All posts by JT

Christian. Husband. Dad. 911 dispatcher. Baseball fan. Horror nut. Music nerd. Bookworm. Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year.

Sealed with the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Sealed with the Spirit Ephesians 1:13-14

Ephesians 1:13-14

I. Trust in the gospel

    A. The mystery (Ephesians 1:10; 2:16; 3:6)
    B. Man’s trust in His gospel (Ephesians 1:12-13; Romans 1:16-17; Hebrews 11:1; Acts 19:4-5)

II. The result of trust: “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13)

    A. “The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19)
    B. The seal is evident through the way we live and the fruit we bear (Galatians 5:22-25)

III. “The guarantee (earnest—KJV) of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14)

    A. An earnest is a pledge that the remainder of the promise will be forthcoming
    B. When will the fullness of our inheritance be realized? (Ephesians 1:14; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:7; 4:30)
    C. “To the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14)

Lord, If It Is You! (Matthew 14:22-33)

Lord If It Is You Matthew 14:22-33

Matthew 14:22-33

I. Peter’s faith was fixed on Christ (Matthew 14:28-29)

    A. Peter could do the impossible because of his absolute faith in Christ
    B. Peter not only believed that he could do it, he did do it!

II. Doubts and distractions (Matthew 14:30-31)

    A. Panic set in
    B. “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
    C. “The just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38)
    D. Faith purifies us (Acts 15:9), allows us to receive remission of sins (Acts 10:43), justifies us (Romans 3:28), sanctifies us (Acts 26:18), gives us peace with God (Romans 5:1), saves us (1 Peter 1:9), gives us the victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4)
    E. “Without faith, it is impossible…” (Hebrews 11:6)

III. The power of a godly, Biblically-based faith

    A. Faith is powerful, not because we are great believers, but because we believe in a great God
    B. Don’t be robbed of all risk and adventure (Hebrews 11:8)
    C. Faith is absolute surrender to Christ (Philippians 1:21; 4:13; Galatians 2:20)
    D. The Christian life is an exchanged life (1 Peter 1:5; 2 Tim 1:7; Mark 9:24)

Spiritual Blessings in the Son (Ephesians 1:7-12)

Spiritual Blessings in the Son Ephesians 1:7-12

Ephesians 1:7-12

I. Redemption (Ephesians 1:7-8)

    A. Deliverance from sin
    B. “Through His blood” (1 Timothy 2:6; Hebrews 2:9; Rev 1:5; Rom 5:8)
    C. One comes into contact with His blood at baptism (Romans 6:3-4)

II. Knowledge of the mystery of His will (Ephesians 1:9-10)

    A. What is the mystery? (Ephesians 3:6; 2:16)
    B. The revelation of the mystery destroys denominational division (Ephesians 2:16; 4:4)
    C. “The dispensation of the fullness of the times” (Eph 1:10; 3:2; Gal 4:4-5)
    D. Gathering together in one all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:10)

III. An inheritance as the heritage of God (Ephesians 1:11-12)

    A. We belong to Him; we are His (Psalm 4:3)
    B. Conditional upon obedience (Matthew 7:21)
    C. “To the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:12, 6, 14; Luke 2:17, 20)

Rebellion and Restoration (Isaiah 1:1-20)

Rebellion and Restoration Isaiah 1:1-20

Isaiah 1:1-20

I. A harsh but needed message (Isaiah 1:2-9)

    A. The people had not behaved as God desired (1:2-3; Jeremiah 8:7)
    B. The description of Judah (1:4)
    C. The punishment (1:5-9)

II. God’s disdain for sacrifice without submission (Isaiah 1:10-15)

    A. Going through the motions but not living right (1:10-11; Matt. 5:23-24)
    B. Their worship was not accepted (1:12-15; Proverbs 15:8; 1 Timothy 2:8; James 5:16)

III. Restoration is called for (Isaiah 1:16-17)

    A. The devastating reality of sin must be recognized (1:16; 2 Cor. 7:10)
    B. “Wash yourselves” (1:16; Psalm 51:2; Jeremiah 4:14; Zechariah 13:1; Ezekiel 36:25)
    C. The cessation of sin must be followed by the commencement of right (1:17; Ephesians 4:25-32)

IV. Is it reasonable to be righteous? (1:18-20)

    A. Paul thought so (Acts 17:2, 17; 18:4; 26:25; Romans 12:1)
    B. God has the power to remove the scarlet stains of sin (1:18)
    C. The people of Judah had a decision to make; today, people face the same decision (1:19-20; Romans 11:22)

Chosen By The Father (Ephesians 1:1-6)

Chosen by the Father Ephesians 1:1-6

Ephesians 1:1-6

I. The importance of being “in Christ”

    A. “Every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3)
    B. “In Christ” (Ephesians 1:1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13; Galatians 3:27)

II. Chosen by the Father “in Christ”

    A. Beware of Calvinistic error
    B. God set the standard (Eph. 1:3-5; Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3; 2 Thess. 2:13-14)
    C. “Holy and without blame” (Ephesians 1:4; 5:25-27)

III. The purpose of our adoption

    A. By adoption, we are afforded all privileges of family membership
    B. Because of that, we should manifest praise to God
    C. “He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6; Isaiah 59:1-2; Revelation 17:14)

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Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 260/260: Mark

Read Acts 13:5, 13; 15:36-41; 2 Timothy 4:11

Useful

We don’t know what happened. Mark, called John in Acts 13, went with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey initially, but something happened. Perhaps he was homesick, or maybe he was frightened by persecution, or it could be that he was simply overwhelmed by what he witnessed. So, he went home to Jerusalem.

Later, when it was time to go out again, Barnabas suggested giving Mark a second chance. Paul disagreed. “Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another” (Acts 15:39). The superstar team of Paul and Barnabas split up.

Does any of this sound familiar? You were gung-ho to do something, but it wasn’t quite what you expected, so you gave up. You quit. But then, after quitting, you regretted it and wanted to try again. Who supported you in your second effort? Who encouraged you and stood by you and stood up for you? Who stood against you?

Do you have strained relationships because of past poor judgment? How can you restore such relationships? It takes effort, and it takes time, and it takes patience. Don’t give up on the person who gave up on you. Maybe, like Paul, they will come to see you in a different light.

When Paul was nearing the end of his life, writing a letter to Timothy from prison, he told the young evangelist, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).

The one who had “departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work” (Acts 15:38) was now “useful to me for ministry.” Perhaps Paul witnessed Mark’s improved performance when he teamed up with Barnabas and went a different direction, or perhaps Paul simply had a moment of weakness himself in Acts 15. Whatever the case, his opinion of Mark changed over time, and he was willing to work with him again.

If you are willing to repent of your past sins and commit to serving God, you can be useful as well. It does not matter what you did yesterday. What matters is what you do today.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 259/260: John

Read 1 John 5

We Can Know!

Some people say that it is impossible to know anything. The apostle John disagrees. More than thirty times in his epistle, he uses the word “know” without flinching. Yes, we can know something! We can know important things!

Read just the final chapter of 1 John and underline how many times the word is used. First, John writes, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments” (1 John 5:2). What does God say to do? Have you done it? If you have, then you know something, don’t you?

What about eternal life? Is it possible to know that we have eternal life? John writes, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13). Study the writings of John (and the rest of the New Testament), measure yourself by those writings, and you can know whether you measure up!

Can we have confidence in our prayers? John writes, “And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:15). We can know it!

We know the danger of sin and the importance of being born again (1 John 5:18). We know the dangers of worldliness (1 John 5:19). We know the truth of Jesus’ coming (1 John 5:20). We know.

How do you measure up to the things revealed, to the things that you know? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that God raised Him from the dead? Have you confessed that belief before others? Have you repented of your sins and turned to God to serve Him? Have you been baptized to have your sins washed away? Are you obeying what He has revealed in His Scriptures?

If you have done these things and you continue in the faith, you can know you have eternal life!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 258/260: James, the Brother of Jesus

Read James 2:14-26

Faith Only?

“Faith only” is a reckless doctrine promoted by too many so-called Christian churches. This doctrine is patently false, as seen in James 2:14-26. James declares, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). This is the only time in the entire Bible that the words “faith” and “only” appear together, and James plainly states that justification cannot be found in a person by “faith only.”

James builds up to this point first by presenting a hypothetical situation in which a person is made aware of someone else’s need. If you do nothing for that person but wish them well, can you truly say you have faith? If you have the means to help but only offer “thoughts and prayers,” have you offered anything of substance? Certainly, prayer is important (James 5:16)! But physical needs still must be met!

James next points to the example of Abraham, who was “justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar” (James 2:21). Could the patriarch have been justified if he had not been willing to obey God? “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (James 2:22).

Let us be very careful that we do not try to teach something that the Bible clearly states is false doctrine. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26).

If your faith is defined by nothing more than attendance to a Sunday morning worship service, is it true faith? Assembling with the church is important, make no mistake about that, but there is so much more to Christianity than sitting in a pew for an hour or two in a 168-hour week! “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Are you working for the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58)? Are you doing good things for other people (Galatians 6:10)? Are you shining your light and pointing others to the Christ who can save them (Matthew 5:16)?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 257/260: Paul

Read Acts 24:22-27; 25:18-19; 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

The Importance Of The Resurrection

Paul was arrested and sent to Caesarea to stand trial before Felix. Felix found no reason to punish Paul, but still left him in chains to appease the Jews. Paul had an opportunity to preach to Felix and his wife Drusilla, and he spoke “about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come” (Acts 24:25). Just as Felix refused to make a decision about Paul’s criminal case, he refused to make a decision about his own spiritual condition. For two years Paul was held, though he was innocent of all charges.

Then Festus came to office. The Jews wanted Festus to hear Paul’s case, and the governor was disappointed that the matter was nothing more than a religious dispute “about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive” (Acts 25:19). In that statement, perhaps we get a small glimpse of what kept Paul going despite his imprisonment.

Paul’s hope and faith rested in the resurrection. It was evident in his preaching. How often had Paul declared that “God raised (Jesus) from the dead” (Acts 13:30), or “that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead” (Acts 17:3)? He declared that Jesus would judge the world and that God “has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

His hope and faith in the resurrection were also evident in Paul’s writing. He wrote, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

The hope of our resurrection rests on the Lord’s resurrection. Study 1 Corinthians 15:12-19, which teaches the futility of faith if the resurrection is not true. Paul declared, “And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power” (1 Corinthians 6:14).

Have you died to your sins and been buried in baptism? If you have, you can have the hope of eternity with Him because of His resurrection!