Ephesians 1

Vs. 1, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, d the faithful in Christ Jesus.” Indeed, Paul was writing this letter to those who believed and were set apart for the Lord. Paul follows up his greeting (vs. 1-2) with a wonderful blessing (vs. 3-14) and prayer for the church (vs. 15-23). In the blessings section (vs. 3-14) we are reminded of the multiple rich blessings we have in Christ; being chosen predestined, elected, adopted, redeemed, forgiveness of sins, grace, marked with a seal, and the Holy Spirit! The latter half of our chapter (vs. 15-23) consists of one of the most beautiful prayers of Paul. All of Paul’s letters (except for Galatians) include an opening prayer. He hoped and prayed that the believers in Ephesus would desire and know more about the Lord (vs. 15-18). And ultimately, Paul prayed that they would know the supremacy of Christ (vs. 19-23).

Regarding application…Guaranteed! Vs. 13, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” Question: How do we know if something will be binding? How do we know if something will last? We seal it with a guarantee! When I worked at the bank, we had a “signature guarantee” stamp that only officers of the bank could use. The stamp’s purpose was to seal (guarantee) a document was signed by the authentic person selling said investments.   The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that the investment that Jesus made for us is real! Unlike product fresh guarantees don’t last forever, our guarantee is for eternity! Brothers and sisters let this reminder be a confident boost for you as you go about this week.

II Peter 1

Vs. 13, “I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body.”  Peter knew that the recipients of his letter needed an encouraging reminder of their faith.  Rather than jump straight to addressing the false teaching issue, Peter takes sometime to acknowledge the faith that got them there in the first place (vs. 3-11).  The Lord gives us every tool we need from His workshop to accomplish whatever He desires us to build.  As we grow in our faith, we grow in increasing measure this wonderful list of characteristics of a believer (vs. 5-7).  Peter knew that his time on earth was about to end (vs. 12-15), so that is why see this sense of urgency.  Unlike the false teachers who were growing in abundance, Peter was an eyewitness of Christ (vs. 16-18).  Through the Holy Spirit, God chose select people to administer this message of hope (vs. 19-21)

Regarding application…Assurance of Salvation.  Vs. 10, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.”  Earlier, Peter reminded us in his first letter of the blessed hope that our inheritance will never spoil or fade (I Peter 1:3-5).  As we grow in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, our own assurance of salvation will grow.  Our salvation was sealed when we put our trust in the Lord.  However, our emotions at times can betray us and that is why the more we know the Lord and grow, the more our confidence will soar.  My early years of faith certainly had moments of doubt.  However, the common denominator of those doubts were because I was not growing.  We are going to doubt and lack faith at times, but know that the salvation is achieved not by our own doing, but because of Jesus on the cross!

Titus 3

Vs. 1, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.”  A timely reminder in the midst of our election month.  We are to be good citizens and be respectful to the authorities above us.  While there is wisdom in the church not to get involved in politics, we as individuals can certainly be an example to the world we live in.  There are exceptions to not obeying the law of the land if it is in direct conflict with God’s word (Acts. 4:19, 5:29), however, that rarely transpires in our life.  There were those who were unbelievers on the island of Crete who did not respect the Roman Empire.  But the Christians needed to set the right example.  There will always be people who stir up controversy, and we must wisely deal with a divisive person (vs. 9-11).

Regarding application…Being Humble.  Vs. 2, “to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”  In the context of Paul’s exhortation to be humble, I’m reminded of great civic leaders.  I think of a person like Martin Luther King Jr. who made a difference.  Being humble and gentle as a Christian can go farther than we realize.  It’s too natural for us to want to point out the negatives of our country or people in our lives.  Certainly we must balance wisdom and discernment in our interactions, but being quick to a mindset of humility should be our aim.

Ephesians 1

Vs. 3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”  What a glorious opening of prayer (doxology) that Paul opens the letter with (vs. 3-14).  Paul was trying to elaborate on the reality of the wonders of the salvation that has been granted to us!  Throughout the section, we see an emphasis of being “in Christ” &“in him”.  To this day, we share that emphasis as many of us end our own prayers “in Jesus’ name, Amen”.  Here we are presented with the concept that God has chosen us (vs. 4-5, 11).  To put in layman’s term and in my humble understanding, I think there is combination of God choosing us and us choosing God.  I know there is much debate regarding Election (predestination) vs. Free will, but I will leave that for the experts.  But, another wonderful reminder is that we are forgiven through the blood of Christ (vs. 7).  It’s so evident that love that Paul has for the Ephesians and his prayer of the eyes of their open being opened to the Lord (vs. 18).  We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who is the head of the church (vs. 22).

Regarding application…Guaranteed!  Vs. 13, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”  Question: How do we know if something will be binding?  How do we know if something will last?  We seal it with a guarantee!  When I worked at the bank we had a “signature guarantee” stamp that only officers of the bank could use to seal (guarantee) a document was signed by the authentic person selling said investments.   The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that the investment that Jesus made for us is real!  Unlike product fresh guarantee’s don’t last forever, our guarantee is for eternity!  Brothers and sisters, let this reminder be a confident boost for you as the weekend unfolds.

Hosea 14

Vs. 9, “Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”  God is going to allow the Assyrians and later the Babylonians to conquer their land.  But, the ways of the LORD are right.  God is calling Israel through His prophet Hosea to repent.  It is a message that is a common denominator throughout Scripture.  When we ask for forgiveness and repent, God hears us (vs. 2).  You see, there is miracle going on that is unseen.  The miracle of God’s grace to an undeserving people (vs. 4-8).  We are to be discerning and choose wisely the ways of the Lord (vs. 9)

Regarding application…Free to Choose.  Vs. 4, “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.”  Setting aside the controversies of election vs. free will…I want us to focus on God is choosing to love us freely.  Jesus had a choice in the desert, throughout his ministry and in the garden to do the will of the Father.  God created and chose to give His love freely.  Question: What are you choosing in your life?  Repentance or sin?  Perhaps the reason we do not choose God is because we love our life on earth too much.  We think we can do a better job.  I think of all the critics out there.  We look at the mistakes of others and are quick to judge them.  Question: Why?  Because, perhaps we think we could do a better job.  We see the mistakes of Actors, celebrities, sports stars and shake our heads.  That is our pride and that is sometimes what we do with God.  We choose ourselves and think God has it all wrong.  Brothers & Sisters…Hosea is calling us to choose to walk in the ways of the righteous.  Don’t let others, the enemy or this world influence your heart.  Let us choose freely and wisely.