Tag Archives: Ephesians

Genesis 16-18; Ephesians 4

Two very interesting passages of Scripture this morning, especially Genesis 18 and Ephesians 4. Both approach organization in different ways, but appropriate for the age in which these admonitions were given.

Jethro saw his son-in-law working way to hard to govern the people of Israel so gave Moses a plan by which the people would be well cared for and Moses would keep his sanity. Jethro states in chapter 18,

I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, 20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. 21 Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you (Genesis 18:19b-22 [ESV]).

Jethro gave Moses a plan that worked in that time and that situation. In a different age Paul gives the church in Ephesus and us all a way to organize the work of the church. He shares this,

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:11-14 [ESV]).

Our leaders in the church have been given to us to equip us to carry out her work. We are all given tasks to do and ministries to lead and serve in. The Holy Spirit in this age gives us all Gifts that we can use in the service of the body. If you have crossed the line of faith you have at least one of those gifts, perhaps one in the list above.

God has also laid a passion on your heart. An unmet need that He wants to see met and he has placed that burden on you. Then he comes along through His Holy Spirit and equips you with a gift to see that unmet need met.

Do you know what your spiritual gift(s) would be? Are you using them to meet those unmet needs that are on God’s heart today. 

That’s how we are organized for fruitful service in this age.

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Isaiah 29, 30; Ephesians 6

Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him. Ephesians 6:5-9

Overall, especially in this day and age, it seems that there is a shortage of people with good work ethics that pervades. Commonly, the average person is just working to get by, to be able to pay their bills, keep a house over their heads, and put food on the table. Obviously this is a generalization, as there are plenty of people who give the proverbial 110%, but countless times, I encounter sales clerks or cashiers who act like they are totally inconvenienced by their jobs and by me. It is hard to say if this issue is because people just don’t care or if they are tired of being bullied or unsupported by their employers.

According to Paul, this is not a new problem. In his letter to the church in Ephesus, he encouraged both the servants and their masters to have a change of heart in how they served each other. He reminded them, that regardless of their position in life, God views everyone without partiality, and expects the same from each of them. He shared the importance of serving from a sincere heart as if we are serving God directly, rather than man.

I love the way the Message Bible puts it:

Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God. Ephesians 6:6-7

As I read this, my spirit is checked. I am reminded of all the times, that I have performed my ‘duties’ out of obligation, instead of with joy. I often forget that my ultimate goal is to serve God. I get caught up in the unpleasantness of the job I have to do (I mean come on, who really loves to change dirty diapers, wash dishes by hand, or clean the house and umpteen number of times in a day), and forget that as I do the job with the right attitude, not only am honoring God, but I am also showing honor to the people who require my effort.

I am also remembering the times when I have approached a responsibility with a hearty and happy heart. In those moments, the work was no longer a burden, but became enjoyable. I was able to feel God’s presence, keeping my countenance lifted and my body strengthened. My service became an act of worship to the Lord.

Yesappa, Help me remember that everything I do, I do for You! Help me keep my eyes on the goal of honoring You by giving my all, rather than simply pretending to do my best to get people off my back. Give me joy in the midst of doing the things that aren’t always fun to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Isaiah 27-28; Ephesians 5

 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Ephesians 5:21

I like to think of myself as a humble person, but the truth is, I am not. That’s not to beat myself up; it’s just that deep down I am pretty sure that my opinion is the right one. I have to remind myself to truly listen with the intention of understanding, versus half hearted listening and thinking that I already know what the person is going to say and then formulating a response before the person is even finished.

Paul’s description of Christian community requires authentic humility. I KNOW I can’t fake humble in marriage. If I get the idea that I know better and the other person is wrong, too often, I think it’s my job to change the other person. That’s not been a winning strategy for community or marriage. Submission has required that I humbly speak what I understand to be true (and risk rejection, conflict and the embarrassment of being wrong) and be willing to lay all that aside for the good of others. Humility doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s a work of the head and heart that requires God’s mercy on me. If I submit to another in action but not with my heart, ugly, snarky passive aggression comes sneaking out of me. Ugh.

There has been one practical thing I’ve found that’s helped in the battle; it’s taken the form of praise and prayer. I thank God for the other person, for who they are and what God is doing in their life. Then I pray for them as agenda free as possible. In my mind’s eye, I hold them up before God and ask Him to give that person the best for them. I ask God to help me let go of who I want that person to be and what I want from them.

Submission isn’t weak and passive. It’s strong and active. It’s a choice steeped in love for God and for the other person. It isn’t  something that always happens instantly. Sometimes, my actions submit, my heart bucks like a wild horse and then I run back to God to do the heart work. When my proud heart insists that my way is best, it is God that I am shaking my fist at. When I submit to others in love, I submit to God and follow Christ.

klueh

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1 Kings 7; Ephesians 4; Ezekiel 37; Psalms 87, 88

Every time I read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, I feel like the writer knows me personally and understands what exactly what I need to hear today. Because of Christ, I am alive, sin’s power is defeated and I have the infinite blessings and riches of heaven available in a finite world. These words are not theory; they are truths that are to be worked out on a moment by moment, hour to hour, day by day basis.

Perhaps the most ironic thing is that when Paul wrote these words, he was imprisoned and suffered physical limitations that would leave most folks hopeless. Paul’s circumstances did nothing to hinder God’s truth.  I think God used the obstacles in Paul’s life to give him a clear sense of priorities.  I observed this phenomenon at work in many of my cancer patients. For many, when they got their diagnosis and underwent treatment, they gained a clear sense of what was important and what wasn’t.

So what did Paul narrow his priorities down to? It was living a life that reflected the truth of Christ’s love (in all its richness) for us AND that we would “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3.  Anyone who has ever had a family or been part of a church body knows that this is much easier said than done.  I pray that God gives me the same sense of urgency that Paul had when it came to living out the the truths of God. Why waste these precious days on that which doesn’t really matter? God give me the ability to know what’s important and what’s not and live accordingly. Amen.

Kathy

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1 Kings 3; Ephesians 1; Ezekiel 34; Psalms 83, 84

While he was at Gibeon, the Lord appeared to him in a dream during the night. God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You were very kind to your servant, my father David. He obeyed you, and he was honest and lived right. You showed great kindness to him when you allowed his son to be king after him. Lord my God, now you have made me, your servant, king in my father’s place. But I am like a little child; I don’t know how to do what must be done. I, your servant, am here among your chosen people, and there are too many of them to count. I ask that you give me a heart that understands, so I can rule the people in the right way and will know the difference between right and wrong. Otherwise, it is impossible to rule this great people of yours.”

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked this. So God said to him, “You did not ask for a long life, or riches for yourself, or the death of your enemies. Since you asked for wisdom to make the right decisions, I will do what you asked. I will give you wisdom and understanding that is greater than anyone has had in the past or will have in the future. I will also give you what you did not ask for: riches and honor. During your life no other king will be as great as you. If you follow me and obey my laws and commands, as your father David did, I will also give you a long life.” 1 Kings 3:5-14 (NCV)

 

I am like a little child; I don’t know how to do what must be done. Give me a heart that understands…

There are so many times in my life when this has been my exact sentiment. There are times when I don’t know how to manage in the circumstances of the moment. And, times when I don’t understand how to maneuver within the vast differences between the culture I was raised in and the Indian culture in which I live.

And yet, time and again, I walk through life thinking that I have all of the answers, that I know how to accomplish everything, manage everything. I neglect to ask God (or anyone else) for help. I go at it alone, and in my pride, I often take a fall. Then, picking myself off the floor, nursing my scrapes and bruises, I turn to God, remembering that His wisdom is much greater than mine.

I see this duplicated in my toddler. She is 2 ¾, going on 23. She thinks she knows it all, acts like she has got it all together. But even she comes crying when she realizes she can’t do it by herself, when she can’t reach the play dough, or when she has spilled the juice while trying to pour it into her toy tea cup, or when she has climbed up onto the washing machine and can’t figure out how to get down without falling.

And like God is ALWAYS there for me, I am there for her. I am there to pick her up when she falls, there to kiss her booboos and wipe her tears. I am there to help her learn from her mistakes and gain greater knowledge for her future endeavors. I am there to teach her to look to God for wisdom, instead of looking only to herself.

I know in my heart that God will never leave me nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6) no matter the situation. I believe that it is God’s desire to give good things (Luke 11:13), like His wisdom, His understanding, and His discernment through Holy Spirit. Just as Solomon asked for those things when God asked him what he wanted, it is important that I also ask. When I ask, He will give me those things as well (John 16:23; 1 John 5:14).

When I seek Him, I take the focus off of myself and put it back in the right place – on God. When I humble myself before Him, there is no more room for pride. I am able to accept His gifts and I am able to be used by Him.

My prayer for myself, my children, and for you:

I have not stopped giving thanks to God for you. I always remember you in my prayers, asking the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you will know him better. I pray also that you will have greater understanding in your heart so you will know the hope to which he has called us and that you will know how rich and glorious are the blessings God has promised his holy people. And you will know that God’s power is very great for us who believe. That power is the same as the great strength God used to raise Christ from the dead and put him at his right side in the heavenly world. Ephesians 1:16-20 (NCV)

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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