“Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:17-20 NLT
Every decision we make has a consequence. We must take the time to think about what we are doing and what is the right thing to do in the eyes of the Lord. Do you live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Before you do anything, do you ponder what Jesus would do in the situation? Most of us are guilty of following a pattern of routine or we randomly act, or react, as situations arise. God wants us to be consciously aware of His watchful eye, and abiding presence, in everything we say and do. When we live under the umbrella of this principle we will live a life that is purposeful and productive. We cannot go wrong doing what is right! Prayerful, thoughtful decision making will always lead to the right result.
Substances like wine, beer, and other drugs can, and will, distort our thinking and corrupt our lives. Countless lives have been ravaged by substance abuse. Perhaps you, or someone you know, is caught up in that web today. It is horrible to watch how these addictions are destroying their lives. Jesus never intended us to live like that. He created us for so much more. I have worked with numerous people over the years who were in bondage to these things. Not only were they hurting their bodies and their lives, they were affecting their families and community. It all started with a decision. The good news is: God has given us the opportunity today to make more decisions. What decisions will you make and how will you make them? One day at a time, make decisions that glorify the Lord and bring blessing to others. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and guide you. He will, IF you will let Him. Begin right now with the decision to pray and ask God to forgive you and help you today to make the right choices. He's waiting for your invitation.
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.” Ephesians 5:15-16 NLT
God has given us life. Life is priceless. Each day is a gift. What we do with each day is our gift back to Him. Time doesn't stop for any of us and we can't get back the seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years that are past. We would do well to ponder our existence, its purpose, and how our lives are affecting everyone else. We cannot meander through life aimlessly. We MUST recognize, and take responsibility for, our decisions and actions. One day, we will stand before God and give an account for the life we have lived.
“That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NLT
“For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.” 2 Corinthians 5:10 NLT
Stop to think about where you are headed, what you are doing, and who you are impacting.
Do you know Jesus as Savior and Lord? Are you ready for eternity? I'm not asking if you go to church. I'm not asking if you simply want to go to heaven when you die. I'm asking you if you will let the One you say is your Savior and Lord to live through you each and every second, minute, hour, day, month, and year of your life. Imagine life like that!! That would be heaven on earth! Wow!
Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”” Ephesians 5:10-14 NLT
It is essential that disciples of Jesus be circumspectly (cautiously and carefully) observant in all that we do. We should always be conscientious of every detail of our daily conduct. Every word, thought, and deed should be examined by the Holy Spirit.
It seems that, in many churches today, the message is only about God's love, acceptance, and grace. Yes, this is the essence of the gospel. Without doubt, we are saved by grace. There is one question: Why did He save us? He saved us to restore us. We were lost and dying. He saved us to redeem us (buy us back from the slavery of sin). He didn't save us to sin. He saved us from sin. We are to display the character of the one who is our master. Since He has reached down into the miry clay of our sin and rescued us from certain death, it behoves us to live a life becoming of our new life in Him. If we are children of the light then let us shine like the light. How can we say that Jesus Christ is our Lord and yet live in utter darkness? Light drives out darkness!
Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.” Ephesians 5:3-9 NLT
What a strait forward clarion call!! These words cannot be swept under a mat as though they can be explained away. The message is absolutely clear. God expects us to behave in a holy manner. Sexual immorality means anything outside of God's original, created intent: One man and one woman in a marital, monogamous relationship. Waiting until marriage for sexual intercourse. Deviant behavior is NOT acceptable to God.
Greed is just as bad. We live in a country of greed. We get more, we want more. We are never satisfied. Children of God should clearly understand that we aren't home yet. Our citizenship is in heaven. Let's live in honor of our call. We are His ambassadors (representatives).
Have you ever heard a "church going" individual say filthy jokes or use foul language? Let it not be among us. God forbid!God is listening to our every word. If our hearts are right with God, then our mouth and actions will be too!!
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
Ephesians 5:1-2 NLT
"Imitate God"! What a motto! A motto is a statement or phrase that captures our beliefs and ideals. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to act like the One we call Lord. Acting like Jesus means we must conscientiously conduct our affairs in a manner that will be consistent with His attributes and character. Loving others is the foremost characteristic. Can you imagine a world filled with people who act like Jesus? What a Utopia (place of perfection/paradise) that would be!!
Are you acting like Jesus in your conduct? I'm not asking if you call yourself a believer or even if you go to church. Do you act like Jesus? The world needs to see Christ in us. Religion itself is simply ritual and ceremony. A relationship with God produces His likeness!
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT
Dealing with others can often turn negative. Words spoken, or actions taken, can leave a trail of negative, evil feelings. This can lead to bitterness, fits of rage, belligerent word wars, and even attempts to verbally destroy the person in the eyes of others.
It is so easy to let a root of bitterness make its home in the soil of our hearts. When this happens, we become infected with a spiritual, emotional sickness that requires divine healing. We must do two things:
1. Remember how God has loved and forgiven us.
2. Act toward others in the same way that Jesus has to us. Unforgiveness is poison to the spirit, soul, and body. Jesus spoke about forgiveness in what we call "The Lord's Prayer" in Matthew 6:9-13. He was so clear on the issue that he reiterated its significance in verses 14 and 15 - ““If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 NLT
When Jesus makes special emphasis on something, it is wise that we heed His instruction. To ignore His instruction is to invite disaster. Today, if there is someone, or something, that has made you bitter, angry, and/or unforgiving, please turn to Jesus for His help in overcoming it. There is victory and freedom through Him.
“If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.”
Ephesians 4:28-30 NLT
1. Don't steal. Work hard to earn an honest wage and use your resources to help those who are in need. God expects His children to be responsible and productive, not lazy and entitled.
2. We must use our words to help, not hurt. It is easier to be critical than it is to be helpful. There is a time and place for constructive criticism. However, many of us are destructive instead of constructive with our words. We all have said things at the wrong time in the wrong way. Let us pray that God would rein in our words and that He would be the conductor of our conversation.
3. We must constantly be aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit. If we are truly a child of God, the Holy Spirit resides within us (see I Corinthians 6:19-20). We must not ignore, quench, or grieve Him. He must be our conscience. Everything we do should be placed under His analysis and direction.
Are you living like you are in charge or are you living like the Holy Spirit is? Perhaps you need to resign from the management position and become a servant.
“So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”Ephesians 4:25-27 NLT
Speaking the truth is often harder than telling a lie. May the Lord help us speak the truth. May the truth be shared with grace.
“Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”
Colossians 4:6 NLT
God isn't telling us to be brutal with our words. I've met some people like that. He is calling us to be honest and graceful. Words can stir up anger.
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” Proverbs 15:1 NLT
Getting angry is a response to adverse circumstances. We are all susceptible to this. What we do with this anger is the righteous or unrighteous thing.
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” James 1:19-20 NLT
When the opportunity for getting angry presents itself, pause for a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to arrest your thoughts and actions in the name of Jesus and then act like Jesus, not the devil.
Perhaps this one is just for you today. I pray so.
“But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Ephesians 4:20-24 NLT
These are great words to live by. Let us toss aside the old way of doing things like old, dirty clothes. Since we have been washed by Jesus blood, let us put on the new, clean, and fresh garments of holiness that represent our Lord well. Our actions do not save us but they certainly demonstrate our relationship with, and our understanding of, God's righteousness. God is holy!!!We are His children! Shouldn't we be representing Him well?
“With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.”
Ephesians 4:17-19 NLT
"The Gentiles" were the heathens and pagans of the time. They were either godless or worshipped false gods. Their lifestyle was wicked, immoral, and completely without conscience. There was no respect for life or sexuality. "Anything goes" was their way of life. Sounds like our society today doesn't it?
Where there is no fear of the One true God, there is every evil known to man. When this mindset infiltrates the family, churches, government, and schools we see complete disrespect for human life, confused sexual passions, disrespect for authority, and much more. Isn't this where we are today?
Something to think about.
Rev. Curtis Norris