Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. 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)
Today is Halloween. A day on which this fallen world celebrates death and darkness. Oh, they wrap it in candy and pumpkins, but it is what it is.
Instead of Halloween, make today your personal Thanksgiving. Make a point of noticing the blessings in your life. Point them out to your friends and praise God together. Pick your favorite worship song and get it stuck in your head. In short, fill yourself with life, not death…with light, not darkness.
Yes, you can still eat candy.
…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 don’t 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.
Make the most of your Wednesday.
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 then you are a mystery to the world around you.
Knowing that, riddle me this: Why do you keep trying to do things the world’s way? Why do you follow the world’s advice, or try to impress the world? It’s never going to work, so give it up.
Paul says that we must be very careful to live in wisdom. That seems to indicate that, 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 that looks like foolishness to the eyes of the world.
Embrace your inner enigma.
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.
They were like crazy people.
Virtually no experience, maybe four minutes of training, and here they were, three kids charging up the Himalayas on quads.
O.K., so they were only hills—they were steep ones.
My brother-in-law invited us out to his place on the Colorado River for the weekend. Dads and kids. Dirt, water, and fun. Bill brought his daughter, but his boy wasn’t able to make it, so we brought Tim, a buddy of Alec’s. That made four teens, three of whom were brand new to this stuff.
Let the games begin. Continue reading
…find out what pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:10).
There’s a big difference between desire and love. Desire is about you—your wants, your needs, and how the object of your desire can fulfill them. Even the term, “Object of your desire,” denotes a thing, not a person.
Love is not about you; it is about the beloved. Your wants, your needs are subordinated to theirs. When you love someone, you want to know everything about them. So you spend hours with them, hanging on their every word. You study them, looking for the things they like to do, to eat, to wear. Kind of like stalking, only not so creepy. You pay attention; you get to know them. Then you show your love by doing things that you know they’ll appreciate. It can be hard work, but it feels like pure joy.
When was the last time you dove into Scripture with the sole purpose of knowing God better, of finding out what makes him happy? Better question: When will be the next time?
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light… (Ephesians 5:8)
Right now our neighborhood is decorating for Halloween. Witches, ghosts, tombstones, zombie creatures, bloody body parts—they cover the lawns and hang from the windows of houses up and down our street. If ever there was a time that glorified darkness, this is it.
As children of God, we are called to be different. We are light. Notice that the verse doesn’t say that we have light, but that we are light. Light has nothing to do with darkness. I’m not saying that it shouldn’t, but that it can’t. Go into a dark room and flick on the light switch. What happens to the darkness?
Just as sin can’t exist in the presence of God, darkness can’t exist in the presence of light. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you can play the games that the world plays. If you dabble in darkness, you can’t live as light.
Does that mean that you can’t be living for Christ and have witches hanging from your windows and zombies bursting forth from your lawn?
Look, I don’t want to step on any toes. I’ll let God do it.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)
Where there is no light, there is darkness.
Where light is, darkness cannot be.
Go, Beloved of God, and live as a child of light today.
…live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2)
This verse goes along with yesterday’s. One of the most powerful features of God’s character is his unending, unstoppable love. If we imitate him, as verse 1 tells us to do, we will live a life that mirrors that love.
And what an example we have to follow. Jesus loved us, and he told us in a way that goes far beyond words.
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
So how do we do that? I mean, laying down your life is all well and good if you’re rushing into a burning building to rescue people, or if you dive into traffic to save a toddler. But, that opportunity doesn’t arise very often, and frankly, you can only do that trick once.
There is another way to lay down your life—but you probably don’t want to hear about it. This is the daily act of dying to yourself, of putting other people first. It’s the little things—taking out the trash even though it isn’t your turn, letting someone else have the last doughnut even though you’ve been salivating over it all morning, letting the other car in front of you even though it means you have to slow down and why should you have to slow down why can’t they just wait their turn like everybody else—
Yeah, it’s that kind of stuff. Not terribly dramatic; nothing to get you a mention in the paper, but loving nonetheless. That’s your challenge.
So, what will your fragrant offering be today?
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children… (Ephesians 5:1).
Have you ever watched a son watch his father? The boy studies the man, soaking up the Dadness of it all. Words, clothing, even mannerisms—the child models after what he observes. Often, the child does not even realize what is going on. He is simply watching, and becoming what he sees. This can be dangerous, because not all of Dad’s ways are worthy of imitation. Thus the origin of the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
We have a Father who says, “Do as I say; do as I do; do as I am.” All his ways are perfectly worthy of imitation. Study him closely today. Look for him in his Word, in his world, and in his people. Then, do your best to be what you see.
Go ahead—be a copycat.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Eph. 4:32)
There’s an interesting thing about forgiveness. It works for the forgiver as powerfully as for the forgivee.
Some of us—by that I mean me—have trouble in the forgiveness department. Oh, we’re pretty good about forgiving those who apologize to us. We can be gracious and charitable—no problem. But as you know, most people who offend you don’t apologize.
Because they’re jerks.
And yet we’re called to forgive them anyway. The passage says, “Forgiving…just as in Christ God forgave you.” He didn’t wait for us to apologize before acting to forgive us. If he had, he would have been waiting forever, which he could do, because he’s eternal, but what’s the point of that when we never would have made the first step? Romans 5:8 says that, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were still hurting him, he was offering forgiveness.
Does this kind of forgiveness heal the relationship? Not necessarily. The offender needs to acknowledge their sin and accept the gift of forgiveness in order for that to happen. Kind of exactly like it was with you and God. But forgiveness does more than release the offender from guilt; it releases the offended from bitterness. Forgive, as an act of obedience to God, and you are free to move on, regardless of what the other person does.
If you need to forgive someone today, may I humbly suggest that you follow God’s command and forgive. They hurt you once; don’t give them the power to hurt you over and over again.
There’s no one in your life you need to forgive? Don’t worry; you’ll get your chance. It’s only a matter of time.