Grow

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 4:1-16 (day two)
“Then we will no longer be infants.”  Our destiny is to live with one another as fully capable human beings in a good universe sustained by the living God.  If we refuse to live with one another now, though, we will not progress beyond infancy of character.  The Bible talks of a future of reigning with God, but without maturity, that will never happen.  And without one another, maturity will not take hold.  All of the characteristics of a godly life are characteristics that take shape only in community: We can’t love in isolation; we can’t exercise patience without someone to wait on; we can’t live humbly alone; we can’t bear another’s burden when no one is around.  It is no wonder that the second-greatest command after the love of God is the love of neighbor as oneself.  Our future depends on it.

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Perparer or Server?

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 4:1-16 (day two)
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith..vs. 11-13a

We all have a role to play in the kingdom. It’s not a new concept, but it is always reaffirming to see it written in scripture. In this letter to the Ephesians, Paul has drawn a line in the sand for believers. We are either those who prepare or those who serve. Some of us have the role to preach and teach. Then there are those who are called to the community to live among the world and serve them. They serve by living their lives with spirit-filled integrity. They conduct their business with the kind of honesty that Christ demands. They raise families to love the Lord and to honor Jesus in all they do. The servers live in such a way that others demand to know how and why.

Serve well today.

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Jesus Calling

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 4:1-16 (day one)
It is a popular devotional book.  Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, is a collection of 1st person words from Christ to the believer. (At least the author’s idea.)  It rests on a clear biblical conviction that the Lord calls/commands us and that hearing and obeying His voice is the key to life! “Today, if you hear my voice, do not harden your hearts”–Hebrews 4:7.  “Now faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ”–Romans 10:17.  After 3 chapters of intense and glorious doctrinal instruction,  Paul turns to application.  “What must I DO, Lord?” he urges us to ask, and his first application focus is for us to recognize the voice of Christ and respond to it with obedient faith.  Verse 1 reads (literally),  ”I CALL you to walk in a manner worthy of the CALLING with which you have been CALLED.”  Christian friend, do you hear His voice?  His direction? As you do, will you obey?

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Paul, praying

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 3 (day seven)
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father”–v 14.  He was never better than when he prayed.  Never stood taller than when he knelt.  In v 1 of our Re: Verse reading, Paul described himself as a PRISONER.  In v 8, he says he is a PREACHER.  In v 14, he reveals his highest, best power.  He is a PRAY ER.  Boiled down to its essence, Paul’s prayer is for God and a few friends.  V 16 is for the strength of the Spirit.  V 17 is for the constant companionship of Christ. V 18 is for an understanding of God’s love that comes through a relationship with ”all the Saints”. V 19 is for the fullness of God.  Strange isn’t it?  Paul asks for none of the things that we often do.  He requests a full measure of  God and full life of friendships.  “Besides You, I desire nothing on earth.”–Psalm 73:25.  Lord, teach us to pray like our brother did!

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Undiscouraged

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 3 (day six)
“Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations.”–v 13.  Surprising commandment.  Typical Paul.  “Do not lose heart!”  Literally it reads, “do not let the bad get inside you.”  Paul claims that every believer has the responsibility to guard his heart from depression, discouragement, hopelessness or negativity.  When it happens, if it happens,  it is always because necessary precautions were untaken, necessary disciplines unapplied.  Jesus said something similar.  “Let not your heart be troubled.”–John 14:1.  Don’t LET it happen! David learned the same truth.  “He strengthened himself in the Lord.”–1 Samuel 30:6.  Courage is a gift from God.  It is also something we find for ourselves.  Did he go pray?  Sing hymns?  The text is not clear.  It is clear, however, that David knew that the management of his own heart and outlook was high priority.  Difficulty is inevitable. Discouragement, however, is a choice.  “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.”–Psalm 56:3.

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Learn from Our Prayers

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 3 (day five)

I have sensed the Lord pressing me to journal more in this particular season of my life.  It’s not a skill I am good at, or fond of doing.  But it is SO helpful to me to see how the Lord is working and has worked.   It can also be a subtle reminder that God is speaking and I need to listen and hear as much as possible.

This week I will begin to journal my prayers too.  Reading Paul’s prayers in Ephesians (3:14-21) has been so rich.   Paul’s insights, passion, and priorities are remarkable.  I was also challenged by John Stott’s words this week: “One of the best ways to discover a Christian’s chief anxieties and ambitions is to study the content of his prayer and the intensity with which he prays them.”

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Superlatives

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 3 (day four)
When Paul describes the Savior, he always uses superlatives.  Verse 8 says, “…the unfathomable riches of Christ.”  Verse 10 says, “…the manifold wisdom of God.”  Verse 11 says, “…the eternal purpose carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,”  Verse 16 says, “…the riches of His glory,”  Verse 19 says, “…the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.”  Verse 20 says, “…who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.”  How can you describe Christ without using superlatives?  Maybe you are a creative thinker…maybe you are a person of great vision…of great dreams.  Verse 20 says that no matter how lofty our thoughts may be, they do not even approach the thoughts of the Lord… “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.”  Let’s ask God to cause His thoughts to be our thoughts…for our eyes to see as He sees.

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Apology

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 3 (Day Three) 
“Through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.”  The church will reveal God’s wisdom to the entire universe only as it loves.  Here’s Francis Schaeffer: “The final apologetic which Jesus gives is the observable love of true Christians for true Christians.”  And what is love?  It is to will the good for another.  How do we learn to do that?  We get to know Jesus, observing how he did that, and letting his life become ours.  Will we love?  It’s the only way the gospel will make its way into the hearts of men.

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A Great Mystery

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 3 (day two)
“In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.” (vs. 4-5)

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

I love mysteries. There is something very rewarding about piecing together clues to try and figure it out. Good writers and directors know there are people like me, and they are constantly trying to give false clues to throw you off the scent. God’s love for humanity is a mystery. There is no way we could comprehend the vastness of plan. Therefore, he gives us parts to the whole so we can catch a glimpse of the bigger picture. As the pastor said in his Time for Teaching this weekend, “some people say if they will just see a miracle, they’ll believe…that’s just not true”. It wasn’t true in Jesus’ time, and it’s not true now. God has revealed all of himself that we need to understand and believe. Look at the clues, and come to the right conclusion. He is the only way.

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Praying It Forward

Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 3 (day one) 
“For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father. . .that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” (v 14, 16)
Preaching isn’t enough.  I am finally convinced.  Even good preaching.  (Please, God!)  Our greatest power is prayer.  After a person hears the gospel and receives Christ by faith, a new urgent need becomes apparent.  We must pray spiritual strength and insight for her.  Notice this commitment in Paul.  Our reading this week is a page from his prayer journal.  Paul was a good preacher.  Ok, maybe.  (See 2 Corinthians 10:10 for those who didn’t think so.)  He was, without question, a great “pray er”.  Never questioning the sincerity of the Ephesian’s salvation, he pressed them forward by praying for them the next blessing and the next in God’s magnificent plan!  Preaching the truth is not enough.  We must pray people forward.

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