We Have Moved!

•February 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Thanks to everyone for reading this blog over the last few years.
I have officially moved it to www.locustnhoney.com
I have ported over all of the old blog posts, and will continue blogging at that new URL.
Thanks
Jeff

Daily Devotion: Ephesians 4:1-6 “Worthy of the Calling”

•February 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Ephesians 4

Ephesians 4:1-6
4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Eph 4:1–6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

OK. This is quite a large section of text, that says a ton. I’m going to break it down a bit starting with 1-6 today.
A prisoner is one who has no means of escape. This is interesting since we associate the word prisoner with no Freedom and yet we have freedom in Christ. I think Paul has sacrificed in obedience so much of his life that he is shackled to Christ and only goes where the Spirit is leading. That is not to disregard the obvious fact that Paul is also physically a Roman prisoner at the time he wrote this letter. I am convinced that Paul walks by the power of the Spirit in such a manor that is evident that he knows who God has made him to be. An adopted child, called to enjoy God, through worship, and stewarding His creation, all while proclaiming His work, and promises. Paul did this well, and we can learn from his example and the letters he wrote. One thing Paul does so well is to give hope to the Saints, through proclaiming Christ as the fulfillment of scripture, and reminding us of His promises.
We are given an imperative to walk in a manor worthy of our calling. The manner in which we are called to live out our adoption as children of God is one of humility, patients, love, hopefulness in Christ alone, with an eagerness to maintain unity and peace in the Spirit.
We are to maintain unity and peace in Christ with His body (the Church), His baptism, His Lordship, His Faith, His hope, with patience, humility, and love. This is radical. The Church seems so disjointed and unified often arguing over doctrinal differences and expressions of worship, meanings of text, and all sorts of other minor things which really don’t matter that much in the end. What matters is God’s sovereign rule over all things. He is in all through and over all things. He is gracious, and Holy, and has adopted us into His family.
Remember our calling is to Christ, and His mission. Let us preserve unity by contending for basic specific christian Doctrines of who God is, what He is doing, and who He says we are in light of who He is. Let’s do this with love, patience, and humility. Don’t argue over secondary issues, but rather understand the person who takes issue with who God is, and what His promises are, get to know them. Ask them what they think, we don’t need to force what our ideas are down peoples throats. We get to proclaim the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and Lordship of Jesus.

Jesus Help me to love better. Please continue to grow your Church in the fruits of the Spirit, not in just plain theological intellect. Let us know, and do, because you are a God who knows your children and has done everything that is needed for us to be reconciled to you.
Amen

Daily Devotion: Ephesians 3:14-21 Part III “Faith is a Gift”

•January 30, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Ephesians 3

Prayer for Spiritual Strength
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Eph 3:14–21). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

We can not comprehend the depth, height, breadth, length of Christs glorious riches, or the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge without God giving us Faith. The Spirit encourages, and strengthens the faith God has given us. He does this through the fruits of the Spirit becoming more and more evident in our lives. This does not necessarily mean that all of the deeds of the flesh are done being apparent in our lives, but it does mean that the Spirit is producing fruit and the fruits of the flesh are lessening in desire and affection. I have seen this play out in my own life over and over. God continues to reveal himself as more active and sovereign in life, through His Word, and actual actions that most blame on fate and coincident. To those who are born of the Spirit and have been given the gift of Faith these things become evidences of God’s grace. This is one of the reasons I know faith is a gift from God. I never asked for it, I never sought it out, I just have it. I believe in all the rich doctrines of the Christian Faith. Nobodies persuasive argument against this will or could change my mind. The suffering that life brings can not change my mind. God gives us faith, and faith builds more faith. We are being conformed to the image of Christ, renewed daily from one degree of glory to another. Christ does dwell in the hearts of those who faith has been given. Jesus is on our heart and our mind. We are united with Him, we now see more clearly, how deep the Fathers love for us is in sending Jesus Christ to do the miraculous work He did in life, on the cross, and in His resurrection ascension, and will do in His return.

Jesus thank you for your gift of faith and your strength and power that is clearly seen in the fruit of the Spirit that is becomes more and more evident in the lives of those whom you have given faith in. Faith in who you are and the work you have accomplished. We love you and hold to you as Lord, King, God, Priest, Ruler, Prophet, Lover, Big Brother, Friend, Counselor. You are our peace, and joy, our hope, and salvation. You give us meaning, worth, value, and purpose. Our Identity is locked in you Sealed with your blessed spirit, and nothing can ever separate us from your love.
Thank you Jesus.

Daily Devotion: Ephesians 3:14-21 Part II “Glory forever”

•January 22, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Ephesians 3

Ephesians 3:14-21
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Eph 3:14–21). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

God can and does far more than we ask or expect, or even think! He accomplishes far more than we even realize by the power of the Spirit that dwells within us. One day we will see His glory face to face and be enamored by the work He has done. Verse 20, and 21 blow my mind. If we pause for just a minute and look at our lives we see over and over just how God does so much more than we ask or think. The fact that He conquered Satan, sin and put death to death is amazing! I can hardly (if at all) grasp the massive Love poured out to His Church by joining it with Him through the Spirit. This is the same Spirit that hovered over the deep when the words “Let there be light” were spoken! This same God, same Spirit, same Word is actively living, guiding directing and moving through me! Conforming me everyday to the Glory of God! Scandalous! I deserve none of this, I have done nothing worthy and am completely unable ever do anything worthy to receive such grace.

No wonder why Paul is emphatically humbly claiming Gods glory forever and ever in verse 21. All of the great men I admire are either dead or will be dead and most if not all of their work will eventually be forgotten. Jesus however will be glorified forever and ever, He will be glorified by His people, His Church, who will proclaim and testify to His glorious grace for all time. This is why we are in Christian community or church with each other. We are changed and care much more about God Himself, the things God loves, and the work God has and is doing, than anything else in the world. The world has nothing to offer in the way of Glory. Glory is for God, and it is most accurately revealed to us on earth in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Thank you God for being glorious. Thank you for letting me worship you with others who love you and your work. I pray that many others will see your glory and fall to their knees worshiping you, like Paul is doing here. I Love you.
Amen

We Are Sub-Creators Part 1

•January 10, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I want to propose one thing that I believe it means to carry the image of God. This is not definitive by any means but rather a definition to help us with our ability to relate and understand our gifts and abilities in the context of being “creative” or an “artist”. We call this sub-creation.
Submission can be defined as the acknowledgement of the legitimacy of the power of one’s superior or superiors. It can also be an act of submitting or the condition of having submitted.
Our culture has a problem with submission. We want to be our own final authority and generally have no intention of following anybody who may make us do something that we might not want to do, even if it is best for us. This is a systemic problem that began with the fall.
Anyone who has ever disciplined a child knows the difference between submission and rebellion. A child generally wants what it wants and will do anything to get it. This is called sin.
It is also the state we all live in without Christ. We distrust God and His authority, his sovereignty, and His goodness. We see suffering and assume there is no good in it, or ask how a good God could allow people whom we declare innocent to die or suffer. Even this line of questioning is sinful. I know that sounds controversial (and it is) but hear me out.
Sin is not just our moral behavior, but it is the simple fact that we ascribe meaning, value, and worth to ourselves from things outside of God himself.
We like to dictate our own truth and our own identity. We say things like “I am an artist” or “I am a lawyer.” We define ourselves by our actions instead of defining ourselves as children of God.
On the negative side, we define ourselves by our sin or our faults. We say that we are addicts, abusers and victims. That something else controls or compels us out of control.
All of these things are partial truths but we end up deriving our worth and identity based on the work we do or on the sin we have acted out or others have committed against us, and that in and of itself is sin.
Sin attacks the core and goes straight for a fight against God Himself. The acts of sin we commit are (as I said earlier) a systemic problem with a heart that has declared itself as God, and has become self-protective. The heart is our core or center. It is the place that underneath all things drives us. Naturally our heart takes us where we want to go. Sin is in our heart this is why we need regeneration. We need a new heart. We need Jesus. He is the savior who has come to rescue us from the entrapments of sin and death

This post appeared on Artist Reformation

Daily Devotion: Ephesians 3:14-21 Part I “Prayer For Spiritual Strength”

•January 8, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Ephesians 3

Ephesians 3:14-21
Prayer for Spiritual Strength
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Eph 3:14–21). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

We have heard the mystery of the Gospel revealed in the previous section of verses. Now Paul gives a prayer for the Ephesians to be given power by the Holy Spirit. We are the Church in future generations that He writes about in verse 21. This prayer is for us.
It is a reminder for all of God’s people in any time. Paul wrote this letter so that we would remember who we are and what we have in Christ. He makes clear it that God has created and named every family member. His prayers have been answered. The Church keeps growing and expanding. It is continually becoming conformed to the head, who is Christ.
We who are rooted in the Holy Spirit are His family. We know the breadth, length, height and depth of the love of Christ. We have the strength of the Holy Spirit.
It takes strength to be a Christian. It is impossible to be named Christian without the transforming work of the Spirit. We could not be part of the Family God has named as His own without the atoning work of Christ on the Cross, and His resurrection, and ascension.

Thank you Jesus for adopting me into your family, for naming me Christian, and for uniting me with You by the Spirit. Holy Spirit, I do ask for continued strength for your people. We need the strength that only You can give.
Amen.

Daily Devotion: Ephesians 3:1-13 Part III

•December 18, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Ephesians 3

Ephesians 3:1-13
3:1 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Eph 3:1–13). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

It is scandalous for Paul to be called to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.
For one, he is the Jew of all Jews. He is well-studied, observant to the law, a defender of his religion, even cut from a good family line. He persecuted and killed Christians. All the same, God called this guy out of his religion and into a relationship with Himself and the very people he hated. This is like a U.S. military commander being called to be a minister to the Taliban.
The Spirit reveals to Paul the mystery of the Gospel, that Gentiles can be equally a part of Gods family without works of the law but by Faith in Christ. The ministry that Paul has is a gift in itself.
We to have the same gift, the gift to know the unsearchable riches of Christ and to see the mystery of the Gospel revealed.

We know that God is a God of reconciliation and restoration. We see that in Christ’s ministry. Yet none of these things can be known and understood without the Spirit showing them to us. The riches of Christ are the reconciliation and restoration of His work. They give all men one King and ruler to reside under.
That ruler is Jesus Christ whether you know Jesus or not. As Christians we now get to live a life of freedom in obedience. We are in the church of Christ our good King, because He has revealed His mystery and purpose to us.

Thank you Jesus for reconciling me to yourself and showing me the mystery of your unsearchable riches. I love You and pray that your Church would grow in sharing and showing your glory to the world. Continue to unite us in yourself. Amen

 
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