Forgiven - Day 5 - Getting Exposed

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Ephesians 5:11-14 - 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

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Years ago, Emily and I were newly married and we stayed with one of my relatives when my band was on a national tour. This family member didn’t necessarily keep their house as clean as we were used to. That night, as we shared a twin bed in one of the kids’ vacated bedrooms, I got up to go to the toilet. Before I closed the door when I returned to the room, the light from the bathroom shone on the bedroom wall to reveal several cockroaches scattering! They had been there all along, but the room was too dark for them to have been seen. It took the light to expose the truth.

As people, we can tend to live like roaches: running around in secret, until the light of Christ exposes our lifestyle for what it truly is. In this passage, Paul continues to contrast the lifestyle of a “beloved child of God” (or Christian, Eph. 5:1) with the lifestyle of a “son of disobedience” (or non-Christian, Eph. 5:6). The question is, which are you? The child of God is called not only to “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness” (v.11), but also to shine the light of Christ on sinful behavior (v.13) so that its true nature can be revealed, and people can be “awoken” to the reality of true life that is found only in Christ (v.14)!

As God’s children we have this great privilege to be light-shiners, but it only works if we see others as people (not see them as problems), approach them with love and humility (not with controlling self-righteousness), and ultimately shine the light on ourselves first.

Live

• Is there an area of your life where you’ve fallen “asleep” (v.14) and need Christ to shine on you? Have you any self-righteous sense of superiority towards any “sons of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6) in your life?

• How could you lovingly walk with someone caught in darkness?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for awakening you to reality with the light of Christ.

Forgiven - Day 4 - Light or Dark?

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Ephesians 5:6-10 - 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

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One of the biggest complaints Christians hear is that of “hypocrisy:” saying one thing, yet doing another. Unfortunately we’re all guilty of it from time to time. We often feel the struggle between our spirit and our flesh, but is it possible for a self-declared “Christian” to lead a sinful life with no hint of repentance? Are they just “empty words”?

Are we to be “partners” with such people? Are we these people?

Paul says we once were “darkness,” but because of Jesus, we are now “light in the world.” We are to “walk as children of light.” Our lives should reflect this change, and we should seek to discern what pleases the Lord and live in such a way.

Live

• How would you describe the “darkness” in your life before Jesus?

• In what ways would you describe “the light” in your life as a result of Jesus’ work?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for his transformation in your life.

Forgiven - Day 3 - Something’s Out of Place

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Ephesians 5:4-5 - 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

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Recently my wife and I saw the latest release of Murder on the Orient Express. The protagonist, the world’s greatest detective, Hercule Poirot, explained why he’s “The world’s greatest detective.” He says that he sees the world “as it should be” and when something is “out of place,” it is glaring.

It seems that Paul has this in mind in the above passage. A follower of Jesus should speak words of thanksgiving, not filthy, foolish, or crude words. And it’s not just talking about what we’d call “curse words,” but speaking carelessly, with no regard to who we are in Christ and how we might be perceived as Christ followers. After all, the world is watching…and listening.

Not only should our words be honoring to the Lord but our actions also. I have had the honor of officiating a couple dozen weddings, and I really enjoy it. I have married both believers and unbelievers…but not to each other (2 Cor. 6:14). Here’s the difficult thing: how do I decide who is a believer and who is not? I hear their words and observe their deeds. In verse 5 Paul assures us that our deeds bear our true faith. Those things, our words and our deeds, are a good barometer of whether or not we’re followers of Jesus.

So if Detective Poirot examined your words and your deeds, would he see something “out of place”?

Live

• What area of your life might seem “out of place” to others?

• Which of these areas might Jesus want to change this week?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for his work in our lives - both our words and our deeds (in Jesus).

Forgiven - Day 2 - Consistency?

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Ephesians 5:3 - 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

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The Christian satirical website, Babylon Bee, recently ran the headline “Another Actress Accuses Kirk Cameron of Treating her with Respect.” With the recent revelations of horrible, sexual misbehavior by many powerful people in Hollywood, the not-so-ironic headline makes one chuckle a bit. Cameron is one of the most outspoken Christians in Hollywood. His behavior seems to be consistent with his Christian faith. Is ours?

Wherever we are - the workplace, our neighborhood, school, or wherever - does our behavior look like the unredeemed world, or is it “proper” as should be among “the saints”? Does our behavior line up with our confession?

There’s an old saying that goes, “Your actions speak so loud I can barely hear a word you say.” Hopefully our words and deeds are consistent with the life Jesus calls us to live.

Live

• If other people learn that you are a Christian, will they be surprised?

• How does your behavior differ from those around you?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for changing us to be more like him (in Jesus).

Forgiven - Day 1 - “You Look Like Your Dad”

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Ephesians 5:1-2 - Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

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I wear a beard, and I have for decades. Up until Halloween two years ago, neither my wife nor my adult children had ever seen my bare face. My costume that year called for a clean shave. My family was traumatized far worse than I had imagined. I immediately grew it back because I love them. One thing we learned during this “trying time” was my oldest daughter, my mother, and I share the same chin. It’s a family trait. The child looks like the parent.

In the above text, we are called to “imitate God.” While we may not share physical traits per se, we should strive to share God’s personal traits; specifically love. Are we known as people who love? And what do we mean by “love”?

Paul uses Jesus as THE example of real love. It’s a love that is sacrificial. It cost Jesus everything. He was the rightful King of Israel. At any moment, he could have walked into Jerusalem, been crowned King, and ruled the whole world; however, he knew that what his people really needed at that time was for their King to be their Savior.

Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that would follow. We are the joy that followed. He endured the cross because he loved us and wanted us. His sacrificial love moved him to act. Do we imitate Jesus in a love that acts? Do we carry on the family trait? Do we look like “dad”?

Live

• Think of sacrificial love. What person, other than Jesus makes you think of “sacrificial love”?

• Give examples of what that love looked like.

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for His sacrificial love and those who have modeled it in our lives.