The Way of Truth

truth

Ephesians 4:25

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.


A recent survey stated that 91 percent of us regularly tell some distortion of the truth. Pollster George Gallup reported that “church attendance makes little difference in people’s ethical behavior with respect to lying and cheating.” Further, 89 percent of all respondents stated they were “satisfied with their own ethics and character.”

Some of the most influential people in the Bible – Abraham, Moses, Rebecca, Jacob, David, Peter – are seen struggling to tell the truth at times. If we’re honest, we have the same struggle from time to time. Most of us justify this by trying to avoid hurting others, or maybe to impress somebody with a stretched truth about ourselves.

Paul teaches us to “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)

The Bible teaches us that we are children of the light. Following Jesus means, as we learn about the way He lived and how He loved others, we put great effort into doing the same in our own lives. This doesn’t mean that we have to be perfect, but part of saying “Yes” to Jesus is trusting that His way is better than our own. In the manner of speaking truth, today’s verse reminds us that we have a responsibility to each other to be truthful and honest. Sometimes, that means saying the hard, but helpful thing. Other times, that means we might need to own up to our own mistakes. Even if telling a “white lie” in the moment helps us avoid pain or awkwardness, not dealing with the truth now means we’ll likely have a bigger problem down the line.

Today’s Prayer: God, guard my heart from deceptive words and my lips from what is false. Teach me to speak in ways that bring your blessing, truth, and peace to those who hear my voice. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight. Amen.

 

Continued Renewal

renewal

Ephesians 4:20–24

But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.


On a weekly basis, millions of people watch reality TV shows that are centered around life-change, makeovers, or renovations. These stories inspire us. Watching somebody learn to care for themselves better through better eating and exercise habits, and, in turn, gain a renewed confidence and outlook on life causes us to want to make similar changes. Seeing a neglected home be transformed into a “dream home” board from Pinterest causes us to (haphazardly) wield power tools and bring home random garage sale finds because of their “potential”.

How disappointing would it be to see that home go back to being neglected, or that person who saw a physical transformation go back to old habits?

In the Bible, Paul had a unique opportunity to travel and see many people decide to have a relationship with Jesus. When he wrote this letter, he had noticed that some of his friends were beginning to go back to their old habits, beliefs, and ways of doing things. He wrote this as a reminder, not just about right and wrong, but that they were willingly going back to something after experiencing better.

Jesus came to give us abundant life. He gives us the power to find freedom from fear and pain, overcome addictions and insecurities, and find peace and hope in the midsts of the storms of life. Jesus came to give us the transformation we couldn’t manage on our own. Though we won’t always be perfect, by choosing to say “Yes!” and continue to take next steps of following Him, we’ll keep moving toward and experiencing the life He came to offer.

Thought for Today: Are there any areas of your life that you’re settling for less than what Jesus wants for you? This could be the way we spend our time, resources, energy, or emotions. What could your next step be in experiencing the “better” Jesus came to offer you?

Today’s Prayer: Jesus, thank you for bringing transformation to my life. Help me see the value in following you in every area of my life, and the strength to do so.

 

Daily Choices

daily choices

Ephesians 4:14–16

…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…


Witnessing the development of a child is a fascinating and powerful thing. Hitting the milestones of first words, first steps, and potty training are huge for both the kid and the parent. However, our development doesn’t end there. But what if it did? Imagine a courtroom scene filled with lawyers who have the vocabulary of a 3 year old… or NBA stars wobbling down the court in that head-first, always on the verge of falling, toddler run? Part of growing up is hitting physical, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones that all equate to maturity.

Spiritually, choosing to follow Jesus means that we’re choosing to grow in our relationship with Him. As we get to know Jesus, we’ll learn about ways to love and lead like Him in our lives. We’ll learn the importance of giving and serving. We’ll see that there’s value in being a truth-teller to those around us, but still being full of grace to those who miss the mark. Even though Jesus centered His life around others, the more we get to know Him, the more we’ll learn the importance of taking care of our own heart and soul like He did.

You can’t experience growth and change and stay the same. Part of growing up spiritually is choosing daily whether you’re going to take a next step of following Jesus more closely. We’ll never be perfect, but we should never grow content with staying how we are. There’s always a next step we can take in following Jesus.

Thought for Today: What is your next step in following Jesus? Is it saying “Yes!” or getting baptized? Maybe it’s serving in a way that best uses your gifts, or giving generously. Your next step might be taking the bold step of telling your neighbor, friend, or family member about how much Jesus has changed your life.

Today’s Prayer: God, thank you for loving me as I am, but loving me enough not to leave me here. Help me identify my next step in following you, and give me the courage to take that step.

 

Gifts for His Glory

gifts

Ephesians 4:11-12

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…


We need diversity. We need people to celebrate their unique differences and look for opportunities to join them in that celebration. If we are all the same, then we will find ourselves with lives that are not a rich as they could be. It is our differences that add value and richness.

This passage also points out that we need to remember that we need to see that we all have different gifts that God has equipped us with that add value to God’s Kingdom. We don’t have the same gifts, and that is a great thing. We all need to understand what gifts God has given us and then investigate how we’re doing at using those gifts.

In Ephesians 4:12 it says that the end goal of everyone using their gift is that the body of Christ is built up. In other words, the Church wins. Not specifically Sun Valley (although this is true for Sun Valley), but the Big “C” Church. Your gift matters, and God is inviting you to discover what that gift is and how you can use it for His Glory!

If you have never investigated what Spiritual Gifts you may have, consider taking a Spiritual Gifts Inventory. You can find one that you can take free online, or simply click this link to take one online for free.

This tool could help point you in the right direction when it comes to understanding what spiritual gift God has given you, and maybe even help you understand where you could most effectively use your gift!

Today’s Prayer: Jesus, thank you for diversity in how we look and through the different gifts we have. Help me see the uniqueness of each person, including myself, as a gift that you’ve given. Even if my gifts don’t look like somebody else’s, I ask that you help me find clear opportunities to make the most of the way you have wired me. Amen

 

Loving Like Jesus

jesus

Ephesians 4:1–3

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


Some people are easier to love than others. Giving time, energy, and care to our best friends and significant other seems natural and easy. On the other hand, we all have those people in our lives. The noisy upstairs neighbor. The clingy coworker with the shrieky voice. The friend who, when we see their name pop on caller ID, causes our stomach to turn a bit.

When Jesus lived on Earth, He had an incredible inner circle of friends and family. Those were the people that He frequently traveled with, shared meals with, and did ministry with. At the same time, there were crowds of people who were opposed to Jesus. Some showed this with their doubts, and others with their words and actions. The crazy thing is, Jesus chose to love everyone.

Paul, the writer of today’s passage, faced similar opposition. In fact, he was in prison when he wrote to the Ephesians. It would have made sense for him to tell us to choose to love only those who love us in return, those that believe what we believe, or those who look and act similarly to us.

Paul made a simple but clear challenge – that we are to offer humility, gentleness, patience, and love to everyone. It seems impossible and crazy, but here’s the truth: Jesus loved all of us. No matter where we’ve been, what we’ve done, or what’s been done to us – He loved us. He even knew that we were going to doubt him and continue to miss the mark. The “calling” Paul mentions in this passage is this – to love God and to love people.

Thought for Today: Who are the people in your life that you can show more patience, love, and gentleness to? What step could you take today to show them a clearer picture of the love Jesus has for you?

Today’s Prayer: God, thanks for loving me in spite of my struggles, and for accepting me as I am, not as I should be. Help me to love people with the gentleness and patience that you loved me with, and give me the boldness to do so.

 

He is Able

able

Ephesians 3:20-21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


Years ago, when my daughters were little, our family visited a world-famous candy store while on vacation. Their eyes grew wide as they saw candy that they had never seen before. They witnessed colors, stripes, and combinations they had only dreamed of. Hard candy, soft candy, licorice, giant lollipops, candied apples. When Dad said, “You can each pick out a piece of candy in the store,” they began to walk around, wanting to make sure they chose wisely.  

After running out of time, and not having made a decision, my youngest daughter finally grabbed a small dum-dum that was sitting on the counter. As we left heading down the escalator, my daughter looked up at me with tears in her eyes as she realized that she had settled for something she could get anywhere.

This passage in Ephesians tells us God wants to do something beyond our imagination. However, often my prayers do not ask for things beyond my imagination. To be honest, I find myself praying for things that very well may happen anyway. If someone eavesdropped on my prayer conversation, would they be convinced that I am praying to the God of the universe who can do absolutely anything?  

Don’t get me wrong, God IS interested in the small and seemingly insignificant. But, when we only pray for small, trivial matters, it may reveal our true feelings about God. When we only ask for things that we can control humanly, we may have a high view of self, and a low view of God. What would it look like to pray with a low view of self and a high view of God?  How would that change what we ask for, how we ask for it?

The verse says, according to “his power” at work in us. Not our power. Not our control.  Today, pray with his power, in a way that stretches you. Pray for things that could only be done by God, and God alone.  

Thought for Today:  What do my prayers reveal about how I view myself? What do my prayers reveal about how big God is?  

Today’s Prayer: God, give me faith. Help me to pray with a desire to see you move and work in ways beyond I can comprehend. Give me boldness to pray big. Help me to ask for things that cause my faith to be stretched. Thank you for answering my prayers so graciously. Amen.

 

Proven Love

love

Ephesians 3:18–19

(That you) may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.


No matter who you are and what your family of origin was like, we all grow up wanting love and affirmation from a young age. We seek it out from our siblings and guardians when we’re little. When we enter grade school, we’re all eager to impress our peers on the playground. As hormones kick in, it’s getting the attention from that guy or girl. Later, we see it in the workplace, from our neighbors, and other various relationships.

We grow up hearing fairy tales of a knight in shining armor that is willing to go any length, spare no expense, and do whatever it takes to earn the love of their one true love. Whether you’re male or female, we all want to be pursued like that. We’re drawn to idea of somebody giving everything to show us how much they love us.

The reality is, that’s already happened. Philippians 2 tells us of the lengths Jesus went to so we could know his love. He gave everything and stopped at nothing – not even death. The passage today in Ephesians 3 emphasizes that God’s love for you is immeasurable, unfailing, and unwavering. No matter who you are, what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you, Jesus loves you. The same is true about who you become, what you do, and what happens to you.

In a world where “love” seems to be more quickly revoked than given, it’s wild to think that the God that knows everything about us would offer us a love that is relentless. No matter what season of life you might be in, take time today to remind yourself that God has gone to great lengths to show His love for you – a love that is so great, we’ll never be able to fully comprehend it.

Thought for Today: What would today look like if we stopped focusing on the idea that we don’t love God enough, and rather took time to realize we don’t understand how much He loves us?

Today’s Prayer: Jesus, thank you for loving me as I am, not as I should be. In the times I make my faith about earning, help me realize it’s all about learning how much you love me, and how I’m to love others the same.