"Pray for me, . . . that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains," is the earnest request of Paul to the community in Ephesus (Ephesians 6:20). Typically an ambassador lives in an embassy. When you enter a U.S. embassy anywhere in the world you are on U.S. soil. American citizens can seek asylum there.
Ambassador Paul, who represented the Kingdom of God, was not living in an embassy however. In fact, he was living in a prison under Roman guard. Still he knew that he was an ambassador for Christ. You might say he carried his "embassy" with him. Wherever he was, there was Christ, there was the Kingdom of God.
It is the same for us as Christian ambassadors. Wherever we are, there is Christ, there is the Kingdom of God. Wherever we live is the embassy of the Kingdom of God. Whenever people enter our home, they are on the soil of the Kingdom of God.
For Reflection: Do I realize that I carry Christ and the Kingdom wherever I go? Do I always act like I carry Christ with me? What kind of shape is my embassy in? If the King were to visit, would I be proud to welcome him in?
Let us pray. Jesus, we pray for all those who are serving as your ambassadors where it is dangerous to do so. We ask that they confidently proclaim your name even though they may be serving you in chains. We trust that they will still be able to share your message of reconciliation and peace.
Another of our titles, if we want to call them that, is "heirs of God" and "co-heirs with Christ." (See Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7; Ephesians 1:5.) We are heirs because we are sons (daughters) of God our Father. There is perhaps no greater designation than to be called a child of God because of the ramifications. Children grow up with their parents and take on their mannerisms and habits. Children benefit from the education and other things that parents provide because parents want their children to succeed in life. They benefit from their parents' place in society. Children inherit from their parents when the parents die.
God, as our Father, wants and provides the same for us and even more so because He is God. God made us in his image and likeness. We can, through the example of Jesus and applying the Word of God to our lives, grow up to be like him. Because of natural parents, we might say of someone, "She has her father's eyes and his smile." How much greater the compliment if we can say, "She has her Father's eyes and smile, his compassion and love of others." Or, "He has learned patience and self-control."
As children of God we hold a certain place in society. After all, our Father is the Supreme Godhead, Creator and Ruler of the Universe. If we know who He is, then we should know who we are. We can brag on our Father and bring people to meet him. People might look to us to be leaders and to grant favors which we would be able to offer through exercise of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
As children of the Father, co-heirs with Christ, we inherit all that he has. Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18) and he passed it on to his disciples. He said we could drive out demons, speak in new tongues, and heal the sick. And we will inherit the Kingdom. At the end He will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Come, enter into my joy (cf. Matthew 25:23).
That's what it means to be an heir.
It is hard to imagine living under persecution for being Christian (or any faith belief), but Christians have the words of Jesus who tells us to "fear not." That's much easier said than done; however, I think Jesus meant it.
If we know that when we die we will spend eternity in the Kingdom of God, then we need not fear death. So for Christians fear should not arise from death itself. Many of us, though, may fear what comes before death - suffering or pain. Is Jesus telling us not to fear suffering or pain?
Well, Scripture says that perfect love (God) casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), but it appears to me that verse is meant for the day of judgment. If we consider Jesus' agony in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42; Matthew 26:36-46), Jesus is concerned about something. But what is it that overwhelms him? Is it death itself? or the pain of the whipping and crucifixion to come? or the weight of the sins of the world?
For reflection: Honestly, I don't know but I don't think it was the prospect of death itself that caused Jesus such anguish. I think it was either the physical pain to come or the weight of the sins of the world. What do you think?
Let us pray. Jesus, only you know what the persecuted Christians around the world are facing. We thank you for being with them in their time of testing and temptation, and we thank you for holding them like the Good Shepherd you are. Strengthen their faith in the face of the enemy. May your Name be always in their minds, and on their lips and in their hearts.
This standing that we are to do in chapter 6 of Paul's encouragement to the Ephesians is one of holding our ground because the battle has already been won by Christ. Christ defeated the enemy so we are holding onto the ground he has already won. As Paul says elsewhere (Romans 8:37) we are more than conquerors. When we stand with Christ we are overcomers.
As has been pointed out by many authors over the years, the armor we are to put on is defensive, not offensive. We don't need to take the ground, we need only to hold it.
For Reflection: Since Christ has already won the battle, defeated the enemy, we should be praising and thanking him for that. We need not ask him to win the battle for us, it is already won. Let us stand in strength, serenity and confidence.
Let us pray. We thank you, Jesus, for having already won the battle. We praise you for your victory over every enemy. We praise you for your victory over temptation, sin and even death. We stand with you as victors, overcomers and conquerors.
Let us look again at Ephesians 3:6 - We who believe are all heirs. We are the heirs of God. God put us in his will so that everything he has comes to us. the kingdom of God
As a people who are away from home (God's Kingdom in Heaven) we often need encouragement to keep on with our lives, to keep on with the work God has given us to do, to keep on when things don't seem to be going according to God's plan. Paul wrote a letter of encouragement to the church in Ephesus, a community of people whom he knew well from having lived there for several years. Ironically, Paul writes to encourage them when he himself is in prison.
Paul begins by reminding them of their status as Christians. They are "blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." They were "chosen before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless. . . adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ . . . given grace freely . . . redeemed, sins forgiven . . . lavished with God's grace, wisdom and understanding" (Ephesians 1:4-8). All of this comes simply by believing in Jesus.
For reflection: Grace and blessings from God are unearned by what we do other than believing in Christ. If we find ourselves working to deserve or earn God's attention or blessings or reward, why?
Let us pray. I thank you, Father, that I am blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing. I thank you that I was chosen to be holy and blameless in your sight. I thank you that you have adopted me as your child through Jesus Christ. And I thank you that you have freely given me your grace. I thank you that I am redeemed and my sins forgiven by the blood of Jesus.
The disciples continued to heal people as they preached the Gospel after Jesus ascended into heaven. Healing and working miracles were quite common and are well documented in the Acts of the Apostles. In Acts 3 Peter and John healed a man who had been lame all of his life. The man was not asking for healing, he was begging for food or money. So there doesn't seem to be any faith present on his part. Yet Peter and John healed him anyway. This was a very public miracle because the man begged every day at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple.
Acts 5 is even more dramatic. Beginning with verse 14 we read, "More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed."
As with Jesus, all of them were healed. None were turned away. We could continue to heap up citations from Acts as from the Gospels. The clear fact is that the disciples continued to heal and work miracles in support of preaching the Gospel. They didn't heal people just for the sake of healing people; they healed people to show the truth of the Gospel message. And the basic Gospel message is this: Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God who became a human being, who suffered, died and rose from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins. Repent of your sins and believe this good news. Be baptized and spread the kingdom of God further.
Let us pray and meditate today on Peter's words to the High Priest and the Jewish Council: "We must obey God, not men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from death, after you had killed him by nailing him to a cross. God raised him to his side as Leader and Savior, to give the people of Israel the opportunity to repent and have their sins forgiven. We are witnesses to these things - we and the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to those who obey him." (Acts 5:29-32)
It is no small thing to be a son of God. Paul says, repeatedly, that we are sons of God through faith in Jesus as the Son of God and our Savior. What does being a son mean? Sons inherit from their father. And we are not minor children. We are old enough to not only inherit but also to manage the estate. As Paul says, we have the full rights of sons. Because we are sons, we have clothed ourselves with Christ and received his Spirit into our hearts. Now we can call God "Daddy." (Galatians 3:26-4:7)
So, we are sons, clothed in Christ, having the Spirit in our hearts, our Dad created the heavens and the earth, and He put us in charge of managing the estate, the kingdom of God on earth.
For reflection: Daddy, thank you for making us your sons. You have given us great rewards and great responsibility. I'm glad that you have other sons and I am not in this alone. Help me to clothe myself with Christ, to put on Christ every day and to walk in your Spirit as I go about the work of the Kingdom.
I bought a ham recently that is salty, so right now I'm not feeling very positive toward anything salty. However, Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men" (Matthew 5:13).
"The salt of the earth" has come to be an expression describing a good person, one who would do anything for you. Although that is an admirable trait, that is not what Jesus is describing. Jesus is describing someone who affects the entire world around them on behalf of the good news. A Christian is someone who spreads their seasoning through everything around them - their family, their friends, their neighbors, their world. We should be the ones to affect the world positively and bring about the Kingdom of God on earth.
For reflection: Am I salty?
Let us pray. Jesus, I want to make a difference in my world for your world.
"O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart" begins the sixth O Antiphon. Since we looked at the kingship and Kingdom of God in November and December, we won't spend much time on it today except to say that he is not the usual type of earthly king. The Israelites expected a king in the mold of David who would wage wars against their enemies. Isaiah says, "Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a child is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever" (Isaiah 9:5-7).
Our God is not a God of war, but a God of peace. His weapons, our weapons, are spiritual because people are not our enemy. Our enemy, God's enemy, is Satan and his works. When we complete the defeat of Satan, full peace will be restored in the Kingdom of God on earth. Our weapons are prayer, forgiveness, reconciliation, healing, salvation, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 13). All of these destroy Satan's stronghold and deliver people into the Kingdom of God. For God wants everyone to be saved and to join him in his Kingdom.
For Reflection: Have I slipped into the mindset of considering any person to be my enemy?
Let us pray. Jesus, you are Messiah, King, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God and Prince of Peace. The government of justice and righteousness is on your shoulders. Change my mindset and give me eyes to see my true enemy. Let me be a warrior using your weapons to bring peace and justice.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.