Monday, February 29, 2016



There is a Hebrew word used in scripture that is very intriguing to me. It appears 74 times in the Old Testament, mostly in Psalms, and three times in Habakkuk. It’s a musical term that means “suspension of music, pause.” It is placed in music to allow for time to consider what preceded it. The listener can contemplate the meaning of the passage and allow the message to settle in them before the music resumes.

Ironically, as I “paused” to consider the meaning of this word a couple of interesting things came to mind. The first application of this idea is “margin.” My pastor, Bobby Gourley, introduced this term to me early in his tenure at Christ Chapel. It means to leave space in your life for the Lord to work. Do not fill your every waking moment with activity. Do not spend all the money you make. Always leave room for the Lord to direct you in ways to be a blessing to others.

This is why God implemented the Sabbath. It was designed to force Israel to rest. They were to spend the day in worship and contemplation on their Creator. When Jesus came and fulfilled every part of the Law of Moses, including the Sabbath, we received complete liberty; spirit, soul, and body. Jesus had become our Sabbath. We are now to find our rest in Him.

Most have heard this before. Even so, it is good to be reminded of these things from time to time.

The second thing that came to mind when I was considering the word Selah is not as familiar. There is a not-so-common marking in music known as a Grand Pause. It appears as G.P. in a musical score. This is different than the fermata (), which also means “pause.” The fermata is only held for a short time, the length of which is implied by the composer of the piece. The G.P. however leaves the amount of time totally to the discretion of the conductor.

As a follower of Jesus, we are to live our life in a Grand Pause; a time under the direct control of the Conductor, the Holy Spirit. The entire orchestra and singers, if any, would wait on the signal of the Conductor before acting. So, too, we as followers of Him.

The G.P. might come at any place in the musical score. Regardless of the passage previously played, or the music yet to be played, everything comes to a complete halt until the conductor allows things to continue.

The next time you hear Selah or see it in print I hope it serves as a reminder to keep margin in your life. Leave room, always, for the Holy Spirit to direct your actions. Whether it is a fermata or a G.P., be prepared to wait on the Conductor’s cue to move forward. Doing so will assure the music He is attempting to make in your life will be exactly as composed. Selah!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

In Him - A Look At Ephesians

Ephesians is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Of course, saying that is like saying you have a favorite child. I love all of my children with all my heart. One is not above another. I guess it's just that we love them differently. So is the case for Ephesians for me.

This book is what brought a major "tah dah" moment in my spiritual growth process. I was a freshman at Samford University, sitting in my dorm room in Crawford-Johnson, listening to a Josh McDowell cassette tape on The Authority of the Believer. As part of the message he went through the passage in Ephesians 1-2 that describes the force by which Father resurrected His Son, Jesus, and completed the process that provided for our salvation.

This passage has become my description of salvation. I’m at a place in my spiritual journey where the phrases “accept Jesus” or “ask Him into your heart” just do not fit what I understand about the salvation experience. I’ve mentioned this several times in my recent blog series as we looked at the various names of God found in scripture. It’s worth another look.

Paul gives us one of his prayers that he prayed over the churches of his day. It is a great prayer even for today. Many believers use it regularly to pray over their family, church, and themselves. We pick up in the middle of that prayer with what I believe to be the clearest description of the salvation experience in the Bible.

Ephesian 1:19 is the greatest display of God’s power recorded in scripture. Paul uses four different Greek words for power to describe what was accomplished in this one act. This one single event is what changed the course of human history. Without this one display of God’s power we would all still be lost and separated from God.

The following is an excerpt from The Names of God – Powerful.

Ephesians 1:19-20 (KJV) And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

Four words are used to describe what God did in raising Jesus from the dead; “greatness of His power, working, mighty, and power”.

Greatness – Greek word “megethos”, which means, “magnitude.”

Power – Greek word “dynamis”, which means, “force, miraculous power.” Our English word “dynamite” is derived from this word.

When you put these words together we get the phrase used to describe the damage that can be caused by explosives: megaton = 1 million pounds of TNT.

Working – Greek word “energeia”, which means, “efficiency.” We get the word “energy” from this.

Mighty – Greek word “ischys”, which means, “force.”

Power – Greek word “kratos”, which means, “vigor.”

Paul used every way he could imagine to express the amazing display of power, might, and dominion that God had when He brought Jesus back from the dead.

Here is the really good part. God did the same thing for you and me! And, He did it at this same moment in time when He raised Jesus from the dead. Look at the passage.

Ephesians 1:19-23 (ESV) and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

In my opinion, the Bible interpreters watered down this passage when they divided it into chapter and verse. When you separate Ephesians 2:1 from the previous passage you have to add a verb in order for it to be a complete sentence. If you read this in the KJV the phrase “were dead” is italicized. That means it is not in the original text. It was added to make the grammar work. The reason the verb was omitted is because Paul was tying it to the same display of power God exerted in Ephesians 1:19.

The text from “far above …” in 1:21 through the end of 1:23 would be what we would call a parenthetical thought in English. Paul is interjecting more description, as if he had not already done enough, to show us just how big this event was. If you look at the passage without the chapter and verse breaks, and omit the parenthetical clause and added verbs, this is the result.

Ephesians 1:19-2:1 (ESV) and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, and you in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—

Just so you don’t think I’m stretching this any, Paul repeats the whole thing just to make sure we got it.

Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV) But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

So, here’s the thing I want you to see. God accomplished all that was needed for our salvation when He brought Jesus back from the dead, and seated Him at His own right hand, and gave Him all authority. The challenge we have is finding a way to get to this place.

We are born with a sin nature. Because of Adam’s sin mankind became separated from God. There has to be a transformation so that we can once again have fellowship with Him. This is what is described as “being lost.” So, how do we get “found”? We have to get In Him (Jesus, or Christ).

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Galatians 3:27 (ESV) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (ESV) For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

When we come to the place of realizing our need for God, and we choose to be identified with Christ in every way: His death (we have to give up our life for His), His burial (allow the Holy Spirit to baptize us into Christ), His resurrection (God recreates our spirit and we become a new man), His ascension and seating (God places us at His own right hand with Christ), and receive His gifts of the Holy Spirit, then we are truly “saved.” We have now entered into covenant with God, and the benefit is His life for ours. The sign of this New Covenant is water baptism. In it, all that we have experienced is portrayed. It is outward identification that the Holy Spirit has baptized us into Christ.

For most people, the focus is only on the death, burial, and resurrection. If you stop at this point in the progression you will live short of God’s purpose for your life. He did not save you so you would get to heaven. He saved you so you would become conformed to the image of Jesus. The reality is you have been placed at God’s right hand because that is part of the salvation experience. Until you realize this position you will live beneath your privilege.

Colossians 3:1-3 (ESV) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

This new life in Christ is an event (recreated spirit) and a process of allowing the Holy Spirit to conform us to the image of Christ as we learn of Him and seek to follow His ways. If you have never experienced this re-birth my prayer is that you will. Then, live life to the full, as you were created to live.