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Prayer:  Ephesians 2:19 – Saints, Part 1

Prayer: Ephesians 2:19 – Saints, Part 1

As we get ready for another Sunday, let me encourage you to prepare your heart this morning to meet with the Lord. Remember, how you worship in church with others is just an extension of how you worship with Him alone.  So begin today with just the Lord and worship Him by prayer and adoration.   And then, come and worship with the rest of the “called-out” ones this morning.

To help focus your prayers we are looking at Ephesians 2:19 and especially this strange description the Holy Spirit calls each of us: saints.  Read it for yourself.

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.

Note the transition from the many to the few.  We go from “citizens” to members of a “household.”  Note also the description of those who are also citizens with you, the “fellow” part of this verse.  They are called saints or, literally, “holy ones.”


Saints!  Really?

The word translated saints (hágios) means “holy, with the idea of separation, consecration, sanctification, and devotion to God.”  It is the go-to name in the New Testament for believers.  And that also makes it the go-to term that describes you and me.  The Scriptures teach we are saints, those redeemed and set-apart for God and God alone.  I know, it seems the terms saints is reserved for people who lived long ago and whose images now adorn stained-glass church windows.  But that’s not how the Lord sees it. In fact, you are a saint in His eyes. Let me explain.

Watch, for example, how Paul describes those in the various churches to whom he writes:

To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints – Romans 1:7.

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours – 1 Corinthians 1:2

To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia – 2 Corinthians 1:1.

To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus – Ephesians 1:1.

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons – Philippians 1:1.

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse – Colossians 1:1.

Get the point?  He calls fellow believers, fellow “citizens” and “members of the household of God” saints.  But there is more.

Just in Ephesians, look at how the Lord inspired Paul to use the term saints to again refer to believers like you and me.

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints – Ephesians 1:15.

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints – Ephesians 1:18

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.

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.

That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God – Ephesians 3:17-19.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ – Ephesians 4:11-12.

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints – Ephesians 5:3.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints – Ephesians 6:17-18.

That’s who you are.  You are a saint.  Not the way we define that word today, which usually means someone of impeccable character that God used in a mighty way.  Although that’s a pretty good description of a Christian.  But God calls you to be a saint, a member of His body, the church, and one in which the Holy Spirit now resides.  That’s you.


Time to Pray

But there is one more thing before we pray.  As we have noted, the word saint literally means “holy ones”.  In essence, holiness is their nature, their primary characteristic, just like it is for our Lord.  But if you are like most believers today, your behavior is often anything but holy.  Ok, maybe a bit holy on your best day.  But on most days, would you describe your life as holy?  Or would you use terms like “not too bad” or “could be better” or “better than I used to be” or “pretty good” or something like that?  I know that sounds good to us, but still falls short of holy.

What can we do about that?  How can we live up the standard of the name the Lord calls us everyday?  How is that possible?

Tomorrow, we’ll look at that very issue.  But for today, thank Him for seeing you through His eyes, as holy and beloved and as a saint, and not through yours.  Because that is one of the greatest blessings of all.

Until tomorrow,

PS: Go through these verses above and, as you read them, every time you see the word saint, replace it with “holy ones”.  If you do, it will forever change your perception of what the church is all about.

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10 Reasons Why Many Christians Rarely Experience True Worship

10 Reasons Why Many Christians Rarely Experience True Worship

The ladies in our church are going on a women’s retreat in a couple of weeks and the theme of their study will include the abundant life found only in Christ and the idea of true worship.  And, as would happen, just today I discovered a blog post by Jeff Kinley that addressed some of the issues I have personally struggled with when it comes to true worship (as compared to the lame stuff we call worship today).

I pray this will be a blessing to you as you prepare this Sunday morning to worship our Sovereign God.


Read ‘Em and Weep

The following are 10 reasons many of us rarely experience true worship.   See if you can relate to a few of these.

1.   While most Christians struggle with the challenges of life, many live defeated lives, never achieving the “more than conquerors” victory that Scripture claims is the normal experience of those who have been redeemed.

2.   Many professing Christians simply stop growing after an initial burst of interest and enthusiasm.  Bibles gather dust and heart-fires start burning out.  As a result, the process of sanctification (becoming like Jesus) is often short-circuited, fueled by sin, Satan or self.  These people end up as spiritual children living in adult bodies.  Churches are FULL of these folks.

3.   Many have never taken the time to really understand salvation— studying what actually took place at the cross, contemplating their dark, sinful condition and future outside of Christ, and learning to regularly bath in the infinitely deep ocean of God’s grace and love.  Understanding how and why God saved you is the key to contentment and joy in life.

4.   Most Christians have little clue about how great their Lord is.  I mean, how could they?  They rarely, if ever, crack open the only Book God wrote to reveal Himself to them.  Ignorance of the mind-blowing truths in Scripture concerning who God is and how amazing His attributes are is a guaranteed one-way ticket to Bland Land.  Bank on this: true theology and doctrine is never, ever boring.  Rather, it infuses our hearts with awe and wonder, inspiring pure, explosive heart-worship.

5.   Face it.  We like comfort and often choose the path of least resistance when it comes to our faith.  Living for Jesus is hard, and few American believers have the lungs for the long, uphill race.  So we rest comfortably by the wayside, occasionally admiring those “Super Christians” who run by on their way to maturity.

6.   We refuse to exercise faith in the daily challenges of life, and almost never branch out and trust God for something truly supernatural, especially if it could cost us a bundle.  We treat sacrifice and suffering like tax season— with a sense of dread and avoidance.  Fear rules many of our life decisions, not faith.  Safety and security becomes our style, influencing everything from friends to finances.  And that makes Heaven yawn… and grieve.

7.   We love the idea that God is loving and compassionate, but fail to grow past those sentimental attributes.  Godly discernment, on the other hand, may lead us to actions that others may interpret as unloving.  So we continue enabling people in their immaturity and sin— and do it all in the name of love.  But in reality, hidden behind this “love” is simply a weak and impotent heart. Boring.

8.   We ignore the direct application of God’s Infinitely-Wise Word where it really matters— on the job, at home, in our marriage and in our parenting.  And we wonder why we’re so screwed up.  We trust in ourselves because having faith seems to be complicated and intangible.  We settle for “what works”— expediency, pragmatism and peace.  And when we do look for advice and counsel, it’s usually from someone just as messed up as we are.  Logical?

9.   The average American Christian checks into church 2x a month, way too little for it to ever have any real, life-changing impact on their lives.  Like working out 2x a month, there is never any real progress or growth.  Truthfully, there’s always a “good reason” to prioritize something else over gathering with your spiritual family – sleep, work, friends, fun, movies, sports on TV, etc.

10.  Honestly, we want a God who entertains and serves us.  We prefer that He act like we want Him to and at the time of our choosing.  And when He fails to deliver or meet our expectations, we lose interest and become bored with His “ways”.

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Do any of these resonate with you?  They do with me.  Ask our Lord to give you His “living water” and teach you to be the kind of worshipper He seeks.  And remember these wonderful words of Jesus to the Samaritan women He encountered at the well:

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when (who) the true worshipers will worship the Father (how) in spirit and truth; (why) for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must (what) worship in spirit and truth” – John 4:23-24.

Strive to become the worshiper the Father actively seeks to worship Him.  Because that, my dear friend, is the abundant life in Christ (John 10:10).  And begin that faith journey with Him today.

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You can find more about Jeff and his writings on his blog.  You can also read the rest of Jeff’s post here.  And rest assured, Jeff is one of the “good guys”.

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Profiting from the Holy

Profiting from the Holy

In Exodus 30 the Lord gives Moses, in great detail, instructions about how to make the holy anointing oil (Ex. 30:22-33) and the incense (Ex. 30:34-38) to be used in temple worship.  And He gives specific commands about each.  For the anointing oil He said:

Exodus 30:25-30 – “And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer.  It shall be a holy anointing oil.  With it you shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting and the ark of the Testimony; the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense; the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base.  You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them must be holy.  And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests.”

God then tells His people the importance of what He has just commanded them to do.

Exodus 30:31 – “And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations.’ “

But there’s a warning.  What has been deemed holy by the Lord is not to be used for personal pleasure or gain.  Man is not to benefit from what is reserved for God alone.  He said, “This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me (not to you) throughout your generations” (Ex. 30:31).

The Lord knew then, as He knows now, how easily we can turn worship into something we like and forget about the One it’s designed to honor.  We play the worship music we enjoy, preach the sermons that make us feel good, and anoint anything we feel like anointing.  Our times together to worship the Lord often digress into something that makes us feel better about who we are and not about Who we belong to.

Listen to the warning God gives about making a profit from what belongs only to Him.

Exodus 30:32-33 – “It shall not be poured on man’s flesh; nor shall you make any other like it, according to its composition.  It is holy, and it shall be holy to you.  Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people.”

You are not to pour My oil out on whom you desire nor make some for yourself using the recipe I have given you.  This is for Me and Me alone.  “It is holy, and it shall be holy to you” (Ex. 30:32).

God gave the same command and warnings about the incense.  After detailing the specific combination of spices He desired, God then tells His children exactly where to place the incense and why.

Exodus 30:36 – “And you shall beat some of it very fine, and put some of it before the Testimony in the tabernacle of meeting where I will meet with you.  It shall be most holy to you.”

This incense is to be placed where God has chosen to meet with His people— a most holy place.   And “it shall be most holy to you.”  It is not to be used in your home, sold on Amazon, or used in any other way God has not specifically prescribed.  Why?  Because its purpose is to prepare a place for God to meet with man— a most holy place.  And not to make your car smell better.

Again, there’s a warning.

Exodus 30:37-38 – “But as for the incense which you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition.  It shall be to you holy for the LORD.  Whoever makes any like it, to smell it, he shall be cut off from his people.”

You are not to make any incense for yourself for any reason.   Why?  Because “it shall be to you holy for the Lord.”  It’s not for you, just for Him.  And what happens if we choose to ignore His warnings and commands and personally profit from what belongs for Him alone?  He says the person who does this “shall be cut off from his people.”  They will no longer be covered under His covenant.  They shall be as a foreigner, an outcast to Him.


Cut Off From His People

Take a few minutes this Sunday and watch a couple of church services online.  Especially from a mega church.  How much of what you see is designed to glorify and worship the Lord?  And how much is planned to make the congregation feel comfortable and want to come back next Sunday?

Then go look at your own service this Sunday.  How much of what is done is for the benefit of you, or for the adoration of the Lord?  Is the “special music” for your enjoyment, or for His?  And speaking of music, do you even know what kind of music the Lord enjoys?  Is it traditional?  Contemporary?  Psalms only?  With or without instruments?  Does He enjoy loud guitars and a light show?  Or is that just for us?

And the message?  Does it lift up Him and His glory and attributes?  Or is it more about you and your problems and how the Lord can “get you through to the other side?”  Are you encouraged to verbally proclaim the beauty and majesty of the Lord or to turn to your neighbor and say, “You look good today?”

What kind of worship truly worships the Lord?  What type of service would He design if we ever took the time to ask Him?

These are some questions I hope you’ll think about before you head out next Sunday for church.  Because it’s supposed to be all about Him, and not about us.

Something to think about, isn’t it?

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392:  The 240 Hour Prayer (and Fasting) Meeting

392: The 240 Hour Prayer (and Fasting) Meeting

When the 120 met together after the ascension of Jesus, there were some logistics we often overlook when considering their 240 hour prayer meeting (Acts 1:14).  For example:

What about food?
Did they go home to eat several times a day?
Did someone have food catered in to them?
Did they go to Wal-Mart or McDonald’s daily?
Did their family drop off lunch bags each day?
Or did they go on an extended fast?
And if so, what was that like?

I believe it was a time of prayer and fasting— and not just prayer alone.  After all, that’s what Jesus expected them to do (Matt. 6:16-18).   Which raises one last question: What can fasting do for me today?  Or, why should I fast since fasting seems to be passe in the church today?  Consider the following:

Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras.
Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the “first love” for your Lord and result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God.
Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life.
Fasting will encourage the Holy Spirit to quicken the Word of God in your heart and His truth will become more meaningful to you.
Fasting can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience.
Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own life and make you a channel of revival to others.
In summary, fasting opens up your spirit in ways that are hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it.

Have you ever considered adding fasting to your prayer life?  You should.  You really should.

The following is a study on Acts 1:12-14.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

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382:  How the Holy Spirit Expresses Himself

382: How the Holy Spirit Expresses Himself

When we have the desire to know more about the gifts given each of us by the Holy Spirit, and our responsibility in exercising those gifts, we are faced with a couple of questions.  Especially when we see that the purpose of those gifts is to give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to manifest or express Himself to others.  Consider the following:

1 Corinthians 12:7 – But the manifestation (expression) of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.

How does the Holy Spirit manifest or express Himself in the world today?
Does the Holy Spirit give His gifts to everyone that belongs to Christ?
Does that include you?
What gift or gifts has He given you?
And why did He give you His gifts?
So He could express Himself to others through each of us.

Do you realize the reason the Holy Spirit gives us His gifts is to manifest Himself to others through us?  Let that sink in for a moment.

According to 1 Corinthians 12:7, all the gifts that follow (word of wisdom and knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, and tongues) are all given so He can use these gifts to express Himself through us to others.

Do you know what that means?  Can you see the implications of that verse and what it means for you and me and the church today?  If not, then keep listening.

The following is a study on 1 Corinthians 12:9.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

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