“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 in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV)
When the Apostle Paul packed the promises into what he wrote, such as today’s passage, we end up with long sentences and more verses. Sometimes the verse divisions* break up Paul’s intended flow. Four verses today are full of promises. Reading the parts of this long sentence together will help us to see the inclusive promises from God. All that God has done for us and all that He will do comes from His mercy and great love for us. We were dead when God made us alive in Christ. The power that raises believers out spiritual death and makes us alive spiritually is the same power that energizes every aspect of Christian living. It is by grace of God we are saved being raised up and seated – we know from the tenses used – “raised” and “seated” that these are immediate and direct results of salvation. Salvation of course, is very much for our blessing as believers, but even more its purpose is to demonstrate God’s eternal glory for giving believers His endless and limitless grace and kindness. All of these promises are only ours because we have by faith been permanently placed in Christ.
“For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; ” – Ephesians 1:15-16 (NASB)
In the letters which were written by the Apostle Paul and sent to the believers in the churches he had planted, we find awesome prayers. Often what Paul wrote is translated into very long sentences. The prayers of the Apostle Paul, which he offered on behalf of the believers in the churches he planted, are packed with such great truth. We can notice that Paul’s reason was his receiving news about their faith and their love for all the saints. Love for other believers evidences their saving faith and is a cause of thanksgiving. In today’s selected verses Paul tells the Ephesians how he does not cease to give thanks and includes them when he prays. Paul must have had a very long prayer list and long prayers sessions. In the verses that follow, (Ephesians 1:18-23) Paul prays listing the specifics. Some of what he prayed for us to have knowledge and experience of are: a spirit of wisdom, knowledge of Him, enlightened eyes (vision or sight), the hope of His calling, riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, surpassing greatness of His power toward believers, the strength of His might.
“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,” – Ephesians 1:7-8 (ESV)
What is it like to have someone lavish good things on us? ‘Lavish’ is not a word we use enough but it means so much and when used in today’s context, it is a blessing and a promise. It means to pour out, to abound and our promise is that God has already poured and continues pouring out in abundance the riches of His grace. We don’t deserve grace and we can’t earn it. Grace is given to the undeserving by the will and action of God. The term ‘redemption through His blood’ is used here and is an act of paying the required ransom to God for the release of a person from bondage. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross where he bled and died, paid that price for every elect person enslaved by sin. It was Jesus Christ’s gracious action that bought each of us who believe out of the slave market of iniquity. The price of redemption was death. The promise of redemption includes the limitless grace of God, and forgiveness of sin. This promise brings divinely-bestowed spiritual understanding. This is what God has poured out lavishly, beyond our imagination because He loves us.
“He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. ” – Psalm 91:4 (ESV)
The imagery in this verse will be very familiar to anyone who has lived where their chickens have the run of the yard. When a hen’s brood has hatched, her chicks follow her wherever she goes. She leads them to food and they learn how to find it for themselves. If ever the shadow of a hawk passes over the hen she senses the danger and sends out a call to her chicks. They run to her and hide under her spread her wings. Her wing feathers keeping them safe from the sharp eyes of the hawk who can swiftly dive and snatch up the small chicks for a meal. That’s a metaphor the psalmist gives us of God’s faithful protection. God will cover us with his ‘pinions’ and we find refuge under His ‘wings.” Our God is spirit and doesn’t actually have wings or feathers but the psalmist says it this way to help us visualize God’s protection. It’s God’s faithfulness, not ours. God’s faithfulness is like a shield or buckler – a small shield worn on the arm. God, our protector, promises refuge and safe places we need. When we face threats from the devil we need protection.
“I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence.” – Psalm 91:2-3 (ESV)
We have a promise that is very timely for us these days. Fear and worry has some in a death grip about their unknown future. Some will remember this Psalm 91 as one that has been called the “Foxhole Psalm.” Soldiers who found themselves in the trenches during the heat of battle were known to call on these promises. They were in a life-threatening situation. But this psalm may not be for just anyone but specifically for those who (Psalm 91:1) are dwelling in the shelter of the Most High God and therefore live in the shadow of Almighty God. Non-believers in God are not guaranteed this same protection. It is a promise for faith believers. True believers confess their trust in God as their refuge and stronghold ,or fortress. Two terms here are not warfare terms; “snare of the trapper,” is a metaphor which represents any plots against believers intended to endanger their lives or threaten their well-being; “deadly pestilence” in v. 6 is specifically about dreaded diseases, plagues, epidemics, and pandemics. It is because we have put our trust in God that this promise becomes ours and one we can believe.
“The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD. Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;” – Exodus 34:5-6 (NASB)
While we are not expected to have experiences with God in the manner that Moses did, we find in these verses from Exodus a promise for us from God. He came down to Moses who had ascended to the top of the mountain. On this particular occasion God came down in a glorious cloud. This was what is called a theophany—a visible manifestation of the invisible God. God had appeared to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-9), so he appeared again on the mountain. The Bible says almost nothing about God’s appearance. Moses wanted to see God, but rather than telling us what he saw, the Bible tells us what Moses heard: The Prophet heard the promises which defined God’s character. Our LORD God is, compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, truth and faithfulness, Verse 7 goes on; God maintains love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Each of these characters also define names of our LORD. For God’s name stands for his entire being. It is his nature. It is who He is—the God of creation and redemption, who made and saves His people.
Source: Philip Graham Ryken and R. Kent Hughes, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005), 1040–1041.
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19 (NASB)
Has your supply of anything run out? Are your reserves low? Energy, hope, faith, maybe just a few of the needs we’re facing. Maybe we’re blindsided by something totally unexpected and we’re laid flat out on our back. We hardly have the energy to get up. When we do, we struggle to regain focus and direction. God has given us a promise in this verse. We can lean on this verse and trust it even if we’re having a hard time understanding. Who will fulfill this promise? God. Not just any god but my God, our God. The one and only true God who is the supplier of everything we need. Sometimes we may not even know what we need or what we think we need is not what God knows we need. He will supply what we truly need and it is according to His riches. It’s not out of his riches, which would deplete the balance, but according to which will never deplete His store of infinite riches. These riches are in the Bank of Glory in Christ Jesus. What Jesus has done for us is permanent, lasting for eternity. All Your Needs Supplied by God.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13 (NASB)
Our verse today is perhaps a familiar and frequently quoted verse from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It offers a powerful truth we can live by no matter what circumstances of life surround us. However, an application of this verse that is often used shades its true meaning. This is a promise indeed but not a promise that we will be able to accomplish anything we wish for. It does not promise a win in any competition. It does not promise excellence in performances to reach a desired goal. It does promise we can face and sustain all circumstances which challenge our faith. Prosperity? It comes with temptation of pride and leads to depending upon ourselves more than on God. Poverty? It leads to doubts and fear and temptations to cheat because our life expectations are not met. God promises to help us have strength to withstand all challenges, helping us to not succumb to defeating doubts. Because we are in Christ, He infuses us with His strength to sustain us through all things that come our way and teaches us how to thrive in plenty or in want.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8 (NASB)
The letter Paul the Apostle wrote to his Christian brothers and sisters in Philippi is so chock-full of promises and encouraging instruction. Today’s verse is a good one to memorize or post on a note card where we can see it daily. Our minds are under attack daily – even hourly by the devil who is seeking to destroy and rob us of our joy. We have read more than once that we are to rejoice always. Today we read how fill our minds with good things and think our way to rejoicing.
- True is found in God, in Christ, in the Holy Spirit, and in God’s Word*.
- Honorable “worthy of respect.” We meditate on whatever is worthy of awe and adoration, as opposed to the profane.
- Right means is to think in harmony with God’s divine standard of holiness.
- Pure is that which is morally clean and undefiled.
- Lovely “pleasing” or “amiable.” Believers are to focus on whatever is kind or gracious.
- Of good repute, that which is highly regarded or thought well of and reputable in the world, such as kindness, courtesy, and respect for others.
We thus avoid the GIGO† in our manner of thoughts.
* 2 Timothy 2:25; Ephesians 4:20-21; John 16:13; John 17:17
† Garbage in, garbage out (GIGO), What goes into a process will be seen in what comes out. While the term is most frequently used in the context of software development, GIGO can also be used to refer to any decision-making systems or choices where failure to make the best decisions or choices results in unintended and unpleasant consequences.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 (NASB)
Don’t worry! We hear and we say this so many times in our lives. “I can’t help but worry!” we say. Why do we? One word. CONTROL. We wish to control our world and we do not like somethings that come into our world. We want to be in control and that means everything and everyone around us. Spend a little time on social media and you’ll see how full it is of people spouting off their fix-it solutions. Here is what happens: We worry, no matter what it’s about, and we chase our peace of mind and heart out the door. “Scat!” is what we say to our peace. A better way is to follow verse 6 so we can enjoy the promise in verse 7. Simple and easy (when we rely on God) is the way. Next time refuse to think for even a moment that our worries have any effect on any outcome. Acknowledge that anxiety (worry) is powerless in the realm of fixing anything. If we do, we receive a promised peace that we will not understand and it will guard our hearts and minds against renewed anxious thoughts.