Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sealed by the Holy Spirit

Photo from The Sanctuary Church
I've finally moved on in Ephesians, a little bit. Today I'm pondering Ephesians 1:12-14 (NASb):

12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in ]Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In ]Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also ]believed, you were sealed in Him with )the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the )redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

I notice that I see this same wording in Ephesians 4:30, 2 Corinthians 1:22, and 2 Corinthians 5:5.  All 4 of these references include wording about the Holy Spirit sealing us as God's followers.  Three of these references (Ephesians 1:13-14, 2 Corinthians 1:22, & 2 Corinthians 5:5) include the idea of the Holy Spirit being our guarantee of what God has for us to experience in the future.

As I read these verses I find myself asking what does it mean to be sealed with the Holy Spirit?

Bible Hermeneutics website notes:

The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia suggests the intended meaning is a mark of ownership by God:
God by His Spirit indicates who are His, as the owner sets his seal on his property; and just as documents are sealed up until the proper time for opening them, so Christians are sealed up by the Holy Spirit “unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 1:13; Eph. 4:30; 2Co. 1:22).

John Piper explains being sealed with the Holy Spirit this way:

"contained in this word "sealed," it is a message of safety and security in God's love and power. God sends the Holy Spirit as a preserving seal to lock in our faith, as an authenticating seal to validate our sonship, and as a protecting seal to keep out destructive forces. The point is that God wants us to feel secure and safe in his love and power."

In this same article, John Piper makes this point:

"God's great desire for his people is that we feel secure in his love and in his power. Everything else in life may be unstable—our health, our family, our job, our education, our society, our world."

I know that there's so much in my life that is not stable right now.  I've got a DON at work who should be my partner in this business we're running for the owner. She's competent and can be very hands on and effective, but she lies and manipulates. Her lies and manipulation make life very difficult for me and sets a poor tone in our building.  I'm in the midst of a class action lawsuit at work. My youngest son is trying to get an internship for this summer and has faced many rejections.  My middle son has only been on the clean and sober road since April 2015. My oldest son is on a year long deployment in Korea until July 2016 - away from his wife and new baby. I have a course in which I'm currently enrolled that I have no idea how I'm going to complete all the required work prior to the deadlines. Life is just not stable.  Not my life.  Not anyone's life.

 What does the seal of the Holy Spirit mean to me in the midst of the instability of life?

1. The Holy Spirit teaches us God's truth - see John 15:26-27, John 14:15-17, 1 John 5:6.
In the midst of the instability of life I can know what is real and true.

2. The Holy Spirit gives us supernatural power - see Romans 5:13 & 19, 1 Corinthians 2:4, 1 Corinthians 4:20, 1 Thessalonians 1:5.
In the midst of the instability of life I am not left to deal with it all on my own power.   

3. The Holy Spirit changes us - see Galatians 5:16-26
In the midst of the instability of life I get frustrated with myself, but if I cooperate with God, His Spirit within me will produce changes.

Oh Father, I need You to change me.  Change my heart so that it will be completely Yours.  Convict me each day when I'm making myself and/or others things ahead of You.  Help me open up to You and Your Word and live my life according to Your ways.  Please bring to my mind Your truth. Please help me receive Your Power so I can deal with all that is before me.  Empower me so that I can see supernatural results and favor in my life.  May I always bring glory to You.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

What does it mean to be for the praise of Christ's Glory?

Photo from Crabapple 1st Baptist Church
I'm still working my way through Ephesians 1:3-14.

Today what really hit me was this repeated idea found in these verses:

v.6a-"to the praise of his glorious grace"

v.12-"in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory."

v.14b-"until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.".

What does it mean to be to the praise of His Glory?

 I found some insights from other writers on this topic:
* Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers :

That is, for the acknowledgment by all God’s creatures of the gloriousness of His grace; or, in other words, for the acknowledgment that God’s essential glory is best manifested in His grace—that He “declares His almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity.” So in Exodus 33:18-19, to the request, “Show me Thy glory,” the answer is, “I will make my goodness to pass before thee . . . and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.” (Comp. Exodus 34:5-7.) He is pleased to consider His glory best realised in the spectacle of souls redeemed and regenerate by His grace, and to decree that it should be thus realised for our sakes.

* Chrysostom, an early church father, said this in his 1st homily on Ephesians:
The Divine nature knows no want. And wherefore then would He have us praise and glorify Him? It is that our love towards Him may be kindled more fervently within us. He desires nothing we can render; not our service, not our praise, nor any thing else, nothing but our salvation; this is His object in every thing He does. And he who praises and marvels at the grace displayed towards himself will thus be more devoted and more earnest. 

* John Piper had these thoughts:

"the glory of God is what we were made to see and enjoy for all eternity. Nothing else will satisfy our souls. Therefore if God does not exalt himself for us to admire and enjoy, then he is unloving. That is, he does not give us what we need."

* The Westminister Shorter Catechism:

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God,[1] and to enjoy him forever.[2]
Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments,[3] is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.[4]

What does being to the praise of His Glory look like in daily life?

These are some thoughts that come to my mind:

* Spend some time away from others and alone with God each day.  During this time make sure to think on the goodness of God.  Singing praises to Him and speaking aloud of His goodness.

Throughout my day praise God for all the gracious things he does and has done for me.
    - God has done enough for me in Jesus that I have reason to praise Him every day.
    - He also gives me blessing every day if I will but take time to recognize and appreciate His blessings. The fact that I wake up in the morning, the beauty of nature around me, the small goodness in each day.
    - My daily thoughts should center on all the blessings of God.  I should refrain from getting caught up in the negativity around me each day.  I need to face reality and deal with negative things and events but I don't need to ruminate and stay in the negative things.
   -  Every day my speech should be filled with words of gratitude for God's blessings.  I should constantly be appreciative.

*  Live my life in a way that brings honor to God.
    - Be a person of excellence at my work.
    - Be a person who everyone knows that my word is as good a gold, that they can trust me because I'm honest and act with integrity.
    - Be a person who allows God to show me what He wants me to see in situations and and who relies on His wisdom.
    - Notice others.  Care about the people around me in practical ways appropriate to the life situations.  That might mean overlooking minor annoyances from my husband.  It could mean helping out one of my department directors. It might look like me seeing that someone seems tired or discouraged and giving them encouraging words. It could mean me sending an appreciative note to someone. Taking time to listen to my son's hopes and dreams and encouraging him. Etc.

Oh Father, THANK YOU!  I can never thank You enough for all You've done for me.  Help me to notice all Your blessings in every day and to appreciate all You've done, and are doing, for me.  May Your Holy Spirit in me empower me to keep my mind on those positive things and my words ones of gratitude. Oh Father may my life bring glory to Your name.  Empower me please that I would be a person of excellence, honesty and integrity.  Heighten my awareness to the people around me and show me ways to practically care about others.  Thank You so much....