Serve One Another

Galatians 5:13 says, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” The book of Galatians is about the liberty we have in Christ. Freedom is never free. Someone has to serve. We have the Armed Services, Servicemen and Servicewomen. Thank God for those who serve! The church of Jesus Christ, the army of the Lord, needs some servicemen and women. Today, we will continue looking at the “One Another” passages in the Bible, and we will look at three hindrances to serving one another.

Sin
In Galatians 5:19-21 Paul describes the works of the flesh, things like adultery, idolatry, jealousies, etc. Then, in verses 22-23, he says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Walking in the flesh and walking in the Spirit are total opposites, but they are the only two ways to live. We either live in the Spirit or in the flesh. The flesh wants freedom to do what it wants without restraint. The flesh wants independence from God. The Spirit enables us to please God. If we want to hear from God and walk in the Spirit, we have to confess our sin and die to self. Verse 24 says, “…those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Are you walking in the Spirit or the flesh? Is your service motivated by love? Does your service bring joy regardless of your circumstances? Do you have inward peace as you serve? Do you have patience with people you serve? Do you show kindness when you serve? Do you want the best and good of others? Are you faithful in your service? Are you gentle? Do you have self-control? This is the fruit that should describe your service.

Self
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5:14). It is OK to love yourself, but self should always come last. Jesus said love God with all your heart, love your neighbor, and then love yourself. JOY is J-esus, O-thers, and Y-ou.

If He could have called 10 legions of angels on the cross, He could have called 12 angels to wash their dirty feet!

Jesus was Master but He washed the disciple’s feet. If He could have called 10 legions of angels on the cross, He could have called 12 angels to wash their dirty feet! Self is the toughest weed to pull up. The world is preoccupied with self: self-importance, self-indulgence, self-pity, self-centeredness, self-deception. Is your favorite subject to talk about yourself and your thoughts, plans, schedule, aches, etc.? Are you consumed with yourself? President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” What kills relationships, marriages, families, churches and countries is selfishness and self-centeredness. As Christians, we are to look to Jesus as our ultimate example and serve others, putting ourselves aside.

Strife
Galatians 5:15 warns against biting and devouring one another. You are not going to serve someone if you are mad at them. You are not going to serve someone if you are fighting with them. Just like we don’t want our children to bite, God does not want His children biting one another either!

We are saved to serve! Stop serving sin and self and start serving the Savior! We were created to serve God. We ought to wake up every day saying, “What is my assignment Lord?” When you serve others, you are serving God. Every time you serve, God sees it. God is keeping records. You will be rewarded. Don’t look for people to pay you back or serve you. You are not doing it for them, you are doing it for Him!

Show Hospitality to One Another


Corrie ten Boom once said, “A wall with loose bricks is not good. The bricks must be cemented together.” Jesus taught us how to have community and be cemented together. So far, we have seen that we are to love, encourage, and pray for one another. Today, we will see that we are also to show hospitality. “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).

The Glory of Hospitality
1 Peter 4:11 says, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ….” Have you given Christ the rightful place and rightful praise in your life? The Bible says the heavens declare the glory of God, but God also said whatever you do in word or deed, do all for the glory of God (Col. 3:17). God has chosen to display His glory not only in the heavens, but also on earth in the way we treat one another. This world is not an end itself. Everything about this world was designed and created to display the glory of God. Jesus is to be magnified in the way we show hospitality to one another.

The Gift of Hospitality
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). Hospitality is a gift from God. Here the Greek word means to “be generous to guests.” We have tried to model that for our children. Our four children grew up expecting guests in our home – guest preachers, evangelists, deacons, staff, church members, etc. You say, “My apartment is small. We don’t have lots of room.” It is not the size of the house, but the spirit of the house that counts. I read a poem on Sunday that hung on my Granny Ethridge’s wall: “You’ll find where’er you roam, that marble floors and gilded walls can never make a home. But every house where love abides and friendship is a guest, is surely home, and home sweet home, for there the heart can rest.”

The Grumbling of Hospitality
1 Peter 4:7 begins by saying, “But the end of all things is at hand.” The disciples believed Jesus would come in their lifetime. That is how we ought to feel. Every generation of believers should feel like Jesus is coming in our lifetime. It should be positive not negative. It should drive us to open our homes and show hospitality, not drive us underground in isolation to live in a doomsday bunker! Make good use of the time you have left because your days are numbered. Everything in this life is temporary. When we view our possessions, bodies, lives, bank accounts, houses, cars, vacation homes, boats, jet skis, etc., as gifts from God, then we can be good stewards, using it all for His glory. Open up your heart, hands, and your home. Don’t be grumpy! “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).

The Gospel of Hospitality
“For this reason the gospel was preached…” (1 Peter 4:6). My dad was saved at age 12. He joined the Navy and came home out of church. He would drive my mom and brother to church and sit in the parking lot. Every Sunday, a man would tap on the window and just talk to him. He invited him inside. One week, my Dad went in and then he got back in church. He became a Sunday School teacher, a deacon, the choir director, etc. Today, I am a preacher of the Gospel. I grew up with both a mom and dad in church because God used a man out in the parking lot who kept talking to my dad.

The Greek word for hospitality in Hebrews and Romans means to “love strangers.” Hospitality is more than having your friends over. It is having strangers over you don’t really know. Everyone should be inviting new faces and new friends. We tend to think that the people who preach or sing are doing ministry, but YOU preach the first sermon to your neighbors, to those you come in contact with, and to guests in our church! Use your gifts and show hospitality without grumbling, all for the glory of God!

Pray for One Another

One of the best ways you can love and encourage one another is to pray for one another. Not to pray for one another is more than forgetfulness or carelessness. It is sin. 1 Samuel 12:23 says, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you….” When Jesus gave the model prayer, He prayed, “our Father,” “give us,” “forgive us,” “lead us.”

Pray for Those Suffering
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray” (James 5:13). The suffering talked about here is not physical sickness, but is more general. The word means hardship or trouble. It refers to difficult circumstances. James is writing to believers. Christians have hard times too. Being a Christian does not exempt you from the trials of life. I have good news, however! When your life becomes His life, your problems become His problems. When it is hardest to pray, pray hardest!

Pray for The Sick
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (v. 14). “Sick” here is a physical illness. “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (v. 15). Picture the man in Mark 2 who could not get to Jesus. His friends carried him, ultimately lowering him through the roof. Mark 2:5 says, “When Jesus saw their faith….” He called his friends in faith. In faith, they helped him get to Jesus.

Pray for All Saints
In verse 16, we read the phrase “one another” twice. Don’t be a loner. Get in a group and pray for each other. What do you pray? Pray scripture! There is power in the word of God.

Pray for God’s Servants
In James 5:14 we read “the elders of the church,” and in James 5:17, “Elijah.” We are to pray for those who watch over our soul. We are to pray for pastors, teachers, shepherds, staff members, missionaries, and evangelists. Pray daily for their care, their families, and their protection. God’s servants are a target of the enemy with a bullseye on their back. Pray for their ministry to be fruitful and to multiply. Ask God to open doors for them. Pray for wisdom and insight from above.

Pray for Spiritual Awakening
Verses 17 and 18 tell of Elijah praying for rain. Elijah is an example of a man who prayed for his nation. Elijah is a hero and Elijah is human! He is like us. Don’t read the Bible and say, “But that was Elijah!” In context, prayer is effective, not Elijah. We pray as ordinary people to an extraordinary God! We pray to the same God Elijah did. Pray specific prayers and don’t give up! We need revival in the church, in our own personal lives, and awakening in the land. We need to pray with the Psalmist, “Revive us again.”

Pray for Salvation
“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (v.19-20). When we lose our burden for people to be saved, there is something wrong. Are you praying for unbelieving family members? Neighbors? We all like sheep have gone astray. Never give up on people. God is still God and still on the throne. He is a God of miracles. He is in the saving business.

We pray to the Father, in the name of the Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the will of God, with faith and thanksgiving, knowing our problems are not working against us but for us. Pray to the one who works all things together for our good and His glory. Pray for one another!

Encourage One Another

Meaningful relationships don’t just happen. They take time and effort. The “One Another” series is about developing close relationships and building community with one another. Hebrews 10 tells us to encourage one another. Everyone needs encouragement. When you encourage, you put courage in someone. When you discourage, you take courage out. Here are four ways we can give encouragement:

Consideration
Hebrews 10:24 begins by saying, “And let us consider how to stir one another up….” The word consider is used one other time in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews 3:1 says, “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus….” Consider means to observe, to fix your eyes attentively. When we consider Jesus, we look, think, focus, and fix our eyes on Him. The writer of Hebrews is writing to Jewish believers who were wavering over leaving Jesus and going back to Judaism. They were being persecuted, were losing friends and property, and were teetering on the edge of going back to their old life. Meeting together marked them as believers, but meeting together was worth it!

Some of you today are tempted to go back. The message here is don’t give up! Don’t go back! Keep meeting with other believers and encouraging them. Keep your eyes on Jesus! Consider Him. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).

Stimulation
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…” (Heb. 10:24). Be a hope-filled person, loving others and stirring others to love and good deeds. Do you ever question, “What is the point?” “Why get out of bed?” Consider Jesus and other people. God put us on this earth and saved us for love and good deeds. Why come to church? We don’t come just for the singing or preaching, but for the stirring, stimulating, and motivating of one another to keep going. Encouragement is not just from the preacher to the member, but the member to the member. We are all encouragers. More than just your presence, God calls for your participation! God calls us to show up to church and to stir up one another. Ask God to help you encourage someone today.

Exhortation
Hebrews 10:25 continues, “…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another….” Neglect means to forsake. Americans for the most part forsake church not because of suffering, but for selfishness. It is not for persecution, but pleasure. Not the threat of poverty, but prosperity. When they do come it’s with an inward focused, consumer Christianity. “What is in it for me?” We are to assemble with an upward focus! Consider Him and stir up one another to love and good works. Are you connected or disconnected from one another? It is possible to be faithful to the church and not faithful to Jesus, but you can’t be faithful to Jesus without being faithful to His church! Everyone battles discouragement. Live on purpose, praying, “Lord, show me who I can encourage today.”

Motivation
The end of Hebrews 10 says that the Christians endured a great struggle (v. 32), knowing there was “a better and an enduring” reward in Heaven (v. 34). Where did they get that kind of courage? By meeting together, they encouraged one another. They put courage in each other.

Why do we do what we do? Why do we love one another? Why do we consider one another, stir up one another, encourage one another? It is a matter of doing the will of God. We have a great reward! There is no joy like knowing you are in the will of God and knowing you have done the will of God. Verse 36 says after we have done the will of God, we will receive the promise. He is faithful!

Love One Another


This Sunday we started a new series on the “one another” sayings of Jesus. Meaningful relationships don’t just happen, they take time and effort. I hope you’ll go on the journey with us this summer and learn how to develop close relationships and build community with one another. We are going to start with the most repeated “one another” phrase in the Bible, “Love one another.” You read it in John, Romans, 1 Thessalonians, 1 Peter, 1 John, and 2 John. More than the words of Peter, Paul, and John, these are the words of Jesus. When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus answered, “’And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mark 12:30-31).

The Expectation of Love is Clear
John 13:34 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another….” The word love in our world has become a “catch all” word. People say, “I love chocolate” or “I love water sports.” God’s love, however, is a commandment. It is more than a feeling or a love song. Love is a decision, a choice, and an act of the will. It means we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. We treat people the way the Lord treats us, regardless of reciprocity or how they respond.

God commands us to love one another then gives us the ability to love one another. He makes the impossible possible! Ask the Holy Spirit to make this new and fresh to you today. We live in a world filled with hate, strife, conflict, bickering, war, and division. There are people all around us, that need to see the love of God! God is love and He expects His children to love one another.

The Extent of Love is Costly
The second half of John 13:34 says, “…as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” God’s love is unconditional. His love is sacrificial. He gave His only Son for our sins! It always costs something to seek someone else’s good. Judas betrayed Jesus and Peter denied Jesus, yet Jesus washed their feet. The dirty feet of a dozen grown men was the illustration of how to love one another. It was the task of a slave, the lowest menial job. Jesus washed the feet of the man who betrayed him and the man who denied him. What Jesus did was shocking! Love is costly. As believers, we are to love those who hate us and hurt us. Unbelievers can love those who love them, but God will enable you to love people you don’t even like.

The Expression of Love is Convincing
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). “Love one another” is an impossible command that gives evidence of an invisible God. The church is designed to be a community of impossible love that shows the world God is real. The only Bible, the only Jesus, some people are going to see, is us. Our love for one another is our witness and it identifies us before a watching world. Most of us think that the evidence of salvation is love for God. That is not what Jesus said. Jesus said, the evidence of whether or not you are His disciple is love for one another. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-2).

When unbelievers see true love and compassion among Christians, it gets their attention. In this world of hate, love is attractive. It is the greatest testimony and indication that God has changed your life.
This week after Father’s Day, remember it is all about the Father’s love. We love because He first loved us!

Shield of Faith

Good morning Liberty! Since I didn’t get to say that yesterday, I wanted to get it out there today! I missed being with you, but am so grateful for Chip, Dalton, and Zac preaching for me while I am away. I have heard great reports of how the Lord used each of them.

The SBC Pastors’ Conference and Annual Meeting started last night. This year I am serving on the Committee on Order of Business so I had to be in Phoenix early for several meetings. I love attending these meetings, but am looking forward to being back with the Liberty family on Sunday!

We will start a new series on Sunday on the One Another passages in the Bible. It’s also Father’s Day! If you haven’t already, invite your dad to come with you and make plans to be at church. It’s going to be a great day. If you are not in the local area, make plans to attend Libertylive.Online on Sunday at 1:00, 2:15, or 6:00 p.m., Wednesday at 6:00 p.m., or Saturday at 6:00 p.m.

Many of you asked for the passages of Scripture that I gave recently for winning over the enemy. When Satan hurls darts at you like, “You’re a loser…”, “You will never amount to anything…”, “After what you did, do you think you are saved and going to heaven?”, “God can never use you…”, “Your situation is never going to get better…”, “Your circumstances are never going to change…”, “You will never have a good marriage…”, “You will never be a good parent…”, “You will never have a happy home…”, “You’ll never get well…”, “You will never get out of debt…”, etc. ,You take the shield of faith saying:

– I am confident of this very thing that He who began a good work will continue to perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).
– I am trusting the Lord with all my heart, leaning not to my own understanding, and in all my ways I’m acknowledging Him… (Prov. 3:5-6).
– And I know all things are working together for good because I love God and am called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).
– Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Ps. 23:6).
– God said I am blessed when I come in and blessed when I go out (Deu. 28:6).
– No weapon formed against me shall prosper (Is. 54:17).
– Greater is he that is within me, than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
– I will fear not for they that be with us are more than they that be with them (2 Kings 6:16).
– I will fear not for my God is with me. He will uphold and strengthen me with His right hand (Is. 41:10).
– God’s plans for me are good and not of evil… (Jer. 29:11).
– I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).
– My God shall supply all my need according to His riches in glory (Phil. 4:19).
– He will never leave me or forsake me (Deu. 31:6).
– I am drawing nigh unto God He is drawing nigh unto me (Ja. 4:8).
– I am resisting the devil, knowing He must flee from me (Ja. 4:7).

Stand firm! Spend time in God’s word and use it daily to set your mind on the Truth. God wants you to win!

Tammy and I love you and we are praying for you! See you Sunday!

Win

Paul has taught us about prayer, relationships, the church, etc., but he concludes his letter by telling us how to win over the enemy. This is so important! Many Christians have no idea we are in a spiritual war. They live as if life is a playground, not a battleground. We have to be prepared, and learn how to win!

Win Over His Adversary
Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” We are fighting a plurality of evil, not the devil singular. You are no match for the devil and his demons. Only by being strong in the Lord (v. 10) can we win. We have the victory as believers.

Verse 11 tells us to stand against the wiles of the devil. He is a master counterfeiter who works to trick and deceive. He wants to destroy God’s people and defame God’s glory. The good news is that Satan is not omnipresent. Satan and the demons are limited by God’s control and power (remember the story of Job). God is sovereign and Satan is subordinate. The devil did everything he could to keep Jesus from dying on the cross and shedding His blood. Why? We are overcomers through the blood of the lamb!

Win With His Armor
Verses 13-17 tell us to put on the armor of God. Taking up the armor is how you become “strong in the Lord.” Paul tells us “to stand.” You can’t escape this fight and you must do your part. You can’t run and hide. There are only two places in the Bible that say a believer can flee: sexual immorality and the love of money. Everywhere else, you must stand.

We are to stand with the belt of truth around us. A belt is for looks today, but to a soldier in that day, it was a tool belt to hold their sword. We have the truth of God’s word and we need it because the devil is a liar and the father of all lies (John 8:44). We are also to put on the breastplate of righteousness. A breastplate covers your vital organs. Guard your heart. Do right. Any area of your life that you can’t control or won’t control is open to the influence of the enemy. Paul says to put on the shoes of the gospel of peace. Shoes help us hold our ground. Cleats for football, tennis shoes for basketball, etc. We stand firm on the gospel. The shield of faith is how we “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (v. 16). A shield protects a soldier from arrows. The enemy shoots fiery darts of deception, discouragement, lies, and temptations, but we respond with faith in God’s word, and in His promises. We are also to put on the helmet of salvation. A helmet protects your head. If you are not sure about your salvation you are going to be tossed to and fro. Satan attacks the mind. Finally, we are to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. God’s word helps kill sin. It heals, giving life. Jesus overcame the temptations of the devil with… “it is written.” Get up early and get in the word! Memorize it and pray it.

Put on Jesus every day and do battle.

The armor is a picture of Jesus. Jesus is the truth, our righteousness and peace, the one in whom we have put our faith, our salvation, and He’s the Word that became flesh! Put on Jesus every day and do battle. King David fell into sin when he was not engaged in the battle. Idle time is the devil’s workshop.

Win Through His Ability
Verse 18 begins with, “praying always….” When you pray you get what God can do! The fervent prayers of righteous people availeth much (James 5:16). Jesus told us to watch and pray lest we fall into temptation. When it is hardest to pray, pray hardest!

Jesus gives us the victory over His adversary, with His armor, through His ability. The best way to get the devil out is to get Jesus in your life!

Update from Pastor Grant

Thank you so much to Zac for preaching for me and doing the blog while I was out last week. We had an awesome time in Israel! There is nothing like walking where Jesus walked!

Here is a picture of Tammy and me on the southern steps leading to the temple mount, the same steps Jesus walked on as He went to the temple and another of the group on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the city of Jerusalem:


I hope more of you will be able to go with us in the future! You will never read your Bible the same again! We hope to have the next trip scheduled soon, so if you’d like information on the next trip, email Stephanie at sfortune@libertylive.com.

On another note, what a great service we had this past Sunday with Tim Lee. He is an American hero with an amazing testimony. His story never gets old! What a way to celebrate Memorial Day and remember those men and women who have given so much serving our country. America would not be what it is today without their sacrifice. Today especially, we remember those who have given their lives for our freedom.

It was a blessing to have Tim back with us at Liberty. If you missed it, you will definitely want to watch the service online sometime this week. You can go to libertylive.online and watch the full service on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. or Saturday at 9:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m.

This coming Sunday we will wrap up the series The Letter to the Ephesians. I’ve missed preaching while I was away in Israel and am looking forward to preaching from Ephesians 6 this Sunday. Be there and invite your friends! It is a joy to be your Pastor!

Saving Faith

Guest Blogger: Zac Ethridge

What is saving faith? Does someone have to persevere to the end to have eternal life? If so, how do we persevere to the end?

Hebrews 3:14 says, “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” Confidence in what, we might ask? Well, certainly not ourselves! The confidence is in Christ and his work! Hebrews 10:19 says that “we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus.” But the word “if” is so important. We have only become true believers “if we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” True salvation has a confidence in Christ that produces persevering repentance.

Saving faith will always reveal itself through perseverance.

But what about eternal security? You may be thinking, I thought Baptists believe in “once saved, always saved?” Well, I don’t believe you can lose your salvation. There seems to be an unbreakable chain of events in Romans 8:30—“…those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Or as Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Or as Jesus said in John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

So I do believe in “once saved, always saved.” But, as Pastor Chip Dean once told me, we do NOT believe in “once prayed, always saved.” Jesus said on two occasions, “The one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22, 24:13). Just because someone walked the aisle or repeated a prayer doesn’t mean they have saving faith. The truest measure of faith is obedience. Faith is the root and obedience is the fruit. If you have real saving faith it will reveal itself through persevering obedience. That doesn’t mean our obedience is perfect (it’s definitely not), but it does mean that the trajectory of our lives is toward Christ and repentance.

So if perseverance is required, how do we persevere? Start by not assuming your own perseverance. Paul wrote, “Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Be diligent! Casual Christianity won’t inherit the Kingdom. The devil loves it when people sleep walk through life assuming they are saved. He loves it when unbelievers have a false assurance and wake up in eternity to find out they are lost. These verses are meant to make sure we don’t do that! Below are three essentials to perseverance.

Faith

Those who crossed through the Red Sea didn’t enter the promise land because of unbelief (3:19). This text warns us not to have an unbelieving heart (Hebrews 3:12). Unbelief seems to be less about what our minds think and more about what our hearts love. True saving faith is more than just an intellectual agreement with a series of facts about Jesus. Saving faith is an embracing of those gospel truths. It’s a treasuring of Christ. If you are wondering whether or not you have saving faith, the question to ask is: do you really love Jesus? I don’t mean do you love salvation or heaven or blessing? I mean do you really love Him.

Obedience

Unbelief was the condition of their hearts, but rebellion was the condition of their lives (Hebrews 3:15-18). Emphasizing obedience may not sound like a gospel of grace to you, but it is part of the gospel the New Testament teaches. Jesus’ gospel was repent and believe (Mark 1:15). Peter’s gospel in Acts was repent (Acts 2:38, 3:19). Paul said we “should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (Acts 26:20).

So often we want salvation without actually surrendering to God. But that’s not the gospel God has offered to us. Heaven is a holy place, ruled by a holy God, and populated by a holy people. Here’s what I’m getting at: Anyone who isn’t serious about dealing with his sin in the present isn’t serious about entering heaven in the future.

Daily Exhortation

Hebrews 3:13 says, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today.” We need each other! We have to start taking collective responsibility for each other’s perseverance. You need to give other people the green light to speak into your life. The goal is to make it to “the end” (Hebrews 3:14) but the command is to exhort “every day.” The point is this—The only way to persevere to the end is to live for Christ one day at a time.

So, here are some questions to ask in closing: What are you doing to cultivate a heart of faith? What steps are you taking to repent of sin and obey God? And finally, who’s exhorting you and who are you exhorting?

Relationships

More important than position or possessions, are the relationships we have in life. God is in the business of healing our relationships. The number one relationship in life is your relationship with God. Your relationship with God is going to influence and determine all others. As we continue through Ephesians, we’ll see that Paul offers insight into three particular types of relationships. In each of these, we learn a very important and common necessity, “submission.” Submission is not a popular word; however, Christians are not called to be politically correct, but to be spirit-filled and to submit to one another. “…submitting to one another in the fear of God” (Eph. 5:21).

Husband and Wife
If the husband is submitted to the Lord, and the wife is submitted to the Lord, they will have no problem submitting to one another. Ephesians 5:22-33 elaborates on the marriage relationship. Of this passage, only four verses are to wives and 9 verses are to husbands. Husbands have the greater responsibility! They are called to be the head of the wife. Paul’s teaching has nothing to do with superiority/inferiority. Anything with two heads is a freak and anything without a head is dead! More than authority, Paul is talking about responsibility. Husbands, lead your family. Lead by loving your wife, providing for her, putting her before yourself, kids, and work. Be a spiritual leader. Don’t be passive or absent.

Verse 33 says, “…let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” The home is built on love and respect. He submits by showing her love. She submits by showing him respect. Every man wonders if he has what it takes; every wife can convince her man that he does. Ladies, affirm your man. Be proud of his accomplishments, or at least his attempt to try. Submitting to your husband does not mean dominance. He is not Lord, but you submit because of the Lord, as a way of serving the Lord. A woman needs unconditional love. A man needs unconditional respect. You get what you want by giving what the other one needs.

Parent and Child
In chapter 6, Paul talks about the relationship between a parent and child. Children are told to obey and honor their parents. Obedience has to do with actions and is temporary. Honor is an attitude and is lasting. Parents are told to bring their children up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (v. 4). Some parents are too authoritarian and do not exercise love. Others are too permissive and do not exercise discipline. Tammy and I are not perfect! A couple tips we give are the ABC’s. First, have Aauthority over their attitude and actions. Obedience is not optional. Start early. B– set boundaries for their behavior. The best example is livestock in a fence. In fenced land, they have everything they need and room to grow. Set limits, but give freedom within. C– enforce consequences with consistency.

Employer and Employee
In Ephesians 6:5-9, Paul shifts to talk about the employer/employee relationship. Twice in this passage he mentions the heart. He is in no way condoning what we in the Western world think of when we say “slavery.” Paul is referring to indentured servanthood, a voluntary contract that didn’t last for a lifetime and that was not based on race. These instructions Paul gives apply to employees and employers. This is what it looks like to be a Christian at work. God is your real boss. You don’t work for “them,” you work for “Him”. Never just do the minimum required. Get rid of a get by attitude. Always do your best.

How are you doing in your relationships at home? How are you doing in your family relationships? How are you doing in your work relationships? If you are struggling in these relationships it may be because the number one relationship in your life is not right. Submit to God today. Ask Jesus to take control of your life, home, family, and work.

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