Passage of the Day: Ephesians 4: 1 – As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
My Journal for Today: As John MacArthur emphasizes in his Strength for Today devotional entry for this date, it is of interest to note that being a prisoner of Rome when Paul wrote Eph. 4: 1, he refers to himself as a “prisoner of the Lord.” And I believe such an attitude helps us to see Paul’s level of Christian maturity at the time he was writing this prison epistle. Paul’s had a divine perspective on life in his later years, not a worldly or personally selfish perspective. He was deeply in, what I call, “surrender mode” in his walk as a disciple of Christ.
So often we see lesser mature Christians, when confronted with problems or issues, react with a here-and-now attitude or selfish perspective, possibly declaring (or at least thinking), as MacArthur declares, “Oh, woe is me!” I can’t tell you how many times in my discipleship, especially years ago, but occasionally still, I have reflected this pity-party mentality. However, we see in God’s word, a model of the Christlike perspective in the Apostle Paul here in Eph. 4. We read this Apostle saying, through his words and actions, “What is God showing me (us) through these challenging circumstances?” Also we could imagine him praying, “Lord, what would You have me do in these circumstances for Your glory?”
This perspective, what I referred to as “surrender mode” is what MacArthur calls a “God consciousness.” It is what King David expressed in Psalm 16: 8 – 10 …
>>> SCRIPTURE: Ps. 16: 8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9 Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because You [Lord] will not abandon me …
It is what Paul saw as the reason for another of his prison circumstances, as we read in Phil. 1:12-14.
>>> SCRIPTURE: Phil. 1: 12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
And I agree with MacArthur that our maturity as believers and our functioning as Christians is measured by the degree to which we believe and can live by the truth of Romans 8: 28, which I’m sure many of you mature readers here know well. [Besides the NIV I’ll also add the NKJV, which I believe is a slightly better translation of this one passage.]
>>> SCRIPTURE: Rom. 8: 28 [NIV] And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
>>> SCRIPTURE: Rom. 8: 28 [NKJV] And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
If a Christian truly believes this passage from Paul’s deeply held “God perspective” and responds to the negative or tumultuous circumstances of life as Paul has modeled for us in the passages above, then he has, what I call, the “surrender mode” credentials to exhort others to “get with THE program,” which is God’s calling for us to walk worthy of our Lord [again, see today’s verse].
So, as we move in to this new year, I challenge myself [and I’ll let God’s Spirit convict you] to develop a “God consciousness,” … i.e., a deeper “surrender mode.” And, I don’t know about you; but, I’ve got some growing to do. I do believe that God does know what’s best for my life; and I do pray that I can see life through the lenses of a Rom. 8: 28 perspective; AND, most certainly I desire to grow closer to Him through my life circumstances. So, I pray …
My Prayer Today: Help me, Lord, and teach me how to see life through Your eyes. Amen