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    He hears me calling

    Thursday, December 13, 2012, 11:00 AM [General]

    He hears me calling

    The other day, while walking around the house and whistling Christmas songs, I realized, my basset hound, Freddy, was following me. Everywhere. Annoyed, I looked at him and said “What do you want Freddy and why are you following me?”  Then it hit me. I had been whistling…when I call for Freddy, I whistle. I was calling him and I didn’t even know it. But, he did. He was so happy when I finally acknowledged that he had heard my call.

    Now, I am not trying to compare Freddy to God, although sometimes Freddy thinks he is God.  But, I couldn’t help but think about how God, too, hears our call even when we are not intentionally calling out to Him.  I thought about the times I’ve cried—as a child and as a young man struggling with life. Many times I’d cried over situations without knowing that my Comforter was right beside me hearing not only my words, but the cry of my heart. How wonderful it is to know that God is with me in the midst of my trials even when I’m in too much pain or anguish to think about Him. 

    I know personally that God was with me in some of my most difficult times. Often my cry was heard, but I never looked to the Hearer. Still, I know, that God heard every word, He just waited for me to turn to Him. His awareness of my sins and His presence in my past is what launched the healing for my future. God never lets hurt, habit or afflictions go unused. Thanks be to God that even when I don’t know I am calling Him, He is with me and He is my Comforter.  He hears me calling!

     

     Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort”  2 Corinthians 1:3 

     

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Living and living well

    Friday, September 14, 2012, 10:59 AM [General]

    Living and living well…

    I am a big country music fan. One of my favorite singers is George Strait. He has a song playing on the radio called “Living and Living Well.” The chorus of the song says, “there’s a difference in living and living well, you can’t have it all, all by yourself.”  The song is not a “spiritual song” or one that might be sung in church. But these few words in the chorus carry a message of spiritual truth.  There is a big difference between living and living well. 

    These past few weeks I have been preaching in a couple Texas state prisons, with the question “do you want to get well?” This is the question Jesus asks the ill man of 38 years, in the Gospel of John, Chapter 5. 

    John 5:6  When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?”

    Speaking to a room full of drug addicts, alcoholics, robbers, murderers and people struggling with anger or mental illness, it seems like there’s a pretty obvious answer to this question; “Do you want to get well?” But I think this question touches the lives of everyone. We all need to get well! Romans 3:23 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard.” The Greek word for “well,” in this context, is more than a physical healing. The word means to be whole, pure and complete, a sound body. 

    Living well is to be one with Jesus, to be complete. It is so easy to look at how great you are living based upon what you have gained from this world. We often hear the measurement of ones life based upon their worldly possessions. Years ago, I was a Director of a successful company and making large sums of money. I was living in the nicest neighborhood, with the million-dollar lifestyle. I recall being on the lake, with a beer in hand sitting in a nice boat and raising my arms as I yelled out “this is the life!”  Years later I would find out the hard way that I was not living well. I was simply living and having as much fun as I could along the way.  Eventually all the fun was ending, as I accumulated more stuff and fell further away from the Lord.  I have nothing against nice houses, boats and making lots of money. But building a life on those things alone is just living and it is not living well. In order to live well you must have a relationship with Jesus Christ and you must trust Him to complete in you who God originally intended you to be. 

    Jesus asks the ill man, “do you want to get well?” Maybe we should just put ourselves in the position of this man and hear these words from Jesus, “do we want to get well?”

    Do we define living well from what we can take from this world or what we can receive from Christ?  Are we living or living well?  As George Strait sings it; there is a difference!

    Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

     

    Travis Gray

    XRTZO Ministry

    @graytravis

     

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Hide and Seek

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012, 12:06 AM [General]

    Hide and Seek

     

    This morning my 6-year-old daughter was playing hide-and-seek with a couple friends.  One of the girls was hiding very well and could not be found.  The girls doing the seeking were running around yelling her name as they looked for the girl hiding.  I suddenly started getting this empty feeling in my gut as I began to wonder if she was really missing.  My mind began to get more and more negative thoughts as time went on.  I started wondering if perhaps she decided to try and go home without telling me.  Or maybe she went down to the creek.  Just about the time I was going to start looking for her myself one of the girls laughed out loud and yelled, “I found you!!”  Oh yes! How happy I was when I heard the searching little girl say, “I found you”. 

    One of the reasons I was so happy about hearing “I found you” is because as time went on I began asking myself the question “is she here or is she gone?”   This is a question I think many people ask themselves about God.  Is He really here or is He gone?  

    Couple things came to mind as I pondered this incident this morning and I applied it to my spiritual life.

    1)                  Unlike hide-and seek; God does not hide from us but sometimes we can’t find Him because we are looking in the wrong place. 

    2)                  The voice of the one searching can have an effect on your belief if you do not stand on the truth.  Knowing that God will never leave us or forsake us gives me great comfort as I look at a world full of people searching for Jesus.  I believe that every man and woman in the world is looking for Jesus; some just don’t know it yet.  Let us not be distracted by those who search, but let us help them open their eyes to the omnipresent God.

    3)                  Unlike hide-and seek; When God is found, the game is not over, it has just begun.

     

    Blessings,

    Travis Gray - XRTZO Ministry

    @graytravis

     

    3.7 (2 Ratings)

    Watering Hole- Trusting God Today For Tomorrow

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011, 6:25 PM [General]

     Trusting God Today For Tomorrow

    I remember when my daughter was real little and I wanted her to jump in my arms, she was very reluctant.  It was more of a lean forward until I grabbed her kind of jump.  Then after a few times she was comfortable standing on a wall and jumping in my arms as long as it wasn’t too high.  Today, at five years old, she is fearless when it comes to jumping in my arms.

    The more she threw herself forward into my arms, the more she trusted me.   I have never dropped her and though her first leap of faith was leaning forward on a 2 foot bench, she is now willing to jump in my arms without fear and smile with joy.  When she saw that it was good and safe to jump in my arms she started trusting me more.   When she surges forward she is surrendering at the moment and relying on me.

    Every year I learn more and more about surrendering to God.  Even though I know I can leap out to God in any situation, why is it that I sometimes feel like a child who just wants to lean forward without jumping?   In the past I have not been real big on “New Years resolutions”, probably because I have failed most of them and the ones I was able to keep the battle started far before January 1st.    This year, on New Years Day, as I walked down to the creek and prayed, I said to God I want to trust you more in 2011 than I did in 2010.  If I trust in the Lord with all my heart, as it states in Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight”, I know my life will be far more abundant and peaceful.  I will experience the great Joy from the good news of Christ our Lord as stated in Luke 2:10. 

    “But the angel said to them, ‘do not be afraid for I bring you great news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior had been born to you, he is Christ the Lord!” (Luke 2:10)

    I will be free from my financial insecurities knowing that God is with me and will not fail or forsake me as stated in 1 Chronicles 28:20.  Knowing He will guide my paths to prosperity and hope.

    Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. . ." (1 Chronicles 28:20).

    And I will be content and have more peace with the things going on in this world.  Knowing that God is with me and He is my strength as it is written in Isaiah 41:10. 

    Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' (Isaiah 41:10)

    Trusting God more today requires action on my part.  I cannot sit idle in my spiritual walk with God, I must continue to seek spiritual growth.   Not taking action in my spiritual growth is like running on a treadmill and expecting not to fall back when I quit running.  If I am not taking action and moving forward, I am falling back. 

    Below are three things you can do to trust God more in 2011 than you did in 2010:

    1- Study and read the scriptures in the Bible:  If I look at the people I trust most in my life today; it is the people that I am closest to. A way to get closer to God is to read and study His word, the Bible.    The Bible itself declares, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). In another place, we read: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16).    Reading the Bible is equivalent to having God speak to you.  When we study the Bible we see God is loving, compassionate, knows everything about us and wants us to live abundantly.  Knowing Him helps me trust Him.

    2-  Recall what God has done for you in the past:  There is nobody old enough who can read this document who is unable to recognize a God given miracle in their life.  Remembering what God has done for us in the past helps us to trust him in the future.   In the Bible we can read the story of David defeating the giant Goliath.  David came to King Saul and said he would fight against Goliath. 

    Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth." (1Samuel 17:33) 

    But David recalls his past, when he was a shepherd tending to sheep and he rescued the sheep from a lion and a bear.  

    The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." (1Samuel 17:37)  

    David remembered what God did for Him in the past, to help him trust God for the future.

    3- Acknowledge how much God loves you:  I accepted Christ into my heart on October 10, 1998.  I remember Franklin Graham speaking at a Promise Keepers event and he talked about God’s love for me and His plan of salvation.  How God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son.  Most my life, I believed there was a God, but I wasn’t sure He wanted anything to do with me for I had done many things wrong. I thought God only wanted good people and I had committed so many sins.  I wondered how God could want me in heaven.  Later in life, as I have grown in the understanding of God’s love for me, I have come to understand how much He loves me.  Today, I know that I cannot make God love many any less by doing wrong, and I cannot make Him love me any more by doing right.  He just loves me--for He is love!

    1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

    God’s love is not based upon me, it is based upon Him.  We tend to trust those we know love us most.  God loves you more than you could ever imagine.  I am sure we can trust him more than we could ever imagine as well.

     

    God bless you and Happy New Year!

     

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Watering Hole - Everyone's looking for Jesus

    Monday, November 29, 2010, 11:19 PM [General]

    EVERYONE IS LOOKING FOR JESUS

     

    In America we sure are real big on the word “happy”.  Every Month we have a happy something, January – Happy New Year; February – Happy Valentines Day; March Happy St. Patrick’s Day; April- Happy Easter; May- Happy Cinco-de mayo and so on.  By the way did you all have a happy Thanksgiving this week?  I sure did, I even had me a happy birthday the day after.  Well I think we are all pretty hung up on being happy.    

     

    One comment we hear allot around this time of year is Happy Holidays.   I remember 15 years ago companies used to give out Merry Christmas cards, but due to people being offended by the focus on Christ, it became politically incorrect and we had to start signing cards that said, “Happy Holidays” instead.  Happy Holidays is very appropriate because everybody is okay with the word “happy”.  In fact second to the word “love” it is probably one of the most sought after words in our vocabulary.  Everyone is pursuing happiness.  At least most people will admit to pursuing happiness.  

     

    Many relationships are started because men and women are looking for happiness.  Many relationships are also ending due to lack of happiness.  In my dealings with ministry and Christ centered encouragement, I often hear people say, we are just not happy anymore.  He used to make me happy, but now all he does is work.  He is saying, we used to be happy but during these economical times I have to work more.  Therefore, she is not happy and I am not happy and there is no hope in this marriage.  

     

    The problem with pursuing Happiness is that there is no hope in happiness, because happiness is based upon your circumstance.  You see the woman in the scenario above is blaming him for her lack of happiness and he is blaming the economy.  Both of these are guaranteed to change.  Why is it we can be totally happy one minute and the next upset because of something some one else did?  Below is a perfect example from the book of Esther in the Bible.

     

    Est 5:9 Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai.

     

    Here you have a man that was happy and Mordecai did not acknowledge his presence, or should I say he felt disrespected and suddenly he became filled with rage.  One minute happy the next rage, a perfect example of happiness being based upon circumstance.  The other problem with pursuing happiness is being happy is not always the right thing to do.  All I really need to say on this one is “Happy Hour”.  There are many things we can do that can make us happy, but it may also be the very thing that puts you in jail. 

     

    I do not believe everyone is looking for happiness.  But I do believe everyone is looking for Jesus.  Many people just don’t know that the Lord is the very thing they are looking for.  We should not settle for mere happiness, we should be filled with the Joy of the Lord.  Happiness is circumstantial, but Joy can be obtained in any circumstance.  Wrongdoing can make a person happy, but the Joy of the Lord does not come with wrongdoing for it convicts one to do that which is right.  You cannot be happy and sad at the same time, but you can be filled with Joy in the midst of your sadness. 

     

    In Jesus we find Joy.  Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and those who have accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts have direct access to an abundant amount of Joy.  Happiness is not a bad thing to have, but you can have much more in a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Don’t just settle for happy let your Joy be complete.  Doesn’t everyone want his or her Joy to be complete? Yes, everyone is looking for Jesus!

     

    Jesus spoke these words:

    John 15:11-- I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete

     

    Have you received this incredible gift of Joy?   Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive the king…

     

    Receive Christ… Rejoice!

     

     

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Travis Gray: At the Watering hole August 12- Ephesians 2:8

    Friday, August 13, 2010, 11:33 PM [General]

    No Excuses

    If you ever want to see some of God’s creative work, go sit in a hospital in the nursery and look at all the little babies.  They are all innocent, brand-new, each unique and have no idea what is ahead of them.  These little children have been born.  The word born, although a simple word, has a much deeper meaning than “day one” when it all began.  The definition of born is to bring forth, or to derive from a certain point.  When I look at born in this manner, I see the character of the Creator, our God.  Only God can take nothing and bring forth something.  Just look at the beginning of God’s creation, Genesis 1:1-2  - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the water.”    With God's creative character and ways, what started formless and empty becomes something good.   Just as with the earth, from formless and empty, God brings forth a child and this is good.  But that is not the end of the story for God wants to give us more.  He wants to give us the gift of eternal life.  But an eternal spiritual life is different than the life we entered into from our mothers womb, so we must be born again.  Even though we have entered into the world and grown to adulthood, as we looked at last week, we are spiritually dead in our transgressions and sins. Ephesians 2:4  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.   To be made alive in Christ is to be “born again.”  We have not entered into the kingdom of God until we are born again.  Not until we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  Jesus says in the Gospel of John 3:3 “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he be born again.”

     

    Another term for being born again is to be saved.  The grace of God saves us from death, through Jesus Christ and gives us eternal life.  Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith;   Our Creator, God, brings forth eternal life from a spiritually dead body.  The question is do you believe this to be true?  This is where the “saved through faith” comes in.  Sometimes I think it takes more faith “not” to believe than to believe.  Imagine you sitting in heaven with God at the beginning of time and having God explain how He was going to bring forth life in a little baby, out of a woman’s belly.  And that baby would one day grow to learn and speak so that it could share with millions of others whether or not there is a God who gives eternal life.

    Why would I question God's ability to give me eternal life, when I know He is the only reason I live today. 

     

    Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Travis Gray: At the Watering hole August 4- Ephesians 2:1-5

    Thursday, August 5, 2010, 12:17 PM [General]

    Just as I am!

     

    This week in my studies of Ephesians Chapter 2:1-5, Paul is writing about God’s love and mercy.  There are no prequalification’s here; you were dead to begin with.  Paul puts us all pretty much in the same category, “Eph 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.”  He goes onto say in verse 3, “like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.  Next week we will look at God’s grace through faith, but this week as we look at verses 1-5 we see that he took something dead and gave it life.  Why?  Eph 2:4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, Eph 2:5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. 

    Paul is not highlighting that we were dead in our transgressions and sins, so that we would feel bad about ourselves.  Regretting our past and feeling guilt is not the end goal.  Paul mentions our past of being dead to accentuate our loving God.  If you have ever bought diamonds, you will notice the person selling you the diamonds will put down a black velvet cloth and then put the diamonds on the cloth.  The jeweler is not trying to show you the cloth’s blackness and darkness, thus putting your focus on the cloth.  He is using the blackness to better show the beauty of the diamonds.  This is exactly what Paul is doing here.  Paul is highlighting God’s love and mercy for you despite your natural state. 

    John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.  The "world" is everyone just as they are.  God is not looking for people to clean up before they come into a relationship with Him.  I recall a few years back a young woman at a drug and alcohol recovery meeting telling me she was going to start reading the Bible and living differently so that she could start going to church.  She mentioned that she didn’t feel comfortable going to God after all she had done the past couple years.  Her thinking was that if she just lived a little better for a while than God and the church would accept her.   I think this is the thinking of many people.  This passage in the Bible tells us differently and I think it is one of many truths that we get in the book of Ephesians.  It is not because of our actions, it is because of His “great love” that we get to enter in His presence.  

    We do not need to clean up our lives before we enter (or re-enter) into a relationship with God.  We just enter in and let God help us with our lives.  I remember looking at the young lady and asking her if she cleans up before she get’s into the bathtub.  She smiled and got the point.  That fact is, we do not clean up before we come to the Lord or go to church.  We enter in just as we are, raising our hands before a loving God and cry out "here I am."

    Mt 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Travis Gray: At the Watering hole July 29th- Ephesians 1

    Friday, July 30, 2010, 1:34 AM [General]

    God does not say OOPS!

    I hope you are enjoying your study time in the book of Ephesians.  Everytime I lead a group of people through the book of Ephesians, I suggest they read Ephesians once a week.  This was suggested by Ray Stedman, pastor at Peninsula Bible Church in California.  He said that if you read the book of Ephesians once a week during the months of him teaching it on Sunday, when you finished you would not be the same.  I excepted the challange of reading the book once a week.  In fact I was so hungry for change I read the whole book everyday for a week.  The experince truly changed my life and whenever I am struggling with my identity or feeling insecure, I read it again.  Experiencing a deeper relationship with God is life changing and the book of Ephesians helps us have that experience. 

    My oldest son, Travis Jr.  went sky diving the other day.  Days before he actually jumped out of the plane, there was a combination of fear and excitement.  He had a bit of  "am I really going to do this" syndrome.  Even though he had not yet experienced sky diving, his attitude had already changed.  I then got the call within the hour of him actually jumping.  He said "greatest thing I ever did, I can't wait to do it again."   He was full of energy and excitement.  He had just experienced something that he had never done and he wants more.  I believe there are a lot of people who believe there is a God, but I believe very few have truly experienced him deeply.  As with my son's sky diving experience, he was changed after he experienced it.  He was suddenly a sky diving evangelist.   The experience changed him and changed how he talked about it.

    I hope you are finding a deeper relationship with Jesus as we study through this book together and you are experiencing change.   If you have been following along with me through this study, we are at the end of Ephesians Chapter one.  These scriptures are very timely for me and helpful.  I confess I am concerned with the many issues in our society.  The lack of prayer in the public schools is a concern.  I am bothered by the news of the Mosque being built in New York City, just a couple blocks away from ground zero and I have my concerns with our government’s decisions on a number of issues.  As a result of my concern, I must be in the Bible seeking spiritual wisdom and understanding.  If not I am standing on corners throwing rocks and protesting or finding myself involved in foolish arguments that amount to little and stir up anger.  I think if we look at the time when Paul wrote this letter our political challenges were not much different.  Paul was in prison for his faith, sexual immorality was entrenched, there was a lot of political corruption.  The Bible often reminds us that Jesus came to establish a new spiritual order.  How we respond to issues in this world must come from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  When we are filled with the Holy Spirit and are experiencing God through His word, we respond differently.  2Cor10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and evert pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

    I believe this is why Paul is constantly praying for the saints and wrote these letters.  These letters are written in that Paul, a messenger of God, would encourage us in the Spiritual kingdom Jesus came to establish.  Let's read carefully Paul’s prayer for the saints in Ephesians 1:17-19a.  

     Eph 1:17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

    Eph 1:18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

    Eph 1:19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

      Paul talks of two requests in this passage for which he is praying for us:

    1-                 That we would have a Spirit of wisdom and revelation.  The Greek word here for Spirit is the same word for the trinity Holy Spirit.

    2-                  The eyes of our hearts would be enlightened.  The Greek word here for enlightened is the same word used in Hebrews 6:4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit. 

    Both the spirit of wisdom and the enlightened hearts come from the God of our Lord Jesus Christ.  As a result of having spiritual wisdom and an enlightened heart, the following happens:

    1-                 We know God better.

    2-                 We have hope.

    3-                 We have the riches of His glorious inheritance

    4-                 We have incomparably great Power.

    I do have my concerns with our nation, but what I have gathered through my studying of Ephesians and the Bible in general causes me to respond differently.  If you really believe what Paul is writing you can’t help but respond differently to the issues in this world. The hope you have is in God and you trust what He has spoken through inspired scripture. I am not looking for hope in world improvements and political leaders.  I get my hope from He who created all things.

    I do not believe Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father scratching His head wondering what is going on.   I don’t think Jesus is saying, “Boy, I didn’t know they were going to build a Muslim temple in NYC.”  I believe He is saying “1Co 3:16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”  Jesus is interested in salvation and people, not so much in buildings.  He wants to build up His kingdom and not let the terror of this world separate us from putting our confidence in Him.

    In these times it is important to focus on our own personal relationship with God.  Everything else appears different when we trust in the Lord.  Look at what Paul writes about the power that we have from our enlightened hearts as believers.

    Eph 1:19b That power is like the working of his mighty strength,

    Eph 1:20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,

    Eph 1:21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

    Remember Christ has rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  Studying the Bible and knowing God, gives me great peace in a hurting Nation. 

    Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

    

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Travis Gray: At the Watering hole July 21th- Ephesians 1

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010, 3:47 PM [General]

    A holy and blameless saint.

    (Really?)

     

    As we study together through the book of Ephesians, some of you may be a little uncomfortable with some of the language in Chapter 1.  Paul writes that as a believer you are a saint who is holy and blameless.  I am not confused about my past wicked actions.  I am fully aware of how many people I have hurt or became angry with due to self-centeredness.  It is knowing my past and some of my current struggles which made the book of Ephesians a bit challanging. But like so many other people, both Christians and non-Christian, I was struggling with this passage because I was looking at my character and not the character of a loving God.  

    I used to question if the book of Ephesians applied to me, or if being a saint was a position I could strive to gain.  So what does Paul mean when he writes, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 1:1).  I like the way Ray Stedman describes it in his message God’s work:

    The saints of the New Testament are people like us, people who are beset with struggles and difficulties, who have disturbances at home and problems at work and troubles everywhere else. But one thing is remarkable about them: they are different. That is really the basic meaning of this word saint. In the Greek it is derived from the word for holy. And holy means distinct, different, whole, belonging to God and, therefore, living differently. Holiness is the mark of saints. It isn't that they don't have problems, but that they handle them in a different way. They have a different lifestyle.

    Holiness is the mark of a saint and to be holy is distinct belonging to God.  It is not by our works and efforts that we become holy.   It is only by the grace of God through His son Jesus Christ.  I did not become a saint through my education and study of theology.   Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

     

    Years ago a family a member who belonged to a very elite Country Club in Palo Alto California bought me free golf lessons.  The club had one of the best golf pro's in the state.  It was an incredible gift for a me.  The problem is I never took the time to visit the club and take the lessons.  I had the man's phone number, all I had to do was call and show up.  I was always busy running from one place to another.  I am reminded of this time in my life everytime I go out on the golf course.  I could have been a much better player had I taken those lessons.  This was not just any golf pro, he was one of the best.  I took one lesson, the lesson gave me some principles I practice even as I play 20 years later.  But there is so much more to learn.  Often we have access to people or things which help us improve,  yet we do not accept them even when they are free gifts.

    Through Jesus Christ we have been given access to God.  He has made us Holy and Blameless allowing us to access God anytime we want.  The book of Ephesians is not just about being saved and going to heaven.  The book of Ephesians is about utilizing this direct access to God through the free gift He has given us in Jesus.   In Jesus you are a saint, holy and blameless.  You have been given free access to a life of love, hope and Joy.  Don't regret not abiding in this gift, accept it and live abundantly!  With my golf pro I had access to be better and didn't.  On a much larger scale and far more important, the same principle applies.  We have direct access to God, as saints we can live far better lives.  Access to help us parent better, to love our spouses better, to walk through the trials of this world.  It is God who gives us the strength to overcome our addictions and habits.  It is God who controls our emotional hangups with depression and anger.  Know that God has called you to live differently through Him so that He may be glorified and you may be free.   You have free access are you drawing near to Him in all ways? 

    "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you..." (James 4:8)

     

     

     

     

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    Travis Gray: At the Watering hole July 15th- Ephesians 1

    Thursday, July 15, 2010, 2:26 PM [General]

    What do you value?

    The other day I was sitting in the Texas heat out at the pool with my 4 year old daughter, my 6-year-old son and his friend.  My daughter got bored swimming with the boys and decided she was going to set up a garage sale on the table next to me.  She started grabbing everything she could find.  She had pool toys, balls, my son's shoes, my cell phone and what ever else was not heavy or cemented to the ground.  She set everything up and said, "okay Daddy what would you like to buy?"  Immediately I asked for the cell phone and then a little ball.  She said the little ball was $6.00 and the cell phone was a $1.00.  I thought to myself, isn't it interesting that she thought the ball should cost more than the phone?

    The truth is the ball has more value to her than my cell phone.  She finds more joy in the ball and therefore feels it should cost more.  It made me think about what I value most.  I couldn't help but think about my relationship with God and how grateful I am for Jesus.  I was also challenged to look at how much value I put on my relationship with Christ and other things.  And what sacrifices do I make for what I value most?

    In the first Chapter of Ephesians we can read about what we have in Christ.

    In Him
    - holy   verse 4            
    - blameless  verse 4
    - redemption   verse  7
    - forgiveness   verse 7
    - salvation verse  13  
    - Holy Spirit  verse 13
    - Inheritance   verse 14

     

    Do we really value what Christ has given us?  Paul prays in Ephesians 1:17 that God would give us a Spirit of wisdom, and revelation so that we may know Him better.  The more I spend time in prayer and reading the Bible, the better I know God.  It is in the Bible that we can find out more about who God is and what He has for us.  Understanding more about Christ has given me a tremendous amount of freedom and peace in this crazy world.  

    So many people do not understand what a relationship with Christ really means. It is because they haven't taken the time to experience Him and gain knowledge.  My daughter had played with the ball.  She had experienced the joy of the ball and never found joy in my phone because she doesn't use it.  As a result the ball had more value to her.  I guess if I let her use my phone, put a few games on there, let her call her girlfriends and told her that if she pressed this button it would call me anytime she wanted; she would see more value in the phone.   So many people don't see value in God.  Mainly, because they spend no time with Him.  

    Are you finding more value in your car, boat, money or job than in Jesus?  Are these the things you are turning to for joy and pleasure?  Joy in these things doesn't last but joy in the Lord is eternal.  Study along with me the next couple of months the book of Ephesians.  I can assure you that you will know Him more and your understanding of God will grow.  You will have a peace that can only come from God and you will value Him far more than ever before.

    Proverbs 4:7- Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

     

     

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