Sometimes, in the smallest of words, the Lord can show a picture of His love in ways we may have overlooked or taken for granted in the past. I see one of these in the verse we are using to focus our prayers today. It is Ephesians 3:1 which reads:
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles – Ephesians 3:1.
As we discovered yesterday, Paul considered himself a prisoner of the Lord and not of Rome or the Jews or even Caesar himself. He was totally committed to his Lord and gladly accepted his imprisonment. Why? Because Paul’s God is absolutely supreme and sovereign. Therefore, it follows that God could change Paul’s situation at any time, if He so desired. But since He hasn’t, then this imprisonment must be His will for Paul at this point in his life. And for us, who have the advantage of hindsight 20/20 wisdom, it was the perfect will of God to take Paul off the streets and put him in a cell where he could write many of his epistles for the glory of God.
Not For Me, But For You…
But today, we want to look at a picture of what true Christianity is all about. It is found in three small words, “for you Gentiles.” Paul is saying he is a prisoner of Christ Jesus and freely accepts that fate. But he continues to state the reason for his suffering and imprisonment. And that is “for you Gentiles”, for someone else, for the sake of the Gospel. Paul is saying he is suffering, not for what he did or to pay for his alleged crimes, but for the sake or benefit of people he has never met— “for you” Gentiles. Or, “for you” church in America. Or, “for you”… and put your name there.
“I am a prisoner for your sake,” he is saying. And he learned to live like this from Jesus.
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15). Did you catch that? Jesus lays down His own life for the sheep. His sheep. The church, the elect, the called-out ones, for you and me. He could also say it this way, “I lay down My life for you Gentiles.” Or for you Jews, you males, females, sinners, Democrats and Republicans, and Independents, for you who are rich or poor, young or old, blue-collar, white-collar, or no collar, it doesn’t matter. Jesus lays His life down for everyone who is called by His name.
Again, Jesus said, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Jesus came to die, the just for the unjust, in order to reconcile sinful, fallen man with a Holy, Righteous, Perfect God (1 Pet. 3:18). He gave His life as a ransom… for you.
Finally, Jesus described the kind of love He has for us when He said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13) and then has the audacity to call each of us His friends (John 15:14). He was one who loved so great He would gladly lay down His life… for you. And that is exactly what Paul is saying in Ephesians 3:1.
Time to Pray
Who do you love that much? Who would you be willing to suffer like Jesus for? Or, who would you be willing to be imprisoned unjustly for? Your family? Maybe. Your friends? Probably not. Somebody you have never met? Never.
But Jesus did. And so did Paul and countless other saints over the centuries who have counted all things, even this life, as “rubbish, that they may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).
When you pray today, thank our Lord for what He has done in order to bring you to Himself. And then, if you dare, surrender all to Him by placing yourself on His altar as a “living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). And watch what He is willing to do with the life you have placed in His hands.
The following is an article by Hal Lindsey. It is just another sign that its time you became a Faith Prepper. Why? Because times for believers, especially in the United States, are going to get real bad, real fast. It is time to take the words of Jesus seriously and prepare your faith to have it severely tested. Soon.
So get prepared now!
Deal with the Devil
Nikki Haley, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, recently characterized a Canadian vote at the UN as “a deal with the devil.”
That’s strong language coming from a well-regarded diplomat. I assume she meant it figuratively. But something literal is at work. Canada’s recent about-face on Israel is a capitulation to the growing forces of darkness in our world. In recent years, the nations of the UN have been making a lot of deals with the devil – the actual devil.
Haley was referring to a vote on an anti-Israel resolution sponsored by North Korea. That’s right, those paragons of respect for human rights – North Korea’s government leaders – sponsored a resolution condemning Israel for “occupying” East Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. The resolution also says that the wall Israel built “severely impedes the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”
That wall was built to stop terrorist activity in Israel. It has been highly effective. It was necessary because Palestinian leadership continues to act as a major sponsor of terrorism. Israel tries to make peace while Palestinian leaders encourage their constituents to randomly stab people and blow things up. When Israel responds to these terrorist acts, the Palestinians decry Israel’s actions. Israel continues to try to make peace. But while they work for peace, they must keep their people secure. Thus, the wall.
UN Resolutions Against Israel
A few years ago, the seat of world antisemitism could be found in the Islamic nations. But more and more it is moving back into the lands where it manifested its greatest evil – Europe. According to UN Watch, “In the current 74th session of the UN General Assembly (2019-2020), all EU member states voted for one resolution each to criticize (1) Iran, (2) Syria, (3) North Korea, (4) Crimea, (5) Myanmar, and (6) the U.S., for its embargo on Cuba.
“By contrast, EU states are expected to vote for 15 out of 20 resolutions singling out Israel. Yet these same EU states failed to introduce a single UNGA resolution on the human rights situation in China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Cuba, Turkey, Pakistan, Vietnam, Algeria, or on 175 other countries.”
Think about the numbers – 20 resolutions against Israel. All EU nations are expected to vote for 15 of them. All (or almost all) of the 20 resolutions either have passed or are expected to pass in the General Assembly. Contrast that with 6 resolutions against the rest of the world combined!
There were 20 against Israel while there was one against the number one state sponsor of terror in the world, Iran. There was one against Syria – the nation whose leader uses chemical weapons against his own people. There was one against North Korea – which starves, tortures, imprisons, or murders all who oppose its “Supreme Leader.”
There were no resolutions against Venezuela, where the leader kills his enemies and systematically starves his people. There were none against China where the war on religious freedom results in government-approved rape and pillage. There were none against Russia where opposing the Putin regime often equals death.
Yet there were 20 against Israel. This level of hatred and vitriol is not natural.
Jesus called Satan “the prince of this world.” He is a being at war with God. He believes that if he can destroy Israel, he will win the war by making God a liar. And so, he fights Israel with all the venom he can muster. (And that’s a lot of venom.) Eventually, he will try to destroy Israel by enacting a peace treaty between his man, the Antichrist, and the nation of Israel. But even then, God will keep His promises.
These are troubled times. But don’t despair. Instead, look up. Your redemption draws near.
You can find out more about Hal Lindsey at Hal Lindsey Ministries.
Yesterday we looked at the word saints and how the Lord continually used it to describe each of us that have been redeemed by the blood of His Son. As you will recall, the word translated saints (hágios) means “holy, with the idea of separation, consecration, sanctification, and devotion to God” and is the standard name in the New Testament God uses to describe believers. The verse we are using to help focus our prayers is Ephesians 2:19 which reads:
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God – Ephesians 2:19.
But for many of us, the idea of being called a saint is unsettling and uncomfortable. Why? Because we view sainthood as perfection or something like a title given to someone far closer to the Lord than we are or who has done something for Him much greater than anything we have ever done. And that is unfortunate. Not that we haven’t accomplished what some heroes of the faith have accomplished. What is unfortunate is our faulty view of how the Lord sees us in His Son. For Him, we are saints, and that should settle the issue once and for all, no matter how uncomfortable we may feel. But you and I both know that it doesn’t.
So maybe this will help.
If you feel your past sins keep you from ever being called a saint, you are in good company. Many, if not most, believers today feel being referred to as a saint is something earned or deserved and not something given by grace. But following the same logic, they would also have to conclude salvation must also be earned. And if that was the case I, for one, would be in deep water. Why? Because all I have ever earned are the wages of my sin, which is death (Rom. 6:23). But what I received from God was the gift of grace unto salvation. So it also is with our position as a saint, or literally, a “holy one.” God sees us as holy even though, by our actions, we prove otherwise. Daily. Maybe even hourly. How can that be?
Let me ask you a question, what about you is holy? That’s right, nothing. So why does the Lord call you a saint or a “holy one”? It is because your sins or unholiness have been imputed or reckoned to His Son and His Son’s holiness and righteousness has been imputed or credited to your account by grace. As the Scriptures say, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). So you and I are only considered holy because He is holy and because we are found in Him. Therefore when we, defiled and unholy, approach our Father whose primary characteristic is pure holiness, He sees His Son’s likeness in us and not our sin. That part of our life was nailed to His cross many centuries ago (Col. 2:14) and our forgiving Father has chosen not to remember our sins any longer (Isa. 43:25). And that, my friends, is the definition of grace.
We Have a Choice
So we have a choice. We can accept what God has deemed to be true in us, even though we don’t fully understand how it all works. Or we can choose to live by our own standard of justice, rejecting the grace given to us because we feel God must somehow be wrong in how He views us or He has made a colossal mistake. “After all”, we reason, “if God knew what I was really like He would have nothing to do with me.” Which is probably true, if God was like you and me. But thankfully He is not. God does know exactly what we are like and yet He loves us still. In fact, He has “made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6) Remember that verse? The word translated “accepted” is charitóō which means “grace, divine favor, to be highly honored or greatly favored”. It literally means to be approved by God. This passage in Ephesians states God the Father, who knows everything about us— every dirty sin, every broken promise, every sinister thought— has taken it upon Himself and has “made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6). He “made us highly honored or greatly favored” as recipients of the gift of His wondrous grace. That is why God can call those He redeems saints. And that is why He sees us as “holy ones” even if our lives are far less than holy.
One last thing before we go. Do you know the only other place in Scripture where the word charitóō is used? It was spoken by the angel Gabriel when he visited a young virgin to tell her she would bear the Christ-child. That’s right, this word was used to describe Mary who was “highly favored” (Luke 1:28) and accepted and approved by God to conceive His Son through the Holy Spirit. And it appears, according to Ephesians 1:6, He views those He redeems the same way. That includes you and me and all the other called-out ones throughout history. So once you come to grips with your unconditional acceptance in the Beloved not being granted to you as something you earned or deserved, then it’s not too far a stretch to see how our Father would also view us as being like His Son, who is also holy. Hence, He calls us saints or those who are deemed “holy, separated, sanctified, consecrated, and devoted to God.”
Time to Pray
I do hope this glimpse into the heart of our Father for His children will help you in your prayer time with Him today. Don’t view Him as someone disgusted with you because of all the stuff you’ve done. He knows all about that yet still chose you “in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3). Rather, view Him with at least the same amount of love and acceptance you have for your own children. Then run into His arms and feel Him draw you close.
I pray you will not let the enemy rob you of the intimacy with God that Jesus suffered to provide for you. After all, only believers, those called saints by God Himself, can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may find mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). That’s who you are. So today, live like He sees you. Be a saint in Him.
Enjoy Him today.