Please Know...

As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Choosing To Be or Not To Be Living as Children of Light

Each time I read a section of the Bible, I see it through different eyes – and I’m not talking about my occasionally changing glasses prescription…  Life experiences lead me to see things differently now than in earlier times of my life.  Today’s lesson is a good example of this.  I’ve read Ephesians[A] many times but not really noticed what I’m about to share until recent life experiences pointed this out to me more clearly. 

The following Bible reading is copied from Arterburn, Stephen; Stoop, David (2012-12-14). The Life Recovery Bible NLT (LRB: Full Size) (Kindle Locations 68515-68538). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
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Living as Children of Light

17With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. 20But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24Put on your new nature, created to be like God— truly righteous and holy. 25So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”* Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27for anger gives a foothold to the devil. 28If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. 30And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,* guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
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The Bible, often referred to as “Scripture,” is filled with the idea of choosing this or that.  Today’s reading is a great example.  I’m going to go through this verse by verse and show you what I mean.  If you’re not sure what I mean by “verse,” this is what I’m talking about: A verse in the Bible starts at a number and ends just before the next number.  Every verse in the Bible acts as a street address and makes it possible to find a specific sentence in the Bible.  Our reading starts with Ephesians 4:17.  You would say this “Ephesians chapter 4 verse 17.”
                               
Ephesians 4:17 - 32

Living as Children of Light

17With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles[B] do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

For clarity in understanding the intent of this verse, add this in verse 17:  Choose to live no longer as the Gentiles do… 

Now read starting to the right of the comma in verse 17:

…for they are hopelessly confused. 18Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

This is the result of not choosing to follow Jesus.  This is a somewhat passive decision.  The more direct decision is to deliberately choose not to follow Jesus.  The passive decision may be out of not knowing that there is an option to choose to follow Jesus.  The more direct decision is when you know there is an option and deliberately choose not to follow Jesus.

20But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him,

Verses 20 and 21 make it clear that in this Scripture reading, we do know that there is a deliberate decision to be made.  I will or I will not follow Jesus.

22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.

Again, add ‘choose to” to this and read it as:

Choose to throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 

By now, you probably understand where I’m going with this so I’ll shorten my commentary.

23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.

Instead, choose to let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.

24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God— truly righteous[C] and holy[D].
                                                              
                Choose to put on your new nature, created to be like God— truly righteous and holy.

25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body[E].

So choose to stop telling lies. Let us choose to tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.

26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”* Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

And “choose not to sin by letting anger control you.”* Choose not to let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.

If you are a thief, choose to quit stealing. Instead, choose to use your hands for good hard work, and then choose to give generously to others in need.

29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Choose not to use foul or abusive language. Choose to let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit[F] by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,* guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption[G][H][I].

And choose not to bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Choose to remember, he has identified you as his own,* guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.
                                                          
Choose to get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.

32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Instead, choose to be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has chosen to forgive you.
Closing Thoughts:

The Book of Ephesians is a great book to study.  It’s six “chapters” long and eight pages total!  It helps us understand the benefits and blessings[J] of choosing to follow Jesus.  It also helps us understand the results of choosing not to follow Jesus.  Some people reading this might be saying, “I believe this story about Jesus.  I don’t understand much of it but I do believe what I’ve heard.”  That’s great!  Jesus accepts you wherever you are in your understanding and invites you to follow Him.  Understanding will come with time.  Choose to follow Jesus today!




[A] a book of the Bible, originally a letter to the church in Ephesus and traditionally attributed to St. Paul.
[B] somebody who is not Jewish
[C] always behaving according to a religious or moral code
[D] devoted to the service of God
[E] an organized group of people
[F] in Christianity, the third person of the Trinity, understood as the spiritual force of God
[G] deliverance from the sins of humanity by the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross
[H] the act of saving something or somebody from a declined, dilapidated, or corrupted state and restoring it, him, or her to a better condition
[I] the improved state of somebody or something saved from apparently irreversible decline
[J] help believed to come from God

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