Category Archives: Victorious Living

Satisfying Restless Hearts

God has made everything beautiful for its own time.

He has planted eternity in the human heart,

but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)

In what is now becoming an endangered means of communications, the newspaper offers a service known as classified ads.  The “classified’ allows individuals to list requests for particular services or products they want.   If you were to purchase a classified ad, with regard to “desperately seeking”, what would you request?  What is the motivation behind your request?

Motivation is the force that initiates, guides, and maintains behaviors. It is what causes us to take action.  The forces that lie beneath our motivation can be biological, social, emotional, or intellectual in nature. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, one of the best-known theories of motivation, states that our actions are motivated in order to achieve certain needs ranging from basic needs for survival to the highest level of motivation dealing with self-esteem and the need to be “all one can be.”

How does this theory of motivation square with the biblical explanations for our “seeking” behavior?  The Words of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes (Solomon) gives us the answer.  In Ecclesiastes, Solomon is desperately seeking what is the true source of meaning and happiness in life.  Much like those in last week’s WordBytes, he is seeking those things he “can’t seem to get”.

Solomon investigates those things which his “lusts” have directed him to pursue:  pleasure-seeking (2:1-11), wisdom (2:12-17), and labor for reward (2:18-6:9).  In the process of his search, God slowly reveals the explanation for Solomon’s restlessness.  God’s revelation begins in Ecclesiastes 3:11:  “He (God) has planted eternity in the human heart.”  God made men for His eternal purpose, and nothing in this fallen world can bring men complete satisfaction.  I visualize this fact in the picture of the heart with a missing piece exposed to the world.

Many times we pursue counterfeits instead of God—the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16)—thinking they will satisfy our deepest needs.  This pursuit, unfortunately, can prove to be a dangerous path to follow.  We witness the lives of celebrities and social icons whose needs have been met through fame, fortune, and influence yet still voice dissatisfaction with their life.  Many have fallen victim to addictive activities, broken relationships, and suicidal behavior.

Can you image driving your car without an engine?  You put new wheels on it but it won’t go.  You park it in the best garage money can buy yet it still won’t move.  It can’t go!  It cannot accomplish its purpose without an engine.  God created us for His specific purpose that includes a personal relationship (not religion) with Him (Is. 43:21; Eph. 2:10).   It is in daily discovering God’s unique purpose for our life that we find meaning, satisfaction, and contentment.

God is the missing piece in the life of those who are desperately seeking. God is the critical, life-giving piece.  In Him, we live and move and have our meaning (Acts 17:28).  The restless heart can only find satisfaction in God.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430), like Solomon, offered a “faith nugget” for the desperately seeking heart.

Thou hast made us for thyself, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.

Now that we have THE ANSWER for those who are desperately seeking, we will focus the remainder of our series on the specifics of how God satisfies the desperately seeking heart.  Please share this devotional with friends and family.  Also let us know what you think of the series by writing your comments below—we’d love to hear from you.

Life Lived Desperately Seeking

What’s there to show for a lifetime of work, a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?

Ecclesiastes 1:3 (The Message)

I recently read an article entitled The Top 10 Things People Want in Life but Can’t Seem to Get.  I was amazed in reading the responses to this informal survey that probed a number of “critical life and career questions.”  This further piqued my curiosity leading me to find other “lists” of how individuals might feel about their current lives.

As I read the various articles, the words “desperately seeking” came to mind.  Therein was the birthing of this new series entitled, Desperately Seeking.  During this series, I’ll be using three (3) lenses to examine the real issues behind our desperate search for the things we feel will make our lives better.  They include:  (1) the current situation, (2) the worldview, and (3) God’s view.  As you follow with me, it is my hope that you will better understand God’s plan for your life and be able to quickly extinguish any desperation you might currently be experiencing.  Let me begin by sharing the current situation.

Desperation is defined as a state of despair or distress, typically one that results in rash or extreme behavior—even reckless or dangerous. Desperation is sometimes described as hopelessness.  How would you describe the world today?  You need only look at your phone, notebook, or other source of information to experience the alarming state of our world.

As we view the larger global issues of this nation and world, it is evident that the current political, social, and financial climate cannot be resolved through traditional methods or approaches.  Our hope that technology would offer the panacea to all our problems is daily being dashed as it presents its own set of “new problems” in the form of ethical dilemmas, moral failures, and social shortfalls.  Tricia McCary Rhodes in her book, The Wired Soul, captures this feeling of distress.

I am not personally prone to panic attacks, but these days there are moments when I find myself out of sorts, almost as if I can’t quite catch my breath. I don’t think I’m alone in this. People of all ages seem terminally distracted, perpetually hurried, and often harried.  It is rare for an answer to the question “how are you?” not to include the word busy and elicit some degree of angst. Collectively it feels as if we are losing something important in the name of progress, as if life itself is slipping through our fingers.

But the real challenge of desperation comes, not only globally, but “up close and personal”.   It comes as individuals look in the mirror and ask, “What about those things that I want in life but can’t seem to get?”  From my reading, I compiled (in their order of importance) the top five (5) areas people are feeling desperate about:  happiness, money, freedom, peace, and joy.   I’ve included a sixth, since it seems the focus of many Millennials and Gen xers—balance.

Examination of this list resulted in the following observations.  What’s surprising are the things missing from the list.

1)  The list contains more intangibles that tangibles (money).  Why?

2)  The list is more subjective (what I can feel) than objective.  Why?

3)  The list focuses on “internal” versus “external”.  Why?

What can be said about a “life lived desperately seeking”?  Why are we desperate?  What’s missing in our lives and why can’t we get it?  Join us as we “desperately seek” answers to these and other questions.  Please share this devotional with your friends who might be feeling desperate.  Feel free to share your thoughts on this new series  in the “Comments Box” at the bottom of this page.

Kingdom Living, Part 1

“And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.”  Luke 4:43 (KJV)

What does it mean to be a citizen?  A citizen is defined as “a native or naturalized individual who owes allegiance to a government (as of a state or nation) and is entitled to the enjoyment of governmental protection and to the exercise of civil rights.”  Our news lately has been full of cover stories on how America is changing the definition of citizenship and who is eligible to become a citizen of this country.  BUT GOD, never changes the definition or the privilege of citizenship in His Kingdom—a kingdom that is eternal and everlasting yet fully realized today.

When God the Son stepped out of eternity into time, He ushered in the kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15).  The “kingdom of God” is manifested in two ways. By the sovereign control and:  (1) future reign of Jesus Christ as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15) AND (2) present reign of Jesus Christ in the heart of believers as we become “transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor. 3:18).  It is this latter understanding of the kingdom of God that Jesus spoke of when He taught His disciples to pray, “thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).  What does kingdom living look like in our daily “profession of faith”?  As believers in the twenty-first century, what is our role in bringing the kingdom of God into existence? 

We are citizens of His kingdom.    “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).  When we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, Father God  “rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13, 14).  When that occurred, our allegiance and loyalties changed.  Death no longer has dominion over us (Rom. 6:9); sin no longer reigns in our bodies (Rom. 6:12).   Our Sovereign is Christ and we live under the “Banner of the Cross.” 

We are stewards of His kingdom.   “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2)   God has entrusted us with both spiritual (gifts and talents) and physical resources (blessings) to accomplish His purpose through our lives.  We are to continually examine how well we are managing those resources.  Unlike the foolish servant who failed to “invest” his resources on behalf of his master’s kingdom, we are to be both fruitful and faithful (Matt. 25:21).

We are ambassadors for His kingdom.   “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).    An ambassador functions as a representative of a ruling authority.  We, then, are representatives of Christ and serve Him by doing the work specifically delegated to us by Christ (Ep. 2:10).  We do this through our personal testimonies and by inviting others to join us as citizens of the kingdom of God.     

As believers in Christ, it is critical that we understand that we are part of God’s kingdom—individually as believers and collectively as the Church of Christ.   He is our King.  As heirs and citizens of the kingdom of God, our purpose is to do our part in the furtherance of His kingdom.  This goes beyond “walking the talk”; it is a matter of “walking by faith” (Rom. 1:16, 17).  The kingdom of God is brought to fruition by our love for and our loyalty to our King.  “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim. 1:17).

Also Read:  Kingdom Living, Part 2

SELAH:    In Acts 17:16-34, Paul eloquently explains to the philosophers and truth-seekers of that day the source of truth and life.  In verse 28, He describes God as the source “in who we live and move and have our meaning.”  For me this is a great reminder of my citizenship in the kingdom of God.

Journal what it means to you to be a citizen of God’s Kingdom.  Use one of the scriptures included in today’s teaching or one from your Bible concordance.

Blue Tassels

Speak to the Israelites, and tell them to make fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations and to put a blue cord on the fringe at each corner that when you see it you shall remember and do all my commandments, and you shall be holy to your God.”

Numbers 15: 38-40 (NRSV)

Today is my birthday.  Yes, I was born on Memorial or Decoration Day.  Originally held on May 30th, 1868, Memorial Day is to remember people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.  The holiday (unlike my birthday) is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May and marks the unofficial start of the summer vacation season.  It is so important that we remember notable dates and celebratory events.  Activities such as family and high school reunions and special memorial services act as “points of stability” during times of uncertainty and confusion.  They help us solidify our belief systems by revisiting roots and remembering our past.  It is with this in mind, that I’d like to share my favorite WordBytes, which always helps me remember not only who I am but also, “Whose I am”.

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It is not unusual to see people “wearing” their beliefs. They do this by putting on designated colors to show their affiliation and support. In October, both men and women, showed their connection with breast cancer awareness by wearing the color pink. During the Vietnam War, friends and family wore yellow ribbons to show their support for the young men engaged in battle on behalf of this nation.

The newest trend is wearing rubber wristbands in a myriad of colors to support everything from prevention of animal cruelty to sexual preference.   But the wearing of color as a reminder is not a new phenomenon. In Numbers 16:37-41, God instructs Moses to tell the children of Israel to place tassels on the corners of their garments with a blue tread. These blue tassels, in the form of a flower or petal, were attached to the edge of one’s garment. They were placed there as a perpetual reminder of two things.

First, the blue tassels reminded the Israelites to follow God’s commandments. God’s commands are more than a list of “do’s and don’ts”. They are His instructions on how we are to live in relationship with Him and with our fellowman. God’s commands, found in the Bible, are divine orders to help us live victoriously in a fallen world. By them we are warned; in keeping them there is great reward (Ps. 19:11).

Second, the blue tassels reminded the Israelites to live holy for God. Why was God concerned with holiness? God knew the children of Israel would be tempted to assume the habits and beliefs of the pagan, sinful society they occupied. Holiness demands separation and consecration of oneself for God’s special purposes. Each step of the believer was to be encircled by blue tassels that symbolized the restraints and freedoms of knowing Yahweh (Deut. 6:8-9).

How do you remind yourself to obey God’s commandments?  Many of us don’t even think about God’s expectations for our lives until Sunday morning. What’s your cue to help you live holy? God knew that the children of Israel needed a reminder. In His omniscience, He saw that we needed a reminder, too. Where are your blue tassels?

It’s not easy to live in the world and not be of the world (John 17:14-16). The world consists of the people, place, and beliefs that make up the environment we live in. We interact with the world through our social networks, our jobs and other relationships. Jesus warned His disciples, “If the world hates me they will also hate you” (John 15:18-19).   The world will try to change your beliefs concerning God. They may call you bigoted, intolerant, or small-minded. When this happens, look at your “blue tassels” and continue to walk confidently with the Lord.

SELAH:    What are your blue tassels?  What memory or belief do your blue tassels represent?  Are they seen by the world all the time?

When Life Happens

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.  Ecclesiastes 9:11 (KJV)

You rush to the bank to make that critical deposit on Friday afternoon.  Your watch shows you have five minutes before closing.  As you pull up to the bank window; instead of the teller, you see the “closed” sign.  Your watch evidently was running slower than you knew.  Life happens!  You go for your annual mammogram examination.  The technician finishes with a smile and a promise to be right back.  She leaves to share your pictures with the attending physician.  She returns and somberly informs you that after dressing, the physician would like to meet with you.  Life happens!

From minor irritations to upsetting reports, life happens.  These interruptions catch us unprepared for the inevitable. They are unexpected and usually, unfavorable circumstances that come to take “the wind out of our proverbial sail.”  In our text today, The Preacher (King Solomon) makes the assessment that regardless of personal capacity or ability—speed, strength, wisdom, cleverness or skill, life happens.  He uses two words, time and chance, to create a figure of speech that represents “life happens moments”—we call it misfortune (Ecc. 9:11b).  Misfortune nullifies both personal capacity and ability.  No one is exempt from misfortune.  We all have our day when it gains our full attention.

What is your response to misfortune?  “Why me?” We try to do the right thing, make the appropriate preparation, and make the best choices based on “what we know at the time.” So what happened? Life happened. As inhabitants of fallen world, we are not immune to the affects and experiences which life presents. But while believers live “in the world”, we do not have to respond as the world when life happen moments occur.  I’d like to recommend three (3) principles for managing “misfortune”.

#1. Remember your position. We are not our misfortune. Our hope and security lies in our position in Christ Jesus. In Christ, we are heirs of God and therefore, the object of His love. Therefore, in spite of misfortune, we stand firm on God’s promises and His power (Eph. 1:19).

#2. Reframe your situation. We are not blind to misfortune but we know who controls all circumstances. Nothing happens to us that does not first pass God’s examination. Reframing begins with accepting God’s sovereign rule over our lives (2 Cor. 4:8-9).

#3. Recast your response.  Recasting is accomplished by trusting God and looking for ways to transform misfortune into opportunities that enrich our spiritual life. These opportunities may be more time in personal witnessing, intercessory prayer, fasting, and Bible meditation.    We respond with confidence times of misfortune because we are assured of who will be with us until the end (1 John 4:4).

The next time you have a “life happens moment”, read Ecclesiastes 9:11. Better yet, commit to memorizing this scripture for future reference. Why? Because life happens!

SELAH:   Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to memory a time when “life happened” to you.  How did you respond?  Using the three (3) principles listed in today’s teaching, journal how that moment or situation can now be understood differently.  Feel free to share your thoughts.

Stay on the Path

“Enter through the narrow gate.

For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.”  Matthew 7: 13-14 (NIV)

 

A few years ago there is a commercial for financial planning that features a wide green path and arrow to guide the investor along life’s path.  As the investor strolls through the city, they are tempted to step off the path to pursue things that could hinder their ability to accomplish their long-term investment plans. The voice of the financial advisor coaches the investor to “just stay on the path.”  The implication is that as long as the investor “stays on the path” they will realize their financial goals and live happily ever after.

This commercial reminded me of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. He told His listeners to, “Enter through the narrow gate.”  The King James Version renders “narrow” as “strait.”  Strait (stenos) refers to a narrowness created by obstacles standing close about.   These obstacles could be the world’s view on how we are to enter God’s kingdom.  Jesus’ point in this teaching is that the way to life is through a portal providing controlled access along a narrow way defined by God.  In contrast, the wide highway represents the world’s “substitute” for the way of life.  The end, of course, is death.

As I talk with believers about activities in their local churches, I am disturbed and heartbroken.  The Church, which was created to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13), is choosing to “get off the path.”  Churches across this country have abandoned teaching and preaching the “full counsel” of God for “trendy methods” of ministry.  The “fervent prayers of the righteous” (James 5:16) have been replaced with small group discussions on why the church should practice religious tolerance.  Churches are more concerned with not offending others than with grieving the Holy Spirit.  Peter reminded the early church, that Christ Himself was “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence” (1 Peter 2:8).

It is extremely difficult to stay on the path of God when the world, especially the Church, is encouraging us to do otherwise. It is critical and life affecting that we stand fast in our faith (1 Peter 5:12).  We must resist being lured to “enter through the wide gate.” Do not be enticed by false teachings with their “faith-by-works, all-roads-lead-to-God” beliefs. Stay on the path until you reach your eternal goal of heaven. Remember, it is a narrow path that leads to life, and only a few find it.

SELAH: One of the inherent gift that is available with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is spiritual discernment. Spiritual discernment is “the ability to see life from God’s perspective”. It helps us to evaluate potential choices, options, and actions we may need to make in our life. Spiritual discernment helps believers to avoid potential “spiritual landmines” that might take us off path.

Read “The Power of a Discerning Spirit” then invite ask the Holy Spirit to heighten your discernment and reveal spiritual landmines currently in your life that might detour you from God’s desired purpose.

Recapturing Our Thoughts

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)

Where is your mind leading you?  Most biblical teachers and preachers will agree that the battle for our faith begins with the mind.  It is here that Satan, the world, and our flesh continually attempt to exercise their influence and ultimately control. In our scripture today, the Apostle Paul advises believers in Corinth to bring into obedience and compliance every thought that is not in agreement with God’s plan and purpose for their life.  His teaching is relevant for us today.  How are our thoughts taken captive?

Satan invades our thoughts by planting seeds of doubt which left unchallenged or unchecked, will lead to disbelief and ultimately, disobedience.  Remember Eve?  “Did God really say that you couldn’t eat that apple?” (My paraphrase of Genesis 3:4)   What began as doubt soon became disbelief.  The result was disobedience, shame and regret.  Sound familiar?

The world pervades our thoughts by convincing us to conform to its life styles and beliefs. Paul warned the church at Rome not to be conformed to the world but transformed by the renewing of their mind (Romans 12:2).  The world’s beliefs are characterized by the lust of the eyes—“I want what I see”; the lust of the flesh—“I live how I feel”; and the pride of life—“I value only what’s important to me” (1 John 2:16). The result is vanity and emptiness.

Lastly, our flesh persuades us by appealing to our physical and emotional desires.  Our flesh tempt us with words of deception—“If it feels good, do it.”  “You only go this way once, live life to the fullest.”  “You deserve whatever you want.”  Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Gen. 3:6).  Her flesh deceived her. The result was the introduction of spiritual and physical death, expulsion from Paradise, and alienation from God.

Bringing every thought captive to the obedience of God requires that we:

  • Accept our identity in Christ.  We are no longer obligated to follow the dictates of Satan, the world, and our flesh.  We have been set free by the blood of Christ and are no longer slaves to unrighteousness (Romans 6:12-14).
  • Believe the truth of God.  It is the truth of God that exposes the darkness of sin and its influence in our lives.  It is knowledge of this truth, in Him, that keeps Satan, the world, and our flesh at bay. You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).
  • Commit to the lordship of ChristOur obedience is not based on fear of punishment when we sin.  Our obedience is our gift to the Lord.  We give it in gratitude for His gift of eternal life to us (John 3:16).  We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Let us daily use the powerful weapons God has provided for us to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.  These weapons are not human but mighty in God.  God’s weapons are dunatos (doo-nat-os)—powerful and capable.

SELAH:  The New James Version of today’s text reads as follows:

“Casting down arguments (logismos) and every high thing (hyposoma) that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

Logismos is reasoning or thought that might be hostile to the Christian faith.  Hyposoma in Greek is an elevated barrier.   Meditate on this scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any “arguments or high thing” in your life that may be keeping you from God’s best.  Share what you hear with us in “Comments.”

Victorious Living

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.” Ephesians 1:3 (NKJ)

At the beginning of this series, I put forth the proposition that spiritual blessings, outlined in Ephesians 1:3-14, would result in victorious living by believers.  Concluding this series, it is now time to share exactly how spiritual blessings accomplish that.  What exactly does victorious living look like?  While there is much written on “how” to live victoriously—often time a recommended list of spiritual disciplines and “do’s and don’ts”—it is often unclear what it looks like specifically.

For me, there are several biblical truths that contribute to understanding what victorious living looks like.  In Christ, believers are “new creatures” (2 Cor. 5:17) and are continually “transformed by the renewing of their mind” (Rom. 12:2).  It is God’s expectation that believers “be holy as He who called [them] is holy” (1 Pet. 1:15-16) with the ultimate objective to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).  As believers are conformed to Christ’s image, they are to live out the purpose or “good works, which God has ordained” them to do (Eph. 2:10).  This process of spiritual transformation is ongoing in the believer who confidentially trusts God and understands that “He that began a good work is able to perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6)—until Christ’s Second Return or the believer’s returns to Christ.

Victorious living is emotional confidence and spiritual contentment found by living in the reality and purpose of God.

Victorious living finds its genesis in the Triune God.  In Christ.  Chosen. Predestined.  Adopted as sons.  Accepted by the Beloved.  Redeemed and forgiven.  Gathered together.  Eternal inheritance. Sealed until redemption.

Victorious living is about walking in the reality of the spiritual blessings “gifted” to us by God resulting in our new identity and capability.  All these blessing are to the praise of God’s glory—lavish and abundant blessings on which to live victoriously.  I once believed that living victoriously was dependent on me.  I am so glad that God provided the “true secret to victorious living”.   For it in In Him “we live, and move, and have our meaning” (Acts 17:28).

“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  (Titus 3:4-7)

 

SELAH:  In your quiet time, read Ephesians 1:3-14.  Feel free to read it several times using a different translation or paraphrase; then journal how this scripture can help you live more victoriously.

The Spirit of Promise: A Foretaste of Glory

In whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 13a-14 (NKJV)

To this point in our study of Ephesians 1, Paul has focused on the work of Triune God in fulfilling the work of salvation.  God the Father chose believers and predestined them to adoption.  God purposed in Himself and according to His glorious grace and love “provided the way to redemption” (Eph. 1:3-8).  Jesus Christ the Son, offered Himself for the redemption and forgiveness of sin for those who accept Him by faith.  Through His blood, Christ paid the righteous demand for sin for without the shedding of blood there can be no redemption (Heb. 9:21-22).     As we approach the conclusion of our series, Spiritual Blessings for Victorious Living, Paul describes the extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Promise, as He fulfills His role in the work of salvation.  It would be the Holy Spirit who would seal those in Christ “until the redemption of the purchased possession” in eternity future.

A seal, in biblical times as today, is used to guarantee security or indicate ownership.  Ancient seals were often made of wax, embedded with the personalized imprint of their guarantor.  In both the Old and New Testament the significance of the act of sealing was dependent on the authority of the one doing the sealing.  It would authenticate the guarantor’s ability to “make good” on that which was promised within the sealed document; in this case the promise of the believer’s salvation and future inheritance.  The Holy Spirit of Promise not only endows the believer with power to accomplish the purposes of God (Phil. 1:6; 4:13) but He also gives assurances that God will do and can do all that He has pledged—promises and blessings for today and an inheritance in the future.

The Holy Spirit seals those who trust in Christ (Eph1:12, 13) and His presence is God’s guarantee that believers are owned by Him and secure in Him. Since the Holy Spirit’s task is to apply Christ’s work to God’s people, He anoints those in Christ the moment they believe (2 Cor. 1:21-22).  The believer is then secured as a member of God’s family, not in their own power, but because the Spirit is applying the promises made possible by God through our relationship with Christ.  His sealing comprises the initial down payment or the earnest of the full redemption of God’s possession (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 1 Pet. 1:3-5). 

In reading Ephesians 13a-14, the words of the hymn, “Blessed Assurance” echoes within my heart and mind:

Blessed assurance Jesus is mine

Oh what a foretaste of glory divine

Heir of salvation, purchase of God

Born of His Spirit, Lost in His love

This song captures in totality the work of salvation and the interceding role of each member of the Holy Trinity.  It describes in its opening lines the work specifically of the Holy Spirit who gives us a foretaste of the glory that belongs to those who are in Christ.  “Foretaste” is made up of two Latin words:  ante which means “ahead, before or previously” and gustus meaning “flavor, zeal” (this is where we get our word gusto).  Foretaste is described as a taste before possession; a limited awareness of something to occur.  This is a good illustration of what the sealing of the Holy Spirit accomplishes—it whets the spiritual appetite for those things which God has reserved for believers until the day we all shall see Jesus for ourselves (1 John 3:2).

This is my story, this is my song.

Praising my Savior all the day long.

Thanks you Father God for Your love and for giving us a foretaste of Your Divine nature.  May our lives as believers in Christ be to the praise of Your glory.

SELAH:   Read Revelations 7:9-17.  Then take time to praise God with your own “story and song” as you live in the present awareness of His glory while anticipating future glory with Him.

 

 

An Irrevocable Inheritance

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.  In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Ephesians 1:11-13a (NKJ)

At the death of famous celebrities, there always seems to be some uproar with reference to inheritance.  Emotions overflow into the media as children and siblings fight over monies they feel are rightfully theirs.   Family members are often excluded—fairly or unfairly—while others are left to manage huge sums of monies for the rest of their life.  And if they don’t spend it up, then they too will leave an inheritance for those left behind.  This week we continue in Ephesians 1 as Paul addresses another spiritual blessing afforded those in Christ—an irrevocable inheritance.

Legal inheritance refers to actual property or goods received after a family member’s death. While Jewish inheritance customs were linked to family blood lines, Greek and Roman laws also provided for the disposition of family possessions through the adoption of an heir. The Scriptures transform the concept of inheritance to include the acquisition of spiritual blessings and promises from God.  As part of the plan of salvation, God predestined those in Christ to adoption as sons (Eph. 1:5).

What is the Inheritance?

This inheritance was part of the plan of salvation designed at the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4).  It was all part of God’s predestined purpose and plan written without input from man but according to His “perfect will”.    As both Jew and Gentile come to Christ in faith, they are positioned to receive the spiritual inheritance of eternal lie—both now (John 17:3) and throughout eternity.  Believer’s inheritance is the possession of salvation; more specifically, the experience of joyful existence with God.

Who are the heirs?

Christ.  Jesus Christ is heir in a very unique way because of His eternal relationship with the Father.

God has placed all things under His only begotten Son’s feet and given Him all power to both judge and rule (Heb. 1:2b-3), including the future Millennial kingdom.   In addition, because of Christ’s obedience and love for the Father, God has exalted Him in all the earth (Phil. 2:10-11).

 The Jews.  The nation of Israel also has a special relationship with God as a result of His promises to Abraham. It was through these Old Testament promises, that the Jews “first trusted” (Ep. 1:12).  They were to be “living testimonies” of the goodness and faithfulness of God; they were to be “to the praise of His glory” as they awaited the advent of the promised Messiah, Jesus the Christ.  But like Abraham, they too would need to receive their inheritance by faith (Rom. 4:1-3).

Believers.  The Gentiles “also trusted” based on their belief after hearing “the word of truth—the gospel of salvation”.  As the word of faith is preached, access to God’s inheritance is found simply in confession and belief (Rom. 10:8-13).   As both heirs and joint heirs with Christ, believers receive the same things that Christ receives (Rom. 8:17); in Christ, they are able to walk in the fullness of God’s grace and blessings as heirs of God.

In Christ, the collective “we” (Eph. 1:11), both Jew and Gentile stand justified at the foot of the Cross (Rom. 5:1-2) “having obtained” (note this is past tense) their inheritance of salvation.  At the time believers “trust” in Christ, they receive salvation in that they are delivered from the penalty and power of sin until the awaited “redemption of the purchased possession” in eternity.  Then believers will be delivered from the presence of sin (1 John 3:2; Rev. 21:4).

Thank God, our heavenly Father has given each of His children an inexhaustible and “incorruptible inheritance reserved in heaven” just for us (1 Pet. 1:4).  We do not have to argue over whether we are the “rightful heirs” of this inheritance.  It is a spiritual blessing given to us by the glorious grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Col. 3:24).   There is no need to wait until there is a death to receive it, for it is available now to those who believe.  It is an irrevocable inheritance to each of us who are in Christ.

 SELAH:   What are you doing with the inheritance that is yours in Christ?