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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424:  Our Greatest Gift from Him

424: Our Greatest Gift from Him

As the Christmas season is winding down, it would be appropriate for us to look at the greatest gift we have ever received from the greatest Person we have ever known— our Lord, and to give Him praise for that wondrous gift.  And for me, I find that gift revealed to me in Colossians.

Let’s look at this gift together.


No Longer Alienated and Enemies of the Lord

The Scriptures say that I, and all who are called by His name, are no longer “alienated and enemies” of the Lord.  Look at this marvelous gift found in Colossians 1:21-22:

And you (your name), who once were (past tense) alienated (apallotrióō – to estrange, alienate entirely) and enemies (echthrós – hatred, hostility, enmity) in your mind by (what) wicked works, yet now (present tense) He (Christ’s actions) has reconciled (apokatallássō – the restoration of a relationship of peace which has been disturbed) in the body of His flesh (how) through death, (why) to present (paristánō – to cause to stand near or before) you (your name) holy (hágios – set apart, sanctified, consecrated, a saint), and blameless (ámōmos – unblameable, without spot or blemish) and above reproach (anégklētos –unreproveable, not merely unaccusable but unaccused, free from any legal charge) in His sight (presence, before His face).

But there is more.  He keeps us from stumbling and presents us faultless before His glory.  Amazing.   Read it yourself in Jude 1:24.

Now to Him (Christ) who is able to keep you (your name) from stumbling (áptaistos – falling), and to present you (your name) faultless (where) before the presence of His glory (how) with exceeding joy (agallíasis – extreme exultation, exuberant joy),

And how do we respond to this incredible gift?  Read the next verse.

To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.

I pray you will begin the next year with the same praise and passion for your Lord that you ended the last one.  And you can do that by realizing what a great God we serve and what a great gift He has given us in His Son.  Will you join with me in exalting His Name?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on realizing our great blessings found in Colossians 1:21-22 and Jude 1:24-25.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

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423:  The Breathtaking View of Christ

423: The Breathtaking View of Christ

One of the major failures of the church today is to downplay the place of Christ when we come together to worship.  Yes, you heard right.  We, hopefully unknowingly, often relegate Christ to the back pew or the second chair.  And who do we elevate in His place?  Usually the pastor or, often, the worship leader.

And when we come together as a church we have a tendency to preach on the “what’s” and “why’s” of the Scripture and seldom the “how’s”.  Think about it.  We know we are commanded to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1-2), but are never told exactly how to do that.  Did you ever wonder why?

We are commanded to “walk according to the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16), yet are never instructed on how to do that.  We know what it means and why it’s important.  But for some reason, our pastors fail to take our hands and show us exactly how to accomplish this command.  Why?

Is it because practical Christianity is not in vogue today?  Or could it be we have become a church made up of those who can tell us what to do but have never experienced it themselves?  Are we more like cowboys driving cattle from the rear than a shepherd leading from the front?

What are we to do?


Seven Things the Church Failed to Teach Me

Recently I was reading a blog by Frank Viola that shared these seven things the church never taught him.  And I couldn’t agree more.  Consider the following:

  1.  How to practically live by the Christ who dwells inside me.
  2.  How to practically learn how to hear the Lord’s voice beyond “pray and read your Bible.”
  3.  That church-as-we-know-it is drastically different from church-as-God-would-have-it.
  4.  What the gospel of the kingdom is and how radically it can alter a human life.
  5.  How deep the tentacles of the world system go and how to break free from them.
  6.  That God’s presence is extremely subtle most of the time.
  7.  How to find Christ in the Scriptures, including the entire Old Testament.

So in 2019, I have committed to teach the church I pastor the “how’s” of the Christian faith and to answer these, and other, practical questions about living for Him.  Will you join with me as we explore the breathtaking view of our Lord together?

The following is a study on the Breathtaking View of Christ found in Colossians 1:15-19 and 2 Colossians 2:9-10.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

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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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407:  When it Comes to Worship, We’re Clueless

407: When it Comes to Worship, We’re Clueless

One of the pressing questions today, as we take an honest look at the church, is what does worship look like?  Is it what we see manifested on Sunday mornings?  Is it music, a light show, an engaging speaker telling interesting and affirming stories?  Or is it something more?

The greatest verse regarding the mechanics of true worship is found in the book of Romans.  Consider the following:

Romans 12:1-2I beseech (parakaléō – to beg, exhort, desire, call for, encourage) you (personal) therefore (based on what was previously written), brethren (to believers), by the mercies (compassion and pity one shows for the suffering of others) of God, that you (personal) present (to place, offer) your (personal) bodies (whole person) a living (constant, enduring) sacrifice (offering, something slaughtered on the altar of God), holy (hágios – set apart, sanctified, consecrated, devoted, sharing in God’s purity and abstaining from earth’s defilement), acceptable (good, well-pleasing, that which God wills and recognizes) to (whom) God, which is your (personal) reasonable (implies intelligent meditation and reflection as pertaining to the soul) service (voluntary worship or service which conforms to human reason).  And (you) do not be conformed (syschēmatizō – to fashion alike, to conform to the same pattern outwardly) to this world (generation, culture, referring to an age or time in contrast to kósmos), but (you) be transformed (metamorphóō – to transfigure, to change one’s form) by the renewing (a qualitative renewal, a restoration or renovation which makes a person different than in the past) of your mind (intelligent understanding, perception), that you (personal) may prove (try, test, discern, distinguish, to determine whether a thing is worthy or not) what is that good (excellent, best, distinguished) and acceptable (good, well-pleasing, that which God wills and recognizes), and perfect (complete, having achieved its goal and purpose, full, wanting for nothing) will (desire, God’s gracious disposition done out of His own good pleasure) of God.

Take a few minutes and reflect on these two verses.  Have you done this?  Do you worship Him this way?  Is it even close?  If not, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Romans 12:1-2.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

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