Walking through Ephesians, 7

But that is not the way you learned Christ! –assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. ~Ephesians 4: 20-24

“Are you the one who’s done?” His sweet voice and eyes just asking me to explain why today has gone so horribly wrong, completely sideways of the direction I had wanted this morning. Why is it that now at such an early time I am imposing bedtime for all? I have to honestly look at him and confess, “Yes baby, I’m the one who’s done.” I have had my anger stoked, my annoyance pushed, my anxiety over impending events grown, and I’m stepping out of this day as mommy.

All I can think as I hear happy wrestling sounds from their room as daddy steps in to save the evening is that I never really stopped yesterday. I never stopped to quietly sit with the One who could have changed my heart, changed my attitude, helped me walk the rest of the day with Him. Oh, let me assure you, I was praying most of the day. But my prayers were selfish, whining laments, “God help me. They are so annoying to me” or “Lord, If I hear one more fuss or argument, I don’t know what I’ll do” And just so all confession is out there, I had had my quiet time that morning.

The ugliness doesn’t escape me, it screams at me. I urge humility yet walk pridefully, I encourage gentleness but act roughly both in word and action. My patience was false and a little scary for my people because it was fleeting and a mask over anger. I wanted quiet, I wanted ease, but I didn’t necessarily want truth. The truth is in Jesus. I didn’t want to engage Jesus the way the Spirit was urging me to. Scripture says we must throw off sin that entangles, and the honest truth is that for me, that is often a daily, minute to minute throwing off. It’s bad when my children are gently rebuking me for today and can point to the early moments of the day where I began to embrace the bitterness, wrath, anger and slander (Eph 4:31) They exhibited Ephesians 4:32 SO much better than I could have – they clung to Christ’s forgiveness, and with kindness and tenderheartedness, they walked this sinner clinging to my old self through the day.

So Jesus, once again the old self has to go – I need your peeling touch to yank off even the vestiges today that want to grow back as issues arise. Let me not go back to the old self – the worrying performer who expects perfection and slays with her tongue, pride seeping through every facet of her life. Like Aslan removed the dragon skin, remove my old self. The pain may be intense, but the result is peace and joy and abiding.

To be renewed in the spirit of my mind – this ongoing process of being renovated and reformed as we walk with Him. It’s not a one time event. The bottomless well of God’s grace matches up perfectly with the seemingly limitless ability I have to turn to my own way and be deceived by my former self. Jesus invites us to walk with him, clothed in His righteousness and holiness, not because we have earned these clothes but because He did. His life as the sacrifice for my sin defeated the darkness, alienation, and hardness of heart that is the life of the lost (of the Gentile in this passage.)

So I will confess to my children that I got dressed this morning in the filthy rags of my old self, deceived by self love and did not abide in Jesus, the truth giver, nor seek any renewing of my mind. But I will testify to the goodness of the Holy Spirit, who doesn’t let us rest in our sin, but who convicts and counsels that we may learn Christ more and more.  I want them to understand the deep love and grace of their Heavenly Father who takes away their sin and gives them a new self, new beautiful clothes of righteousness and holiness designed in His image.  His mercies are new every morning, He is so faithful. So I will humbly seek to make right with them what I let go so horribly wrong yesterday and invite them to learn Christ with me today.

 

Walking through Ephesians, 6

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” ~Ephesians 4:1-3

Again Paul reminds me of my position first. The calling to which you have been called references Ephesians 2:10 that we are His workmanship, Ephesians 2:13 now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near, Ephesians 2:19 fellow citizens, Ephesians 2:22 a dwelling place for God; Ephesians 1:4-5 chosen, holy, blameless sons.

The calling to which you have been called – We have been called to Christ, issued the invitation for salvation and relationship with God.  I need to understand that my walk can either be worthy or unworthy. He says to walk in a manner worthy – the word worthy in this sentence is being used as an adverb to describe the action of walking, NOT as an adjective to describe the walk you have done.

Worthy means “as appropriately to, as becoming.” In other words, as I walk each day, when I keep ever before me the truth of what Jesus did for me at the cross, the grace that covers me, the new position I have as His dearly loved child, the changes that He is at work making in me, I will tread my specific paths in a manner that reflects all these truths. I will begin to walk worthily, not because I am so perfect, but because I know the One who is, His Spirit is at work in me, and I desire to show little pictures of what He has given me to my world.

So when I reflect on my day at night, I do not look at a checklist of all I did that meets the criteria of a good Christian walk and tag the adjective worthy to my day. I seek to see how I remembered who He is and what He’s done for me and how I passed that on to my children, my husband, my friends. It’s a nuance but so important to me. For so long I have wanted a checklist and desired to hit the marks as a mother especially so as to ensure that my kids become this or that. But when I walk as becoming the calling to sonship, the calling of grace, the calling of relationship that has been given freely to me, there are no checkmarks, there are no marks.

 So I either walk worthy of my calling, or I don’t. And there are distinguishing features of someone who remembers her calling – humility, gentleness, patience, enduring love and a desire to be walking with the Spirit in peace. But these qualities aren’t what create the walk, they are the outgrowth of the walk. My flesh desires the checklist – was i humble today? check. gentle with everyone? check. patient? mostly but I’ll go with check. (because really who is always patient?)

See, what I want to do is place human performance stamps on the boxes that are really attributes that grow from a life of faith. They aren’t humanly achievable. I can’t be these things for my people. I am not these things for my people. So I need to daily get my eyes off of me and center my day on the calling God has given to me. He has called me out with His redeeming love, He died for the fullness of my sin, the great draw of my pride, the self love that entangles me.

Humility – Why does this one have to lead out this list? Christ walked in humility. Philippians 2 details His walk to the cross in great humility but what I don’t remember is His humility to be a man at all. He wasn’t humble when He died only – He was humbled to be a baby, child, teen, and man. Yet He walked every day not reminding others of His greatness or power. He walked in humility. Phil. 2:3 Count others more significant than yourselves & Phil 2:6 Did not count equality with God something to be grasped were the descriptors of His life and His ministry here on earth. The essence of what sin is – seeking to be God or Godlike. Walking in humility with teenagers is very, very difficult. Just confessing. My desire often is to declare my great acts as their mother or my great knowledge. Jesus could have because that was his rightful place and yet He walked and emptied himself.

Gentleness – mildness, meekness – gentle strength, power with reserve and gentleness. Strong’s Concordance defines gentleness as meekness or gentle force, that “begins with the Lord’s inspiration and finishes with His direction and empowerment, a divinely balanced virtue that only operates through faith” My gentleness begins and ends with His hand. It is His work in me. True gentleness is only God driven because my flesh will push force over gentleness demanding my way or will lay down with a whimper and deny any strength for the sake of a false peace. When I care for my children from a place of faith, knowing my calling and humble that I would be welcomed as His daughter, redeemed, then God inspires what amount of gentleness is needed.

With Patience – this is the same patience that describes Jesus in 1 Timothy 1:16 and God in 1 Peter 3:20. This is not the patience that I excel in using which waits quietly, but with annoyance written all across my face so that my child knows I’m irritated but just being quiet about it. His patience is long-suffering, “waiting sufficient time to express anger to avoid the premature use of force/retribution that comes out of personal reaction/improper anger.” I need to return to the truth of His grace for me and allow the Spirit to work in me first. He will create and grow His patience, but it’s not from practicing some breathing techniques.

Bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit – to put up, tolerate; persist in relationship with someone in the action of love. The love referenced is agape love, a love completely sourced in God alone.

There will be parts of my day when I forget the calling to which I have been called, but His grace covers that. But there will be parts of my day where His wonderful love bursts forth in me and through me to show and highlight for my child a loving Savior, where I remember first whose I am and who is at work in me and then parent from that perspective and so point to the One who called me.

 

Walking through Ephesians, 5

“So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.” ~Ephesians 3:10-12

That we as Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body and partakers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (verse 6) is a HUGE shift in philosophy and reality since creation until Jesus! There are instances of Gentiles in relationship with God in the Old Testament but the pursuit was of the Jews as His people through whom to display His glory.

God had a plan. A plan He had hidden for ages it says in verse 9. The plan was to display His great, unsurpassed wisdom to all rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Your life and my life display the wisdom of God. Not in what we do, what we achieve in our weak worldly wisdom, don’t get lost in that.

We display His great pre-eminent wisdom, planned from the beginning of creation to ransom His people from the darkness of sin and death. And satan and his horde and all the heavenly beings know it. The redeemed church is the vehicle through which God glorifies Himself and declares with a shout His wisdom and His eternal purpose in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. We have talked about who we are in Christ, what we’ve been given with our salvation and now we are the display of His wisdom. There are times when I need that reminder, my life, my family is the church. We are God’s declaration of His wisdom to the heavenly places. Anger defuses, selfishness fades, deceit diminishes, pride deflates in light of the Gospel. When I remind myself of what Christ has done for me or when I sit with my wayward child and speak of His sacrifice, His blood shed and all that was offered at the cross, flesh is given the opportunity to die. And in the spiritual world, angels rejoice and the enemy cringes.

But now with Jesus, the Gospel swings wide the door to God – not just for entry but for deep, close intimacy that allows us to have boldness and access with confidence to God. Jesus was a complete game changer.

Up until Jesus, no one had access to God except the high priest who only had access once a year into the presence of God. He would step behind a curtain within the temple (or Tent of Meeting as the Jews often called it) into the Holy of Holies where he would offer the blood of a bull and goat for the sins of himself and the people. God’s presence would be evident that day within the Holy of Holies. The sins of the people and the uncleanliness of the temple would be atoned for one more year, a temporary cleansing.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption…Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins…But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. ~Hebrews 9:11-12, 22, 26b.

Look at what Jesus did! He as the great High Priest became the sacrifice that we may be forgiven eternally. And His great wise plan doesn’t end there – we have full access, not once a year through someone else. We are invited and welcomed into the presence of God, before His throne. No need to clean up or fix anything, Jesus has cleansed us with His blood; no need to achieve something first or get rid of a weakness, all that needed to be done was accomplished by Jesus.

Paul says in Ephesians we have boldness and access with confidence. Boldness in this passage is a free and fearless confidence, a cheerful courage in my relationship with God because of the gospel. Hebrews 4:16 and Hebrews 10:19-22 are parallel scriptures that also declare that we are welcome in God’s presence. The absolute assurance that I am welcome in God’s presence should be the underpinning of how I walk out my day. There is no need for pretense or trepidation. So on the days I have wrecked relationships in my home, I am welcomed by Him. He brings conviction and healing and restoration that far surpass my weak attempts. On the days I have walked triumphantly, I am welcomed by Him. He alone receives the glory for changing me that I could walk in a manner pleasing to Him.

How many times have I experienced my own children being fearlessly confident before me, standing assured of my acceptance and love and laying out needs, desires, or even their pain or failure? Do I spend my day with my Father in the same bold way? We are welcomed into His presence, our requests are listened to and gathered Scripture says into bowls of incense, and our tears treasured in bottles. His ear is inclined to us and His face turned to us. This unearned, undeserved, grace given position in your presence, God, declares your wisdom that You may be glorified.

Walking through Ephesians, 4

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them… In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit ~Ephesians 2:10, 22

I am his workmanship, His dwelling place, a part of His household, part of his temple in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2 details all the changes that occur with God’s grace, both personally and corporately between Jews and Gentiles.

What is workmanship? What does it mean to finely craft something, with detail work and refinement, to create something valuable? We live in a time when things are created quickly, and they’re not meant to last forever. But we are God’s workmanship. The only other time this Greek root word is used in scripture is in Romans 1:20 when God’s creation is referenced. And once again here we are talking about a creation, but this time the creating has happened in Christ Jesus, in His death and resurrection that gave me a position change. Ephesians 2:6 shows that my position changed – God seated me at the right hand in Jesus so now all that grows, happens comes from the position of being in Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 declares it this way, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” The investment in me began at the cross, carried forward at my salvation and continues daily as He works in me to make me more like Him.

And in the beauty that is only God – He has planned good works for me that I may walk in them. Things that one day I will get to lay at His feet in worship. His planning and my opportunity entwine in only a way that He orchestrates and understands. God has a path or course set just for me and for you – our God is a planning, intimate God. Look in Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Now I’m not Jeremiah, so I cannot claim his specific consecration as a prophet but God is constant and unchanging. What He has done, He will do. He has planned for you and for me kingdom work, and a lot of that work will occur within our homes. Psalm 139 breaks down every way we have been created, personally and intimately, with even our days formed for us.

He made clear to me in 2015 that his path for my life to the world may look like folly, full of brambles, holes, blocked passages, but I could trust Him on it. No one would probably recommend walking it, but my job isn’t to listen to others or look for others walking on it before I set out on it. There have been and will continue to be times in this mothering walk that I don’t enjoy the scenery on this path. What Jeremiah had to walk out was awful for God’s glory and His kingdom work. But God prepared them for Jeremiah, and He prepared my works beforehand – NOT that I would necessarily enjoy them or have a “great life.” He prepared my works for His glory. I have to have a paradigm shift away from this current age of self pleasing, ease seeking perspective. I may not enjoy in the flesh sense the work laid out for me, but eternally with God’s perspective I will rejoice for my work is kingdom work for His glory.

The walk will not be easy – Matthew 7:14 “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” But He makes clear my posture while walking – and I confess that my posture is really my problem. I easily shift my position from eyes on Him (Hebrews 12:1-2) and heart set on His kingdom (Col. 3:1) to eyes on me, my glory, my goals, my initiatives. Because I am so couched in spiritual language, I can make even my own self believe whatever I desire or want to veer off and do is from Him. But the truth of those times is that what I desire is for my comfort, my self delight.

My willingness to walk and obey grows in proportion to my understanding and remembering the Gospel – what God has done for me and in me through Christ Jesus. When I wander off from the Gospel into the land of performance or apathy, I will be unwilling to walk out His good works.

So my prayer becomes, “Clear the table of everything I have placed there. Set my table as You desire. Let me lead my children to You more and more, teaching them more about Your grace, love, truth, and Your calling on their lives because I recognize and submit to the calling You have placed on my life. These children are Your letters (Letters) to so many to come. Help me to be faithful in the writing.”

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” ~2 Cor. 3:4-6

Walking through Ephesians, 3

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  ~Ephesians 2:4-7

Never do I see God’s unmerited grace and deep love more clearly than when I am knee deep in disciplining what often becomes multiple children all at the same time. There have been SO many times in the Kimsey household where I have had children in every bathroom in our house and some more on their beds, thinking about what they did that contributed to the great conflagration that just occurred!

Some of my children are still dead, trapped and lost in the sin and trespass that destroys for eternity. Right now we are blessed with a 3 year old and almost 2 year old who both live full on in the flesh. I marvel at the sheer forcefulness of selfishness, the rage of being offended, the pride and deceit that can cover actions for self protection. It only takes a little spark to begin to fuel an explosion between multiple factions and next thing I know, everyone is mad, taking sides, screeching and screaming! In those moments I am often struck by the fact that this raw reaction that is so appalling is mine as well. That apart from the reconciling work of Jesus Christ bringing me into growing intimacy with Him, I too resort to self preservation/protection and pursue what I desire. Now I may make it appear more socially acceptable in most instances, but that is simply because I have learned people don’t like it when you scream in their face or snatch something away from them.

The old versus the new – Paul lays out great contrast between the two in this chapter. This is who I was, and who my little lost ones are:

  • dead in trespass and sin
  • following the course of the world
  • following the prince of air
  • once lived as son of disobedience
  • carried out desires of body and mind
  • children of wrath
  • separated from Christ as a Gentile
  • alienated and strangers to the covenants of promise between Jews and God
  • no hope, without God

So it suddenly becomes clear, doesn’t it, why my little ones have such a hard time obeying or loving one another! They are furiously, fiercely following all that is this world, all that is of the enemy, and all that is of their own flesh, their own body and mind. And they have not developed a filter. But as their mother, my job is not to merely teach them to filter well and act socially correct. I don’t want externally acceptable kids who have no idea they desperately need a Savior to save them from the law of sin and death that rules in their body!

I want to understand what the Gospel is and what God’s grace has done so that I can daily reflect that to my children. Because of His atoning death and redemption through His grace, I am:

  • alive together with Christ
  • saved by grace through faith
  • raised up with Him
  • seated with Him in heavenly places in Christ
  • not my own doing, not works
  • His workmanship
  • created for good works
  • now brought near
  • one with Jews, dividing wall has been destroyed
  • reconciled to God
  • have access in one Spirit to Father
  • member of the household of God

Everything has changed.

Each one of those points is huge, worthy of being dug into for days all throughout the Scriptures. And I’m sure many scholars would say there are ways to break that listing down further or that I missed some. And I know there are many more passages where more layers of His Gospel are uncovered. But in the moments where everyone is in a bathroom (and I want to be put into my own bathroom so as not to go off on someone!) I need to regain the truths of the Gospel. Because as Christ’s ambassador to my children (2 Cor. 5:20) I cannot represent my own interests, but only His.

So my bathroom conversations with my lost children as well as my saved children run on parallel tracks, both pointing to Christ. To my saved child, the goal of the conversation is to help them honestly look at their part, to guide them through what was motivating them and what lie they chased, and re-establish with them the truths of who they are because of Jesus Christ and what God is at work doing within them.

For my lost little ones, the conversation even at 3 years old is to point out the sin, the ugly actions that have placed them in the bathroom and to point to the only One who will ever change them. I want them to understand that I know they cannot act nice or self controlled or whatever. They can’t. So there is really no point in us telling our little ones to be kind or be patient. I think this perpetuates the lie within the Christian church that we can somehow behave well or muster up the right response. God doesn’t want me to behave well; he wants me submitted to Him and seeking Him. So it is far better for me to lead my child in that moment to realize they need only Jesus.

Because He is rich in mercy and loves with a great love and graciously saves – to the one who is saved and walking in new life, this is encouraging; to the one who is dead, this is life giving. He wants to show the immeasurable riches of His grace toward us.