Daily Devotionals

 
 
 

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Week 5, Saturday, Ephesians 5:15-20

Saturday, May 23, 2020 – Ephesians 5:15-20

Making Wise Decisions

By Pastor Paul Georgulis
 
Scripture:
15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Ephesians 5:15-20 (New Living Translation)
 
 

People often complain that they don’t have enough time to do everything they need to do in a day, week, month, or year. I’m guilty of this as well and have jokingly said, “I’m trying to figure out a way to add more hours to a day and more days to a week.” The truth of the matter is that every person is given the same twenty-four hours every day. The difference is in how we choose to use our time. Here, the Apostle Paul is warning us to not waste our time doing things that are unproductive, or that are flat-out sinful. Instead, we should be looking for opportunities to do what God wants us to do every day.

Each of us has only one life, and no one knows how long we will live. We only get one chance to live each day, and unfortunately, we don’t get to add hours to days or days to weeks. Perhaps you’ve heard people talk about how they would live differently if they had another chance, or a redo. In these verses, the Apostle Paul is trying to help us live a Spirit-filled, godly life now – so we don’t have to get to the point where we wish we could go back and do things differently.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit leads to worship (verse 19) and to giving thanks for everything (verse 20). Do you find yourself stressed about not being able to get everything done? If so, this leads to not being able to devote time to our relationships with God – rendering us unable to truly worship and focus on being thankful. So, the next time you find yourself stressed – because let’s face it, it will happen – take some time to slow down, breathe, and connect with God in worship. If you do that, I promise you that He will alleviate your stress, give you the answers you are seeking, grow you closer to Him, and allow you to live a more thankful life.
 
 

Prayer:

Father, we thank you that we can come to you when we are stressed out and burned out due to the things with which we have allowed to fill our lives. Help us to focus more on the main thing that should fill our lives – worshiping you and growing closer to you. Fill us more with your Holy Spirit so that there’s no room in us for the other unwise things.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!


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Week 5, Friday, Ephesians 5:11-14

Friday, May 22, 2020 – Ephesians 5:11-14

In the World, Not of the World

By Pastor Paul Georgulis
 
Scripture:
11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” – Ephesians 5:11-14 (New Living Translation)
 

In this passage, the Apostle Paul continues his thoughts on how followers of Jesus need to walk in the light of Jesus and please God. He is making it clear that living apart from the darkness (i.e., sin) does not mean we need to withdraw completely from the world. After all, Jesus – in John 17:14-19 – referred to both Himself and His followers as “not of the world” but in the world. In this passage in John’s Gospel, Jesus states, “My prayer is not that you (God) take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (verse 15). This tells us that we are in a world filled with sin and darkness, but that we have a protection from it, and that protection comes from God – via the Holy Spirit – in the form of a relationship with Jesus.

It is important for Jesus’ followers to avoid the “worthless deeds of evil and darkness” (i.e., anything that results in sin), but Paul – in today’s Ephesians passage – takes this one step further and states that we are to also expose these things. We are to prove them fruitless, definitely by our conduct, and not so much by private or public scolding. Unfortunately, some Christians focus more on the scolding and the publicly calling out of others who live lifestyles with which they disagree, which makes others view all Christians as judgmental.

My encouragement to you – and to myself – is to continue walking in the light of Jesus, realizing that we live in a world in need of the hope that only Jesus can provide. When we walk in the light of Jesus, we are lighting up the darkness and sharing the love and hope of Jesus with those who desperately need it.
 

Prayer:

Father God, thank you for allowing us to go from darkness to light – from a life of sin and separation from you, to a life that is lit up by your glory, grace, and goodness. Thank you for showing us a better way, and for providing us hope. Thank you also for allowing us to play a part in lighting up this dark world so that others can come into relationship with you.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!


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Week 5, Thursday, Ephesians 5:8-10

Thursday, May 21, 2020 – Ephesians 5:8-10

In the Light

By Pastor Paul Georgulis
 
Scripture:
8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! 9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. 10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.” – Ephesians 5:8-10 (New Living Translation)
 

In this passage, the Apostle Paul once again contrasts the lives of followers of Jesus both prior to, and after coming to faith in Jesus. Prior to, we were full of darkness (i.e., sin). After, we are full of light. Paul is continuing the emphasis he began back in verse one of chapter five by stating that followers of Jesus are to be imitators of God. The first way we are to imitate God is in His love, and the second way is in relation to light.

As is often the case, God brings songs to my mind when reading Scripture. As I have been reading and meditating on verses eight through ten, a song called “In the Light” by DC Talk has been running through my mind. Click here to listen to the song. Here are some of the lyrics:

“I keep trying to find a life…On my own, apart from You
I am the king of excuses…I’ve got one for every selfish thing I do

What’s going on inside of me? I despise my own behavior.
This only serves to confirm my suspicions that I’m still a man in need of a Savior

[chorus]
I wanna be in the Light, As You are in the Light
I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light” A-Z Lyrics .
 
Are you living your life to reflect the light of Jesus that is inside of you, or does the way you live suppress that light, making it hard to see? Learn what pleases God through the reading and studying of His word, and then live in those ways – live in the light.
 
 

Prayer:

Father God, thank you for being our light and for allowing us to share your light with others. As children of light, help us to join together and light up the darkness in this world. And, Lord, if our light ever starts to fade due to the distractions we allow to creep into our lives, help us to be aware of it and to draw closer to You so that our light can be strengthened.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!


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Week 5, Wednesday, Ephesians 5:3-7

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 – Ephesians 5:3-7

Lives Pointing to Jesus

By Pastor Paul Georgulis
 
Scripture:
3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes – these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. 7 Don’t participate in the things these people do.” – Ephesians 5:3-7 (New Living Translation)
 

Today, in the world in which we live, some don’t like to hear about anything but love, particularly when it comes to God. So when Paul talks about immorality and other sins, that there will be some who will not inherit the Kingdom of God, and the anger of God, it can be disconcerting. While God IS love (1 John 4:8), there is also more to God than love. Actually, I should say that the other aspects of God’s character all point back to His love for us.

Paul is very matter of fact here when he states that there shouldn’t even be a hint of sexual immorality among us and that we shouldn’t partake in impure talk. Obscenity and coarse joking are so common today that we begin to think they are acceptable and normal – we have almost become desensitized to them. Paul cautions, however, that improper language should have no place in the Christian’s conversation because it does not reflect God’s gracious presence in us. Paul’s point is that this kind of language has no value because it does not build anyone up, and it does not line up with how followers of Jesus should live their lives.

James focuses on this as well in James 3:10:

“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”

We are called to point others to Jesus and to show them what a relationship with Him looks like by letting them see our lives. How can we praise God and remind others of His goodness when we are sometimes no different than the rest of the world?

However, Paul offers a solution. He says that instead of living in these ways, we should live in – and show – thankfulness to God. Every year, I see posts on social media where people post something for which they are thankful for each day leading up to Thanksgiving. What if, instead, we tried something like this with speaking encouragement to a random person each day? What if we spoke only kind and uplifting words?

Does the way you live your life point others to Jesus? Do the words that come out of your mouth show that you are a follower of Jesus and point others to Him?
 
 

Prayer:

God, help us to remember that we are called to a higher standard than the rest of the world and that we are often being watched to see how we will react and respond to the situations in which we find ourselves. May our reactions, words, and everything in our lives point to You.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!


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Week 5, Tuesday, Ephesians 5:1-2

Tuesday, May 19, 2020 – Ephesians 5:1-2

I’ve Been Watching You, Dad

By Pastor Paul Georgulis
 
Scripture:
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” – Ephesians 5:1-2 (New Living Translation)
 

I’m just going to come out and say this: I like country music. There’s a song by Rodney Atkins called “Watching You” that I’ve loved for years, but more so since I became a father to a little boy in October of 2014. Ok, maybe he wasn’t so little since he was born weighing 10 lbs. 13 oz., but he was still my little boy.

Each verse of “Watching You” ends with a question to the artist’s son. These questions are, “Son, now where’d you learn to talk like that?” and “Son, now where’d you learn to pray like that?” And then the most powerful one comes near the end of the song when the artist sings, “With tears in my eyes, I wrapped him in a hug. Said, ‘My little bear is growing up.” And he said, “But when I’m big, I’ll still know what to do. ‘Cause I’ve been watching you, dad, ain’t that cool? I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you. And eat all my food, and grow as tall as you are. Then I’ll be as strong as Superman. We’ll be just alike, hey, won’t we, dad? When I can do everything you do. ‘Cause I’ve been watching you.”

When I hear this song, I think of how my son watches me, and wants to do everything I do, trying to be just like me. In fact, just the other day, he was standing behind the pulpit of our church’s outdoor sanctuary pretending to preach, like his daddy. That brought tears to my eyes, much like writing this devotion is doing right now.

The same is true for us. We are God’s children and we should strive to imitate Him, making Him our example and model. 1 Peter 1:15-16 tells us, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” This isn’t saying to think about, admire, or adore God – although those are all important. This is a call to practical action, going beyond our inner life with God.

Are you watching Jesus – through the reading and studying of Scripture – and trying to become more like Him?
 
 

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for the wonderful gift that is country music, and for speaking to me through this song. I pray it spoke – and will continue to speak – to my readers as well. Thank you that we can look to you as our role model, guide, and perfect example of how we are to live our lives in love.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!


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Week 5, Monday, Ephesians 4:25-32

Monday, May 18, 2020 – Ephesians 4:25-32

How to Stop the Sun

By Pastor Paul Georgulis
 
Scripture:
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:25-32 (New International Version)
 

In light of the transformation the Apostle Paul discussed in Ephesians 4:22-24 – which I referred to as a spiritual superset here – we are to change what we think, say, and do. In today’s passage, Paul contrasts the old way of living with the new way of living by listing seventeen changes. One of these changes states, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…” One time, when preaching on this passage, I told the following story I found online.

The story is told about a little boy who got into a fight with his older brother one morning. Somewhat outmatched, he took quite a beating. It was his pride, however, that suffered the most. The whole experience left him feeling bitter. In fact, he refused to talk to his brother all day. Bedtime came, and their mother, very much wanting to see the two make up, said to the younger, “Don’t you think you should forgive your brother before you go to sleep? Remember, the Bible says, ‘Do not let the sun go down on your anger.’” The youngster looked perplexed. He thought for a few moments and then blurted out, “But, Mommy, how can I keep the sun from going down?” The boy’s question revealed that he had no intention of getting rid of his grudge and changing.

Sadly, this is how it is for us as well. Due to change being uncomfortable, we are often unwilling to let go of our old ways and embrace the new. God is constantly reminding us of how we are to be transformed in His Word, but sometimes we are too “busy” to read and study it.

Are you too busy to spend time with God?
 
 

Prayer:

Father, help us to accept change, no matter how difficult it is. Help us also to know that no matter the reason for change – whether it is something you are orchestrating, or it is something that simply happens – help us to know that you are walking with us through the change, often carrying us through. But no matter, what, Lord, please allow the change to bring us closer to you.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!


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Week 4, Saturday, Ephesians 4:17-24

Saturday, May 16, 2020 – Ephesians 4:17-24

Time to Hit the Gym

By Pastor Paul Georgulis
 
Scripture:
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. 20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” – Ephesians 4:17-24 (New International Version)
 

Paul starts off by painting a terrible picture of the Gentiles, but he ends it with hope by saying, “That, however, is not the way of life you learned…” He was essentially saying that the Gentiles were terrible people, but it’s a good thing that the Ephesian believers were not because it was not the way of life that they had learned. He then goes on to remind them of what they were taught by going through what I like to refer to as a superset. In weight lifting, a superset is when you perform one exercise immediately followed by one or two more with no rest in between. This shocks the muscles, allowing for maximum blood flow, which promotes better growth. This can be seen in a spiritual sense when Paul reminds us about putting off our old selves (verse 22), having our minds renewed (verse 23), and putting on our new selves (verse 24). This whole spiritual superset shows a transformation. We once didn’t know Jesus and did things our own way, then we encountered Jesus and He began to renew our minds, and then we began living a new way.

As you look back over the last year or so of your faith journey, do you see a process of change for the better in your thoughts, attitudes, and actions? Although change and transformation may be slow, they come as you trust God to work in your life.

Allow God to transform you. I promise you that it will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.

 

Prayer:

God, when it comes to physical exercise, we sometimes don’t want to do it. The same is true for this spiritual superset as well. If we’re being honest, we sometimes don’t like change, and the changes this passage implies are very big ones. So please help us to remember that you are in control and that you know what’s best for us. Help us to remember that you take us through changes because you are shaping, molding, and forming us into the image of your son. You are making us into a masterpiece. Thank you for that.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!


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Week 4, Friday, Ephesians 4:14-16

Friday, May 15, 2020 – Ephesians 4:14-16

You Can’t Build It Alone

By Pastor Paul Georgulis
 
Scripture:
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” – Ephesians 4:14-16 (New International Version)
 

Here, the Apostle Paul continues his thoughts on maturing in our faith by saying that when we have reached maturity, we will no longer be infants (i.e., spiritually immature) who are pushed around by the waves and the winds of ungodly teaching and people. When we have reached this level of spiritual maturity, Paul says we will speak the truth in love. Speaking the truth in love sounds simple, but many find it very hard to do. Some are fairly good at it but forget to be loving. Some are good at being loving but have difficulty being honest with others when the truth is painful. To build up the church, we need to both speak the truth, but do it in a loving manner.

Jesus’ grand design for the church is that we help each other grow and mature in our faith. When we join with Jesus, He forms us into a group united in purpose and in love for one another and for God. If one stumbles, the rest of the group picks that person up and helps him or her get back on their path with God again. Don’t try to live the Christian life alone. As part of the Body of Christ – the Church – you can reflect His character and carry out your special role in the work He has called the church to do.

Are you maturing spiritually? Do you speak the truth in love? Are you helping others to become more spiritually mature? If the answer is no, then what are you waiting for? Get plugged into the church and find fulfillment in sharing God’s love with others. If the answer is yes, then keep up the good work – always growing, always loving, and always becoming more like Jesus.
 

Prayer:

Father, we ask that you would give us the desire and the passion to grow in our faith and to become more spiritually mature. Let us no longer be babies, but let us be the ones to whom others look for wisdom, advice, and spiritual guidance. Continue to fill us with your wisdom. Continue to use us to build your church and further your kingdom. Thank you for making us a vital part of your heavenly team.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!


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Week 4, Thursday, Ephesians 4:11-13

Thursday, May 14, 2020 – Ephesians 4:11-13

Gifted to Love God and Love People

By Pastor Paul Georgulis
 
 Scripture:
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:11-13 (New Living Translation)
 

God has given His church an enormous responsibility – to make disciples of every nation (Matthew 28:18-20). To do this, He knew His children would need gifts and abilities in order to fulfill this calling. These are known as spiritual gifts and there are many of them. The list found here in verse eleven is not exhaustive, but these five were crucial to the establishment of the first generation of the church. Other spiritual gifts can be found in Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 7, 12, and 13; 1 Peter 4, 9, and 10; and Ephesians 3. God, through the Holy Spirit, has given each Christian a special gift – or multiple gifts – that should be used for building up the church.

Each of us have different gifts. You are able to do things well that I cannot. I am able to do things well that you cannot. But when we bring our giftedness together as the people of God, we are able to accomplish together what God has called us to do. Each of our gifts are important.

Think of the construction of a building that requires an architect, a project manager, a project coordinator, construction workers who specialize in different areas of construction – and I’m sure many other jobs that I am missing. What would the building look like if only the architect were involved? It would stay on paper, or as a three dimensional model on the computer. What would the building look like if only the plumbers were involved? It would only be a bunch of pipes sticking out of the ground. The point is that no one would be able to build an entire building on their own as effectively as if an entire team of people with different areas of expertise were building the building. The same is true of the church. What would the church look like if it only consisted of a receptionist, or an organist, or a drummer, or a preacher? If there were only one person with one job, you wouldn’t have a church. Just as a construction team needs others to get the project done, so do we need one another to build up the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Are you exercising the gifts God gave you to this end? If you know what your gifts are, look for opportunities to serve. If you don’t know what they are, ask God to show you, perhaps with the help of a church leader or Christian friends. Then, as you begin to recognize your special areas of service, use your gifts to strengthen and encourage the church. Use them to love God and love people.

Below are two spiritual gifts inventories you can take to begin the process of finding out how God has gifted you.

This one is really good. It shows research behind the test, as well as provides a section with an introduction to the various spiritual gifts. Click for Spiritual Gifts Test
 
This is probably the most thorough spiritual gifts inventory I found: Click for Spiritual Gifts Inventory 
 

Prayer:

Lord, we thank you that you have graciously given us our spiritual gifts, whether we know what they are yet or not. If we fall into the latter category, we ask that you would reveal to us in which ways you have gifted us. As we use these gifts to further your kingdom, please allow us to grow closer and closer to you so that we can become more and more like you.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!


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Week 4, Wednesday, Ephesians 4:7-10

Wednesday, May 13, 2020 – Ephesians 4:7-10

Always Already There

By Pastor Paul Georgulis
 
Scripture:
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.” 9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)” – Ephesians 4:7-10 (New International Version)
 
 

In yesterday’s devotion on Ephesians 4:3-6, we discussed the unity of the Body of Christ. In today’s passage, Paul switches his focus to the grace and gifts that Jesus has given to us. While this grace and these gifts are needed for many things, I believe Paul could be continuing his thought by saying that we will need God’s grace in order to live in unity with one another.

We see that these gifts are given not according to our worth, our need, or anything we have done, but according to what Jesus saw fit to give us. This means that we will all have different gifts, or different combinations of gifts but that Jesus knew what each of us would need to live out the calling that He has for our lives.

We also see in this passage that Jesus left heaven to descend to earth – to live among us, and to sacrifice Himself for us – and that he then left the earth to ascend higher than all the heavens so that He could fill the whole universe (verses 9-10). This tells us that we will never be in a place that Jesus has not filled with His presence.

So, as you go throughout life and face situations in which you feel that God is not there, rest assured knowing that He absolutely is there, and He always has been.
 
 

Prayer:

Father, we thank you for the grace you so freely give us and for the gifts that you bestow upon us to help us to love and serve others. Thank you that you are always already present in our lives.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!


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