Saints

I love the book of Ephesians.  It is a letter written by the apostle Paul to the church at Ephesus reminding them of how important they are to the church and the church is to be to them.  Paul opens it by describing the Christians in a very special way—saints.  It is fitting that Paul should so describe them, for the church is for the saints and the saints are for the church.  The saints are literally “holy ones,” made so through the grace of God and not from any merit they have earned.  God chose them to be so (Ephesians 1:4); adopted them to be so (Ephesians 1:5); made them accepted in Christ to be so (Ephesians 1:6); redeemed them to be so (Ephesians 1:7); abounded grace to them to be so (Ephesians 1:8); revealed His will to them to be so (Ephesians 1:9); and gathered them together to be so (Ephesians 1:10).  When we talk about saints, we’re talking about a group in which God has invested a lot, and it is a name that is not lightly given.

We jump to the end of Ephesians 2 and we find out more about these saints.  A lot of chapter 2 is spent describing how Jesus brought a scattered people together, and in verse 19 Paul emphasizes that is a thing of the past.  If we are saints, we are not strangers.  If we are saints, we are not foreigners.  No matter how much of an outsider you are, may have been, or feel like you might be, in Christ Jesus you don’t have to be.  If you are in Christ Jesus, you are a fellow citizen with the saints; you are not a second-class being, you are a saint.  You are an essential building block of the household of God built upon the Chief Cornerstone.  Without you, the building cannot grow, and without being built together, there is no dwelling place for God on this earth.

That leaves a couple of conclusions.  First, if you are a child of God, you are a saint.  You are a holy one.  You are chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, graced, informed, and gathered.  You cannot be any one of these without being the others.  Therefore, do not sell yourself short.

Second, if you are a saint, you have the privilege of living as one of God’s holy ones.  Counting the blessings that God has ascribed to them, you should live as one who is chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, graced, informed, and gathered.

Third, if you are a saint, you are important!  You are important to the church as a building block, and you are important to the other saints as a fellow citizen and member of the household of God!  Literally, the church cannot exist without you, nor can you exist as such without the church.

So go be a saint.  Be one of God’s holy ones with confidence because that is what God wants you to be.

Wonderful Words, Beautiful Words, Wonderful Words of Life

I love the book of James.  Not only does James provide for us a perfectly harmonious depiction of the life of a Christian in action, he also uses some of the most beautiful language to describe it.  Just as you or I may have our own quirky little way of speaking or communicating, James shows his personality by using some words and phrases unique to him.

Take, for example, James 1:21.  “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).  (Note: I chose to use the KJV just because of its literary distinction.)  How many different things can James throw into one verse?  Notice just a few.

“Filthiness.”  While this is not a particularly unique word, at least to us, it is in the Bible.  This is the only time it is used, and it describes dirty, plain and simple.  James takes it and applies it to our morality, our conduct, our language, and/or our thoughts.  While some may brag of their “dirty mouth” or “dirty mind,” James says we should be laying that aside, throwing it off, getting it out of the way.  Sometimes things in life make us physically filthy, but there is no need (or excuse) for choosing to stay that way.

“Superfluity of naughtiness.”  Literally this means “a superabundance of badness.”  The words he uses conjure an image that almost cannot be described with words.  Picture a bottle of soda that’s been thoroughly shaken.  You can’t stop it; you can’t contain it; and James says, Get rid of it!  Ah, but you may be saying, “I may be a little bit dirty here or there, but I do NOT have a ‘superabundance of badness.’”  The point that James is driving home is that dirty is dirty, and there is no room for dirty in the kingdom of God.

“Meekness.”  Actually, there is nothing special about this word itself, but it provides a stark contrast to the attitude that so often accompanies a superabundance of anything.

“The engrafted word.”  Something that is engrafted has come from one source and has been made part of another.  The word has come from God and you must become its host.  The two must become as one.  If the word of God is separate from you and your life, then the ability it has to save your soul is negated.  It must belong to you and in you…and BE you.

Beautiful language?  Yes.  Unique and memorable?  Yes.  The truth of God’s word?  Absolutely!    Paul stated it a little differently, but just as truthfully in Colossians 3:16-17—“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Cheer Up! (aka, Don’t Be a Sore Loser)

By: Keith Olbricht

Things do not always go as we envision them.  We make plans that end up having to be altered.  We take wrong turns and get to hear those words, “Route recalculating.”  We think we have the solution to a problem, only to discover that someone else has a better solution.  In those cases we may argue passionately, but are brought to the abrupt realization that we were wrong.  And then comes the hard part, when we have to admit that we were wrong. Continue reading “Cheer Up! (aka, Don’t Be a Sore Loser)”

Do the Clothes Make the Christian?

By: Keith Olbricht

This past Sunday coming home from CYC, I wore my customary khakis and a polo.  When we got back here to the building at about 5:00, I realized I was not going to have time to go home and change before our evening worship here.  It would be highly unusual for me to preach without a jacket and tie, but I wasn’t too worried about it on this occasion.  However, one of our young people made a comment to the effect that dressed as I was, I looked more beachy than preachy.  I know she was not criticizing, but based on her comment, I managed to find time to change into a dress shirt and tie before time for worship. Continue reading “Do the Clothes Make the Christian?”