Paul is teaching the Ephesians how to cope with life. They were human beings just like us, and they were subjected to the pressures of life, just like we are. So it shouldnt surprise us that some of them were using alcohol to medicate their pain. Sometimes the pressure or sadness we feel can become unbearable, and we are driven to find relief somewhere, but where we turn for that relief makes all the difference. Many of the things people use to medicate their misery enslaves us. We find momentary relief only to discover we have become addicted, which is depressing in itself. The process traps us into a downward spiral.
God understands the pressures we face and He doesnt expect us to live without help
some practical way of finding comfort in the middle of sorrow and stress. We need somewhere to turn when the pain becomes unbearable and He has promised to provide that help. Listen, No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also so that you will be able to endure it. (1Co 10:13).
Youll notice He does allow us to be tempted, but in His Fatherly care of us He never allows us to be trapped into failure. There will always be a way to escape the pressure, and in this passage Paul is showing us one of those ways, one we can turn to anytime we choose. Heres a literal translation of these verses: And do not be drunk with wine, which causes us to behave like unsaved people (literal: not-savedness), but be filled in spirit, speaking to yourself with psalms and hymns and spiritual odes (a poem which is sung or chanted), singing and psalming to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to (our) God and Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 5:18-20).
In effect, Paul says When youre struggling, dont use alcohol to medicate yourself, instead, take steps to strengthen your spirit. And here are some ways to do that. First, start worshiping and listen carefully to what you are saying. Sing the psalms, sing hymns, and even sing to the Lord in tongues. Then take control of your thoughts. Reflect on all the good things God has done for you because you are joined to Jesus Christ, and thank Him for those things.
So what should I do when Im stressed, lonely, angry, anxious, depressed, or tempted? I should start worshiping, using other peoples words. I should sing words other people have written because Im likely to worry or complain if I start saying what Im feeling. And I should listen to the powerful, faith-building truths that are coming out of my mouth. And, if Im singing in the Spirit, I should be conscious that God is helping me thank Him as I ought.
The next thing Paul tells me to do is to make myself reflect on the blessings God has given me because I was spiritually joined to His Son when I received Him as my Savior and Lord. Everything that belongs to Jesus now belongs to me too. And if Ill stop and reflect on what that truth actually means, I will be amazed, and thankfulness will well up in my heart
and the weakness and hopelessness I was feeling before I started will melt away. Faith, boldness, and joy will take their place. The comfort I longed for will come in waves as Gods Spirit fills me afresh.
This is Gods way of properly medicating my pain. It doesnt leave me enslaved to some horrible appetite which will drag me further downward. His way sets me free and restores my dignity. My redeemed spirit takes control over my body and fleshly mind, and brings them into submission to Gods Spirit. As I learn to use this process regularly, I grow stronger and stronger as a man or woman of God. The pain and temptations of life dont destroy me, instead they only drive me to deeper dependence on God, to maturity, to freedom.
Blessings and Promises
Heres a list of some of the blessings and promises that are ours because we belong to Jesus (in no special order):
1) He will cause all things to work together for good.
2) In the midst of trials, He will never forsake me.
3) His discipline means He loves me (Pr 3:12).
4) He will continue to heal and mature me all the rest of my life (Php 1:6).
5) Death has lost its power over me.
6) The Holy Spirit is given to me without measure.
7) He wants to reveal His truth to me (Jn 15:15).
8) He has a plan for me. Hes numbered my days and ordered my steps.
9) Neither my past failures nor my continuing struggles can separate me from His love.
10) He will protect me from those who attack me (Isa 54:17).
11) Because I love Him, my children and grandchildren are chosen (Dt 4:37).
12) I have been set free from the power of my flesh to make good decisions and be blessed.
13) I can come to God and claim every promise in the Bible (2Co 1:20).
14) He has given His angels charge to watch over me and defend me in all my ways (Ps 91:11, 12)
15) He has given me the name of Jesus so I can speak to the enemy with all authority.
When I am under attack I need to go back to these truths, and others He will bring to mind, and confess that they are true, and then thank God for them. In this way I am refusing to believe lies, I am setting the truth of God in front of me, and His truth sets me free!
The First Thanksgiving
Peter Marshall, David Manuel, The Light and the Glory, Fleming H. Revell Co., 1977.
Celebrating Thanksgiving (suggestions)
1) Its a national holiday, not a family holiday. As a nation we thank God for all Hes provided, recognizing Him as our Source.
2) Dont eat alone, if possible.
Add places to your table and invite those who might not have a place to go.
Give to and/or help with the Thanksgiving Food Drive.
Invite someone to a restaurant with you (have turkey, unless allergic).
Spend time discussing special people in your life, spiritual blessings you have received this year, Gods promises for which you are thankful.
Pray for our country, our church, the church world-wide, missionaries, our leaders (national, denominational, congregational).
3) Have a blessed day!
1) Name a promise of God you are thankful for.
2) How do you find Gods strength when you are stressed or tempted?