Friday, January 13, 2017

EPHESIANS 1:18-19a - POWERFUL PRAYER


Powerful Prayer

“When I am weak,
My Lord, you’re strong.”
Those aren’t just the words
Of an old-time song.
Miraculous power
For us who believe
Is there at the moment
We need to receive.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, 
so that you may know him better.
I pray also that the eyes of your heart 
may be enlightened in order that you may know
the hope to which he has called you, 
the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 
and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
Ephesians 1:17-19a (NIV)

dunamis – force (lit. or fig.); spec. miraculous power (usually by impl. A miracle itself):- ability, abundance, meaning, might (-ily, -y, -y deed), (worker of) miracle(-s), power, strength, violence, mighty (wonderful) work. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible)

            (Written in 2005 or 2006 by Susie) As I write this I feel powerless. I feel like my cell phone…I need to be plugged in and recharged. I’m exhausted, have no energy, and am scheduled for an angiogram the day after tomorrow. However, I know that Paul proclaimed, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:10b NIV). Although physically I may not be strong at this moment, I know the Lord’s grace is sufficient to see me through this time. His strength will enable me to accomplish what he wants me to do. He can give me power to not just endure trials but to be victorious over them and have joy in the midst of them.
            I love reading Paul’s prayers for those he encouraged through his letters. They show me how to pray for my friends, loved ones, and myself.  I can pray that the Spirit will give my children wisdom and revelation to help them grow closer to the Lord. I can pray that the eyes of a new believer’s heart will be opened up to more fully understand the hope he now has. I can pray for others and myself to be infused with God’s power (the power that raised Christ from the dead) in order to accomplish the Lord’s purposes each day. I can pray for fellow believers just as Paul did.
            I believe God will answer those prayers. He already has. He gave me the power to read my Bible and write on a night when I was feeling powerless.
            Father, I pray the verses above for all who will read this page. Lord, make our hearts jump to life as we read your word. Help us to have a deeper awareness of the hope we have in Christ. And, Jesus, when we are weak, recharge our batteries with your power that we may accomplish that which you have called us to do.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

EPHESIANS 1:7-8A - IN HIM


In Him
by Susie Hale, Precious Jewels Ministries

In Him…we are chose
     To be holy and blameless in His sight.
In Him…we are redeemed
     From our helpless, enslaved plight.
In Him…we are forgiven
     According to the riches of God’s grace.
In Him…we are marked with a seal
     The earnest of our heavenly place!

“In him we have redemption through his blood, 
the forgiveness of sins,
in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
that he lavished on us with 
all wisdom and understanding.”
Ephesians 1:7-8 (NIV)

charis5485 – graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstr. or concr.’ Lit., fig. or spiritual: espec. The divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace(ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank(-s, -worthy).

pĕrissĕuō – to superabound (in quantity or quality), be in excess, be superfluous; also (trans.) to cause to superabound or excel: - (make, more) abound, (have, have more) abundance, (be more) abundant, be the better, enough and to spare, exceed, excel, increase, be left, redound, remain (over and above).

            “The divine influence upon the heart” has been lavished on me that it might be reflected in my life. I’ve done more than one study of Ephesians that encouraged me to mark every occurrence of “in Christ” and “in him” in order to get a clear picture of all that is mine because of Jesus. I want to take that thought to its next level. God has provided abundantly for me because he expects me to share the overflow with others.
            I cannot, in and of myself, be holy and blameless. However, the Holy Spirit is doing the work of conforming me to the likeness of Christ. This is not so that I can sit up and say, “look how holy I’m becoming.” No, it is so that others may see Jesus in me and desire to know him. The Lord marks me with his seal, and I know that my home is with him. He has given me “enough and to spare,” and it is his intent that I share the increase with others.
            Lord, help me share the overflow of the grace you have lavished on me. Mold me and make me more and more into the image of Christ that others would see Jesus flowing through my life. Thank you for all that I have in Christ. Stir me to be more generous in sharing the abundance of your grace.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Ephesians 1:4 - CHOSEN


Chosen
by Susie Hale, Precious Jewels Ministries

“Pick me! Pick me!” the children shout,
For no one wants to be left out.
The one who cannot catch the ball,
Who isn’t a very good player at all,
Knows that she’ll be the very last one.
Being chosen last is not much fun.

I am that child of little skill,
But gracious God gives my heart a thrill
By telling me he chose me in Christ
Before the beginning of my earthly life.
Even before he created the world,
He chose this imperfect, sinful girl.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world 
to be holy and blameless in his sight.”
Ephesians 1:4 (NIV)

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation.
Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption
of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.”
Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV)

ĕklĕgŏmai – to select: - make choice, choose (out), chosen.

arrhabōn – a pledge, i.e. part of the purchase money or property given in advance as a security for the rest: - earnest. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible)

            “Oh dear, the teacher is about to make us choose teams.  If I’m appointed as a captain, I’ll end up choosing the losing team.  If I’m not a captain, I’ll be one of the last chosen. Either way, I can’t win. I wish I could be chosen first for a change.”  
            At an early age, we learn the value of being chosen and the pain of being left out. As life progresses we want to be chosen for the team, chosen for a date, or chosen for a job. We work hard at being desirable to the one doing the choosing.
            Praise the Lord, the most important choice was made before the foundation of the world. God chose me to be his child and be made new by trusting in Jesus Christ. This incredible gift was given to me, not because I deserved it, but because God CHOSE to love me.
            Not only did God choose me, but he gave me proof that I am his. He placed his Holy Spirit within me to confirm my relationship to him, to nurture me in learning his will and ways (John 16:13), and to allow me to communicate with him even when I am unable to put my needs into words (Romans 8:26-27). The Spirit’s work in my life is just a security deposit on the tremendous relationship I’ll have with the Lord when I live eternally with him. He is the earnest money of my inheritance in the Lord Jesus.
            Father, thank you for choosing me to be your child long before my parents even knew I would be theirs. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who communicates for me and to me that I may draw nearer to you.  Thank you for the promised inheritance I have because Christ is preparing a place for me. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

For the next six weeks, we will be studying the book of Ephesians on our Bible study blog - www.biblestudy-pjm.blogspot.com - and posting companion devotionals from Ephesians on this blog. The Bible study will be posted on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of each week at www.biblestudy-pjm.blogspot.com, and we hope you will join us there. 

On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday of each week we will post on this blog with an occasional bonus post on one of the other days.

We will not post on Sunday, but everything remains archived on both blogs if you desire to catch up or go back and re-read what we have posted in the past. 

We hope you will all visit both blogs and comment on how the Lord has ministered to you through them or ways you believe we can improve the content.

Susan Renee Slade and Susie Hale

ROMANS 1:1a, 8, 9 LIKE PAUL

Next week, we will begin a study of Ephesians which was a letter written by the Apostle Paul, so I thought it appropriate to post this devotional even though it was based on verses from Romans, another of Paul's epistles which I studied a few years ago. (Susie)

Like Paul

Father, is it possible that I could be like Paul?
Could I serve you with my whole heart and give to you my all?
The Holy Spirit that led the apostle, you’ve placed in me today.
Help me to listen for your call and your perfect will obey.
Strengthen me to serve you and to walk the paths you show,
Being not ashamed of the Gospel and not afraid to go.
Let me live by faith in the Christ who died for me.
Let me speak and write of him boldly so others may be free.

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…”
Romans 1:1a

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.”
Romans 1:8-9

servant – dŏulŏs – a slave (lit. or fig., invol. or vol.; frequently therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviencey): bond-servant. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible)

            Christ has called us to be his people. He has set us apart to share the gospel with the world through the power of his Holy Spirit within us (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). Paul understood this well and often referred to himself as a bond-servant or slave of Jesus.  He was completely committed to serving the Lord no matter what the cost.  He served with his whole heart, fulfilling what the Lord Jesus named as the first and greatest commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all you mind.” (Matthew 22:37-38). Because of this dedication, Paul reached a tremendous number of people both through his journeys and his letters. In fact, the books of the Bible ascribed to him have continued to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus throughout history.
            I have thought in the past, “All that was well and good for Paul who had the experience on the Damascus road of being confronted by the Lord in a blinding light!” But, of course, I’m just an ordinary person. I could never do great things.  Paul was an ordinary person as well.  He struggled with temptation (Romans 7:15), but he continued to “press on” (Philippians 3:14). The driving force behind Paul was the Holy Spirit.  He chose to be a slave to the Lord rather than to the desires of his flesh.
            The Lord has saved me from sin, and I will be with him in heaven when he returns. However, I must choose daily to walk according to the spirit or the flesh. The more I choose to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit in my life, the more I will be like Paul and, more importantly, like Christ.  As I feed my spirit with reading and obeying God’s word and praising and worshiping my Lord, the flesh will have less and less power over me. As I seek to know Jesus more each day and to be his servant, he will use me to further the gospel and minister effectively in the specific ways he has called me.

            Father, moment by moment may I choose to obey your will. May I be able to honestly identify myself as a servant of Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

MATTHEW 2:23 - HE SHALL BE CALLED A NAZARENE


HE SHALL BE CALLED A NAZARENE

          When the Lord told Joseph and Mary to come back from Egypt where they had fled due to Herod’s plan to murder all the boys up to two years of age in Bethlehem, they set their course for the town where they had met and married – Nazareth. Matthew’s gospel notes that prophets had foretold that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene. By the time of Jesus, Nazarene was synonymous with despised or detestable. Apparently, the people from that city had a horrible reputation. This is why Nathanael questioned whether the Messiah could truly be from Nazareth. Jesus was so identified with Nazareth that people did not realize He was born in Bethlehem as evidenced in chapter seven of John’s gospel.
          Have you ever experienced discrimination because of the place you grew up or currently live? Or perhaps due to your ethnicity or color? Our Lord experienced that discrimination as well. The word tells us that God doesn’t look at those things about us. Passages such as James 2, Romans 12:9-21, and 1 Peter chapter 3 speak about God’s impartiality and how we are to treat one another with non-judgmental love. Avoid discriminating against others by remembering how God looks at them and at you:

1 Samuel 16:7b (NASB) God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

MATTHEW 2:10 - STAR GAZERS


Excerpt from A Life’s Symphony of Joy
By Rev. Susan R. Slade

Day 31 – Star Gazers

Matthew 2:10 (ESV)

When they saw the star,
they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

The magi (wise men) had seen a great star from their country in the east and had read a prophecy of a king to be born of the Jews. They had set out following the star, but it disappeared for a time. They inquired of the Jews’ current king, Herod, where this child was to be born. After his scholars informed them the child was to be born in Bethlehem, they set back out on their journey, and the star reappeared. The wise men were not just full of joy when the star came back into view: their joy was exponentially overwhelming. It was also a relief that they could now fulfill their hearts’ desire to worship the baby King. They may or may not have understood that the God of the universe was Jesus’ Father, but they saw the celestial birthday candle, the ultimate celebratory sign in the heavens, to celebrate the birth of His chosen one. The star, which may have even been the Sh’khinah glory of God, led them to the house where Jesus and His earthly parents were staying, and they worshipped Him and gave Him gifts.

Think for just a moment about the glory Jesus left behind in Heaven to endure the sacrifice and humiliation of the cross in order to redeem His forever family. The next time He comes to earth, He WILL come in His full regal kingship. Does this not make you burst with great joy?!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

GALATIANS 3:13 - REDEEMER REDEEMED


Redeemer Redeemed
By Susie Hale and Susan Slade
Precious Jewels Ministries

The Baby lovingly placed in a wooden manger
Would someday die on a cross made of wood.
Jesus was born to be our Redeemer
Which meant He must do everything as He should.
In order to be the spotless Lamb of God
He must obey every point of the Law.
So, Mary and Joseph brought two shekels of silver
To redeem the Baby they had laid on the straw.
Our Redeemer as firstborn had to be redeemed
and his mother purified by offering two doves.
Mary could not even afford a spotless lamb
When presenting the Lamb of our Father’s love.
The parents God chose to raise His Son
Fulfilled all that the Law demanded.
Mary and Joseph obeyed Gabriel’s message,
Doing everything the Lord commanded. 

LUKE 2:15-20 SHEPHERDS HERALD GOOD SHEPHERD'S ARRIVAL


SHEPHERDS HERALD GOOD SHEPHERD’S ARRIVAL
By Susie Hale & Susan Slade, Precious Jewels Ministries

An angel appeared to a group of mere shepherds and made the astonishing announcement that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem and gave them the even more surprising news that this Holy Baby would be found sleeping in a feeding trough for animals! Then as quickly as the host of angels had appeared in glorious light, they vanished, and the shepherds were once again alone in the dark. The shepherds, like excited children on Christmas morning, ran to see God’s gift to the world. They found everything exactly like the angel had said. Afterward they did the same thing we did as children – they told the entire neighborhood the best gift they had received – a baby born to be the Messiah. They went back to the drudgery of guarding their sheep but with a newfound awe of the Lord. They praised and glorified God as they returned. I wonder if the sheep could sense the change in their shepherds or if even they were aware that the best Shepherd of all was now living among men? Just as we share about our “best Christmas ever,” I am certain those shepherds passed down the story of the night they found their Savior lying in a manger. I imagine their children and grandchildren, eyes bright with wonder, saying, “Tell it again! Tell about the angels and the Baby!” May the wide-eyed wonder of the Christmas story fill our hearts throughout this New Year!