“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor,
Read Ephesians 2:11-18
Last Monday we learned through Paul's letter to the Ephesians who we are in Christ and that trying to "work" our way into heaven is a futile task, for our salvation is secured through faith and God's grace alone, not by works.
Paul has driven home the point to the Ephesians who they were in Christ and who they are now. He calls them Gentiles, which in the Old Testament meant anyone who was not Jewish. Which, by implication, meant they were a heathen or pagan nation who did not worship the one true God. Paul used the term "Gentile" with the Ephesians to distinguish between Jews who had converted to Christianity and pagans who had converted to Christianity. It was the pagans (Gentiles) who had the hardest time believing that God would just accept them without them doing something in return. After Paulmakes it clear they were saved through faith he then goes on to remind them how both Jews and Christians are now united because of Jesus.
Paul explains that the promises of the covenant God made with the Jews, now also, because of Jesus, were promises extended to Gentiles as well. But, while the Jews were seen as a holy nation, set apart by God as His prized possession (Exodus 19: 5-6) they still had the same problems the Gentiles had - they continually sinned against God. They needed a Saviour! So Jesus became the mediator for both Jew and Gentile. Jesus, as Paul says, broke the dividing wall between the two groups (Ephesians 2:14) so that the two would become one in Him. And it is through Jesus that we are made whole again, reconciled to God and have His Holy Spirit living within us. Through Jesus we all have access to God. And because His Holy Spirit is available to all, we are united as we grow into a kingdom of priests for God. Imagine the possibilities! The world would actually know peace! This is why it is so important for those of us who know Jesus to share Him with as many people as possible. So that His kindgom will come! And we who believe and trust in Jesus Christ will become a holy nation dedicated in service to the one true God. Come Lord Jesus come!
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22, NKJV).
"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,
1 Corinthians 13 is probably the most well-known and well-used chapter in the Bible because of its subject matter - love. It is the "go-to" chapter for weddings for it uniquely and perfectly describes the many facets that make up love. But to keep it in context we need to look at the chapter before it, which talks about spiritual unity and diversity in the body of Christ.
It was this diversity that the Apostle Paul was addressing and he wanted people to realize that even though we are one body with many members, we have all been baptized by the same Spirit and so we should try to live in peace with each other. So speaking tongues, or having the gifts of prophecy or faith, were not important if you didn't have love.
Paul eloquently reminds us that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. And when we look at Paul's description of love we see the object of his affection right away.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
The verse above is often used by Christians as a source of comfort when our plans fall through, or life just gets too hard. I know in my own life, because I have so much to deal with in relation to my health, it's nice to have one of those "go to" verses that help me to not lose hope or give up entirely.
Prosperity teachers would have you believe that Jeremiah 29:11 is all about how God wants us to prosper financially. But that is not what this verse is all about. So what does Jeremiah 29:11 tell us about God? What are His plans for us? In order to get to the heart of this verse, we need to first take it in context. This was a message from God to the Jews who were being held in Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. The verses surrounding Jeremiah 29:11 are specifically to tell the Jewish people that God had a plan and after seventy years, He would bring them back to Jerusalem. You can read the whole chapter at Biblegateway.com.
So, does that mean the verse has no benefit for us today? On the contrary, we are at the heart of God's plans. So what does this verse tell us?