Faithful

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:” Ephesians 1:1

What does the word FAITHFUL mean to you? This word has in it the idea of being honest, trustworthy, devoted, or true to someone or something. A faithful steward is someone who can be trusted to handle the business affairs of another and does. A faithful friend is someone who stands by you and is true to you through good times and bad. A faithful spouse is someone who is devoted to their partner and trustworthy in every regard in that relationship. Faithfulness, or the lack thereof, is clearly a reflection of one’s character and seen in one’s actions. It can be seen in how one lives, what one does, what one says, and how one responds. Faithfulness is also vital in our relationships and greatly impacts them.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is written to the saints at Ephesus and the FAITHFUL in Christ Jesus. A faithful believer is a person who is devoted and true in their relationship with the Lord. They are trustworthy in the things that matter to Him and that faithfulness can be clearly seen in every aspect of their lives.

Being faithful is important, especially to those with whom we have a relationship. If one truly loves and cares for another faithfulness is vital in that relationship and will be reflected in how we relate and respond to them. Think about the things Christ has done and is doing for you. Do those things matter to you? Do those things affect you? Are you true to Him? Are you devoted to His cause?   If I am honest I must admit I am not always faithful.  I also know that this is common because even the Apostles struggled.  When I take my eyes off of myself and the world around me, and look at Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith, I understand and know that He loves me, cares for me, and is faithful to me in every way!!!  I must remind myself that He is certainly worthy of my faithfulness in return!!!

YOU DO MATTER!!!

YOU DO MATTER!!!
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:” Ephesians 1:1

We live in a big world with over seven billion people breathing right now on planet Earth. Do you ever feel you get lost in the crowd or that you even matter? If you are a believer, YOU DO MATTER!!

Paul, the writer of Ephesians, addresses his readers as SAINTS. We often overlook this little word but it is filled with importance. This word is used throughout the Bible as one of the many names given for those who are saved. The origin of this word was used to describe a building used for a deity as being set apart because of its purpose or to whom it belonged. A TEMPLE was considered HOLY (The word HOLY is the same word used for SAINT – the Greek word “hagios”).

When God looks at an individual in this mass of humanity He sees one of two things: either you belong to Him or you do not. Because of Christ, a believer is SET APART from the rest of the world. They BELONG to the Lord; and the Holy Spirit of God LIVES within them. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Let me remind you that God loves all of mankind and desires everyone to trust His Son Jesus Christ as their Savior. But the fact remains that the majority of the world rejects Christ and a lot of people despise Him. The city of Ephesus had a lot of false gods and true believers faced a great deal of persecution for their faith in the Jesus Christ. I believe Paul used the word SAINT to remind the Ephesian believers and us that we MATTER to the Lord. The world may not see us but the God of Heaven sees us! The world may not know us but He knows us! The world may not care but our Heavenly Father cares! He lives in us and today we can pray, seek His presence, and request His help because we belong to Him. And one day, because we are SAINTS, we will spend ETERNITY with Him in Glory!!!!

1 Corinthians 13:1-7  “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. [2] And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. [3] And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor , and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. [4] Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, [5] Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; [6] Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; [7] Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

Love is an important and powerful thing.  Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians covers many topics but at the heart of them all rings the message of genuine love.  An example and description are given in these verses of that love.
Communicating LOVE is more important than HOW YOU SPEAK.
Showing LOVE is more important than WHAT YOU KNOW.
Giving LOVE is more important than WHAT YOU GIVE.
Communicating, gaining and sharing knowledge, and giving are all important elements in the Christian life.  We should do our best in each of them.  The emphasis in these verses however is not these abilities but the love one should possess and share when exercising them. Without love these elements are vain, empty, and meaningless.  Genuine love can be seen, heard, and felt.  For example, if one could speak with the tongues of men and of angels how is it that they sound like sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal?  These two phrases imply, no matter how skilled, polished, or elequent the speaker, the words spoken are empty and without true heartfelt meaning.  Have you ever had that experience with a speaker or someone talking to you?  On the other hand, have you heard someone who maybe wasn’t all that skilled in word usage but their love and caring spirit spoke to your heart in spite of the words used or how they were spoken.  That is what communicating love is all about.  This kind of genuine love cannot be taught.  It is a part of ones life and everything that person says or does.  You can see it, hear it, and feel it.  The same applies to what we know, our abilities, and our giving.  Without genuine love these have no true or lasting meaning.

In Context

I believe the best way to understand the Bible is to study it in context with much prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit our teacher.
  • Context defined:
    • The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.
    • the parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning.

In other words, understanding a word, verse, or passage in scripture requires us to view it in light of the verses around it.

A proper understanding of the scriptures also requires one to ask and answer the following five common sense questions. These questions should be applied to every verse or passage one studies.
  • Common Sense Questions:
    1. Who is speaking or writing?
    2. To whom or about whom is he speaking or writing?
    3. About what subject is he speaking or writing?
    4. When or about what time is he speaking or writing?
    5. What is the occasion for the speaking or writing?
Many fail in a proper understanding of scripture because they take passages completely out of context.  This can lead to false doctrine and the embracing of ideas God never intended.  Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  The words “rightly dividing” come from a compound Greek word meaning to dissect correctly.  The idea is to carefully take apart the word of God and examine those parts (word by word) in light of the whole.  The word “study” means to be deligent.  Being deligent means having or showing care and conscientiousness in one’s work or duties.  Our study of God’s Word is important.  We must be careful as we consider it’s meaning, principles, and truths.  What a tragidy to miss out on those truths; but what a blessing when we behold the Bible’s precious treasure.

Loving God with all my Strength

1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

God has given us a physical body and the ability to use that body to live life, honor and glorify Him, interact with others, and embrace with wonder the rest of His glorious creation.  We have eyes through which to look and behold.  We have ears that allow us to hear and listen.  We have legs, feet, and toes to move about, walk, and even run.  We have arms, hands, and fingers with which we can touch, feel, hold, handle, and embrace.  We have mouths to taste, eat, drink, speak, and sing.  We have a brain to think, learn, decide, imagine, and operate this amazing body with all it’s abilities.  With this body we can work, create, make, and build.  We can with great skill perform many amazing things and complete many incredible tasks.  Having such a gift and never expressing appreciation to the God who created it is tragic.  Living life and not giving back in way of service, helping others in need, or using ones abilities for His glory is very selfish.  We are commanded to love the Lord with all of our strength.  This means we recognize our Creator as the source of our abilities and we honor Him by using those abilities in His service.

Loving God with all my Mind

Mark 12:29-30 ”And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is , Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: [30] And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”

God has bless mankind with a mind and the amazing ability to think, learn, imagine, create, and remember.   We live in an age where information of every sort is available within seconds.  There seems to be no limit to what we can gain in the way of knowledge whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, true or false.  The believer understands that God is the source of all truth, genuine knowledge, and wisdom (John 17:17; Psalm 33:4; Poverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10).  He created our mind with all it’s abilities.  For us to live life where God is not a part of our thinking, learning, imaginations, and memories is unimaginable.  A life lived without the precious knowledge of a loving, caring, and saving God is truly a terrible thing.  Loving God with all our minds recognizes and honors the God who created and gave us this precious gift. What a blessing it is to know Him and ponder His greatness!

Loving God with all my Soul

Mark 12:29-30 “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: [30] And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”

 
There is only one true God.  He is the creator of all life, including ours, and everything good we know.  As such, He is worthy of our complete affection and devotion.  Jesus taught this in Mark 12:29-30.  The first commandment of all is to recognize this one true God and love Him “…with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”  The soul is that part of mankind that identifies who we are: our life, personality, our core self.  Loving God with all our soul means we acknowledge, appreciate, and are devoted to the one who gives us life.  We recognize that we are nothing without Him and our existence is all because of Him.  Many live life without ever recognizing our great Creator.  Some despise or even hate the mere mention of His name (Romans 1:21).  Our view of God will affect every area of life including how we respond to Him, live our lives, and treat others.  It would be selfish and ungrateful of us not to express love, appreciation, honor, and devotion to Him having understood that He is the source of life, wisdom, and all blessings.  What place in our life do we give to the one who gave us life?

Loving God with all my Heart

Mark 12:29-30 “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: [30] And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”

The creation of mankind is amazing. God has given us a heart, a soul, a mind, and a physical body with incredible abilities. We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). When asked which is the first commandment of all, Jesus answered, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” (Mark 12:28-30).  The heart spoken of in these verses does not refer to the physical one beating inside our chest but that part of us from which comes our emotions, affections, and desires. Our heart can be greatly affected by our beliefs, other people, places, things, and even events (Matthew 6:21). Our hearts can be sinful, cold, unmoved, and even wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).  What captivates your heart?  What moves you?  Jesus is teaching us that the priority of our heart needs to be the one true God.  He created us, sustains us, offers forgiveness, and eternal life.  He is the source of life, true love, joy, and hope.  He should be Lord of our life.  What place does God have in your life and among those things that have your attention?

The Preeminence of Love

Matthew 22:36-40 “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? [37] Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. [38] This is the first and great commandment. [39] And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [40] On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Biblical love is one of the most important elements of the Christian life. The response Jesus gave when asked about the greatest commandment of all gives us insight into that importance. We are to love God with every fiber of our being (with ALL our hearts, soul, mind, and strength); and we are to love others as we would ourselves (selfless and sacrificial).  Every commandment contained in God’s Word and every teaching of the prophets hinge on this love.  It should be the priority and heartbeat of every church, ministry, preacher, and believer.  We should cherish and long for an environment where this kind of love is preeminent, displayed, and encouraged.  If we are not careful we can lose touch with this mandate; and our lives, ministries, church services, and leadership can become shallow, scripted, and cold.  The love described by Christ in these verses impacts every area of life.  It affects our worship, motives, behavior, priorities, teaching, preaching, giving, and treatment of others.  It is a love that motivates; and it is a love that can be seen and felt.  This love must be made a priority.  May the God of Heaven help us as believers not to simply go through all the motions of church and miss out on the most important thing of all: truly loving God and loving others.

Loving God

Mark 12:29-30 “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is , Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: [30] And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”

Humans are a unique and amazing creation. God has given us emotions, personalities, intellect, and physical abilities.  He has also given us the priviledge of having a personal relationship with him.  Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is to love our creator, the  one true God, with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind, and with all our strength. This love involves every aspect of our life and every fiber of our being. Can you imagine such a love? The question is not whether God is worthy of such a love, because He most certainly is, but are we expressing this kind of love to Him?