This week, CBS premiered a new show “God friended me” in which a podcast host by the name of Miles interviews a female Jewish Rabi debating the existence of God.The next minute, Miles who claims to be an atheist gets a friend request from God. “Confirm” or “dismiss” the request is his quandary as his phone buzzes throughout the day with suggestions of who he should friend as he encounters situations that need God’s influence and interference. As the story line unfolds, we learn that Miles is convinced that God does not exist because God allowed his mother to die at the age of 8 in a car accident. It’s interesting to me that his lack of belief is blamed on a God he says he doesn’t believe in.
How have you framed up your belief in God? What are you convinced of when it comes to Him? This is the idea Paul addresses through his letter to the Ephesians and to you and me today. While many define God around the disappointments experienced, Paul focuses our attention on what God has actually done on our behalf.
This weekend as we pickup with Chapter 2 of his letter to the Ephesians, this is what we can be convinced of.
If Jesus brings the spiritually dead to life, then I can stand against the devil.
This is where Paul begins in expressing his conviction in verse 1: Paul tells us how bad the bad news is: "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins." Dead. Not sick, not dying, not having an off day — dead.
Paul describes the spiritually dead this way:
The Spiritually dead live like the rest of the world.
The Spiritually dead follow the prince of the power of the air.
The Spiritually dead are enslaved to "gratifying the cravings of the sinful nature"
Paul understood that he was saved for a reason. That what God was doing through Jesus Christ to transform him was translated into the very purposes he had in mind for Paul. Good works God created in advance for Him to do. One of those works was the true to life display of God’s grace in Paul’s life. Convinced of this, Paul would wage battle against the forces of evil, the Devil, certain that God’s work would not be in vain, which is where Paul takes us next.
If God has raised me with Christ, I will live courageously. Since God has given me knew life, not just eternal, but new life today, convinced of this I can face any obstacle knowing that God will strengthen me, clothe me, and go with me into the battle.
An author by the name of Paul Stoltz says that there is something more important than a person’s IQ, and that is their A.Q. – Adversity Quotient. Successful people have this one thing in common – they refuse to quit. They persevere. They have a high A.Q. Where does our A.Q. come from? It comes from accepting what God has done through Jesus Christ. He he has not only shown us his incomparable grace and love, but he plans to continue to make this known.
The Apostle Paul was amazingly resilient. If you read the book of Acts you’ll see that He bounced back from a lot of hard knocks. Threatened in Jerusalem, he flees to an Arabian desert where he spends 10 yrs studying and preparing only to resurface in Antioch ready to do ministry. Stoned and left for dead outside Lystra, he gets back up and goes to Derbe and wins a large number of disciples. Thrown into prison in Philippi, he converts the jailer. Drug into the courtroom in Caesarea and he turns the witness stand into a pulpit. Shipwrecked on the island of Malta, and he wins the Island’s chief politician to the Lord. Thrown into a roman jail, and he emerges months later with much of the New Testament in his hand. He always got back up when he was knocked down.
Finally, Paul reminds us that If Jesus is the chief cornerstone of my life, I am convinced that what God is building is good. And so I’m going to continue to let Him build. Realizing that there is some demolition involved – dead wood that needs to be removed, things from my spiritually dead years to be reconciled, there are weeks to be pulled, some rebuilding to take place, there are rooms that I never thought or dreamed of having that God wants built – seasons of life that were tough, disease that changed my perspective, relationships that have stretched me. But he is never going to walk away from the project. He is right there in the middle of it with me because the reality is, my home is his home. As Paul said of his own life - Convinced of this, I will press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me.
Convinced? I hope you are one step closer this week. I look forward to celebrating with you this weekend! Dave