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Training the Apprentice

Ephesians 6:1-3

The Bible rarely speaks to children directly (Colossians 3:20), but it does here.  The Old Testament commandment (Deuteronomy 5:16) is freshly brought to life by the Apostle.  Unlike the confused parenting in today's Western society, in which children have increasing rights and parental authority is diminished, this is clear biblical guidance for Christian families.  What a relief for parents and their offspring to know that it is God's will for children to honour and obey their parents.  The laws given to Moses have found their fulfilment in Jesus Christ, including this one (Hebrews 5:9-10

Unreasonable Fathers

Ephesians 6:4

It is one thing for children to honour their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3), but what about the other way around?  This verse would have been somewhat counter-cultural in the 1st Century when children would have been seen and not heard: they had no rights, only duties.  But here we see God's heart for children (Psalm 103:13).  Fathers must not be unfeeling dragons or heartless monsters; they have a special duty of loving towards their children.

Heartfelt Commitment

Ephesians 6:5-6

A work-related devotional can hardly have a more pointed passage!  Although we now consider that slavery is wrong, a violation of personal rights and liberties, it was the way society operated in the 1st Century.  However, in some ways there are close parallels with modern employment: some masters being kind benefactors while others are harsh (1 Peter 2:18).  Paul neither endorsed slavery nor advocated a social revolution.  Instead, he concentrated on the necessity of changing the attitude to work and to the boss, by cooperating with God’s grace.  That is still essential for us in the workp

Slaving Away - with Joy

Ephesians 6:7-8

This is addressed to slaves (Ephesians 6:5), but it is also a great Bible principle for all.  Although the Apostle Paul never endorsed slavery, it was a useful illustration of his relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ.  He calls himself a servant (Greek: doulas = 'bond-slave') of Jesus (Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1) as do James the half-brother of Jesus (James 1:1), Peter (2 Peter 1:1) and Jude (Jude 1:1).  Many English translations use 'servant', but the original meaning is a slave who has no get-out clause.  The apostles were glad to be the Lord’s slave.  It was an honoured privilege to be chose

Management Modelling

Ephesians 6:9

This verse comes immediately after Paul's instructions to slaves in Ephesians 6:7-8: "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free."  Now he tells the slave-masters that they should treat their slaves in the same way.  It is a reminder that no boss is God and that all bosses are servants of God, whether they know it or not, whether they serve well or badly - they are accountable to Him.  

Strong Stuff

Ephesians 6:10

"Be strong ..." is easier said than done.  It comes after Paul's instruction about how to live as Christians in the church (Ephesians 4:1-5:20), marriage (Ephesians 5:21-33), the family (Ephesians 6:1-4) and at work (Ephesians 6:5-9).  All those relationships are very challenging and need wisdom and strength.   But what kind of strength and why?  In the most difficult of battles, there is no physical enemy to stare-out, or physical battle to fight.  Our opponent is the devil and his agents: the instruction is about being strong 'in the Lord' and not 'in ourselves'.  The reason is that the L

Ministry of Defence

Ephesians 6:11

Wise Christians are realists.  The idea that we live in a wholesome world, run by the great and the good for the benefit of ordinary society - is an illusion.  While the devil does not trouble his captives too much, he tries his hardest to inflict as much damage as possible on Christians.  However, none of his schemes has escaped God's attention.  The Lord provides every believer with personal defence that needs to be applied before the attacks come.  In other words, God expects us to be in a permanent state of readiness to resist Satan's attempts to seduce our minds and ensnare our hearts

Devious Opposition

Ephesians 6:12

Spiritual warfare is real.  The Apostle Paul was used to being opposed (because of the Gospel): that was why he was writing from prison while awaiting trial on false charges (2 Timothy 1:8).  But he knew that his real enemies were not the human faces that put him there, but unseen powerful beings orchestrated by Satan (Ephesians 6:11).  Those dark forces seek to defy the authority of God at every level, trying to disrupt the worship and ministry of the church, so that fear replaces faith.  Although Satan cannot pull Christians out of God's hand (John 10:28-29), he tries hard to make us give

Steady under Fire

Ephesians 6:13

However bright each day may seem, the day of evil will come to the Christian.  It is an inevitable consequence of our close family relationship with God.  His great enemy, the devil, will try to get at Him by disturbing His children or deflecting them from His service.  By seducing us away from the Lord's love or paralysing us to prevent fruitful ministry, Satan contests God's authority and makes a grab at glory for himself.  Evil may come in many forms: verbal hostility, physical violence, temptation, lies and death-threats; and in the internal reaction of fear, accompanied by the impulse

Confident Under Attack

Ephesians 6:13b-14a

It is difficult to be calm under pressure, and confident when under attack.  Many Christians think that they must defend themselves when Satan does His worst, but they are wrong.   … 'having done everything' … simply means being willing to wear God's protection, the full/entire/whole armour of God, and then to stand still in the Lord as the battle rages (Luke 12:11-12).  It is an act of humility and an admission of weakness as we submit to God's solution (James 4:7).  Proud and self-reliant people cannot be defended because they think they are strong enough.  Yes, we need wisdom, s