God demonstrated His love by choosing, adopting, redeeming, and forgiving us in Christ. The love we see on television and in the movies most often is romantic love. It is love that must be reciprocated. In contrast, God’s love is unconditional and free. Ephesians 1:3-14 is an extended prayer of praise in which Paul thanks God for His matchless love which He has expressed for us by choosing, adopting, redeeming, and forgiving us in Christ. Spiritual blessings are those blessings that pertain to the life of the Spirit, those benefits from God that enable us to experience salvation and to live as His children, to the praise of His glorious grace (v. 6). Our ability to be holy is made possible by God’s grace and as a part of His eternal plan, God has blessed us by choosing us for holy living and adopting us as His children. God’s motive in adopting us as His sons through Christ is love. He did not do this merely for our personal happiness, but for His glory (v. 6). Even this is an act of love because God is the most glorious being in the universe. Psalm 16:11 says that in God’s presence, “there is fullness of joy.” By adopting us for His own glory, God opens our eyes to see that we were made to worship Him and find joy in His presence. We really have so much to be thankful for!
PRAYER – I hereby surrender everything that I am, and have, and ever will be. I take my hands off of my life and release every relationship to You: every habit, every goal, my health, my wealth, and everything that means anything. I surrender it ALL to You. By faith I take my place at the Cross, believing that when the Lord Jesus was crucified, according to Your Word, I was crucified with Him; when He was buried, I was buried; when He was raised from the dead, I was raised with Him. I deny myself the right to rule and reign in my own life and I take up the Cross believing that You are in my and I in You. I thank You for saving me from my sins and myself. From this moment on I am trusting You to live Your life in me and through me, instead of me, to do what I can’t do, quit what I can’t quit, start what I can’t start, and–most of all–to be what I can’t be. I am trusting you to renew my mind and heal damaged emotions in Your time. I thank You now by faith for accepting me in the Lord Jesus, for giving me Your grace, Your freedom, Your joy, Your victory and Your righteousness as my inheritance. Even if I don’t feel anything, I know that Your Word is true; I am counting on Your Spirit to do what Your Word says– to set me free from myself, that Your resurrection life may be lived out through me, and that You may receive all the glory. I thank You and praise You for victory right now in Jesus’ name, Amen.
More than any other people, Christ followers have a reason to be thankful. We have been given much in Christ and have much to be thankful for. Gratitude comes from a heart that has acknowledged dependence. We are needy people who depend Christ for everything that we have. The life we lead in response to this truth should be one of gratitude. Often we are tempted to let our pain and hurts define us. But as we live a life empowered by gratitude towards God, it allows us to be thankful no matter what is going on in our lives. Of the ten lepers only the one Samaritan returned to thank Jesus. This man did not seek a private moment with Jesus to express his gratitude. Instead he screamed praise and thanksgiving to God so everyone could hear. Not only was this person an unclean leper, but he was also an unclean Samaritan. Jesus’ response lets us know that it was only the Samaritan who returned. Jesus’ statement that the man’s faith had made him well indicates that the Samaritan received more than physical healing that day. As Christ followers, it is essential that we maintain and thankful heart of gratitude towards God in all circumstances for what He has done in our lives
PRAYER – Thank God for His gift to you in Jesus Christ. Pray that God would help us to cultivate hearts of gratitude, not only during the holiday season but daily. Ask God that in whatever situations come our way we may be a people who are consistently marked by gratitude to God.
We do not know who wrote Psalm 118 or the exact occasion. It is the most quoted psalm in the New Testament as it looks forward to a messianic king who would establish his kingdom by being rejected by men. It roots God’s promise to bring a messiah in God’s past faithfulness and steadfast love. The phrase “steadfast love” refers to God’s covenant faithfulness. The phrase would have reminded Israel of the many ways God has been true to His promises to Israel through the ages. The phrase acknowledges that Israel’s victories and blessings are not the product of their own skill or power, but the result of God’s faithful covenant love. Any blessings that Israel experienced were owed to God’s faithfulness and not Israel’s.
We all face the temptation of putting our confidence in ourselves or in others. No one, however, can guarantee our safety, save God. The Bible is an astounding record of God’s faithful promise keeping. By reminding ourselves of how God has been faithful to Israel and the saints of old, we can rest assured that He will be faithful to the promises He has made to us. When God brought deliverance, Israel responded with celebration and acknowledgement that their victory came from the Lord (v. 15-16). This statement in verse 18 makes clear that the psalmist did not receive deliverance from the Lord because of his faithfulness. The reason the psalmist and the nation of Israel were delivered was because of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. If God did not love us, He would ignore our sins. It is because God loves us that our sin rouses Him to step into our lives and show us our foolishness and our desperate need for Him. We are not righteous, but when we trust Christ for salvation, Jesus takes our sin and grants us His righteousness (Phil. 3:7-11). The people promised to proclaim what the Lord has done (v. 17). If you are a Christian, you have experienced an even deeper and more profound deliverance. You have been delivered from the power of sin and death – this is news worth celebrating and proclaiming to the ends of the earth!
What are some ways that God has been faithful to you in the past? How might remembering those ways help you be more faithful to Him in the present?
PRAYER – Praise God for His steadfast love that endures forever. Thank Him for being faithful to us despite our rebellion against Him and for making us able to enter the righteous gate through His sacrifice on the cross. Seek Him and rest in Christ supremely!
In these verses we see a psalm of praise and thanksgiving directed to God’s people that is a composite of Psalm 105:1-15; 96:1-13; 106:1 & 106:47-48. The psalm recorded on this occasion has two main parts: vs. 8-22 are addressed to Israel, and vs. 23-34 are addressed to all the nations. In vs. 8-22, the Israelites are exhorted to sing the Lord’s greatness and to seek the Lord’s face. They are to remember His deeds, the marvelous works which He has done in the past, and they are to remember His covenant, the unconditional promises He made to their fathers. In vs. 16:23-34, widening the perspectives to all the earth, the psalmist urges all men to speak of the glory of the LORD. Fear is His due as the God of creation. Glory is His due as the God of splendor, strength, and majesty. Joy is His due as the God who sustains and reigns over His world. A heart of thanksgiving is a result of understanding that what you’ve been given is far greater than what you can give. The same thanksgiving that was directed in these verses to Israel – is the same thanksgiving we owe to God. Be thankful today for who He is!
PRAYER – Father, I can often be lost in my own world and circumstances by focusing on the here and now or what’s in front of me, thus, taking my eyes off of You. Today, I honor You alone by remembering everything You have done for me. I am thankful for the life I live in You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Be thankful. This refrain in vs. 15 is repeated over and over again in Paul’s writings. There must have been a good reason. Thankfulness is not only important for a person’s spiritual life, but for his physical welfare as well. Many doctors believe what the Scriptures have taught through the years – that a cheerful, thankful attitude of mind is beneficial for the body, and that worry, depression, and a complaining spirit are definitely harmful to one’s health. Usually we think of thankfulness as something that is determined by our immediate circumstances, but Paul here shows that it is a grace to be cultivated. We are responsible to be thankful. Of all peoples of the world, we have the most for which to give thanks. The fault is not in any lack of subject matter, but only in our selfish hearts. Our circumstances should not define our thankfulness.
What are you thankful for this week? If your thankfulness doesn’t start with your relationship with God, are we really living differently than the world?
PRAYER – Jesus, in this situation I have nothing to offer of my own ingenuity or strength; I need your wisdom and power as badly as I need the air that I breathe. As I move forward may I do so in desperate dependence on You every second. I joyfully and unreservedly confess that I am inadequate to answer Your call, in fact, I can do absolutely nothing without You. I’m not able to handle this situation on my own and any good that results must come solely through You. I simply ask You right now to flow through me, Lord Jesus, and cause me to stay out of Your way. In Your name, Amen