Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).
Submission is the essence of relationship.
I hate that, but there it is.
When we put ourselves first, we aren’t really capable of loving anyone. Our own desires blind us to what the other person needs and wants. When we learn to submit, to see the other person’s needs and put them ahead of our own, we take a big step in learning to love.
Jesus himself provided us the perfect example of submission. Without his submission to the Father, we would be forever lost. When we follow his example, we honor him and build godly relationships at the same time.
This verse leads into Paul’s famous section on submission. Paul is going to talk about husbands and wives, parents and children, even slaves and masters. No matter what the relationship, the principle is the same.
Put the other first.
Don’t worry about what you need, or what you think you need, or what the world is screaming that you need. Trust all that to God, and focus on the other person.
So, who do you need to submit to today? Gird your loins, Beloved—this oughta be fun!
Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:19-20).
It’s time for a holiday.
I’m thinking Thanksgiving.
Look, I know it’s the middle of July, but whaddaya say? We’ll keep it simple. Forget the big meal–it’s too hot to be in the kitchen anyway. Don’t worry about setting a fancy table or driving out to Grandma’s house or dressing the kids up in racially insensitive costumes that perpetuate stereotypes and appropriate the culture of subjugated indigenous people groups. Let’s just do the part where we actually give thanks.
As you go through your day, make a point of noticing the blessings in your life. Chances are there are more of them than you think. Point them out to the people around you and praise God together. Pick your favorite worship song and get it stuck in your head. In short, fill yourself with life and light today, and give a shout out to the One who knows you completely and somehow loves you anyway.
And if you want to eat a turkey sandwich and wear shoes with a buckle, who am I to stop you?
Happy Thursday, Beloved.
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19).
I remember a Sci-Fi program once upon a time in which the heroes were trying to communicate with Mysterious Alien Race #5. They had a high-tech translator gadget thingie, but there was a problem. Although our heroes were able to understand words and phrases and even sentences, they still couldn’t make sense of the aliens’ speech. It just seemed like random names and places with no context or connection.
Then cameth the “Ah-ha” moment.
It turned out that Mysterious Alien Race #5 communicated almost entirely in metaphors. Everything they said was tied to shared stories from their cultural history. Just like if I say, “Romeo and Juliet on the balcony,” or “Julius Cesar crossing the Rubicon,” or “Fonzie jumping the shark,” I convey a wealth of meaning to those who know our socio-cultural history. It’s a very efficient way to communicate…if you know the references. Further, speaking like this binds people together
This is what Paul wants us to do. He is calling us to speak to each other in the language of our faith. Let the metaphors of Truth strengthen us and draw us closer together.
It’s like being a Star Wars geek, only it’s the Bible, so it’s better.
Yes it is.
Happy Wednesday, Beloved.
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
If I could be intoxicated by Truth…
If I could let go, leave my self-consciousness behind, and be swept away…
If I could be consumed with the desire for more, no matter what it cost me…
If I could live for God the way an alcoholic lives for his next drink…
Well, now…that would be something, hmm?
Happy Tuesday, Beloved
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is (Eph. 5:17).
My wife, the Lovely Catherine, tells the story of seeing a church skit once upon a time. The skit involved a group of people trying to figure out God’s will in various difficult situations. From time to time, little notes would waft gently down from the heavens, telling the recipient exactly what God wanted from them.
That would be awesome.
It doesn’t work that way,
that would be awesome.
Beloved, may I be so bold as to say that I know God’s will for Monday?
Of course I may.
That’s it. God wants to know and be known by the people he has created and fed and clothed and loved and lost and redeemed at the price of his Son. Those who are far from him, he wants to draw close. Those who are near to him, he wants to draw closer still, because unlike your Aunt Susie with the funky perfume, you can never get too close to God.
But Michael, it’s more complicated than that.
No, Beloved…it isn’t. If your actions today bring you and those in your world closer to the Father, then you are in his will. If they pull you farther away from him, you are being foolish.
Don’t be foolish. Mondays are tough enough without that.
Happy Monday, Beloved.
…making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:16)
Make no mistake—there is evil in this world, no matter what the popular culture and the intellectual elite say. It surrounds us, and seems to grow with each passing day.
You do not belong to evil. You are not of this world. God will bring you opportunities to shine for him, to be salt and light to the people around you.
Be on the lookout this very day for ways to serve a risen Savior in a fallen world. Pray for the vision to see the opportunity, the courage to take the chance, and the strength to bear the consequences.
It’s Friday, Beloved.
Make it count.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise… (Ephesians 5:15).
If you follow Christ, the world will not understand you. More than that, the world cannot understand you. John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” That light is Jesus, and if he lives in you…well… you’re pretty much a mystery to the world around you.
So, Beloved, riddle me this: Why do you keep trying to do things the world’s way? Why do you constantly fail to grasp that the way of Christ is infinitely superior to the way of the world? Why do you follow the world’s advice, or try to impress the world? It’s never going to work, so you might as well dump that idea and move on.
Oh, and by the way: you means we.
Paul says that we must be very careful to live in wisdom. It doesn’t come by default. If we are not on our guard, we will naturally fall into the unwise patterns of the world. We must stand fast in the wisdom he has given us, the wisdom the world cannot understand, the wisdom that looks like foolishness to those without him.
Embrace your inner enigma, Beloved.
But everything exposed to the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it it said, “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:13-14).
“Everything exposed to the light becomes visible.”
How does that make you feel?
This is one of those “thermometer” verses. Reading it is like taking your spiritual temperature. For example, if you read that verse and think, “Yes, Lord–shine your light and show everything within me!” then you are probably in a pretty good space. If you read it and mentally burn your Bible and run away into the night, you might be in some trouble.
If you physically burn your Bible and run away into the night, you have deeper issues than I am equipped to engage in a daily devotion.
This is powerful stuff, Beloved. It’s a reminder that we stand naked before God, every action and word and thought exposed before him. It should cause you to pause, to reflect, to repent, to rejoice. If you can read it and have no reaction, I suggest that you stop everything and pray.
Wake up, Beloved. Christ is shining on you.
For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret (Ephesians 5:12).
I scroll through my news feed and see the darkness masquerading as light, and I wonder…
if this is what we shout to the world, what do we hide?
And I shudder.
Beloved, do not flirt with the dark.
Just don’t go there.
Be in the world
but not of it,
Loving the sinner,
while hating the sin.
Shine the light you have been given, and trust God with the shadows.
For some things really are none of your business.
Happy Tuesday, Beloved.
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them (Eph. 5:11).
Good things generally need light in order to grow. Sure, you can grow some things in darkness—mold, mildew, assorted fungal yuck—but not the good stuff. Apples, raspberries, peaches, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—these need light. What “Fruitless deeds of darkness” are you having something to do with? Hey, you don’t have to tell me—I’m not running a tabloid here. But ask yourself—what do you have in your life that is fruitless? What fungal yuck are you growing in the temple of the Holy Spirit? It doesn’t have to be raging evil. I’m assuming that you’ve never stolen a baby or sold your mother on eBay. But if God isn’t part of what you’re doing, if the Light of the World is not invited along, then it’s darkness. It’s fruitless. Pull it out by the roots—or better yet, ask God to do it. He won’t “accidentally” miss anything. Expose it to the Light, and let it wither away.
Let today be trash day.
Happy Monday, Beloved.