Sunday, June 27, 2021

The Faithful


God bless the faithful … they don’t often have it easy.

The treasure of God’s blessing on our life is found in the field of God’s will for our life.

Often when I offer thanks to God for the great meal I am about to enjoy in a comfortable restaurant with my family, I think of the men and women who are separated from their loved ones, standing on a border, protecting citizens, enduring the heat, the cold, the rain, the long nights, who are opening their MRE’s and trying to decide if their surprise ration for the day is worth warming up. God bless the faithful.

Let’s go to the Word of God together … to the Gospel of Luke. 

Luke 15 

25  "Now his older son was in the field…

Allow me to interrupt the reading for just a moment and consider that when God formed Adam, the scriptures tell us that God planted a garden in what was no doubt a formerly barren, empty, and unfruitful field.

Genesis 2:8 ¶  And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.

There God placed the man, and He gave Adam instructions to cultivate and take care of the opportunity he had been given.

Genesis 2:15  The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

God has a field of life into which He places each one of us, intending that we work it and keep it on His behalf. Not one person is without opportunity, and we all have potential to work the field of God’s choice for our lives. But potential is just potential. We can squander and waste even the greatest opportunities God gives. God’s field, but our choice.

Among Jesus’ many expressions of the Kingdom of God we find numerous parables concerning fields and vineyards pictured as opportunities God gives to His children to work for Him, so they won’t have to work for the world. As with Adam, God expects us to increase and be successful as we work for and with Him. He also wants us to remember that the field of our service and a measure of our increase actually belongs to Him.

Last Sunday the text for our Father’s Day message was taken from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15, verses 11-24. We read about a father who had two sons. The younger son demanded his inheritance and when it was given him, he traveled to a foreign land and wasted it all on riotous living.

When the young son had squandered all his money, he hired himself out to a citizen of that foreign country who promptly sent the young man out into his fields to feed the swine. This otherwise rich young man almost starved to death until one day he finally came to himself.

Just a note here: One of the many truths revealed to us by the Holy Spirit in this account is the fact that: Each and every one of us is going to work in someone’s field. Either we work for a loving Father where everything ultimately belongs to us, or we work for a foreign slave master who will expect everything for himself and give us nothing in return.

Last week we focused on the attributes of a godly Father. We didn’t take much time on the younger son except to show how he finally came to himself …

·        He remembered

·        He repented

·        He returned

Interesting to hear that this was the same basic message Jesus gave to the Apostle John for the Church at Ephesus in the Book of Revelation, chapter 2. We recently studied this passage together after 30 of us returned from visiting the City of Ephesus.

This morning we are going to turn our focus not on the father and not on the younger son who was wayward and returned to be forgiven of his loving Father, but rather on the older son who remained at home, faithfully working in his father’s field. This older son was Faithful and Frustrated.

Luke 15

25  "Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.

26  "So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.

27  "And he said to him, ’Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

28  "But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.”

The older son would not go into the house. Although he was in the family he was not in the house. We can be in the family and yet miss all that is in the house. We can be faithful and yet be frustrated; so frustrated that we don’t even want anything to do with family. We may love the father but be frustrated with family. We can be working tirelessly in the field and lose appreciation for whom, what, and why we are working. This older son was so frustrated would not even come into the house.

What was in the house?

1.   There was Joy in the house.

2.   There was Provision in the house.

3.   There was Restoration in the house.

So many times people who are in the family miss out on so much because they will not come into the house. They end up being angry and isolated not realizing the joy, provision, and relationship that is in the house. They are faithful but they are also frustrated.

Frustration often arises when a faithful servant or son loses their love for the lost and their joy for those who have been found. Some of the most faithful, such as Martha, (Luke 10:40ff), are so burdened with all that needs to be done or all that’s not being done they lose the joy of all that is being done.

As well, many of God’s faithful servants have their own opinions as to what the Father should do with the ones they consider to be less faithful. The older son had reasons why he was frustrated but he completely missed the greater picture and his part in making this repentance, return, and reunion possible. The faithful son kept the family strong so that the wayward son would have a place to return when he repented. No doubt the Father was so proud of his older son who had been faithfully working in his field.

Don’t be upset and refuse to participate in what heaven is happy about.

Luke 15

29  “So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.

30  ‘But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

31  “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.

32  ‘It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”

It is right that that we should be glad and excited when someone repents. All of heaven rejoices more over one sinner that repents than over the 99 who need no repentance. That was the message Jesus started with in Luke 15:7 before He gave this account.  

1.   God is depending on your faithfulness.

a.   And so are others

b.   The Father needs a house and the lost need a home

c.    Faithfully and joyfully embrace the field of God’s choice for your life.

2.   Everything the Father has is yours.

a.   Look around at how blessed and fortunate you are

b.   As a faithful child that’s right with God, all He has is yours

c.    God will not withhold any good thing from those who are upright before Him. (Psalms 84:11)

3.   Don’t lose sight of the goal.

a.   Sorry … but it’s not always going to be about you

b.   It may be about the lost or someone who needs Jesus

c.    Rejoice and be happy when someone comes to themselves, repents, and returns. Be faithful and not frustrated.

d.   Don’t be upset and refuse to participate in what heaven is happy about. God bless the faithful … it’s not easy.

e.   Life is so much bigger than you and there is so much joy in the Father’s house … come on in!

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Gospel of John


The writer of the Gospel of John is the Apostle John …

·        One of the first two disciples Jesus called to come and follow Him.

·        John was employed as a fisherman along with his brother James.

·        Both of them were the sons of a man named Zebedee and their mother was named Salome. (Mark 16:1)

·        When Jesus called them, they both forsook all and followed Him.

·        The Lord surnamed them “Boanerges”, which means, “Sons of Thunder”. (Mark 3:17)

·        These two brothers were among the favored three who accompanied Jesus along with Peter to several places which the other disciples were not invited. (Mark 5;9;14)

·        We don’t know what happened to John’s father, Zebedee, after his two sons left the family business to become disciples of Jesus of Nazareth. The Bible does not include a continuing account of Zebedee the fisherman, however we do see his wife, Salome, faithfully following Jesus all the way to the resurrection and presumably beyond.

·        It was John’s mother, Salome, who walked with Jesus and His disciples on the road and asked Him to allow her two sons to sit beside Him, one on His right and the other on His left, when He established His future Kingdom. (Matthew 20:20ff)

·        There is reason to believe the Zebedee family was a family of means and connections.

o   John was recognized and allowed inside the gates of the High Priest’s home in Jerusalem during the trial of Jesus.

o   John also vouched for Peter to be allowed inside the courtyard as well. (John 18:15)

o   There is a stone tablet which was discovered by archeologists in the city of Capernaum which commemorates the building of the Synagogue in that city with funds provided by the house and family of Zebedee. Go with me and I’ll show you this magnificent piece of history.

·        Salome is known to be among the group of women who traveled with Jesus and assisted Him on His journeys by providing funds and service to Him and His companions.

o   Mark 15:41  (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.

o   Matthew 27:55  And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:

o   Luke 8:3  and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.

·        John is believed to have been the youngest disciple of Jesus and he lived to be the oldest and is thought to be the only disciple who died a peaceful death.

·        John is called the “Disciple whom Jesus loved”, four times by John himself. (John 13;20;21)

·        At the cross, Jesus entrusted the continued care of Mary, His mother, to John. (John 19)

·        Late in life, many assume in his late 90’s or perhaps at even 100 years old, after having invested himself in many disciples, John writes 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John as well as what we hold in our hands tonight, the Gospel of John. He wrote them all from the city of Ephesus.  

This is John, the Disciple of Jesus, the last living Apostle of the Lamb, the man who outran Peter to the empty tomb that first Sunday morning after the crucifixion; the man who walked into the Temple with Peter (Acts 3) and saw the lame man rise up and walk by the power of the Name of Jesus; the man who was put into prison and beaten by the religious leaders in Jerusalem for teaching that the resurrected Jesus was the Messiah and Savior of the world; the man who was sent to Samaria by the Church in Jerusalem after Phillip had held a revival there and the whole city got saved … John laid his hands on the Believers and they all received the Holy Spirit like Peter and John did on the day of Pentecost; the man who watched his older brother James martyred with the sword by the Government for preaching the truth about Jesus; the man who no doubt received news of the martyrdom of every other one of the disciples he once walked and talked and ministered with while following Jesus for those 3½ years; the disciple who was exiled to the Isle of Patmos under either Emperor Nero or Domitian. There he had the visions recorded in the book of Revelation; the man who sat late in life, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and wrote to us about Jesus and the fact that we must be born-again.

Let’s begin at verse 1 of this amazing book about the person and the love of Jesus Christ.

John 1

1 ¶  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2  He was in the beginning with God.

3  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

4  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

5 ¶  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There is no doubt the Apostle John wrote this Gospel and John even tells us exactly why:

John 20:31  These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

We are going to spend some time together in the Gospel of John during these next few Wednesday evenings. It is my hope, as well as the hope of the Apostle John, that in hearing the testimony of Jesus Christ, you might believe and that in believing, you may have eternal life in His name.


Saturday, June 19, 2021

Choose Me


John 14:8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied."

Today is Father’s Day in America. It’s the day we set aside each year to honor the fathers in our lives. There are adoptive fathers, stepfathers, biological fathers, foster fathers, and spiritual fathers. There are fathers of our nation, fathers of our faith, fathers of higher education, and men who are known as fathers for almost every other facet of life.

Fathers come in many sizes, shapes, and kinds. There are well-known fathers and unknown fathers, there are good fathers, bad fathers, indifferent fathers, absentee fathers, and fathers who teach us what we should do as well as fathers who teach us what we should not to do.

Being a father is not always easy but, in some instances, being a father may be the most like God any person could achieve on earth. However, the moment a man decides he is going to be a father is only half of the equation. The other half is when someone to whom you have decided to be a father chooses you to father them.

What a joyful day it is when someone chooses God to be their heavenly Father. Even though God is perfect, yet sometimes it takes time for others to realize just how much He cares. This morning we are going to use a passage of scripture from the Gospel of Luke to rehearse what a godly man can do in the time between deciding to be a father and actually becoming one. In other words: What do I do until they Choose Me.

We will build today’s lesson on the fact that:

·        God wants to be a Father.

You know, being a father is a choice. God could have cast Himself in any image: as the sun, the moon, fire, wind, a bull or whatever He wished. There would have been no wrong way for Him to portray Himself. However, He chose the image of a Father. The Apostle John refers to a father 111 times in the Gospel of John alone.

Let’s look into the Gospel of Luke now, chapter 15. We will begin reading in verse 11 and discuss some of the Godly attributes of a good father.

Luke 15  NKJV

11  Then Jesus said, “A certain man had two sons.

12  And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.

13  And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal (riotous) living.

14  But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.

15  Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

16  And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

17  But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

18  I will arise and go to my father and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,

19  and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’

20  And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.

21  And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22  But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.

23  And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry:

24  for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.”

5 Attributes of a Godly Father

1.   Respect for evolving family relationships

a.   V 12

b.   As our children and our family grow, we must adjust ourselves to meet the evolving criteria of that growing relationship.

c.    Different seasons demand different perspectives.

Galatians 4

1  Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave though he is master of all,

2  but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

d.   Children are not meant to remain children forever.

e.   While we are waiting on our children to recognize and respect our contributions as a father, we should also recognize and respect the fact that they are growing up and experiencing life themselves. Life is throwing never before encountered temptations their way.

f.    Family relationships grow and evolve. Children become responsible for their own lives at some point. If we wish them to continue to respect us, we must at some point begin to respect them. 

2.   A reputation for being kind and generous to others

a.   V 17

b.   Not only to the family but to servants, employees, and strangers as well. This son knew his father to be a just and kind man.

3.   Approachable

a.   V 18

b.   Accessible and approachable with any problem.

c.    Not judgmental, critical, condemning or rejection prone.

4.   Unashamedly Compassionate

a.   V 20

b.   Strong enough to show his love.

5.   Forgiving

I full well imagine the father forgave his son long before the son returned home. Forgiveness and restoration are two different things. Restoration often has to wait on change.

·        Forgiveness is by grace …

·        Restoration is work.

All God wants is to be a Father. And, before God’s Son was born, God chose a man to be the earthly representation of a father to Jesus. It is evident from creation that God values the role of a father in the life of every child.

I applaud so many of you men who at some point decided to be a father and have been doing a great job at it and have gained the respect and honor of your children. Keep up the good work. I pray for the men among us who are following God’s example of fatherhood and have children who are currently refusing to be fathered. Don’t quit … don’t give up. Be like the father of the prodigal son who must have prayed for his son every day and stood watching and waiting for his certain return.

Then, for the men who have children who are desperately waiting for you to decide to be their father, I beg you in the name of Jesus, make that decision today.

Just because a man grew up without a godly father in his life does not mean that his children have to experience the same deficit.

Men, you have the potential to be the perfect father God chose for your children, your biological children; your adopted children; and the spiritual children God intends for you.

And to the families, honor the fathers among us as gifts from God. Pray for us – we need it – being an earthly representation of God is not always easy.

You can read the rest of that story at your leisure and as you do, see if you can find some other redeeming qualities that make a man the father God intended him to be. And remember men:

·        Fatherhood is a choice – It’s not just a name on a birth certificate.

·        Relationships are meant to grow and change. It’s healthy …

·        Build a reputation for being kind, generous, and just.

·        Always be approachable. Don’t say “I told you so.”

·        Express your love in ways that are meaningful to others.

·        Forgive – and when necessary – work hard to be restored.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Saved by Works


Although we do not get saved by works, it is works that saves us. 

Someone worked so you could get saved! 

God gave the Apostle Paul the primary responsibility of evangelizing Gentiles and teaching them how to live a life pleasing to Christ. Although Paul was fortunate to visit most of the cities we find in the New Testament, he was able only to spend a brief period of time in any one location. His job was to plant as many seeds of the Gospel in as many places as possible and then to water those seeds and cultivate each new congregation by sending other teachers and writing letters of instruction to them.

Each letter Paul sent was directly inspired and anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Word of God and contained instruction, correction, encouragement, and/or information necessary to live a godly life. The New Testament is the anointed Word of God which has been preserved for us. Heaven and earth will pass away but the Word of God will stand forever.

When Paul was directed by God to take the Gospel to the Gentiles living in Europe, God sent him first to the city of Philippi. You can read this account in Acts 16. Last week our tour group were blessed to witness the baptism of 3 of the members of our congregation in the Aegean Sea, at the old seaport of Troas, right where the Apostle Paul and his companions left Asia on their first trip to Europe. It was just a short boat ride across to Macedonia, which is better known as Greece today.

A few years later,  perhaps AD62 from prison in Rome, Paul was led to write a letter back to the Church of the Philippians. Timothy, and a few other companions in the Gospel, were visitors who were allowed to stay with Apostle Paul while he was under house arrest in Rome. Paul was being held under guard while his appeal was being considered by Nero.

It seems to have worked out well and Paul was able to receive visitors in his own house and hear reports and write letters to several churches during that time. We can easily see how God orchestrates our lives according to His divine plan and purpose. Paul may never have had the time to write all of the letters we have today if he had not have been in prison. The Bible says that a man may ponder his path, but the Lord directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

This past Sunday we found that virtually every Epistle penned by the Apostle Paul, as well as by the Apostle Peter, and even the Book of Revelation, which was penned by the Apostle John, includes the very same phrase. Do you remember what that phrase was? We will read it again in the second verse of Philippians chapter 1.

Philippians 1 NKJV

1 ¶  Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

2  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Based on the Acts 16 account of what happened in Philippi and how the Philippian Church was started, I believe the Church was full of the families of men who were in jail along with a high concentration of prison guards and their families. It seems the businessmen and the city magistrates were not very fond of Paul. But the prisoners with whom he had been incarcerated loved him. Paul no doubt changed their lives.

I have noted that often when people get saved from a life of crime filled with sin, they get radically saved. Those who were all out sinners often make sold out saints. This is one reason we never want to give up on sinners. When a notorious sinner gets saved, they don’t mind telling all their friends and that’s the stuff revival is made of.

At any rate, the Apostle Paul found himself inspired to write some fairly direct words to the converts in the Philippian Church. This evening we are going to concentrate on the first few verses of Chapter 2 and expound on the timeless truth of God’s Word to the Church. These truths still apply to us today.

Philippians 2

1 ¶  Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,

2  fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

3  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

4  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

5  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

6  who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,

7  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

8  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

9  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,

10  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

11  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

12 ¶  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

13  for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

14 ¶  Do all things without complaining and disputing,

15  that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

16  holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

If we are to grow and walk in the grace of God, we must apply these admonitions of the Holy Spirit to our lives.

Although we do not get saved by works, it is works that saves us … someone else’s work!

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Falling From Grace


I want to say a special thanks to all those who accompanied me to Turkey this past week. It was an exciting and fruitful trip and we heard so many powerful testimonies as to what the Lord did during those 9 days. As well, I wish to share my appreciation for all who continued here at GTCOTR and at Church Online. You kept the vision running and met untold numbers of needs both here in Southeast Texas and around the world. May God bless each and every one of us in the Name of Jesus. He is a covenant God who brought us all home safely and with joy, peace, and health.

Romans 1:7  To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1: 3  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:2  Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:3  Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

Philippians 1: 2  Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:2  To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:1  Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:2  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 1:2  Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

2 Timothy 1:2  To Timothy, a beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Titus 1:4  To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Philemon 1:3  Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

1 Peter 1:2  Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

2 Peter 1:2  Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

Revelation 1:4  John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

I believe any reader of the New Testament would conclude that it is the will of God for His children to have grace and peace in their daily lives.

·        Grace is the God factor in our lives that makes us able to do and be what we could not do and be on our own.

o   Grace is the unmerited favor and ability of God.

·        Peace is what we experience in life when we truly trust God.

o   It is the rich soil cultivated by faith in God.

o   If we know God and are satisfied with His will, we will have peace.

God’s grace is always sufficient for our every need in life.

Yet, I’ve seen people, good people, God’s people, fall from grace!

How can a person know if they or someone else has fallen from grace?

One of the greatest indicators is that when a person falls from grace, they begin to lose passion for what they once loved and soon the peace of God that passes all understanding goes right out of the door with it.

A person can still be doing good things and still look like they did before. However, when a person falls from grace, they begin to lose:

·        Peace with God

·        Peace with others

·        Peace within themselves

It is interesting. When we lose peace with God, we stop trusting Him and begin to imagine we know best. When we lose peace with others, we also stop trusting them. And when we lose peace within ourselves, we often don’t know where to turn and we feel cut off from all help and hope. It is a sad thing to fall or see someone else fall from the grace of God which they once enjoyed so freely.

However, our wonderful loving caring Father God gave us both warning and instruction concerning what we should do if we ever feel the grace or peace slipping from our lives. There is a biblical precedence for this spiritual syndrome. We can read about it happening to the first century Church in the First Letter to Ephesus.

1 Ephesus 1

1 ¶  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:

2  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The First Letter to Ephesus continues with great admonitions and encouragements concerning how to stay in the grace of God and how to live our lives in the peace which passes all understanding. It continues:

·        Pray

·        Be thankful for salvation which was a gift of love by grace and mercy, not works. (2:8-9) Because …

·        Jesus is our peace Who has broken down every wall …

·        He abolished the handwriting against us

·        He came and preached peace to the world

·        Do not lose heart

·        Be rooted and Grounded in love

·        Know the love of Christ

·        Walk worth of Christ

·        Grow up and walk in the unity of the faith

·        Put off the Old Man which is corrupt and put on the New Man

·        Don’t allow anger to make you sin

·        Give no place to the devil

·        Don’t use foul or abusive language which only hurts others

·        Choose your words carefully to encourage others and to build them up, not hurt their feelings or tear them down

·        Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit by being all angry and bitter and filled with hate and wrath.

·        Don’t do anything with malicious intent

·        Be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving, knowing Jesus forgave you.

·        Walk in love

·        Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands

·        Husbands, love your wives

·        Children, honor and obey your parents

·        Servants and Employees, obey your masters and bosses

·        Everyone put on the whole armor of God

These are the admonitions concerning how to continue in the grace and peace of God.

The first letter to the Church in Ephesus concludes with:

1 Ephesus 6

23  Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

24  Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.

The word grace is found 159 times in the Bible; 12 times in the 6 chapters of the book of Ephesians alone.

The word peace is found 429 times in the scriptures.

The prayer “Grace and peace be multiplied to you” is included in virtually every Epistle of the New Testament. The Church in Ephesus heeded the Holy Spirit’s inspired Words of God. They adapted their lives to reflect Christ and His love for the lost. The Believers in Ephesus worked hard to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole of Eurasia, and they were very successful.

They did great things for Jesus and others yet somewhere along the way they forgot why they were doing it.

A mere 40 years after they received that first Holy Spirit inspired letter, the Church in Ephesus fell into need of another fresh Word from God. Hence, The Second Letter to Ephesus was delivered by Jesus Himself.

The Apostle Paul who had lived in Ephesus for almost 3 years penned the first letter to the Church. The second letter to the Church in Ephesus was penned by the Apostle John who had lived in Ephesus for perhaps a quarter century or more, long after the Apostle Paul’s death. Let’s read it. It is the Second Letter to the Church at Ephesus. We find this letter in:

Revelation 2

1 ¶  “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:

2  “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;

3  “and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.

4  “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

5  “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent.

Somewhere along the way these believers in the Church experienced a fall from grace – the grace to love Jesus and others as they did at the first.

The NLT says it like this:

Revelation 2:4  “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!”

These saints did not lose their salvation, rather they lost the joy of their salvation and were in danger of becoming unusable to Jesus.

How sad it would be to fall from Grace … to lose the passion you once had for the work of God and no longer be in love with what you do for Him. Going through the motions is just not enough for either you or for Jesus.

I love to be excited about what we do. It would be terrible to lose or to leave that first love.

How can a person who has fallen from grace, who has no peace, perhaps even lost faith in God, trust in others and joy within themselves for the things of Christ, recover? Listen to the words of Jesus …

1.   Remember

2.   Repent

3.   Return

You can begin that process right now! Why not? Why live without peace and outside of the grace of God, without joy, angry, bitter, unloving, unkind, and uncaring about others? All of that can change with one decision. Life and thoughts, words and actions can all be cleaned up and put back on track under the blood of Jesus. The passion and joys of serving Jesus and others in His name can once again be found.

God will restore … give Him this chance … He still wants to use you for His glory.

Remember … Repent … Return!!!