Week 23, Day 3
June 8, 2022
Blessed, blessed, blessed! That’s how Paul starts out his letter to the church in Ephesus. He uses the word Eulogetos – the Greek form of our word “Eulogy.” It is to pronounce a blessing, or speak well of something/someone. Three times in verse 3, it occurs, “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.”
Unlike other letters of Paul, this letter does not offer much by way of rebuke. Paul does not address a specific sin that is disrupting the church. Rather, seeks to bless us with a clearer understanding of our identity and purpose in Christ.
We catch a glimpse of it here in the opening greeting, when Paul speaks of our identity in Christ and the vision for the church, Ephesians 1:22–23 “And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
God’s great power is at work in the church, forming us, filling us and sending us out. This incomparable power is at work in you and your church family! We are Blessed, blessed and more blessed!
Week 22, Day 4-5, Week 23, Days 1-2
Scripture: Romans 13-16
I’m playing a lot of catch up here. I was able to get away with fellow ministers for a retreat. That meant that I was on the road for a while and also had limited internet. So, here’s my simple encouragement from the rest of Romans.
Everything is sacred. The way we conduct ourselves with our neighbors, the way we respond to the government, the way we treat our fellow believers, the way we treat outsiders, how we work, how we function as citizens….all aspects of our life are to point to how Jesus has shaped our lives and renewed each of us. We live a new life in Christ.
The great theologian Martin Luther spoke of a dichotomy of faith. That there was the secular self and the sacred self. There’s a church self and a world self. This is, of course, an oversimplification of Luther. But Paul argues here, I think, for the opposite. Everything is sacred. There’s not two halves, but one whole, and it is Christ in you. How we relate to family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, enemies, everything we do, we do it for and in the Lord. Our hearts, minds, soul, and strength are all given to God.
This is a daunting task, to bend our hearts, minds, wills towards Christ and his kingdom. It’s in every aspect of our lives, even in what we eat and don’t eat, what days we celebrate and what days we don’t. All have a way of pointing to Christ. There is freedom in Christ and the point is that our consciouses would be focused on honoring Christ.
Here’s Paul’s great hope:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
May your life be an overflow of hope. Overflowing into your home, into work, towards your neighbors, towards one another and on and on it goes. May God’s grace, hope, and love spill over into every aspect of our lives.
Week 22, Day 3
June 1, 2022
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)
Fellow believers will often say to me, “I don’t know what to do. Can you help?” It’s usually in the context of a relationship issue, or a newer Christian, who is uncertain of the expectations. Typically, people like a good list to work through, to feel a sense of accomplishments and purpose.
I am one of those people. I have often then prescribed Romans 12 as the list to end all lists. You go through this, and it will keep you busy for a while!
The heart of this though, is not to spur on activity and a sense of purpose. It can certainly do that, and that’s not at all wrong.
But this is about overcoming evil. This is about unity. This is about how God formed a new humanity together through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is how we embrace this new reality. How does a body of believers come together in one name, Jesus? We practice hospitality. We do not think too highly of ourselves. We devote ourselves to hone another. We honor each other, we serve each other. We pray for one another…
Romans 12 is not a list of activities to please God, but expressions of a new reality given to us by God. We are on the other side of death. We are unified in Christ as one new humanity. How does this family function and exist together? Romans 12 lights the path forward.
So perhaps, the question may still be, “I don’t know what to do, can you help?” The answer needs to shift towards, “Yes, I can, Romans 12 invites you to participate in the body of believers and express itself in these ways. Practice these things, together, for the glory of God. Practice them to express the new hope you have found in Jesus Christ.”
Express today, in your love for one another, this new reality. The new reality is this: Jesus is Lord and I am new in him. I belong to the family of God, and this is how we treat one another, Love.
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.