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12. Getting Fired Up

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(Acts 19:1-20:38)

Third Missionary Journey A.D. 53-57

“So I boast in Christ Jesus about the things that pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in order to bring about the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem even as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” (Paul, Romans 15:17-19)

We serve a powerful God. Paul saw God’s firepower displayed in amazing, obvious ways—not only in signs and miracles, but also in what the power of the Spirit did in his own life. Paul faced the daily pressure of responding to the power God displayed through him and around him. Yet, he chose to remain humble and deflect all the glory and credit to Jesus Christ Himself. As he wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

This all-surpassing power is at work in our lives in countless ways we cannot see as well as at those times when He makes Himself entirely obvious. How are you at letting God display His power in you? Now’s the time to “get fired up” for the adventure ahead!

Read Acts 19:1-20:38 in one sitting to get the whole picture. As you do, read it prayerfully—the Holy Spirit has promised to help us understand it. Pray that God would open your heart to the truths He has for you from this text.

Follow Paul’s third missionary journey with this map.

Day One Study

Read Acts 19:1-7.

Deeper Discoveries: Using a Bible Dictionary, study notes, an internet search, and/or the introduction to Ephesians in your Bible, discover the city of Ephesus that Paul knew. What was life like there?

1. When Paul arrived at Ephesus (fulfilling his promise that he would return), Paul met 12 men. What did they have in common with Apollos? When Paul recognized that John’s disciples were deficient in their understanding of the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit, what did he do?

Scriptural Insight: The reception of the Holy Spirit in Acts does not follow any set pattern. He came into believers before baptism (Acts 10:44), at the time of or after baptism (8:12-16; 19:6), and by the laying on of apostolic hands (8:17; 19:6). Yet Paul declared (Romans 8:9) that anyone without the Holy Spirit is not a Christian. Quite obviously the transitional book of Acts is not to be used as a doctrinal source on how to receive the Holy Spirit. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 409)

Paul’s laying on of hands was not required for the Holy Spirit to come (Acts 10:44-48) but was a demonstration of apostolic authority.

2. By God’s design, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is “the Holy Spirit placing a believer into the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:13), thus identifying the believer with Christ in His death and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4). This occurs when a person receives Jesus as their Savior. At the same time, the believer is permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit, thus empowering every believer to live a life pleasing to God. Read Romans 8:1-17, 26-27. What does it mean to live empowered by the Holy Spirit? Why is this crucial for every believer?

3. Share Your Life: We are in a daily power struggle between yielding to our former master “sin” and yielding to our new master Jesus through the Holy Spirit living within us. What decisions can you make to live a life empowered by the Spirit?

Day Two Study

Read Acts 19:8-20.

4. Discovering the Facts in vv. 8-10:

§         How long did Paul teach in the synagogue?

§         Why did he leave?

§         Where did he go?

§         How long did he teach there?

§         How effective and far-reaching was Paul’s mission in Ephesus?

Historical Insight: Lecture halls were available for traveling teachers from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. when most people would eat lunch and rest before returning to work. Two words describe Ephesus: prominent and obsessed. It was prominent as a Roman capital, the third largest commercial center in the Roman Empire, with a multi-ethnic population of about ¼ million people. It was also a stronghold obsessed with the occult—the realm of magic, witchcraft, and evil spirits.

5. Share Your Life: Many of Paul’s listeners in the synagogue became obstinate/disobedient (v. 9). We are not immune to being obstinate. What can help us maintain soft hearts toward God’s leading through His Word (the Bible)?

6. The Ephesians’ concept of power was that of an impersonal substance one could harness to one’s own advantage. What did God do to get the attention of these obsessed people to view Him as the true and best source of power (vv. 11-12)?

Think About It: “Magic” historically is a deviation from a sanctioned religious practice that crosses the line into magic when attained through the management of supernatural powers in such a way that results are virtually guaranteed. For both Jews and Christians, reliance on the aid of “powers” (falling into magical / mystical activity) betrays a lack of confidence in the one God. (Clinton E. Arnold, Ephesians: Power and Magic, p. 19)

7. Invoking names to control evil spirits was a form of magic practiced in Ephesus. Discuss what took place in vv. 13-16. Read the “Think About It” box at right. What lessons can we learn from the Jewish “magicians?”

8. How did the Ephesians who had been dabbling in the occult exhibit repentance about this practice in their lives? What resulted?

Focus on the Meaning: In the biblical concept of magic, real supernatural spirits (demonic) are invoked to acquire knowledge or perform works of wonder. This is not parlor magic—entertaining with tricks that are in apparent violation of natural law. This also differs from the “magic” in fantasy (fiction), which does not invoke real supernatural spirits but draws upon the rules of the world created by the author. (Dr. Jennifer Newton)

9. Share Your Life: What are some ways, even if subtle, that Christians get involved in the practice of magic (sorcery, witchcraft), fortune-telling, spiritualism (attempt to communicate with the dead), or other non-biblical practices used to solve life’s problems? Are you doing this? If so, repent of this lack of confidence in God, pray for strength to flee from such practices, and trust the Holy Spirit to replace that false reliance with complete trust in our trustworthy God. Ask your group to join you in prayer.

10. Share Your Life: Read Colossians 1:29, 2 Corinthians 4:7, and the “Think About It” at right. In what ways does God make Himself obvious in our lives so that what we see strengthens our faith in what we cannot see? What do we allow to get in the way of recognizing God’s power in us and giving Him all the glory? Are you willing to let Him “show off” His Son in you and not give the credit for it to something else including yourself? Explain.

Think About It: God works in countless ways we cannot see; sometimes He makes Himself entirely obvious so that what we see will strengthen our faith in what we cannot see. (Beth Moore, To Live Is Christ, p. 111)

Day Three Study

Read Acts 19:21-41.

11. Discovering the Facts: Paul’s desire is to visit Rome (v. 21, Romans 1:15; 15:22-28). In the meantime, while he remains in Ephesus, a “great disturbance about the Way” occurs. List all the information given about the opposition toward Paul now (vv. 24-28).

Historical Insight: The Ephesians considered Artemis, with her 37-breasted image, as more powerful than any other deity or evil forces working against them, calling upon her as deliverer from sickness and enemies. They built for her a gigantic temple, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.

12. What happened at the theater (the largest place for assembly in the city, capable of seating 25,000)?

13. How does the unnamed official successfully dispel the riot?

Historical Insight: By weaving the book of Acts together with Paul’s letters, it’s believed that Paul wrote three letters during this third missionary journey: 1 Corinthians from Ephesus; 2 Corinthians from Macedonia; and Romans while in Corinth.

Deeper Discoveries: Read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians written several years later, probably while he was a prisoner in Rome. Keep in mind the people and events you just studied. How does the Ephesian letter encourage your heart that what we have in Jesus Christ is more powerful and more valuable than any substitutes we could trust instead? What does He offer us in the way of spiritual power?

Day Four Study

Read Acts 20:1-6.

14. Discovering the Facts: Where did Paul travel, and who accompanied him? [Notice the use of “we” in v. 6.]

Deeper Discoveries: Twice Paul is said to have encouraged / exhorted the believers as he traveled. The Greek word used there is parakaleo which means to call to one side to admonish, instruct, and urge one to pursue some course of conduct, always looking to the future. Using a concordance or online study site such as www.bible.org, do a word study on the use of this word in the book of Acts (22 times). In how many ways and situations does the Holy Spirit empower believers to encourage / exhort one another?

Read Acts 20:7-12.

15. Describe the scene. How does a young man named Eutychus (literally, “fortunate”) prove to be true to his name?

Think About It: The church was now meeting on the first day of the week (Sunday) instead of the Jewish seventh-day Sabbath. The first day was the day Jesus was resurrected. See also “The Lord’s Day” in “The Rest of the Story” for more information. How else might selecting this day benefit them?

Read Acts 20:13-38.              

16. Saying goodbye is hard. In this passage, Paul models how to say goodbye. After calling together the Ephesian elders, what does he feel he must tell them? Summarize his instructions and convictions below. Notice especially his mention of personal perils that can hinder growth and service to God.

§         vv. 18-21 —

§         vv. 22-27 —

§         vv. 28-31 —

§         vv. 32-35 —

Think About It: Notice in v. 28, Paul stresses the role of the Holy Spirit in choosing overseers/elders in a church and enabling them to be shepherds of their local flocks for Jesus’ sake. Who does the church belong to—the people or Jesus?

17. Share Your Life: Recall a time when you said goodbye. Were you leaving a child at college or camp? Were you embracing a close friend before you moved to another city? Were you sitting by the hospital bed of a loved one? Changing jobs? Leaving a ministry that drew you together? How did you feel? What did you learn? Share with the group healthy ways to handle separation.

18. Based on his own experience, Paul warns the church to be on guard against threats from both inside the church and from outside. What are some specific ways these attacks manifest themselves against the Church today? Divide them into the two categories as Paul did listed below.

Among themselves…Internal corruption

Savage wolves…External attack

 

 

 

 

19. Share Your Life: Looking at those you listed above, how can we be on guard against them? Who empowers us to discern? See 1 Corinthians 2:10-16 and Philippians 1:9-11. Have you previously asked Him to help you discern influences in your life? What happened? If you need that discernment now, ask Jesus for it. This would be a great time to pray for your church leadership as well.

Deeper Discoveries: Peter wrote his second letter to address the same subject. False teachers had risen up from within the assemblies. Read through 2 Peter and complete the following chart:

2 Peter: Addressing False Teachers

 

Characteristics of False Teachers

Verse

Dealing with False Teachers

Verse

       

 

 

Fired Up And Ready For Adventure:

Review the scripture passage covered in this lesson for evidences of the guidance and empowering of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. What will you ask God to do in your life?

The Loyalty Factor: Lesson 12 Lecture

I’m pretty confident that most of you belong to some kind of loyalty group or program. Right? If you are like me, you join the ones that have the best perks or the best products, maybe the most convenient. How loyal are you really to that company or product?

Loyalty is “the quality of devotion or attachment to somebody or something.” It’s both a feeling and an action. Some of us by nature tend to be loyal. Others of us are more skeptical, maybe prefering to be mavericks out on our own. Loyalty is being tested everyday in homes and businesses and human relationships across this planet. Who demands your loyalty or has the right to it? Do they receive it from you? How good are you at remaining loyal? Loyalty affects how you approach life.

We are going to watch a movie clip that centers on two men whose lives up to this point are miserable. But something happens that stimulates loyalty in their relationship and gives one a better way of approaching life. It’s fromThe Count of Monte Cristo.

A man named Edman Dantes has been wrongly accused of a crime by a disloyal friend and imprisoned for 12 years. Escaping from this cruel captivity, he washes up on a beach occupied by smugglers. Those guys are about to execute a fellow smuggler named Jacabo who has been stealing from his mates. Also, disloyalty. The smuggler captain gives Edman Dantes a choice: either fight Jacabo to the death or else be killed yourself. Pay attention to what happens at the end:

[Watch 2 minute video clip “I Am Your Man Forever” accessed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6Oe4My_V5I]

DId you catch what Jacabo declared to his deliverer at the end? “I am your man forever.” Think about it. Jacabo could have gotten up and gone his own way. Back to being a smuggler and a thief. He was set free from certain execution — in a way that was unexpected — by a man who didn’t have to do it!! Yet, Jacabo was stunned by Dantes’ grace towards him. And, grateful for it. And that gratitude compelled him to make a choice of loyalty—to serve the one who had set him free. He did not know where that would take him. After all, Dantes washed up on the shore! But, Jacabo chose to follow Edman Dantes by faith.

What Dantes did for Jacabo, Jesus did for us. He set us free from being a slave to sin and from our old ways of approaching life, offering something much better. How do you respond to that? Does knowing and experiencing being set free stimulate in you that same response of gratitude & loyalty to Jesus?

We can’t know all that’s ahead for us, but we can choose to declare, “Jesus, I am YOUR woman.” Emphasis on YOUR. It’s saying, “Jesus is my master. I choose to be loyal to Him — today and every day.”

I didn’t understand what that meant when I was a young Christian. But, my eyes had been opened to a life that was different than before. So, I made a life choice to seek God’s truth and to discern it from all the junk the world throws at me. I wanted to know Jesus first; everything else needed to match up to Jesus’ truth, or I wanted none of it. I don’t want any other way of approaching life to sneak in and get in the way of my loyalty to Jesus. But, it’s been 39 years of everyday choosing: do I really want to be Jesus’ woman completely? Or, do I prefer to be part Jesus’ woman and the rest my own?

Open your Bibles to Acts 20. Paul’s final words to the Ephesian elders reveal what it’s like to be loyal to Jesus. On his way to Jerusalem, he felt compelled to meet with them to say goodbye but also to remind them of how he modeled serving Jesus for them and to warn them about what would surely happen to distract them from their loyalty to Jesus alone in how to approach life.

Jesus As Lord Deserves Our Loyalty

Paul starts out saying in verse 18:

Acts 20:18-19 — “You yourselves know how I lived the whole time I was with you… serving the Lord with all humility and with tears,

The “Lord” in the New Testament is Jesus. The Greek word means master; “Lord Jesus” means “master Jesus.” In Acts 2:38, Peter declared to the crowd at Pentecost that God has made this Jesus both Lord and Christ. Considering what Jesus did for us, Jesus as Lord deserves our loyalty.

I think we’ve all studied history, read books, seen movies enough to have an idea of what slavery is. Paul considered himself a slave or servant of his Lord Jesus Christ. He used the word doulos. In the Jewish culture, a doulos was someone who had been freed from slavery but now voluntarily commits himself to serve a master he loves and respects. Jesus desires that from us—that we would not only choose to serve Him as master but remain loyal to Him as our master everyday, ignoring all those other voices calling for us to follow their ways of approaching life.

Thinking of Jacabo in that movie clip, to serve his new master he would need to follow him. Do his work. Represent him. Obey his word. Live with him. Take care of what belongs to his new master. Be loyal to him. Jacabo would give up his former way of approaching life. He would gain a new identity, status with honor, friendship, a new way of approaching life.

That’s what Jesus does for us. We get a new life fused together with His and a new identity—in Christ, a Child of God, one of God’s saints, totally accepted and loved by Him. Something we can never lose.

We are set free to live a radically different kind of life. Like Jacabo, there’s a better master to serve, Jesus Christ. If we choose to make that declaration to Jesus, “I am YOUR woman forever,” how do we do that with all the distractions around us, by that I don’t mean our families or jobs. Serving them well is serving Jesus loyally. I mean, all the other ways of approaching life? Think about them: astrology, psychics, gaining power through money, self-promotion and self-will, the right to pleasure yourself, no absolute truth so choose what works for you, my American rights of equality, and more. All of those voices are calling out to us in this culture. How do we remain loyal to Jesus as our master and His way of approaching life?

Back to Acts 20, verse 19:

Acts 20:19-21 — “serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, and with the trials that happened to me because of the plots of the Jews. You know that I did not hold back from proclaiming to you anything that would be helpful, and from teaching you publicly and from house to house, testifying to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.”

Acts 20:22-24 — “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem without knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Spirit warns me in town after town that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. But I do not consider my life worth anything to myself, so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.”

He refers to “Lord” 3 times. I don’t think he was being flippant about it. In his words, Paul is declaring that Jesus as his Lord deserves his loyalty. And, I see two things in this speech from Paul’s heart that reveals how to loyally serve Jesus. The first one is humility; the second one is obedience. Let’s key in on these. And see their relationship to loyalty.

Loyalty Requires Humility

Humility. That word has intrigued me for some time now. I know it’s the opposite of pride. But, what does it really mean? The Greek word used here (tapeinophrosyne) is a compound of tapeinos = “not rising far from the ground” and phreno = “mind.” Result = “lowliness of mind.” It’s how you think of yourself.

Oh, so when I say I’m feeling really, really low today or really down today, is that humility? No.

In New Testament days, the Greeks did not desire or reward humility so it’s a rare word. Only slaves should practice humility. In fact that phrase “not rising far from the ground” pictures a slave bowing before his master, doesn’t it? New Testament writers took this word for humility and elevated it because it is so totally associated with Jesus and being with Him.

Look at Matthew 11. Beginning in verse 28, Jesus says,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

What an invitation. I love that. Notice how He said, “For I am gentle and humble in heart.” What? The Creator of the universe. The one who is king of planet earth or soon would be. Seems out of place, doesn’t it? Jesus puts two words together here to describe himself. Gentle and humble.

In Ephesians 4, Paul puts these same two words together.

Eph 4:1-2 — “I…urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness

There is a key to understanding humility in that word gentle. So, let’s talk about it. We don’t really have a great English word to translate the Greek that describes this virtue. Old English writers used the word meek. That doesn’t help much. Our concept of gentleness or meekness is that it means passive, a wuss, couldn’t hurt a fly. Right? That’s not biblical.

Biblical gentleness carries the idea of strength under control. Jesus had the infinite resources of God at His command yet chose not to use them to His advantage. He could have called down 10,000 angels to rescue him from the cross, but he didn’t. Strength under control.

When you hold a newborn baby, you have the strength to crush that child but choose not to do so. Your strength is under control. You could verbally slash someone to pieces when you get angry but choose not to do so. Strength under control. Biblical gentleness is a work of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life. And, it’s the outworking of humility.

Humility is the decision you make in your mind; how you think of yourself in relationship to God first, then to others. Humility before God recognizes His authority over you. Yes, He’s Lord, but is He my Lord? Is He my master? We know we’ve made that decision when we are willing to trust in God’s goodness and accept His dealings with us as good without fighting Him on it. The Bible says we are to humble ourselves. It’s a choice you and I must make. That choice is reflected in our behavior towards others — gentleness.

Humility is the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest…it is not occupied with self at all. (Vines Complete Expository Dictionary) So, you are not being humble when you think poorly of yourself such as, “I’m a victim, I’m worthless, it’s God’s fault I’m like this.” A poor me attitude is certainly occupied with self. Humility is not renouncing that you can do some things well. It is recognizing that you do those things well because Jesus gave you the genetics, intelligence, and opportunity to do so, and you give Him the credit for it.

In order to serve Jesus Christ loyally, we must do it with humility, declaring, “I am YOUR woman, Lord Jesus. How may I serve you today?” Trusting the Spirit inside us for the power to follow through. If I’m out there trumpeting myself and my own will, and occasionally remembering to do what Jesus wants, what good is that?

That’s why Paul could say in Acts 20:24. “I do not consider my life worth anything to myself,” only as it serves Jesus loyally—to complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me. Humility leads to obedience.

Humility Leads To Obedience

What good is a servant who refuses to obey? Or, only obeys part of the time? Look at what Paul says about himself in Acts 20:22. He’s compelled by the Spirit. His master’s voice is calling to him. The Spirit warns him of prison and hardship. Not so he would back off. V. 22 I am going to Jerusalem, knowing it was going to be hard, hard, hard. V. 20 I did not hold back. To accomplish the task His master Jesus set before him. Obedience.

Think about a mother and her children. A mother who loves her children will teach her child to obey her words, to trust her, even when the child doesn’t understand. “Don’t run away from me in the store.” The children have to consider the parent’s will to be more important than their own. They do this through trust (humility) followed by obedience.

Paul demonstrated this with his life. Ron heard radio Bible teacher Chip Ingram speak last fall and shared with me what he had learned. I was struck by this quote that was in your lesson 9 study.

We often learn about life and discern our life path / actions in the wrong way. It isn’t the long-term accumulation of knowledge; it’s how obedient to God we are with the information we can immediately discern. God would rather I have understanding of 2 verses that I obey immediately than 20 verses that I dont. Obedience is the key to discernment. Its not capture and remember; its hear and obey.” (Chip Ingram, DTS Leader Board)

What do you think about that? How many of you agree? I wonder what would happen if we studied the same passage over and over until we all got it then moved on.

We can have this desire for knowledge about the Bible. That’s a good thing. But, it’s obedience to God’s will for us revealed in His Word that grows us to maturity. And, we can know God’s will on a great many things. Ephesians 4:1 says God’s will is that we live a life worthy of our calling, and He clearly shows us what it looks like in chapters 4, 5, and 6 of Ephesians plus many other places. Eph 4:2 tells us to start doing this with all humility and gentleness. Humility before God means I’ve already got that settled in my mind. Now, I can obey Him in the rest of what He desires for my life to please Him.

A friend shared with me how her husband used to think all God’s commands to us were so He could keep us under His thumb. As a father, he has come to realize those biblical commands and guidelines are boundaries for us to be able to enjoy the most satisfying and abundant life we could possibly enjoy. Like boundaries set for his children are for their protection and good.

What are some other hindrances to our obedience? Lots, of course. One is when we selectively choose what we will obey. That leads us to being what scripture describes as weak-willed women, always learning but never able to recognize truth for what it really is (2 Tim 3:6). I see weak-willed as meaning undisciplined. Like a child’s behavior, especially one who wants everything, even stuff that the parent says is not good and so refuses to trust the parent and obey. They are really weak-willed to do the right thing. For women, this would be choosing to take your own way for approaching life in spite of instruction or warnings that it will be destructive. What’s missing here? Humility. For believers, this would look like you are “part Jesus’ woman cause I’m saved and going to heaven when I die, but the rest of me is my own.”

Another hindrance to obedience is we just don’t get the ugliness of our sin. What happened to Jesus before and during His crucifixion is a picture of the ugliness of sin that He took upon Himself on that cross. Has anything in recent headlines just made you sick? Any time you choose not to obey God’s word on some issue—lying, envy, rage, immorality—it’s as ugly in God’s sight as that heinous crime. Do you believe your lack of respect for your husband, if you’re married, is as ugly as that worse thing? Or, your cruel words when angry? Or, your constant worry? Maybe not with the same consequences. But, just as ugly. Obedience is necessary to remain loyal to Jesus and not get carried away by sin and all those other ways of approaching life.

Last fall, when I read Ephesians 4:2 (NIV), “be completely humble and gentle,” it just jumped right off the page at me. I’ve read Ephesians countless times, studied it at least 4 times. Yet, I had not been grabbed by the word “completely” before. But, Jesus is teaching me about obedience to Him in this area. My problem with humility stems from parents who raised me with a good self-image, lots of positive encouragement, an achiever who could do many things well. Pride rears its ugly head now and then.

Humility is the decision I have already made in my mind that I am not God, that Jesus is my master, and I serve Him by considering others as more important than myself. You must make that same decision.

Paul describes it well in his letter to the Philippians.

Phil 2:3 — Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.”

Oh yeah, that’s so easy to do, right?!

What does this look like when we’ve offended or angered someone? How often do we say, “I’m sorry, but…?” We can always find a reason to justify our behavior. Someone to blame. Excusing ourselves, “If you hadn’t done such and such, I wouldn’t have reacted that way.” And, sometimes we’ll say, “I’m sorry that you got mad at me for what I said.” That’s still placing the blame on the other person, not yourself. Or, sometimes we say we are sorry because we got caught but wouldn’t have said anything if we hadn’t. Do you do that with your family members or friends? That’s not humility. Nor, is it obedience. The scripture says, Be completely humble. That means. I’m sorry. I take full blame. I am guilty without excuse. To be loyal to Jesus as my master, my life must be characterized by humility and obedience.

How about you? Is there a verse that jumped off the page at you since you started this study? Or, maybe another verse you’ve read on your own or heard preached? Something you know you should obey.

·         Maybe you have a potty mouth or cruel speech when you get angry and Eph 4:29 keeps ringing in your ears.

“You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

·         Maybe you’ve become flippant about sexual purity and Eph 5:3 gets you.

“But among you there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints.”

·         Maybe you have difficulty in your marriage and Eph 5:33 has become a challenge to you

“…and the wife must respect her husband.”

Think about it for a few seconds.

Whatever it is, are you willing to humble yourself before Jesus as His woman and obey His instructions to you in that verse? Remember what the Ephesians did when they decided to make Jesus their Lord? They repented of their former way of approaching life and burned their magic scrolls. It was Jesus or nothing for them now. The rewards of being loyal to Jesus are immense and incomparable to anything the world can offer you. One of those rewards is protection.

Obedience Offers Protection

Obedience is necessary to protect yourself from those who distort the truth and draw us away from Jesus and His way of approaching life.

Acts 20:28-31 — “Watch out for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after I am gone fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Even from among your own group men will arise, teaching perversions of the truth to draw the disciples away after them. Therefore be alert…”

Visualize what Paul is saying: savage wolves will attack from outside or from within the flock itself dressed in sheep’s clothing. When you have humbled yourself before Jesus as your master and chosen to obey His commands revealed to you in the Bible, you will be able to recognize truth from error, from anything that is distorted. But, when you resist the discipline that comes from obedience, you are vulnerable to embracing as a fad whatever new heresy comes along, and you cannot recognize the truth when you see it. Distorted truth takes many forms and requires a lot more time to explore than we have here. Beware of anything that promotes disobedience to God’s commands and robs you from the joy and benefits of serving Jesus loyally.

Conclusion

Loyalty affects how you approach life—Jesus’ way or all those other options out there that offer nothing lasting. Jesus as Lord deserves our loyalty. Loyalty requires humility. Humility leads to obedience. Obedience offers protection from being sucked into every new fad that comes along. Have you already made that decision to say, “Lord Jesus, I am YOUR woman” everyday? If not, will you do that today?

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