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About the Author
Christin Ditchfield is an accomplished educator, author, conference speaker, and host of the internationally syndicated radio program, Take It To Heart!® (www.TakeItToHeartRadio.com). The author of more than 60 books, most recently A Family Guide to the Bible and A Way With Words: What Women Should Know about the Power They Possess, she is also a frequent guest on radio and television programs such as Open Line, Midday Connection, FamilyLife Today, HomeWord, and Dr. D. James Kennedy’s Truths That Transform. Christin holds a masters degree in biblical theology from Southwestern University.
Read an Excerpt
An Illuminating Experience in the Word
By Christin Ditchfield
WORTHY PUBLISHINGCopyright © 2012 Worthy Media, Inc.
All rights reserved.
YOU'RE A SAINT!
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to God's holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
* * *
As Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians, he greets them as "God's holy people." The New King James Version translates this word as "saints." Most people would say a saint is a person of exceptional holiness, someone particularly pious. Church tradition recognized as saints individuals who displayed supernatural power, worked miracles, or suffered a martyr's death. Specific days were set aside to honor these men and women, including November 1—All Saints' Day—a special holiday instituted by Pope Gregory III between AD 730 and 740. The lives and deaths of more than ten thousand people have been celebrated this way. Today the word saint is often used to describe a good person. If you do something very kind or thoughtful or unselfish, someone might say to you, "Oh, you're a saint!"
But none of these definitions accurately and completely reflects the biblical view of sainthood. The Greek word translated "saint" means set apart—as in someone who has been brought into relationship with God and is designated by Him as having a sacred purpose or special significance to Him.
So a saint is a person who has been separated from the world, set apart and consecrated to the worship of God. These saints are often referred to throughout the Old and New Testaments. But they're not people who are extra holy or super-pious. Biblical synonyms for the word translated "saint" include chosen ones, vessels of God, the righteous, believers, Christians. That's right, Christians. You and me. "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation" (Ephesians 1:13).
When we give our hearts to Christ, we are drawn out and set apart from the world and its sinful ways. We no longer walk in rebellion against or disobedience to God. Instead, we have been consecrated (dedicated or devoted) to the worship of God. "You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9 NKJV).
Each of us is called to this enormous privilege, this tremendous responsibility. No matter where our life leads us, no matter what skills or talents or education we have, no matter what career or ministry we find ourselves in, our one true calling is to glorify God. To praise and worship Him, with all that is in us—all that we have and all that we are and ever will be.
So Paul says to the church at Ephesus: "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received" (Ephesians 4:1).
Or as Peter put it, "Don't slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn't know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy" (1 Peter 1:14–15 NLT).
In other words, remember who you are. Remember whose you are. You are a saint. So live strong and act like one!
* * *
What do you think it means to be "holy" or set apart from the world, in a very real, practical sense?
What does being "holy" look like in your life today?
* * *
Heavenly Father, thank You that You chose me to be Your disciple. You have made me one of Your "saints"—setting me apart as Your very own. I belong to You. Teach me what it means to be separate from the world, to be holy. Help me to be faithful and obedient to You.
I want to live a strong life, worthy of my sacred calling. A life that brings joy to Your heart. A life that brings glory and honor to You.
Fill me with Your grace and peace today.
In Jesus' precious name, I pray. Amen.CHAPTER 2
ALL I HAVE NEEDED
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."
* * *
Maybe you've seen the cartoon that features a puzzled young woman talking to the bank manager. She asks, "How can I be out of money? I still have checks!"
Balancing the checkbook, juggling the bills—these days it's not easy to make ends meet. Some of us are pinching pennies until they squeal! We don't know how we're going to make it to the end of the month. And it's not just our finances. We're pressed for time, energy, and solutions to our family problems or crises at work. Wisdom to make good choices. Strength to resist temptation. Peace to calm our fears.
The good news is that even when our resources run low—or run out—we have somewhere to turn. We need only to ask our heavenly Father. In Psalm 50:10, God reminds us that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He also owns the hills, as well as every blade of grass on those hills and the sun that warms it! The universe and everything in it belongs to Him. His resources are endless. He owns it all. And out of His great love and kindness, our Father generously provides for us, His children. What's His is ours.
Philippians 4:19 tells us, "God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." He provides for our physical needs and our spiritual needs.
Sometimes God provides what we need miraculously—money in an unmarked envelope, groceries on the doorstep, a canceled meeting that opens up precious time in our schedule. The creative inspiration or the problem-solving solution we've been searching for. Wisdom, encouragement, direction, victory. Sometimes He shows us how to make better use of the resources He's already given us. And sometimes He helps us see the difference between what we really want and what we truly need. But no matter what, our Father never abandons us, never forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5). He always answers when we call.
Whenever you feel your resources are stretched to their limits, turn to the One whose supplies are limitless.
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase,
To added affliction He addeth His mercies,
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men,
But out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
—Annie Johnston Flint
* * *
What do you need most today?
Are you willing to believe God—to trust Him to meet that need?
* * *
Praise You, Father! You have blessed me in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. You have given me everything I need for life and godliness. Thank You for the physical blessings too. You provide for my daily needs. All I have needed, Your hands have provided. Great is Your faithfulness, Lord, unto me.CHAPTER 3
"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves."
* * *
What keeps you from sharing your faith with your unsaved friends and neighbors? In Matthew 28:19–20, Jesus said, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."
This Great Commission is for all believers, not just those with the gift of evangelism. In Acts 1:8, Jesus told His disciples, "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Sharing our faith is such an awesome privilege and responsibility! So what keeps us from doing what Jesus said? A lot of people admit they're afraid they might "do it wrong"—they're not sure they know all the right things to say when sharing their faith with others. It's easy to forget that at the most basic level, a "witness" is simply one who tells others what he has seen or heard.
One of the most powerful ways to share the gospel is to follow the instructions Jesus gave to a man He had just healed in Mark 5:19: "Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you."
What has He done for you? Well, for starters, before the foundation of the world, God chose you to be His child. He chose you for greatness. He created you and He set you apart as belonging to Him. He adopted you and welcomed you into His family. He saved you from sin.
To be a witness for the Lord, you don't have to quote the words of noted scholars and theologians. You don't have to have memorized all the verses in any particular evangelistic plan. The main thing is to share simply, openly, and honestly what you have experienced for yourself—introducing others to the Savior you have come to know and love. Where would you be without Him? Where will others be?
Jesus said, "Freely you have received; freely give" (Matthew 10:8).
* * *
What is your testimony—your witness—your story? How would you share it in a sentence or two?
What's the longer version of your testimony?
* * *
Father, I can't even begin to understand why You chose me to be Your child before the creation of the world. You created me to be holy—set apart as belonging to You and blameless in Your sight.
I thank You that in Your love, You predestined me to be adopted into Your family through Your Son, Jesus Christ, according to Your pleasure and will—the praise of Your glorious grace, which You have so freely given me in the One You love. Help me to boldly, courageously, lovingly, and freely share the good news of the gospel with those You send me today.CHAPTER 4
SORRY ISN'T ENOUGH
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us."
* * *
Oswald Chambers once said, "We trample the blood of the Son of God underfoot if we think we are forgiven because we are sorry for our sins. The only reason for the forgiveness of our sins by God, and the infinite depth of His promise to forget them, is the death of Jesus Christ."1
And what a brutal, agonizing death it was. First He was mocked and ridiculed. Spat upon. Beaten with fists and with whips. His back ripped to ribbons. His brow bruised and bloody from the crown of thorns pressed into His flesh. Nailed to a cross, a sword piercing His side.
Why did Jesus submit to such awful suffering? Why did He allow Himself to undergo such torture, misery, and death? In a word, sin. Not His. Ours! Jesus Himself was without sin. He was perfect, spotless, sinless.
But we are not. Every one of us is a sinner. Each of us has ignored the commandments of our Creator, rejected His authority over us, disobeyed His law, and failed to live up to His holy standards.
Sin has a hefty price tag—death. The death of our bodies, but more importantly, the death of our spirits. We were given immortal souls, designed to live forever. We were meant to experience a deep and meaningful relationship with the One who created us. But nothing sinful or imperfect can ever enter the presence of God. So when we choose sin rather than God, we are choosing eternal separation from Him.
Being sorry isn't enough to fix that.
In His infinite mercy, our Creator made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. God sent His only Son, Jesus, to die in our place—to take the punishment for us, to pay the penalty for our sin.
Why would Jesus do such a thing?
Love. Love for you. Love for me. Love for the whole human race. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
The crucifixion was no surprise to Jesus. He knew it was coming all along. From the beginning He understood what He would suffer. Yet He deliberately chose the path that would lead to the cross. He willingly laid down His life to save us.
The blood of Jesus was shed for us. That day on the cross, He paid the ultimate price in order to reconcile God and man—to make peace between the two. What appeared to be a tragedy borne of hate was in fact love's greatest triumph. And the crucifixion was not the end of the story. Death had no legal claim on Jesus—He had done nothing to deserve to die. So death could not keep Him in the grave. On the morning of the third day, He rose again in power and glory. And now He lives forevermore!
Because Jesus lives, so can we. Because of the suffering that Jesus endured, because of His death on the cross, because of His resurrection, the power of sin has been broken. Death has been conquered. We have forgiveness, redemption, the hope of heaven, the gift of eternal life. The riches of God's grace lavished on us.
How can we ever thank Him enough?
* * *
When was the last time you thanked God—truly, earnestly, sincerely thanked Him—for the forgiveness that cost Jesus His life?
* * *
Lord Jesus, once again I confess that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I know it was my sin that sent You to the cross. You took the punishment in my place. Thank You for sacrificing Your life for mine. Thank You for saving me from death and giving me eternal life. In You I have redemption through Your blood, the forgiveness of sins, the riches of God's grace that He lavished on me. Help me live my life in a way that brings glory and honor to You. Amen.
Excerpted from An Illuminating Experience in the Word by Christin Ditchfield. Copyright © 2012 Worthy Media, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of WORTHY PUBLISHING.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Experience 1: You're a Saint! (1:1–2),
Experience 2: All I Have Needed (1:3),
Experience 3: Freely Given (1:4–6),
Experience 4: Sorry Isn't Enough (1:7–8),
Experience 5: All Part of the Plan (1:11–12),
Experience 6: The Truth and Nothing But (1:13–14),
Experience 7: Thank God! (1:15–17),
Experience 8: Revelation and Transformation (1:18–19),
Experience 9: Above All (1:19–21),
Experience 10: Dead Man Walking (2:1–3),
Experience 11: He Lives! (2:4–7),
Experience 12: Nothing but the Blood (2:8),
Experience 13: Heartwarming (2:9),
Experience 14: A Masterpiece (2:10),
Experience 15: The Day of Atonement (2:13),
Experience 16: He Is Our Peace (2:14–16),
Experience 17: Open Arms (2:18–19),
Experience 18: Our Hearts Are Where God's Home Is (2:21–22),
Experience 19: Amazing Grace (3:7–8),
Experience 20: From the Beginning (3:10–11),
Experience 21: A Sacred Sacrifice (3:13),
Experience 22: A Credit to the Name (3:14–15),
Experience 23: Inside Out (3:16–17),
Experience 24: Love, True Love (3:17–18),
Experience 25: I Want to Know What Love Is (3:19),
Experience 26: Paul's Doxology (3:20),
Experience 27: To God Be the Glory (3:21),
Experience 28: The Hall of Faith (4:1),
Experience 29: Finder's Fee (4:2),
Experience 30: We Are One (4:3–6),
Experience 31: Filet of Pastor (4:11–13),
Experience 32: Read It Yourself! (4:14–15),
Experience 33: Out with the Old; In with the New (4:22–24),
Experience 34: A Bath in Wrath (4:26–27),
Experience 35: Me and My Big Mouth (4:29),
Experience 36: Mercy Me (4:31–32),
Experience 37: A Sweet Fragrance (5:1–2),
Experience 38: A Shining Light (5:8–10),
Experience 39: The Time We've Been Given (5:15–16),
Experience 40: Where There's a Will (5:17),
Experience 41: Love Song (5:18–19),
Experience 42: Songs in the Night (5:20),
Experience 43: It's a Good Thing (5:21),
Experience 44: As Good As It Gets (5:25–27),
Experience 45: Honor and Obey (6:1–3),
Experience 46: Father Knows Best (6:4),
Experience 47: Who's the Boss? (6:5–9),
Experience 48: Stand Your Ground (6:10–13),
Experience 49: Dressed for Success (6:14–17),
Experience 50: The Call to Prayer (6:18),
Experience 51: Living Out Loud (6:19–20),
Experience 52: Love Always (6:24),