Ephesians 2: By Grace Through Faith

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And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace and kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Today, we get to a lot of the stuff we were talking about – our deadness, our love of evil, God’s love for completely unworthy people, how HE made us alive, and how we’re set free to do good works.

Let’s talk about US this time: where were we and what did God do?

1. We were dead in our sin. Dead. Unable to accept Jesus.  Like a corpse that’s been under dirt for a thousand years.
2. We were doing it the world’s way. We were following the world, the flesh, and the devil. We were completed opposed to God.
3. God is merciful. Though we are sinners, though we opposed, even hated God, he made us alive. We were dead, but he made us alive in Christ. He saved us from our sinfulness and hatred and woke us up!
4. God’s grace saved us. Not our works, at all. Our faith isn’t a work. We would NEVER have faith in God unless God woke us up and saved us first.
5. We are God’s creation. We’re God’s workmanship. And we’re here to do good works.

So get the order: we’re dead, God makes us alive through his grace alone, and we’re freed to do good works for him, like we’re created to.

We aren’t alive, doing good works, and God helps us out.

We’re DEAD, stuck in the bottom of the ocean with hundreds of pounds of weight on our neck.
The Creator of the Universe steps in, rescues us, and frees us of all that weight.
He’s made us righteous in CHRIST. When God looks at us, he sees Jesus’ perfection in us. On our own, we’re nothing. But through Jesus, we are completely righteous.
Of course, we still are sinners in our human flesh. But instead of fearing God’s wrath on unrighteousness, we’re free to live for him, set free to grow into what we already are in Christ.

But instead of fearing God’s wrath on unrighteousness, we’re free to live for him, set free to grow into what we already are in Christ, to do what we’re ultimately made for: obeying, glorifying, and enjoying God.

The Gospel in Ephesians 1

THE GOSPEL IN Ephesians 1
To share this post with a friend, direct them to ephesians1.zachphilip.com.  Thank you!
Today I’m kicking off a blog series on Ephesians. The main change is I’m not going to spend a post on one verse. We’re going to delve into each chapter and learn about Jesus.
Greeting
 
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
 
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
 
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Spiritual Blessings in Christ
 
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
 
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth,the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
What’s super cool about Ephesians 1: 1-16 is how the whole gospel is right here.
What do we see about God in this passage?
  1. God chose us before we were born, before the earth was formed, before we even knew ourselves.
  2. He chose us so that “we should be holy and blameless before him”. We’ve broken God’s perfect will and apart from Jesus are ANYTHING but holy and blameless. But God chose us to save us from our total, utter deadness so that we could live for Him.
  3. He loves us. He adopted us through his grace which we see in Christ’s death at the cross.
  4. He’s redeemed and forgiven us. Because He loves us so much. Not because we’re awesome.
  5. As chosen children of God, God’s given us an inheritance: Heaven.
  6. The Holy Spirit lives in every single Christian, and He is the promise of this inheritance.
It’s crazy: God CHOSE all Christians before the earth was formed. To think that our name would cross the King of everything’s mind is pretty amazing. But he’s chosen, adopted, and saved us. He sent his Son to die a murderer’s death to save who?  God-haters.
It’s not like we loved God and he wanted to love us back because we’re so awesome.
No. We hated God. Apart from God saving us, we’re the very ones who’d spit at Jesus, mock, even kill him beside two common criminals.
But God loved us with such an awesome love that though we hated him, he chose us, he sent his Son to the earth, not to become an earthly King and punish us (like we deserved), but go to a cross and take our punishment. Because He loves us.
And now,
we get to glorify God,
and to enjoy him forever.
We’re set free, not to keep on sinning, but to live for Jesus.  To love others, to obey his commands, to follow, and glorify him.
Because this is what we’re made for and this is the only thing that will truly satisfy us – glorifying God forever.

Spurgeon’s Morning Devotional (6/28)

This one’s really good!


“Looking unto Jesus.” — Hebrews 12:2

It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.

He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.”

All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.”
Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee-it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee-it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument-it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith.

We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “looking unto Jesus.” Keep thine eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to him; when thou liest down at night look to him.

Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail thee.

“My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness: I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

An Illustrated Review of the Lifestraw

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I just got a Lifestraw for my 14th birthday today and wanted to tell you a little bit about them.

Lifestraws are water filter straws (that are really popular; right now, my Lifestraw has 6,166 reviews on Amazon!).  According to Amazon, A Time Magazine Invention of the Year winner, LifeStraw contains no chemicals, no batteries, and no moving parts to wear out. It features a high flow rate and weighs only 2oz. It is perfect for the Ultralight backpacker, camper, hiker, traveler, boy scout, hunter or for emergencies. Unlike many similar filters on the market today, LifeStraw has met EPA standards for water filtration in independent testing. LifeStraw has been used around the world under extreme conditions for humanitarian relief. Does not filter chemicals, salt, viruses, heavy metals, taste. Please NOTE: It takes roughly 3-5 seconds of sucking to start the flow of water through the filter.

In an emergency, you could definitely just stick this in a body of water and slurp up.

  • Award-winning LifeStraw has been used by millions around the globe since 2005
  • Removes minimum 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria (>LOG 6 reduction) and surpasses EPA standards for water filters
  • Removes minimum 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites (>LOG 3 reduction) and filters to an amazing 0.2 microns
  • Filters up to 1000 liters of contaminated water WITHOUT iodine, chlorine, or other chemicals
  • Comes in a sealed bag, perfect for storing for emergencies
  • Uses: Running, Hiking, Survival
  • Really light: only 2 ounces
  • It flows at 1.7 liters a minute 
Also cool, you can hang it around your neck.
The Lifestraw filters 1000 liters of water and after that, it basically just stops filtering so you don’t have to worry if your straw expired.
Here’s what it doesn’t filter: chemicals and viruses.  So obviously, if you’re in an area that tends to have a lot of chemicals or viruses, try iodine or boiling.
Now for my experiment:
I grabbed a bowl, filled it with a bunch of nasty stuff like chili powder, ground up coffee, salt, and cinnamon and it turned to a scary red.
Next, I stuck my straw in and waited a few seconds for the water to go through the filter.  Then, I drank.  It actually tasted pretty good and the water turned pretty much white (except I think spit got in the way to turn it off-white).  Once I got to a really concentrated amount of chili powder, it got a tiny bit spicy.
If you’re ever in a survival situation where you need to drink clean water from coffee, chili powder, cinnamon, and salt water, check out the Lifestraw.
Plus, for every straw you buy, Lifestraw will add on a free straw for an African kid for a whole school year!

What I’m Reading Right Now

I’ve just begun a new weekly post on my blog: What I’m Reading Right Now and this is a pretty good time to kick it off since I’ve jumped into some harder books that I’m slowly working through.

So here’s everything I’m reading right now:

Watership Down by Richard Adams (I was supposed to read this in 6th grade but I ended up hating it. I picked it up again and actually like it)

The Institutes of Christian Religion by John Calvin (yeah, the Insitutes… It’s a (tiny) bit less hard than I thought)

World of Psychology (I’m reading this for school and it’s not exactly a fun read!)

Life of Fred: Beginning Algebra (also for school, but insanely fun…you MUST get it)

Survival Wisdom & Know-How (really cool outdoor survival book)

 

Romans (it is a book, right?)

Patriots by James Wesley Rawles (a really good, super detailed TEOTWAWKI novel)

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (AMAZING!! I’ve read the entire thing like 10 times)

As you can see, I don’t read one book at a time!  And that keeps it fun so I don’t have to stick with one book at a time.

What are you reading?  Post it in the comments!

 

Chapter 1 of my unnamed book

It had only been a few hours ago. The sun had already set, the stars were out, all was still that northern Idaho evening.

A coyote wailed at the freight train in the distance for a minute, then all Will could hear was his faint breath. “He’s gone.”
Another long pause.
“It can’t be. It was only three hours a… Oh!” The eerie yellow beam of a flashlight nearly blinded Will. Then came the deepest, most frightening voice he’d heard:
“He’s not yours anymore,” a well-worn bearded face hissed, revealing three missing teeth and an array of soft yellowish ones.
Will opened his mouth but nothing came out. He just stared dead still for three minutes and his face began to turn white. His retriever was gone. Taken away. Everything began to make sense, especially when the man coughed and handed him a torn, illegible sheet with a large blot of gray ink at the top. He read the title (written in all capitals) silently.
YOU WILL NEVER SEE THAT FOOL OF A DOG AGAIN.
The cold stung the boy’s already numb fingers. Finally, one scared, bitter syllable left his throat. “Why?”
“You don’t speak. It’s up to me to decide things here, not you.” He grabbed Will’s neck. “You understand?”
Will raised his head and the man continued. “The only way you get that horrid dog in your face… come with me.”
Will had no choice as the man jerked him toward a thorny bush opposite to the train tracks. “Get in, now.”
The man forced the door open and nearly threw Will inside. By now the boy was screaming for help, but the closest neighbor was miles away and the man immediately covered his mouth, shut the door, and locked it.