Friday, March 1, 2024

Practical Living

We love each other because he loved us first. (1 John 4:19 NLT)

Often we hear preaching that only emphasizes what we’re supposed to do for God. So, when we go to church, we start feeling guilty because we don’t measure up. We’re not giving enough or praying enough or evangelizing enough.

We need to learn more about what God has done for us. In doing so, we’ll gain a greater appreciation for Him and we’ll want to do more for Him. As 1 John 4:19 reminds us, “We love each other because he loved us first” (NLT).

As we read the Bible, we will find that the primary emphasis is not what we should do for God but what God has done for us. Now, that is not to say that the Bible doesn’t have plenty to tell us about how we are to live and behave as believers. But we need to pay closest attention to Scripture’s emphasis on what God has done for us.

In the first three chapters of Ephesians, the apostle Paul lays out what God has done for us. He’s essentially saying, “Here’s what God has done for you. In light of this, it’s time for you to walk spiritually. It’s time for you to use what God has given to you.”

We could compare the first three chapters of Ephesians to being on a mountaintop. When Jesus was transfigured on a mountain, Peter, James, and John had the privilege of seeing it. And Peter, overwhelmed by what he saw, said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Mark 9:5 NLT).

In essence Peter was saying, “Let’s never leave this spot. Forget about the troubles down the mountain. Let’s just set up camp and stay here.”

In the same way, we could read the first three chapters of Ephesians and say, “Forget about the next section. I like hearing about what God has done for me. Let’s not go any further.”

But we have to move on. And as we transition from chapter 3 to chapter 4, an important division takes place. Ephesians 4 begins, “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God” (NLT).

Notice that Paul begins with the word “therefore.” As I’ve often said, whenever you see the word “therefore” in the Bible, find out what it’s there for. It is always drawing on what has been previously said.

While they were on the mountain with Jesus, Peter, James, and John didn’t know there was a man waiting with a very real need. He had a child who was possessed by demons and needed a touch from Jesus.

Sometimes we wish that the Christian life could be a constant state of euphoria in which we’re always experiencing God in some wonderful way. But we cannot live on the mountaintop. We need to come back to the valleys, to the real world of practical living.

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