Monday Morning Meditation: Marked with a Seal

There are a lot of ways we identify ourselves throughout life.

We identify ourselves by our families: for instance, I am a Simonds.

We identify ourselves by age or grade: I am 42, and I am not in school 🙂 But my children are in 2nd and 4th grade (and preschool!).

We identify ourselves in college by major: I was a music major (but then, at the conservatory I attended, so was everyone else!).

We identify ourselves by our jobs (isn’t this one of the first questions we ask when we meet new people?): I am the director of a non-profit ministry.

As I walked around my neighborhood praying this morning, the following Scripture came to mind, and I reflected on the power and weight of these words:

“When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13b-14

There were a lot of different marks to identify people throughout time, some positive and some negative. We’ve all likely heard of the Scarlet letter. While fictional, history did include other “badges of shame,” as they were called. Jews were forced to wear a yellow star of David during the Nazi era. People of various ranks in the armed forces can be identified by the various insignias on their uniforms.

In times of the early church, a wax seal was commonly used as a mark of ownership or identification (IVP NT Commentary).

Having believed in Jesus Christ, we have been marked – the Holy Spirit has sealed us as a promise guaranteeing that we are His – now and for all time.

The New Living Translations puts it this way.

“And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.”

The God of the universe has identified you as His own! He has called you by name, and said “You are Mine.” He didn’t just leave you here on earth to figure things out on your own, but He gave you the Holy Spirit – not only as a guide and a comfort and a counselor, but also as a seal saying, “I’m coming back for you.

Friends, I pray you are encouraged today by this truth. Whatever struggle you are facing, you belong to God! This is not the end of the story. You’ve been identified as God’s, now and for all time.

Monday Morning Meditation: God is Able

Just wanted to send you off into this week with a quick thought:

“Now to Him who is able…..” Ephesians 3:20

I purchased the new Paul Baloche album, Live, last week. I’ve become a fan of Paul Baloche over the years. If you are a worship leader or team member, you may notice that quite a few of the songs we sing today were written or co-written by him. The last church we attended in Boston (which was mostly folks from the Philippines) sang quite a few of his songs, though sometimes when I hear Paul sing them, I still expect a strong Filipino accent 🙂

As I listened to the album one day, I noticed Paul was repeating these lines from an old hymn:

A mighty fortress is our God
A bulwark never failing.
A mighty fortress is our God
A bulwark never failing.

I thought to myself, How my heart would be changed if I spent my days repeating that truth rather than staring at the seemingly insurmountable mountains in my life.

A similar truth that is contained in Ephesians 3:20 has challenged me to my core lately. It begins, “Now to Him who is able.” That alone is enough to give me pause. I have found myself repeating this to myself and to friends in the simple statement, “God is able.” But Paul, the writer of this letter to the church in Ephesus continues:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,”

We all like the “immeasurably more” part, and that has seemed to be the phrase my heart has latched on to in the past. But lately, I find the next phrase greatly encouraging: more than all we ask or imagine.

When I don’t know what to pray, when I’m afraid to dream another big dream, when my hopes seems outlandish, the God of the cross is able to do abundantly more than I could even think up. How is that even possible? “According to His power that is at work within us.”

Not my fancy prayer. Not my willpower. Not my effort, even, but according His power that is at work because of His Holy Spirit in me.

And because He loves me. Read Ephesians 3:14-19 for reference.

No matter how your week plays out,
No matter what challenges you face,
No matter what mountains come your way,

Remember.

God is able.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)