Friday, November 10, 2023

Grow Up

Ephesians 4:11-15

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Church is not a spectator sport where a crowd of people desperately in need of exercise watch a few people desperately in need of rest. God's intention for His church was for all of us to work together to spread the gospel, instead of having a few hired guns do all the work. The pastor and staff are directed by God to recruit, train, and empower church members to do the work of ministry.

Service builds the church. It gives people purpose and fosters friendships. It helps people feel like they belong. Equally important, service builds the individual members of the church to be stronger Christians. “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” (Ephesians 4:14)

Mature Christians have an unshakeable faith. The highest level of spiritual maturity is experienced when we become like Jesus in attitudes, perspectives, and actions. Most life's problems could be solved if people became more like Jesus. We need to grow up.

Truthful, loving communication is a key element to spiritual growth for individual Christians and the church. This is the opposite of the malicious gossip that can so easily infiltrate the ranks of “the body of Christ” and diminish it’s witness to the unchurched.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Unity is vital to the health of a church

Ephesians 4:1-6

The church is called to be unified in purpose and passion. Paul writes, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)

We share the same faith, the same baptism, and the same God yet, disunity and division is common among our churches. When church members don’t work well together, the church is weak. Jesus said, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24-25)

Furthermore, Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. The world will know if we are Christians or not by the way those who are believers act toward one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Considering this, Paul urges us “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:1-2) 

Humility is the cornerstone of unity. It represents an attitude that recognizes the worth and value of other people. Pride, on the other hand, tends to create conflict. When we put others’ needs ahead of ours, we foster harmony.

Gentleness is another characteristic that promotes unity. Easily misunderstood as weakness, it embodies the quality of moderation. It manifests strength under control, enabling perseverance.

Patience is the third trait mentioned by Paul. The word used here is synonymous with longsuffering, which is showing patience despite difficulties, particularly those caused by other people. Without patience, no group can be at peace. 

To live a life worthy of our calling in Christ necessitates that we treat one another with humility, gentleness, and patience. That requires the effort of the entire body of Christ for “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it...” (1 Corinthians 12:26). This is why Paul wrote, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Jesus in your heart

Ephesians 3:16-19

Paul prays "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” The word dwell means to move in and settle down. This much more than a visit and certainly more than a mailing address. This is a permanent change of address.

In the beginning, God dwelt with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They sinned and God could no longer dwell in their presence. Once the nation of Israel was formed, God dwelt with his people. First, in the tabernacle and then in the temple. But they continued to sin, and God’s presence left the temple.

However, through the prophets, God promised a new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). He would put his Spirit inside his people (Ezek. 36:27). To fulfill that promise, Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory (John 1:14). If you are a follower of Christ, your body is a temple.

He dwells in your heart. This is beyond your blood pumping organ; and more than the place where you keep your feelings. It is the very center of your personality. Your mind. Your will. Your soul.

Jesus paid it all and He wants your all. He wants to be the very center of your universe.

As a follower of Christ, you live by faith. The works you do for Christ are according to faith, or they have no eternal value. Furthermore, faith is itself the gift God.

Faith is the conviction that it is no longer you who live, but Christ lives in you. And the life that you now live in the flesh, you live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself for you. (Gal. 2:20)

I am the vine; you are the branches.
If you remain in me and I in you,
you will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:4-5