Onward! Ephesians 6

Onward Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before! (LSB 662, refrain)

The refrain of “Onward Christian Soldiers” begs the question: Who is the enemy? How do we fight? Ephesians 6 answers these clearly. The war is against the devil and his hoards. The war is NOT against people. Not against people who disagree with us. Not against people who hate Jesus. Not against people who would harm us because we love Jesus. Not against people at all! The battle is against the devil and the dark spiritual forces of this world. This is really important for us to remember, especially in these days that we live in.

How do we fight? Again, Ephesians 6 gives us the clear answer: Pray. The battle is won from our knees. Luther says it best in the explanation to the Third Petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “How is God’s will done? God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come…”

Prayer allows us to fight the enemy. Let’s use it!

Dear Jesus, thank you for leading us into battle and hearing our prayers! Amen.

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Children of Light: Ephesians 5

Since we’re on a hymn kick this week let’s take a look at another favorite that fits Ephesians 5:8-9 “I want to walk as a child of the light” is a hymn that makes a great prayer complete with a refrain of praise, and verse that point us directly to Jesus.

 

1 I want to walk as a child of the light;
I want to follow Jesus.
God set the stars to give light to the world;
The star of my life is Jesus.

Refrain:
In him there is no darkness at all;
The night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God.
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

2 I want to see the brightness of God;
I want to look at Jesus.
Clear Sun of Righteousness, shine on my path
And show me the way to the Father. [Refrain]

3 I’m looking for the coming of Christ;
I want to be with Jesus.
When we have run with patience the race,
We shall know the joy of Jesus. [Refrain]

Dear Jesus, Thank you for shining in my life! Amen.

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Jesus, our Anchor. Ephesians 4

The stormy waves are expected. The option isn’t waves or no waves. The option is to let the waves push me around or be anchored in Jesus. In Ephesians 4 Paul warns about the coming waves and encourages all believers to find themselves anchored securely in Jesus.  The famous hymn “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me” uses the nautical imagery and paints a picture of how Jesus pilots us safely through the waves of life:

Jesus, savior, pilot me over life’s tempestuous sea;

Unknown waves before me roll, hiding rock and treach’rous shoal.

Chart and Compass come from Thee.  Jesus, savior, pilot me.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for anchoring my life! Amen.

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Recognizing the great gifts of God! Ephesians 3

I ran across a lesser known hymn the other day that ends with a verse that reminds us of the end of Ephesians 3 where Paul is encouraging us to know the depth and height of God’s love. It’s called “Forgive Us, Lord, for Shallow Thankfulness.” It reminds us that there is much to God’s love, often more than we realize or recognize around us in our daily life. The entire hymn makes a very nice prayer that helps us notice what we’ve been missing.

The tune can be found here.
Here are the words from Lutheran Service Book #788:

1 Forgive us, Lord, for shallow thankfulness,
For dull content with warmth and sheltered care,
For songs of praise for food and harvest press,
While of Your richer gifts we’re unaware:

2 Teach us to thank You, Lord, for love and grace,
For life and vision, for a purpose clear,
For Christ Your Son, and for each human face
That shows Your message ever new and near.

3 Forgive us, Lord, for selfish thanks and praise,
For words that speak at variance with deeds;
Forgive our thanks for walking pleasant ways
Unmindful of a broken brother’s needs:

4 Teach us, O Lord, true thankfulness divine,
That gives as Christ gave, never counting cost,
That knows no barrier of “yours” and “mine,”
Assured that only what’s withheld is lost.

5 Forgive us, Lord, for feast that knows not fast,
For joy in things that meanwhile starve the soul,
For walls and wars that hide Your mercies vast
And blur our vision of the Kingdom goal:

6 Open our eyes to see Your love’s intent,
To know with minds and hearts its depth and height;
May thankfulness be days in service spent,
Reflection of Christ’s life and love and light.

Amen!

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Where have you been? Ephesians 2

I love a good “from rags to riches” kind of story. That theme is one that Hollywood has leaned on for generations. Annie and all the remakes, Bruce Wayne from orphan to Crime Fighter, and Luke Skywalker from moisture farming on deserted Tatooine to Jedi Knight and saving the Universe from the Empire all could look back into their pasts and say, “WOW, look where I came from!”

In Ephesians chapter 2 Paul reminds us to look back and say, “WOW! Look where we came from.” We were DEAD in our sins and now we are ALIVE in Christ Jesus. THAT is a rags to riches story worth remembering. THAT is a story worth sharing!

Just like the prodigal son who was lost and is found, and Zaccheus the tax collector who was on the outside, but now is part of the team; and like Paul who was an enemy of Jesus and now his greatest proclaimer you and I can say, “WOW! Look where we’ve been, and look at what great things God has done for us!”

Dear Jesus, thank you for bringing me from death to life! Amen.

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Marked with the cross. Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1 (7/20)

My mom had a way to limit the inevitable fights between my brother and I over whose Star Wars figure was whose. We were elementary school age in the 80’s, and boys in those days collected action figures. GI Joe, Battle Star Galactica, Super Friends; you name it and it had action figures. The favorite in our house were Star Wars. There were Snaggletooth and Walrus man from the cantina scene, Han Solo in regular gear and Hoth gear, and Luke in various outfits depending which movie and scene you were recreating in the living room. I didn’t even have a favorite because they were ALL my favorite. I liked the robots, the aliens, and the people. Good guys, bad guys; it didn’t matter. I just loved them all, and I wanted them all to be mine! Thus the fights. However, at the end of the day when it was time to put the toys away we knew whose figures ended up in whose Darth Vader shaped carrying case because each figure was marked with our initials. A red R was on the bottom of the foot for my brother, and a J for Jeremy on mine. I think mom used nail polish or some other substance that never wears out because to this day some 30 years later we can tell whose figure is whose.

Paul says that you are marked by Jesus. “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

At the end of the day you can go to sleep in peace knowing whose you are! You belong to Jesus! There is no question, and nothing can remove that mark from you given in the waters of Baptism. A red lower case “t” marks you. It’s the cross signed in the blood of Jesus to the glory of God.

At the end of the world Jesus will come back and take all his possessions home to be with him for eternity. All who believe are marked by this cross, and he’ll collect you with a smile because he loves you all! He’s got no favorites. He loves YOU, and promises that you’ll get to be with him for eternity!

Dear Jesus, thank you for making me YOURS! Amen.

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Joy at home. Ephesians 6

Ephesians 6

The Gospel of Jesus shapes our entire life. There is no piece of life that the Gospel can’t reach with GOOD NEWS. The forgiveness I receive from Jesus gives me JOY that reaches into many places. That JOY reaches into my wallet and changes my attitude toward giving. That JOY reaches into my refrigerator as I celebrate the gifts of my heavenly Father every day. That JOY reaches into my google calendar as I plan my daily schedule. That JOY reaches into my living room where I spend time with my family.

The Good News of the Gospel reaches into my whole life, and my life as a parent is no exception. Many people in our world today see parenting as a burden or a chore. Because of Jesus I see parenting as a blessing. What JOY to be able to raise children to know that they are loved, and forgiven, and have a future directed by God!

Paul’s direction to the church doesn’t stop at worship or evangelism. It goes all the way into the home; around the kitchen table, in the living room, and bedrooms. The Good News shapes our entire lives and makes a difference in how we relate to each other as children and parents. Let that JOY shape your relationships at home!

Dear Jesus, Thank you for family, help us to live together in JOY. Amen.

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