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Ephesians chapter 3

DAILY DEVOTION
FOR
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16

 
SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 3
AUTHOR:  Jeremy Witt
 
Thank you for the prayers for myself, my family, and the Cooke family.  I am reminded that this world is not our home and that this is temporary.  Some days make me wish for the eternal days ahead even more.


As we begin chapter 3, Paul reminds us in verse 1 that he is a prisoner, but he changes things up by stating that he is a “prisoner of Christ Jesus.”  Yes, Paul is under house arrest in Rome for proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah.  He broke Roman law by declaring one God.  Paul knew the consequences but his allegiance was to Christ alone.  There may be times in the coming days where we must decide if we will obey the laws of man or obey the laws of God.

Many times throughout Scripture, it refers to being a prisoner or slave but has a different meaning in that it is done willingly or by choice.  In the Old Testament, a slave whose time of service was up could decide to remain with their owner by putting an earring in their ear.  This was done willingly and bound them to the owner for the remainder of their life.  The key is that it is done by choice and not forced upon the person.  Paul identifies with this mentality by stating that he is a prisoner by choice to Christ Jesus.  He is not only Savior but his Lord and Master. 

In verses 2-9, Paul addresses his call to the Gentiles, that is anyone who is not a Jew which essentially means everyone else.  That was a God-given call and Paul viewed it as a special calling or “stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you” (NASB). 


“As you read this chapter, you will find several references to something called a “mystery”. In the Bible, a mystery is not something that can’t be known.  It is something that is not known yet.  It is, in many ways, like a sacred secret.  But this particular mystery has been made known to us through the Holy Spirit inspiring Paul to write these words.

In verse 6, we discover that this mystery is about Gentiles.  Galatians 3:28 says that from God’s perspective there is neither Jew nor Gentile.  That doesn’t mean that He doesn’t know who has Jewish ancestry and who doesn’t.  It means that our ancestry doesn’t matter to Him.  In God, through Jesus, we have a new identity in Christ.  We are children of the one, true God.


The notion of Gentiles being included in the family of God is not actually new.  In the Old Testament, we read about how those of non-Jewish ancestry could be included in Jewish life.  What is new now, however, is that God is putting Jews and Gentiles into one body (V. 6) that we know as the church.” – written by Joe Ligon


This mystery is not only for us, but it carries over into the spiritual dimension as we see in verse 10.  Those rulers and authorities in the heavenly places are referring to angels and demons alike.  Things like grace, forgiveness, salvation, free will, transformation, and sanctification are unique to mankind.  When we gather to praise the LORD, we are watched by not only other people but also by angels and demons.  Remember in James that it read that the demons believe in God and even shudder.  However, they are not able to be forgiven or to be saved.  The idea of grace is a mystery.  How God could save people who do all sorts of wrong against God is foreign to these heavenly authorities.  They watch in amazement.  Notice how God makes known this mystery.  It is through the Church based solely on what the Lord Jesus did as stated in verse 11. 

It is by our faith in Jesus that we can have boldness and courage.  It is by Jesus that we can come to Him in prayer and praise (verses 12-14).  Even when suffering and persecution comes (verse 13), we are given far more from our Savior (verse 16 and following).  Notice verse 17 tells us that Christ dwells in our hearts through faith and keeps us strong.  Verse 18 tells us that through Jesus we can understand others and how big His love is for us.  If you look at me, you can sit amazed and wonder how could God ever love that guy?  If God can love him, He can surely love me.

How amazing is God?  We can have Christ in our hearts, we can have boldness and courage, we can be a part of His Church, we can be made complete, and we can do far more through Him and by Him in our lives than we ever could all by ourselves.  This can cause us to praise Him even more.

So, the next time you settle into your seat at church, stop for a moment.  Remember.  There literally are angels watching over you trying to figure all of this out.  That is a mystery!  Yet we can be a part of it.

Posted by Jeremy Witt with

Zephaniah 1

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 3

 
SCRIPTURE: Zephaniah 1
Author:  Jeremy Witt

Zephaniah has 3 major themes.  The first and longest theme deals with the Day of Judgment which covers 1:1 to 3:8.  There will be judgment for Judah (Zephaniah 1:2-2:3) and then also a judgment for the nations (Zephaniah 2:4-3:8).  The second theme is the indifference to God, and the final theme is a day of hope which begins in 3:9-20.  As we dive into chapter 1, keep this big picture in mind.  The book shows us very contrasting images of God’s justice (God’s desire to protect and to love the world from evil.  God won’t tolerate the horrible things that humans do to one another) and love (God brings His justice in order to restore and help people live in peace to flourish) in any of the prophetic books.  This is the ultimate hope that we have found only in the LORD God.

God’s ordered world found in Genesis is no longer but caught in evil and violence.  Verses 2-3 seem overwhelming.  What we have to keep in mind is that God has warned Judah and warned Judah.  They have refused to listen.  Ironically, Jeremiah is a contemporary of Zephaniah, and he shared in the attempts to turn the people towards God or Yahweh.  Zephaniah refers to a great army coming to give judgment to Judah.  This leads to a variety of interpretations that will be discussed in a bit.  We will notice that Zephaniah never says who the great army will be which is key to this variety of interpretations while his contemporary prophets do not point out that the great army is Babylon.

Verses 4-5 informs us of the gods that the people were worshipping.  These also show us the diversity as well as divisions that were within Jerusalem.  Some worshipped the Canaanite god called Baal.  Some worshipped the Assyrian god of the heavenly bodies.  Milcom is the name is the Ammonite god.  Within Judaism, there were divisions as well.  We read in the New Testament of the Pharisees who believed in the Resurrection of the dead, the Sadducees who did not believe in the Resurrection.  There were the hardcore zealots who sought to adhere to the Law as close as possible and would be known as Orthodox today.  There were those who were Jewish in race only but not in faith and practice.  Needless to say, the city of Jerusalem was divided in the days of Zephaniah.  Does that sound familiar to us today in our country?

Verse 7 is viewed differently by many scholars.  Some scholars hold to a double meaning.  The first for the people in that day who would live to see the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem, but secondly, for the future end times as well.  Finally, some scholars believe this was only directed for the future or the end of days.

Verse 12 brings imagery of a lantern depicting God searching through Jerusalem for those complacent in their sins and lack of worship to Him.  This imagery was used in Medieval times referring to Zephaniah and the Day of Judgment. 

Many people in the days of Zephaniah as well as today view God as distant and not involved.  We see this in verses 12-14, and the result that will shock those who hold to this viewpoint.  People of this mindset do not believe that God will judge.  They do not believe that He is paying attention to them and their actions.  They feel that God is indifferent to them, so they are indifferent to Him.  God’s judgment came to Jerusalem approximately 20 years after Zephaniah first began to proclaim this.  This caught the people of this viewpoint off-guard. 

Here is the long-term reality of this view.  When God does act, they are surprised and become angry at God.  How could God do this to me or to us?  They (or we) are good people.  There are far worse people that deserve judgment more than us.  How could a good God do this to us?  When we believe that God doesn’t care or is not concerned or involved in our lives and our actions or sins, we become complacent to our worship to Him.  When we do this, we will be shocked when God acts and proves that He does care.  We confuse God’s patience with God not caring when that could not be further from the truth. 

Posted by Jeremy Witt with

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