Are You Ready?–Part 3

We have placed the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, and the shield of faith.  Today we complete the armor of God with the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.

No battle ensemble is complete without the helmet.  Whether in war, a sports competition, riding a bicycle, or working at a construction site, the helmet is integral to the individual’s safety and ability to move forward successfully.  We can injure other parts of the body and survive, but when the head is injured, it affects the entire body; ask anyone who has experienced a traumatic brain injury.

The head (brain) is the center of thinking, of hope, the ability to believe, making protection of the head most critical.  But how does salvation protect us?

In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul calls this part of the armor “the hope of salvation” (5:8).  This gives us an even better understanding of the purpose of the helmet.  There are a few things we need to understand here.

First, salvation, as taught in this letter, is a gift of God, by faith, not anything we can earn or win on our own (Ephesians 2:8,9).  Throughout the New Testament we are called to salvation, to respond to God’s gift of faith and receive forgiveness and restoration to relationship with God.  But how does this gift—this helmet of salvation—protect my head?  Once again, we are called to hope, not that we will be saved one day, but to rest in the truth that we are saved NOW and will one day be with Christ eternally.

The helmet of salvation protects my mind by reminding me who I am, a child of God, not just someday, but today.  This helmet reminds me that I am valued by God so greatly that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave his life for me.  The truth of salvation protects me from despair, from the lies of the enemy that tell me I am not good enough, not productive enough.

Putting on the helmet of salvation is a necessary part of our preparation for the challenges we face every day.

The final “physical” piece of the full armor of God is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17).  Throughout the Bible we are enjoined to study, to remember, to bind God’s Word to ourselves.  It is in our study and remembrance of God’s Word that we find renewed hope and can actually battle the temptations, not only deflect them.  The previous parts of the armor were protective, but this, the sword of the Spirit, actually enables us to defeat those who attack us.

When Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days, the tempter came to Him in His weakened stated to deter Jesus from the battle that was to come.  The first temptation relates directly to this piece of the armor:

The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:3,4).

The author of Hebrews declares that “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

What is it that stands in the way of your spiritual victory?  Is it self-doubt?  Maybe it is the little voice that continually accuses you of the sins that have already been forgiven by God.  Perhaps that which prevents you from recognizing who you are in Christ is the collection of thoughts planted in your mind and heart over the years, thoughts that say you are not good enough for God.  Whatever the impediment, it cannot stand against the Word of God.

Hosea 4:6 says that we can be destroyed by a lack of knowledge of God, but by studying and knowing the Word of God, we are able to defeat those attacks of the enemy of our souls.  We are able to overcome our fears and doubts, slaying everything that attempts to tear down our faith in God.

So there it is, the full armor of God, consisting of the belt of truth—God’s truth—buckled around your waist, the breastplate of righteousness—Jesus’ righteousness—protecting your heart, sandals that are the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace—God’s peace, the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation, and finally the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Are you ready?  Today is not too late.  Put on the armor!

Blessings,

Mary Kay Glunt
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church
P.O. Box 393
Greenfield, MO 65803
revmkg@sbcglobal.net

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Behind the Shield of Faith

Did you know that Ebenezer Presbyterian Church will celebrate 170 years of ministry this year?  The church was founded in 1842 and named “Ebenezer” from 1 Samuel 7:12, saying “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”  The congregation is planning a special celebration later this year, and we hope you in the community will help us as we rejoice in our history.

We have been discussing the armor of God in Ephesians 6, and this article brings us to the remaining parts of the armor.  “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  (Ephesians 6:16).

In the author’s day, the shield was an essential part of the soldier’s wardrobe.  Even today, riot police will use shields when dispersing a crowd or dealing with armed criminals.  The shield could be round or oblong, square or rectangle, but whatever the makeup or design of the shield, its purpose is one of protection whether in closely fought battle or volleys from a distance.

The strange thing about describing faith as a shield is that it seems defensive, but faith is an active thing, an offensive weapon that enables us to overcome our enemies.  Hebrews tells us that faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (11:1).  Confidence allows us to move forward.  Assurance lets me stand in spite of what I am facing, and even to move forward without fear of falling.  Holding the shield in front of me I am able to advance toward the enemy without fear of the enemies’ arrows, knowing I am protected.

What are the flaming arrows hurled by the enemy?  The Old Testament refers to the tongue:  “Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks with deceit” Jeremiah 9:8a.  Referring to the people of Israel who have rebelled against God, Jeremiah identifies the deceitful words of their mouths as arrows.  How many lives have been destroyed by lies, unkind words, and even half-truths?  The Israelites themselves spoke religious words but then attacked and devoured one another.  Because of this “adultery” God would judge them and all Israel.  Psalm 64:3 repeats this reference to the tongue:  “They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.”

Although the enemies here are vindictive individuals, they are no less the enemy of our souls as Satan himself.  In fact, Jesus refers to Satan as the inspiration of these lies:  “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44b).  When you are walking in faith, moving forward in life, the enemies of your soul will seek to destroy you, to stunt your growth in Christ, to tell you that God doesn’t really love you, that you can never amount to anything, perhaps even that there is no such thing as eternal life.

The flaming arrows serve to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10a).  God’s creation was devastated by the temptation of Adam and Eve, but Jesus, the second Adam, came “that they may have life, and have it to the full” (10b).  Faith in Christ allows us to deflect attacks of the thief as he attempts to destroy families, devastate relationships, and place division between us and our God.  This is why strengthening your faith is so important.

A shield made of paper would burn up immediately and would fail to stop the arrows.  Faith without a foundation in the Word isn’t faith at all, but wishful thinking, nice thoughts.  A shield that is made of fabric would split at the touch of an arrow.  Faith that is your grandmother’s, never accepted for yourself, just repeated from what you have heard, is such a shield.  This type of shield cannot protect you from flaming arrows and attacks.

However, faith that is strong and filled with assurance will, like steel, repel the attacks of the enemy.  The shield of faith isn’t held over us as we cower in fear behind it.  No way!  Faith gives us the confidence to stand firm behind it, knowing that we belong to God and that nothing can separate us from God’s presence with us.

Blessings!

Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
P.O. Box 393
Greenfield, MO 65661
revmkg@sbcglobal.net

Are You Ready?

Did you ever have one of those mornings?  I mean, you wake up, start to get ready, and then realize that you aren’t even ready for morning coffee, let alone all the things that you have to get done!  I have a lot of those experiences, and they aren’t just limited to the mornings.  Whether you are talking about work, school, home, or even just getting together with friends, I often find myself feeling unprepared for certain conversations, conflicts that occur, and just everyday life. 

We all know about conflict.  Psychologists tell us that without some stress we would just languish, that stress, in its proper amount, actually encourages growth.  But when we are stressed without the proper supports in place that is when anxiety and frustration overtake us.  The writer of Ephesians knew all about this, and gives us a pattern, an outfit if you will, to help us to meet the stresses, challenges, and anxieties of life and work through them victoriously:  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10). 

It isn’t enough just to be told to be strong, we need a road map, directions, to help us get there, and so “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (vv 11,12). 

Oh, wait a minute, you might object, let’s not get into that spiritual stuff!  I just need help with everyday things, like dealing with that person in the office who gets on my nerves, or the neighbor who is always throwing things in my yard.  There aren’t any “dark world powers” involved here!  While I share your feelings, friend, and I don’t suggest we look for a demon under every rock, I do believe there are dark powers, demons, or whatever you want to call them, whose job it is to make us frustrated, to inspire conflict, to tempt us to jealousy, anger, and even hatred.  What we do with that temptation is our choice, but don’t fool yourself by believing these don’t exist. 

So if they do exist, rather than getting fearful and wondering where they are, how do we deal with them?  “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (v. 13).  When we are prepared for the conflicts that come, when our lives are hidden in Christ and our minds are transformed by the Spirit and the Word, we will find ourselves ready for battle . . . and for victory.

The Belt of Truth (v. 14)—In Roman times, as in many occupations, the belt not only holds the uniform in place, it primarily holds tools that are used to effect what needs to be done.  Knowing the knife would be there when he was attacked gave the soldier assurance that he was ready for battle.  Likewise, in our everyday “battles,” we need to wear the belt of Truth, that is the Word of God.  How often, when you are struggling, do you wonder, What was the verse again?  Does God really care?  The promises of God’s Word are our tools in the Christian life, and we can only use them properly if we have accessed them and are familiar with them.

The Breastplate of Righteousness (v. 14)—We are all familiar with the breastplates worn by ancient and medieval soldiers.  They served to protect the heart, lungs, and vital organs when in battle.  We might compare them today to Kevlar vests worn by law enforcement officers.  But what does righteousness have to do with it?  In the spiritual realm, our righteousness is, as Isaiah stated “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” (Isaiah 64:6).  Righteousness refers to our “right-ness,” to the extent that we are right in ourselves.  The truth is that “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way” (Isaiah 53:6a) by doing our own things, following our own purposes.  Even when we burn with “righteous” anger we make choices that are selfish and self-serving, rather than seeking God’s purposes.  Isaiah continues, “and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  We, of course, know “him” as Jesus.  Because Jesus was perfect, without sin, when He sacrificed his life, which we remember at the Lord’s Table and on Good Friday, He paid the price for our failures and shortcomings, giving us His righteousness, his completeness and freedom to stand before God.  Only when we stand with Christ’s righteousness protecting us are we able to defeat the temptations and powers that attack us.  How do we do that?  By admitting we are sinners, asking God to forgive our sins, and turning over our lives to Christ. 

Next week, the rest of the armor. 

Blessings,

Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church
P.O. Box 393
Greenfield, MO 65661
revmkg@sbcglobal.net

 

Whom Are You Serving? (Ephesians 6:1-9, part 2)

The question above is a loaded one. You could answer in a myriad of ways. Wherever you serve, the questions remains: Whom are you serving? Last week I talked about authority and how it should be handled. This week we are looking at our response to authority. WARNING: The following may be quite challenging. Take a deep breath and read on!

The author of Ephesians begins with the first authority we meet in this world, that of our parents, and instructs us to obey them, but he qualifies that statement with the phrase “in the Lord.” Since most of you reading this are probably adults, it won’t be necessary to say much more than this: Obey our parents in the Lord means we obey them but always measure that obedience against the Lord’s commandments and conscience.

We’ve all been quoted, and maybe even memorized, the commandment, “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (vv 2-3, quoting Deut. 5:16). Honor your parents, listen to them, give them respect, each of these are included in the concept of honor. For many of us this isn’t a terribly hard task. I recognize that some of you have a harder time with this commandment because perhaps your parents weren’t as supportive, or helpful, or present as others might have been. Why should I honor him? What about her deserves honor? And I suppose I can understand; nevertheless, the commandment still stands: “Honor your father and mother.”

This brings our conversation far beyond the realm of “normal” human relationships. You see, at our foundation we reach one another at a very basic level. I do for you, you do for me. Tit for tat. Your smile is returned by me. Your frown will most likely get you one back. In this fallen world, the self that lives at the base of each of us is self-ish and self-serving. Paul calls this the flesh, the fallen man. We give honor and respect to those who deserve it, to those who earn it.

Throughout this passage, which I hope you have read, we are not told to “honor your parents when they are good to you and are perfect. Give respect to your master when he or she treats you right.” The command simply tells us to give honor. I have heard the comment many times: “I’ll respect him when he shows me he deserves it.” And again, “She doesn’t deserve my respect.” How funny that we, sinners as we are, find ourselves in a place where we feel worthy of determining who in God’s creation deserves our respect, when God in the flesh laid down his own life for us, who often betray him and sin against him.

The author tells us in verse 5 to obey our masters (bosses, supervisors, etc.) with respect and fear and with sincerity of heart. Not an easy thing to do, this respect and fear, but the sincerity of heart, well that is even harder. I wonder, if I took a poll and asked you if you sincerely respect your boss, what the answers would be? Sure this would be hard to do, nigh impossible for some of us, but the instruction remains.

I would be unable to follow this instruction if not for the rest of the paragraph which, once again, gives me the rationale for giving respect and honor to whomever I meet: “Just as you would obey Christ . . . doing the will of God from your heart” (verses 5-6). The way we respond not only to peers, but even more so to those in authority over us, reflects on who we are as people and our response to Christ. So why do we respect and honor our “masters”? What does this have to do with our faith in Christ?

This is where my question comes in: Whom are you serving? Are you serving God or man? The truth that many of us miss is that everything we do is to be done as a part of our commitment to God. Although we do so, we are not to worship God only at church and then live the rest of our lives as if what we do does not matter. What we do each day, whether in church, in the work place, on the playground, or anywhere, is to be done for the One who gave His life for us.

Is your “whole heart” in your day-to-day activities, how you respond to those around you and especially those in authority? Just as I spoke to authority figures last week, everything we do should be considered service to God, no matter how hard it seems. Don’t withhold your heart, but open it and let God’s grace fill it so you can “wholeheartedly” serve God in your daily life.

Just a reminder to all you out there to join us at the Senior Center in Greenfield on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. as we study the Bible using Chuck Swindoll’s Dropping your Guard: The Value of Open Relationships in the Church. Everyone is invited—you don’t have to be a senior to attend!

Blessings,
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church
revmkg@sbcglobal.net

An Almost Impossible Task

As we wind down to the end of our study of Ephesians we come to chapter 6:1-9, a treatise on authority and submission.  A large portion of this passage concerns the child/student/servant/employee’s response to authority and leadership, I am going to cover that next week.  Today, however, I want to talk about the proper use of authority as presented here.

We have all been there, working for someone who seemingly takes pleasure in making people Imageuncomfortable.  Whether it was because of a bad attitude, a mean spirit, or just a lack of understanding of how to lead, we cringed when we read in verse 5, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.”  “How can I respect someone who disrespects me and treats me unfairly?”  you might have asked.

When instructing Timothy on how to grow the church, Paul gave this instruction, “Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily” (1 Timothy 5:22, The Message).  Even Paul knew that it takes maturity to be a leader, and without it, disaster could ensue.     Anyone who has any authority, whether a parent, a supervisor, a pastor, or even a babysitter, has the responsibility to use that authority wisely.  A Christian leader, however, has an even greater responsibility because not only is he or she responsible to the employer/congregation/etc., but that leader is also responsible to and representing Christ.

So what does it mean to be a Christian leader, whether in the church, the home, or the marketplace?  While there are only two verses, they are chock full of wisdom for us.  So let’s see what the author of Ephesians has to say.

Fathers,[Parents] do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (v. 4).

Although addressing the home situation, I believe this instruction applies to every area of leadership.   Exasperate is a strong word with synonyms such as incense, anger, vex, inflame, infuriate. See irritate. (www.dictionary.com). The actual meaning is to make rough, provoke.   Some leaders take this way too far, thinking that they can never correct or redirect children, students, employees, etc., because they might get angry.  Not the intent at all!  We are not to intentionally provoke people to anger, to intentionally and without consideration overwhelm the individual.

While this verse might not seem to apply to the workplace, let me phrase it this way:  Bosses, do not provoke your employees to frustration and anger by making decisions without consideration, wisdom, and fairness, but remember that you are Christ’s example and representative in that workplace.  Remember to ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?”

Parents, remember that as you follow Christ, your children will learn how to do the same.  If you are arbitrary in your decisions, considerations, and parenting, they will learn to do the same, and quite possible consider your God to be arbitrary, too.

In educating our children and acquaintances concerning Christ, we need to remember Jesus’ purpose:  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Redemption, the hallmark of Jesus’ ministry on this earth.  Everything Jesus did or said had an ultimate purpose, that of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration.  As Christian leaders we should have that same purpose, doing business, leading, parenting so that those in our influence would see Christ through us.  Will we have to make hard decisions?  Oh yes!  But we make those decisions through crimson-colored glasses, ones that see them through the blood of Christ, seeing God’s purpose for the one with whom we are dealing, trying, as much as possible, to show grace along with justice.

Verse 9 confirms this , saying, “And masters [parents, supervisors, pastors, committee leaders, politicians] , treat your slaves [employees, children, church members, etc.] in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” 

I like how The Message says this:  Masters, it’s the same with you. No abuse, please, and no threats. You and your servants are both under the same Master in heaven. He makes no distinction between you and them.

In closing, can I provide a few suggestions to help in following these ideas in our individual lives, especially if you are a person in authority?

  1.  Don’t correct anyone when you are angry.  Let the initial frustration and anger settle down so you can speak with clear-headed understanding about the situation.  Don’t react, rather respond.
  2. Do your research!  Be sure the issue you are responding to is actually what you understand it to be.  Don’t assume anything.
  3. Don’t take sides or try to please groups within the situation.  Be fair to everyone.
  4. Pray.  Pray.  Pray!  As a Christian man or woman, you are responsible to represent Christ in this situation.  Ask God to remove your emotions from the situation and to give you a heart of grace, mercy, and redemption, that you will make decisions that God can use, especially if your child/employee/etc., does not know Christ.

Being a leader is a hard thing to do.  Being a Christian leader is almost impossible.  My prayer for each of you today who finds him or herself in a position of leadership/parenthood is that you will take time to once again renew in your own mind the beauty of Christ’s mercy and forgiveness for you, and then pray and ask God to give you that heart for others so that, even if you have to make a hard decision regarding someone—what we might call “tough love”—they will know without a doubt that you are not being arbitrary but fair and loving, just like your Savior!

____________________________

A friend of mine always ends his video posts with this statement:  “Because of Jesus life is good!”  I have to agree.  Being in Greenfield a few more days per week and interacting with those from Ebenezer and the community has been wonderful.  In fact, we started the community Bible study on Wednesdays last week and had eight in attendance!  You are invited, and here are the details:  Every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. (note new time) at the Senior Center on Allison.  We are studying Chuck Swindoll’s Dropping Your Guard:  Relationships in the Church.  If you have questions, call me.  ALL AGES ARE INVITED!

See you in church!

Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church
P.O. Box 393, Greenfield, MO  65661
revmkg@sbcglobal.net

Glory Filled Relationships, Part 2 (Ephesians 5:25-33)

Lent has begun, and we are spending these days simplifying our lives and looking inward—not becoming self-absorbed, but examining our own ideas, motivations, and approaches to faith.  My hope is that you are taking some time, as well, this Lenten season to do the same as the march forward to Easter has begun.

Last week I talked to the wives , as did Paul in vv. 22-24.  This week Paul is talking to the men, as well.  When Paul talks about submission, he explains that he is asking us to model a heavenly relationship, one that we all, who believe in Christ, are a part of, that of Christ and the church.  So, I suppose that, if I am going to expound on the husband’s part of the marriage relationship, I should first talk about how Christ loves the Church.

First of all, Paul is referring to the Church universal (the Apostles’ Creed uses the word catholic, which means the same thing), the union of every believer of every time, not the individual congregation or denomination.   So how does Christ, the heavenly husband, care for the church?

He gave himself up for her.  For many years I watched my father go to work in the steel mill, a dirty, dangerous job.  He didn’t enjoy his work, but he did it to provide for our family.  When I would cry as my father left for work, Mom would remind me, “Daddy needs to go to work to get money to buy baby new shoes!”  Christ did go to work for the church at one time on a hillside called Golgotha, where he gave his life for us to purchase our redemption, that we might be cleansed from all sin and stain. 

To make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.  Jesus continues this work at the right hand of God where he intercedes for us (Romans 8:34), reminding God that we have been redeemed by Jesus’ own blood.  Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit we are cleansed again and again as we come in Jesus’ name to God. 

And to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle . . . .  Jesus has a goal in this relationship, that one day we will be united at the wedding feast.  This is the time when the bride is preparing herself for that great day when Jesus Christ will return for his church.  It is a long-term relationship!

So, husbands, how do you love your wives?  Paul suggests that you take your cues from Jesus’ relationship with the church.  In fact, he insists that you are to be the example of Christ’s love to the world.  Big responsibility!   How to accomplish such a big task?

Give yourself up for her.  This is not to be a dysfunctional, codependent relationship where you give everything and receive nothin.  Then again, your giving should not be predicated on what you receive from your wife, but rather what you have received from Christ—perfect love.  Work hard to provide for her; even when you are tired, give back to her, helping with the small things and the big things so that she can be the best herself.   Give her confidence that you are with her for the long haul, not just until something better comes along. 

To make her holy, cleansing her . . . Do you pray for your wife?  Do you lift her up to God and ask how you can love her better?  Do you ask God to help her in her struggles and to provide good friends who can lift her spirits?  If you wife is not a believer, do you live your life in front of her so that she can see God’s grace or do you continually remind her that she is going to hell?

Paul goes on in verse 28 to tell men that they should love their wives as themselves, as their own bodies.  First, I suppose, you ought to look at how you love yourself.  Are you gluttonous?  Do you drink (alcohol) too much?  Are you sharply critical even of yourself?  Don’t do that!  Love yourself, and just as you feed and care for your body, you are to care for your wife.  Make time for her to have relaxation.  Give her positive feedback whenever possible.  Let her know you love her just as you are reminded by the Word that God loves you.  Pray together.  Bring her to your Savior, even if she knows Him already.  Make your home a place of grace and truth. 

Do you want your wife to submit to you?  Be the kind of man she can trust implicitly, the kind of man who she knows will protect her, pray for her, love her, work for her best interests.  Be strong and gracious.  Love her as you love yourself, and even better!  You will find, when you give yourself for her, that she will fall in love with you all over again!

Blessings,

Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church
P.O. 393
Greenfield, MO 65661
revmkg@sbcglobal.net


Where’s the Switch?

The music world reeled in shock this week with the news of Whitney Houston’s death.  Whether you liked her music or not, she possessed an amazing voice and range.   Starting out in church, Whitney soon became a pop phenomenon, but soon the success became more than she could handle and still keep her hand on the light switch. She let the room go dark as she fell into a life destroyed by alcohol and drugs, leading to her untimely death.

In Ephesians, Paul now turns to specifics, contrasting life in the darkness and in the light.  He challenges the believer to keep his hand on the switch, that is, to stay in the light.  Read Ephesians 5:8-20.

We all know about darkness, having awakened at least once in the night, disoriented and not sure where the switch might be.  It is amazing how the lack of light can change everything.  We walked in darkness, and some of you still do, I dare say.  This darkness comes from the assumption that we know best what is good for our lives and that God is not applicable.  It also comes to us honestly, as we are born into this darkened world, although with the innocence of a child, destined to become cynical and self-seeking without God’s presence in our lives. 

Paul encouraged the Ephesians:  “You were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord” (v.8).  He is speaking to the believers.  Having once met Christ does not guarantee we will always be in the light.  Choosing the light, choosing to follow and remain IN Christ is a daily, often momentary, choice that we make by choosing to live, through God’s Spirit and our commitment, as Christ lived.   “Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord” (vv. 9,10). 

How do we find out what pleases the Lord?  By attending church, listening to the message, reading the Bible and discussing it with other believers, spending time in prayer—these are some of the ways to stay in the light.  On the other side, we make choices that keep us in the light by rejecting those things that are, as Paul labels them, “the fruitless deeds of darkness.”  We are to expose those things, not necessarily by judging or by gossip (definitely not by gossip!), but by reflecting God’s light in our lives so brightly that it will expose even the smallest amount of filth, providing an opportunity, once again, for redemption wherever we shine. 

In that vein, my friends, the goal is ALWAYS redemption when we are dealing with our own darkness or that of others!  Our job is not to judge and condemn, but to reach out and provide the light so that others may find redemption, no matter how wicked or terrible their sins may be.  You may not like someone or what they have done, but your job is to be Christ to them, to show them in your own life what the grace and mercy of Christ can do:  “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:   “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (vv. 13,14).

I think Paul said it best, so I will let him finish the article:

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, 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.” (vv 15-18).

Choose life! Keep the switch of God’s light on in your life, not by legalism, but by your choice to allow God’s Spirit to live through you!

Blessings,

Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor Ebenezer Church revmkg@sbcglobal.net