I find myself sitting and basking in the wonder and glow of this chapter. After the formal opening, it begins declaring that we have been chose by God to be holy and blameless and that before the creations of the world. Is this amazing or what?! Christ-followers were in God’s eye before He created a molecule. I really can’t grasp that. I just sit with it, letting it wash over me like a warm shower.
And after Paul expands upon all that comes with being chosen, and it is a fantastic journey through verses 3-14, Paul shifts to thanksgiving and prayer, during which the position and power of Jesus is lauded.
What a journey with the Lord, my Lord, the One who chose and saved me this day.
Oh, Lord God, I am close to speechless that You chose me! You guarantee my inheritance!
I pray that Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is effective in my life. That I may know You better and more fully and that the eyes of my heart may be opened to You more and more each and every day until I am called to be with You in glory forever. I pray this in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Yesterday I read about being free to love and serve… that message is still resonating in me. I have been saved for a purpose to touch lives for good and God, to love and serve and thereby tell God’s story and proclaim His Gospel.
Paul looks at a similar theme from a different angle in today’s chapter. If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. … A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good…. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (1, 7-10)
From the selfish side, when we do good, we are sowing from the Spirit and therefore will reap from the Spirit, eternal life. I like that. I want that.
From the duty side, do so much good that we become weary doing good to everyone, sinner and saved, fellow Christ-follower and people of a different religious persuasion.
Doing good… I wonder how much good I can do today?
Lord, help me be a ‘do-gooder’ all my life long for Your Name Sake. I pray in Your Name, Jesus. Amen.
Another rich chapter. My heart soared as I read verses 13-14, You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. …
Called to freedom… those 3 words sound luxurious! After begging and chiding the Galatians not to be circumcised and fall out of grace and back under the law, Paul pens these liberating words. You… were called to be free. I can feel the weight of having to do ‘this ritual’ and ‘that religious duty’ lifted off my shoulders!
Without any break, Paul continues expressing the wonderful reality of this verse. We are called to be free. Free, that is, in order to serve one another in love. I am no longer a slave to myself, to selfishness, to destructive vices. No, I am free to love and serve others!!! I am free to inject love into arenas filled with competition and envy. I am free to spend time with people passed by, by others because I am no longer bound by performance-based relationships (I give to you so you have to give to me). I am free to live differently because Christ lives in me and God defines my worth not others or the world-system of which I am a part.
Wow, this is freedom of a magnitude the world apart from Jesus does not know!
You were called to be free … [to] serve one another in love.
Oh, Jesus, I want to live in Your freedom! I want to live with Your love. Oh, Jesus, I want to serve as You served! Help me, I pray. Amen.
I have had a number of nicknames throughout my life and the interesting thing is you can tell the era by hearing the nickname. Names are part of our story. And the names we have for others tell some things about the nature of our relationship.
Verse 6, spoke powerfully to me this morning. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." I have heard Abba defined in different ways. ‘Dear Father’ and ‘Daddy’ are two frequent interpretations of Abba.
To meditate on God as ‘Abba’, as ‘Dear Father’, as ‘Daddy’, is powerful for me. I have a good earthly father, so I carry no unfortunate baggage when it comes to the term ‘father.’ However, to think of God, the perfect Father inviting me to call him ‘Daddy’ or ‘Dearest father’ blows me away.
God is inviting me into relationship by using one of the closest and most caring relationships humankind knows! Wow!
Awe descends. The One who made the stars and atoms invites me to sit on His lap, to be protected by His might, to be enthralled by His wisdom, to know His love and so much more!
I think I will climb onto Abba’s lap right now…
Dearest Father God, Abba, my Abba, thank You for this safe place, a place to be known, cared for and protected. Thank You that I may come to this place whenever I need.
Oh, Father, my delight is to be Your son and my honor to represent You when I am anywhere but with You. May others see in me, You… Amen
Chapter 3 is one of those chapters where every paragraph and many sentences are a meal. There is so much here. Here are a few verses that jumped out at me.
Verse 2: I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
Verse 8: The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you."
Verse 11: Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith."
Verse 28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
For certain I could have chosen other verses as well. There is so much here.
I kept rereading those 4 verses…
From verse 2: obviously the receiving of the Spirit was not a theological statement. The Spirit provided a presence and a power that was noticeable. I pondered how the giving of the Holy Spirit has become an ‘add-on’ to the faith in our day… Do you have any thoughts?
From verse 8: I realized how often God’s global and all-encompassing plan for salvation has been from the very beginning. The great commission is not new; it is an obvious statement built upon God’s entire plan from the beginning.
From verse 11: it is all about faith in Jesus, not laws, not duty, not rituals! FAITH in Jesus!
From verse 28: human distinctions of gender, societal position and nationality/ethnicity have no place in the church. All are one in Christ!
These are some of the ‘meals’ I enjoyed as I sat with God and His Word this morning.
Lord God, thank You for the banquet You provide day after day. I bless Your name and am thankful that I have been invited to dine at Your table. Such is the gift of faith in Jesus. Amen.
Verses15-16: We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
Is it observing rules and regulations or faith in Jesus that saves people? Faith in Jesus!
Here is the crux of Galatians. It is not any set of rules, Jewish laws or church laws that save. Only Jesus saves! Paul got this and when he observed Peter, who had come to visit him in
It was Paul’s direct, person-to-person approach to Peter that caught my devotional eye.
All too often we humans (and I am guilty of this far too often as well) oppose and confront others in the shadows and through less than direct means, like passive-aggressive actions. When we see something happening
-we gossip behind the others back…
-we enlist others to help straighten the person out…
-we do nothing because we are afraid to hurt them or loose a friend, or…
-we triangulate, bringing in another party to do the confrontation…
Paul went straight to Peter and man-to-man dealt with the problem. It struck me. NO interpersonal games, Paul owned his observations and confronted Peter with them.
It turns out in this case Paul was correct and the implication is that Peter got it and the church was better for it. If Paul had been wrong they could have ironed things out, Paul would have been corrected and, again, the church would have been better for it.
It took two Big men to have this situation work out. I see some life lessons in the ‘how’ of the story and not just the ‘what and why.’
Thank You, Lord, for showing me this. Thank You, Lord, for an example of ‘speaking the truth in love.’ Thank You, Jesus, that faith in You, not the law, is the way of salvation. And Thank You, Lord, for men who cared and dared to live it –imperfectly as all humans do. Thank You, Jesus, for faith to believe in You. Amen.
In many ways Galatians is quite a shift from the OT prophet Malachi, but in others, it is similar. Both Malachi and Paul use forceful words and images to gain the attention and challenge the faith of God’s people.
As I read through chapter 1 and came upon verse 15 a prayer struck my heart, “Oh God I pray that all of us who follow Jesus know OUR depth of calling…”
Here are the words that captured my attention: But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me …
Would that all of us who follow Jesus knew this… that God set us apart from our mother’s womb, revealed Jesus to us and called us by His grace! Wow!
We all are known from the womb…
We all have had Jesus revealed to us …
We all have been called by grace…
Paul was called to preach, but you may have been called to live for Jesus in the marketplace or as a stay-at-home mom, or in the medical field or teacher or… (fill in the occupation of your life). As ‘Christ followers’ we have all been called to lift up Jesus where we live and work and play.
Think about this as you live your life today… you are known and know Jesus and have been called to spread His message into the world.
Oh Lord, that everyone who reads this and who worships in a Christian gathering this week knows that we, too, are known and called to serve Jesus and the Gospel in unique fitted to who we are and how God has created us… I pray this for the Father’s Glory that the Son be lifted up as we live through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Oh, happy day (oh, happy day)
Oh, happy day (oh, happy day)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
oh, when he washed (when Jesus washed)
when Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
he washed my sins away!
(oh, happy day) Ah, happy day
(oh, happy day) …
As soon as I finished reading this short chapter, I found myself singing this song. Malachi sees the day when Jesus will come, preach, teach, heal and point us to the Father through faith in Him. Because of Jesus, those who believe, have their sins washed away. Because of Jesus, those who believe, can be restored into a life-giving and eternal relationship with God the Father. Because of Jesus, we who believe, can be empowered to infect the world with Jesus’ teachings through the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
What’s more, when Jesus returns in glory for His ultimate return we will join Him in trampling evil and establishing God’s reign once and forever! What a happy day that will be…
Lord, may I live in joy and happiness for Jesus’ first coming and in expectation for His final return! Alleluia. Amen!
If you have been following me from the early days, You have now read the entire Bible, every chapter in every book at least once. And more than that you have read the NT at least 2.5 times. Congratulations, God’s Wword is filling nooks and crannies of your life.
I hope you will continue reading the Bible throughout your life… I will be and you are welcome to keep on reading with me.
To the praise and glory of God –Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Grace and Peace, Bill
The phrase ‘robbing God’ always catches my attention. How can a mere person rob God? The thought on one hand is laughable. Yet there it is, staring me in the face and it is God who uses it.
This issue is clear.
I don’t really want to get into justifying the whole tithing (10%) thing here. God knows I am settled on that point and if you are reading this blog you need to settle that issue with the Lord. If you want to dialogue with me about it, send me an email and we can have fun discussing it one-on-one.
What does strike me is how we, God’s people in every age, come up with ways to give God the least we can without feeling guilty. These Israelites were not tithing, which was an OT law. In the NT Jesus talks about Pharisees who would set aside money as ‘corban’ so they didn’t have to follow God’s law about caring for aging parents. Paul has to remind the Corinthians about generosity (2Cor 9). It seems that honoring God and being generous toward God, particularly with our money and resources, is difficult for most of us.
I have no memory of ever having a conversation with anyone about how he/she could give God more! Every conversation I have ever had about money and God is just the opposite… what is the least I can give God and be ‘okay?’
So today I am thinking about my giving. I invite you to do that, too. And how about this twist? How about thinking how you can give more of your wealth and finances away to God-honoring activities.
Think about it…
Lord, create in me a generous heart… and the will to live generously toward You and the causes You delight in. Amen
Boom, the hammer of God comes down.
Priests, you are no longer faithful. You do not teach God’s Truth. Not only are you in error, but you are leading others into error. Boom!
Judgment is coming because you have perverted God’s Truth, saying evil in the eyes of the Lord is good. Boom!
I sit under the weight of this morning’s readings. God expects faithfulness to what He has said and written. It is not for us to re-write what God has spoken. It is ours to receive and live what God has spoken.
It is not for God’s teachers to explain away what the text says, but to teach it.
How sad our world must make God. Ancient understandings of the text are being discarded without Biblical reason or foundation. Personal faithfulness is being replaced by ‘do what you feel is right,’ even when there is no Biblical warrant for what you feel.
Oh Father, it is far too easy to point fingers at others than to listen and apply this to myself. I am a teacher. Lord, show me my places of error and misinterpretation, so that I may follow Your Wword!
Oh Father, it is far too easy to point fingers at others than to listen and apply this to myself. Show me, O Lord, where I disregard Your teachings on sexual ethic or other arenas of faith, that I may set my believing aright and live as You would have me live.
Oh Father, it is far too easy to point fingers at others than to listen and apply this to myself. Show me where I pervert Your truth and twist it so that my thinking is opposed to Yours.
Correct me, Oh Father, that I might live a life that pleases You, even if it does not please other people in my world. In and through Jesus, I pray. Amen.
My talk with the Lord this morning revolved around the second section (verses 6-14). For me this section was summarized in verse 14 "Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king," says the LORD Almighty, "and my name is to be feared among the nations.
God wants us to give our best to Him or nothing at all.
The picture Malachi paints is a clear bait and switch. The people have choice flocks, which they say they will offer to God, but at the time of the offering they substitute a lesser deformed animal. God says “NO WAY, your best or nothing!”
I don’t use animal sacrifice, thankfully, so where does this touch my life? Do I talk myself into writing a lower amount on my weekly giving check because I think I can skate by? Is my devotional/prayer time with the Lord during my best time of the day or at some other time so that I can use my best time for work or play?
These are the kinds of thoughts I entertained as I listened to the Holy Spirit breath life into this text for me. Am I giving God my best or my leftovers???
Lord, You are God Almighty. Clearly You deserve the best. As Malachi says, ‘Would you give that to the governor?’ Forgive me when I choose to give You other-than my best, when I substitute something less than my best to You.
Wash me clean so that my life will honor You above everything else. Amen.
As this chapter about what the Lord will do on ‘that day’ wound down the phrase HOLY TO THE LORD was in scribed on bells and pots (20).
I found myself glued to that phrase.
I found myself thinking, what if that were said of me and of the Church, what differences would be seen in the world. I also wondered what differences would there be if it were written WHOLLY TO THE LORD?
First and most importantly regarding me… Wow, what would it be like if I were HOLY & WHOLLY TO THE LORD? How would this affect my use of time, money, etc. I sat here for quite some time thinking and wondering. I wondered if my life would look more like Francis of Assisi. Then I thought,’ no’, I am married with children, so a monk is not my calling. Honestly, no role models came to mind, so I abandoned the idea of a quick answer.
I kept pondering. Purely selfish expenditures of time and money came to mind. Now here were some changes that likely would happen. Instead, ‘God honoring uses’ would be given to those time/money resources… and so my morning went.
What would it mean in your life if you were HOLY & WHOLLY TO THE LORD? Think about it.
Lord, to love You with heart and mind and soul and strength is Your desire. I fall so far short. Help me, strengthen me, teach me, encourage me… that I might be HOLY & WHOLLY to Yours. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen
Friends, Malachi, which we begin reading today is the last book of the Old Testament. Chronologically it is the last book as well. After Malachi there were 400 years of silence before God again spoke, this time through the incarnation of Jesus.
Zechariah has many prophecies that connect to Jesus… strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered (7) is mentioned in connection with Jesus’ arrest in the garden.
It is wonderful to be connected to Jesus as I read The Word. Verse 7 brought me to Jesus, a wonderful place to hold my devotions.
Now connected with Jesus, verse 9 spoke to me. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.'
Calling on the Lord, that is what I am doing as I sit with God’s Word… And God answers me, God sits with me. God calls me His own and reminds me that He is the Lord and He is my Lord. Oh, the wonder of sitting in the lap of my Lord God Almighty.
And this is where I spend my time this morning… in the lap, in the embrace, in the presence of the Lord!
Thank You and Bless You… Lord God Almighty, for who You are and for the all the time You incline Your ear to me… I am so blessed.
Lord, fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I might shout from the mountain tops, ‘The Lord Reigns!’ Blessed be the name of the Lord. Alleluia. Amen.
What is your security built upon? On what/who does your strength rest?
As Zechariah looks toward ‘that’ day he sees
How different that is from today. When I read the news about
Zechariah’s description of
These are difficult questions to answer, because certainly some of my security rests in these places. They are all factored into my life-long stewardship plan. But my questioning must go deeper still. If all of my answers begin with ‘me’ and ‘my’ then I must beware that I have built a ‘house of cards’ that could come tumbling down at any moment.
Supporting my stewardship hopefully is the Lord as the true foundation of my life. My life, if I am truly a Christ-disciple, rests in His care and watchful protection.
My life is His; my goal, His glory; my future in His hands…
Lord Jesus, Father Almighty, Holy Spirit, I pray this is so. I pray that my hope and future and life rests in You. Only then can I be content. Only then will I rest. Only then will I be greeted into eternity with the words I long to hear, ‘well done good and faithful servant…’
I ,again today, pledge my allegiance to You, Lord God Almighty. Amen.
Sometimes seeing what is ugly or broken helps one to appreciate beauty.
I remember distinctly this river in
Looking down stream
Turning upstream, I was horrified! The extreme litter and garbage was disgusting. Who would ever go in that river or use the water from that river for anything! Nauseating...
God pictures for the people the anti-shepherd. For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hoofs (16). And then He pronounces His curse upon this anti-shepherd, "Woe to the worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! May his arm be completely withered, his right eye totally blinded!" (17).
Reading what this shepherd will be like helps me understand and appreciate all the more the gift of the Good Shepherd, Jesus who seeks the lost, heals the sick and cares for His flock even with His life…
Thank You, Oh Jesus, for being the Good Shepherd, for saving me, caring for me and all those of Your flock. I love and praise You, my Lord and my God. Amen.
This chapter continues God’s message of care for His people Judah. God will watch over them. God will care for them.
The very first word of the first verse drew me into thought. Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone.
God is the maker of rain.God is the caretaker of
It is as if God is saying ask for what you need. And isn’t that precisely what Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you (
It seems there is something about being so dependent that we ask for what we need and God longs to give.
I am not a good ‘asker’ of anyone, so this word and this devotion is a challenge for me. But not the kind of challenge that seems grueling or difficult. It is hard because it calls me to a new place in my walk and relationship with the Lord. I am feeling called to that place of asking for what I need, what I would generally simply assume God would provide.
I am being invited into the place of asking…
Lord, I ask for daily bread… Lord, I ask for safety for friends in
Lord, I am learning to ask. Help me overcome self-reliance that is a barrier between me and a deeper relationship with You. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Zechariah 9:9 is a prophecy Jesus fulfilled on Palm Sunday when He road into
Verse 8, the Lord speaking: But I will defend my house against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch. God faithfully defends His house, His family. As I read these words, I had a picture of God standing with sword drawn against any enemy saying, “Not My house, you will not overrun or destroy My family.”
I suspect that this so touched me because I have been studying 1Corinthians in the New Testament recently. In the early chapters of that letter, God says very similar things about the Church, His Church. God will defend His Church and no enemy from within or without will destroy Her.
As these thoughts tumble, I am reminded of Jesus who also said, “the gates of hell will not prevail against her” (
God is the defender of His people, of this I am sure and in this I find my rest!
Oh Lord, thank You for Your strong arm and fierce love. Thank and bless You Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.