Are you in Christ? Do you know what it means to be in Christ
Chapter 1 of Ephesians tell us much of the blessings of being in Christ, but if you have never personally believed in and received Jesus Christ as your savior and received His Spirit in you then you won't understand what Ephesians tells you of the wonderful blessings of being "in" Him.
So if that's your case, please, before going on click and read here how you can know Him and be "in" Him. For..."if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His." Rom. 8:9b
We have so many blessings in Christ! I'm sure I won't be able to show you them all in this one devotional, but these are some pretty important ones for us to know.
What is Jesus to us? What has He done for us? His plan for our redemption and righteousness is complete in Christ Jesus. Hallelujah!
Ephesians 1:3,4.."Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.."
We have access to all heaven has for our spiritual life...so that we may live holy and without blame before Him in love. Just ponder that one for a minute....ALL we need for salvation and life and making it through every trial, and defeating the enemy of our souls, and overcoming our weakness, our sin, for our joy and victory....is made available to us through Jesus Christ. He has not short-changed us...we have EVERY spiritual blessing we need in the heavenlies! All we need to do is call upon Him in faith.
This is also spoken of in 2 Peter 1:2-4.."Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
as His divine power has give to us ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
God's plan is perfect...He didn't leave anything out, but made provision for all that we need. We do not need to turn to the vain principles of this world or the philosophies of man always looking for fulfillment, but never able to find it.
Ephesians 1:7 goes on to say that "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.."
There is no other way but through Jesus Christ that we have redemption. If we trust in anything else it will do us no good. we can never meet the requirements of the law but will always break it. But He has made provision for us and we will one day be completely set free from this body of sin and our new godly nature will dwell in a body that is incorruptible and not subject to sin. (1 Cor. 15:53-54) His redemption for us is complete! He does nothing half-way.
1 Peter 1:3-4.."Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.."
In Him we have an inheritance, eternal, that will never pass away...Eph. 1:11
In Him we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance..verse 13-14. "...in Whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory."
A seal was used as a mark of authority and authenticity, an official mark of ownership. We have God's official mark of ownership...His Spirit indwelling us if we are in Christ...then He is in us. Rom. 8:16.."The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God."
This seal is His guarantee or assurance. Now we take the guarantee of men as something binding. How much more binding is the guarantee of God!! What greater assurance do we need?
This is only a small part of what Christ is to us. I hope to continue on this theme in my next weeks devotional. Until then may God bless you and keep you!
My last devotional was about being "in Christ". I'd like to continue on that theme from Ephesians chapter one.
Paul prayed a prayer for the Ephesian church that was pretty powerful I think. It is one that I have prayed from scripture for myself and others often.
Ephesians 1:17-20..."that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your uderstanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,"
Wisdom and revelation...."in the knowledge of Him", is more than knowing some facts about God or the Bible. In the amplified Bible it says "in the deep and intimate knowledge of Him". In Christ we know Him from His indwelling presence in our Spirit, communing with us, and we with Him, yielding to His voice, and walking in His love. We know Him because we have a relationship with Him.
In this knowledge in Christ, we can receive true wisdom and revelation, true insight into the things of God. The spiritually minded is the one who has that true communion with the Spirit of God.
So what is the wisdom and revelation that Paul so earnestly wants us to receive from that intimate knowledge?
He wants the eyes of our understanding...our heart...to be flooded with God's light, that we might fully grasp within our heart, the incredible hope to which He has called us.
He has called us to a life of holiness and victory over sin. And what He calls us to He provides for. He goes on to describe what a mighty work God has done in us. As Christians we struggle to try to overcome sin and weakness in our lives in our own strength because we have not realized the mighty power He has put within us and how to rely on Him for that. Our hope is not that we must struggle here and continue falling, never really overcoming, and then resolving to just continue with our besetting sins because God must understand that we can never overcome them anyway.
Our hope is greater than doing our best and always having a sense that we can't measure up.
No, our hope is one where the power of the Holy Spirit....the same power that rose Christ from the dead...dwells within us and accomplishes that sanctification within us Himself. That power enters into our spirit and abides there, revealing sin, rendering it powerless to put us under it's bondage anymore. In Him we have been crucified, dead to sin, circumcised in our hearts, in taking off the sinful nature. (Rom. 6, Col. 2:11-15, Gal. 2:20).
Then this same power has raised us up with Christ, above sin's power, above the principalities and powers of this world. Nothing is able to defeat us if we put faith in that mighty power of the Spirit within us. (Romans 8:31-39)
Ephesians 2:4-6..."But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavely places in Christ Jesus,"
Let us not live as though this were only some theory that we can never live by. Let's not continue to walk in our own strength struggling to be a Christian, instead of living in Him, in faith of Him living in us.
The mystery of the Christian life is Christ in you, our hope of glory. (Col. 1:27) It is not Christ "with you" or Christ "helping you", but "Christ in you"!!
Won't you today pray this prayer and ask that the Lord reveal to the eyes of your understanding just exactly what is that hope and power within you and the great riches of His inheritance?
Ephesians 6:10..(amplified Bible)..."In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him], draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]."
In Ephesians 1 and 2 we are taught what our position is "in Christ" and the power that we have in that union with Him. He in us and we in Him. That is where we stand in all things...united with Christ.
Now it is through that union, standing firm in that position, that we move into Ephesians 6:10-19. But only in the strength of that union do we dare to face the enemy.
The enemy of our souls is going to be constantly scheming to get us to take our eyes off from Jesus and onto ourselves or our circumstances, which of course will look way too impossible for us. Like the wind and the waves that Peter saw when he began walking on the water to come to Jesus.....they will look to us overwhelming....and of course they are without Jesus there! It was Jesus who made it possible for Peter to walk on water....it was not anything special in Peter himself.
But knowing where we stand is the starting point....knowing Who we are "in".....and Who is "in us". Here we have the full armor of God.
Ephesians 6:11-12..(amplified Bible).."Put on God's whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against (the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere."
We have not the power ever in ourselves to stand against the enemy....to know or understand all his strategies, all his deceits....this is his greatest weapon....deceit. He will come at you with his lies to convince you that you are not really saved, or God has left you, or with fear or condemnation, or some other deception that makes you unable to ralize the full provision God has for you in Christ...always based on his lies. When you are dealing with people fighting a battle for the truth, remember it is Satan's lies they have been led to believe and he whom you fight against. His lies are his weapon to decieve the world and keep them in darkness and to keep the Christian in defeat because they don't understand where they stand and the victory that is their's in Christ.
Even when he came against Jesus in the wilderness he came with doubts...lies. Always starting with.."If you are the Son of God"...even trying to get Jesus to doubt His position! He will try to get you to doubt your position. So we must be heavily armored with God's armor. And what is His armor?
Ephesians 6:13-18..(amplified Bible).."Therefore put on God's complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].
Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,
And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firmfooted stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.
Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].
And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.
Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To the end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding on behalf of the saints (God's consecrated people)."
Every piece of this armor hold us firmly in our place so the devil cannot penetrate with his deception. If we are in right standing with God, our sins confessed and forgiven, he has not got a foothold.
If we know our righteousness is in Christ alone and not in anything we can do to earn it, then we will not come into condemnation.
If we know the truth and walk in the truth, we will not stumble over his lies. We must know and walk in obedience to God's Word. This is our only truth....our belt!
If we understand the Gospel of our peace then nothing will shake us and we will be prepared for whatever comes and for His service.
If we have our faith constantly excercised in His Word, His promises, that is where our eyes are focused...then that is our shield against his fiery darts of doubt, and fear and whatever other form his lies take to attack us or our loved ones.
Our helmet of salvation and our sword...the Word of God. If we do not know the Word of God by experience in trusting it and growing in our understanding of it, then our mind is not protected and we will become deceived. If we trust in anything outside of ourselves...spiritual experience, visions, dreams, prophecies, or teachings of men, we will be deceived if we do not know experientially and grow in understanding of the Word of God. All things must put to that test. Jesus warned in the last days there would be much deception. He warned there would be many false prophets and deceivers among the flock. That means they look and act just like Christians, but with false teachings, or prophecies...etc. How can we know them if we do not know His Word and love His truth? This is our helmet against all the ways the enemy would attack our mind. And our weapon also in fighting the enemy.
When Jesus was tempted by the enemy He simply answered with the Word of God. That is our weapon also. We don't reason with the enemy in our own reasoning. We don't argue with him, we simply use the Word of God. We trust it, cling to it, rely on it, stand firm on it, and use it as our weapon to tear down the strongholds..(the lies and false teachings and deceptions) of the enemy that he uses to kill, steal, and destroy.
James 4:7-8 (NKJV).."Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded."
The enemy has no real power over us unless we let him. If we have the full armor of God on then we are able to effectively resist him and submit truly to God. As we do that God promises to also draw near to us. We will never be effective against the enemy with sin in our lives. All sin must be confessed and cleansed or we give the devil a foothold.
Are you standing today in God's armor? If you are His child...you have access to the full armor of God every day in your life! Hold your ground! Don't give an inch! And when you've done everything you can to stand.......STAND FIRMLY! HOLD YOUR GROUND!
1 Peter 5:7..."Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." (NKJV)
"Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once for all] on Him, for He cares about you watchfully." (Amplified Bible)
Casting: (Webster's dictionary)..To throw with force; hurl...To throw off or shed...
epiripto, [verb 1977] "to cast upon, " (a) lit., "of casting garments on a colt," Luke 19:35; (b) figuratively, "of casting care upon God," 1 Peter 5:7, (From Vine's New Testament Word Search
From Strong's..to throw upon (lit. or fig.): cast upon
From Matthew Henry Commentary: "The apostle rightly supposes that what he had foretold of greater hardships yet coming might excite in them abundance of care. Foreseeing this anxious care would be a heavy burden, and a sore temptation, he gives them the best advice. His advice is to cast all their care, or all care of themselves, upon God. Trust in Him with a firm, composed mind, for He careth for you. He is willing to release you of your care, and take the care of you upon Himself. The best of Christians are apt to labour under the burden of anxious and excessive care. The cares even of good people are very burdensome, and too often very sinful. The best remedy against immoderate care is to cast our care upon God. A firm belief of the rectitude of the divine will calms the spirit of man."
I get the impression that casting our care upon God is a very necessary, a very forceful, and aggressive act of our will and of complete, childlike faith in His love and care for us, in His perfect will for us, in His goodness and mercy.
Why is it so hard for us so often to truly "cast" our care upon Him and leave it there?
It can only be our pride that we can do better with it than God...or our desire to take our lives in our own hands and make things happen as we would have them, not as God would have them. Or is it that we really don't trust He cares the way we do about our cares...does He really work all things together for good for those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose? (Rom. 8:28)
Phil. 4:6-7 tells us.."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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
This is what casting my cares upon Him has come to mean to me...how I've learned to do it...
To me it is more than just saying, "Lord I give this care to You." First of all..I feel I need to fully express to the Lord...my Abba...my deepest friend..and my God...all that is in my heart. I pour out my heart to Him, telling Him exactly how I feel, how I struggle, confessing entirely, the burden in my heart, holding nothing back, being honest about my own concerns and weakneses, letting Him know my request.
Ps. 62:8.."Trust in Him at all times you people;
Pour out your heart before Him:
God is a refuge for us." (NKJV)
Lam. 2:19.."...Pour out your heart like water before the face of
Lift your hands toward Him..."
An attitude of surrender and trust.
Ps. 142:2..."I pour out my comlaint before Him;
I declare before Him my trouble." (NKJV)
Once I have poured my heart out to God, there is a release in my spirit. Then comes the most important part. I have to leave it there with Him. I have to tell Him, "Lord, I am not able to bear the burden, but You are. I will trust You now to take it all, once and for all, and will trust You with it now to take it in Your hands."
Everytime it threatens to come back to me, again to trouble me, with an act of my will I declare it to be God's burden and not mine...and refuse to dwell on it.
It then becomes the Lord's burden, and also the Lord's opportunity. I have now allowed my difficulty or circumstances to be an opportunity for God to reveal Himself and be glorified. But if I take it upon myself, then I rob God of what is His, and of His glory.
When I cast my care upon Him, I have not always seen the results I wanted. Does this mean the Lord doesn't take my care?
No! It means "the trying of our faith is working patience and patience, perseverance"...James 1:3, and that we must be patient, trusting His promise that He does work all things together for our good, for the conforming of our inner beings into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Gal. 6:9.."And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Let's look further along at 1 Peter 5, down to verse 10..."But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you."
We must cast our burden on the Lord! It is a command. The burden is not ours to keep. We belong to the Lord...and so every part of our life, which He foresaw, and planned ahead of time, the path for us to take through these trials, so that He would be glorified in them, and His victory and power would be in our lives. Let us then be free to serve the Lord and not weighed down with care.
God bless and keep you!