A well-recognized inventor called his closest friends together to unveil the new electric motor he had just finished. He stood in front of the group with his new product displayed on an elegant black velvet tablecloth highlighted by a spot light.
“Gentlemen,” he said in a voice that exposed his pride, “this is my most recent invention – a newly designed electric motor. What do you think of it?”
“Put it to work,” said one of the engineers, “I can’t tell a thing about it until I see it in action.”
If we say that we are Christ’s disciples then others will recognize us as His disciples when they see us “in action.” In writing to the Ephesians, Paul said that we are to be “careful how you live...Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Do not act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what God wants you to do.”
When Paul referred to “these evil days” he was emphasizing the urgency of presenting the Gospel message. Then, as now, “evil” has penetrated society in such a powerful manner that it is difficult to see good or goodness in the way so many Christians behave. What was once avoided as “unbecoming for Christians” has now become accepted as appropriate by many who consider themselves as His disciples.
As the engineer said, “Put it” (our faith) “to work.”
Prayer:Help us, Heavenly Father, to be aware of our witness in this world and to “understand” how we ought to live as Your disciples in this fallen, sin-filled world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:15-20 Be very careful, then, how you live…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A great sculptor was commissioned to create a statue of Napoleon. The marble was ordered from a quarry in Greece known for its quality materials. As soon as it arrived in the studio of the famous sculptor, Canova, he examined it carefully. To his dismay he noticed that it was not perfect.
In disgust he shouted, “Discard it! It has a flaw in it. I will not lay my chisel upon it.”
How fortunate we are that God’s attitude toward and acceptance of sinners are the exact opposites. Paul boldly declares that God saved us “by His grace” – a word that means strong kindness toward someone! Imagine, if you can, how important God’s grace is for us.
God is perfection and only perfection is good enough for Him. But, our very nature condemns us and will not allow us to grow into anything near perfection. So, if we are ever to get near to God, then, it must be on His terms.
God is also love. This love that we do not deserve or can ever understand is what makes grace necessary. There is nothing we could ever do that would enable us to remove the flaws in our lives. We need Someone who is above us and beyond us Who will reach out to us and say: “In spite of your flaws, I love you and will forgive you and transform you by My grace if you have faith in my Son.”
In spite of their flaws, Jesus called men to be His disciples who were like us: ordinary sinners saved by grace. Accept His grace and love today.
Prayer: Lord, it’s not about breaking Your laws that requires Your grace, but breaking Your heart. Forgive us, transform us and enable us to live worthy of Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Speaking to a Sunday school class, a pastor asked, “Why do you love God?”
“Because,” answered a young boy, “loving God runs in our family.”
What a wonderful statement to make about his family. What an important goal for every family. But God only enters and stays with families as long as He is welcome.
Here’s how it works: Each member of the family must ask Jesus to be their Savior. Then, His Word must be read and accepted, honored and obeyed, followed faithfully and carefully if He is to have His rightful place in the family. Examples of His presence in the lives of the family will be on display. He will be present at every meal, part of every conversation and readily recognized in the way family members treat one another.
Children learn how they are to behave from their parents. Parents must show love and understanding, care and compassion, patience and thoughtfulness, respect and honor toward each other first and then to each child.
If we expect God’s love to run in our families, we must first “run” with God and become obedient to His Word.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to realize the importance of You always being present in our families. May we recognize our need to depend on You, to honor You and to follow the example of Jesus as we show love for each other: in His name. Amen.
Scripture: Ephesians 6:1-4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
It had been a particularly difficult day at work. But when Jim got home, he invited his son into the yard to play catch. Looking over the fence, a neighbor called out, “Jim, aren’t you tired from the day’s work?”
“Yes, I am,” he replied.
“Then why don’t you rest?” continued the neighbor.
“I’d rather have a backache tomorrow,” said the dad, “than heartache later in life.”
As parents we focus on the present, forgetting that what we do today affects all of our children’s tomorrows. We are concerned with daily events and forget about eternity. We have homework on the refrigerator, photos on every table and clothes for every occasion. Yet what we do is far more important than how things look.
In The Message the words of Paul are translated this way: “Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” (Ephesians 6:4)
If our children do not get attention from us, they will get it from someone else. If we are not available for them, someone else will be. If we are too busy, someone else will make time available for them.
Prayer:Heavenly Father, help me to be the kind of parent You want me to be. May I love my children as You love me, guard them as You guard me, protect them as You protect me and lead them into life everlasting. Amen.
Scripture: Ephesians 6:1-10 …Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Bobby Jones began playing golf at the age of five. At twelve he was able to defeat any golfer in his hometown. But he had a major problem: he had a hot temper that caused him some serious problems.
When he was fourteen, he entered the National Amateur Tournament. He had high expectations of winning but he lost this very prestigious event. After things settled down, his Grandpa Bart went to him and said, “You’re good enough to win. But you’ll never win until you control your temper.”
Later in life, when Bobby Jones became a world famous golfer, Grandpa Bart said, “Bobby was fourteen when he mastered golf. But he was twenty-one when he mastered himself.”
“Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you…for anger gives a mighty foothold to the devil.”
We often become angry when someone does something that displeases us. It can be as simple as someone having too many items in a checkout line at the grocery or as large as a dear friend breaking an important promise or causing us embarrassment. The causes will vary but the result is always the same: the devil is given a “mighty” foothold in our lives. And that always opens the door to bitterness and faultfinding that can damage us and destroy others.
Prayer:Help us, Heavenly Father, to be aware of our emotions that so easily get out of control when we don’t get our own way. Guard and guide us at all times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:26-27 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
One of my most prized possessions is my mother’s Bible. Its cover is well worn - the brown leather comes through the black dye. The pages are turned down at the corners and show wrinkles from her tears. Verses are underlined and endless notes in the margins show her thoughts and insights about different passages. There are dates next to many promises of God where she claimed them for her husband and children, missionaries and friends.
But there is one verse that sums up her undying faith in God: Ephesians 3:20. In the column next to it she wrote: “If God’s your partner, make your plans large!”
Ephesians 3:20 says, “God is able to do...” Well, people can “do” too. But the verse continues... “God is able to do abundantly.” Many times, however, people are limited and unable to do what needs to be done. So then Paul added something else...
“God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask.” What more, if anything, is there, Paul?
“God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think!”
Is there anything beyond exceedingly abundantly?
Only asking and thinking. No wonder she wrote, “If God’s your partner, make your plans large.”
Prayer:How unfortunate, Father, that we limit You when we limit what we believe You can do for us and through us. Increase our faith to match Your power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.
The new pastor wanted to get to know the members of his congregation. One evening at a church dinner he asked Mark how he came to know the Lord as his Savior.
To his surprise Mark replied, “Well pastor, I believe God is at work in our family.”
One thing is for certain: If our faith is real and at work, it will be real and at work in our homes. Family relationships always seem to be “on the edge.” There are so many different individual wants and needs, so many competing priorities and interests that relationships always seem to be stressed to the point of breaking.
The letter to Ephesians has some sound advice for families. It very clearly states that children are to obey their parents as long as parents act in the will and way of God. Parents have every right to make expectations of their children that are in keeping with His Word. Ideally, parents will act with thoughtfulness, gentleness and love. While this may seem difficult, if family members act in accordance with the teachings of God’s Word, each will put the other’s interests ahead of their own and selfishness will be replaced with selflessness because the real Father is the head of the home and worshiping Him will come first.
Fathers are also advised to “Bring up your children with discipline and instruction that is approved by the Lord.”
Prayer:We pray, Father, for families that are struggling to survive, dealing with overwhelming problems that leave them helpless. Give them hope through Christ to be victors. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right…Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
As General Grant lay dying, his heart was troubled and he desired to make things right with God. Turning to someone nearby he asked for a minister to come visit him.
“General,” said the minister, “‘The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.’ If you’ll sincerely call upon Him from your heart, you’ll receive mercy from Him and abundant pardon.”
The minister then fell to his knees and prayed for the general and General Grant received Jesus as His Savior. At that moment, he was wonderfully converted.
Thrilled, the minister said, “God’s Kingdom has received a great acquisition in your conversion, General.”
General Grant, thinking for a moment responded, “God doesn’t need great men, but great men need God.”
On the cross of Christ, God leveled the playing field. No one stands above the crowd. Each time we are reminded of the death of Jesus we must also remind ourselves that the “Son of man has come to seek and to save those who are lost.”
No one is saved as a result of a great heritage or popularity. Our background or previous lifestyle does not matter. God saves us by “His special favor when we believe...in Him...because salvation is a gift from God.”
Prayer:We thank You, Lord, for making it possible for all men everywhere to have equal access to Your grace and salvation and that there are no requirements. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
Roger was sent home from school with a note from his teacher. “Mrs. Arnold,” the note read, “your son was involved in an incident in the cafeteria today at noon. He and two other students took the food from another student’s tray and would not allow him to eat. He has been assigned a week of detention starting tomorrow.”
After reading the note to Roger, Mrs. Arnold said, “Son, why did you do such a thing?”
After a moment’s thought he replied, “Mom, the other guys asked me to help them and I thought it would be fun!”
“Shame on you Roger,” said his mother. “When you are asked to do things that are wrong you should turn a deaf ear.”
“But Mom,” he protested, “I don’t have a deaf ear.”
It is difficult to go through one day without being tempted by Satan to disobey God. He’s always there presenting one opportunity after another to get us to turn from the Lord and follow his invitation to break God’s laws. However, being tempted to disobey God’s teachings is not sin. Giving into a temptation to disobey God’s commandments is.
Perhaps we can describe temptation as Satan peeking into the keyhole of our heart trying to find a weak spot. He comes without any warning or notice and will only leave when asked. Resist him and he flees.
Prayer:Alert us, Lord, to the subtleties of Satan when he begins to tempt us to follow him and turn from You rather than to worship You and obey Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:25-31 …do not give the devil a foothold…And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption…
Aesop was a Greek slave who became famous for writing a number of famous fables. One of his stories involved a dog, a bone, a stream and a bridge.
As the dog was crossing the bridge carrying his bone, he looked down at the water beneath him. To his surprise, he thought that the bone in the other dog’s mouth was larger.
In his greed he opened his mouth to try to snatch the bigger bone from the other dog. However, when he opened his mouth he dropped his bone into the water. Then he had nothing. The water in the stream carried the bone to the river and then into the sea.
Paul compares people who are greedy with those who are immoral and impure and assures his readers that they will not inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. In fact, he says, “greedy people are actually idolaters” – and indeed they are. An idolater is one who worships and wants things more than they do God and puts the worship of things above and beyond the worship of God.
It is not wrong to want nice things. But if we want things more than we want God, it takes our minds away from Him and changes our priorities to the things of this world. As Christians we must be careful to focus our mind and place our treasures in Heaven with Jesus.
Prayer:Give us discerning minds and faithful hearts, Father, to desire those things that are best for us. May we be careful and cautious at all times to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.