September 2017  
SMTWTFS
     12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
     
This Week's Events
SEP

27

WED
SEP

28

THU
Bible Search
APRIL 24 2016 EVERY DAY IS A HOLIDAY

Every Day is a Holiday, Every Meal is a Feast

 

Our scripture reading this morning is Ephesians 5:15-21.

 

Paul begins this chapter by commanding us to be imitators of God. This is our calling and our purpose: to be imitators of God, to be an expression of the living God as Christ was when his blessed feet trod upon the dirt of our sin-cursed world. Our calling is to be imitators but not in merely in a way that observes and copies. We become imitators in the way of life, by Christ indwelling us and changing us from within.

 

Though this transformation takes place by a power not our own, yet we still need participation, cooperation, and discernment. In verse 10 Paul encourages us to try to discern what the will of the Lord is. We participate in our own transformation by arising from a dead state and having Christ to shine upon us.

 

In view of all these things we are to “look carefully how we walk.” We should walk (that means live) in a wise way, making the best use of our time.

 

Remember who Paul is writing to: the saints who are in Ephesus, those who are faithful. He is writing to those who already belong to him. He is writing to us.

 

The Ephesians needed Christ to shine upon them and we need Christ to shine upon us.

 

  • When he tells us to look carefully how we walk, this implies that we may walk uncarefully.
  • When he tells us not to walk in an unwise way, this implies that we may walk unwisely.
  • When he tells us to make the best use of our time, this strongly implies that we may waste our time.
  • In verse 17 he commands us not to be foolish. Need I say that we can be foolish?

 

How do we walk carefully, walk wisely, avoid foolishness, and make the best use of our time? The second half of verse 17 tells us the first thing we must do: understand what the will of the Lord is. This is why, among Evangelical Protestants, that primacy is given to the meditation and exposition of Holy Scripture in the time of worship: so the will of the Lord is made known.

 

And I hope that this is not the only time of the week that you assimilate God’s word. We need to know His will daily.

 

Verse 18 gives both a negative and a positive command. The negative is do not get drunk. Paul wrote this because everyone around the Ephesian church was getting drunk. It was a popular pastime. The Ephesian saints were in danger of being influenced by those around them. Two thousand years has not changed human nature. Getting drunk is still a popular pastime and people still come under the influence of their companions.

 

The positive command is: be filled with the Spirit. This is the key of being an imitator of God. This is the way to express God! We need to be filled with the Spirit!

 

Paul tells us how to do that in verses 19 through 21. He gives us three things to do that will facilitate the presence and filling up of the Spirit.

 

  • We speak to one another in psalms and hymns with melody in our hearts.
  • We give thanks.
  • We submit to one another.

 

Singing hymns and spiritual songs during our Sunday worship, as we did this morning, helps to stir our spirits and fills us with the Spirit. Singing is an important part of worship! But that is not Paul’s meaning here. He is talking about individuals speaking to one another with songs. A good Christian hymn or song, either spoken or sung to another, can get both the speaker and the listener in the Spirit!

 

I recall with fond memories when I was doing investigative work for a federal agency years ago, I had to drive a fair number of miles in a rental car. I would bring Christian music CD’s with me and play them the whole time I was driving. As I listened to the lyrics and enjoyed the soft melodies I sensed a greater presence of the Lord. When I finally found the person I was looking for I was filled with the Spirit and I was happy. Almost every interview went so well and the person I spoke with, sometimes for hours, would often thank me for coming! It wasn’t me! It was the life of God within me stirred up, in part, by the spiritual songs! Do not underestimate the power of godly music!

 

Paul also says to submit to one another. This goes against our natural man. We have opinions how things should be done. We value our opinions more highly than other people’s. This often makes it hard to submit to others. But, do you know what you will find? When you submit to others there is a peace that comes. That peace is from the Lord! It is His presence!

 

Some of us have to submit to others more often than maybe our neighbor. Children have to do a lot more submitting than their parents do. The secretary at a company has to do more submitting than the president of the company. Church members have to submit more than the spiritual leaders of the church. But parents, presidents, and church leaders have others that they submit to as well.

 

The more we submit to one another the more we find that we are filled with the Spirit! There are always exceptions, but generally, a lack of submission indicates that we not only have a problem with those to whom we resist, but we have a problem with the Lord.

 

Singing, listening and speaking spiritual songs and hymns, and submitting are ways to be filled with the Spirit. But what I wish to focus on this morning is giving thanks.

 

It is good to observe three things about the importance of giving thanks.

 

[1] First, it is one of the means by which we are filled with the Spirit, as we have just alluded. Many things, even important things, can be done without the Spirit. Even reading the Bible, an essential of the Christian life, can be done in a dry and dead way. But it is hard to give genuine thanks and not be filled with the Spirit.

 

We can do nothing meaningful to our own well-being without the filling and power of the Spirit. Even giving thanks comes from God. It is mysterious how the Spirit works in conjunction with the human will. The Lord still uses our will to bring in the Spirit with the fullness of the divine blessing. We must choose to give thanks. We should give thanks and then the Spirit flows! When we give thanks the living stream begins to flow in us! Praise God! It does!

 

Therefore, giving thanks is crucial to living victoriously, because we need the Spirit!

 

[II] Secondly, we should give thanks to God the Father, not only in the good times, but at all times. Not only for good things, but for all things.

It goes without saying that we ought to thank our God for those things that are obviously to our benefit. Although, even this is not practiced as it should be.

 

Quite some time ago I had written a few tracts and one of them, which was about how the church should function, made it into the hands of a young man who was attending a Youth With a Mission training center. The training center was 200 miles from where we lived but he had just moved to our town and called, wanting to meet and talk about the tract. So, we had him over for dinner and we established a friendship. Since he was single we had him over for dinner quite often – once or twice a week. He was a pleasant enough fellow and had a real desire to know the Lord’s will. But we noticed something peculiar. He never thanked us for the meals or the fellowship. We were not offended in the least and continued to have him over for months. Eventually, I spoke with him and suggested that he thank Josie for all the cooking she did. That night, of course, he did. But soon, he was back to his old habit of not giving thanks.

 

That brother is not the exception. Younger persons in general often do not express gratitude for the many things that people do for them that benefit them.

 

Even though many are not grateful, most recognize that they should be when they receive something.

 

But Paul writes “always and for everything.” That is quite all-inclusive, is it not?

 

The reason we should give thanks always and for everything is because God loves us and He is working everything to our good, even the initially bad things.

 

Almost eleven years ago, in late August of 2005, one of the deadliest Hurricanes to strike the United States – Katrina – claimed over 1,800 lives and left many thousands homeless. The United States government stepped in and provided housing for most of the homeless. They either received shelter, food, and supplies at  centralized locations in neighboring Texas or they were put up in hotels for many weeks , sometimes months, on end. Most of the people were uninsured, so they should have been very grateful for the housing and help. And I am sure that many were.

 

But do you know what happened when they were finally asked to leave the shelters and the hotels when the money ran out (which it always does eventually)? They complained. They protested. They cursed. They blamed the government for their situations. They were not thankful.

 

Does that stir up your ire? I think it should. But let me tell you another story.

 

A couple lived in a nice house on a green hill. There was a neighbor property just next door, down the hill a little, from them. No one had lived in the house for close to a year. Finally someone bought the property and the family moved in. The wife of the house on top of the hill was sitting in the kitchen having her morning cup of coffee and saw the neighbor putting her clothes on the line to dry. She noticed that her clothes were still a little dirty looking. She commented to her husband, “That lady does not know how to laundry right. Her clothes are not really clean. I see spots on them still.”

 

The husband glanced out the window but didn’t say anything. A few days later the scene repeated itself. The wife said to the husband, “Look. She is putting her clothes on the line again and they have spots on them. Maybe I can talk to her and giver some advice. She might only need to use a pre-soak first.” The husband glanced up again but didn’t say anything.

 

A few more days later, there they were again in the kitchen and the neighbor was clipping her clothes on the line again. “Oh!” said the wife, “Her clothes are spotless now. She must have figured it out by herself.” The husband said, “No, dear, I just cleaned our windows.”

 

You see, sometimes we are quick to find fault in others, but our own windows are dirty. We fail to see that what we complain about often says more about us than the person with whom we find fault.

 

Yes, those victims of Katrina should have been grateful. But how grateful are we? How often do we complain?

 

We should give thanks to God the Father, not only in the good times, but at all times. Not only for good things, but for all things. Even at the worst times, we should give thanks for all things to God our Father.

Verse 20 tells us to give thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. The reality of the name of the Lord is His Person. To be in His name is to be in His Person, in the Lord Himself. This means that we should be one with the Lord in giving thanks to God.

We should give thanks for all things in union with Christ.

[III] It is good to realize that we do not deserve anything from the Lord. Why not? Because, even if we are redeemed, we still have rebellion in our hearts. We rebel against the authorities the Lord has placed in our lives and this is a reflection of our hidden rebellion against the Lord Himself.

 

Yes, we love Him. And, the only reason we love Him is because He has put that love in our hearts. He has regenerated our hearts so that we can love Him. At the same time, though, we still bristle at His ways with us. At least some of the time. Therefore, we deserve nothing! It is only his mercy and his grace towards us that bestows the many benefits that we receive.

 

We do not deserve a meal.

We do not deserve a roof over our heads.

We do not deserve a job.

We do not deserve a mode of transportation, whether it is public transportation, a bicycle, or a run-down car with 250,000 miles on it.

We do not deserve the measure of health that we have, whether we are at death’s door or whether we have an “Preferred Select” rating from our life insurance company.

We do not deserve what we have. Period.

 

Therefore, we ought to be thankful.

 

Realizing and believing that we are truly unworthy of what we have leads us to be grateful for what we do have.

We need to be filled with the Spirit. In ourselves we lack the power and the direction to live the life that the Lord has called us to live.

 

There are three things that we can do to be filled with the Spirit. There are more than just three things, but here in Ephesians 5 the apostle gives us three actions that will bring a greater measure of the Spirit.

 

  • We can sing, listen, and speak psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
  • We ought to submit to one another, leaving behind our stiff necks.
  • We give thanks.

 

In being thankful, we should remember three things:

 

  • Being thankful fills us with the Spirit.
  • We should give thanks to God the Father not only for good things, but for all things.
  • We deserve nothing. Therefore, we should be truly grateful for whatever we have.

 

When we have this genuine attitude it will mean that, to us, every day will be a holiday – even if you are working 16 hours a day; and every meal is a feast – even if all you have is a can of sardines.

 

This also means that you will have control over your disposition. It is a fact that grateful people are happy while complainers are unhappy.

 

Do you want to be miserable? Then go on complaining. Do you want to be happy? Then culture thankfulness. When you do, you will discover that life is much better than you think it is.

 

And, you will be filled with the Spirit, enjoying God and enjoying who and what he has given you.