1 Timothy 6:13-16 – In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
“As we wait for that day, we are not to spend our time peering into the sky wondering when Jesus will arrive. We are not to create fanciful scenarios about how Jesus will come. Instead, we are to invest our energy and time in caring for his creation, loving each other, sharing his grace, seeking justice, celebrating beauty, and living with confidence that Jesus will return one day. Until that final consummation, we live each day with a profound awareness that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” (N.T. Wright)
What are some practical ways in which you can invest our energy and time in caring for his creation, loving each other, sharing his grace, seeking justice, celebrating beauty?
Lord we declare that you are the King of kings, the Lord of lords. To you and you alone belongs all the honor and might. Today we pray for your strengthening and empowering in our inner beings during these times, for we live under the shelter of your wings. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Ephesians 1:7-10 – In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
“As we learn to walk with Jesus and live as God’s people in this world, the kingdom plan of God continues to unfold and be revealed. We are not waiting to fly off to heaven one day, but heaven is breaking into our present circumstances with each passing moment…One of the ways God brings his kingdom, “on earth as it is in heaven,” is through his people. You and I are invited to be vehicles God can use to bring his love, justice, and beauty to a world desperate for all of these things. What God did for Jesus on the first Easter Day, he has promised to do for each one who is in Christ, each one indwelt by the Spirit of Christ. That is the biblical and historic Christian expectation in terms of ourselves as human beings.” (N.T. Wright)
Today let’s worship with the song ‘Come and See’ (click here) by Matt Redman as we invite His presence into our present circumstances.
1 Corinthians 15:32 (NIV) – If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
NT Wright describes it like this, “The point [Paul’s] making is that if he went through all that [not actually fighting wild beasts, but what he did suffer in facing opposition/persecution] in order simply to die, with no hope of resurrection, he would be just like those gladiators, eating, drinking, and making merry the night before the big show, knowing that this was the end.”
If Christ has not been raised from the dead, our lives’ meaning would simply be “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” It is interesting to note how real this must feel for us in light of what is happening in the world today. However, as Paul and the cloud of witnesses that have gone before show us, we don’t live by mere human hopes, for our hope is in Christ and His resurrection. Hence, we always live in hope, in worship, in the building of His church, and in the mission of God.
Lord Jesus, may we live in your resurrection power and reality. May there be an awakening of love for you and for one another, for praise and worship to spontaneously arise from our hearts and lips, for our hearts to be filled with compassion for the broken. May your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
1 Corinthians 15.16-20 – For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
“The resurrection narratives in the gospels never, ever say anything like, “Jesus is raised, therefore there is a life after death,” let alone, “Jesus is raised, therefore we shall go to heaven when we die.” Nor even, in a more authentic first-century Christian way, do they say, “Jesus is raised, therefore we shall be raised from the dead after the sleep of death.” No. Insofar as the event is interpreted, Easter has a very this-worldly, present-age meaning: Jesus is raised so he is the Messiah and therefore he is the world’s true Lord; Jesus is raised, so God’s new creation has begun – and we, his followers, have a job to do! Jesus is raised, so we must act as his heralds, announcing his lordship to the entire world, making his kingdom come on each as in heaven!” (NT Wright, Surprised by Hope, p. 55)
Lord, may your kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. May we act as your heralds, announcing your lordship everywhere we are—whether it is at home, or with others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV) – And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
“Here, perhaps, is an even greater need—that God’s people collectively be so ‘full of God’ by his Spirit that our worship and our homes give full evidence of the Spirit’s presence: by song, praise, and thanksgiving that simultaneously praise and adore God and teach the community, and by the kind of submission of ourselves to one another in which the concern is not ‘who’s in charge around here,’ but how to love in the family as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.” [G. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 722]
The beauty and power of this life in the Spirit is not just seen in us individually but in our corporate life and worship together. When God’s people praise him together with their whole hearts, something always happens. Let us worship to “Fill This Place“ by Red Rocks Worship (Click here) as we pray for our churches to be filled with the fullness of God, so as to be the people of his presence and the instruments of his love where he has placed us.
Prayer: “God, may our churches be filled with the fullness of your Spirit, that we may live out our calling as a worshipping community. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Psalms 103:1-2 (NLT) – Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.
“Paul called on the church at Ephesus to live a Spirit-filled life full of musical praise … Paul’s vision—his dream, we may call it—in this letter is of Christians living in sustained mutual love, always submitting to each other out of reverence for Christ their Lord, and singing as they go, with the music of praise prayer constantly on their lips because it is constantly in their hearts …” [JI Packer and C. Nystrom, Praying, 112]
One of the evidences of being filled with the Spirit is worship and praise. As the Spirit leads us into truth, we have much to sing about: praising God for who he is and giving thanks for what he has done, is doing and will do.
Today, lift up your own praise prayer using one or two phrases from Psalm 103. Sing and pray it to the Lord. Sing it also over your church, missional group and campus ministry.
Prayer: “Lord, let the words in the Psalms sink deep into my soul so that I sing and praise you with all that I am. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Ephesians 5:18b-21 (NIV) – Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
“The text does not ask us to be “religious” … the text calls instead for a sense of God’s presence that results in spontaneous and authentic joy. Such joy may be expressed in a variety of fashions.” [K. Snodgrass, NIVAC: Ephesians, 301]
This portion of Ephesians describes what a life that is filled with the Spirit looks like. To be filled with the Spirit results in speaking rightly to one another, singing and giving thanks to the Lord, and mutual submission. Rather than going through the motions or doing religious exercises in trying to fill what we’re missing, it is about us being filled by and with the Spirit, which overflows with joyful living.
Let us worship to the song “We Praise You” by Matt Redman (Click here). As you sing, sense God’s presence, freedom and joy over you and your church community to live like this.
Prayer: “Father, let your Spirit’s filling come into all areas of my life such that it overflows with joy even in the midst of challenges/difficulty. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Ephesians 5:18a (NIV) – Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.
“Of course (verse 18), there’s nothing like a few drinks to make opportunities slip by unobserved. Paul has nothing against wine; but against getting drunk he is adamant. That’s no way for a Christian to behave. If you want to celebrate – and why not? – then you know what to do. Let the Spirit fill your hearts and lives, particularly your minds and imaginations. Use all the resources of the rich Christian tradition – its poems, its pictures, its liturgies, its hymns – to help you do so.” [NT Wright, Ephesians for Everyone]
Many of us may not struggle with being drunk on wine, but we may be able to relate to being under the influence of other things. When we’re filled with wrong influences, we need to be emptied of them so as to make room. As Christians, we can instead choose to live in the pattern of receiving the Spirit’s filling and being renewed by the Spirit continually. In that way, there is no more room for the wrong influences. That’s the topped off, full life in the Spirit that God desires for us!
Let us worship to “Lord I Need You” by Matt Maher (Click here) as we pray for the Spirit to be the dominating influence in our lives.
Prayer: “God, let the patterns of my thoughts be influenced more by your Holy Spirit. Let your kingdom and righteousness saturate and overflow in every area of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV) – Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
“Wisdom involves considering all information in light of one’s relation to God and acting on what one knows … the focus is on the process of discerning what the Lord wants.” [K. Snodgrass, NIVAC: Ephesians, 300]
How is the wisdom described here different from what people around us define as wisdom? What makes the days ‘evil’?
Many of us know what it feels like to miss out on something so good because of a foolish decision. It’s never a waste of time to seek God’s perspective. As people who are awakened and brought into the light of Christ, we can now understand God’s will and live in the wisdom described here. Chaos and uncertainty might surround us, but God can navigate us through any storm. The simple and even small decisions that we make today with the Lord can usher in what is lasting and eternal.
Let us worship to the song “Endless Alleluia” by Bethel Music (Click here).
Prayer: “Lord, help me to make the most of my opportunities to be filled with the Spirit, so I may know how you want me to live. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Ephesians 5:13-14 NIV – Everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Today’s passage describes what happens when we bring the numb and sleepy parts of our lives into the light – we become light! But just as important is understanding why – what is God’s motivation? God’s motivation is love. We think at times God’s agenda in making us light is just to make us “good” in the narrow moral performative sense. As if God is wagging his finger saying “hey now, you need to forgive, hey you need to be thankful, hey you need to be a ‘good‘ person.” And maybe that’s the message we hear when the Bible says “find out what pleases the Lord.” We wonder – ok that’s good for God, but is that good for me?
But that misses God’s heart. To bear good fruit is not just about being good, it is about living in God’s “good”-ness. It breaks God’s heart to see us asleep and imprisoned by bitterness and regret. It brings God pleasure to see his children free, it brings God pleasure to see his children whole. This is what “pleases” the Lord.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, shine your light on our lives. By the power of the Holy Spirit, may we hear and heed the call to wake up, rise up, and live in the light of Christ.”