Posts tagged ‘love’

Ephesians 2:4-7 – God’s action plan for humanity

In the first three verses of chapter 2 Paul gives the bad news about humanity. Here in the next few verses he gives the good news which is God’s action plan for humanity.

v.4,“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much.” After what seemed like a hopelessness for all humanity in the first three verses, Paul starts this section with “but God.” With these two simple words Paul lays out an amazing plan that God puts together  how sinful humanity is not left to hopelessness which ended in death. God acted on behalf of humanity because he is “rich in mercy.” “Mercy” is sometimes referred to as God’s compassion or lovingkindness towards people even though they don’t deserve it (ex. Ps 51:1, Jonah 4:2). The word “rich” means that God is bountiful in mercy, he has an inexhaustible storehouse of it. He also acted on behalf of humanity because “he loved us so much.” I love this translation, it really makes us realize that God chose to help sinful humanity because of his deep love for us. “Love” in the Greek is agape it means selfless love that seeks the best for others. Sinful humanity can’t even approach a Holy God, but God extended his love to them because he alone can give them salvation. This love is beyond human understanding. This love was directed toward “us” which means Jews and Gentiles, everyone!

v.5,“That even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead (it is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” Paul repeats himself from v.1 and reminds the believers “even though we were dead because of our sins…” Now Paul finishes his thought from v.1 “…he gave us life.” Another way of saying this is God “made us alive” NIV which means to be “saved.” Unbelievers were dead in their sins, but they were made alive because of what Christ did on the cross, he died for their sins and God “raised Christ from the dead.” The only way spiritually dead people can have a relationship with God is to be made alive. God is the only person who can accomplish this, which he did through his Son, Jesus Christ. Christ defeated sin and death by is death and resurrection to give sinners (spiritually dead) a chance to be made spiritually alive (Rom 6:8-11, 8:10-11, Gal 2:20, Col 3:12-13). “It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!” Paul is going to expand on this phrase in v.8 but here he says a quick thought so that the believers know it is only because of God’s grace (unmerited favour) they are able to be saved. The Greek is only three words “you are saved” in order to convey the idea that salvation is accomplished and its effects are continuous upon the believer. And salvation is by grace alone, not by anything we sinners can do to save ourselves. Paul will explain further in v.8 and v.9.

v.6,“For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.” From 1:20 we learned Christ was raised from the dead and this was only accomplished by God, himself. As believers, God “raised us from the dead.” Both physical resurrection, in the future, and the new resurrection life from the moment they believe (Col 2:12). As Christ was raised from physical death, believers are raised from spiritual death, and they are assured of resurrection from that death and eternal life with God. Also as believers, God has “seated us with him in the heavenly realms.” Again back to 1:20 God has seated Christ in a place of honour at the right hand of God the Father, indicating Christ’s finished work and his victory over sin and death. Here, Paul makes it clear that “us” believers’ seating in the heavenly realms is not a future event but a here and now. Believers share in the victory now. The best way to describe this is as a statement of God’s purpose for his people (believers). A purpose which is going to happen no matter what, that it can be spoken of as if it has already happened (Rom 8:30). Believers, who are heirs with Christ, are spiritually exalted from the moment of conversion. They (we) have a citizenship in heaven, no longer just the earth (Phil 3:20). The power that raised and exalted Christ to a place of honour, is the same power that works daily in the believers’ lives. Helping believers to live and work for God during this time on this earth. “United with Christ Jesus” refers to the fact that all believers by virtue of their union with Christ actually share in Christ’s resurrection, ascension and exaltation.

v.7,“So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.” In v.4 Paul starts simply with because “God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much”, which is the first reason why God put his action plan in place mentioned in my commentary on v.4. Then in v.5-6 he lays out his plan…making us alive, raising us, and seating us along with his Son (Christ) in the heavenly realms. Here in v.7, Paul gives one more reason for God’s action plan on behalf of humanity. God wants to “point to us…as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us.” In the NIV the word “show” is used instead of in the NLT “point to us.” “Show” actually means display. In the same way an artist might display his painting to reveal his skill, so God displays his church (believers) to the universe to demonstrate his grace and kindness. This is the same grace and kindness that is demonstrated in Christ death and resurrection for the whole world. By raising and exalting believers (the church) God displays “the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness towards us” which he will continue to do “in all future ages” and on throughout eternity. Believers are a living evidence of his grace and kindness where believers will point people away from themselves and to him who they owe salvation. And the evidence of his grace and kindness towards us is “as shown in all he has done for us” which is of course he resurrected us and exalted us to the place of honour with his Son.Again this was accomplished only for those “who are united in Christ Jesus.” Without Christ’s sacrifice, there would be no hope for a relationship with God (Jn 3:16).

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? God has put together an action plan because of humanity’s hopelessness. This action plan is done because of his love, mercy, grace and kindness and was done so that we as believers could be a display of God’s grace and kindness to the world. His action plan is to make us alive in Christ, raise us from the dead and exalt us with his Son in heaven.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  I am also thankful because of God’s love, mercy, grace and kindness he put together an action plan for my salvation. I want to point my unsaved friends and family to Christ and be a shining display of God’s grace and kindness no matter how they react to the Gospel and me.

June 14, 2020 at 3:12 PM Leave a comment

Faith & Shawn’s dedication

This past Sunday we had the privilege of having our kids both dedicated by our church. Dedicated to God. Like Samuel was in 1 Samuel 1:20-26. It might seem weird having the kids dedication because they are a bit older than most kids usually dedicated. Most dedication are done after a few months of the child’s birth. But we wanted to wait for the final adoption of both kids. Faith, as you know, was adopted over 2 years ago but Shawn just joined our family last summer. However we had to wait until this May 2012 for him to officially become a DeGraaf.

Even though the kids were older than usual dedication candidates, we wanted to dedicated them to the Lord. Our pastor wanted to make the day very special so he to dedicated our whole family and celebrated the final adoption of both Faith and Shawn. He said very kind words and interacted with the kids as he shared with the congregation our story.

Usually our pastor has the parents stand on either side of him and one of the parents holds the baby, but because Faith and Shawn were much older he had them sit on either side of him and De-Ann and I sat beside the kids each. He even had a gift for each kid–mega blocks set. And a Bible with their names inscribed in them to commemorate this special day.

The kids were so good and Faith, of course, interacted with our pastor quite a bit. She even got the congregation laughing as she noticed the picture of her and Shawn on the big screen. She said “look, there’s me and Shawn!”

Afterwards many of the congregation members came up to say “congratulations” and give us hugs and love. So thankful for our church family. We felt so loved and accepted by them all.

Thankfully one of the young adults took a few pictures of us on the stage. He took them with his smartphone so the pictures are a bit blurry but you can see how much fun the kids were having.

November 21, 2012 at 11:31 AM 2 comments

Walmart & Faith

I don’t know what it is about Wal-mart but our daughter Faith has an infinity for the place. Even since she could speak she has tried to say the name. She gets very excited when I tell her we are going there, even if it is to buy diapers or something that no child should be excited about.

She has been trying to say the name for a very long time. At first it was “wall-mitt.” Then it was “wall-matt” and most recently it is “wall-mert.” Hopefully someday, maybe when she is a teenager, maybe, she will be able to say the right name. haha.

I have to tell you about one of the many humorous stories about Faith and Walmart that actually happened tonight. We were visiting some friends just East of Toronto and heading back home, we heard the dreaded “I have to go potty” coming from Faith. So we asked if she could hold it and she said “yes” then we started to brainstorm where to stop, that’s when De-Ann said there is a Walmart just up here on the right (because we used to live in this area). De-Ann proceeded to tell Faith that will be stopping for her to go potty and it was Walmart. She made her usual excited noise “huuuuuh!” and quietly whispered to Shawn “I love it!” I couldn’t help but laugh!

August 10, 2012 at 10:58 PM Leave a comment

Praying for your spouse

Last night I had the privilege of leading prayer meeting once again. I just love spending time with these prayer warriors!

We talked about praying for your spouse. When I started to prepare I had no idea how important this topic was to those in attendance. I saw the importance in my own life and even had to re-evaluate how much I pray with and for my wife. But I didn’t realize how others at the prayer meeting would get out of such a topic.

I thought I would do an overview of what we learned together so that you can see the importance or praying for your spouse.

I have been married for almost 19 years to my wife, De-Ann. [I have had many say people say in the past, so does that mean you got married when you were 13? Obviously I look younger than I am].

One thing I realized after being married for a while the hardest thing to do is to pray for De-Ann. Not at first, at first I would pray with De-Ann regularly and pray for her every morning while I did my devotions. But when things got busy or we had friction between us, I forgot to pray and didn’t pray for her and there were many times we didn’t get together to pray regularly either. Sure we prayed before each meal, but the kind of prayer I should have been having for her and with her, I didn’t.

I think the reason we find it hardest to pray for our spouse is because they are closet to us. Let me explain…the people we are closest too we take for granted. If you see someone day in and day out, you just assume they are fine. And you take them for granted.

The author, Will Davis, of Pray Big says that prayer should be the oxygen of marriage. Or another analogy is prayer is the glue of marriage. Obviously it is important.

The best example of a spouse that prays is Jesus for his bride (the Church–all Christians)

Hebrews 7:25: “Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.”

This simply means Jesus spends his time praying for us. Interceding on our behalf to the Father. This is a great picture of the kind of spouse you and I should be. I love that he doesn’t just do it when he thinks of us but he “he live forever to intercede” for us. A great example of how we should be praying for our spouse.

I like this questions Davis poses: “how would the marriages in our culture look if husbands & wives believed their primary role in marriage was intercession?

Let’s take a few minutes to name off a few reasons why prayer is so important to a healthy marriage:

1. It equips us to fulfill our biblical roles.

We are both given assignments as husbands & wives.

Look at Eph 5:22-30:  22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. 25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body. 

v.22-23, 25-26: Husbands are instructed to love their wives the way Jesus loved the church–every Christian.

How did Jesus show his love for the church? What did Jesus do for the church (us)? He DIED for us! We’re suppose to die for wives. He set aside his rights and died for his bride. That’s the role model for every Christian husband. To put our wives priorities over ours, to think of them first before we think of ourselves. Every day we are called to die for our wife (and family). And you can’t do it alone. We need prayer.

We should be praying for our wives all the time, so when friction or busyness happens, we are already praying for our wives. And we can find it easier to die to our wives each and every day by praying for them every day.

v.24: Wives are to submit to their husbands in the same way the church submits to Jesus. This is not a submission that is demanded upon wives or coerced, but one that is to be given voluntarily. Jesus is the perfect husband–always loving, always selfless, always safe–easy to submit to. If wives are praying daily for their husbands, they will want to voluntarily submit to their husbands. And the husband that is praying for his wife will want to show love and die to his wife daily as well.

In order to fulfill our biblical roles we need prayer, prayer for each other and with each other. I don’t know about you but I am too selfish and caught up in my own life to always be selfless, loving to De-Ann. If I were honest I would say I prefer meeting my needs before De-Ann’s. Ex. I would prefer to playing Angry Birds then do the laundry. And when I do the laundry or vaccum I often think “what’s in it for me?” or “she better notice the work I have done!” That’s not only unbiblical but ungodly (as Davis says). So we need prayer, I need prayer, you need prayer–pinpoint prayers.

These prayers equip you & I to fulfill our biblical role as spouses.

2. Prayer provides perspective 

It is very easy to loose focus on your marriage. Life keeps us very busy, bills, work, cleaning, carpooling, toddlers, diapers, pull-ups, bath time, dance lessons, homework, iPhones, iPods, and on and on. We can get so caught up in routine that we forget about what our role is to our spouse and we begin to see it as simply a routine.

And over time you can actually start to see what you thought were quirky and adorable in your spouse are now annoying. You can focus on them so much that you become irritated and start to even hate your spouse–no one is like that, right?

Praying for your marriage puts your focus on Christ and not on your spouse and her faults. It helps you see your spouse from a godly, eternal perspective.

Do you wish your spouse was more understanding? Made more $? Thinner? She said less and thought more? Our temptation is to begin to see them from the world’s point of view, we then take them for granted, respect them less, find them less attractive and not as fun!

When you start to pray for your spouse you will see him or her as God had intended and not from the world’s point of view. We need to pray pin-point prayers for our spouse.

3. Praying for your spouse gives you free marriage counselling.

I’m sure if I had time to interview each of you, you could tell me of the issues you have faced in your marriage…financial pressure, loss of job, relational tension, death, problems with extended family, lack of quality time, and more.

This is why we need to pray for our marriages. Davis says it is the best & cheapest marriage counseling available to any couple. Prayer does wonders when we sincerely pray.

The Holy Spirit is referred to as the Counselor or Comforter in Scripture. This literally means “one called alongside.” He comes alongside us and comforts, counsels and guides us with the wisdom of God.

John 14:26 “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” 

John 16:13: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. Holy Spirit is also referred to as the Spirit of Truth.

I don’t know about you but when things are tense between De-Ann and I, I don’t care about the truth I just care that I am hurt, or my needs aren’t being met or she is not listening to me. When things are tense it is difficult to see the truth. That’s why I should be praying for De-Ann and she should be praying for me–before it gets this way. We need to pray for our spouses!

Prayer connects you to the Holy Spirit–he’s our 24-7 marriage counselor with all the power of God at his disposal. He’ll lead you to truth, humble you, remind you of Jesus’ words, and guide you back into a place of calm.

Application: we need to be praying for your spouse daily. If you aren’t already doing so, starting praying with her or him, as well. I know when I was preparing this devo I had to take a good look at my prayer life for my wife, and I realized I wasn’t praying daily with her and for her, so I need to do as I am telling you to do…pray for and with your spouse!

“If you really want to turn up the heat and passion in your marriage, if you want to get to know your spouse’s heart, and if you want to receive God’s fullness in your relationship, then prayer together.” –Will Davis

April 12, 2012 at 11:15 AM Leave a comment

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