Set Your Hearts

Set Your Hearts

Daily Reading: (Colossians 3:1-2):

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

One of the interesting personal discoveries I made was the more I read about how awesome Heaven is the more disconnected I felt to the world. In some ways, that’s a good thing, why treasure stuff on earth that won’t last? Why should I get worked up when someone has rear-ended me in the line to drop my kids off at school when no one was injured? There are many things that we could plug in here that we experience each day. When our minds are not on the things of the Earth, we are enabled to have the proper perspective of earthly matters. But the problem for me was that the more I read about Heaven, the more my excitement for my daily living seemed to be affected. I knew this wasn’t God’s desire for my life even living in a fallen world. There is so much that God does each day that is magnificent and should lead to our worship. I have never seen the same sunset. His creation is breath-taking, awe-inspiring. Each day offers us so much and then who knows what tomorrow holds? So, because excitement waned, I must have been missing something about my heavenly thoughts. This is where our text comes into play this morning. Get ready to be blessed by the Word!

Colossians 3:1-2 says: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

There are some very crucial things here. First of all, this might seem like a no-brainer, but someone who does not believe in Jesus shouldn’t be dreaming about Heaven one day. Until they receive Jesus and the sacrifice that He made for them on the cross, Heaven will not be their reality. It would be foolish to think they will make it based on their good living. So, setting our minds on things above is for those who have been raised in Christ and all that means, including our eternal destination.

“Set your hearts on things above”, what does that cause you to think of? This is where I had mistakenly just thought about Heaven. It is great to look forward to where we are going but the idea of enjoying the pearly gates and streets of gold, etc… is not what this verse is referring to.

This phrase to “set our hearts on things above” is actually attached to the phrase that comes before it, “since, then, you have been raised with Christ.” The Greek word for “raised” is (synegeirō)- and it means: raise up together from mortal death to a new and blessed life dedicated to God. 

This teaches us three things that in Christ you have been: 1) raised to new life 2) given a blessed life 3) and your life is dedicated to God. Your life is blessed and it is new and it is distinctly different from who you were before your salvation. Your new blessed life is dedicated to God, meaning it is a life of purpose. This is where excitement should come when we set our hearts on these things.

I can still think about Heaven and picture how wonderful it will be but I also can marvel at what wonderful things God has planned in advance for me to do on Earth (Ephesians 2:10). 

As Colossians 3 becomes our daily experience the Kingdom’s reign of righteousness, joy, and peace (Romans 14:17) will be ours on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Every Spiritual Blessing

Every Spiritual Blessing

Daily Reading: (Ephesians 1:3):

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

Normally what I do to help bring clarity to a text is to look at a verse’s context but in this instance all we have that comes before it is Paul’s address to the Ephesians. What this means is that the very first thing that Paul wants the Ephesians to know after his address to them is that God has blessed them in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ and then from this starting point, he will go on to explain what that means for them and for us.

Ephesians 1:3 tells us that there is not a single spiritual blessing that isn’t yours right now in Christ.

“Has blessed us”

It is a done deal, in Christ you are blessed. You didn’t earn your salvation it was a gift of His grace, in the same way, you don’t work for forgiveness, holiness, righteousness, peace, or any blessing. God who freely gave us his Son—will he not also freely give us all things (Romans 8:32)? Everything we need for life and godliness has already been provided for you in Jesus (2 Peter 1:3).

 “Blesses us” comes from the Greek word eulogeō[1]  which means to bestow blessing on, to be favored of God. In Christ this is what you are, you are immensely blessed. No matter what happens to you, the good, the bad, the ugly, God’s favor goes with you through your life. You have been blessed in your past, and you are being blessed now in your present, and your future contains His blessings over you.

Now when you put the “He has blessed us in the heavenly realms” together people can misinterpret this as being that my blessings are all waiting for me on the other side of eternity, in the heavenly realms. Maybe you have heard a pastor say, “just grin and bear whatever comes your way because you have an eternal reward waiting for you one day.” Is that what this means here? No, it’s not. Paul would say in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” While it’s true that even the bad things we experience are working together for our good (Romans 8:28), and that we have God’s favor upon us even during momentary troubles, that is not the point of Ephesians 1:3.

The Word for heavenly realms “epouranios” is an adjective meaning existing in Heaven or things that take place in Heaven.[2]  The blessings that exist in Heaven belong to us now on Earth in Christ. This makes sense when you read later in the same letter to the Ephesians, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). Ephesians 2:6 is describing your present position in Christ which reinforces the point that we are blessed with what takes place in Heaven “every spiritual blessing”.

The context of Ephesians 1:3 begins to shine as you work through the chapter. Paul doesn’t give a nice-sounding phrase, ”spiritual blessings” and then leaves us to figure out what those are. The rest of the chapter is all about what those spiritual blessings are and what they mean for us who are living on Earth. There are 15 spiritual blessings that Paul lists directly after Ephesians 1:3:

Blessing #1: Chosen Before the Foundation of the World (v.4)

Blessing #2: You are Holy and Blameless (v.4)

Blessing #3: In His Love (v.4)

Blessing #4: Predestined to Adoption (v.5)

Blessing #5: Accepted in the Beloved (v.6)

Blessing #6: Redemption through His Blood (v.7)

Blessing #7: Forgiveness of Sins (v.7)

Blessing #8: Riches of His Grace Abound To You (v.7-8)

Blessing #9: Made Known to You the Mystery of His Will (v.9)

Blessing #10: Obtained An Eternal Inheritance (v.11)

Blessing #11: Heard the Word of Truth (v.13)

Blessing #12: Sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise (v.13)

Blessing #13: You Know the Hope of His Calling (v.18)

Blessing #14: You are the Riches of His Inheritance (v.18)

Blessing #15: The Exceeding Greatness of His Power (v.19-20)


[1] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g2127/niv/mgnt/0-1/

[2] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g2032/kjv/tr/0-1/

On Earth, As It Is In Heaven

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

Daily Reading: (Matthew 6:9-13):

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

The Lord’s Prayer is not a New Covenant prayer. When Jesus taught this prayer, His disciples lived under the dispensation of the Law. However, the first three petitions of this prayer remain for us today.

Petition #1 “‘Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name”

These first two words would have blown everyone away. In all the personal prayers that we find in the Old Testament, God is addressed in many different ways, but never as ‘our Father’. 

Jesus said in John 17:5-6a: “And now, Father, (underline emphasis is mine) glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world existed. I have revealed Your name to those You have given Me out of the world.

In His prayer, Jesus revealed what would come for us who believe in Him. Through His death, adoption into the family of God, God would be forever known as our Father (Romans 8:15).

What we pray for first and foremost “hallowed be God’s name”. We should render or acknowledge God’s holy and special name as our Father. He is the One we venerate and honor. Before we utter a single word of what we need, we first acknowledge we are talking to our Heavenly Father who knows what we need before we even ask and He delights to give good things to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:11).

Petition Number #2 “Your kingdom come,”

The word “kingdom” here means “reign.”[1] The petition is the expression of a wish that God may “reign” everywhere; that His heavenly laws might take root here on earth; and especially that the Gospel of Christ may be advanced everywhere, until the world shall be filled with His glory.

So, we are recognizing God as our Father who delights to give us good

Petition Number #3 Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven”

If we ask anything according to the purpose of God to bless mankind through Christ or if it is that of what God wishes to be done by us…. the answer will be yes.

So, if the answer that God gives doesn’t make sense within the first part of the definition of His Will, then He must have something better in store for us that He wishes to be done by us. That’s why Paul would write to the Ephesians, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We give thanks to God in all things when we realize God’s purpose is to bless us and others in Christ.”[2]

May the King’s reign come down in my household, in my neighborhood, and in my city. May God be glorified in the very things that I am praying for right now.

The first part of the Lord’s prayer which is (verses 9–10) has those three petitions;

  • hallowed be your name
  • your kingdom come
  • your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

These petitions do not change even when we move from Old Covenant to New Covenant that is enacted upon Christ’s death.

The second part of the Lord’s prayer (verses 11–13) has three petitions as well. The last three call attention to our needs and as you probably have guessed our needs changed with the cross.


Petition #4 “Give us today our daily bread”

We still have daily needs and we should daily “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (as this prayer taught us to do first), and all these things (that we need) shall be added to you. Jesus is the only manna or daily bread you need in any and every area of your life. And so we don’t have to ask God to give us His Son every day. God already gave us the bread of life. “For God so loved the world He gave His only Son” (John 3:16).

In John 6:35: Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Receiving our daily bread is done as you study the Bible and you feed on the person of Jesus.

When we partake of Communion, we are partaking of Jesus as the “bread of life.” The holy Communion is our “manna” today.

The holy Communion is God’s ordained way of reversing the curse brought about in the fall of man. Every time you partake of the holy Communion, you receive Jesus’ overcoming life, His royal life, His disease-free life.  

Petition #5 “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”

Now, it should really start to be clear about the great divide here between New Covenant and Old Covenant living and why this isn’t a New Covenant prayer that Jesus prayed. In the Old Covenant, this was the standard of the Law. Forgive so you could be forgiven. In the New Covenant, grace instructs us to forgive others because we are already forgiven.

Today all believers are already perfectly forgiven. God has already forgiven us of our sins when Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross. There is no more forgiveness that remains to be given.
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Forgiveness is in the past tense, it has already been done and since it was done for us we can then forgive others. We don’t need to pray for the forgiveness of sins, it is already ours in Jesus.

At this point, the disciples haven’t been taught to pray in Jesus’ name. The Lord’s prayer isn’t a prayer that asks for God’s blessings in Jesus’ name.

And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24 NKJV).

Petition #6 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”

In the New Covenant, we have already been delivered from the evil one. Colossians 1:13-14: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the Kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

We walk in victory because the enemy has been defeated in the finished work of Jesus Christ.


[1] Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentary/matthew/6-10.html

[2] Matthew Webster. Making Disciples Through Sharing the Good News. https://www.amazon.com/Making-Disciples-Through-Sharing-Good/dp/B096TQ4V5F/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= June 10,2021.

Citizens of Heaven

Citizens of Heaven

Daily Reading: (Philippians 3:20-21):

“But our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

What does that phrase “citizenship is in Heaven” mean for you? Many people look at that verse as speaking only of their future hope with heavenly citizenship having little impact on their lives on Earth. Hope is unique in that hope is always dealing in the future. But this verse doesn’t just get us hope, while hope is clear and plain to see, our Biblical hope is the very next sentence in this verse, “and we eagerly await a Savior from there.” Biblical hope is Jesus. He is our blessed hope! This verse also gives us great faith in how we are to live today.

Our citizenship tells us that we are aliens here. We are strangers, foreigners and sojourners at least in the earth as we know it in its present fallen state because of sin. The new Heaven and Earth will be our home. This is where our citizenship lies. A place with no more sin or the effects of it- sadness, sickness, diseases, etc…

We don’t have to live our lives according to the desires of our flesh, desires of the eyes or by the pride of life, we are citizens of Heaven and have as Peter would say, “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). Our treasures are in Heaven.

What I love about being citizens of Heaven means that we do not have to pursue after earthly treasures. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Being a citizen of Heaven means we are under the government of Heaven. Jesus is our Lord and King. The Spirit of God reigns in our mortal bodies on earth. Our identity is shaped by our citizenship, our identity is now in the new creation we have become in Christ. Even though every human being has been born into this world, all believers have been reborn spiritually into the Kingdom of Heaven. “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (NLT) So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whateveryou want” (Galatians 5:16-17).

We are called to live our life in accordance to the laws of Heaven, which is where our true citizenship lies, and not according to the world we live in.

The Word of God gives us the instruction for us as citizens of Heaven who live here on Earth:

Getting Revenge

The world says: If someone has wronged you, don’t get mad, get even.

But we are citizens of heaven we don’t have to follow the ways of the world we get to walk by the Spirit, we can,“Love our enemies, pray for those who have wronged us” (Matthew 5:44). We don’t have to seek revenge because when we have been wronged, Romans 12:9 reminds us “never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.

Do you want to get ahead financially?

The world teaches: Money doesn’t grow on trees, (maybe you have heard that a lot when you were younger) it’s up to you and onlyyou to work hard to get what you want out of life.

Citizens of Heaven:

“But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18).

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow” (James 1:17).

Our ability to do what we do is owed to His grace. Paul said, “God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, We are His offspring” (Acts 17:27-28). The very breath we take we should thank God for it.

Gaining an Advantage in Life

The world says:“It’s a dog-eat-dog world.” Do what you got to do to succeed.

Citizens of Heaven don’t have to worry about this.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

We are to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

If it is God lifting us up, why would we try to lift ourselves ahead of others or foolishly think we need the higher uppers to notice us to lift us?

The Lord being with you is all that you need in this life, because the Lord Himself is the One who blesses you with righteousness, holiness, success, victory, favor, provision, healing, wisdom and much more!

In Romans 12:2 Paul tells us that in order to live out our heavenly citizenship, we are to not conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.”[1]

  • Your heavenly citizenship is defined by who you are in Christ.
  • Heavenly Citizenship gives us irrevocable rights, privileges, and protection.
  • Believers are called to live our lives in accordance to the spiritual laws of Heaven, not according to the ways of the world we live in.
  • We live out our heavenly citizenship by setting our minds on the things of God, and not the things of this world.
  • Everything in Heaven belongs to us, it is our inheritance.
  • Our business on Earth is to be about Kingdom work for we are ambassadors of Christ. 

Our heavenly citizenship impacts us today on Earth. It actually focuses us now to live for the Kingdom and to transform our minds as we develop thoughts of peace and not of evil, thoughts of hope and the bright future we have. We understand that our time on earth is to be used for God’s glory as His ambassadors.


 

 

Saved But Not Seen

Saved and Not Seen

Daily Reading: (Acts 8:34-35,38-39):

“The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?”Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.”

“And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.”

We tend to think of discipleship as on ongoing journey with helping another believer grow in their faith, but did you know that discipleship can actually be the way someone becomes saved? Today’s story serves to reinforce the fact that salvation is a work of God and that teaching someone about Scripture can be what leads to their salvation. A God-led opportunity took Philip down the least likely path which led to the least likely person to receive salvation.

“On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1).

This is an important verse. Because if it had not been for the persecution, Philip would not be in the proper place to proclaim the Gospel to a man whose heart was ready to receive it (Acts 8:1). The trials and tribulations that we go through prepare us for Gospel prosperity (people being saved).

The Holy Spirit came but God’s people hadn’t yet moved out of Jerusalem- but now because of persecution there is movement. “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.”

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza” (Acts 8:26).

So, we have divine direction where to go (the desert road) without knowing why. Be obedient to what you do know and then the why will eventually be revealed.

“So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship” (Acts 8:27).

We find that this man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, (His race Gentile/ Ethiopian, along with his physical deformity (eunuch), it would have kept him from approaching God in the Old Testament Law, but in the New Covenant God approached him. God through Philip sought him out in the desert, making it clear that this is the New Covenant where even a deformed Gentile can become a true saint, and member of the family of God in Jesus Christ. Did you know this moment in history between Philip and the eunuch is known as the Ethiopian prophesy being fulfilled? Psalm 68:31: ”Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.” There is another prophecy about this moment too. Isaiah 56:4-5 foresees a time when eunuchs would be included among the people of God. “For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.” We have a double prophecy being fulfilled at the same time.

“The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it” (Acts 8:29). There was a particular verse the Lord wanted the eunuch to read and wonder about because God was sending Him his answer, Jesus Christ. Did you know that God still does this today and you can be someone else’s Philip in this story revealing Jesus to them?

“Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35). The Gospel can be shared in a variety of ways but it is always about leading other people to the good news about Jesus (Acts 8:35).

“As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized” (Acts 8:36)? So, obviously somewhere in the sharing of the Gospel Philip must have mentioned baptism. We learn here what the qualification of baptism is through the eunuch. Some manuscripts include the following text: “Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” There is only one qualification for baptism: Believe in Jesus.

And then in verse 38b-39 “Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.”

God prepared Philip in Jerusalem for Samaria, He prepared him in Samaria for Gaza. God uses everything we go through for our good and the good of others. Your Jerusalem hardship might be and probably is the very thing you need to lead you to the success He is leading you too in Samaria and then Gaza. Philip’s obedience to the Lord’s leading lead to the Gospel reaching Ethiopia. After salvation, it would have been so other believers who would continue to disciple the Ethiopian, helping him grow in his faith.