Posted in Blog posts

Live a Life Worthy

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” Ephesians 4:1 (NASB).

If you’ve never read Ephesians, start to finish, do it as soon as possible! In fact, if you want to go and read it now, I’ll wait for you. It’s one of my favorite books of the Bible. Paul wrote it while he was under house arrest–a prisoner of Rome, by accusation of the Jews–for preaching the gospel (See Acts 28).

The verse I quoted above comes almost right in the middle of the book. Paul has just spent the first three chapters of Ephesians laying out all the wonderful things we have in Christ. And now, he says “THEREFORE,” which refers back to all he just told us. He’s saying–he, who suffered much for his calling–based on all God has done for us in Christ, live your life in a manner worthy of all this. In a minute we’ll look at how we do that, but first let’s look at the why.

Have you ever found yourself watching an informercial? The people yell and gesticulate excitedly and tell you what amazing things you’ll receive for one low price, then they say, “But wait, THERE’S MORE!!”

That’s what I think of when I read the first three chapters of Ephesians. There was a high price, not a low one, but Jesus paid it on the cross, and still there’s more. God not only gave his only begotten Son (John 3:16), but he continues to give us more and more, simply because we have believed in his Son. In fact, Paul says in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

Here are just a few of the things God has given us in Christ as listed in Ephesians 1–3:

  • He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world and marked us in love for adoption as his children
  • He’s given us grace, redemption through Jesus’s blood, and forgiveness of sins
  • He’s given the Holy Spirit as a guarantee that he will finish his work in us
  • Although we were dead in sin, he made us alive in Christ because of his love for us and because of his mercy
  • Formerly, (as sinners) we were objects of his wrath, but he saved us (from his wrath and judgment) by grace through faith–not by our works because we might boast (yet still they wouldn’t be enough); it’s a gift
  • He’s given us peace and reconciled us to God and given us his power through the Holy Spirit

WOW!! That’s a lot of spiritual treasure, and it’s only a partial list! So Paul says “therefore,” as in, because God has done that for us in Christ, live a life worthy of this calling on your life.

I told you earlier that Paul’s urging for us to walk in a manner worthy comes in the middle of the book; the first half tells why. Now, in the second half, he tells us how. How do we live a life worthy of what God has done for us? Let me say, first of all, that we are NOT worthy. We can do nothing to earn God’s mercy and grace. He gives it because of his great love for us, not because we deserve it or are worthy of it.

But that’s not what Paul means. He says we are to live our lives in a worthy manner, meaning that since God called us in Christ Jesus to be his children, we must live according to his commandments. As believers, we’re called OUT of our former way of life–that life that made us objects of the wrath of a holy God. We’re to put off our old sinful nature that’s being corrupted.

Instead, we are to put on the new nature, which is created to like God in righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24). We’re to be like God, not like our former selves, not like unbelievers, not like the world.

We should live as children of light: humble, patient, gentle, loving, peaceful, mature, truthful, industrious, etc., etc. (read the rest on your own).

There should be none of that former corruption coming from our mouths either!

  • no gossip
  • no slander
  • no unwholesome talk
  • no obscenity
  • no coarse joking


God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient, and we have been saved from that, so we’re not to be partners with them in that behavior. Paul says, “Be very careful how you live.”

In Jesus, God gave us his very best–he was the perfect Lamb of God, without sin, who came to take away the sin of the world. His sacrifice on the cross gave us forgiveness of sin, a relationship with God, and blessings in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3). All of the incredible things described in chapters 1–3.

So THEREFORE, let us listen to Paul and live a life worthy of God’s call.

Posted in Blog posts

Doing Good to All

“Let us not become weary in doing good…Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:9-10

One day as I entered Sunday School, a man roughly in his thirties sat alone in the room, having arrived early. I greeted him as I passed, and he immediately introduced himself. This man, (I’ll call him “Jerry”) whom I had never met before, proceeded to fill me in on the current events in his life: He had a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday because he had been feeling sick. He hoped it didn’t take too long because he was supposed to have a job interview. He was new to town and living at the independent living center and was going to start coming to church…and on and on he prattled. It didn’t take long to figure out that Jerry was “different.” 

Things did not improve as the class leader began the lesson. Jerry interjected and interrupted, talking for minutes at a time, and, quite honestly, saying nothing. He made no sense yet spoke with a tone of importance and invented important sounding words as he went. It was clear that he actually had a body of basic Bible knowledge, but it was lost in translation, so to speak – a phrase, ironically, that he sprinkled inappropriately throughout his discourse.

The leader did a good job of patiently waiting for Jerry to finish or politely breaking in to try and stay on topic. But most everyone else sat stiff and uncomfortable until class was mercifully over and tried not to make eye contact as we filed out, ears ringing and heads spinning. It was my turn to lead the class the next week, and I was already praying.

The Holy Spirit was gracious and, miraculously, I managed to lead class, including Jerry in the discussion while at the same time keeping his contributions more or less under control. However, the pastoral staff as well began to recognize the challenge Jerry would present during the worship service. He sat right down on the front row and loved raising his arms high during the singing – not normally a problem – but, in his excitement, he also tended to migrate toward the stage ending up front and center. He clapped loudly and off beat during and after every song. He said “amen” too often and in all the wrong places during the sermon. It was all very distracting. Many of us regular attenders felt resentment toward this interloper, and, consequently, the guilt that ought to accompany those kinds of feelings.

Once again, enter the Holy Spirit. Several of us in the Sunday School class in those first few weeks felt conviction over our tendency to be annoyed by Jerry or our wishing he wasn’t there. We quickly began to pray that we would tolerate him the way the Lord tolerates us, with love and forbearance. After all, isn’t that what the church is about, what Christians are supposed to do? (For the record, we all went through this individually or as married couples. Only later did we discuss it with other class members and, even then, it was still individually rather than a corporate decision. I was amazed at the Spirit’s simultaneous work in us as individuals within the group.)

Eventually we learned that Jerry has had a pretty difficult life. Raised by an abusive mother, he went through life as a problem child with behavioral issues. He has difficulty with social cues and poor impulse control, which led to some angry outbursts at times. We realized that he needed community just like all of us do. He needed a family, a church family, who would love him the way he is and accept him as a part of us. 

For a while, different ones would go and sit by him during Sunday School or worship service and help direct or redirect him. He actually seemed to appreciate it. He had a real desire to please and it brought him joy to be noticed and praised. The ministerial staff, seeking a better solution to his distractive worship experience, decided to enlist his help in running the video camera in the balcony. You’d have thought they asked him to have dinner with the president! He felt so important and proud of his new job.

Sadly, Jerry’s situation changed, and he had to move away. He sent the pastor the most precious and heart-stirring note expressing his love for his church family and lamenting how much he would miss it. He was worried he wouldn’t find another church that would love and accept him. I worry about that too. Our church is pretty special, but I bet the Holy Spirit will lead other brothers and sisters to lean into Jerry, to walk beside him in love and mutual acceptance. If we only love those who are like us, we are no different than the world. But Christ has called his body to a higher standard and he already showed us how to do it.