You Have Access to the Heavenly Realms

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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us
in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he
chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy
and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons
through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise
of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6

My file cabinet is stocked with lessons I have prepared from Ephesians 1 about being chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Christ. Some of the files contain notes on our identity with Christ; chosen, predestined, adopted in love. But, somehow I have missed the fact that Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. It is quite an amazing concept to recognize and live victoriously with the fact that we have access to the heavenly realms today!

Both blessings and battles take place in the heavenly realms. We know Satan is the prince and power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and he operates in the heavenly realms where the ultimate spiritual battles take place. At the same time, Christ has already won the battle and He sits as Victor in the heavenly realms, “…far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:20-21)

Is there a burden on your heart, a temptation gripping you, a discouragement that is dragging you down? It is time to place your thoughts and battles in line with the truths in Ephesians, “Christ has blessed you with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” You have been raised up with Christ and are seated with Him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6-7).

Ponder this:

Eternity is already in session. If you want to go into heaven-go now. You have access. -John Ortberg

J. Vernon McGee says it this way:

You are in the heavenlies in Christ even when you are down in the dumps. Everyone who is in Christ is seated in the heavenlies in Him. That is the position He has given us.

Consider This as you memorize Ephesians 1:3-6

Would I react to daily trials, temptations and turmoil differently if I recognized my position with Christ in the heavenlies?

What would it take for me to remember and access every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms today?

Give God the Praise

God has chosen you to share in His blessings. He has given you the means to not only survive, but thrive through this life. Take some time to thank Him for who He is.

Meditate on the Verses

Spiritual lessons and themes are popping out of these three verses. Circle key words, jot notes on the margins of your Bible,

What do you learn about the character of God?

As you memorize and chew upon the book of Ephesians this year, take notes about the character and actions of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit from these verses.

Stop and talk to God about His character. Do you think accurately about the God you love and follow? Praise Him, thank Him and ask Him to help you know Him more deeply.

Study Further

Did you notice the words “blessing” and “blessed” are used 4 times in these verses? “Blessing” is a word we hear commonly used throughout the day. Do you have a clear understanding of its meaning? Spend a few minutes doing a word study on the original language and meaning of these words.

It’s not about Me!

Although Christ has chosen to richly bless us with every spiritual blessing, and give us the means to live a victorious life, it is actually not about Me!

As you meditate on these verses, look for the why. How many reasons do you observe why God has chosen to bless you? For whose purpose?

Leave a comment and share your thoughts as we memorize and learn God’s Word together.

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Practical Tools to Help you Memorize Scripture

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All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:15-16

Here we go, friends! This week we are embarking on a great adventure as we memorize Scripture together. Some of you have always wished you could do it while others have put it off for months. (or years?) Now you have made the commitment! I know you can do it.

Why do you think the discipline of memorizing Scripture is so difficult? Maybe because of that very thing-discipline. It is a good question to ask yourself in order to get past any mental hurdles that may try to get in your way the next few months as we memorize the book of Ephesians!

This week we begin with Ephesians 1:1-2. To boost your success I want to share some practical tools to help you memorize Scripture.

Scripture Typer App

The Scripture Typer App is a multi-sensory Scripture memory tool. It involves reading, writing, and most likely talking to yourself. You simply enter your verses and the Bible version of choice (I prefer ESV) and it sets you up for reminders and practice runs. I gave it a try last night. In spite of my son sitting next to me watching the Planes movie and singing loudly in my ear, I was able to master the verses in fifteen minutes.

The app feels like a game. You type in the first letter of each word as you read the verse. This is good repetitive practice as you familiarize yourself with the Scripture. The next level prompts you to fill in words and highlights what you miss. (Seeing your mistakes is a good memory builder!)

I tested my memory again this morning while in the waiting room of my doctor’s office. I got it down! It’s a fun way to practice this spiritual discipline in between all of those little down times you have in your day. Thanks for letting me know about this app, Michelle!

By the way, I timed myself because I knew once I set my mind to get down to business, it wouldn’t take too long. I will remind myself of this when I try to make the excuse of not having enough time!

Spiral Index Cards
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I have been carting around these spiral index cards since my college days. I often purchase several of them and pass them along to girls who want to know God’s Word well.

It’s simple-write your verse on the card and carry it with you in the car or prop it up at your desk. I like the brightly colored cards-because colors are motivators, too! Your small group can easily trade the cards to test each other.

You may choose to use the 3-4 colors in the spiral to categorize your memory verses. For instance, orange is for verses about courage and green is for verses about God’s character, etc.

Visual Reminders

Most of us are visual learners and we need visual reminders of our goals! Make a practice of writing your verse or the first letter of each word in the verse on a sticky note. Stick it on your mirror, your steering wheel, your cupboard, your coffee pot.

Another great use of the sticky note is to write the reason you are memorizing Scripture. When reminded of the value of something we are more likely to invest in it. Make your note short and personal, for example: “Bonnie, you want to speak God’s Word accurately in the last days!”

What memory tool works best for you? Leave a comment and let the rest of us know how you are doing. Be confident, sister and Keep Pressing On!

To stay up to date with the Ephesians Scripture Memory updates and encouragement be sure to fill out the email subscription on the right hand side of this page. **If you have signed up for emails and have not yet received them, please let me know so I can correct the glitch for you!

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10 ways to improve upon the time

“This time like all times is a very good one if we but know what to do with it“  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oh, those wasteful moments.  Those 10 minutes between appointments, those 15 minutes waiting in the school parking lots, those 20 minutes between practices.  They add up to a lot of unproductive moments in my day.

I have been a slave to those moments, acting as though I have little control in the waiting periods.  I usually take a cat nap.  A power nap.  Doesn’t that sound more productive?  I always depend on those power naps to get me through the rest of my harried day.

When I added up all those in-between moments of the day, I realized I had roughly 180 minutes of unstructured time.  Fifteen hours of waking time unaccounted for during the week!  The Lord convicted my heart of this idle time, revealing He has things to talk to me about.  He has plans and purposes for my life that were being cluttered by the busyness and pushed aside with wasted moments.

So I gave my idle time up to the Lord.  I made a 40 day commitment to give up those in-between moments which add up to a big fat waste of my God-given time.

The 40 day commitment gave my spiritual life the kick it needed.  I still take the occasional nap, but my life is more energized by living each in-between moment on purpose for the kingdom.

Improve upon the time

Instead of letting it slip through my fingers without any accountability, I choose to improve upon the time.  Putting it to use for great purposes.  I want to invest this gift of time into things that last for eternity.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  Ephesians 5:15-17

Barnes Notes on the Bible states making the best use of time means, “Rescue or recover our time from waste; to improve it for great and important purposes”.

10 ways to improve upon the “in-between” time

1.  Gain knowledge.  Carry a small library of books or articles on a special interest topic.  Challenge your work skills, your parenting skills, your nutrition, your knowledge of the world with short articles.  Keep them in a basket or the glove box of your car.

2.  Build someone up.  Send an encouraging note to your pastor, a teacher, a friend who is always there for you.  Carry thank-you cards in a handy basket in your car.  Make a long overdue phone call.

3.  Gain wisdom.   Hide the Word in your heart.  Write a verse on a note card or sticky note and start memorizing it.  Read a Proverb Vitamin: Proverbs has 31 chapters, so read the chapter for the calendar date.  Since today is the 16th, you read Proverbs 16.  Carry a small Bible in your handy basket and store up wisdom every day.

4.  Be Still.  Sit quietly, close your eyes.  Turn off all music and your cell phone.  Let God know you want to hear from Him.  Ask Him to search your heart.  Ask Him what His purposes are for you.  Be still, listen, and know that He is God.

5.  Praise Jesus for Who He is.   We are so skilled at making requests of God throughout the day.  We can be pretty good at thanking Him for what He does for us.  But we are not always good at thanking Him for His character.  Try to sit and thank Jesus simply for Who He Is.

6.  Make a list of what you are grateful for.  Write it on a napkin, or better yet, a little notebook in your handy basket.

7.  Pray for others.  Pray for your spouse or your spouse-to-be.  Pray for your kids and their spouse-to-be.  Pray for your parents, your neighbors, the President.

8.  Take a brisk walk.  Get out of the car and take a brisk walk around the parking lot or a nearby park.  It clears your mind and helps you get those 10,000 steps a day.

9.  Ask Jesus to use you in someone’s life today.  Let Him know you desire to be faithful.

10.  Write your goals for this week.  Include one goal for each area of your life:  spiritual, emotional, social, intellectual.

Help me extend the list.  What do you do to improve upon the small moments of your day?

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Commit it to Memory-Part 2

There is no doubt we have all been troubled by the events of the day; numerous earthquakes, tsunami, floods, war, death.  But has your concern turned to personal anxiety or fear?  God wants to give you comfort and perspective from His Word.  Are you ready to commit God’s powerful Word to your memory?  When you are, your thought life and fears will be changed.  Your walk with God will be transformed as you experience the Holy Spirit bringing His words to your mind throughout your life.

Claim God’s Word

We either believe God’s Word is true or we don’t.  If we believe He is who He says He is, then 100% of His Word is True.  If it is true, then the promises and commands within are Truth for you.  “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.  And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”, John 8:31,32. As you commit God’s Word to your memory, the Holy Spirit will remind you to be faithful to the teaching, and you are promised true freedom in Christ.

Your armor of protection for the day is God’s Word (Ephesians 6).  The Word of God will always stand guard in your thought life and against Satan’s attempts to drag you down.

Claim it.  Cling to it.

Tell God something like this, “God, I am thankful that You have given me everything I need for life and living in Your Words.  You have promised (fill in the promise of the Scripture you are claiming) and I trust You.  Help me to believe it and live it.  Please remind me of it throughout the day.  Amen”

What Scripture Should You Memorize

There is no rule for this.  These are my suggestions:

Memorize Doctrine.

Find verses that state who God is, who Jesus is and why He came, who the Holy Spirit is.  Memorize verses about His forgiveness, holiness and His love.  I’m talking about verses that will equip you with a foundation to know what you believe.  When someone asks about Christianity or the culture confronts you with the need to be “tolerant”, you will have a firm foundation for your faith.  “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have”, I Peter 3:15.

Doctrine will take time to memorize.  Pick one verse a month to keep on your refrigerator or mirror.  You can find verses under these categories in Bible reference tools in the back of a Study Bible.  A variety of reference tools can be found in your local Christian bookstore.  A classic book to guide you is, “Know What You Believe”, by Paul E. Little, InterVarsity Press.  You can find this book here:  www.christianbook.com/know-what-you-believe-audiobook

Memorize verses that have personal meaning to you.

What are you going through in life?  The Bible reference tools in the back of a Study Bible will also give a short list of topics.  Usually you can look up words like fear, worry, forgiveness, jealousy, marriage.  Turn to the verses listed and find one you need to claim for your life!

Practical Ways to Memorize.

If you have difficulty memorizing, you are not the only one.  If you have never been able to memorize anything, then spend your time meditating on the words for several days.  Otherwise, give these tips a try:

sticky notes

Write the verse you're memorizing on a sticky note & stick to your mirror or steering wheel

  • Talk to God about it.  Tell Him your heart for memorizing His Word and ask Him for His help.
  • Get a spiral notebook with index cards.  Write one verse at a time on a card and prop  it up at the sink or table where you will see it regularly.
  • Begin with a verse that applies to a specific need you may presently have.  Pray over it, meditate on it, ask God to help you apply it to your life.  The more you do this, the more familiar you will become with the words.
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew!  At first, try to pick a verse that isn’t too long.
  • Find a partner who will share in your goal and keep each other accountable.

Anticipate blessings in your life as you practice memorizing and claiming the Word of God!  I look forward to hearing what happens.

Do you have another effective tip for memorizing?  Please tell me about it.



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Commit it to Memory-Part 1

Living Water

In my high school years my friend Karl told me, “Bonnie, my friend says he often sees you walking to school talking to yourself.  I told him you were probably memorizing Scripture”.  Karl was right.  With bluetooth attached to people’s ears these days no one questions when you are seen walking alone talking to yourself.  I guess I looked a little crazy back then.  Throughout my adult years God has been faithful to those words I hid in my heart and reminds me of them at my exact time of need.

God makes promises about His Word

  • “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever”, Isaiah 40:8
  • “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which it was sent”, Isaiah 55:11
  • “The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right.  It is God’s way of making us well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone”, 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Books are temporary

The first summer mission I went on was a journey to Communist USSR and Romania in the 80′s.  I went with a large singing group and we were only allowed to bring one Bible over the border.   At the border crossings the Soviet officials searched our bags for many things.  They examined every page of the Bible to be sure there was nothing hidden within the thin pages.  They watched our every move as we interacted with the Soviet people.  Christians and our Bible were enemies of the state.

Turn the pages of history to March 2011:  Japan, earthquake, floods.  Survivors are laying on the floors of gymnasiums with nothing left to their name, including books.  Our bibles are print and bound with temporary materials.  Who is to say you and I will always have them accessible?

When Scripture tells us to be sober in all things, I believe this is one of those things.  Can you imagine if we were to face disaster or persecution and not have our Bibles at the ready?  How beautiful it would be for the body of Christ to share with one another the Word of God we have hidden in our hearts.  Will you be one to comfort another in the crisis with the living water?

Choose to make a lifetime goal of committing Scripture to memory.  Let’s be faithful to the task!

Look for Commit it to Memory-Part 2 tomorrow

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