Tag Archives: Apostle Paul

Overview of Ephesians

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Road in Ephesus

Praise the Lord! Yesterday, I wrote an introduction to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, and today, before we begin to really dig in to this message, we’re going to do an overview, of it and answer the five W’s about Ephesians. Therefore, let’s dig in and discover the answers to our questions.

Before we begin this overview of Ephesians, let’s ask our Father in heaven to open the eyes of our hearts…

Heavenly Father, thank You so much for leading us in this walk through Your word. I pray Lord, for each person who joins in this study of Ephesians, that You would open the eyes of our heart, and that as we begin to understand this message, our hearts  would hunger to know You better.

Lord, I pray that we would love You more, and that we will gain wisdom through Your word. I also pray that as our love for You increases, our love for mankind would increase as well, in Jesus’ name. Lord, reveal Yourself to us through Your holy word in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

Before we get started on the overview, I encourage you to read the book of Ephesians. It really isn’t that long (just 6 chapters), and it will help you to answer the five W’s for yourself. Below are the links to each chapter…

Image Credit: Ephesus Theatre wanderingdanny.com
Image Credit:
Ephesus Theatre
wanderingdanny.com

The above links will take you to Bible Gateway, and if you sign in, you will discover that there are many study tools that you may use. While I’m reading, I like to highlight the verses that answer the five W’s in one color. Later, I may go back and highlight the key verse in each chapter, or sometimes, key words. You can always undo this, if you like, but I find this method of studying really helps me. Therefore, I urge you to click the links above, and keeping in mind the five W’s we learned in yesterday’s Introduction to Ephesians, highlight your answers to those questions as you go along…

  1. Who?  Paul wrote the Ephesians Epistle (epistle is a letter) to the Ephesian believers…
    1. Who wrote the book/letter?
      1. This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 1:1a  NLT ~
      2. When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles. . . ~ Ephesians 3:1  NLT ~
      3. Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. ~ Ephesians 4:1  NLT ~
    2. To Whom was the book/letter written?
      1. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 1:1b  NLT ~
      2. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom He promised long ago. ~ Ephesians 1: 13  NLT ~
      3. Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. ~ Ephesians 2:11  NLT ~
      4. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from Him, and peace to the Jews who were near. ~ Ephesians 2:17  NLT ~
      5. So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. ~ Ephesians 2:19  NLT ~
      6. Through Him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by His Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:22  NLT ~
      7. When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles. . . ~ Ephesians 3:1  NLT ~
      8. … assuming, by the way, that you know God gave me the special responsibility of extending His grace to you Gentiles. ~ Ephesians 3:2  NLT ~
      9. Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. ~ Ephesians 4:1  NLT ~
      10. Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. ~ Ephesians 5:1  NLT ~
  2. WhatPaul wrote this letter to the Ephesians to both encourage the Ephesians, by reminding them that God chose them before the foundations of the earth were laid. He also wanted to encourage them to lead a life worthy of their calling. Also, by reinforcing how they were saved, and how they are to live as Christians, Paul also warns the Ephesian believers against false teachings, encouraging them to be ready to battle the enemy at all times…
    1. What did the author hope to accomplish by writing this book/letter?
      1. Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. ~ Ephesians 1:4  NLT ~
      2. Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. ~ Ephesians 4:1  NLT ~
      3. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. ~ Ephesians 6:12  NLT ~
  3. WhenPaul wrote this Epistle to the Ephesians between 60-62 A.D., while he was imprisoned in Rome.
    1. When was the book/letter written?
      1. When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles. . . ~ Ephesians 3:1  NLT ~
      2. Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. ~ Ephesians 4:1  NLT ~
      3. I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for Him, as I should. ~ Ephesians 6:20  NLT ~
  4. Where
    1. Where was the book/letter sent? As we stated earlier, Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesian believers, where he had spent three years, establishing a church.
      1. This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 1:1  NLT ~
    2. Where was the book/letter written? As we’ve already established, Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesians from his Roman prison (Ephesians 3:1, 4:1 and 6:20). 
  5. Why?  The purpose is so all of God’s children will praise and glorify Him.
    1. Why did the author of the book/letter write it? 
      1. 12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom He promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify Him.

This concludes the overview of Ephesians. We will begin studying Ephesians 1 in my next post, line by line and precept upon precept. I look forward to studying with you again soon! Meanwhile, please join me as we close this post with a prayer to the Almighty.

Father, thank You so much for sending Your word to us. I pray Lord, that You would speak to each person who reads and joins this study, and that we would be drawn ever closer to You. Holy Spirit, You are the great teacher, so please Lord, teach us, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Introduction of Ephesians

Ephesus Great Theater Where Rioters Accused Paul of Damaging Artemis
Ephesus Great Theater Where Rioters Accused Paul of Damaging Artemis

This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.

I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. ~ Ephesians 1:1-2  NLT ~

Before studying any one of the books of the Bible, it is important to answer the 5 W’s, which will help us to have a deeper understanding of what we are studying:

  1. Who
    1. Who wrote the book/letter?
    2. To Whom was the book/letter written?
  2. What?
    1. What did the author hope to accomplish by writing this book/letter?
  3. When?
    1. When was the book/letter written?
  4. Where?
    1. Where was the book/letter sent?
    2. Where was the book/letter written?
  5. Why?
    1. Why did the author of the book/letter write it?

We’re going to dig in and study the book of Ephesians, but before we begin the study, let’s pray together. I can’t begin to stress how important it is for us to talk to the Lord about His word, and to ask Him to give us understanding of His word. Therefore, I ask you to join your heart with mine, so that we can be of one mind and one accord. 

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your word, which is better than life. Thank You for putting it in our hearts to study Your word, so that we can gain a deeper understanding of Your will for us, in Jesus’ name.

Lord, I ask You in Jesus’ name, to give us discernment of spirits, and that You would also help us to read and understand what You are saying to us through Your word. Lord, I pray that Your word would be like a mirror, reflecting our own sinfulness and also let it reflect how You have called us to live. Father, I pray that You would open the eyes of our hearts, so that we nay see You and hear Your voice. Show us Your ways, Father, so that we may walk with You, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

In this introduction of Ephesians, let’s begin the study by looking at Acts 19Acts 20, to get a little background. In the first verses  of Acts 19, we discover that when the Apostle Paul first arrived in Ephesus, the Ephesian believers (citizens of Ephesus) knew nothing about the Holy Spirit. They had received the baptism of John, which called for repentance from sin. Therefore, Paul told them about Jesus, and they were baptized in His name. Afterward, Paul laid hands on the Ephesians and they received the Holy Spirit. Then they began prophesying and speaking in tongues. There were about twelve of them in all. 

After ministering to those twelve men, Paul went to the synagogue, “and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God.” Unfortunately, some stubborn Jews refused to believe Paul’s message, therefore, Paul left the synagogue, taking the believers with him, and he held daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus, for the next two years. According to the scriptures in this passage, Paul ministered in Ephesus for approximately three years, impacting many lives.

During the three years that Paul was in Ephesus, many miracles, signs and wonders occurred. In fact, after seeing the power of God in Paul, there were several people who tried to capitalize on that power. There was a priest named Sceva, who had seven sons, and when they attempted to cast the evil spirit out of one man, it backfired in a way they never imagined…

14 Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. 15 But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered. ~Acts 19:14-16  NLT ~

After this incident, the fear of the Lord swept through Ephesus, and many gave their hearts and lives to Jesus. However, there were still others, who were not happy with the changes taking place in their city. One man in particular, a businessman named Demetrius, who had a large manufacturing business, making silver shrines of Artemis, Apollo’s twin and the daughter of Zeus, began stirring things up. Artemis was the goddess of the hunt and childbirth, among other things. After some former sorcerers, who converted to Christianity, burned their books of incantations (valued at several million dollars),  Demetrius claimed Paul’s ministry would cause people to turn away from Artemis, not only angering the goddess of this city, but also causing those businesses, who made shrines and  idols of Artemis, to lose business, and also causing Artemis to lose her prestige, thus stirring up a violent riot, until finally, the mayor of Ephesus was able to deactivate the riot and calm the angry rioters.

After the riot, Paul summoned the believers, encouraging them, before he departed. Paul  didn’t return to Ephesus again, however, that doesn’t mean that he just forgot them. Instead, when Paul was making his way to Jerusalem, for the Passover, sometime later, he sent for the elders of Ephesus, when he stopped at Myletus. When they came to him, Paul again shared the gospel with them, telling them that he would never see them again. Then he warned them against false teachers and false prophets…

31 “Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you.” ~ Acts 20:31  NLT ~

36 When he had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them. 37 They all cried as they embraced and kissed him good-bye. 38 They were sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again. Then they escorted him down to the ship. ~ Acts 20:36-38  NLT ~

Praise the Lord! Please take the time to read Acts 19 and Acts 20 for yourself, so you can get a feel for what Ephesus was like when Paul came to them, and what it was like when he left. It’s always good to know the background about anything you’re going to study. We’ll begin looking for answers to the five W’s in the next part of this study of Ephesians, and after that, we’ll begin to study Paul’s letter to the Ephesians line by line and precept upon precept. Until then, beloved readers, God bless you!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

God Speaks ~ Hebrews 1:1-4

Image Credit: Grace Church The Blog
Image Credit:
Grace Church The Blog

1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, He has spoken to us through His Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son He created the universe. 3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. 4 This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave Him is greater than their names. ~ Hebrews 1:1-4 — NLT ~

Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. Enoch walked in close fellowship with God, until He took him… God spoke  to Noah and told him to build an ark… God spoke to Abraham when He appeared before him as an angel of the Lord, promising to bless all of mankind through his Seed… He spoke to Moses through the fire of a burning bush, then later, He spoke to him audibly… God spoke to Joshua, encouraging him to “Be strong and courageous…” He spoke to each of the judges who were willing to listen to Him… He spoke to Samuel in the night, calling him by name, “Samuel! Samuel!”… He spoke to King David and to King Solomon… He spoke to Elijah in a still small voice…

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. God used to speak to His people through the prophets, but when Christ came, things changed. Now, He speaks to us through His Son, Jesus. Think about this, God speaks through the One who created the universe with Him…

Image Credit: Biblical Truth
Image Credit:
Biblical Truth

1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. ~ John 1:1-5 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, do you get it? God speaks to us through the Word! He speaks to us through His Word! He, who spoke all of creation into existence… He who spoke our lives into existence, also speaks to us through His Son, the Word of God… He speaks to us through Christ, who “… radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God…” He speaks to us through Jesus, who “… expresses the very character of God…” God now speaks to us through His Son, “… who sustains everything by the mighty power of His command…”

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. 17 He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together. ~ Colossians 1:15-17 — NLT ~

Image Credit: RayNoah
Image Credit:
RayNoah

How amazing and how wonderful that the God of the universe, the Holy One of Israel speaks to us through His Son and Heir, Jesus Christ, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords! What an honor this is! It used to be that He only spoke to prophets, but now, beloved readers, He speaks through His Son Jesus to ordinary people like you and me! Imagine, hearing the voice of God Almighty as He speaks to us through His Son!

“Oh,” some may say, “I’ve never heard God speak to me.” But according to His Word, He does speak to through His Son. Could it be that those who don’t hear Him speak simply don’t recognize His voice? Let’s see what God’s Son has to say about this…

2 “But He who enters by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep. 3 To Him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear His voice; and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when He brings out His own sheep, He goes before them; and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” ~ John 10:2-5 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: Fr Ed's Place
Image Credit:
Fr Ed’s Place

Do you see, beloved readers? If you are a child of God, (a.k.a. – a part of the Good Shepherd’s {Jesus’} flock) then when He speaks, you will recognize His voice. Indeed, He will call you by name, just as God called the prophet Samuel so many years ago, just as a shepherd calls his sheep. For Christ Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and He calls us by our name, and when He speaks to us, if we are truly one of His sheep, the Spirit within us compels us to follow Him and obey Him.

For you see, beloved reader, when Christ “… cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven…” This same Jesus, through whom God speaks to regular people like you and me, now sits at the right hand of Almighty God in heaven, reigning and ruling with His Father. Isn’t it wonderful and amazing to know that this same Jesus, who is far greater than the angels, and whose name is above all other names, would speak to someone such as you or me?

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. ~ Acts 4:12 — NLT ~

9 Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Philippians 2:9-11 — NLT ~

After reading all of this, what can we conclude from our study of the first four verses of Hebrews 1? 

    1. We can know that although God used to speak to us through the prophets, He now speaks to us through His Son, Jesus.
    2. We know that Jesus is heir to everything, according to God’s promise.
    3. We know that God created the universe through His Son, Jesus.
    4. We know that Jesus radiates God’s own glory.
    5. We know that the Son of God reveals the very character of God.
    6. We also know that Christ sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. 
    7. We know that after Jesus cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.
    8. We know that God’s Son is far greater than the angels.
    9. And finally, we learned that Jesus’ name, given to Him by God, is far greater than any other name in heaven, on the earth below, under the seas, under the earth, or anywhere else in the universe!

Hallelujah! Isn’t it amazing how much we learned about the Lord and how He speaks to us in just four verses? I can’t wait to continue with the next part! 

Please bear with me, because I’m not sure how much writing I’m going to be able to do in the next few weeks, as my daughter-in-law (I will refer to her as my daughter from hereon, because that is what she is to me.) just had brain surgery, and I’m going to help care for six of my grandchildren. For those of you who have faith that our awesome and wonderful God and Father hears our prayers and answers them, I ask you to please pray for my son, daughter and children.  

Please pray that my daughter heals quickly, and completely, and that she would know just how precious she is to her husband (my son), my husband and me, and everyone who knows her. Pray also that my grandchildren feel God’s love for them, and that they would see how awesome and mighty He is, as He heals their mommy. Please also pray for peace within their home, because this is such a difficult time for all involved, and we all know how the enemy likes to attack when everyone is at their weakest point…

Thank you to each and every one of you for your prayers and for your patience, as my posts for this Bible study will be worked around my beautiful grandchildren’s schedules, and you can imagine how busy my husband and I will be as we help care for those precious children!

Again, thank you and may God bless each one of you!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Hebrews Bible Study ~ Introduction

Image Credit: Latter Days Ministry (Not LDS or Mormons)
Image Credit:
Latter Days Ministry
(Not LDS or Mormons)

1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, He has spoken to us through His Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son He created the universe. ~ Hebrews 1:1-2 — NLT ~

I love studying the Word of God, and the book of Hebrews is filled with so much wisdom. During my  study of the Law, I was going to start in one of the later chapters of Hebrews, but the problem I ran into was that as I began to study that chapter, I felt the need to back up to the previous chapter, in order to keep what I was studying in the proper context. Then, when I went further back, I felt the Spirit stirring within me, urging me to start from the beginning of Hebrews. Therefore, beginning with this post, I’m going to study the book of Hebrews, and I’d like to invite you, my beloved readers to join me as we embark on a new adventure into the Word of God…

Image Credit: morninghope.com
Image Credit:
morninghope.com

Many people believe that Paul was the author of the book of Hebrews, but the fact is that no one really knows for sure who the author was, because unlike Paul’s other epistles, Hebrews does not begin with Paul’s usual salutations…

1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach His Good News. 2 God promised this Good News long ago through His prophets in the holy Scriptures… ~ Romans 1:1-2 — NLT ~
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1 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Sosthenes.

2 I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be His own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as He did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:1-2 — NLT ~
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1 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.

I am writing to God’s church in Corinth and to all of His holy people throughout Greece.

2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:1-2 — NLT ~
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1 This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ Himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.

2 All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.~ Galatians 1:1-2 — NLT ~
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1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, He has spoken to us through His Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son He created the universe. ~ Hebrews 1:1-2 — NLT ~

Every single book that is known to have been written by the Apostle Paul for sure,  begins with a salutation introducing himself, whereas the book of Hebrews does not. While this doesn’t definitively prove that Paul was not the author of Hebrews, it does seem very unlikely that he did write it.  It’s really not important who the human author of the book is. What’s important for everyone to know is that the book of Hebrews, like all other books of the bible, was written under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Lakeview Chapel
Image Credit:
Lakeview Chapel

Now that we are armed with the knowledge that no matter who the human author was, we are assured that God inspired the book of Hebrews, let us move on to discover who this book was written for and why it was written…

Judging the book by its content, it appears that Hebrews was written to Jewish believers, as there are many references to the Torah. Also, judging by what is contained within this book, it was written to warn the Jewish believers not to fall away from Christ. Of course, since all Scripture is God-breathed, and therefore living and active, it can also be taken as a warning to all believers (both Jews and Gentiles) to remain faithful to God.

There is one final thing for me to cover in this introduction to our Hebrews Bible Study… When studying the Word of God, I usually like to try and answer the “5 W’s”… 

    1. Who We’ve answered this question by discovering that although we are unsure of who wrote the book of Hebrews, we do know that it was originally written to Jewish believers, since there were many references to the Torah. 
      • We can also deduce that although Hebrews was originally written to Jewish believers, it is equally important to all believers.
    2. What — We know that we are studying the book of Hebrews, which is a part of the Word of God.
    3. When — We  know that the book of Hebrews was written before 95 A.D., because Clement of Rome quoted from the book of Hebrews in 95 A.D.
    4. Where Although it is not known where the book of Hebrews was written, it is thought that it was written to Jewish believers in Jerusalem, though there is now no concrete evidence to support this supposition.
    5. Why  As I stated earlier, it is thought that the book of Hebrews was written for Jewish believers who were in danger of turning away from their faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Though it may have been the author’s intent to write this letter as a means of warning Jewish believers, it is obvious that God intended this book to minister to many more, as Hebrews has become one of the foundational books used to teach and minister to all believers, both Jews and Gentiles.

As we join together, digging into this book, we’ll discover a wealth of wisdom and instruction, as well as the warnings therein. Therefore, please be sure to join me the next time, as we begin studying the book of Hebrews, starting with the first four verses. Until then, I pray that the Lord will bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you and give you peace. May God be gracious as He lets the light of His countenance give you peace, in Jesus’ name.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Are We Spiritual Jews or Christians?

Beloved Readers,

Image Credit; prweb.com
Image Credit;
prweb.com

You may have noticed that I have not been writing very many posts lately, nor have I been reading very many of your posts. Believe me, I haven’t lost my love for writing and sharing God’s word. Nor have I lost my love for reading what my brothers and sisters are posting on their blogs. The fact is that life is constantly changing, and we just never know where our heavenly Father is leading us.

Just recently, I began attending a School of the Prophets, and if that wasn’t enough, I  also started taking a course called The Prophetic Voice of Hebrew. For the longest time, I’ve wanted to learn the Hebrew language, and I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful and amazing it is. On top of that, I’ve been spending more time with my grandchildren, so between class, time with my husband and time with my grandchildren, I haven’t had much time for reading or writing blog posts.

Image Credit: jew-gentile.com
Image Credit:
jew-gentile.com

However, in my Hebrew class, I had a homework assignment that just stirred my spirit. We were asked if we are Spiritual Jews or Christians, what they are respectively, and why. I first approached this as any other homework assignment, and I began writing a very unmoving, intellectual report, which left me feeling very dissatisfied. Then, as I was looking through the scriptures, I turned to Romans 11, and my heart began to burn within me. This was what Holy Spirit was leading me to talk about.

Have you ever thought about whether you are a Spiritual Jew or a Christian, and what the difference (if any) is between the two?  I pray that as you read this post, you’ll be just as blessed by it as I was when I studied and wrote it. I hope you don’t mind reading my homework assignment, but I was so excited about it, that I just had to share it with you too…

Are We Spiritual Jews or Christians?

The scripture passage that immediately leaps to my mind regarding this question is from Romans 11. As I read this passage, it brought tears to my eyes, for in this passage, we get a glimpse of the great depths of God’s love for both His chosen people, Israel (יִשְׂרָאֵל) and for us as well.

See what love the Father has lavished on us in letting us be called God’s children! For that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it has not known Him. ~ 1 John 3:1 – CJB ~

Are we Spiritual Jews or Christians? Is there a difference in the two? What does our heavenly Father call us to be?

What is a Spiritual Jew?

For it is we who are the Circumcised, we who worship by the Spirit of God and make our boast in the Messiah Yeshua! We do not put confidence in human qualifications… ~ Philippians 3:3 – CJB ~ (emphasis mine)

Image Credit: Messianic Jew by:Louise Hansen
Image Credit:
Messianic Jew
by:Louise Hansen

According to the Apostle Paul, we, who worship by the Spirit of God and make our boast in Yeshua HaMashiach, are the Circumcised (Spiritual Jews). It is we, who do not put confidence in human qualifications, but instead trust in Yod Hey Vav Hey (יְהוָה) with all of our hearts, who are the Circumcised.

You see, according to scripture, the nation of Israel has turned its back on our heavenly Father, rejecting the very Messiah they so desperately longed and cried out for.

7 So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have – the ones God has chosen – but the hearts of the rest were hardened. 8 As the Scriptures say, “God has put them into a deep sleep. To this day He has shut their eyes so they do not see, and closed their ears so they do not hear.”

9 Likewise, David said, “Let their bountiful table become a snare, a trap that makes them think all is well. Let their blessings cause them to stumble, and let them get what they deserve. 10 Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and let their backs be bent forever.” ~ Romans 11:7-9 – NLT ~

So, what does this mean to us? Hallelujah! This means that because the children of Israel turned their back on Messiah, Elohim, our Creator and our Deliverer, in His mercy and grace, decided to reach out to the Gentiles – us!

11 Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But He wanted His own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. ~ Romans 11:11 – NLT ~

Does this not bring tears to your eyes? Think of this – because His own people stumbled and were disobedient, God made salvation available to the Gentiles, just as He had promised Abraham thousands of years earlier…

18 “And by your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed – because you obeyed My order.” ~ Genesis 22:18 – CJB ~

Beloved, do you see the great love our Father has for us? Do you see that He has called us to be His children? Do you see that a Spiritual Jew is the adopted child of Abba? He has grafted us into His family, so that we are no longer strangers or aliens.

What is a Christian?

Image Credit; wildjazz.wordpress.com
Image Credit;
wildjazz.wordpress.com

The word Christian is mentioned three times in the bible. The first time it is mentioned is in Acts 11, which talks about the believers being scattered after Stephen was martyred, and some of the believers who went to Antioch began sharing the gospel with Gentiles, and a large number of them turned to Christ. When the church in Jerusalem heard about this, they sent Barnabus to check things out, and he was overjoyed when he saw what was happening and encouraged the believers to remain true to the Lord. Then, he went to find Paul.

26 When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.) ~ Acts 11:26 – NLT ~

According to this scripture passage, a Christian is a believer that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior. The Complete Jewish Bible refers to believers as talmidim, which is:

A plural Hebrew noun meaning “disciples” in its truest sense: those who leave family to study and follow the ways of their teacher [rabbi]. They study not only to learn what their teacher knows but to become the type of man their teacher is. From the Hebrew root word “limmud” meaning “instructed”. Strong’s #8527. Pronounced tal mee DEEM.

Therefore, according to this, a Christian is one who not only studies to learn what his/her teacher (Yeshua) knows, but to also become like Yeshua.

The next mention of the word Christian is in Acts 26, when Paul is sharing his testimony and speaking in his own defense to King Agrippa. As Paul shared his testimony and reached the part where Messiah rose from the dead, he was interrupted by Festus, the governor of Caesarea, who accused him of being crazy…

25 But Paul replied, “I am not insane, Most Excellent Festus. What I am saying is the sober truth. 26 And King Agrippa knows about these things. I speak boldly, for I am sure these events are familiar to him, for they were not done in a corner! 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do –“

28 Agrippa interrupted him. “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?”

29 Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.” ~ Acts 26:25-29 – NLT ~

According to the scripture above, the Apostle Paul, also a Jew and even a Pharisee at one time, identified himself with the Christians (see verses 28-29 above).

Further, the Apostle Peter also encourages Christians who suffer for Christ, and he makes no separation between himself, (a Jew) and Christians. Indeed, look at Peter’s beautiful description of a Christian…

14 So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. 15 If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble or prying into other people’s affairs. 16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by His name! 17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? 18 And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?”

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you. ~ 1 Peter 4:14-19 – NLT ~

Am I a Spiritual Jew or a Christian?

Image Credit: http://www.mscperu.org
Image Credit:
http://www.mscperu.org

After praying and studying the Word of God, I have determined in my heart that a Spiritual Jew and a Christian are one and the same. Therefore, I am both a Spiritual Jew, grafted into the Jewish lineage by my beloved Father, who saw me, just as the prodigal son’s father saw him, when I was far, far away, and in His great love and mercy for me, He chose me and called me His beloved daughter. And though I was unclean, He beckoned me…

“Come now,” says Adonai,
“let’s talk this over together.
Even if your sins are like scarlet,
they will be as white as snow;
even if they are as red as crimson,
they will be like wool.”
~
Isaiah 1:18 – CJB ~

Beloved reader, as one who grew up despised and rejected by her own family, this blesses me beyond measure, and I know that I’ve written more than two pages on this subject, so I will leave you with one final thought, from the Apostle Paul…

14 All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to bring you back again into fear; on the contrary, you received the Spirit, who makes us sons and by whose power we cry out, “Abba!” (that is, “Dear Father!). 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our own spirits that we are children of God; 17 and if we are children, then we are also heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with the Messiah – provided we are suffering with Him in order also to be glorified with Him. ~ Romans 8:14-17 – CJB ~

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

My Grace Is Sufficient…

8 Three times I begged the Lord to take this thing away from me; 9 but He told me, “My grace is enough for you, for My power is brought to perfection in weakness.” Therefore, I am very happy to boast about my weaknesses, in order that the Messiah’s power will rest upon me. 10 Yes, I am well pleased with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties endured on behalf of the Messiah; for it is when I am weak that I am strong.

~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-10  — CJB ~

grace-thorn-in-the-fleshHave you ever pleaded with God to take something away from you (pain, physical imperfection, disease, you name it…)? Have you ever been brought so low that you were certain you couldn’t take anymore? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there. The truth is, I’m still making my way through, and just when it seems like I’ve got this thing beat or under control, it rears its ugly head up and knocks me down again.

Paul felt that way. You see, in this passage, Paul was telling us his experience of having visited the third heaven. He also spoke of how he was given a thorn in his flesh to keep him from becoming prideful…

7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

~ 2 Corinthians 12:7 — NASB ~

2 corinthians 12v9When I read this passage of scripture, I feel a stirring within, as I wonder about that thorn in the flesh. What does the scripture passage photomean? What is a thorn in the flesh?

Lord, I don’t want to take Your word out of context. I don’t want to shame You by reading something into it that isn’t really there. I pray Father, that You would open the eyes of my heart, and give me a true understanding of Your word. Holy Spirit, speak to me through Your word, and reveal the truth of Your word in Jesus’ precious name, amen.

For the record, no one knows exactly what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. Some have speculated that his thorn in the flesh was poor eyesight, often citing these scriptures…

Look at the large letters I use as I close in my own handwriting. 

~ Galatians 6:11 — CJB ~

2 The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him (Paul) on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?”

4 But the bystanders said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?”

5 And Paul said, “I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”

~ Acts 23:2-5 — NASB ~

depressedThis theory may or may not be true, though in all honesty, unless the Lord clearly shows us, we will never know for sure what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. Perhaps we don’t know for sure, because if we knew exactly what his thorn in the flesh was, we would be less likely to try to apply this scripture to our own lives, but who knows for sure?…

Still, I feel compelled to study this passage of scripture so that I can apply it to my life.Therefore, let’s start with the things that we do know for sure…

  • One thing is certain — Paul visited the third heaven (though whether he was in his flesh, or out of his body, he wasn’t sure)
  • Paul was given a thorn in the flesh
    • He received this thorn in the flesh to keep him from exalting himself because of the revelations he had received from God
    • His thorn in the flesh was a messenger from Satan, sent to torment him and to keep him from exalting himself

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

2 Corinthians 12:7 — NASB ~

Since I want to understand what Paul was telling us in this passage, so that I can apply it to my own life, I’m going to start by examining the original Greek text… The Greek word used for the phrase, Because of the surpassing greatness, is hyperbole

I.     a throwing beyond
II.    metaph.

A.     superiority, excellence, pre-eminence
B.     beyond measure, exceedingly, preeminently
C.     beyond all measure

Paul's VIsionAccording to this, the revelations that Paul had were superior, excellent, pre-eminent, exceeding and beyond all measure. Has the Lord ever spoken to your heart or given you a revelation? He has spoken to my heart many times, and those times are precious to me. They are awe-inspiring and exciting. Indeed, I would say that anytime God reaches down to one of His adopted human children, it is an extreme moment. For it is during those times that we experience Abba’s excellence, His superiority, and His preeminence.

All too often, I’ve seen men and women who have claimed to have a close personal relationship with the Lord, become prideful, and even arrogant, as though the Lord couldn’t speak to someone else.. I’ve seen men and women, who claim to have heard from God, live in utter rebellion to His word, while claiming that all we need to live a life of  One of my biggest fears is that I might become prideful because the Lord has spoken to me. That’s why I often pray, “Father, help me to stay low. Help me to be humble and to stay humble. Please don’t let me become prideful because of the work that You have done in me.” Perhaps that isn’t an area that you struggle with, but it is one that I always pray about, because if the Apostle Paul, who was such a powerful man of God, struggled with pride (as 2 Corinthians 12:7 alludes  to), then it is something that I need to pray about, because I am nowhere near as mighty in Christ as he was.

7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

2 Corinthians 12:7 — NASB ~

The Greek word for revelation is apokalypsis, which is defined this way…

I.     laying bare, making naked
II.    a disclosure of truth, instruction

A.     concerning things before unknown
B.     used of events by which things or states or persons hitherto withdrawn
         from view are made visible to all

III.   manifestation, appearance

According to the words spoken so far in this scripture verse, Paul had a supreme experience that was beyond all measure, when he had his apokalypsis. You see, my beloved readers, he received a disclosure of truth and instruction concerning things before unknown. Things that were hitherto withdrawn from view were made visible to him. They were manifested before him.

Is it any wonder that Paul was in danger of becoming prideful and therefore needed to have a thorn in the flesh after such an experience? Often times, we forget that all of the great heroes of the bible were mere mortal men, like we are, and as such, they too, struggled against their flesh, just as we do…

7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

2 Corinthians 12:7 — NASB ~

The Greek word for “keep me” in this verse is mē, which means, no, not lest. Let’s look at the next word(s) so we can place it together with mē, and gain understanding.

7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

The Greek word for “from exalting myself” in this verse is hyperairō, which means:

I.     to lift or raise up over some thing
II.    to lift or raise up over some thing
III.   to carry one’s self haughtily to, behave insolently towards one

Therefore, Paul was given that thorn in the flesh to prevent him from raising himself above others. He was given that thorn in the flesh to remind him not to carry himself haughtily and that he not behave insolently to others. Pride is one of ugliest of all sins.

It was pride that caused Lucifer to be cast out of heaven. It was pride that caused his fall to the earth, and it is his pride that has caused his ultimate fall into the lake of fire. Pride is the cause of Satan’s destruction, and it is the cause of our destruction as well. Pride causes us to disregard the needs of others. It causes us to think more of ourselves than we should, and less of others. Pride causes us to think and feel that we are gods. Pride leads us into other sins. Pride leads us to hell.

Therefore, in light of this, when I read this passage of scripture, I’m able to see God’s love, His mercy and His grace in ordaining Paul’s thorn in the flesh. You see, although Paul’s thorn in the flesh tormented him, God used that torment to help Paul stay humble, for He knew that if Paul became prideful, his ministry would suffer. He knew that if Paul became prideful, he would no longer minister life to either the Gentiles or the Jews, because the ministry would no longer be focused on Christ, but on Paul, himself. God knew that if Paul became prideful, he would be in danger of hell…

But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it).

~ James 4:6 — AMP ~

What about you, my beloved readers? Do you have a thorn in your flesh? Have you prayed and asked God to remove it, but still it torments you? Has it occurred to you that perhaps, out of His immeasurable grace and love, God has given you a thorn in the flesh to keep you humble? 

I’m speaking to myself as well as to you. Many times, I’ve asked the Lord to heal my body, and I have believed, only to be disappointed. I’ve even had different leaders within the church imply that the reason I’ve suffered with my affliction is because my faith is not strong enough, or perhaps, I did something to cause my pain. All of that has caused me to question my own faith, but then I read this scripture. Whatever Paul was tormented by did not leave him when he prayed about it, and certainly no one could imply that Paul’s faith was weak. 

So hold fast to your faith, my brothers and sisters. Unlike the message that much of the church preaches nowadays, God’s servants are called to suffer. Read your scriptures — both Old and New Testament apostles, prophets, judges, evangelists and ministers of every kind, who were called by God, suffered greatly for the Lord. Unlike today’s church would have you believe, they were not exempt from pain and suffering, and neither are we. Therefore, we must come to realize that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. And know this, my beloved suffering readers, God’s grace is sufficient!

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – I Did Not Come to Abolish the Law of Moses

“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. I assure you, until heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God’s Law will remain until its purpose is achieved. So if you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s Laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. But I warn you — unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!” (Matthew 5:17-20 NLT)

Moses with the Tables of the Law
Moses with the Tables of the Law (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is for everyone who quotes the Apostle Paul when he said,  “All things are lawful unto me…” 

Let’s get this straight… First of all, it really irritates me when people quote scripture out of context… Many Christians quote the Apostle Paul and use this to justify their sin. I like to look at the whole scripture in its context, so that we have an accurate understanding of what Paul was saying… I also like the New Living Translation, because this translation clearly expresses what Paul was saying in his letter to the Corinthians…

Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers — none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God. There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God. You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you. You may say, “I am allowed to do anything.” But I reply, “Not everything is good for you.” And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything (1 Corinthians 6:9-12 NLT).

faithfultotruth.blogspot.com/2011/04/humanitys-gain-from-unbelief-charles.html
faithfultotruth.blogspot.com/2011/04/humanitys-gain-from-unbelief-charles.html

Do you see? Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean that we should. Paul makes it very clear that those who live in sin will have no part in the Kingdom of God. It’s the same when people try to excuse their sin by saying, “I don’t live under the Law – that was for the Old Covenant. I live under the New Covenant.”

To be sure, we don’t live under the Old Covenant. As a matter of fact, for those of us who are Gentiles who have been grafted in, we are not bound by many of the Old Testament laws… But, it’s important for us to understand that this doesn’t mean that we’re lawless. Jesus didn’t come to break the Law. He didn’t come to end the Law. “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. I assure you, until heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God’s Law will remain until its purpose is achieved. So if you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s Laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. But I warn you — unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!” (Matthew 5:17-20 NLT)

Look what Jesus is saying. He said He didn’t come to do away with the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. Jesus said He came to fulfill them, and that even the smallest detail of God’s Law will remain until its purpose is achieved… Further, He gives us a warning that unless we obey God better than the teachers of the law and the Pharisees did, we won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!

http://energybibleinoneyear.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/love-the-lord-your-god-with-all-your-heart-soul-mind-and-strength/

That makes it pretty clear, doesn’t it? So, like the teacher of religious law, our next question should be, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is the One and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these” (Mark 12:28b-31 NLT).

The most important command is to love the Lord my God with all of my heart. That means with every beat of my heart, I am to love Him. I am to love Him with all of my soul – every one of my emotions must adore Him. I must love Him with all of my mind – as I meditate on His attributes, I can’t help but love Him. And I am to love Him with all of my strength. That means that my body is not my own any longer to do with as I please. Rather, I give my body in love to Him, so that every move I make, every breath I take, is an expression of love to my Savior!

Jesus said that the second greatest command was equally important. I must love my neighbor – anyone I come in contact with – as myself. I must treat my neighbor with love and respect, regardless of how they treat me. If I want to be forgiven, and I do, then I must forgive my neighbor… my father, my mother, my enemies…

By obeying these two commands, I am obeying the 10 Commandmentsthe Law of Moses. 

Lord, help me to obey Your commands. Let me love as You love, forgive as You forgive. Lord, increase my love for You and let me be a woman after Your own heart. In Jesus’ mighty, holy name I pray. Amen

© 2012

Cheryl A. Showers