Tag Archives: God’s character

Ephesians 6:21-24

Scripture: verse 24

Grace be to all who love our Lord Yeshua the Messiah with undying love.

Observation: This is Paul’s final salutation, as he prays for God to bless us.  What caught my eye was the phrase “undying love.”

We talk a lot about how Gods love for us is perfect and endless and infinite.  We can’t offer God perfect love, but we can offer undying love.  We can choose to be faithful.

Elsewhere in the Bible it talks about people whose love has grown cold, through indifference to God and selfishness or fear of man or both.  And obviously we are fallen humans and our love for God will not be perfect all the time.  But we can choose to make God our priority, and to keep our love for Him alive.

At the ladies’ meeting yesterday, we talked a lot about shame.  But shame only makes sense when we forget the facts of the matter.  The fact that other people don’t like God says far more about them than it says about God.

The fact is, God is amazing.  Powerful and wise and loving and perfect.  Our love dies when we forget that.

Application: Remember who God is.  Turn to Him for comfort when things are difficult, instead of rejecting Him in anger.  Ask Him to show the truth of the situation.  Because He will.

Prayer:  God, I thank you that your truth is beautiful.  I thank you that you are making all things perfect in their time.  Please help me to see your beauty, even when I’m tired or distressed.  Amen.

Advertisements

Ephesians 6:6-10

Scripture: from verse 9

Remember that in heaven both you and they have the same Master, and He has no favorites.

Observation: This is part of Paul’s advice to slave owners: treat your slaves well and respectfully, because in God’s eyes you’re no better than them.  Thankfully we no longer have slavery in most of the world, but this is far from irrelevant.

This sums up the core of how believing communities and relationships should function.  God knows me and God loves me.  God also knows and loves my husband, my sister, my neighbor, my rabbi, and even the woman who keeps implying that I need to do a better job of keeping Beauty’s curls under control.

So I can share my heart, confident that God will protect me.  (Of course, sometimes He protects me by letting me know I shouldn’t share my heart.  It’s not like my brain is turned off.)  And I can extend grace to people who annoy me, because I know that God loves them and He is fitting them into where they need to be.  And I don’t have to fix people, because God has already planned out their trajectory.

If I use on God’s wisdom, I don’t have to rely on my own.  Considering how flawed I am, that’s a relief.

Application:  Treat others with respect and love.  At the End of the Day, we’re all just people.  And God loves us.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for seeing our hearts and not just our appearance and our actions.  Thank you for taking the time to know me.  Thank you for not having favorites but for meeting each of us where we are.  Amen.

Ephesians 4:30-32

Scripture: verse 30

Don’t cause grief to God’s Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), for He has stamped you as His property until the day of final redemption.

Observation:  We tend to thing of our relationship with God as something we have to do well at: if we please God, He will keep us.  We have to spend all of our time watching ourselves and looking over our shoulders, afraid of screwing up.

But that’s not the case.  God has claimed us as His.  With the exception of refusing His offer, nothing we can do cancels His claim.  He’s already made that decision.

And in making that decision, He gave us the power to make Him sad.  My mom has repeatedly pointed out how incredible that is – that the Maker of the Universe would make Himself vulnerable to us.  But He did.  Because He loves us.

Our job isn’t to work to please Him.  It’s to smile up at Him, so that our DaddyGod smiles back.

Application: Smile, I guess.  Praise God for who He is, and thank Him for what He does.  And love others, because He loves them too.

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, help me to see your love as a real thing in my life, so that I remember to smile up at you instead of worrying all the time.  Amen.

Ephesians 3:6-10

Scripture: from verses 9 and 10

This plan, kept hidden for ages by God, the Creator of everything, is for the rulers and authorities in heaven to learn…how many-sided God’s wisdom is.

Observation: “This plan” is (still!) referring to the way Yeshua’s death brought the Gentiles into the kingdom of God, allowing anyone who wishes to do so to boldly approach the throne of grace.  Apparently one of its purposes (there’s probably more than one) is to show the heavenly powers – the angels and demons – how rich and deep and varied God’s wisdom really is.  I always said God was running a Xanatos Gambit, and now we know one of the reasons why.

The cool part here is the word translated “many-sided” – other translations use things like “rich variety” and “manifold.”  The word in Greek is polypoikilosand this is the only place it’s used in the Bible.   The funny thing is, the second part, poikilos, already means “manifold” or “variegated” all on its own.  The prefix poly- means “many.” So the word really means “many-many-sided” – it’s indicating that God’s wisdom is varied and rich and multifaceted beyond anything we can imagine, and certainly beyond what we usually mean when we say “many-sided.”  It’s like Joseph’s amazing technicolored dreamcoat: “red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ochre and peach….”

Application: Don’t expect God’s plan to look like your plan.  And don’t assume that what’s unexpected to you is unexpected to God.  His wisdom is polypoikilos, far more complex than anything that would ever make sense to me.  I can trust His plan, even if I can’t understand it.

Prayer: Father, I praise you for having wisdom and knowledge beyond mine.  Certainly if I could understand you, we’d both be in trouble.  Help me to trust that you know exactly what you are doing.  Amen.

Ephesians 2:11-15

Scripture: from verse 15

[Yeshua destroyed] in His own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances.

Observation:  I’m actually not certain what all this means, but I love the phrasing.

Obviously it’s a reference to His death and resurrection.  By His death, He conquered sin and reunited humans with God.  So far so good.

But.  Enmity in His body.  He saw all the tension, all the estrangement, all the sin that humans were (and are) swimming in.  He absorbed it all into Himself.  And then He died, so that the enmity died with Him.

I think it’s that image of Yeshua as a sponge that sticks out to me.  Drawing our pain and sin and confusion into Himself.  Soaking it up, so it’s all in one place and He can kill it.  Leaving us clean.

I don’t have analogies for this.  I can think of partial, distant parallels – Harry Potter comes to mind, and I read once that C. S. Lewis prayed to take his wife’s sickness into his own body, and so on – but nothing that actually fits.

[Later: There’s two parts to this: absorbing our filth, and dying.  Plenty of people have sacrificed their lives or their dignity for those they love, but it’s rare to see someone deliberately sacrificing both.  I think it’s the indignity of the act that strikes me, as much as the death.]

He drank the poison out of our veins so he could burn it away in Himself.  Nothing compares.

Application:  Wow.  Yeah, I got nothing.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for doing this.  Thank you for absorbing all my sin, all my pain – and not throwing it away for someone else to deal with, but dying yourself so it is gone entirely.  That’s amazing.  Thank you.

Ephesians 2:1-5

Scripture: from verse 3

In our natural condition we were headed for God’s wrath, just like everyone else.

Observation: I’m nothing special.  We’re nothing special.  We’re just like everyone else.

Salvation isn’t natural.  Of course, neither is air conditioning, but it’s hot outside and I’m awfully grateful for the air conditioning.  God gave us a way to change how we’re made, to change our destiny, and I’m grateful for it.

Really, it’s a story Hollywood loves.  Except with one key difference: we aren’t the ones doing the work.  God is, because we can’t do it.  It takes practice to accept that insult to our competence, but it’s still true.

Application: I’ve found in recent years that the more upfront I am about what I am willing and able to do, the happier  am about life.  Voicemail, for example, was a major issue for years, because I hate listening to it so much.  The fact that I’m a terrible auditory learner didn’t help anything.  Then some time ago I accepted that I’m never going to stay on top of my voicemail, so I changed my greeting to say that I don’t listen to it and they should text me.

Same deal with God.  If we struggle and strive to get it right, we only get tired.  If we give up and ask Him to do the work, He will.  Easy.  Humiliating, but easy.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for knowing that I can’t do anything on my own.  Thank you for letting me be just like everybody else.  Thank you for offering me help before I ever ask for it.  Amen.

Ephesians 1:11-15

Scripture: from verse 11

…according to the purpose of the One who effects everything in keeping with the decision of His will.

Observation:  No, that’s not a typo – this is the verb “effect,” which means to bring about or make happen.  He makes stuff happen.  Not just the abstract “stuff” that we all make happen, but the actual, literal stuff that our universe consists of.  Matter.  Energy.  Love.

The laws of physics state that matter and energy cannot be created and cannot be destroyed.  (They can be turned into each other, but that’s a different story.)  The laws of human nature seem to imply that disinterested love is impossible.  Life should be more or less impossible, for that matter.  All the things that should be limited and impossible, He does.  Because He decided to.

Application:  …um.  I did tell you I was bad at applications, didn’t I?

Prayer:  Lord, I praise you for being before the before.  Thank you for making me.  Thank you for making the impossible happen.  Thank you for giving me the power to do the impossible also.  Amen.

Ephesians 1:1-5

Scripture: verse 4

He chose us in love before the creation of the universe to be holy and without defect in His presence.

Observation:  The creation of the universe was an awfully long time ago.  Of course, God is outside time, so I suppose that doesn’t seem like a big deal to Him.  But it’s a big deal to us.  To know that we were always chosen.  That He knew He wanted us to be with Him as soon as He thought of us.  To know that there has never been doubt or change in His plans for us.  To know that He was planning to bless me, knowing every mistake I would make, before I made any of them.  I can’t scare Him away.  He loves me.

I’ve been reading a lot of Pride and Prejudice fanfiction lately (don’t judge!), as well as writing some of my own.  And this is the crux of the plot in every iteration of that story, as it is in so many others – that the woman believes that her mistakes, her pride, her words, her family, her junk, whatever form that takes, have offended the man so deeply that his love has died and he no longer cares about her.  (Sometimes it’s the other way around, of course, but with P&P at least it’s usually the woman.)  And the miracle is that that’s not true, that true love can take whatever beating life deals out.

God chooses to love us like that.  He looks at our junk – and there’s a lot of junk – and he decides that he loves us too much to let the junk matter.  So, just as Mr. Darcy chooses to cover Elizabeth’s lack of fortune with his own, God covers our junk with his perfection.  No questions asked.

Application: This is about confidence.  About boldly approaching the throne of grace (Hebrews 4).  About not hiding our flaws from God, because He’s already covered them.  About not worrying about bothering Him with our issues, because He’s already chosen to be involved.

Prayer:  Father, teach me to trust you with my heart.  Teach me to know you’ve already chosen me.  Help me to be confident in Your love and not fear exposure.  Amen.