One of the questions each of us will have to come to grips with as we see the time of our Lord’s return approaching is this: Do you believe what you say you believe? Or, more pointedly, how does your life reflect what you claim to believe? In other words, do we really believe everything the Scriptures say about God, this world, heaven and hell, our lives, the future, whatever? Or are we somehow hedging our bet in His Word to fit what we feel or think? Consider the following scriptures and ask yourself if you truly believe what they say.
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
Do you believe this statement to be true of you? If so, make it personal by putting your name in the place of “those”.
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for (your name) who love Him.”
Let’s try one more. Do you believe this statement to be true?
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
If you believe God can do more than you can ask or think, then put your name in this verse. Make it first-person, personal.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that (I can) ask or think, according to the power that works in (me), to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
So why is this important? Because your relationship with God, your intimacy with the Father, will rise and fall on your belief in Him and in His character. Your beliefs always determine your actions. Always. In everything. For example, if you don’t believe God can do “exceedingly abundantly above all that (I can) ask or think,” then you will be overcome by your doubts and fears and feel like a helpless kitten abandoned in the dark. But if you believe God is who He says He is, then you will be invincible in faith before anything that comes your way.
Why? Because everything follows faith!
Everything Follows Faith
Search your soul and ask yourself the following questions:
Do you really believe what the Scriptures say about God, life, His church, and you?
Do you really think it’s possible to learn how to hear His voice speak to you in a way that is unmistakable?
Do you believe you will ever experience an outpouring of His Spirit like what is revealed in Scripture during your lifetime?
Or let’s hit a little closer to home.
Do you believe these statements are true?
Do you believe what God’s Word proclaims is true as reality, and not necessarily what we see, feel, or hear?
How are you going to begin to change your life to live in His Kingdom and not in the world that is fallen and passing away?
And are you ready to begin today?
If you answer yes to the last question, you are just beginning the great adventure. So hang on, it’s going to be quite a ride!
The following is a study on Faith and Actions and focuses on Numbers 9 and 2 Kings 8.
To download the slides to this message, click – HERE
As I shared this last Sunday, I’ve been rather overwhelmed with the phrase found in Ephesians 3:8, the “unsearchable riches in Christ.” It has literally taken me a few days to get my head around what all that phrase entails. Paul begins this verse by expressing his profound gratitude for God’s choice of him by verbalizing how unworthy he is of such grace. He calls himself “less than the least of all the saints,” yet he received from the Lord the divine calling to “preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).
You and I, like Paul, have different mission fields. For Paul, it was the Gentiles. For us, it may be our families, work associates, neighbors, those in our extended sphere of influence, or anyone the Lord places in our path to shine His light in their darkness (Matt. 5:14, Eph. 5:8). But the message we preach is the same as Paul’s. And that message is simply this; we preach the “unsearchable riches of Christ.”
Our verse to help focus our prayer time today reads as follows:
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ – Ephesians 3:8.
The word Paul uses, “unsearchable” (anexichníastos), means “untraceable or impossible to trace,” like looking for fading footprints in the snow. Elsewhere it’s translated as “unfathomable, incomprehensible, endless, boundless, incalculable, inexplorable, inexhaustible, and without limit.” It conveys the idea of something never-ending and beyond human measure.
What are Unsearchable Riches?
Paul also expresses the wonder of the riches we have in Christ in his closing doxology at the end of this chapter. He says in Ephesians 3:20-21:
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
It appears there are some things the Lord has prepared for us that are simply beyond comprehension. And our appreciation for what we already possess in Christ should be viewed the same way: as the incomprehensible, unsearchable, boundless, blessings lavished on those “less than the least of the saints.”
The “unsearchable riches of Christ” are not simply the gifts or benefits that come from our position in Him, but Christ Himself. It is the manifestation of the Son of God. It is God reconciling Himself to us in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, who “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:7-8).
Often we have a tendency, at least I do, of focusing more on the benefits of knowing Christ than the privilege of actually being able to know Him. We praise Him for things like eternal life, the peace that passes all understanding, for grace and mercy, protection and redemption, and look more to the gift rather than its’ Giver. But these are all benefits that extend from the Source of those gifts, which is Christ. He is more than the sum of His gifts; He is our “unsearchable riches.”
Nevertheless, we want to make sure we do thank Him for the riches of His gifts, namely. “the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering” (Rom. 2:4), the “riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” (11:33), His rich mercy and great love (Eph. 2:4), the “riches of His glory” (3:16), that He “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17), the “riches of the full assurance of understanding” (Col. 2:2), and Him declaring us “complete in Him” (Col. 2:10).
And all this comes in one perfect person. Jesus.
Time to Pray
It is for this reason, on Tuesday nights, we will be focusing on nothing but Christ alone. We’re going to be embarking on a study of the life of Jesus encompassing chronologically all four Gospel accounts into one. Our desire is to experience Him like never before. When you begin to understand the magnitude of our “unsearchable riches in Christ,” it swells in you a hunger to want more of the Giver, and less of the gift.
As you pray today, spend some time thinking about the Lord Jesus and how rich you are in Him. Ask the Father to give you the desire and unction to know more about His Son. Seek the will to make time for Jesus, and just Jesus, in your busy life. And finally, thank Him for His grace and mercy and His willingness to give you the “unsearchable riches” found only in Christ.
And commit today to make plans to join us on Tuesday evenings as we learn more about our Lord Jesus from the four Gospel accounts.
As we prepare to meet with the Most High, we’re going to use Ephesians 3:8 to help focus our prayers today. This verse is one of the most incredible passages in all of Ephesians. In it, we see Paul’s candid assessment of himself, despite how much the Lord used him and how much we honor and respect Paul. It’s a glimpse into his heart of humility and a picture of how each of us should view our lives. But we get a glance at the magnitude of the blessing God gave him by calling him into the ministry. He uses this phrase, “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” to explain what a life hidden in Christ is all about (Col. 3:3). And, as we will see tomorrow, it’s beyond description!
Ephesians 3:8 reads as follows:
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Once again, we come face to face with the word that seems to sum up Paul’s life, given. We see this word in Ephesians 3:2, and again in verse 7, and now once more in verse 8. Paul says, “this grace was given” to him as a gift, an unmerited blessing he did not deserve. And the key to Paul’s life is found in his faithful commitment to properly execute his stewardship and calling according to the gift he received from God.
Paul understood who he was in the sight of God and how undeserving he was for anything other than judgment and condemnation. Grace, if you remember, is getting something you don’t deserve, such as love, forgiveness, redemption, and eternal life. Mercy, on the other hand, is not receiving what you truly deserve, such as guilt, condemnation, judgment, and death. Paul never forgot God’s inexhaustible mercy nor the grace he received. And this grace included not only a ministry, but a divine purpose for his life.
Lower than the Bottom of the Barrel
Paul calls himself “less than the least of all the saints” (Eph. 3:8). In his mind, he is the least likely, the least deserving, the last one on earth God would choose to save, redeem, and call into the ministry. Nevertheless, God did just that. There are many reasons why Paul would feel that way, and most of them center around his life before Christ.
In 1st Corinthians 15:9, he says, “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” Again, in 1st Timothy 1:15, he says, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
Paul understood, as much as anyone, how good God is to give him a second, third, and even fourth chance. He probably was never able to erase from his mind the scene where he gave his consent to the death of Stephen (Acts 22:20). There may have been countless others that he dragged from foreign cities and brought back to Jerusalem to face beatings, flogging, imprisonment, and death because of their faith in Jesus Christ. And in spite of all his sin, God chose him anyway.
Peter, who in his arrogance proclaimed, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny you!” (Matt. 26:35), did deny the Lord, and in his shame slid into the shadows from fear while Christ suffered alone. Yet God used Peter. And as low as Peter may have viewed himself because of his public failure, Paul viewed himself even lower. He was “less than the least of all the saints,” including Peter.
But the point is not the unworthiness of Paul, but how full of grace and mercy is God to call someone as undeserving as Paul and to use him as mightily as He did. For me, this gives me great encouragement. Why? Because my sins are also great, as I’m sure yours are. And, like Paul, I have failed the Lord many times, as may also be the case with you. And I have consistently proven myself unworthy to receive His grace and mercy and His special calling in my life, yet nonetheless, God still chooses to use me. Just like He still chooses to use you, no matter the depth of your sin and shame. It’s almost like He takes the throwaways and rejects of the world, the Goodwill and Value Village kind of items, and turns them into something sold at Oscar de la Renta, or Georgio Armani, or Lanvin, in New York City. And God does this for no other reason than it brings Him glory.
Please understand, these words from Paul are not an exercise in faint humility. He doesn’t call himself “less than the least,” so we will say, “No Paul, you’re wonderful!” – like many do when they post a selfie on Facebook, hoping somebody will tell them how pretty they are. No, Paul had a clear and accurate understanding of who he was in contrast to the holiness of Christ. That’s why we find in Scripture when the holiness of God confronts someone; their natural reaction is to fall flat on the ground, facedown, repeatedly uttering how unclean they are and how righteous God is. We see this scene played out before us in the life of Isaiah, Peter, and with the angels in heaven who cry out their unworthiness to open the scroll (Rev. 5:9).
We would do as well, in our age of self-exaltation, serial self-promotion, and “look how important and pretty I am” narcissism, to have a clear understanding of our value as creations and His infinite worth as the exalted Creator. We must always remember God did not choose us because we’re good. Nor did He choose us because we’re better than anyone else. He also did not choose us because we somehow deserved it more than others. He chose us solely because of His grace and mercy, which He chose, to our great wonder, to lavish on us (1 John 3:1).
When we get just a glimpse of the holiness of God compared to who we are, pride, arrogance, and our independent apathy quickly fade away. And we should be filled with nothing but sheer gratitude and heart-felt adoration to the One Who would choose “less than the least of the saints” to proclaim the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).
There is nothing this life can offer to surpass what we already have in Him.
Time to Pray
Pride was the original sin and the downfall of Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-15), and the consequences of pride drove Adam and Eve from the Paradise of God (Gen. 3:24). Pride is nothing more than an exalted view of our own value and worth, and it’s one of the few things the Lord calls an abomination (Prov. 16:5). When you pray, ask the Lord to remove every hint or stain of pride in your life and to bring you to the point of true humility, gratitude, thanksgiving, and obedience for the mercy and grace freely bestowed on you (Eph. 1:6). And as you approach God, remember you are “less than the least” of all the saints, yet God has chosen, redeemed, forgiven, and blessed you with the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).
Father, thank You for choosing me in spite of my unworthiness, sin, and rebellion. Thank You for still choosing me today, even though I have failed You many times because of my pride. You are good and glorious and full of grace and mercy. I can’t thank You enough for taking someone as sinful as I am and allowing me into Your Presence to have a relationship with Your Son. I am overwhelmed by the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, Who chooses to live within my frail, fallen, sinful body. Yet, in spite of all my failures, You have sanctified me by His presence, and I am now a sanctuary, a dwelling place of the Spirit of God.
Lord, would You let me live like what You created me to be? And would You fill my heart with gratitude for the privilege of being able to not only experience but preach and proclaim the “unsearchable riches” found in Christ? In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
One of the most amazing privileges of being a Christian is knowing the answers to the so-called hidden mysteries of life God reveals to us in His Word. Philosophers spend a lifetime trying to determine the meaning of life, and we already know. Artists and musicians try to capture the image of true, faithful, unselfish love in their paintings and music, and we have an unrivaled masterpiece of love on display in the person of Jesus Christ.
The answer to all of life’s mysteries or hidden truths are available to us because we are beloved children of the Most High – which is one of the most glorious blessings of being in Christ.
Today, we are using Ephesians 3:5 to help focus our prayer time with the Lord. This passage reads:
Which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets.
We know, of course, this specific mystery has to do with both Jews and Gentiles making up the church together. But the underlying principle is the fact there is a truth God has chosen to keep hidden from men for thousands of years for His own purpose. And now, by the Spirit living in each of us, He has decided to reveal His heart and plan to those who belong to Him. Not to everyone, just to those He calls His children (Rom. 8:16-17).
We Can Know All Things
The answers to questions like, “How did the world begin?” are found only in the Word of God. “Where did man come from, what is the origin of sin, what happens when we die, is there really a heaven and hell, when will the world end?” and so many others questions are all revealed by the Spirit in the Scriptures.
This ability to know things the world struggles with is often an overlooked blessing to those who know the Lord. Because God is sovereign, He sees the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10). Nothing surprises Him. And since we’re now in Christ who knows all things, nothing should surprise us. God, in His Word, has made unfathomable promises to His children. These promises are for life, safety, acceptance, security, unconditional love, an indescribable future, and His abiding Presence living within us. These are promises not shared with the world. As His children, they are for us, alone.
Pause, take a deep breath and reflect on how blessed you are to have the Omniscient One, the all-knowing, all-powerful, sovereign God, residing in you. Today’s passage says other ages were purposely kept in the dark regarding this mystery, or regarding some truth God withheld from them. But now, in His time, He has chosen to reveal this mystery by the Spirit to the church. And since you are His church, this marvelous blessing is for you. It was not just for those in the New Testament. This same kind of revelation, a rhema, or a personal revelation of truth to you, still exists today. God still speaks to His people, both individually and as His church. It is part of our birthright, our inheritance, as children of God.
When you have a question or need direction or are struggling to make sense of the circumstances you face, you can always ask God. Why? Because He hears. Better than just hearing, He listens. As a loving Father stoops down to hear the voice of his child, so your Father does the same to you. He cares for you and all your troubles. Your concerns are now His concerns.
But as encouraging as this may be, it gets even better. We have something even the angels don’t possess. We have the Holy Spirit living within us, forever. We are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance” in Him (Eph. 1:13-14). But there is more. Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I have said to you” (John 14:26). There’s nothing you can’t ask God. And there is nothing He is not able to show you. Why? Because Jesus said the Spirit, who now lives in you, is there to “teach you all things” (John 14:26). Read it again, all things. There’s no confusion nor chaos nor misunderstanding about anything you can’t lovingly ask your Father. He delights in revealing more of Himself to you. After all, how else can you be conformed to the image of His Son? (Rom. 8:29).
So today, as you begin to pray, spend some time thanking Him for revealing His heart to you. He has chosen to place Himself within you and to remain in you, to call your body His home, to reveal “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Why? So we can have an intimate, passionate, loving, trusting relationship with the Son of God forever. What a blessed people we are!
Time to Pray
When you think about what you need from the Lord today, take a moment to reflect on what you have already received. The Lord desires to “conform you to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). It’s an ongoing process, a good work in you He has begun and promises to complete (Phil. 1:6) to make you “complete in Him” (Col. 2:10).
Father, I thank You for being the All-knowing, All-powerful, and Ever-present God. I thank You for Jesus Who gave me the perfect example of how to live in harmony with You. And I thank You for Jesus’ promise not to leave me as an orphan (John 14:18), but to send the Spirit to be with me forever (John 14:17). I can’t thank You enough for that blessing.
Lord, as life gets more troubling and uncertain, I thank You for revealing the future to me through Your Word, not only the future of the world, but my personal future. I rejoice that You are now preparing a place for me to be with You in Your Father’s house and of Your promise to receive me to Yourself, so I will forever be with You (John 14:2-3). Knowing all this, please forgive me for my doubt and fear, for my anxiety and needless stress, and for forgetting Whose I am and to Whom I belong. I confess my vision of You is too small. But I know I am Yours, Lord. Thank you for choosing me to be Your child (Eph. 1:4-5). Thank You for loving and saving and redeeming me and for revealing Your heart to someone like me. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
The world is full of mysteries. Some have piqued our interest and baffled our imaginations for generations. They are fascinating, yet remain elusive and unexplainable. For example, we wonder at the origin of Stonehenge. Or how an ancient culture had the technology to build the Great Pyramids in Egypt. Or how to explain the Loch Ness Monster. Is there life on other planets? What happened to the city of Atlantis? For the more practical and political student of current mysteries, who was the shooter on the grassy knoll? What happened to Jimmy Hoffa? And the list of mysteries is endless, and the answers few. But that is the nature of a mystery.
But in the New Testament, the word mystery is not something unknowable, but something always known but only revealed to certain people at a pre-determined time, all decided by our Sovereign God.
The verse we will use to focus our prayer time is Ephesians 3:3-4, which reads:
How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).
Take a moment and reflect on the word, mystery. Let your mind explore all the images the word conjures up for you. We know the mystery spoken in this passage is that Gentiles, along with God’s chosen people, the Jews, are both now citizens in the Kingdom of God. This truth, ordained by God from the foundation of time, was hidden from the Jews and Gentiles until revealed to Paul— which is precisely what this verse says. That “by revelation He (God) made known to me (Paul) the mystery” which reveals the Kingdom of God to be inclusive of both Jews and Gentiles who have been chosen and redeemed by the blood of Christ. It’s a picture of God sovereignly choosing out of two ethnic groups, Jews and Gentiles, those who belong to Him, and creating a new race, a new family, a new people, all redeemed by Christ.
Elementary, My Dear Watson
There are quite a few occurrences of the word mystery in the New Testament. We have, for example, the “mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way” (2 Tim. 2:7). This passage reveals to us the restraining power of the Holy Spirit and the future of the antichrist, yet hidden until now. Also, we find the word used in 1 Corinthians 15 regarding the coming of the Lord and our gathering to meet Him. It says, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52). Again, this is speaking of a truth God has always known and has always been true, but hidden for a time until it was revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.
But regarding the mystery of Jew and Gentile becoming one in His Kingdom, no passage better explains that than Colossians, chapter one. In fact, we find the word dispensation translated as a stewardship given to Paul for the Gentiles. Let’s look at Colossians 1:24-27, which reads:
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory – Colossians 1:24-27.
Paul became a minister to the Gentiles according to the stewardship he received from God for them, which is exactly what Ephesians 3:2-3 says. He then describes the nature of the mystery which “has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints” (Col. 1:26). With great anticipation, like children on Christmas morning, we sit on the edge of our seats waiting to know and understand the full implications of this mystery. And we are not disappointed. He says, “God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles.” Note the descriptive terms used: riches, and glory.
So what exactly is the “riches of the glory of this mystery”? It is nothing less than, “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Col. 1:27).
It is a profound mystery God would call unto Himself those from among unfaithful, unbelieving, and unrepentant Jews. But He did. It is even more of a mystery He would allow us, as profane, arrogant, lawbreaking Gentiles entrance and acceptance into His Kingdom. But He did. And He did so by this amazing, supernatural act of regeneration where our sins are imputed to a sinless Christ, and His righteousness is imputed to us, who are anything but righteous (Isa. 64:6).
It was all done, by grace, through Christ. This means everything we are, everything we hoped to be, any good we do in this life, any legacy we leave behind, is all because of Christ. Stop now and meditate on this phrase, “Christ in you, the hope of Glory” (Col. 1:27). Or, Christ in you, the hope, or confident expectation and divine assurance, of Glory.
So what are we to do now since we know what this mystery is all about? How are we to live, knowing God has revealed this great mystery to us and given us Christ, our hope and guarantee of glory? What is our dispensation, or stewardship, our ministry, our responsibility and calling He has given each of us to do? It is simply this:
Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus – Colossians 1:28.
This is a most worthy calling. It is the greatest cause in which to devote our lives. Why? Because it brings our Lord God glory.
Time to Pray
As we spoke about yesterday, God reveals His plan for your life in His Word. And the needed empowerment to fulfill His plan is also found in His Word. Prayer is of vital importance, especially if directed by Scripture. Remember, it’s the object of our prayers, and the object of our faith, that determines whether they honor Christ and will be answered. And the content of prayer and faith is best directed by our focus on Scripture. Hence, the reason you are receiving these emails.
We know God will never answer a prayer contrary to His Word. Why? Because God is not divided, nor two-faced, fickle, or changes His mind on a whim based on opinion polls. God is always true to His Word. And if every answer to every prayer must agree with His Word, then every answer to every question we have for God is also found in His Word.
That’s why His Word is “living and powerful” (Heb. 4:12) and not out of date, irrelevant, or boring. It is inspired, “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16), and of immense value in this life and the next. Therefore, as we’re still in the first week of January 2020, let’s commit to Him to become a lover of His Word. To read it, understand it, obey it, and proclaim it to others.
As we talked about yesterday, only in His Word can you find the source of the “abundant life” Jesus promised (John 10:10). It’s ours for the asking. Join with me in making this quest for the “abundant life” in Him our passion for 2020.