Mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:1-7)

“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 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), 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: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:1-7‬ ‭NKJV‬

The apostle Paul begins chapter 3 of Ephesians by saying for this reason I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles”, Here Paul says that he is a prisoner of Christ for the Gentiles. Paul is a prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles because God called him to be ,God called Paul to minister to the Gentiles according to his almighty will. I think it is important to notice that Paul was in prison, Paul was a prisoner for Christ and yet he still continued to do what God called him to do, to minister to the Gentiles. Sometimes while doing the will of God we will have to endure trials and tribulations, just like the apostle Paul. Paul was in prison and the Lord knew that he would be sent there, but yet through this we get to see the boldness and confidence of Paul’s faith. Paul continued to Minister to the Gentiles while in chains, he knew that he was being bound in prison but, he had already bound himself to Christ by His own choice. Paul was a bonds recent of Christ, so this time in chains would not keep him from doing the desire of His father and from bringing glory to Him. I feel that it is important for us to remember this too. No matter the circumstances, we need to persevere, we need to press on, we need to run with endurance for the upward calling God has given us. In verse 2 Paul brings up the dispensation of the grace of God, which was given to Paul for the sake of the Gentiles. God gave administration of his grace to Paul and order to pass it onto the Gentiles. Here we see how God uses people to bring his gifts to others. God gave Paul the ministration of his grace so that he would pass it to the Gentiles, God wanted to bless his people. The grace of God that Paul is talking about here is, God’s plan for His church. Paul then informs the Gentiles that by revelation God has made known to him the mystery. God spoke to Paul regarding how the Gentiles and Jews would be joined together as one in the Body of Christ. Verses 4 & 5 say, “by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, which another ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the spirit of his holy apostles and prophets;”. From this we learn that the knowledge of the mystery of Christ was not know to the sons of man until this time when Paul is taking to the Ephesians. We also find out that the knowledge that is now being revealed was revealed by the spirit of his holy apostles and prophets. All of this was for the sake of the Gentiles that they should be “fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ through the gospel”. It’s amazing to realize that God’s desire is for ALL of his people to be one in Christ Jesus, one as God’s children. Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”. God has promised His people, ALL of His people through His gospel (His word), and we get to hold on to that hope, that assurance just as the Gentiles do. Of which these things Paul became a minister of grace, by the effective working of His power, God’s power. Christ sent His spirit to reveal these things to Paul and then to the Gentiles, and to us. As this mystery has been revealed, we have received a new hope and a new promise of God’s grace.

 

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My Soul Longs, Yes (Psalm 84:2)

“My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” -Psalm 84:2
I’ve read this verse over and over again over the years that I have been walking with the Lord but, for the the first time in my life, I now know what it feels like to with all your soul crave the dwelling place of the Lord. Psalm 84 is a Psalm of the sons of Korah whom saw the blessedness that comes from dwelling in the house of the Lord. They saw the loveliness and liveliness of our God and understood the praise that is due to His name because of His expounding goodness. Psalm 84:2 begins by saying “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord.”. I began to ponder what it would mean to have my soul long so much for the courts of the Lord, that it would faint… My soul is my whole self, my whole mind, my passions, the activity of my free will, and all of that breathes and lives within me. To have my soul long and yearn after, be completely overwhelmed and exhausted with such a desire and passion to be with the Lord, I cant even begin to understand. I can only imagine the capacity and intensity of such an inner yearning that brings you to the point where your soul faints to be in His holy presence. Psalm 63:1 says, “O Go, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.”. To seek the Lord like this would require serious self discipline. Jesus sought the Lord early in the morning, showing me the strength in His soul to immediately be in communion with the Lord. Early he sought the Lord and early he worshiped and praised the God of His life. Jesus truly set the example of a soul so sold out for the Lord, that he had an everlasting thirst, an everlasting constant desire for the sweetness of His Lordship. The world is a extremely dry desert land, filled with people thirsting for satisfying water. I used to be a person whom thirsted and i still am but, I’ve realized what my soul needs, I have found the only thing that will ever satisfy me, I have found Jesus. With all that is in me, in the weakness and vulnerability of my rotten flesh, I cry out praising The Lord and ruler of my life, the one and only LIVING God. Jeremiah 10:10 says, “But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the Everlasting King.”. Isn’t it incredible that we have an everlasting resource of love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. His love will always endure, and always be graciously poured upon us. I crave the Kingdom courts of the Lord! My soul longs with an exhausting desire to be in the presence of my blessed Savior. With all I am, I will sacrifice my praise and worship you my Lord. Your name will always be on my lips, and the sweetness of your loving kindness will always be engraved in my heart. My soul longs for you My God! My soul is fainting for You! My heart and soul is crying out in desperation for You! You have captivated me, and I will willingly remain in Your hands.

.summerr

TIL THE WHOLE WORLD HEARS

IGNITE CLASS 9

TEAM GUATEMALA

SUMMER BRACKEN

Bondservant of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:7)

“but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”- Philippians 2:7

When looking in a dictionary at the word humble, the defining word should be Jesus Christ. Jesus is the definition of humble in all it’s fullness. He made himself of no reputation, he made it so people could not praise his name, he didnt take the credit for the good works but, instead he turned everything to the father. He wanted the world to know him not by the things he did but by God who sent him to do these marvelous works. He turned everything to the Lord, and in this I desire to do also. Thankfully we have been gifted with the Holy Spirit which helps keep our eyes turned to the Lord, and through him we can guide the praise to the Lord. Jesus also took the form of a bondservent. A bondservent is a servant that is no longer, or is not in a bondage to servitude but, they have purposed the desire in their heart to serve the master for the sake of honoring them. Jesus was not in bondage to serving the Lord, he choose to serve him and follow his instructions. I am a bondservent of Christ. I am choosing to follow the Lord, I am not being forced to by some bond. I am choosing to follow the Lord because he is so good, so good! God has given us the freedom of free will and, choosing to be a bondservent of Jesus Christ out of my own free will has been amazing! It’s so special, it makes my relationship with the Lord so intimate and unique and find such pleasure in serving him. In Philippians 2:7, it also says that Jesus came in the likeliness of men. Jesus came to the earth as a man, he wanted to be at our level in order to reach us and connect with us on a deeper level. When Paul says that he came in the likeliness of man I cannot help but to try and relate this to us as believers. I think this could also mean that we should be living in the world but, not be apart of the world. We should have an understanding of how men think, our how our flesh thinks, in order to use that as a tool for ministry. God I just pray that you would give me a heart for the Lost, give me understanding in the likeliness of men so that I may be able to minister to them in a greater capacity. God guide my heart, influence my mind to remain focused on serving you out of love and obedience. I want to be a bondservant of you God, and be focused on eternity.

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Humble Yourself (Philippians 2:8)

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death on the cross.”
-Philippians 2:8
In Philippians 2:8, Paul say’s Jesus was found in appearance as a man, meaning that he lowered himself to become a human but, He still was the Son of God. Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to the Father, even to the point of his own death, even His death on the cross. Hebrews 2:9 says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Jesus was made lower than the angels, He was made into a man in which He was for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor. This happened in order that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone, all the people of the earth. Jesus became like us but, yet he was spotless and without sin. He came down to save and reedem our souls from the dark world. Jesus lowered himself, and was obedient to The Father to His death. Matthew 26:39 says, “He went a little farther and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.'”. Jesus had free will too, just like we do. However, Jesus was a bondservent of God. He didnt have to be obedient to the Lord but, he choose to be obedient to God because, He loves Him. In Matthew 26:39, Jesus prays to the Lord, asking if their is anyway that this cup (being the death on the cross, where Jesus carried the sins of the world) could pass from Him. Yes, Jesus did ask if the cup could pass from Him but, He also said “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” to show His willingness to be obedient to the Lord’s commands. Just as Jesus was obedient to the Lord, so must we be to the point of death, to the point of where we die to ourselves daily and pick up our cross and follow Him.

When praying to the Lord asking him for help, guidance, provision, anything and all things, I will pray saying the words of Jesus, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” because, Ultimately, I want the Lord’s will to be done in every situation and circumstance. let you desires become my desires lord.

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In the Interests of Others (Philippians 2:4)

“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”  – Philippians 2:4
I think it’s important to notice that this verse says to “look out for”. We are to look out for not only our own interests but the interests of others. What does it mean to “look out for”? To “look out for” means to keep a watchful eye upon something. While meditating on this verse and praying to the Lord asking him to speak to me, other verses came to mind. When thinking on the topic of looking out for the interests of others, as well as ourselves, Romans 15:1-2 complements this verse quite well. Romans 15:1-2 says, “We then who are strong ought to bear with scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.”. When we are walking with the Lord, we are strong because Christ makes us strong even though we are weak. The people of the world are weak because they rely on the world for their strength. Romans 15:1 says, that those who are strong ought to bear with the weak, and not in a way that pleases ourselves. The verse continues to encourage believers to please their neighbor for his own good (not our own good, not to lift up ourselves), leading them to edification. I love how Philippians 2:4 tells us to “look out for” because, this informs me that I must be looking to edify my neighbor at all times. I must also be looking out for the interests of others, not just myself. I believe this concept is app liable to everyone’s life and walk with the Lord. We are all apart of one body, a body of many parts (1 Corinthians 12). Your neighbor is a part of the body, and when he is weak the whole body knows and can feel the loss. If the other parts of the body focused on edifying and building up that part of the body, it would become strong. Sometimes we think we can carry all the weights that the world throws on our flesh but, we can’t carry it alone. We need to give those weights to Jesus, and help carry the weights of our neighbors so they dont fall behind. I need to look out for weakness among my teammates, and then help them carry those weights in order for our whole body, our whole team, to run full speed with endurance this race of faith that God has put before us.

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Lowliness of Mind (Philippians 2:3)

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”                    – Philippians 2:3
This verse is very applicable to everyone’s life but, especially to mine in this current time. I am here in Antigua, Guatemala for a mission training program called IGNITE. In my class (class 9) we currently have 12 teammates, and every single one of us has been called here. Its crazy to think that the Lord had this plan for all of us before the beginning of time. Each of us has come from different areas, and different places in our walks with the Lord. We are all striving for the same goal, and running at in with endurance. Having a team so focused on the Lord and his calling on their lives, it is very important that we all are walking in the conduct of Jesus. Philippians 2:3, exemplifies this very desired conduct. This verse tells us that we are to let nothing be done, or said through selfish ambition or conceit. Living in a community where everyone lives so close to one another and has little to no personal space, this is very important. It is easy because of our flesh, to act and do things out of our own selfishness. We want to push ourselves forward and do what is best for us, forgetting what it could do to others. “but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”, acting in selfish ambition and conceit is not how we are called to act. Acting in selfish ambition and conceit is not acting in godly conduct. We are to in the lowliness of mind, esteem others before and better than ourselves. This is applicable to my current situation with my teammates but, it is also applicable to everyone in their daily lives, no matter the circumstances. Instead of being focused on myself, I need to be focused on God and focused on God’s people. I need to lower myself just like Jesus did in John 13, and wash the feet of my teammates so that they are being cleansed, purified, and remaining set apart as holy. We can all do this by edifying one another, building each other up to produce and bear fruits in labor. It is not my desire and I pray it will never be to push myself before my teammates. If we are all running this race of face with boldness and all endurance, we can all push each other ahead and finish well. We should not hold envy in our hearts but, we should hold love for one another. Romans 12:10 says, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.”. I need to be kindly affectionate to my teammates, having brotherly love for them. I also need to in honor, give preference to them above myself. We are of one body (1 Corinthians 12) and yet we have many parts, we are still one body that is called to work together and to love each other.
preference to them above myself. We are of one body (1 Corinthians 12) and yet we have many parts, we are still one body that is called to work together and to love each other.

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Speak Boldly, Till The Whole World Hears (John 14:17)

“The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”        – John 14:17
How is it that the world cannot receive the Spirit of truth? How can the world not see Him or know Him? The world cannot receive, see, or know the Spirit of truth simply because, they have not heard. However, the believer believer knows the Spirit of truth because, the Spirit of truth dwells with them, and will be in them. We know from John 14:16, that Jesus prayed to the Father on behalf of believers for the Lord to send us a helper. The Spirit of truth or “Holy Spirit” is a gift from God, to aid believers and help them persevere in their walks with the Lord. As I continue to study John 14:17, I cannot help but to feel convicted. The world cannot receive the precious gift of the Spirit of truth because, they have not heard! 1 John 4:6 says, “We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”. This verse clearly states that the believers know God and the Spirit of truth because, they have heard of him. Maybe its not just that the world hasn’t heard but that they believe the things of God to be foolish. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”. It could be that they are just foolish and are spiritually discerned. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”. So, its safe to say that the world cannot know the Spirit of truth for two reasons: 1) The world has not heard and 2) The world is foolish ans despises wisdom and instruction. As believers we have a Great Commission (Matthew 28:17-20) to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations by preaching the gospel and baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are called to spread the truth of God’s word, and teach the nations to observe all things the Lord has commanded. Not only are we to do this but, we are to do so boldly. Ephesians 6:20 the apostle Paul says, “for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”. I find that the apostle Paul is a great example of what it means to follow the Lord and declare his truth. Paul is also a great example of being obedient to the Lord, and remaining faithful to his plan and trusting in his power for all things. As I previously stated before, the verse of John 14:17 left me feeling somewhat convicted. I’ve come to realize I haven’t been proclaiming God’s truth as boldly as I should be. I want the world to be able to know the Lord and the Spirit of Truth. I want the world to see Him and know Him just like I do, actually, I desire for them to know Him more than I do. I’m still growing in my relationship with the Lord and I’m still getting to see the Spirit of truth dwelling in me. For this is my desire O’God, let your desires become mine and let the world hear of your truth. Empty me Lord, Fill me Lord, Use me Lord, and do a work through me Lord. Till the whole world hears.
I will right “SPEAK BOLDLY” (from Ephesians 6:20) on my hand, to remind me to speak boldly of God’s truth so that the people of the world will be reached and have the opportunity to receive the Spirit of Truth that wants to dwell in their hearts. I will also spend time in prayer, asking the Lord to help me grow my appreciation for the gifting of his spirit and for him to pour a fresh outpouring upon me.

Photo Credits: Potter's Field Ministries

He Will Give (John 14:16)

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.” – John 14:16
The love of God is abundant, and is displayed through his willingness to give. In John 14:16, Jesus says he will pray to the Father, when Jesus says he will pray to the Father, he is meaning he will pray to the father on our behalf. Jesus continues to say that “He” (being the Lord) will give “you” (being the believer) another Helper. Jesus prayed on our behalf to the Father regarding him sending another Helper. We know from later in the New Testement that this “Helper” is the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost. Jesus requested that God would send us the Holy Spirit so we would have someone to help lead us, convict us, and comfort us as we follow God. Jesus also told us in John 14:16 that the “Helper” or Holy Spirit would abide with us forever. I think it is important to note that Jesus says, “that He may abide with you” because, this shows that the Holy Spirit is with us always, that He is existing with us, all of us. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 say, “Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”. The “Helper” or the Holy Spirit that Jesus is talking about in John 14:16 is given to believers after they turn to the Lord and the veil between the believer and God is torn down. The Lord is the Spirit, the Helper and he will abide in us forever. The Holy Spirit of the Lord will encourage us and help us to be transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord as he dwells with us and points us to Him. With the “Helper” being the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit being the Lord, not only will the Lord abide in us but we are called to abide in Him. John 15:4 Jesus says, “Abide in Me, and I in you…”. God has divinely designed what our relationship with him is to look like, and he shows us this design in his word. Jesus prayed, and God sent his Holy Spirit to be a helper and to abide with us forever. Our God is a giving God. Holy Spirit you are welcomed here in my heart forever, I pray that you would transform me to the image of Christ and guide me in the ways of the Father.

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If You Love Jesus (John 14:15)

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”- John 14:15
In John 14:15 Jesus clearly states that if we love him, we should keep his commandments. Out of love we are called to be obedient to his commandments and keep them written in our hearts. In Exodus chapter 20, verses 1-17 we see the commandments that the Lord has given to the people of the world. ” And God spoke all these words saying; I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, you shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image-any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep my commandments. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God and, In it you shall do no work; you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbors.”. God’s word is true, pure, holy and his commands are given to point us in the same way of being true, pure, and holy. If we love the Lord who sent his one and only son (Jesus) to die on a cross for our sins so that we could be forgiven, we should keep his commandments. 1 John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, And his commandments are not burdensome.”. God desires for us to keep his commandments and wants us to know that his commandments which he has given us aren’t burdensome. Matthew 11:30 says, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”. The yoke of God is easy and the burden of his commandments and living a life dedicated to him is light. The Lord has told us that the burden is light, and he will not give us more then we can handle so i believe it comes down to trust, obedience, and love. I need to trust that the Lord has given me these commandments for the greater good, he is not holding anything back from me but his has a plan full of blessings when things are done his way. I need to be obedient to his commandments because, I love him and he has asked me to keep them in my heart as I follow him. Finally, I need to love the Lord my God for he has given me everything, when I deserve nothing and be invested into the opportunities he places before me. I love the Lord, so I will keep his commandments.

The Desires of Man, They Drown (1 Timothy 6:9)

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”               – 1 timothy 6:9 

Paul clearly tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:9, the destructive power of desiring to be rich. He begins to explain that those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare. It’s as if someone put a wedge of cheese of a mouse trap. The mouse would smell the cheese and desire to have it at all cost so that it would be satisfied. The mouse then would follow a trail based on its desires. When the mouse finally sees the cheese he is severly tempted to run up and snatch it but, little does he know that if he takes it he has fallen into the snare of the capture. The capturer wanted to take something away from the mouse and he decieved the mouse to believe that his desire to have the cheese was leading him in the right direction. If you think about it, Satan is the tempter and capturer and we are the mouse. Those whom desire to be rich are desiring things that are not of the Lord, and they will fall into temptation and snares along the way. Paul continues in verse 9 to say, “and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”. After snatching the cheese, we are led into many foolish things and harfmul lust which Paul says have the power to drown men. What does he mean by drown men? Paul means that desiring to be rich has the power to decieve and destroy a man. When a person is drowing, they start to loose control of what is going on around them and loose control over themselves. They might try to catch a breath or swim up but at times it becomes to difficult. When a person is drowing spiritually, they have lost sight of the goodness of God and the satisfaction they find in him. They have lost control over their lives and have fallen too deep into a fading world. Paul said that the things that drown men, drown them in destruction and perdiction. Not only do they drown but they drown into destruction. This verse continues to flow with the previous verses which all give the same idea of being content. When we are not content and are focused on wanting more, we miss out on what God has already given us and fall into temptations as we desire more than he gave. I thank the Lord for teaching me this week to be content with what he has given and has provided for me.