Tag Archives: Ephesians

My Towel of Babel

Faith

Ephesians 3.

1. . .for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation. . . 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.

We are Gentiles and we are sinners, all of us. We have all failed. I have always known this growing up. Hearing countless sermons on how we all fall short of the glory of God and we need the grace He gave to us through Jesus’ death to be saved. In my heart of hearts I have always known this. But I do not think I really fully grasped the idea. I have always been striving to be more, to be closer to perfect. I have been trying to stack my good deeds up and throw down my sin in order to build my own tower of Babel to get at least a little closer to God so he would not have to reach down so far.

I felt like I needed to build my tower to hear God’s voice. Paul talked here about knowing God through his revelation and I kept hearing about and reading about these people, who I saw as holier and closer to perfect than I was, talking about hearing God’s voice and bending to his will. I have prayed, I have read, I have listened. I have heard silence. My tower needed to be taller, God’s voice didn’t seem to be able to carry way down in my pit of Gentile-ness.

7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.

During my weekend at Sonshine God smacked me with a two by four, several times. One of those smacks was about my tower building. I had been waiting to make my bold step for God. I had been waiting to at least be a little less sinful and a lot more wise before I take a leap of faith into God’s plan. I figured I had to be at least closer to perfect before he could truly use me and for me to hear him. The little things, I could do that. Go on a mission trip and paint a house or give a hug to someone who is sad. I was at the level were God could use me that way. But for something big, nope, I was too sinful for that.

As I sat in the Youth Leader’s lounge at Sonshine and listened to the Q&A sessions with the bands, with Hawk Nelson, Building 429, Petra, and Love & Death, I realized that they were not perfect. I realized that our Pastor that I hang out with is not perfect. I realized that they are continually growing and will never reach close to perfection, but God is using them in a big way. These band members and the youth leaders were full of the Holy Spirit, full of the gifts of God, but they were also full of sin, terrible sin, but that did not stop them from being used for a greater purpose. God is not waiting for me to be almost perfect, He is just waiting for me to trust fully in him.

Even Paul knows that he is less than the least of these. He knows that he is not worthy of the task God has set before him. Fortunately, for him and for all of us who are unworthy of our tasks, we serve a God who is worthy and it is not really our works but his work through us. We have the tools to figure out God’s mystery and we have the tools to administer it.

10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to His eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 

His intent. The manifold wisdom of God. His eternal purpose. In Him and through faith in Him. Do you get where I am going here? I was so worried about me, me, me, me I forgot that it is through Jesus Christ that “we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” I may be a terrible sinner, but I may approach God with confidence. I am free to talk to him and listen for him.

There is more to our spiritual walk, more to our faith than trudging along through this world with our heads hanging in shame. There is more to this life than just praying for forgiveness and accepting that we are sinners who are only saved by grace.

We must start to believe that we are more than that. No, we will never be able to earn our own salvation, we need Jesus, his life, his death, and his resurrection for that. But we must realized that our hearts still try to be good, our souls try to be holy. We were made in His holy image after all. We are way more than just sinners. Our flesh will always hinder our hearts and this world will continue to bind our souls. It will be hard to glorify God. But we are his vessels. He has molded us out of the shapeless clay into a masterpiece of love. He molded us specifically to fulfill our purpose. I am made perfect in Him. You are made perfect in him. We can walk with our heads held high.

I get to trade in my tower building for freedom and confidence and I will take that trade any day.

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Kicking Spiritual Butt

“Have fun kicking boxes!” That is the usual dismissal I hear as I leave my apartment dressed to sweat. My wraps and gloves bounce gently in the bag on my back as I hurry down the steps. I hop into my jeep and crank some adrenaline pumping music as I head down to the Fargo Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & MMA Academy.

As I step inside a quick memory of ball pits and plastic slides with the slight smell of shoe-less adolescents meets me at the doorway. I slip off my flip-flops and add them to the pile, grabbing my membership card. As I wait off to the side for the kids bully-proof jiu jitsu class to end I start wrapping up my wrists. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday you will find me here, practicing kickboxing.

And I think as I warm up with a jump rope, have I been working out my soul and preparing it to fight as much as I am working out my body?

Ephesians 6:10 – 18. (NIV)

The Armor of God.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Hmm. Now how to make this idea a bit more palpable, a little bit more relevant. We obviously do not don the type of armor or weapons described above to do battle anymore. Let us see what some paraphrasing will clear up for us.

Ephesians 6:10 -18 (The Message)

A Fight To The Finish

“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”

The old school in me still loves the NIV version, the imagery of putting on the battle gear is awesome, but even though I am not the biggest fan of The Message the images it stirs up are ones I can relate too.

Last month I ran a 4.something mile muddy obstacle course. It was called the Hard Charge and it was hard, and awesome! Out of the three of us girls I had done the most running, Ann was probably the most athletic, and Monica had the most drive. We waded through thigh high muddy ditches, army crawled through mud on multiple occasions, dunked ourselves in icy water, climbed a cargo net, belly crawled through sand, carried a tire, climbed over many, many walls, and slide down a fireman pole to finish, well not to finish, to earn. Our shirts and the banner across that finish line held the one word motto of the Hard Charged, Earned.

That is me attempting the muddy monkey bars.

That is me attempting the muddy monkey bars.

Now to earn this we ate mud, we felt like our legs were going to fall off, I tried to cross the monkey bars only to drop 20 feet into muddy water. I boosted Ann and Monica over walls and got over one big one by myself. On the second big one Monica came back around and helped boost me over. It was the best team building thing I had ever done.

It took determination, strength, and drive. Our spiritual warfare takes the same. We have a race to run, and I hate to break it to you, it will not be one of those fun colorful ones. We will have walls that we will have to help others over. There are some we can tackle ourselves and there are some were we will have to admit we need help. We will face some fears and we will want to quit, but there is no turning back.

Now before some obstacles we had some time to wait, things would get a little backed up and we could rest a little. There are times between our spiritual obstacles as well, and this should give us time to pray and rejuvenate, because it probably means a big one is coming up.

In the end when we cross the line we can look at God and know that we have earned this, only not by our own strength but by his grace. He has to help us over that big wall, we cannot do it on our own.

So, the term may be spiritual warfare, but I like to think of it as spiritual kickboxing. It is said that we are running a race, but I know this race is in the form of a muddy, obstacle course.

Time to prepare to kick some spiritual butt and fight to the finish.