Walk in Wisdom

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There’s a big difference between being intelligent and being wise. Those with a strong intellect can often find creative solutions to major problems. But they may do so at the expense of financial or relational wisdom with others. 

In Ephesians 5:1-21, the Apostle Paul contrasts some differences between living in wisdom and living in foolishness. A person who lives in wisdom makes the most of every opportunity (5:16), is filled with the Holy Spirit (5:18) and gives thanks for everything to God the Father (5:20). But one who lives foolishly engages in drunkenness (5:18), sexual immorality, impurity, greed, foolish talk (5:3-4) and/or other foolish patterns. 

Some may read through passages such as these and form of list of good behaviors and bad behaviors. But Paul isn’t simply highlighting behaviors. He’s focusing on what it looks like to be in Christ, living a self-sacrificial life. A life full of love, light, and wisdom. A life lived in this way is a life full of singing, making music, giving thanks, and submitting to one another (5:19-21). A live lived in this way is a life well-lived. 

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 5:15-21

What do you need to do today so that when your head hits the pillow tonight you will feel like today was a day well-lived? 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, the Psalms and Proverbs are a wonderful reminder that sometimes Your people experience severe life challenges, anxiety, sadness, and depression. Yet despite these circumstances they remained faithful to You, a sure sign of wisdom. Continue to provide me with the wisdom to know what’s right and the courage to do what’s right, even when it’s hard. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Walk in Light

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In Book 4 of the Harry Potter series, a new professor – Alastor (Mad-Eye) Moody – begins teaching the students at Hogwarts. Having worked throughout his life as an Auror, Professor Moody seems very wise due to his experience in capturing those who use dark magic. Throughout the book, he regularly emphasizes that the students need to live in a state of, “Constant vigilance!” The students are reminded that the enemy can strike at the most unexpected of times. As such, “Constant vigilance,” is the only proper solution.  

As followers of Christ, we shouldn’t be surprised to discover the themes of light vs. dark woven throughout the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:8-9, For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! The Life Application Study Bible notes, “Our pasts may have dark times of cynicism, despair, shame, or self-doubt. Satan desires to lead us back into that darkness. We must reject him by intentionally living out what pleases the Lord. In this way, Christ’s light will keep shining brighter in us.”

To summarize, “Constant vigilance!” is good advice to live by.

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 5:8-14, 1 THESSALONIANS 5:5-8

How would you explain to somebody else what it means to live as a person of light? 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, today I am reminded that not only is the culture around me full of self-centered voices, but I myself have made decisions that include cynicism, despair, shame, and self-doubt. Help me to remember that my sins have all been forgiven so I can now live in freedom of shame, and instead can live in light. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Walk in Love

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Several tech companies today have caught on to the simple truth that people walk. Fitbit watches track steps, encouraging people to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. Garmin and Apple watches encourage a commitment to ongoing exercise and/or a certain amount of moving every day. But the simple truth remains – people walk. 

But oftentimes, the Scriptures use the term walking as a metaphor for living. As an example, in Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV) we read about walking in love, walking in light, and walking in wisdom. 

What does it mean to walk (live) in love? The NLT Life Application Study Bible reflects on the sacrifice of Christ. It says, “Our love for others should be [as the love of Christ]—a love that goes beyond affection to self-sacrificing service.”

In our culture, we rarely see a good example of what it looks like to live with self-sacrificing service for others. Political parties, the media, and even social media are filled with statements of power, self-centeredness, and self-gratification. But to walk in love is to live self-sacrificially. 

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 5:1-21, GALATIANS 2:20  (also read the commentary notes in your study bible of choice)

Think about it: How regularly do you hear statements about power, self-centeredness, or self-gratification?

What steps can you take today to be an example of what it looks like to live self-sacrificially? Be specific. 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I recognize that my life is completely surrounded by voices of self-centeredness and self-gratification. Continue to help me grow into a person of self-sacrifice, living a life of love. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Imitate God

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What does your day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute relationship with God look like? Some may go to church Sunday in order to “fill up” their tank for the week, only to admit by Tuesday that they’re running on empty. Others may choose to “fill up” their tank with some kind of Scripture reading or devotional every morning, only to admit by evening that they’re running on empty. 

In short, too many followers of Christ believe the lie that if we do certain things in certain ways and at certain times our tanks will remain full. So when one rhythm and routine doesn’t work, we’ll try another. And another. And another. 

The unfortunate reality is that this is simply living by works-righteousness. We believe the lie that if we do certain things, God will bless us and life will go well. When it doesn’t work, we end up frustrated with God, feeling that we’ve done our part but He hasn’t done His. 

But the real truth is that God has already done His part. We don’t need to earn His favor, but rest in it. For followers of Christ, we are His children. Rest in His love and grace. 

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 5:1-2

How would your day be different if you took several opportunities and pause and remember and that you are a beloved child of God, and He is pleased to know you? 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I confess that far too often I do certain things believing that they will somehow earn me more favor with You. Help me continue to live by the truth, that as one who has professed faith and trust in Christ, I am a beloved child of God and nothing can separate me from Your love. May I rest in this every moment of every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Ephesians 4:25-32 — Talk it Out

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What truths from Ephesians 4:25-32 impacted you most this week? 

Consider talking or meeting with somebody you trust to discuss what you’ve learned this week and how it’s helping you to grow emotionally and spiritually. 

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Imitate Me as I Imitate Christ

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Think about this: Would you be comfortable to contact all of your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors today and tell them that they should live the way you’re living? Could you say them, “If you want to see what it looks like to be honest, generous, kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving, just imitate the way I live, because I am imitating the life of Christ really well.” 

It’s pretty astounding that the Apostle Paul not only felt comfortable saying something like this, he felt comfortable saying it quite regularly. Paul didn’t hesitate to write to others and say, “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” Or, “Follow my example.” Or, “Whatever you have seen from me, put it into practice.” 

Apparently, Paul was either very arrogant, or he was living in such a way that he was day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, remembering that he had set his old nature aside, and was now living his new nature. And by continually reflecting on the truth that he was now “In Christ” he was able to be the kind of example others needed for what it really looked like to live the Christian life. 

READING & PRAYERS:

1 Corinthians 4:16, 1 Corinthians 11:1, Philippians 3:17, Philippians 4:9, 1 Thessalonians 1:6,  2 Thessalonians 3:9 

What would it look like for you to day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute remember that you are “In Christ” and can abide in Him? 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, today I’m grateful for the reminder that I am “In Christ” and can be in constant union with God each and every moment of each and every day. May Your presence have such a profound impact on my life that one day I can confidently say, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Be Kind, Tenderhearted, & Forgiving

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Ephesians 4:25-32 isn’t one of the most complex passages to study out. But some may read through it and be tempted to believe that it outlines a moral code to live by. Those who read it incorrectly may walk away and think, Ok, I just need to do these things, and not do these things. Seems simple enough. Others may read through it and think, This guy I work with. He really needs to read through this passage. He isn’t honest, generous, kind, tenderhearted, or forgiving at all! 

But when reading through the text, it’s best to reflect on it and internalize it for your life and not think about how others aren’t living it out well. Just because somebody else isn’t honest, generous, kind, tenderhearted, or forgiving, doesn’t mean God isn’t inviting you to grow in being more honest, generous, kind, tenderhearted and forgiving. 

As you read through the passage again today, take the opportunity to read through it slowly. As you do, take a few extra minutes to sit silently in the presence of God and ask Him how you may be able to grow in being more kind, more tenderhearted, and more forgiving toward others. 

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 4:25-32 (read the passage slowly)

Take a few extra minutes to sit silently in the presence of God today and ask Him how you may be able to grow in being more kind, more tenderhearted, and more forgiving toward others.

PRAYER: Today, write out your own prayer to God asking Him to provide you with wisdom and discernment in how you can continue to grow in being more kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving toward others. 

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Be Generous

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Reading through Ephesians 4:25-32, there are a number of lines that one may quickly read and then go onto the next verse without giving it much thought. One example is Ephesians 4:28 which reads, If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 

Some may read this verse and think, Well, I’m not a thief…so I guess this verse doesn’t really apply to me. Others may read it and think, I’m a pretty generous person, so I can move onto the next verse.

The principle of generosity is one that applies to all followers of Christ. God has called us to be generous with our words and our deeds. For those who are already living a generous life, it’s still good to consider – how generous is generous enough? 

Chances are, there’s room to grow in how generous you are toward others with your words and your actions. If you were to consider that everybody you interact with may have some kind of hurt, habit, or hangup you may not know about, how would that impact the way you speak and interact with them?

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 4:25-32, PROVERBS 11:25 (also read the commentary notes in your study bible of choice)

If you were to consider that everybody you interact with may have some kind of hurt, habit, or hangup you may not know about, how would that impact the way you speak and interact with them?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, today I acknowledge that I don’t always consider what other people may be going through. Whether it’s the person in the checkout line, the person weaving in and out of traffic, or others I may see throughout the day, I’m grateful for the reminder that they may be experiencing a severe challenge I’m completely unaware of. May I take the opportunity to be generous with my words and actions toward others today. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Be Honest

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Consider this: If something is 99% true it’s still a…what? That’s right. It’s still a lie. 

Far too often, those who live a Christian life lie to ourselves and to others. To share some examples, we may lie about…

  • Our day. We’ll say we’re having a good day even if we’re not. 
  • Our feelings. We’ll say we’re doing well even if we’re actually hurting, confused, sad, or depressed. 
  • Our spending. We’ll tell our boss (or spouse) we only spent what was necessary even if we actually spent more than was necessary. 
  • Our decisions. We’ll say, “Yes, I’d love to help out with that project,” even though we really want to say no. 

As followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to be 100% honest with God, 100% honest with ourselves, and 100% honest with others. This doesn’t mean we need to share every detail of our lives with every person we interact with throughout the day. But we ought not be afraid to be authentic and share how we’re actually feeling.

READING & PRAYERS:

     EPHESIANS 4:25-32

Pay close attention to your thoughts today, as well as your words to others. Take note of how many times you’re not 100% honest with God, yourself, or others. 

Ephesians 4:29 reads, Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. In what way(s) may God be inviting you to grow in being more open, vulnerable, and real with Him, yourself, and others? Be specific. 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I come to You today and confess that I’m not always as honest as I think I am. Continue to root out of me any and all dishonesty, and guide me to a lifestyle of being both real and encouraging. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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