Filtering by Category: Ephesians
“[B]ut our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21, HCSB).
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, HCSB).
“… just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-26, HCSB).
Potty training has gone much better the last few days. I’m so thankful for our friends, who have stopped by to keep us company and give us moral support. E actually gained some confidence from being around her potty training friends. Perhaps there is something to group potty training. Nothing like a tiny bit of peer pressure in the right direction
But all that to say, I’ve been greatly encouraged, and inspired to keep on pushing forward with this whole thing. I was definitely stressing about it too much at first, unable to enjoy the process. I’m definitely a bit more at ease now, and ready to just take things as they come. The rest of this month is pretty busy, so it will be interesting how our little potty training girl takes it all. One day at a time, right?
Sometimes I find that the tiniest moments in the day are the most profound. My daughter came up to me this afternoon, after her friends where gone, carrying a plastic egg with a chickadee glued to the front of it. The egg has been played with so much that it won’t stay together any longer. For some reason, Little E was very concerned about this chick. It was broken, and she wanted it fixed. But fixing it was out of my power. I would try to put the pieces clumsily back together again, but it never stayed together for long. As soon as my daughter would take the toy back, it would fall apart once again. My best just wasn’t good enough.
Isn’t it often the same with our lives?
On our own, we can never seem to fix things. As hard as we try, the pieces never quite go back in place. We clumsily try to make our way through this life, but, the fact of the matter is that we need someone greater than ourselves. Someone who can see the bigger picture. Who can make all the pieces fit together again. Or maybe the pieces never fit together again. Maybe a better image is Christ taking all the broken pieces of our lives and creating something beautiful and new, something without cracks, dents and blemishes. Something even better before. This new body and new spirit doesn’t need the old. No, it gets rid of the old and strives toward a new reality, a new destination. A new way of life in which there is no expectation of us fixing everything on our own. Instead, we rely on God to hold us together today and every day. Because He took the pieces and created something more beautiful than we ever imagined. It was in His control, His time, His perfect way.
I told her it was dangerous. I told her the jumping on the couch was not allowed. And so, she ran away crying, mad at me for laying down the law. She ran out of the room, and crashed her face into some unknown object. The end was a bloody nose. A consequence. An outcome.
Disobedience brings outcomes. Resistance comes at a cost. This could start to be a really depressing post for all of you. You might expect me to start ranting and raving about all the disobedience in the world. I could point fingers. Come up with examples. Make a point.
Or, I could talk about grace. A grace none off us really deserve. Because, as adults, we should really know better than to run away from God, screaming, and crashing our faces into things. But on our own, that's exactly what we do. We're angry. We don't understand the rules. We want to do things our own way. We run the opposite direction, as fast as we can. But it doesn't solve anything. No, it never does.
Jesus takes a screaming toddler, and covers up the imperfections. He takes the insecurities, the confusion, the pain, and replaces it with His love. Blemishes, faults, all are taken away. All are covered by His grace and forgiveness.
Grace. Something I don't really deserve.
Forgiveness, something I so desperately need.
"For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9, HCSB).
And what a marvelous one it is!
For on my own I'd be a screaming toddler. With Him, I'm so much more. I'm clean. I'm forgiven. I have hope and a future!
“For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:4, HCSB)
Every year we buy a family Christmas ornament for our tree. (I know, I’m talking about Christmas, but bear with me). The only rule when it comes to this ornament is that it has to somehow symbolize something about that year of our life. This past Christmas, that ornament was a dove. I saw it in a store around the holidays and knew it had to be ours. Why a dove? Because my heart was feeling tumultuous at the time. There was a fight between peace and unrest going on. It was honestly a hard time of year, especially Christmas day itself, since my husband was so far away. There was an empty gap when my daughter woke up with bright, cheery eyes, while we ate our cinnamon rolls, opened our stockings, went to church, and, later that day, opened the rest of our presents. Someone was definitely missing.
Oh how I needed to be reminded of peace. Because this world just doesn’t have much of it. No, this world is full of wars and unrest. A military wife knows that better than many. We know the feeling of missing loved ones during holidays, anniversaries, birthdays. We know what true loneliness feels like.
But we also get to experience indescribable peace.
The kind of peace that curls its arms around you in the middle of a half empty bed. The peace that helps you hold your head up high as you walk into a restaurant and ask for two seats instead of three. The peace that comforts you when you stumble across news from the middle east, news that scares you until you find out one way or another.
Peace. He is our peace in good times and in bad.
Why is He our peace? Because He’s already bridged the gap between life and death. By dying on the cross for our sins, He paid the ultimate price. Because of this price we can live eternally in heaven with Him. With this price paid, there are no true fears in this world. Nothing we can’t overcome. God, our refuge, our strength, our peace, will see us through it all.
The symbol of a dove.
A reminder of God’s peace in each and every one of our lives.
What would life be without it?
I really don’t want to know.
Do you have any reminders of God’s faithfulness in your life? What things, verses, or people do you turn to for encouragement?
"I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:17b-19, HCSB).
This is my prayer for my daughter, my little almost two-year-old who is already showing her humanity. Even at this young age she displays stubbornness, tears, disobedience and anger. Not very often, mind you, but there are moments where she is definitely a sinful human being. My prayer is that my husband and I are doing right by her. That we're teaching her, day-in and day-out, what it's like to love and worship God. That we are setting the foundations in place for her to realize her own need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. I pray that she will grow up rooted and well-loved. That she will truly see how great God's love is for her!
It's the same prayer I have for my other loved ones as well. Perhaps I haven't always expressed it as well as I should. Perhaps I haven't always been as outspoken as I could be. But I do pray it over their lives. All those I love are covered in prayer, day after day, year after year.
Because God's love for us is that amazing. It's my entire reason for living.
My prayer today is focused on my daughter, though. That she will realize God's love in her, unique life. That she would be on fire for Christ at an early age, and keep the fire going throughout her life.
Because, believe it or not, God loves her even more than I.
Some days test me more than others. Today was one of those days. My toddler is at an age where she's testing her limits, seeing how far she can take things, if and when she'll get her way. When she doesn't get her way she screams at me and/or throws herself down on the floor in the fit. The sound level is enough to give me a headache, her screaming is enough to make me feel helpless as a parent. Oh, how I'd love to give into her every time. Oh how I hate to hear her cry. But stand firm I must, because I know it's for her own good. I know, in the long run, she'll be the better for it. And so, I ignore the screams, I give her space, I put her in a quiet place for a few minutes and then I love on her and calmly explain why her reaction was wrong. She may be a little young to understand all of the words I say, but she's old enough to sense my reaction, to understand that she was in the wrong.
And isn't that the truth for me as well? There have been times when I've kicked and screamed my way through life. Times when I insisted that I know best, when I refused to listen to any other voice of reason. But my Father up Above knew better. He saw the big picture. He knew what would ultimately be in my best interest. And so, He reigned me in. He helped me through difficult times. He held my hand when I needed it. He encouraged me, uplifted me, and, ultimately, made me stronger. Yes, those times of growing were hard. Yes, I didn't like it. But, my, am I thankful for a patient Savior that knows what's best for me.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4, NIV).
"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6, NIV).
"See how happy the man is God corrects; so do not reject the discipline of the Almighty" (Job 5:17, HCSB).
This Lent Season has a lot to do with prayer for me. I know the importance of prayer. I've seen it's effects, for the good, in my life. Yet, time and again, I forget how marvelous it can be.
There have been some very private times in my life. Times of immense hurt and grief. In those times, it's been my tendency to draw into myself self. I'm hurt from what other people said. I'm grieving over dreams that were shattered. I'm fearful of what other people will say, the judgments they'll hold over me.
I know that keeping my feelings to myself isn't always for the best. There are people around me that honestly care about me and what to hold me and my struggles up in prayer. Yet, I'm scared to share, scared to open myself up to the world at large.
A friend reminded me of the power of prayer recently. She mentioned that, by sharing, others were able to pray for her through a difficult time, and that she truly felt those prayers at work. She felt strong, at peace, and able to face the hard days in front of her.
I would love such a peace.
I would love to know that so many people were praying for me during a difficult time.
But to do that, I would have to open up. I would have to share my deepest struggles, knowing that some people might criticize, while others would pray with me every step through it.
It's a hard choice to make, this opening up.
But I'm starting to think that prayer is worth it.
Friendship is worth it.
Community is worth it.
What do you know about the power of prayer? Have you ever seen it at work in your own life? Who could you pray for today?
"The LORD will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night— a prayer to the God of my life" (Psalm 42:8, HCSB).
"Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18, HCSB).
I was a senior in high school on September 11, 2001. I remember the feelings of confusion and fear during those early days. I remember wondering what was going to happen to us as a country, as a school, as a senior class. And I remember feeling a new bond with my fellow classmates. We were truly coming together and leading our tiny Christian school. Every Monday morning, we would meet before the bell rang to pray over our school. We understood that there was a physical and spiritual war being played out around us. We wanted to make sure that every student, kindergartener through senior, was covered in prayer. We also prayed for the men and women who were taking up arms to protect our freedom. It’s hard to believe that 10 years have past since then.
Now that my husband is overseas, fighting for these very same freedoms, I find myself at war again. I find myself feeling attacked and disempowered. I find the need to walk through my house and touch every doorpost.
I tend to not think about spiritual warfare too much. But a dear friend of mine reminded me today about how real it is, and how real the power of prayer is as well. I didn’t realize how much I needed the peace that comes through prayer. How I needed to remind myself of God’s sovereignty over all things.
And so, I touched my front door, and prayed for all of the little children that enter with their mommies for playgroup. I touched the back door, and prayed for all of our friends that sit on our back porch in the summer months and BBQ with us. I touched my daughter’s doorframe, and prayed that her dreams would be uninterrupted any night terrors. I prayed over our bedroom door, that it would always been a place of love and peace. I prayed over the garage door, that my husband would once again walk through its threshold.
And then, I felt at peace. I felt not so very alone. I felt Complete. Empowered. Victorious.
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand” (Ephesians 6:11-13, HCSB).
But there are other days as well, days when I doubt, days when the world around me looks bleak, days when I emotionally can’t handle anything else.
And so I pray.
I offer up my insecurities and fears. I persist in perusing my Savior and trust Him to fill in the gaps. I choose to see the good in each and every situation.
I pray by the day, the hour, the minute, the second. If constant prayer is what it takes, then so be it.
I give my concerns time and again back to the One who is truly in control.
It's a battle that I'm determined to give over to my Savior. It's a battle I was never meant to fight on my own.
It's a battle for joy, for peace, for contentment. The enemy tries to steal beautiful moments from me, moments my Savior has given me to enjoy. And so, by praying, I embrace each moment God has given me in this life.
Do you ever have praying-every-second kinds of days?
“Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer” (Romans 12:12 HCSB).
“With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and stay alert in this, with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18 HCSB).
“Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6 HCSB).
“Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2, HCSB).
I’ve often struggled with these verses above. As a 21st century woman I’m independent. I can manage my own finances, navigate around town, and read some pretty intense scholarly writing. I’m smart. I’m self-sufficient. I don’t necessarily need a man telling me what do to. In fact, as a military wife, independence is an important quality. I have to be able to manage all the problems that may come up while my husband is far away.
Just the same, I’m called to submit to my husband. What exactly does this mean? Must I cower in front of Him and never have an opinion? No, I don’t think so. Instead, I think it involves a level of respect. I respect my husband as the head of our household. I look to him for guidance. I understand that there may be certain times when he out-rules me in the decision making process. Yes, those times may be hard for my self-sufficient self, but that may be exactly why the Apostle Paul wrote the verses above, to remind me to submit.
And anyway, if a godly man is loving us as Christ loved the church, it really shouldn’t be all that hard to submit, should it?
What do you think about the verses above? Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts?
Are you aware of the greatness of God’s love for you? Do you understand how far it stretches? It’s beyond what you or I can imagine.
I know that I often fall into the world’s traps. I start comparing myself to others and see myself as so utterly and completely unworthy. Yet God loves me. He forever draws me close to His side. And, time and again, He reminds me of His great love. He has placed me in the midst of so many amazing people. He has given me a marriage, a family, a church, and a community in which to love and be loved. As this deployment draws near, it’s nice to know that I’m surrounded by love. It’s nice to know that my Savior is looking out for me and providing the love of friends and family to see me through this rough season. His love for me is so great. He’s always provided the perfect people in my life for each season. This deployment season is no different. I trust that His love and faithfulness will continue to prevail.
What about you? How has God provided in your life? Where is His love for you most evident?
In Ephesians 2, the Apostle Paul is writing to the Gentile believers in Ephesus, and affirming that they, to, are now part of the kingdoms of God. He explains how Christ bridged the gap between the Jews and Gentiles and gave the opportunity of everlasting life for all who believe. Perhaps there were doubts among the people. Perhaps the Jewish believers were set against the Gentile belivers. Whatever the case, they needed this reminder that they were all part of one body of believers. Jesus tore down the gap between the Jews and Gentiles. Through his death and resurrection he made a way for everyone to go to heaven.
He became our peace.
What a wonderful thought, and one I often needed to be reminded of.
In the middle of a world that is full of arguments and strife, of people saying that some belong to God and that other’s do not, God gives us peace.
He gives us peace that only comes from Him.
Peace that passes all understanding.
Peace in the knowledge of our salvation.
Peace that He will provide.
Peace in the middle of chaos.
Peace on the calm days as well.
Peace that never leaves.
Peace that dwells within us.
Oh what a wonderful peace!
Where do you sense God’s peace today?
As a little girl, I would wake up from vivid dreams with a specific person on my mind. Sometimes that person was an immediate friend, other times I hadn't seen that person in years. Just the same, my mom encouraged me to pray for that person, suggesting that God had placed them on my heart for a reason.
I had a great prayer life as a little girl.
Since then, my prayer life has gone through seasons. As I've shared before on this blog, my prayers have been lacking as of late. I've gotten rather lathargic, uttering off quick prayers, but not really spending substantial time before the throne of God.
I really think God has been using my restless nights to draw me towards Him once again.
He's bringing people to mind so that once again I can explore this gift of intercession that has always been upon my heart.
He's reminding me how wonderful and powerful prayer really is.
He's using these last weeks of pregnancy, when I'm moving a little slower and not doing as much around the house, to draw me back spiritually to the place I belong. At His feet, day and night, praying for dear ones in my life.
What a wonderful lesson.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18 NIV).
I may not always like it, but our life together revolves around the military. I may not have chosen this life, but I chose the man, knowing very well what came with the package. I may not understand it, but this life in the military is part of my husband’s calling.
And so I respect the decision he makes, when he goes to work each morning.
I respect the dedication it takes to go work in the strict military environment.
I respect the place God has put us in this life.
I respect my husband’s career, even when I hate that it takes him away from me from time to time.
I respect the military, because I respect my husband.
I respect my husband because that is what Ephesians 5:33 calls me to do: “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband" (NIV).
And what does respecting our husbands have to do with flexibility, you may be asking by now?
I’m flexible because I understand and respect the changing environment of my husband’s job.
I’m flexible because I view the military as part of my husband’s calling.
I’m flexible out of my very love and respect for my husband and his career.
I’m flexible because God gives me the strength to face those tough days.
I’m flexible because I feel that God has called me to be a supportive military wife.
Is flexibility hard for you at times? What specific area do you need God’s help with today?
Lord, please help me to be more flexible when it comes to my husband’s career in the military. Help me to respect him and his calling.
Or will I continue to love every moment of this life God has given me?
Will I sit and home and count the hours until his return, or will I remain involved in my church, my community, my friends, my social groups?
Will I stop exploring and achieving? Or will I continue to search out new things, new ideas?
Will my relationship with God be on hold? Or will I continue to be a willing vessel?
Will my relationship with my husband be on hold? Or will we continue to communicate, growing and changing through this deployment?
I’m finding that I have a choice to make about this next year. I will either chose to survive or thrive.
Consider the definitions of these two words:
Survive: to endure or live through (an affliction, adversity, misery, etc.)
Thrive: to grow or develop vigorously; flourish
Which do you chose? Do you want to survive or thrive in the life God has given you?
The answer, for me, is easy. I want to thrive. I don’t want to just “endure” these coming months, I want to grow and develop and learn and change. I want to come out of the end of this deployment more in love with my God and my husband than ever.
Lord, please help me to thrive and grow in every situation. Help me to live out the words of Ephesians 4:15 which say, “Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ”(NIV). Help me to grow during this time of deployment and to believe that you are working for the good in this and every situation. As Jeremiah 29:11-12 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you’”(NIV). Help me to believe the truthfulness of these words, that you do have great things in store of me, even during this time of deployment. Help me to thrive in this and every situation in life.