When our son Jonathan was in Little League baseball there was a short minute when he considered going out for the catcher position. You know what changed his mind? The gear. All. That. Gear. To be protected from pitches, batters, and runners you need good gear! He realized he didn’t want to be the target and he didn’t want to suit up like that. Christians can make that choice in their walk as well. But there’s an important difference. No matter if you gear up or not, you’re still the target. You’re still gonna take hits, pitches, and runners. Suiting up spiritually is a choice, and it’s wise to be ready. Yes, there’s victory in Jesus. Yes, the outcome of the game is determined. But faithful, spirit-filled Christians who are strong in the Lord are well-armed because they know that while the battle is the Lord’s the days are evil and we can stand ready and wrestle victoriously with the full armor of God covering us.
What do I have, what do I enjoy, what could I experience that truly is mine? My son? God gave him to me. My marriage? God brought our lives together. My talents and skills? God gave me the mind, the memory, the means to bring them all to life. My very breath is the breath of God. The truth of this doesn’t make me sad at all. On the contrary, “whom have I in heaven but you and on earth I have no one besides you?” When I live in that truth I live with arms and hands and heart open. Rather than clutching my will in my marriage I happily submit to my husband. Rather than grasping for ways to get my child to see things my way, I peacefully release him to the Father. Rather than manipulating my way into a higher position in my career or pressuring those who may work for me, I live with joy and eagerness to help others succeed. My dad wrote a simple, yet powerful song that is a great reminder in light of today’s passage. “The cattle on a thousand hills belong unto the Lord; the sun, the moon, the stars are His; it’s written in His word; All I have was given to me; Not a thing I own; how angry I get when I forget; that it’s all on loan. No rights, no rights have I; I gave them to the Lord, enthroned on high. No rights, no rights have I; I’m a slave of the Lord – now free am I!”* Paul first introduced and validated himself as an apostle set apart by the will of God. Then later in the letter, he reminds us all that he’s a slave – a bondservant – of Christ. That’s the right mindset. That’s the truth. My rights, my will, my desires are subject to Christ. I’m His. He’s mine. That’s all I need.
*I’ll sing the full song for you in today’s recorded study.
What’s the oldest lie? I think it can be summed up in any one of these: “I know best”...or...“My way is better than God’s”...or...”I am enough”...or “I can do it my way.” God’s word teaches that the original sin was man’s attempt to place himself and herself ahead of God’s plan. From that point forward mankind has been battling to stay on top in every aspect of every relationship – between us and God and between ourselves and one another. God continually reminds us that true love, peace, joy, and ultimate satisfaction will only be found when we humble ourselves and submit to Him and submit ourselves to one another. It’s not “my way or the highway” it’s “God’s way is the right way.” And yet, if there’s one word that can continually keep us bristled it’s that word: submit. Thinking about submission – whether to God or to one another – opens our mind to thoughts of missing out, losing out, and being left out. But God assures us over and again that this way of true mutual and godly submission is the way in, being drawn near, included, and blessed. The constant lie of the devil is to make us doubt God’s word and twist God’s intent in this. Satan’s especially favorite target is marriage – the one bond that most closely points to God’s covenant with us – because if he can warp that bond with selfishness, he can effectively warp our view of God as well. Pray today for a pure heart to read and grasp God’s view of submission, to be discerning in spotting errors in your understanding or resistance to God’s plan in your thinking.
One of my favorite poets is Shel Silverstein. Among his many lovely, fun, and poignant poems is “Hug ‘o War.” It goes like this: “I will not play at tug o' war; I'd rather play at hug o' war; Where everyone hugs; Instead of tugs; Where everyone giggles; And rolls on the rug; Where everyone kisses; And everyone grins; And everyone cuddles; And everyone wins.” The natural outflow of a Christian being filled with the Holy Spirit is a biblical version of Silverstein’s idyllic scenario of hugging instead of tugging. It’s filled with grinning, giggling, rolling and kissing and everyone winning. Sound silly? Naïve even? Without Christ it is. With Christ it’s a delightful way to see how Christians engage. We sing. We love. We defer to one another. We are filled with thankfulness and joy and light and rich words that uplift and encourage. We don’t tug and tear and assert our own way. To bring another image into this, it’s like a dance hall with all the dancers swaying and sashaying, skipping and dipping, passing over and under one another in time to the melody. I see the church and our families and our work relations moving like this when we are all looking to God as our conductor, Christ as our example, and the Holy Spirit as our indwelling source. What a vision of true Christianity when we all mutually submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Alcohol has the effect of loosening up and lowering inhibitions. It causes some to pour out angrily and others to gush emotionally– about what? Who knows? God’s word is clear – don’t fill yourselves with wine to the point of drunkenness, be filled up with the Holy Spirit, so much so that you gush forth songs of praise, love, encouragement, and truth about God! That’s the distinctive of a Christian. They are overflowing with the Spirit! They can’t help but be like the skies and stars pouring forth speech that reveals the knowledge of God (Ps. 19).
Day Ten is our Create & Share day...
Ok, let’s really picture this in real life. How would it transform your church, your Bible study, your Christian community if you literally lived “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” today? Colossians 3:16 gives some guidance and it’s the basis for the name of this Bible study: “Dwelling Richly”.
If we truly lived out these passages, wouldn’t we overflow with truth from the Word of God as we talked with one another? When someone came to you hurting you’d have the life-giving Word of God rather than man’s words to offer them. When you felt the sting of strife and disagreements you could easily overcome that with the peaceful and strong melodies of praise from the Psalm. Like David soothing Saul with his psalms and singing, your heart too would be soothed.
For our Create & Share let’s just spend time immersed in the Word through worship.
What songs of praise speak the truth of God’s Word to you?
What hymn has brought you great joy and peace?
Put on your favorite worship songs and write out the words to a
Psalm, a hymn or a praise song on the next page.
Thank God for the creative gift of worship.
Thank God that we are His image bearers and because he is a creator – so are we!
Thank God that he has created for you good works to do and that you are His poetry in motion!
I’ve created a playlist for this Bible study and would love to share it with you!
Get the Spotify app on your phone or computer and go to:
Find my profile by searching “Jennifer Garrett Richmond”
Then go to my playlist called “Ephesians: Made for More”
Listen to my playlist or create and share your own, then write out the words to your favorite psalm, hymn, or worship song on the last page of this lesson packet. Be sure to share on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #lmccwomen and #dwellingrichlybiblestudy
When we live a life following Christ and wisdom of God, our light is a bright contrast to the darkness and futility of the world. Isn’t this the purpose of the church – to “make known the wisdom of God”? It’s a basic principle. When two things differ in appearance, they represent differences in meaning or message. That’s our calling. That’s our worthy walk! To walk as children of light. To allow the light and truth of Jesus to expose our own sin and to in turn, expose darkness by our light. Our choices are supposed to contrast with the world’s choices so we communicate a different meaning and message. This is what Paul means when he says we expose the deeds of darkness. Our God-imitating life exposes the world’s evil. But wait, that’s not all! It goes beyond simply pointing out evil. The Greek word translated expose actually means to refute. The world says, “live how you want. Love whom you choose.” Christians refute that. We bring God’s truth and light and say, “Live worthy of your calling. Love as Christ loved. Be sexually pure.” By our life we are refuting the world’s perspective, speaking the truth in love, and being the Light in this darkness.