Examining Ephesians-Part 50-Spiritual Indicators (Employment Relations)

Imagine a workplace with Spirit-filled bosses, (maybe even owners), and workers! How would that work out in practise? Paul's inspired directions for Spirit-filled servants and masters in the Church at Ephesus would apply to today's workplaces. In Ephesians 6:5-8, Paul shares God's commands for servants. Verse 5 says, "Servants (employees), be obedient to them that are your masters (bosses) according to the flesh…"  Do this for your supreme Master, Who is Jesus! Do it "…with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as unto Christ…" Render respect, obey orders, give an honest day's work, and keep your mind on what you are doing. Do it as you would to Christ, if He were with you, physically, at your workplace, as your Boss. Verse 6 continues: "…not with eye-sevice, as men-pleasers…"  Most employers keep an eye out to see that their workers are not shirking their duties. Don't work only when you are being watched. (We are being watched, all the time, by our Heavenly Master). This is the will of God, which we are to do "…from the heart…"  Coming to Verse 7, Paul deals with attitude. "…with good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men…" If your job is appropriate for a Christian, you are there on a mission for God. Don't grumble, complain, or be resentful. God notices when you have a good attitude and He will reward you. Verse 8 states "…Knowing that whatever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free." Selah! Picture yourself, and any other believers where you work, doing their work in this Spirit-filled way. What kind of an effect do you think that might have in your workplace?     Ron   (Note: We hope to consider employers tomorrow, God willing.)

Examining Ephesians-Part 49-Spiritual Indicators In Children And Parents

Isn't it remarkable that even children can be taught Spiritual Truth? Ephesians 6:1-3 point out a child's responsibility to obey because this is what God commands him to do. When he or she comes to know the Lord Jesus as Savior, parents can teach how important lt is to obey God. Children can learn to obey because they love Him and trust that what He says to be the right things to do, He says because He loves them. Note what Paul insructs children to do in Verse 1: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord."  Obey your parents "in the Lord." They are given by God for your guidance and safety. (If they ask you to do something that God says is wrong, respectfully [and asking God for help] appeal to them to not ask you to do it, because God says it is wrong. If they insist, seek help from a Godly minister or counselor. Children are to obey because "this is right."  Verse 2 adds another dimension relating to parents. "Honor (show respect to and for) thy father and mother [and remember that this] is the first commandment with promise." What is that promise? Verse 3 tells children what God promises. "That it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long on the earth." This is, other things being equal, the reward for obedience. (Of course there are rewards in heaven, too). Verse 4 shifts attention to fathers. It is their responsibility to instruct their children in the things of God and to teach them how God intends them to live their lives. "And, ye fathers, provoke not (i.e; do not frustrate or discourage them to the point of being angry, by unreasonable expectations) your children to wrath, but bring them up (i.e; help them along) in the nurture (i.e; loving and tender care) and admonition (i.e; commands) of the Lord."  Selah! Hasn't God given wise directions for Spiritually healthy families?    Ron

Examining Ephesians-Part 48-Spiritual Indicators (contn’d)

Paul wraps up his admonitions regarding marriage, in Ephesians 5:28-29, and then adds some wonderful  insights regarding the Church. Verse 28 says "So ought men (i.e; husbands) to love their wives as their own bodies." A wise and responsible man takes good care of his body. A wise and responsible Christian husband takes loving care of his wife. "He that loveth his wife loveth himself." A true Christian husband couldn't respect himself, if he didn't lovingly care for his wife. Verse 29 reminds us that "no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it…"  He does this "…even as the Lord [does] the church."  It is, as Verse 30 says, that "we are members of His Body, of His flesh, and of His bones. How united we are with Jesus! How united a Christian husband and wife are! Verse 31 adds "For this cause [reason] a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two [a man and a woman] shall be one flesh." (A holy union)  Paul continues in Verse 32: "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church." Marriage should be, for a Sprit-filled husband and wife, something of an illustration of the greater relationship of Jesus with His Bride. Verse 33 ends this section on Spirit filled marriage with this timely command: "Nevertheless, let everyone of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence [respect; honor] her husband."  Focus your thoughts on the wonder of God's design and glorious purpose for marriage and love for His Church.     Ron

Examining Ephesians-Part 47-Spiritual Indicators (Contn’d)

Wives are commanded certain things in Ephesians 5:22-24. Husbands are commanded certain things, in today's study, beginning at Verse 25. Both are required to do what God has said even if the other one doesn't. Both have to answer for any failure to obey. Verse 25 presents husbands with a startling command!  "…Husbands, love your wives…"  Any man that told the truth when he made his wedding vows, regardless of good or bad "feelings," must be committed to his wife. However, the Christian husband has been given a very startling order. He must love his wife,"…even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it…" No man, apart from the constant filling of the Holy Spirit, could possibly love his wife that way. The more filled he is, the closer he comes to complying. He must be ready to lay down his life for her, not only physically but in everyday unselfishness.  He must renew that determination daily. Why did Christ give Himself for the Church? Verse 26 tells us "…That He might sanctify and cleanse it…"  A Christian husband sets his wife apart, above all other women. He carries out his God-given mission of providing for her Spiritual cleansing. He prays for her and sees to it that she has "…the washing of water by the Word…" This Godly husband wants to do this for his wife because, like Christ's concern for the Church, in Verse 27, he wants her to be a glorious wife with wonderful purity, "…not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that [she] should be holy [set apart to himself and his love for her] and without [any Spiritual] blemish…"  Selah! Can you guess how a wife would respond to this kind of love from her husband?      Ron

Examining Ephesians-Part 46-Spiritual Indicators (Contn’d)

Having looked at indicators of being filled with the Holy Spirit in the Church and in our times of private devotions, let's move to indicators in marriage. Ephesians 5:22 begins with a command to wives: "…Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord…"  Cooperate with your own husband and respectfully follow his Godly leadership. Being submissive to his role as leader does not make you inferior to your husband.  Do this "…as unto the Lord…"  Verse 23 tells wives why they are to do this : "…For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the Church; and He is the Savior of the Body…" Just as Christ gives love and directions to His Church, husbands are to provide the same for their wives. Verse 24 goes on with a  remarkable command: "…Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything…" The loving and respectful response that the Church is to give to Christ is to be mirrored in the wife's loving and respectful response to her husband. This is to be done consistently and with a willing spirit. Amazingly, this is a unilateral responsibility. (We'll deal with the husband's unilateral responsibility tomorrow, Lord willing.) This gives stability, harmony and blessings to marriage. The only exception to this would be the husband asking the wife to violate any Scriptural command. When that happens, the wife has to make a respectful, wise, and Godly appeal to her husband that she be released from what he wants her to do. In the final analysis, she has to obey God and respectfully explain to her husband her need to do so. Selah! Marriages are to be a visual aid, showing the love, joy, and wonder of the relationship between Jesus and His Church. Keep this thought in mind in your marriage!    Ron

Examining Ephesians-Part 45-Spiritual Indicators

Returning to Ephesians 5, Verse 19, the first indication of the Holy Spirit filling us is found in these words:  "…Speaking to yourselves…"  This lends itself to two applications. 1.) speaking to you, yourself. 2.) speaking, each one, to all the others. In the first thought, one very worthwhile Spiritual exercise is to repeat Words of Scripture, words of good hymns, and words of Biblically-based poems to yourself. In the second thought, sharing these things with each other, while assembled. Done in moderation and balance, this second thought can be very edifying. What are we to speak? "…in Psalms and hymns and Spiritual songs,…" A good Bible Dictionary will reward time spent finding the meaning of these three things. What else are we to do? Using Psalms and hymns and Spiritual songs we begin "…singing and making melody in (y)our heart to the Lord,…" Once again, two possibilities: 1.) singing together, out loud, in the assembly, and making melody in your heart to the Lord or 2.) singing together and, at the same time, making melody in your heart. (or both?) Verse 20 gives further indication of being filled. "…Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,…." Expressing thanks from the heart, trusting God, that whatever He causes or allows is always, sooner or later, for our good, is another evidence of The Holy Spirit's work in us. Finally, "…submitting yourselves one to another…" This is deferring to brothers and sisters in the faith (putting others ahead of yourself) . This is not being rude or haughty but being polite and considerate. This is to be done "…in the fear ( respect for and being in awe of) of God."  Selah! Think of what you can do to help your church implement and enjoy this kind of experience of the Holy Spirit.      Ron

Examining Ephesians-Part 44-Who Is Running Things?

Hard on the heels of the command to be wise in understanding the Will of God, we come to a whole section on the most important part of knowing that will. Among other things, we are to be filled with, led by, walk in, and be praying always, in the Spirit. What follows in the rest of Chapter 5 (of Ephesians) all the way through to 6:9 is an array of indications that we are filled. Let's begin at 5:18 where Paul, sharing what God inspired him to write, commands them and us to "…be not drunk with wine, in which is excess,…" Do not succumb to the controlling influence of intoxication. (Later on, God willing, I will do some writing on no use of alcoholic beverages. If we never take the first drink, we will never be an alcoholic!) We are, however, to be being "…filled with the Spirit,…" We are to constantly yield to His control and follow His leading. We are to be clean channels through which His power can flow to show others their need of Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives. Let me state a truth not often realized by many believers today. Once we are born again, being filled (i.e; being saturated with) the truths of the Bible, with a determination to apply and obey its directions and depending on the Holy Spirit's aid to help us do that, this is basically the same as being filled with the Holy Spirit. Selah! Can you imagine the joy and blessing of being indwelt and filled with the Presence of Jesus, in the Person of the Holy Spirit? Have you considered the wonder of His purifying and sanctifying activity in your daily walk, in your life's journey?      Ron

Examining Ephesians-Part 43-What Does God Have In Mind For You And Me?

 Ephesians 5:17 says, "…be ye not unwise but understanding what the will of the Lord is…"  We have covered a lot of ground in Ephesians. We have been given commands and insructions. These are the will of the Lord. Whatever the Word calls for us to do or be, is His Will for us. In some places in the Bible, it is all spelled out. For example: Romans 12:1-2 is stated to be God's Will. In I Thessalonians 5:18 we read, "In everthing (not for everything) give thanks; for this is the will of God…"  I Thessalonians 4:3 tells us: "…this is the will of God, even your sanctification (holiness of heart and life), that ye should abstain from fornication (any and all immorality);…"  When we have a determination to yield to His Will in all the Bible's specifics, then He can give us personal directions concerning His Will for our lives, location, and service. "In all thy ways acknowledge Him (acknowledge your need of His leading and His right to have your obedience), and He shall direct thy paths."  So teaches, Proverbs 3:6. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the most blessed place for any and all believers to be, is in the center of God's perfect will! The hymn says it well, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey." Selah!  Remember that "…He…..became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross…" (From Philippians 2:8)  He left us an example!     Ron

Examining Ephesians-Part 42-Are We Leaving The Light On?

Admittedly, Ephesians 5:14 is hard to interpret. Is Paul addressing unbelievers who are dead or believers who are drowsy in a death-like stupor?  "Wherefore, He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." A case could be made that it applies to both types of people. However, from the context, it seems likely that its basic message is to believers who are being reminded that God's light exposes sin. Paul would be saying: wake up, separate yourself from the works and workers of darkness, come out from among the dead   "and Christ shall give thee light…." He will shine the light on any lingering works and thoughts of darkness with which we need to deal. Moving to Verse 15, he continues: "…See, then, that ye walk circumspectly (uprightly; above reproach), not as fools but as wise…"  Our behavior and our conversation must be irreproachable. Based on what Paul says must characterize a believer in his or her walk, Paul adds in Verse 16, we must wisely be  "Redeeming (making maximum use of our time) the time…" Why?   "….Because the days are evil…."   "..The night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4b). Let's shine while we can. One day, those who keep rejecting Him will be left in the dark forever. In Verse 17, Paul reminds us that we need to be aware of what the will of God is for us. Since this is a very important matter, we plan, Lord willing to devote tomorrow's article to this one verse. Selah!     How bright is our light?  Is it on?  Is the lens clear?  What do you think?        Ron

Examining Ephesians-Part 41-Penetrating The Darkness

Light dispels darkness. This is why Christians are to walk in the light of God's Word. It is why Paul, in Ephesians 5:8, instructs Christians to, "…walk as children of Light."  He writes parenthetically in Verse 9: ("…for the fruit of the Spirit is in all (all who are born again) "…goodness and righteousness and Truth). These are the inevitable outflow of a redeemed life. Paul goes on in Verse 10,  "…proving (demonstrating, revealing) what is acceptable unto the Lord…"  A life lived in His Light has His approval. It also is in stark contrast to the lifestyle of unsaved people. In Verse 11, Paul commands, "…and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness…"  Darkness speaks of the blinding effect of sin. These works of darkness are to be reproved (exposed, condemned).  We light-bearers are to "…reprove them…"  Our lives and our words, when under His control, should show them how rich their lives could be in contrast to what their lives are.  We are reminded, in verse 12, that, "…it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret…" Usually the more sordid sins are done under cover of darkness. However, too many people today have become brazen in their sinning. The media today spells out all the gross details of crime and sin. They have no shame!  We have, by and large, lost our capacity to blush in shame and embarrasment when sin is exposed in public. Verse 13 declares, "…all things that are reproved are made manifest (exposed) by the light; for whatever doth make manifest (does expose) is light. God's Light will, in His good time, expose and bring into judgment all sin. Selah! Consider the only two options: Cleansed by the Blood of Christ or exposed for judgment, by the light.    Ron   (More tomorrow.)