But God…

In Ephesians 2:1 the apostle Paul gets right to the point and notes the vanity and hopelessness of a life outside of Christ.  In the first three verses of this chapter he makes the point quite convincingly that without Christ we live under the rule of “the prince of the power of the air,” (verse 2) otherwise known as the devil and that is not a good thing!

And then we come to verses 4 and 5:  4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…  In chapter 1 we noted the marvelous grace of God that gives us such encouragement and which gives us the responsibility to live faithfully before Him.  Now, we see more of why.

We thank God  for His grace because without it, we are utterly hopeless.  With it, however, we are raised up with Christ; we have the hope of salvation.  What could be more encouraging than that?

The god of this world still beckons, but with him there is only hopelessness.  “But God…,” on  the other hand, offers a better alternative.  He loves you, you know, and so do I.

Donnie Bates

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On the Winning Team

It feels great to be on the winning team, doesn’t it?  To know that you have played, and bested, all the rest is an exhilarating sensation.

Christians have the assurance from Scripture that “We win!”  One of the classes I teach is on the book of Revelation and I always point out to my students that when you wade through all the symbolism of that book, the ultimate theme is just that:  “We win!”  Of course, we take these assurances on faith, but our faith, if strong enough, causes us to be willing to endure what seems like defeat in this life because in the end it will be victory!

In Ephesians 1:22 the apostle Paul notes that God put all things in subjection under [Christ’s] feet…  That means that the One to Whom I belong has all the marbles.  We win!  Jesus Himself said:  All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).  Again, if we are on His side, we win!!

Have the faith necessary to submit to Him in humble obedience; be part of the winning team!  God loves you, you know, and so do I.

Donnie Bates

A Guaranteed Inheritance

Guarantees in life are designed to provide encouragement of one sort or another.  In the business world, price guarantees serve to encourage consumers to spend their money without (or with less) worry about what they are investing.

In Ephesians 1:13, 14 the apostle Paul points out that Christians are …sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession…  The word “guarantee” means “earnest,” or “down payment.”

We noted in our last post that we have responsibility here.  We thank God for His offer of grace and joyfully accept it on His terms, not ours.  These verses tell us that when we do that, we can depend on our Guarantor not to default.

There is great encouragement in this guarantee.  Now, since we do not have to worry about His defaulting on us, we must make sure we do not default on Him.  I am so thankful that I do not have to worry about His side of this arrangement; mine is hard enough!

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Blessed Be God

The apostle Paul begins Ephesians with an extended praising of God, Who so richly “lavished” (Ephesians 1:8) His grace upon all those who are in Christ.  The encouragement here would seem obvious.  God’s grace has been applied, meaning our trespasses have been forgiven (Ephesians 1:7); we have been adopted as God’s children (1:5) and have available all spiritual blessings which are in Christ (1:3) because we are in Christ.  However, there is more to this passage that we dare not overlook.

It is true that Christians are chosen of God (1:4), but chosen that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  That means we have a responsibility here.  His choosing of us, and the application of His grace, does not just happen by itself.  God offers each of us something we could never deserve or earn, but He offers it at a price.  The price we pay does not buy God’s grace (we don’t have enough), but He still requires the price be paid.  That humble and insufficient price we pay is ourselves; our whole lives in faithful obedience.

We praise (bless) God for His grace.  I hope you know He loves you and that I do, too.

Donnie Bates

See To It…

In Colossians 2 the apostle Paul instructs Christians to walk (live) as Christians ought, i.e. in Christ, or according to Christ’s instructions (2:6).  This fits closely with his commands found in Ephesians 4:1 to  walk in a manner “worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”

The encouragement I would invite you to note is found in Colossians 2:8:  See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.  Did you catch it?  By saying, “See to it…” the apostle shows that the power to remain free in Christ resides with us.

The point here is that God has given Christians the power to resist temptation; to resist the influences of our enemy which are so often  manifested through the actions of those around us.  You and I can “See to it…” that we are not overcome by what the world throws at us each day.

We thank God for His grace and protection and the freedom from fear that comes with them.  Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

An Eternal Throne

Barnabas Notes have always been about encouragement.  Scripture is full of encouraging words that will lift the spirit of the discouraged if we will listen to them.  We find passages that tell us of the glory of God, the love and care He has for His people and we find hope to endure the hardships that sometimes assail us in life.  We also find encouragement in His strength.

In Hebrews 1:8, the writer quotes the Father’s statement to the Son:  Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.

What an encouragement to know that our Lord is King over an eternal kingdom!  We do not have to worry about the endurance of our kingdom; it will never fail (Matthew 16:18).  All that is required of us is to be a part of it and, thanks be to God, He has told us in that same Holy Word how to be a citizen in His kingdom.  So, are you?

You can have the encouragement that will get you through today and every day.  God’s Word tells you how.  Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

I Am Not Ashamed

The apostle Paul suffered a great deal in his ministry (read 2 Corinthians 11:22-28 if you don’t think so).  Why would he continually put himself in the position of being a target?

A complete study of all that Paul did for the cause of Christ will show quite clearly the hope he had which gave him the strength to endure.  One passage strikes me as important for our consideration today.  2 Timothy 2:12 says:  For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

Paul was not ashamed; he wasn’t deterred from doing what needed to be done.  It could not have been easy, but he knew (had faith) that what he was doing (and suffering) was not in vain.

You may not consider what you do in life as worthy of comparison to Paul’s life and mission.  However, what you do in this life is your offered sacrifice to God.  Trust Him and obey Him in faith and do not be ashamed.

Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates