Category Archives: Ephesians

Children of the Promise

God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. 

~ Ephesians 1:5  NLT ~

Forgive me for the delay in this study on Ephesians. Unfortunately, I’ve been under the weather for awhile. However, I’m feeling better now, and I’m anxious to get back to this study.

As you may remember, we’ve been studying Ephesians 1:5, as we discover what it is to be an adopted child of God. Today, we’re  going to dig a little deeper into this study, and discover what it is to be a Child of the Promise. The Apostle Paul wrote these mournful words in his letter to the Romans, as he explained that to be a child of God, you must first be a child of the promise…

Children of the Promise

My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children. God revealed His glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them His law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping Him and receiving His wonderful promises. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ Himself was an Israelite as far as His human nature is concerned. And He is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.

Well then, has God failed to fulfill His promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people! Being descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,” though Abraham had other children, too. This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children.

~ Romans 9:2-8  NLT ~

As we read Paul’s heartfelt statement regarding his Israeli brothers and sisters, we discover that being born a Jew does not ensure they are children of God…

30 What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in Him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. 33 God warned them of this in the Scriptures when He said,

“I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fallBut anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.”

~ Romans 9:30-33  NLT ~

Hallelujah! This is too important to miss. Not all Jews are children of God, because they are not children of the promise. In fact, Jesus informed the Pharisees that though they were Jews, and descendants of Abraham, they were not children of God…

38 “I am telling you what I saw when I was with My Father. But you are following the advice of your father.”

39 “Our father is Abraham!” they declared.

“No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. 40 Instead, you are trying to kill Me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. 41 No, you are imitating your real father.”

They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God Himself is our true Father.”

42 Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on My own, but He sent Me. 43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear Me!44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies…”

~ John 8:38-44  NLT ~

Though His words were harsh, they were true. Instead of telling people what they wanted to hear, Jesus always spoke the truth. For though the Pharisees were descendants of Abraham, they were not children of God. They were children of the devil, who also rejects and hates the truth. This is true of all men, not just the Pharisees. If you are not a child of God, (a child of the promise), then you are a child of the devil.

Therefore, we need to know, (not just in our minds, but more importantly, we need to know within our hearts) what a child of the promise is. Let’s see what the word of God tells us about children of the promise…

30 What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? instead of by trusting in Him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. 33 God warned them of this in the Scriptures when He said,

“I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, But anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.”

~ Romans 9:30-33  NLT ~

According to this passage, children of the promise are those who have faith in Christ. Children of the promise know that we cannot get right with God by keeping the law. Children of the promise understand that apart from Christ, we’re not capable of keeping the law on our own. Therefore, a child of the promise must trust in Christ to make us right with God…

21 Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says? 22 The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. 23 The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of His promise.

24 These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them. 25 And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia,because she and her children live in slavery to the law. 26 But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother. 27 As Isaiah said,

Rejoice, O childless woman,
you who have never given birth!
Break into a joyful shout,
you who have never been in labor!
For the desolate woman now has more children
than the woman who lives with her husband!”

28 And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. 29 But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit.

30 But what do the Scriptures say about that? “Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” 31 So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman; we are children of the free woman.

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

~ Galatians 4:21-5:1  NLT ~

This scripture from Paul’s letter to the Galatians gives us a beautiful contrast between the children of the promise, and those who are not the children of the promise…

Children of the Slave Wife

Children of the Promise 

Born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise…

God’s own fulfillment of His promise… 

Live in slavery to the law… 

Free from the law… 

Like Ishmael, the child born by human effort… 

Like Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit… 

Persecute the children of the promise… 

Persecuted by those who are enslaved… 

Will not share the inheritance of the children of the promise… 

Will receive the inheritance..

Tied up in slavery to sin and the law… 

Free from slavery to sin and the law… 

As you can see, the children of the promise,  who are the children of God, are those who have faith in God, and also trust in Christ Jesus. Therefore, the question each of us must ask ourselves is, Am I a child of the promise? Or am I a slave to the law, as I continue to try to obtain God’s promise by trying to keep the law without trusting in Christ? 

Father, in Jesus’ name, I pray that those who read and participate in this study would be children of the promise. I pray that You would draw each person to You, so that they could taste and see how good You are.

For those who lack faith, Lord, please give them the faith they need to believe that Jesus is the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. For those whose faith is weak, I pray that You would strengthen it, and for those who already have strong faith in You, Father, please make their faith in You even stronger, in Jesus’ name. 

Lord, make each one of us Your children of the promise. Help us to grow each day in our faith, so that we may bring glory and honor to Your name. Amen.

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

 

God’s Child

God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. 

~ Ephesians 1:5  NLT ~


Image Credit: Weighing the Facts
Image Credit:
Weighing the Facts

As I was reading my last post, I was unsatisfied in my spirit.  I felt that I hadn’t completely gone into what it is to be adopted by God, and I didn’t feel that I could move any further in our study, until we dig a little deeper into this subject.  Therefore, while the last post served as an introduction of what it is to be adopted into God’s family, this post will delve into what it is to be God’s Child.


God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. 

~ Ephesians 1:5  NLT ~


Let’s closely examine this scripture.  “God decided in advance to adopt us…”  Other bible versions word it this way:


He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—

~ Ephesians 1:5  NIV ~


He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself,according to the kind intention of His will…

~ Ephesians 1:5  NASB ~


Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will…

~ Ephesians 1:5  KJV ~


God had already decided that through Jesus Christ He would make us His children—this was His pleasure and purpose.

~ Ephesians 1:5  GNT ~


Some versions of the bible say that God predestined us to be adopted by Him through Christ, so what exactly, does predestined mean? According to dictionary.com, the definition for predestined is:

to destine in advance; foreordain; predetermine

Throughout the church age, there have been many arguments and splits within the church based on the doctrine of predestination.  Many feel that if we are predestined to be adopted by God, then that negates our free choice.  However, that just isn’t so.

When a couple decides to adopt a child, they predestine a child to become theirs.  They then choose the child or children they want to adopt, and those children are predestined to become their children.  So, after they adopt those children, they take them home and they shower them with love, raising them as their own.  Perhaps some of those children love their adoptive parents, and they do their best to bless their parents for the rest of their lives.

However, a few of their adoptive children do not love their parents.  They spend their childhood running away from their parents, and when they are grown, they leave their parents for good.  It doesn’t matter to them how much love their adoptive parents gave them, nor do they care about their inheritance from them.  They only seek to please themselves.

Now, I ask you, although these children were predestined to be adopted by their parents, did they have any choice about whether they would receive or reject the gift of love that was offered to them?  In the same way, God decided, to adopt us into His family through Jesus, yet, just like any other adopted child, He allows each one of us the freedom to choose whether they will accept this wonderful gift of love He offers us, or whether we will reject it.  What about you? Will you accept the gift of adoption He has offered you?

Before you decide, let’s discuss the benefits of becoming a child of God…


But when the right time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent Him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that He could adopt us as His very own children. And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are His child, God has made you His heir.

~ Galatians 4:4-7  NLT ~


This scripture lists several the benefits of being a child of God.  Firstly, it is important to understand that every man, woman and child is born in slavery.  Does this sound crazy to you?  Are you  thinking, “Wait a minute! I live in a free country.”  Perhaps you do live in a free country, just as I do, but it doesn’t change the fact that you, like me, are born enslaved.  So, what are we enslaved to?  We are all enslaved to sin.


Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.”

~ John 8:34  NLT ~


For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

~ Romans 3:23  NLT ~


As I’m sure you would agree with the scripture, everyone, including you and I have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard.  In fact, we are all born in sin.  Did you ever notice that children don’t have to be taught how to misbehave?  We have to teach them how to be obedient and how to behave properly, but sin seems to come naturally to them.  This is because ever since Adam ate  the forbidden fruit, all of his descendants (except for Jesus, the Son of God), are born as slaves to sin.

It all sounds pretty hopeless, except for one thing…


But when the right time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent Him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that He could adopt us as His very own children. And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are His child, God has made you His heir.

~ Galatians 4:4-7  NLT ~


Do you see the wondrous news?  At just the right time, God sent His Son to be born of a woman and subject to the Law.  God sent Jesus to buy freedom for us, (you and me) who were slaves to the law and to sin, so that He could adopt us as His very own children.

Now this is important.  When God adopted us as His own children, we were set free from our slavery to sin and the law.  I am no longer a slave to sin, because Christ set me free, and then God, Creator of heaven and earth and all that is in them, adopted me as His daughter!  Once He adopted me, He placed His Son’s Spirit within me, so that now, I realize that I am not the same.  I am no longer unworthy, because He made me worthy of His love, His protection and His freedom.  I now have a heavenly inheritance, because He loved me enough to make me His own dear child, just as Jesus is!

There is so much more to share about this adoption, and what it is to be a child of God.  Please join me for the next post, when we will continue our study of what it is to be a child of God.

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

Adopted Into God’s Family

God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.

~ Ephesians 1:5  NLT ~

Image Credit: The Journey of Faith
Image Credit:
The Journey of Faith

For every heart that has ever been broken, destroyed by abandonment, rejection and betrayal, and for those that have not, you have been loved with an everlasting love before there was time.  These words the Lord spoke to Israel are for all who will call upon His name:

Long ago the Lord said to Israel:
“I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love.
    With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.

~ Jeremiah 31:3  NLT ~

Do you doubt that these words are meant for everyone who will call on His name?  Not only did God love Israel with an everlasting love, He also loves ALL of mankind with a love so strong that He was willing to sacrifice His One and Only true Son for the sake of ALL of us.

For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

~ John 3:16  NLT ~

Those who have been broken, abandoned, rejected and betrayed all long for that one thing. Whether you are willing to admit it or not, there is an ache deep within your heart, a longing for love that cannot be quenched.  And how do I know this?  I know this because I am one of the broken, abandoned, rejected, and betrayed, and my first memories are of a little girl who had a hunger for Someone to love me no matter how bad, or how ugly, or how undesirable and unlovable I was.

When I was very young, my mother and father divorced.  After they divorced, I can count on one hand the number of times I saw my birth father again. Now that I’m an adult, I understand that my father’s abandonment was not because I was bad, ugly, undesirable or unlovable.  Instead, it was his problem, but as a child, I believed every single one of those things about myself. 

God-knows-uWhen I was around two and a half, my mother married my stepfather, a man that I grew up thinking was my daddy until right before I entered the first grade, and I had to learn how to write my name.  You see, up until that time, I thought my name was Cheryl Mitchell, and I already knew how to write that, but now I learned that my real name was Cheryl Payne, and I didn’t really belong to the man I called Daddy.  I wondered why God had made someone like me.  You see, even then, I knew there was a God, and though I didn’t yet know Him personally, He knew me, for He was the One who had knit me together in my mother’s womb, and He had a plan for my life.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in Your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

~ Psalm 139:13-16  NLT ~

I was one of those children that trouble seems to follow, or maybe it would be more accurate to say that I was the one following trouble.  I hated school, from the first day I set foot there.  It seemed like I was always in trouble once I was in school.  When my parents went to parent/teacher conferences, they were told that I could do better if I would just apply myself.  I always dreaded those parent/teacher conferences, which would lead to my parents’ cussing me and telling me how worthless and stupid and lazy I was, as they beat me over and over and over again.  I was afraid to go to sleep at night, because they would come into my room over and over again throughout the night, until they went to bed, pulling me out of the bed and beating me yet again.

Cheryl - Grade 6
Cheryl – Grade 6

When I was in the sixth grade, I really did something stupid,  You see, if I brought home a bad report card, I would receive several beatings, then be punished for the following nine weeks, until the next report cards were issued.  My punishment consisted of being banished to my bedroom to study for those nine weeks. I was not permitted to go outside, receive phone calls, play or watch television during those long weeks. I was only allowed out of my room to use the bathroom, eat dinner, go to school and to go to church.  I thank God for the church bus that would pick my sister and me up on Sunday mornings, because that was when I was able to laugh and sing and feel loved.  

Anyway, when I was in the sixth grade, I received an “Inc.” (Incomplete) on my report card for not writing my fire prevention essay.  Don’t ask me why I didn’t write it, because I honestly couldn’t tell you.  I knew the incomplete was coming, but I didn’t worry about it until it was actually there, on my report card.  When I saw that grade, I panicked, and then I got this “brilliant” idea.  I had learned that if you licked the tip of an eraser, you could erase ink.  As soon as I got home from school, before my parents came home, I did just that, and changed my grade from an “Inc.” to a “G” (the equivalent of an “A”).  I actually got away with my ruse until nine weeks later, when report cards were once again issued.

In those days, we carried our report cards to each class and the teacher would call you forward and print your grade on the report card.  My heart pounded all morning long, and through lunch, until it was time to go to my Language Arts class.  By then, I was really worked up.  I must have had millions of butterflies in my stomach – so many that I was beginning to feel ill.  When my teacher called me, my whole body shook with fear, yet still, I walked forward to her desk.  As soon as she took my report card out of the envelope, she looked at me and stated loudly, “You erased this!”

I looked behind me, hoping against hope that my classmates hadn’t heard her, but of course, all eyes were on me.  I shook my head emphatically, as I looked her in the eye and whispered, “No I didn’t.  You did. Don’t you remember?  You accidentally put someone else’s grade on here, and you changed it,” but she wasn’t buying it.  

“You erased this report card and I’m calling the principal.”  With that said, she stood up and walked over to the intercom to call the principal. I was truly panicked by this time, and I didn’t care that my classmates were all staring at me as I cried and pleaded with her not to call the principal, but to no avail.  She stood by the intercom and told the principal what I had done, and he hurried to our classroom, where I was weeping inconsolably, and pleading with her and then him not to call my parents.

At that point, I was such a wreck, that they sent me to the nurse’s office.  The nurse tried to quiet me, and then she began prying into my business, asking why I was so afraid.  She asked me if my parents beat me.  Did they abuse me?  As she questioned me, all of my fear now turned to anger and hatred, not against my parents, but against her.  I was already in enough trouble, without her being nosy and trying to make things even worse for me.  It wasn’t until nearly thirty years later, that I realized she wasn’t being nosy.  She was trying to help me, but I was too blinded by fear and misplaced anger to realize it.

I thought about running away, but I didn’t know where to run to, and I was too afraid to do it.  So, I just sat in my bedroom waiting until my mother came home at 6:00 that evening.  By then, my fear had grown immensely, and with good reason.  Soon, the bedroom door was opened, and there stood my mommy and my stepfather, whom I thought of as my daddy.  My mother began shouting at me, and then my daddy began to speak, and the angrier she got, the louder she was, while the softer his voice got, the more I feared him.  They told me how stupid and lazy I was.  They said that I was worthless and nothing but trouble.  And then, my daddy said the words that really crushed me, “I’m ashamed that anyone thinks you’re my daughter.”

Then they each took turns beating me, but as bad as the beatings were, the thing that still hurts, even now, at 53 years of age, were those words spoken by my “daddy,” the man I truly adored.  I wasn’t angry at him or my mother, though, because they were right, I thought.  I believed every single curse they spoke over me, and it took many years for the Lord to finally set me free from them.  All night long, until she finally went to sleep, my mother would sit in the den smoking cigarettes and thinking about what I had done, and the more she thought about it, the angrier she became, again and again.  Then, she would burst into my bedroom, snatch me out of bed and begin beating me again and again.  I laid in the bed, shaking with fear, and crying, and it seemed like every time I would begin to doze off, my door would slam open, and I would be snatched from the bed and beaten again and again.

I was punished for the following nine weeks until the next report card was issued and my grades were good, but until then, I was berated over and over again.  I wasn’t angry with my mommy and daddy though.  I was angry with my teacher and myself.  I hated her for many years, but I hated myself for many more.  

On the church bus every Sunday, we would learn different scriptures, and one of the first ones I learned was John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Now, I remember my thoughts when I first heard those words, “For God so loved the world…” 

“Yeah,” I thought, “but He doesn’t love me.  He knows how bad I am.  He knows everything about me, and there’s no way He could ever love me.”

It wasn’t until many years later, on a Saturday as I prepared a Sunday School lesson for children who were the same age that I had been when I first heard those words, “For God so loved the world…” that He revealed to me that those words included me too.  While preparing a lesson on Psalm 139, as I read, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Cheryl, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  It was I who knit you together in your mother’s womb, and I knew every single day of your life before you were born, and I loved you.” 

Beloved reader, can you believe that? Those words are not just for me. They’re for you, too. And get this, the very same God who knit each and every man, woman and child in their mother’s womb, decided long before then that He would adopt those of us who wanted Him to be their Daddy.

God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.

~ Ephesians 1:5  NLT ~

Isn’t that wonderful? And do you know why He chose to adopt us?  He didn’t do it because He pitied us, or because He felt like it was something He should do. No!  He adopted us into His own family through Jesus because He wanted  to do it!  Not only that, it gave Him great pleasure to adopt us!!!

Beloved reader, has your heart ever been broken, abandoned, rejected and betrayed?  Have you ever felt unloved and unlovable?  Have you ever longed for a Daddy who would lavish His love on you, without feeling like you must earn His love?  Do you have a hole in your heart that cries, just as mine did, “Please won’t Somebody love me, even though I don’t deserve it?”  

Image Credit: Pinterest.com
Image Credit:
Pinterest.com

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.

~ 1 John 3:1  NIV ~

Beloved reader, my whole life, I felt like I was nothing but a burden to my family, who I loved deeply.  But I now have a Daddy who loved me long before He formed the earth, and He chose me to be His adopted daughter, because I bring great pleasure to Him.  

I shared all of this with you, not to make you pity me, but so you can rejoice with me.  For you see, I was always loved, even when I felt like no one loved me, and I am no better or worse than you.  God loves you, just as much as He loves me, and if you want to experience that love, call upon His name.  The following prayer that Paul prayed many, many years ago is the prayer that I now pray for every person who reads this post:

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.17 Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

~ Ephesians 3:14-20  NLT ~

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers