Join us this Sunday at 10:00 AM, as Jim LaMontagne leads us through Paul's letter to the Ephesians.
Grace United Church Northampton • September 04, 2022
Skip the intro straight to the text of Ephesians starting with the greeting:
Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul was just a man like us. Feet of clay. Food occasionally stuck in his teeth. He did some things he wished he stopped doing. But he was called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will and the predetermined grace of God.
As we saw last week, Paul loved this church and they loved him. But instead of writing, “Hey, it’s your good buddy, Paul,” he says, “It’s Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” As he did with the Father and our Lord Jesus, he refers to his official title.
I think he's saying. “Church, I’m as close to you as anyone. You know my heart of love, and my genuine care for you. But in this that I write you, I want you to receive this letter as the words of 'Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.' In other words, receive this letter as God’s Word.”
Receive this letter as the words of 'Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.' In other words, receive this letter as God’s Holy Word.”
He also reminds them who they are too: To the saints [the holy community of God’s people] who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.
This is super relational. You guys, you are holy to God, and faithful in Christ. And he doesn’t then say, “Watch out, straighten up, listen here you!” But…
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This whole letter conveys God’s favor and peace. All relational. All gift. No matter what happens.
Then, as Paul pens the body of his letter, as he starts to tell us about God the Father, joy floods his heart and joy turns to praise in verse 3. "Bless be God!"
As an aside, it’s very telling that a true knowledge of God, and a NT theology of grace leads to praise. That's not the case with a theology of laws and rules, or of human effort and goodness. But a theology of grace leads to both a changed life (ch 4-6) and a free and joyful heart of praise,
A theology of grace leads to both a changed life and to a heart of praise.
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be [Blessed is] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
The Greek word for blessed (eulogetos) that Paul used, “Blessed be God,” is different from the Greek word that Jesus used in his Sermon on the Mount—“Blessed (makarios) are the humble, the peacemakers. The word Jesus used meant “fortunate” or “happy” and referred to the spiritual description of the believer's life. But the word Paul used means “worthy of praise.” This adjective is used eight times in the NT, and each time refers exclusively to God.
The word for "blessed" that Paul used means “worthy of praise.” This adjective is used eight times in the NT, and always refers exclusively to God.
At first glance this seems to be a command to praise God. But remember, in Ephesians chs 1-3 are descriptive, there are no commands or imperatives. So how can it start off with Paul commanding us to bless or praise God?
The word “Blessed" be God is an adjective. An adjective describes a noun. Paul is telling, God is blessed or worthy of praise, with the emphasis on blessed. “Blessed be or Blessed IS God—He is fully deserving all our praise!
And notice, who, specifically, is blessed or fully deserving of our praise?
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,"
This seems to be Abba’s formal title; how he wants to be known by us. And at the very root of His title or identity is His relationship to the Son: He is both the God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This appears to be the official title of both God the Father and the Son.
1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…
2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…
In each of these doxologies, as in Ephesians, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the One who evokes blessing and joy and praise.
Back to Ephesians, which word do you see repeated three times? Once an adjective, a verb, and a noun.
1:3 Blessed [adj.] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us [verb] with every spiritual blessing [noun] in the heavenly places in Christ,
This shows us God’s character. He does what He is. He gives us what He is. God the Father is blessed—i.e., He is worthy of praise—because He has blessed us—freely, undeservedly, generously—with every spiritual blessing.
Why does God the Father deserve our love and praise?
God the Father evokes joy and is worthy of our love and praise because He has loved us and blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ.
Everything that Jesus accomplished for us, everything we’ve been given is a result of the love and purpose of God the Father.
Paul will reveal some of these blessings over the next verses, but note, He has given them to you; they are yours already. Yet they are spiritual blessings not brick and mortar or flesh and bone. Not salty and sweet. Beyond these.
For where does Paul say they are? They are held for us in the heavenly places.
But this doesn’t mean we don’t experience them until after we die!
Ephesians 2:6 [God] raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Paul's letter to the Colossians parallels his letter to the Ephesians.
Colossians 3:1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
Paul is telling us that every spiritual blessing the Father has given us is in Christ. Look to Him, abide in Him that you may enjoy these now.
For they aren’t only in heaven but they are more personally “in Christ.”
The phrase “in Christ” or in “in Him” or “in the beloved” is mentioned 27 times in Ephesians. This is also a major theme in NT grace theology.
So Paul immediate says we were chosen in Him and forgiven in Him.
Whatever is given to the believer “in Christ” is one of the spiritual blessings from God the Father. They’re all reasons to praise Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 [For God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God [where?] in Him [in Christ].
Your past identity issues, feeling small, unloved, rejected; and trying to appear important, smart, beautiful, competent—someone to look up to; and all of the sin and shame that comes with not being all that we try to present, all the messes with our heads—Jesus bore every bit of these on the cross.
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ affirms you in His Son, righteous with Jesus’ righteousness, not your own, but Christ’s imputed to you.
Who you are, how God accepts you doesn’t depend on how well you treat others. How good of a mom you are. Whether you do holy things, or not.
Galatians 6:15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
And guess what? The moment you trust Jesus for eternal you are in Christ, and in Him you are a new creation. New identity. New relation to God.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
God sees you this way, in Christ. He tells you this so that you see it this way. Here’s another reason the Father is blessed, worthy of our praise.
Each of the spiritual blessings the Father has given us in Christ has to do with our identity, each of these changes how God sees and relates to us.
Starting in verse 4, Paul highlights a list of our spiritual blessings in Christ. And at the top of the list is this—God chose you to spend eternity with Him.
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as [or starting with this blessing—] He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.
You did not write your name in the book of life—the Father did. Before the foundation of the world. Before the beginning of time. Before sin came between us! Before you did anything good or evil. This is such good new because perfection is demanded yet we’re prone to mess up. All of us.
The fact God chose you was not based on the fact He knew you’d choose Him; He knew you wouldn’t. Paul reminds us in Romans, “For there is no one who seeks God; all have turned aside.” God knows this better than we do.
Isaiah 53:6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…
Sounds hopeless. We are this is why we praise God for choosing us.
Acts 13:48 But as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
God’s choice does not violate anyone’s free will. No one is forced to choose Jesus. And He does not compel anyone to reject Him. But God does call, He does soften hearts to believe. More so, He grant us the faith to believe.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one may boast. [Except to boast in God and in His grace.]
He doesn’t leave it up to us. He has chosen us to spend eternity with Him starting now. This is the first of our spiritual blessings in Christ. This is why Paul wants our hearts to love and praise Him.
Why does God the Father deserve all love and praise?
He deserves our love and praise because He loves us and He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing—every promise, every treasure—in Jesus Christ.
Not in our good works. Not anywhere but in His Son. Praise God.
Not one day when we mature. Not just when we get to heaven. But now.
So may we turn to Jesus in faith and trust Him that we may walk in them.
Pastor Steve Behlke • August 29, 2022
Today we read Paul's final words to a church that he well knew and loved. It’s the church in Ephesus. Starting next week we’ll study the apostle’s letter to the Ephesians. But we’ll set that up today in the book of Acts.
Paul is on his final missionary journey, the Lord directed him from Antioch to Jerusalem. God didn’t say what would happen when he got there, but He revealed that affliction awaits Him. Truth is, he’d be arrested while preaching in the temple and ultimately sentenced to death in Rome.
But he’s near Ephesus, and the church that he has fond affection for. Earlier, Apollos preached there, but when Paul arrived he led twelve men to Christ and the church began. He preached the gospel openly then chose to rent out a school, kind of like us, and discipled believers every day for two years. After three years total, his stay tended after a non-peaceful riot.
Now a few years have passed. Paul is heading to Jerusalem but He’s in Miletus, about 30 miles away, and he loves those Ephesian believers so…
Acts 20:17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them, “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews...
It wasn’t easy, false accusations, protests, a riot. He may have wanted to leave but He served the Lord with all humility. Humility is not shyness, careful not to offend. Humility depends on God; it’s a choice to be used of God to bless others. Humility leads to faithfulness. Pride would have left in frustration or fear, it’s not worth my time. But serving God—faithfully…
Acts 20:20 I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Repentance, to change your mind toward God—the Holy Holy Holy One, the Father who loves you, who sent Jesus. Turn from your empty life, a hopeless future, a life apart from God’s love…
And put your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; the gospel calls us to trust Him.
Jews have the law and the prophets but they don’t listen to them. Jesus is the One they point to. Jesus fulfilled the Law for us. Jesus is the One God told Abraham would bless the whole world. He is the great prophet Moses said would follow him. He’s the Son of David, the Glorious King to come.
Gentiles, Americans, you think you have it all figured out. You have so much faith in your technology, your doctors, scientists, politicians. Put your faith in Jesus. None but Jesus can right you with God. Give you peace or hope, eternal worth or eternal life. Only Jesus will raise you from the dead.
And with the church, Paul didn’t shy away from declaring anything that would build up our faith in Jesus. He was faithful, and he encourages church elders, group leaders, teachers to faithfully teach God’s Word.
Acts 20:22 “And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem [he's bound by the Spirit, voluntarily, by his faith in Jesus he's going to Jerusalem], not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds [prison] and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”
The good news of God’s grace gave Paul a completely different outlook.
Paul only knows that God is leading him to Jerusalem and going there will bring pain and imprisonment. So why go? He's not a captive to fear, for he is bound by the Spirit, for his heart is captive to Christ, captivated by grace.
God seeks to bring you to allow yourself to be so captivated by God, by His goodness to you, His love, and the glory of His grace, that whatever happens, your heart is to follow Him.
God’s will for Paul was to preach the life-changing news of God’s grace.
But not all of us have this call on our lives. Yet if we read God's word with an open heart, listen to His Spirit, God calls us to do things, small and large, short-term or for the long haul, that we would not otherwise choose to do.
When? How does God do this?
God does this as we make ourselves available to Him—at times, exhortations in His word jump off the page at us. His Spirit gently nudges us. A godly friend or message speaks to us. And we listen, process with godly friends, and God’s command becomes personal for us.
God might be calling you to live completely different in your relationship with your girlfriend or boyfriend than the world promotes. He may speak to you about something at work. Something private to you. It might be in your marriage. About forgiveness. Bitterness. Love. Submission.
But God's Spirit still moves in us today particularly in tandem with His Word: "Here’s what I want to do through you, in this relationship, in this situation, in this ministry. It’s the opposite of what the world says but it reflects God’s character, Jesus’ attitude, and Abba’s love. O and it’s always best. When He reveals this to us, then God asks, “Will you trust Me?”
"Will you trust Me? Are you willing to go with My plan? I know what you want to do. I know better than you how hard it is for you. You’ll constantly look for success, ‘Is it working? Is this getting me what I want?’ But will you trust Me that this is best for you, this is My way to love you even if it its really scary to you?”
Then, Paul turns to the elders of the church in Ephesus, and warns them,
Acts 20:28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you [the elders] overseers, to shepherd the church [the special or called people] of God which He purchased with His own blood.”
Paul’s last words to the church he loved and knew he’d never see again is to faithfully teach the gospel of the grace of God, and to protect the church from any who would compromise or abuse the gospel of grace.
Look at the deity of Christ: the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. This is such a profound statement—for gods don’t have blood.
But the Eternal Son of God became flesh and Jesus died for us. And with His blood, He purchased us from satan, sin, and death to God the Father—for His glory, for His joy.
So elders, teachers, leaders, protect the church, primarily from false teachers and teachings.
Acts 20:29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” 31 “Therefore [elders, Christians, in 2022, with social media, weak teachings, false teachers, woke agendas, secularism, humanism, politicism, tribalism, atheism] be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.
Paul has taught them God’s purposes, and given them a few commands: Be on guard. Protect the disciples. Shepherd God’s church. O and I’m leaving, you’ll be on your own. So try hard, do your best; and know 'you’ve got this.'
No! They don’t have this! We don’t either. They're not just going to do this great because they know truth. None of us are expected to be great on our own. Listen to what he says next,
Acts 20:32 And now, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up [edify you, equip you, make you more like Jesus] and to give you the inheritance [reward] among all those who are sanctified.”
Through God’s grace the Spirit will build us up in Christ, through the word of His grace, His favor, His love, His power, His working in us He shapes our lives in Christ that we receive abundant and eternal rewards in heaven.
We are not commended to self-discipline or brilliant strategies but to God and the power of Christ working by grace through faith in us.
After we are commanded to do something, we are then commended, escorted, handed to God and to His life-giving, wonder working grace!
In whatever God’s Spirit commands you to do—forgive, put another’s preferences over your own, apologize, abstain from sexual immorality, love your wife, submit to your husband, honor your parents, serve in a ministry—He commends you to draw close to Him and to rely on His grace.
Cling to God’s Word, the word of His grace—God’s favor. The assurance of God’s love and acceptance in Christ. His Holy Spirit in you. God’s promise to be with and empower you to follow Jesus and to bring you through this.
Know that God’s Word, the gospel of His grace, the word of His grace is for your joy. Every word of it is true. There’s God’s guidance for every situation. Walk in the light of what He says, shows you, and yearns for you.
And when we live by it today, it builds us up, we not only soar with Jesus today, but it leads to a life that God will bless and reward—it is the power to give you the rich inheritance speaking of eternal rewards with the saints.
Paul's final message to the Ephesian church leaders was to faithfully teach God’s grace, to protect the church and the gospel of grace, and to live your lives according to the grace of God.
Why? Verse 32 For the Holy Spirit uses the word of God’s grace believed to build us up in Christ, so that we can lead a rich and Christlike life with peace and joy, which will lead to the inheritance, abundant rewards on top of the kingdom and heaven, so God's grace changes our lives today and forever.
This is Paul’s final message to the church he loves. This is why he wants us to be captivated by God’s grace. Paul concludes,
Acts 20:33 “I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. 35 In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
So give without expecting anything, looking forward to the inheritance, captivated by God grace even through the promise of eternal rewards.
This is his last message. This is the church we’ll look at next week.
Acts 20:36 When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them. 37 And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, 38 grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.
Pastor Steve Behlke • August 16, 2022
The example being abortion.
In Hosea, Isaiah, and Jude we looked at God’s love and His holiness.
We have also been warned to protect ourselves from idols and false teachings. Idols are anything more important to us than God. False teachers lead believers away God, often without believers even realizing it. This happens whenever we mistakenly think that Jesus approves of a teaching which He calls false, or that He blesses an activity which He warns against.
So, Jude 3 exhorts us to "contend earnestly" for the faith, Christian teaching.
Jude also encourages us to "keep yourselves in the love of God." (Jude 20-21)
God has deep, lasting, affectionate, love for you. There’s joy in believing this. Yet God is clear, so we believe tat our faith in God’s love is constantly attacked by false teaching. The enemy wants to separate you from God’s love. But God exhort you to trust His love for you, to keep yourselves in the love of God.
He’s not telling to attain lovable status; it is given to you in Christ.
But none of us are very good at receiving love. We’re busy proving ourselves.
So as a church, we’re learning to receive God’s love in Christ. There’s joy in that! And living forgiven. And particularly hearing His love spoken through His Word.
As we delight in what our Lord tells us, we receive His love. As we obey Him, we let Him teach us, direct us, protect us. And so, we grow in His love. And it changes us.
Loving God is the best way to guard against idols, false teaching.
Yet the church also needs to be engage on offense. When Jesus said “the gates of hell won’t prevail against the church,” it’s like sometimes we need to storm the enemy to rescue those who want out.
The world is pushing false narratives and dehumanizing values on children, women, men—hurting the church, and hurting our neighbors, coworkers, classmates. And if you don’t agree, well, there’s something morally wrong with you. At times we are called to engage, not be silent.
That can be scary.
We don’t want to engage in culture wars or political name calling.
Yet we aren’t to be entirely silent—people pleasers.
But all of us, together, want to protect unwitting people, in and out of the church, from evil and harmful choices the culture promotes for their good; and also to share the gospel that they trust Jesus for eternal life and enter into a “this-changes-everything-forever” relationship with God.
There are any number of hot button issues at any time.
So, how do we engage these issues as followers of Jesus who are in the world, but not of the world?
1) First, be careful to not respond to cultural teachings, idols, and biases with our own cultural teachings, idols, and biases. What our parents taught us. What our preferred news sources tell us.
2) Be sure to immerse yourselves in God's Word on these issues. Know and value what God says about it. This calls for humility. We believe what we believe and we all very strongly justify our beliefs. But what does the Father who loves you say? What does Jesus who died and rose from the dead say? Let us base our understanding on God’s Word.
Any of these hot-issues can divide a nation or a church.
It’s easier to ignore them, but God wants us to grow together in “the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man.” (Ephesians 4:13)
Ephesians 4:14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men… craftiness… deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Christ.
So any response must not mirror the culture, but Jesus.
Don’t offer a conservative voice or a woke or a moderate voice but a prophetic voice.
1 Peter 4:11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God… so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
"Whoever speaks." Notice, not everyone speaks. And not on every issue. But if you do speak, speak with both the fortitude and the gentleness of Jesus,
2 Timothy 2:24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
So immerse your mind, and your heart in God’s Word on this,
1 Peter 3:15 … Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
Jesus didn’t deal with every hypothetical problem or broad-brushed question. But He dealt with the individual before Him! I.e., Jesus didn’t deal with whether tax-collectors are evil. But He forgave this hated taxman Zaccheus. And He called this tax-collector, Matthew, to follow Me.
He didn’t deal with the hypothetical: "Hey, Jesus, what’s worse, getting a divorce, remarrying, or living with your boyfriend?" But He dealt mercifully with THIS WOMAN, whom He met at a well in the heat of day; who had been married and divorced five times and was living with her boyfriend. He loved her, gave her life.
SUMMARY: If you respond to any of the cultural hot button issues…
- Be careful not to respond to cultural biases with our own cultural biases.
- Be sure God’s Word determines your understanding of this issue.
- Deal with the individual before you who is hurting. I.e., love this person.
- Fourthly, understand the more important issue.
The culture’s hot button issues and slants were not hot button issues or debatable slants to Jesus.
Jesus didn’t come to argue ethics. He came to seek and to save the lost, to reconcile God and sinners.
And, “Just as the Father has sent me,” Jesus said, “so I send you.”
And Jesus doesn’t send us to argue ethics. But as Jesus’ said to Paul,
Acts 26:17… I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’
We are given the gospel for unbelievers to hear about Jesus so they can turn from Satan’s control to find God’s love in Christ—extending freedom and grace forever.
But there are times you may address cultural lies in protective love. And I want to walk you through this…
Let’s take one hot-button issue that people are talking about, it could be Gun Control, Gender or Transgender issues, Uvalde, Ukraine, Free Speech, but lets pick Abortion.
Abortion any time, for any reason.
Not a political view. Not our feelings. But God's view, and God's feelings. Everyone has an opinion. The first thing is to learn and value what God says about abortion.
So where do you start? I said last week the problem with Google is it's based on your algorithm and Google biases. You may only hear one side.
Go directly to the Bible. Open the concordance if necessary. And it probably is.
Do the same with any topic: gender, SSM, CRT, America first, globalism.
We want to learn what God says about abortion, so look up the word abortion.
But we discover that the word abortion isn’t in the Bible. Jesus never mentioned it.
Some argue therefore, God is fine with abortion. But Jesus doesn’t speak on guns, rape, or racism, either. In other words, an argument from silence is not a logical argument at all. Besides, the people of Israel, when Jesus spoke to them, had the highest regard for children. Abortion was not debatable; it was NOT a hot-button issue to them.
What do we do since the bible doesn’t mention the word abortion?
Well, the real issue is whether what is growing in the womb is a baby, a human life or not? I think science is clear, but what does God say about when life begins? We also want to know how God views and treats the being in the womb.
So open the Bible. And your concordance.
When does life begin? Lev. 17:11 tells us "The life of the flesh is in the blood." So at the very least, at 6 weeks old, when the child’s heart is pumping blood.
Next, I want to see how God treats whatever is growing in the womb.
Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.
Psalm 139:13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance…
And it's not only in the Old Testament.
In the New Testament, Mary, at the time she is less than three months pregnant with Jesus whose human body is developing in her womb, met Elizabeth, who was also pregnant with John, the future baptist.
Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby [GK brephos]
leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb [Jesus]! 43 And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord [Jesus] would come to me?” 44 “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby [John! The future baptist] leaped in my womb for joy.”
Note, "the baby" (John) responded to Jesus, while both John and Jesus were in their respective mother's wombs! Jesus was three months or younger!
This same Greek word for baby, “brephos,” refers to a child in the womb, to a newborn child, and to a young child. God sees no difference in terms of being. Elizabeth called the 3 months developing fetus, pre-born Jesus "her lord."
The same word for Jesus in the womb was used to describe Jesus AFTER He was born, when the shepherds “found Mary and Joseph and the baby [brephos] lying in the manger.” (Luke 2:16)
So, children of God, followers of Jesus, whatever the topic, know God’s view on it. If you disagree, trust God’s wisdom; this is how we keep ourselves in His love. If you think our Lord isn’t loving on a hot button issue, be humble; He loves others way more than you do. And He is far wiser and just. Find joy believing His Word.
Third, remember, we aren’t studying to gain ammunition to win the argument.
Our new heart’s hope is to lead THIS WOMAN, whether she’s a believer or not, to the One who knows her best and loves her most.
So identify with Christ, He’s in you. If a woman met Jesus, facing an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy, Jesus would not condemn her.
I can hear Jesus ask her questions, have her share her story.
In John 4, He engaged with the woman at the well on her level, gave her opportunity to share her hurts. He listened. He didn't have a canned answer, but one specifically for her.
And using her language, starting with a cup of water, He found out what she truly thirsted for, offered Himself as “living water,” which made sense to her—and Jesus used this to reconcile her to God.
Whatever the issue, if someone is concerned about Gun Violence, School Shootings, Gender Theory, Free Speech, CRT, be sure to know God’s truth and know (love) the person. Listen to their concerns, their hopes for the future. Hear their fear that this child or a gun or transphobic hate might destroy their hopes.
Love. Don’t hate. Know the truth, humbly. And knowing the Savior, respect them. Don’t lose a person by being a jerk over an ethical issue. The issue is not as important as the Gospel. Representing Jesus accurately that they may believe.
The goal to represent Jesus and to point to Him as the person’s deepest need. He is where their real hope and future and worth are found.
Pastor Steve Behlke • August 08, 2022
Jude 1 To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:
Jude reminds us this is who we are to God, so who we really are.
Through faith in Jesus, You are "the called," you belong to God; you are "beloved in God," loved deeply in His heart. You are "kept," preserved by God's grace, destined for Jesus Christ.
And here's what God wants you to experience as a result of trusting this:
Jude 2 May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.
In order to experience these we must know who we are and walk by faith in God's love given to us in Christ.
Jude 3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
The world’s thinking has shifted recently, but it always reflects the mindset of those who reject God, who don’t know His love, who resist the good news. Everything they teach and believe comes from that belief, that empty place, no matter how reasonable it sounds.
Under the guise of wisdom and love, they give believers justification to sin, they set them against God without realizing it.
But they will be judged as "ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (v 4)"
Jude 17 But you, beloved, remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, "In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts." 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.
So this is nothing new. Jesus dealt with this wherever He went. Paul, Peter, James, and John warned every church they wrote.
Today, some mock everything about God. They’re easy to see, easy to resist.
Be most careful of those who mock only certain truths about God, specific doctrines, or the few Bible passages that they do not like.
These are those who can subtly cause you to doubt and to act against God’s clear, loving, words of life.
“You believe that?"
"That was poetry, it’s not meant to take literally."
"That was written for back then, before people know what we know."
"This word doesn’t mean what it says; it’s been misinterpreted by all of the great theologians and linguistics for 2000 years until now."
They reinterpret the Bible—and therefore God—to say what they want Him to say.
Jude and the apostles warn us over and over again for a good reason: Do not trust those who mock God in any way, deny any clear, biblical teaching, or reject biblically defined, godly, morality. To do so is to stray from God's love. God's protection. God's Wisdom. God's expressed will for His beloved.
Jude 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously [hoping] for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
There is only one command in this passage—"Keep yourselves in God’s love."
That’s the sole command. The other verbs are participles. They help us to keep ourselves in the love of God.
How? By building yourselves up on your most holy faith, being in the Word, knowing what God says, knowing God, knowing truth, participating in Christian community, growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, keep yourselves in the love of God.
And knowing that you don’t just need just a little help doing this, you need spiritual wisdom and wonder working power, we do this by praying in the Holy Spirit, keep me open to the clear teaching of your word, and to desire your expressed will over my own, keep yourselves in the love of God.
False teachers do not try to get us to turn from God entirely, only on select issues. In rebellion, wanting what they want, they change God's Word to support their worldview.
Of course, they don't outright say God is wrong. They may or may not say scripture is wrong. They may, however, argue that the church for 2000 years is wrong. The apostle Paul was wrong. Those who've interpreted Paul the same way for two millennia are wrong.
Others go the opposite way, not license but law:
"Get up earlier."
"Be more committed."
"Preach the gospel to every person you meet in the first 30 sec.”
This too makes it hard to stay grounded in God’s love. I mean, when we're constantly told to shape up or else. It sounds like, "Shape up, give God a reason to love you."
But hear Jesus,
“Martha. Martha. Put down the dishes. Let go of your bootstraps. And receive, rest in God’s healing, stress-relieving, life-changing, and fruit-bearing, love.”
Others of us are tired and stressed or bored and we’ve strayed, and it’s hard to come back to God. It's hard for some of us to keep ourselves in God's love. We may not trust He still loves us. We’ve not picked up our Bible or prayed for like two years. We’ve been living on Netflix and Ice Cream, sleeping in tuning out. Which for two years now, doesn’t necessarily keep us in the love of God.
But again, hear Jesus describe the Father’s love.
“Lift your head! Look, here He is, running to meet you, to hug and restore you. The fattened calf is already on the grill! He’s throwing a party for you to drink the best wine and eat fatty meat and to revel in our Father's wonderful love.”
Other things too can keep us from trusting in the Father’s love.
When we sin we can doubt His acceptance. When we sin is like the best time to keep yourself in His love. Look to Jesus on the cross, for anyone who sees God suffer in their place sees God’s love and gains hope in suffering.
Other times we may slip from trusting God’s love is when life hurts, or God doesn’t do what we asked, or He lets happen what we feared may happen. We get upset, blame God; we may doubt His love—and not stay in His love.
Happy are those who trust God's love in everything they face, who see every command, every warning, and everything God allows in light of His love. Who do not get sucked into the world's narratives and proud, false teacher's lies.
And be there for each other. Help each other to remain in God's love.
Jude 22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.
In verse 22, some in our church are susceptible to false teaching and the lifestyle it promotes. They’re doubting. If you know this, contend for their faith! Have mercy on them. Don’t give them a hard time; give them what they need: a community of grace, reminders of God’s faithful love.
Other believers, verse 23a, have already succumbed a bit, compromised. He says, Save them from further damage, discipline, loss of reward. Snatch them from the fire. Not hell, but God’s discipline, refiner’s fire, or the bema.
Verse 23b, some Christians trust new interpretations and teaching them. They are pretty influential. Be particularly careful of them. Don’t just be compassionate to persuade them back into God's love, but hate what’s happened to them, lest they snag you too.
In the world we live in, with the messages we hear, doubting, wandering, or wondering Christians require a fearless community of grace that loves the Lord and cares for each other’s spiritual care.
Pastor Steve Behlke • August 01, 2022
YHWH transcends the universe, for He was here before it. Everything that has been made, has been made by Him. When people talk about cavemen and evolutionary theory we sometimes forget this.
We measure time by revolutions around the sun. Yet God made the sun on the fourth day. So even though for our sake, He enters and exists in time and space, He is not limited by it. He is transcendent and holy. Separate. High above it all.
From last week, when Isaiah saw the LORD in His temple, He was high and lifted up. Angels beamed "Holy Holy Holy." Isaiah felt small, sinful, unworthy. He was in the presence of the One who is immortal Spirit, yet we are mortal flesh. And yet, for our sake, God became flesh. And in Jesus, the Holy One who preexisted before this universe, bore our sin on the cross. “He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again.” And He imputes to the believer His righteous standing with God.
On every level, the Lord who is is amazing. Holy. Without equal.
Isaiah 40:25 “To whom then will you liken Me that I would be his equal?” says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high and see WHO has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing.
God is set apart and holy as our Creator and by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power. He upholds His creation. So when we are in need, struggling—despite the world’s lies: God has no equal in love, in power, in wisdom, in action.
Isaiah 55:6 Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, [return] to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. 8 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
The One we hope in is wonderfully not like us in that He is not bound to worldly solutions. He doesn’t view life through the same lenses: not everything is political nor is He influenced by media, or any baggage of unresolved hurts.
God is holy and exalted above us, yet intimate in love, and fully committed to us! No matter what. Never think that He doesn’t see what faces you,
Isaiah 40:27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, [when things go bad] “My way is hidden from the LORD, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?
Never imagine for a moment that what you are dealing with escapes God’s notice. Not with your children, your health, your marriage, your loneliness. Don’t give up on God. Don’t give up hope in Him. And while you may be tired, ready to throw in the towel, it’s a real opportunity to turn to the Lord anew,
Isaiah 40:28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. [He never gives up. He never takes a nap on us. He’s always ready.] His understanding is inscrutable. 29 He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.
So many people weary and tired right now. Weary of politics, lies, inflation, the recession. COVID wearied us. The first shutdown isolated us from community, church, worship; another shutdown wearies us.
Many weary of personal relationship struggles. Being the only one trying. Love that goes unreciprocated. Forgiving the same offense.
We may be weary of serving God or following Jesus. We may want to give up. Be tempted to turn from what God says to do. Be pampered. Eat, drink and be merry. I get it. Before COVID many of us did way too much.
But hear and know—the Everlasting God never wearies or tires! “He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.”
We might take a year off from church or ministry and wait for our energy to return. We might be weary and we’re just waiting for retirement or vacation. We might wait for the other person to change, or for the apology that never comes.
Isaiah 40:31 Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.
To wait on the Lord is to actively trust Him for His goodness to carry you through. I.e., “Those who actively trust in the Lord will gain new strength.”
The Hebrew word for WAIT originally meant “to twist" or "to bind together,” like twisting two ropes together. It referred to getting stronger in the waiting. Not waiting alone. Not binding yourself to something else. But wait on the Lord. Bind yourself to Him in the waiting.
Those who “bind themselves together” with the LORD, praying, trusting Him, meditating on His Word, expecting God to deliver you in His way, His timing, will gain new strength.
Abraham. Daniel. David. Apostle Paul. Jesus Himself. All actively waited on the Lord.
Queen Esther was faced with the possible destruction of her people. Rather than turn her back on what she trusted God wanted her to do and maybe lie to the king, manipulate him. Though time was of the essence, she fasted before the Lord for three days and heard from God. She then offered her king the perfect strategy.
Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Whatever you are facing, deciding, or struggling through, bind yourself to God in faith and wait on Him. He will strengthen you for the task. Don’t go it alone. “Do not fear, do not anxiously look about,” God says, “I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 43:3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…
He’s not just Israel’s Holy One, or Israel’s Savior. Today, Jesus is our Savior. The Head of His church. And not just ours! He is also the Savior of the world.
He still seeks to save the lost. He still reconciles sinners to the Father. And He does so through believers who trust Him and receive of His grace and love Him. Not just apostles but us. And He does so through the preaching of His Word, the sharing of the good news, and through the work of His people.
You are His witnesses.
Isaiah 43:10 “You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. [YHWH. The Holy One. The true and living God.] Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me. 11 I, even I, am the LORD, and there is no savior besides Me.”
After God revealed his holiness, Isaiah thought he was a dead man. But the Lord forgave him. The angel touched the coal of the altar to Isaiah’s lips and said, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Then, He asked who would speak to others on his behalf, “Whom then shall I send?” Isaiah said, “Send me.”
And for any of us who have witnessed God's love in action, who've received of His mercy or have been set free by His grace. Any who’ve been encouraged by His word and found refuge in His promises, whose sins have been forgiven, or who've seen God change your heart. He says, “You are my witnesses.”
We believe we are forever saved and forgiven but we aren’t just saved to be forgiven. We are also given a great commission. Jesus’ ongoing mission.
So even why we are here right now, even something as simple as going to church is not just about going to church.
Why do you go to church? Among other things,
We come to hear from God together, and to be formed together into a faithful people who submit to God. Really, it’s not about the music or comfy seating.
We come here to speak to God together, because we believe it's important to pray, and worship, and partake in the Lord’s table as the body of Christ.
We come here to serve one another, in love, even in sacrifice. So we can help each other to know Him better, live a little freer, and love a little more. God has called us to love him with all our heart and mind and will and body and to love one another. And we haven't perfected that yet.
We also gather as His church so that Jesus can send us into the world each week a little more like Him.
When we realize how hard life can be for us individually, then we look around and wow, it's a big world out there. It’s hard. And sin takes a heavy toll, even on those who deny it. So there are LOTS of hurting, weary, stressed humans who live without hope. And we believe God has put people in our lives that He wants to rescue, and people in our lives who are open, even called to Him.
We gather to be prepared to share the good news that kicks the devil in the teeth and breaks the chains around those who wish to be set free.
Isaiah 43:10 “You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me. 11 I, even I, am the LORD, and there is no savior besides Me.”
We believe the church is the servant that God has chosen so that others too may know and believe in Jesus, that He is the Holy One who saves and there is no god but Him. He is the true God. And there is no savior besides Him.
A weary and divided world doesn’t need more angry people, or self-righteous people, political people, or holier than thou people. It needs more loving witnesses to God’s grace and salvation in Jesus who are unashamed to tell others the good news of a holy God who gave His life for them.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Jesus gives eternal life to whoever trusts Him; this message saves all that believe. Jesus makes sinners right with God forever; this messages saves.
We believe the gospel is the power of God to save whoever believes. The gospel. Not church marketing. Not Facebook memes. Not arguing with people about political views. Not agreeing with the world on political views.
The gospel is the power to save whoever believes.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Pastor Steve Behlke • July 17, 2022
As we conclude our time in Hosea, God said He was “the Holy One in your midst.” Our Lord is not only holy, He is "The Holy One" who warrants everyone’s, from men to angel's worship, awe, and devotion.
Holy means completely set apart, distinct from all others. Sacred. Awesome.
The antonym or the opposite of holy? It is not sinful but common.
The LORD your God is not common. He is top shelf. Set above. Holy. Holy. Holy. He’s different from us. Unlike any other. And not like other gods.
Jeremiah 10:6 There is none like You, O LORD; You are great, and great is Your name in might. 7 Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? Indeed it is Your due! For among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is none like You.
Unlike the world’s gods and idols, He’s not made up.
Jeremiah 10:10 But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation.
When God compares Himself to false gods and idols, He points out He is the true God, the living God. So He can love. He can save. He can be known and trusted. Prayed to. Sang to. Loved and obeyed. And nothing can endure His judgment…
Jeremiah 10:11 Thus you shall say to them, “The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”
Bottom line and what He tells His people then and now over and over is…
Deuteronomy 11:16 Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them.
Beware, don't let your hearts be deceived by the gods that America trusts and worships and devotes their lives to attain and serve. The things they hope will give them worth, prestige, happiness, and approval. Things that cannot save.
YHWH is the true God. Declaring things before they take place. Having spoken through creation, angels, prophets. And in these last days through Jesus Christ,
1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
Jesus came to give us understanding of the True God in His love, His forgiveness, His wisdom and grace.
Jesus shows the beauty of God’s holiness in how different God is from us, and from the counterfeit gods and idols, ideologies, technologies that everyone else worships.
When Christ suffered and died on the cross, He lived out Hosea’s prophecy. Violated by His own people. His love scorned. Those whom He loves and commits to constantly diddle around with false gods, idols and all.
Yet in the midst of our great sin, we read God’s great confession,
Hosea 11:8 How can I give you up? How can I surrender you, O Israel? … My heart is turned over within Me, all My compassions are kindled. 9 I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.
And all of this is meant to bring us home to the Father’s heart.
When we first turned to Jesus and trusted in Him, we turned from our idols to the true God. We found eternal life in the God who loves us and sent His Son to die for us. That’s what one church reported to Paul about another church,
1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves [reported to us] what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God…
So again, beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. And if you do, repent. Return.
No, God won’t destroy us. But He may discipline us. He may let sin devastate us. But even then, especially then, it is vital to trust God’s greater purpose.
Throughout Hosea, God’s purpose is to have for Himself an awestruck people who genuinely know Him and love Him today. He wants us to find our worth in Him. Our significance and security and destiny with Him. We too easily look elsewhere for these.
Hosea is similar to the story of the prodigal son only richer. The son took his father’s dough and spent it on women and wild—wasteful living. Then, having run out of money, he returns home intent to work as a slave to his father.
Hosea’s wife is worse. Her trust in his love is so weak, she makes no attempt to return home. She sold herself to another man. Hosea has to go find her, and then buy her back.
John 1:29 Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Isaiah 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
Here too we see the beauty of God’s holiness.
The plain truth is He is quick to forgive, and we are always in need of forgiveness, mercy, and grace.
We’re the unfaithful wife in the story. The prodigal son. We seem to pursue love and belonging and adventure all apart from God.
We live it seems as if we are not loved or do not belong or have worth.
We forget if we are to feel loved enough, righteous enough, good enough, worth enough—these aren’t discovered apart from God…
But the world sells this lie and we buy it. And the longer we go, the deeper we get buried, and hurt and lost. And the crazier in our thinking. Good becomes evil. Abuse becomes good. And we view those who love us and speak to us as those who hate us. Just as with Gomer and Hosea, if our relationship with God is going to last forever, it absolutely has to be on Him. Good news, it is!
But that requires taking our thoughts captive to Christ. Counting the cost.
When God lets you leave Him to seek your happiness in forbidden loves, harmful substances, idols, addictions, going against God’s word, God’s will. These cannot save. These will spiral you down. But you trust these and won’t repent. He may say, “Have at it.” He may give you over to your lusts.
It feels like discipline, maybe even punishment. But this is keeping with God’s goal for you to know Him and love Him, to have a better-than-ever relationship with you.
Hosea 2:7 Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now!’
See God’s love for you. Even His discipline is intended to bring you back.
Hosea 5:15 … In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.
And let me underscore that it is not our sin that brings God’s discipline. It is your refusal to repent. Rejecting His invitation. His love. Refusing to return.
When He allows you to ignore Him and go your way without God. And later when your choice backfires and brings severe pain—maybe not immediately but it shall. Return. Repent. The arrogant cannot accept anything except for what they demand. But the humble see God’s lovingkindness and run to Him.
Hosea 6:1 Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. ||||| 2 He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day [our Lord will give us resurrection life], that we may live before Him. 3 So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD.
God’s love will risk angering or upsetting you. He is unafraid to discipline you. It hurts for a bit, but you will never find true fulfillment outside of His love.
So forsake trusting your idols and return to the Holy One who is in your midst.
What is an idol? You ask. An idol is anything that’s more important to you than God. It is anything that you trust or love more than God in the moment. So anything can be an idol, and pretty much everything has been an idol.
You might argue, “I don’t have any idols.”
But Ezekiel says men set up idols in our hearts. Meaning, we can take anything from an iPhone to Trader Joe’s, to money, fame, success, food, a woman’s body, our own body, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a preferred identity, an education, a successful career, our vacation, the ideal lover, the ideal spouse, the ideal marriage, the ideal home, our children, our grandchildren, our country, our political party, or a utopian view of the future, or of how the world ought to be and in our heart we can make these ultimate things. Idols.
Idolatry is so natural to us that the first two of the Ten Commandments are given to protect us from this. Here’s the first commandment,
Exodus 20:2 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 You shall have no other gods before Me.
And even before you can ask, “What do you mean by other gods?” the Lord tells us in the very second commandment,
Exodus 20:4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth [That’s everything]. 5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God.
But do you know what He’s saying here?
First, He says HE is the Holy One, and that He wants to be holy to you. But second, He says YOU are holy to God!
Again, the opposite of holy is common. We are not common. Not like everyone else. For we are the bride of Christ. The church of Christ. Chosen by God. Loved by God. Servants of the living God. Born again children of God.
So take this to heart. You are holy to Him. Top shelf to God.
You are in a meaningfully unique relationship that sets you apart to God and He to you. Forever. In Christ. Forever. Standing with Him in God’s grace and seated with Him in the heavenly places.
Don't try to make yourself holy, we don’t make ourselves holy. God makes us holy. You are known to God and loved in a way that makes you holy.
This was the message of Hosea. If you've forgotten this. If you need to hear it from Him. Return to the Lord. See the beauty of His holiness—in Him and in you—and devote yourself to the Lord. Not as a religious duty but as God’s chosen and loved bride or son, eternally blessed beyond description.