God are conveyed by the Holy Spirit (Gk. Pneuma), whose personal presence throughout this age is the guarantee of future heavenly blessings.”

Albert Barnes gets even more specific as he describes what some of those blessings are.

“Pardon, peace, redemption, adoption, the earnest of the Spirit, etc., referred to in the following verses—blessings which individual Christians enjoy, and not external privileges conferred on nations.”

A. B. SIMPSON has a very unique translation of this verse.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all the blessings of the Spirit in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.” He says that the are the blessings that come from our relationship with the Holy Spirit, they are actually “the blessings of the Spirit”.

Simpson goes on to to explain that the spiritual gift is actually the Spirit Himself. He is the spiritual blessing. This changes everything. Here is how he describes it.

“This is the text of the whole Epistle to the Ephesians. That epistle is an unfolding of “all the blessings of the Spirit.” This is the true translation of the passage. There is a great difference between the blessings of the Spirit and spiritual blessings. This is a case where a single noun is worth a hundred adjectives. The person of the Holy Ghost is worth more than all His gifts.”

SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS

Eph. 1:3 ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

This verse lays the ground work to one of Paul’s greatest epistles. He unfolds these spiritual blessings, or blessings of the Spirit, all throughout the book of Ephesians. He says we are seated together in heavenly places in Christ. For those who have ears to hear, we are already brought into the heavenly banqueting house, the blessings are already pouring over us, we don’t have to wait for the coming kingdom, He is here and the blessings abound. Charles Hodge tells us about this heavenly realm that has been opened to us in his comments on today’s verse.

“In ‘heavenly places’ may be rendered either in or with heavenly things, or in heavenly places in heaven. If the former method be adopted the sense is, ‘Hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings with heavenly things.’ The words however occur five times in this epistle and always elsewhere in a local sense, which therefore should be preferred here. They are to be connected with the immediately preceding word, ‘Blessings in heaven.’ The meaning is that these blessings pertain to that heavenly state into which the believer is introduced.”

Wow! Did you catch that, we are already introduced to this realm. This revelation will take all our spiritual activities out of the realm of duty into Peter’s realm of unspeakable joy. Bible reading, prayer, worship, going to church, sharing our faith now become our greatest joy. It is in these spiritual activities that we begin to step into those heavenly places that Paul spoke about. Paul first tasted it on the Damascus Road: he was hooked. From the imprisonments, to the beatings, and stoning, to the shipwrecks; Paul was accessing that other world. It is in those heavenly places that we actually taste the blessings of the Spirit.

Maybe today all you can see are your earthly circumstances. The truth is that the heavenly realm is all around you, and is in you if you are born again. If you are not ‘feeling it’ all it takes is a spiritual adjustment (since you have read this far you are well on your way). Take some time and be still, acknowledge the blood of Jesus that cleanses every sin, and draw near to our merciful God. Before long, you will be soaring in those heavenly places.

ARRABON – THE FIRST INSTALLMENT

MERRY Wednesday  BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Eph.1:14

Vincent describes the word “earnest” (arrabon) as “caution-money” deposited by a purchaser in pledge of full payment. The Holy Spirit, indwelling the believer, is God’s earnest money, guaranteeing to him the future glorification of his body.”

The Word of God becomes our ultimate path to freedom. I can either be ruled everyday by “life” and by what I see or throw myself into the Word of God and see what God sees.  Bad things will happen, emotions will come and go but again His Word stands forever. God sealed His love into our hearts. He gave the Holy Spirit as the first installment and you can bet I can’t wait for more installments!  The believer is no longer enslaved to sin, no longer enslaved to self and God gives us a foretaste, if you will, that there is so much more to come. I guess you could say “Subsequent installments will follow!” When we become born-again a living hope is placed within us- Paul says, “For in hope we are saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?”(Romans 8:24) We can, in the midst of hostility, hurt, disasters and distress, live with this living hope within our soul because of our arrabon, the Holy Spirit. I always love to say, you are not floating out in outer space non-existent to our Heavenly Father, without purpose and hope. There has been a huge transaction in heaven that gives the Holy Spirit as a pledge to help us through life’s maze of struggles. You are worth something huge in the eyes of God.

Matthew Poole says, “Holy Spirit comes by an overpowering light shining into the soul, and filling it with assurance of its interest in Christ and heaven, enabling a man to discern that image of God in his soul, which the Spirit bears witness to his interest in the inheritance, and assures him of it.” This “arrabon” ensures us of ownership to Christ, security in Christ and there is a finished transaction to finish the deal. This seal which is the Holy Spirit distinguishes between “the authentic and things that are not”. (Geneva Bible)

I pray you will continue to let this Holy Ghost transaction carry out this work in you to the praise of His glory. There are more installments ahead! We are His now purchased possession and He isn’t too keen on letting us go. My job is to cooperate with this precious “takeover” and live the rest of my life according to the plan and will of God. Not endless wondering, not trying to be a Christian undercover, or come up with ways to compromise the Word of God to please myself. I am His and there is so much more to come!