Did You Know?

Sixteen men and no women have been

executed in the United States in 2017.

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of June 11-17, 2017, is Ephesians 1:3-14.  Paul wrote this letter while he was imprisoned in Rome.  Unlike many of his letters, this letter was not written to address any specific issues within the church and was likely meant to have been shared with other churches.  In all of his letters, Paul includes a greeting.  In this greeting, Paul includes each element of The Trinity, and their role in salvation.


Blessed and worthy of praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ, just as [in His love] He chose us in Christ [actually selected us for Himself as His own] before the foundation of the world, so that we would be holy [that is, consecrated, set apart for Him, purpose-driven] and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined and lovingly planned for us to be adopted to Himself as [His own] children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will— to the praise of His glorious grace and favor, which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [His Son, Jesus Christ]. In Him we have redemption [that is, our deliverance and salvation] through His blood, [which paid the penalty for our sin and resulted in] the forgiveness and complete pardon of our sin, in accordance with the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and understanding [with practical insight] He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, with regard to the fulfillment of the times [that is, the end of history, the climax of the ages]—to bring all things together in Christ, [both] things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have received an inheritance [a destiny—we were claimed by God as His own], having been predestined (chosen, appointed beforehand) according to the purpose of Him who works everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ [who first put our confidence in Him as our Lord and Savior] would exist to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, when you heard the word of truth, the good news of your salvation, and [as a result] believed in Him, were stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit [the One promised by Christ] as owned and protected [by God]. The Spirit is the guarantee [the first installment, the pledge, a foretaste] of our inheritance until the redemption of God’s own [purchased] possession [His believers], to the praise of His glory.  (Ephesians 1:3-14, ESV)


Sin destroys our relationship with God!  Blood sacrifice restores our relationship with God!  Jesus Christ is the ultimate blood sacrifice!  Through Jesus’ sacrifice, we have been offered eternal salvation.  When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice and the gift of salvation, we are given the Holy Spirit, which resides in us.  Today, we can approach God at any time, in any place we may be.  We can tell Him of all our problems, needs, and desires.  Through the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we have eternal hope of one day entering the Kingdom of the Lord.  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this weeks verse, consider how your relationship with The Trinity affects your everyday life.

The Bible passage for prayer, mediation, and reflection for the week of June 4-10, 2017, is Luke 9:46-48.  This short passage is shows how Jesus lived His life, and how we are to live ours.


But a controversy arose among them as to which of them might be the greatest [surpassing the others in excellence, worth, and authority].  But Jesus, as He perceived the thoughts of their hearts, took a little child and put him at His side and told them, Whoever receives and accepts and welcomes this child in My name and for My sake receives and accepts and welcomes Me; and whoever so receives Me so also receives Him Who sent Me. For he who is least and lowliest among you all—he is [the one who is truly] great.  (Luke 9:46-48, AMP)


Being first, being the best, is something that we are taught from a young age.  We are taught to be proud of our accomplishments, whether it’s being the smartest kid in school, the best in their chosen sport, or even simply being the first kid out on the playground.  Each disciple wanted to the best, they wanted to be acknowledged as being better than the others.  They were focused on the wrong objective!  They were focused on themselves!  When they should have been focused on serving others.  Being a Christian is not about having all the answers or being the smartest, it is about serving others.  Jesus Christ ultimately came to this earth to serve us, by dying on the cross so that we could have eternal life with Him.  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s verse, consider how you can better serve others.  What you can you do today to serve?

The Bible passage for mediation, prayer, and reflection for the week of May 28-June 3, 2017, is Galatians 1:15-2:2.  Galatians was written by Paul.  Today, Paul is remembered as a man who wrote a large portion of the New Testament, a man who was one of the first missionaries, and a man who helped establish much of the early church outside of Jerusalem.  But during the time in which Galatians was written, Paul was also remembered for his persecution of Christians.  In this week’s passage, Paul defends the person he has become.


But when He, Who had chosen and set me apart [even] before I was born and had called me by His grace (His undeserved favor and blessing), saw fit and was pleased to reveal (unveil, disclose) His Son within me so that I might proclaim Him among the Gentiles (the non-Jewish world) as the glad tidings (Gospel), immediately I did not confer with flesh and blood [did not consult or counsel with any frail human being or communicate with anyone].  Nor did I [even] go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles (special messengers of Christ) before I was, but I went away and retired into Arabia, and afterward I came back again to Damascus.  Then three years later, I did go up to Jerusalem to become [personally] acquainted with Cephas (Peter), and remained with him for fifteen days.  But I did not see any of the other apostles (the special messengers of Christ) except James the brother of our Lord.  Now [note carefully what I am telling you, for it is the truth], I write this as if I were standing before the bar of God; I do not lie.  Then I went into the districts (countries, regions) of Syria and Cilicia.  And so far I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Christ in Judea (the country surrounding Jerusalem).  They were only hearing it said, He who used to persecute us is now proclaiming the very faith he once reviled and which he set out to ruin and tried with all his might to destroy.  And they glorified God [as the Author and Source of what had taken place] in me.  Then after [an interval] of fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem. [This time I went] with Barnabas, taking Titus along with [me] also.  I went because it was specially and divinely revealed to me that I should go, and I put before them the Gospel [declaring to them that] which I preach among the Gentiles.  However, [I presented the matter] privately before those of repute, [for I wanted to make certain, by thus at first confining my communication to this private conference] that I was not running or had not run in vain [guarding against being discredited either in what I was planning to do or had already done].  (Galatians 1:15-2:2, AMP)


Paul’s transformation did not occur overnight!  Neither will ours!  Often when we become Christians, we expect that our lives will immediate reflect the new person we have become: trials will disappear, we will always be joyful, everyone we meet will see this change in us and want to know what happened, we will be able to share God’s word and make a difference in everyone’s life.  Unfortunately, that is not the way it works.  Paul spent three years studying before he even approached the disciples of Jesus Christ!  And he spent 14 more years studying before he began his mission work with the Gentiles!  Paul spent more years studying the Word of God than some of us went to school!  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this weeks passage, consider your daily habits.  How much time do you spend everyday dedicated to learning the Word of God?  How much time do you spend everyday in prayer and fellowship with Him?

The Bible passage for prayer, meditation, and reflection for the week of May 21-27, 2017, is Luke 6:27-31.  This week’s passage gives instructions for how we are to live our lives everyday, yet Christians everywhere will agree, it is one of the most difficult passages in the Bible to follow.


“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”  (Luke 6:27-31, ESV)


In elementary school, they were called our playground rivals.  In middle school and high school, the lines became more defined - they were not part of our group and we looked at and spoke of one another with contempt.  In college they were easy to ignore, although a few harmless pranks played on them was always fun.  But as adults, things changed.  Those we disliked could no longer be ignored and we had to learn to work and tolerate them.  As we grew from childhood into adulthood, we learned various ways of dealing with those we considered our enemies, our rivals, or simply those we disliked.


But those methods are the way of the world, not the way of Christ.  In this week’s passage, Christ tells us His way.  We are to show them love and kindness.  We are to pray for blessings upon them.  We are to smile when they insult us.  We are to kill them with kindness - so to speak.  But this passage does not mean that we are to allow ourselves to become complacent in abusive situations!  We are to forgive, be kind, and not stoop to their actions, yet we are not required to stay and subject ourselves to harmful behavior!


As you prayer over, meditate on, and reflect upon this week’s passage, consider your actions.  Do you show love to your enemies?  Ask for the Lord to help you change your attitude and actions, then pay attention to the opportunities He provides!  How are you responding?

The Bible passage for prayer, meditation, and reflection for this week, the week of May 14-20, 2017, is II Corinthians 9:6-9.  Paul is proud of the attitude previously displayed by the Corinthians when giving.  He was encouraging them to continue giving with such a joyful attitude.


[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings.  Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].  And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation].  As it is written, He [the benevolent person] scatters abroad; He gives to the poor; His deeds of justice and goodness and kindness and benevolence will go on and endure forever!  (II Corinthians 9:6-9, AMP)


In a small city, there is a large church with many members and several different community outreach projects.  One Sunday, this large church had a guest speaker.  The speaker spoke from this week’s passage, with a message about cheerful giving.  Many speakers and pastors seek to inspire change through their messages, but this particular speaker sparked a visible change within a church, a lasting change.  Can you guess the change?  Following that speaker’s message, every time an offering plate was passed in that church, the congregation applauded!  They clapped not for the amount of money the church received, or to make those who gave feel good about themselves; they clapped as a reminder, a reminder to themselves, and to each other that when they give, they are to give cheerfully and willingly!  Each church member knows why they clap, even if they were not at the sermon that particular Sunday and, when a guest to the church asks why they are applauding, they are able to respond accordingly.


As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s verse, ask yourself if you are applauding when you give?  Are you applauding for the right reasons?




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