Today we’re starting Ephesians 5 to learn about our call to be an imitator of God. We’re not supposed to look like the world anymore. We should stand out and be a bright light in the darkness. We should be living in the light of our Lord and Savior, looking more and more like Him with each passing day.
We’ve been working our way through the book of Ephesians, learning to identify ourselves according to God’s definitions and not those of the world or the enemy. Today we’re learning about the power we’ve been given through the Holy Spirit to live righteously. There is a standard of right and wrong that is sort of written on our hearts, but despite our greatest efforts, none of us can live up to those standards in our own strength. That’s why, when we begin to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, believers are going to stand out so much from the rest of the world. We’re suddenly going to do things differently, because when we’re sealed by the Holy Spirit, there is a new and powerful force at work within us.
We’ve been looking at the life of one of the most complex characters in the Bible, finding a treasury of lessons from the life of Joshua. But before we talk about his commitment to leaving a legacy of faith, let’s remember what we’ve already learned. He started out as Moses’s assistant, a minor supporting character and servant leader. During his time in that role, Joshua watched and learned. He communed with God, and his faith grew and grew and grew. Then Moses died, and Joshua was called to take over as the leader of Israel. The command for his life, “be strong and courageous for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” was demonstrated at the walls of Jericho, and then throughout the years when Joshua the warrior swept through Canaan, conquering the Promised Land with the army of Israel. We’ve come to know him as everything from a calm and easy-going leader to a fierce and savage warrior. We’ve been impressed by his willingness to do whatever is asked of him. But as his story starts to come to the end, we see a few final aspects of Joshua’s character, particularly his determination to leave a spiritual legacy, and find ourselves inspired one last time!
We’re working our way through a study of the life of Joshua. So far we’ve seen him as a servant leader under Moses in the first part, and then as a brand new leader, standing firm in faith at the walls of Jericho in the second. Now, in this third part, we find a new and terrifying role for him as Joshua the warrior comes to the forefront. God had taken more than 40 years to prepare him for a job only one person so far in history has done: lead the people of Israel into the promised land to conquer it. I often think this massive task is seemingly forgotten (or at least overshadowed by other stories), but it was a huge job! As Joshua emerged from the shadows, executing justice in obedience to God, we find he was a beast! After so many years as a quiet observer, Joshua steps up with an unexpected amalgam of character qualities, all relevant to those of us working to heal from the wounds of sexual addiction.
I hope you read part one of this series about the life of Joshua, because it helps us understand how we’ve come to this point in which we find Joshua at the walls of Jericho, stepping out as the brand new leader of the people of Israel. Though we did see him lead the army into battle once before, mostly we saw him learning, serving, and watching. We saw him sitting silently in the presence of God, meditating regularly upon the words of his Lord. Through Joshua’s example of servant leadership, we learned so much about what it looks like to be strong and courageous even when we’re simply learning quietly!
We also mentioned how the life of Joshua was kind of unique because he served so many different roles from beginning to end. In this part of the series, we’re going to look at another one of those roles. As leadership is passed down from Moses to Joshua, we’ll see a new kind of strength and courage from the new commander. No matter what God asks, we always find Joshua standing firm in faith!
I have always loved reading about the life of Joshua in the Bible. He has been one of my favorite Bible characters for as long as I can remember. The theme of his life was, “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” From his first appearance in Exodus when we see Joshua as a servant leader, through Leviticus Numbers and Deuteronomy where we see him and Moses demonstrate one of the best examples of spiritual mentoring in the Bible, and all the way to the end of the book of Joshua, we find him as a man of integrity and faith.
Of course, a character who demonstrates such admirable qualities would bring valuable lessons to any believer, but I believe his example of standing firm in faith is of particular importance to those of us facing off with the monster of sexual addiction. Whether we are the addict, or the wife of the addict, Joshua’s strong and courageous life of victory can inspire us to go all in, as he did, to a life lived in passionate pursuit of our Lord!
After facing an intimate betrayal, or any other trial for that matter, we all have to figure out how to trust God in difficult times. We’re tempted to believe that when life is hard it’s somehow an indication that God has abandoned us, or that He is untrustworthy. But it is a lie. In times like these, passages like Psalm 37 offer encouragement, hope, and a wonderful model around which we can build prayers to calm our anxious hearts. The Psalm 37 message teaches us to delight in the Lord, it reminds us of the ultimate fate of both the wicked and those who choose to follow God, it reassures us that the Lord is fighting for us, but most important, it shows us exactly how to trust God in difficult times.
Today we’re learning about our calling and gifting. The identity God has given us is not meant simply to benefit our own lives. It is such a wonderful, mighty identity that it is meant to spill out of us and pour onto the entire body of Christ. We’ve each been called by God and uniquely gifted to serve the greater whole, and when it all works together, it is the most beautiful thing the world will ever see, for it is Christ Himself revealed through us!
Today we want to let a few profound truths about our identity sink down like roots that keep us secure in the knowledge that in Christ, I am strong, SO deeply loved, and complete. Oh you guys, I find myself longing that we could all truly understand these truths, just as Paul did as he wrote our passage for today. I fall to my knees and pray along with him that they would sink deep into our hearts and change us forever!
Each part of our physical body is uniquely designed to serve a purpose along with all the other parts that, when combined, create a functional powerhouse capable of just about anything. The body of Christ is no different, and when we understand our role within it, and our relationship to it, our attitude will likely change. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and it is imperative that we work together well!
We’re talking about covenants today. Specifically, God’s covenant promise to us, and how it fits into the Old Testament and all the promises to Israel we find there. We’ve been working through a study of the book of Ephesians in order to better understand how we have been identified as God’s holy people. (Click to catch up on what you’ve missed) We’re allowing our Creator (the One who so carefully knit us together in our mother’s womb) to give us our labels, since He’s the only one who really has that right. We’re ready to dive into the second section of Ephesians two where we’re going to be introduced to the idea of a covenant promise, and learn to understand our identity as citizens of the Kingdom of God.
This week we’re looking at the first half of Ephesians 2 and will be stepping back a bit to re-examine more deeply some of the truths we learned in week one – Who we were without Christ, and what it means to have been made alive in Christ. Today, we’re going to learn to understand what it means to be a new and beautiful creation in Jesus – His masterpiece!
The Bible tells a story of a woman – a widow who persistently sought justice from an evil judge. Jesus encouraged us to approach our Heavenly Father with that same kind of persistence in prayer, knowing He will surely grant us justice – and quickly! This is the story of my own persistent prayer.
A good place to start when we’re looking to re-write our identity is with an understanding of the nature of our existence. We need to know whether we’re just some cosmic accident, or the result of an intentional plan because the answer to that question will define our purpose.
All praise to God who tells us we are not, in fact, some fluke of nature. We are His own special creation: Chosen by Him before the beginning of time, purchased out of our state of slavery to sin by His very own blood, and adopted into His family forever. Let’s think about the ramifications of those three simple realities.