Weekly Devotional

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Each person should desire to grow closer to God, understand His will for their lives and do this by a deeper study in God's Word. Study tools provide a way to supplement personal Bible study.  Each week, the devotional posted will focus on a section of Scripture. We encourage you to make daily Bible reading and study a part of your daily routine.

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"...but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" 2 Peter 3:1

One Spirit

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One Spirit

Ephesians 4:4-6

Notice that in most translations the first two words of verse 4 is in italics meaning that these words are not found in the original language. In other words the passage would begin this way, “Keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, one body and one Spirit.” Paul seems in much of his writing to stress the idea of unity in the body of Christ.

Further more it is also to be noted that it seems absolutely certain that the “unity of the Spirit” consists in maintaining the seven unities of Verses 4-6. All of the divisions in the religious world Christian, professed Christian and non-Christian, are all the result of a violation of one or more of these seven unities. Instead of preserving the one body men have multiplied denominations. Instead of following the one Spirit, whose leadings and instructions are found only in the written word, men have followed other men, and listened to still strange voices as if they were the words of God. The plea for one body is not a plea for union but unity.

The One Spirit is the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was promised and given to the apostles only. He was to guide them into all truth and bring to their mind all things that Jesus said. And through the laying on of the apostles hands others in the New Testament church received special powers to edify the infant church. But the promise that you and I have is that He will dwell with us and in us, Acts 2:38; 5:32; Romans 8:9. This does not promise divine guidance and instruction apart from the written word. The Holy Spirit provides for us the Bible as the Word of God, perfect, inspired of God capable of providing all things we need. And yet men seek for something more, something as yet undefined.

Ephesians 4:4-6

Acts 2:38

Acts 5:32

Romans 8:9

Jude 3 speaking of the faith given in the written word, he says it was “once for all delivered to the Saints.”

The Necessity of Peace

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The Necessity of Peace

Ephesians 4:1-3

Four great qualities have already been introduced, humility, gentleness, patience, love (that is enduring love). Now the obvious result of those is peace.

In looking at verse 3 there are two things mentioned .... two very fragile things ... things that can so easily be forgotten or depreciated.

They are Unity and Peace. They are inseparable...It is impossible to have one without the other. Because unity is not just existing together nor is peace just the absence of conflict. There can be no oneness without agreement. Amos 3:3 “can two walk together unless they be agreed.” This is the same oneness that Jesus spoke of in John 17:20,21 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me,and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John later spoke of that when he spoke of those who went out from us but were not of us. 1 John 2:19. It is also what Paul spoke of in Philippians 3:16 “Let us walk by the same rule, Let us be of the same mind.” 

That is what was enjoyed by the early church Luke tells us in Acts 2:46 that they “at their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” Or again in Acts 4:32 when he says “they were of one heart and one soul.”

 There is just something about that oneness that is so attractive. It isn’t the least bit surprising that the early church found favor with God and man. While at the same time, the Devil is always opposed... and he is going to stir up opposition... but when we are united and living at peace then others respect us greatly.

Peace may be defined as right relationships between man and man. Just to show how important it is that we be at peace with man... and as agreeable to man as possible consider some passages. Matthew 6:14,15 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will  your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 18:35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

So it is of  utmost importance that I conduct myself in such a way that I live at peace with my fellow man Unity and Peace.

Ephesians 4:3                     Acts 2:46                                 

Amos 3:3                           Acts 4:32

John 17:20,21                    Matthew 6:14,15; 18:35

1 John 2:19

Christian Love

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Christian Love

Ephesians 4:1-3

Earlier Paul has shown the church as it should be and is now, explaining how we must live in order to be as God wants us to be. Christian living, that is living in accordance with the commands of the Gospel are not optional...not something I can or cannot do and still be a Christian, rather they come with the agreement to be a Christian. Now I may claim to be a Christian, to serve the Lord, but as long as I live in my own selfish way with little regard for the Lord and His church, I am deceiving myself.

Paul mentioned that I must “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.” Also that I must walk  humbly; that I must walk meekly; that I must walk patiently. And then the next thing mentioned I must walk “bearing with one another in love.”(NKJV) And Phillips New Testament in Modern English says, “Making allowances for one another because you love one another.”

Now it is true that the stabilizing force is the idea of love...the reason for our patience, or forbearance or longsuffering, that we extend to others or the allowances that we make for others because we love each other. Now obviously this isn’t emotional love. Obviously some are more lovable than others... some even more likable than others. And it is going to be far easier to love some and be patient or long suffering than with some others.

But one of the commandments that is essential to Christian living is loving others. That means that within the limits of the will of God, I’m going to do what I can to make them happy and please them. Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” And Romans 14:17 shows us plainly that in matters of opinion we have the ultimate liberty; you have the right to your opinion and I have the right to mine .... except if my opinion causes you to stumble or becomes an offense to you... Paul says he would “eat no more meat if eating meat would cause anyone to stumble.” Romans 14:21 “It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.”

Wow! that is all inclusive; what if what I am doing is not wrong; I’m just doing my own thing and enjoying myself and it becomes sin if it causes anyone to stumble, to offend or to be made weak.

But don’t I have a right to do what I want to as long as I don’t violate the law of God? Yes, but there is another law that rules that is the law of love. ... I love my brethren and if my actions, my dress, my words, or anything about me would cause them to stumble or sin then it becomes sin to me.

Ephesians 4:1-3

Romans 12:18; 14:17; v. 21

The Undefeatable Patience

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The Undefeatable Patience

Ephesians 4:1-3

Paul has already pictured the church and its great purpose. And he has explained that for the church to be what God intends for it to be in this generation we must be what God expects of us. We must walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called. We must walk with meekness. We must walk with humility. But there is even more yet.

We must also walk with all longsuffering, another translation uses the word patience. This is translated from a Greek word that is quite interesting. As a matter of fact it has two distinct directions of meaning. It describes the spirit which will never give up and will reap the promise and the reward because it endures to the end. The Roman army was described with this word “The Roman persistency which would never make peace under defeat.” They might lose a battle, they might lose a campaign but never considered losing a war. The Christian character that Paul is describing here is one that will never admit defeat...will not be broken by any misfortune or suffering, which will not be deterred by any disappointment or discouragement, but which persists and endures to the end.

The second direction of meaning is patience, long suffering. But in the Greek the meaning is even more specific. It is patience with men. Chrysostom defined it as the spirit which has the power to take revenge, but never does so. Have you seen a large dog and a small puppy playing..the puppy nips, bites, attacks the larger dog who has the power to destroy the puppy but doesn’t. It is the spirit which bears insults and injury without bitterness and without complaint. It is that spirit that bears the foolishness of men without irritation. It is the spirit that can suffer unpleasant people with graciousness and fools without complaint.

Romans 2:4 Do you despise the long suffering of God?

1 Timothy 1:16 Paul speaks of the long suffering of Christ.

1 Peter 3:20 “The long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah.”

2 Peter 3:15 The long suffering of God is our salvation

The Spirit of Meekness

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The  Spirit of Meekness

Ephesians 4:1-3

The first three verses in Ephesians 4 are so rich in meaning and in application to our lives that we struggle with them. But if the church of our Lord is ever going to be what God planned for it to be in our generation it will have to be because we as the members of the church possess the characteristics that Paul describes here; We must walk worthy of that vocation wherewith we were called; We must walk in lowliness or humility; and we must also walk in meekness, or gentleness. 

We have often depreciated the idea of meekness or gentleness. To us it often thought of as a sissy attitude, It is a sign of weakness. But that is not what the Scripture has in mind in this word. It comes from a complex Greek word, very difficult to define in simple English words. Aristotle defines words often by suggesting them to be the mid-way point between two extremes. In other words he describes this word as the midway point excessive anger and excessive angerlessness. In other words it is not a person who is never angry nor one who is angry all the time. It is rather one who is angry at the right time and at the right things. It is one who is moved to anger by the wrongs and sufferings of others but never by the wrongs and insults he himself has to bear.

It can be defined in another way. It is used in Greek Literature of an animal trained to obey, completely domesticated and completely under discipline and control. Therefore, the man who is meek or gentle is a man who has every instinct and every passion and every motion of his mind and heart and tongue under perfect control. Now that is impossible ... but it would be right to say a meek man is God-controlled. He is a man who is willing to allow God to take the reigns of his life and control him.

This is a characteristic that grows out of humility. It is mildness or gentleness. Moses was the meekest of all men... but he was no weakling. Nor was he a sissy. He was strong leader of men, but a God controlled man.

Also read 

1 Peter 3:4

1 Corinthians 4:21

2 Corinthians 10:1

Galatians 5:23

Galatians 6:1

Colossians 3:12

1 Timothy 6:11

Personal Virtues

Posted in Weekly Devotional

 

Ephesians 4:1-3

 

The world in which we live it seems is concerned with nothing but discord, disharmony and disunity. Nation is divided against nation, man against man, class is divided against class, and in many himself there goes on an inner and unceasing battle between the higher and the lower part of his nature. It is God’s intention and design that all this disunity and disharmony should be resolved in Christ; that all nations and all men should become one in Christ; that in Christ the differences should be abolished and the separating walls torn down. Jesus provides the center around whom and in whom all men can be gathered into one.

 

But if ever that oneness is to be achieved and attained, the message of Christ, the fact of Christ, the love and mercy and the seeking heart of God in Christ must be taken to the whole world. And it is the function of the church to take that message to the world. The church must be the body through which Christ acts as the voice through which He speaks. The church must be Christ’s instrument in bringing this diviner unity into the world. But if the church is to succeed in that great task the people within the church must be a certain kind of people. ... and so Paul tells us to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.” Eph. 4:1. Another translation reads, “I urge you to behave yourselves in a way that is worthy of the calling with you are called.” Surely if we are going to present to the world the idea of the unity of Christ... then we must live in a manner acceptable to that. Truly if so-called Christians are not living like they should then they are bringing shame and reproach upon Christ and will be punished throughout eternity for such action. We must be mindful of the vast importance of guarding our lives for Christ.

And then Paul tells us that we are to walk with all lowliness. This is the idea of humility. Originally in the mind of the Greek this was a bad word....it described a cringing, cowering, servile, ignoble quality.. and so it largely does today. And yet this set at the very forefront of all virtues and, literally, it is the foundation upon which all virtues are built. It comes from self knowledge. It is the virtue by which a man becomes conscious of his own unworthiness, in essence his own truest knowledge of himself. To really face one’s self is the most humiliating thing in the world. Most of us dramatize ourselves. But true humility comes when we really see ourselves as we are, weak, selfish, a failure in work and personal relations and in achievement. It comes from setting our lives beside the life of Jesus and in the light of the demands of God. Too often we puff out our chest and look around at others and say we are not so bad. 2 Corinthians 10:12 tells us not to compare ourselves with others. Christ is the only real standard

 

It is the constant sense of our won creatureliness. We are God’s creation. God’s creation in absolute dependence upon Him. Of ourselves we have and are nothing, but with Christ we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

The Glorious Church

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The Glorious Church

Ephesians 3:20-21

Paul in our study has just concluded his prayer for the Ephesian Brethren... His prayer is for them to be strengthened with power in the inner man. Physical exercise is profitable for a little... but spiritual exercise is profitable unto all. It is the inner man that needs to be strong. His prayer also was for them to permit Christ to dwell in their hearts through faith. After all, He can dwell in us no other way. There is no special inner glow, warm feeling, or miraculous sign that is given to those who dwell in whom Christ dwells. It has to be by faith. Remember Jesus said “I am with you always, even to the end of the age”. Matthew 28:20. And then, he added, his prayer was that they may have power together with all saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Can you really think of, or comprehend the love of God? Of course not, it is too great. There can really be no measurement placed upon the love of God. And his prayer continued that the Ephesians may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now obviously no human can possess the fullness of God for that would be God Himself. But you can grow and mature.. in the knowledge of God and His will and word.

The last part of Verse 20 is what is called a Doxology, that is a statement of praise or glory. God is able to do”exceedingly abundantly above all that can think or ask.” We have all asked some great things of God. He may have chosen to grant that prayer or perhaps, not but in any regards the power of God was sufficient to do all that we asked, even though it is according to the power that works in us. How often do we feel that we simply don’t have the power to resist the devil? We don’t in and of ourselves have that kind of power in us. But the power to resist the devil comes from the Lord. He will empower us. He will give us all that we need. The power that we have is based upon the power to which we are connected. There are times when our electric power stops; our lights go out. Why? Because the power supply was interrupted. What is your power source? Are you sure you are connected to the Lord from whom all power comes? 

Ephesians 3:20, 21

Matthew 28:20

Strength Where it is Needed

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Ephesians 3:13-16

Picture if you will, the position of Paul at the time of this writing. He is in prison. He does not know the out come of that imprisonment. He is to appear before Caesar and what the result will be is not known. And the major thought on his mind was the encouragement of the Christians in Ephesus. Wouldn’t it be great if we all had the same view.... to encourage rather than discourage.

The King James Version uses the word “faint”, “That ye faint not.” The original word means to “do evil, draw or shrink back in battle, be weary or lose courage.” They could easily have become discouraged when they thought of what Paul had endured and it could possibly happen to them. Paul knew this. And so his whole purpose is to encourage, strength them. Don’t stumble, don’t turn back.

His prayer was for their continued growth in Christ. Remember the object of prayer is God. God the Father! As a Christian we have the opportunity, the freedom to approach God in prayer. That opportunity is the key thought of Christianity. Under the Old Testament God was inaccessible. He dwelt in the Holy of Holies and only the High Priest could enter there one day a year. The average person could never enter there. The whole family of God is named by the Father. We did not dream up that name. It was revealed from Heaven.

The thing that is needed to face the difficult times of life is strength from above. Paul prayed that they “might be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” The inner man is that non-material part of our being, our spirit, conscience, mind. and emotions. Romans 7:22 uses the same term to describe that spiritual part of man that delights in God’s law, contrasted to that fleshly side of man that craves sin.

The contrast is again made in 1 Corinthians 4:16 “Though our outward man (phyical body) perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”

How much more important it is that our inward man be strong. Christ dwells in us through the Holy Spirit. John 14:16-18, 23; Our faith is the entrance through which Christ enters.

Ephesians 3:13-16

Romans 7:22

1 Corinthians 4:16

John 14:16-18; 23.

God’s Wisdom, Proven

Posted in Weekly Devotional

 

Faith is never a private thing... we would often like to think that it is... the word shows that the Wisdom of God is to be revealed through the church ... The King James Version uses the word “by”, either is acceptable. One commentator that I read used the word “to” but that is inaccurate. It is by or through the church that the wisdom of God is shown. The church already believes in the wisdom of God and is a living demonstration of that wisdom. 

 

Notice to whom the wisdom of God is demonstrated. “Principalities and powers in heavenly places.” One translation says, “to angelic hosts, the first rulers and authorities.” It is not surprising to read in Hebrews 12:1 “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses...”

 

Our faith is not a private matter. These rulers and powers are both good and evil. 1 Peter 1:12 which “things the angels desire to look into.” How could a just God, an holy God, pardon and accept sinful men....The idea is too great for the righteous or even angles to accept. But now these angels can see the wisdom of God demonstrated in the church made up of men pardoned through the blood of Jesus.

 

The real question comes “What about your faith?” and “Are you in the church, the body of Christ?”  Are you proving to Satan and his crew, that God was wise in offering salvation to you? Or does the devil gloat because you refuse to serve Christ in the church?

 

This shows the need for the purity of the church. If the church is to show the wisdom of God then it must be pure ... redeemed ... forgiven... pure. Those who refuse to live lives that are separated from sin... bring shame and reproach upon the Lord. Hebrews 6:6 speaks of this by saying, “They crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put Him to an open shame.”

 

When Job of old remained faithful to God in spite of the problems Satan gave him... it proved that Satan was wrong and God was right; that God was right in blessing him.

 

Ephesians 3:10-12

 

Hebrews 12:1

 

1 Peter 1:12

 

Hebrews 6:6

The Mystery of God

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The Mystery of God

Ephesians 3:1-6

All that Paul has to say in the early part of this chapter, which really introduces a parenthetical expression which actually lasts unto verse 14 in which he picks up again the phrase, “for this cause,”is based on the conclusion of chapter 2. Since God has done away with the distinction between Jew and Gentile, since we are all one and God’s grace has made it all possible. Paul is inexpressibly thankful for all that God has done.

But let’s notice three things from the first 6 verses of this chapter.

  1. “Paul a prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.” Paul was, at this time, a prisoner in Rome. He could have said he was a prisoner of Rome and been right. He could have bewailed his innocence, because he was innocent. He was charged with bringing Trophimus into the Temple in Jerusalem. But he chose to view things from a different viewpoint. How life deals with us is determined largely by how we view life.

     Three men were working in a stone quarry in England. One said, “I‘m cutting this      

     stone to a certain size and shape”... and another said, “I’m working for so much

     money a day”... and the third said “I’m helping Sir Christopher Wren build St. Paul’s      

     Cathedral.” Now all were doing the same thing. 

  1. 2How Paul regarded himself is so vital. He thought of himself as the recipient of a new revelation. .. not as discovering a new truth. He knew that he was dealing with God’s word not his.... His thoughts had to be firmly planted in God’s will. He was the transmitter of God’s grace. ...Merely a pipeline through which that grace flowed. He did not know God’s grace for the purpose of keeping it for himself... but to pass on to others. He had the dignity of service. That service was to
  2. 3The mystery of God. A mystery is that which was previously unknown... it is now revealed... and therefore can be known. Hidden in times past from theand the apostles. But now it has been made known. But notice how that transmission was made... The Holy Spirit is responsible. The Holy Spirit gave this to the apostles and prophets. They speaking and writing by inspiration, passed that information on to us in the form of these written words v. 4. As a result we can now understand this mystery. And how thankful we should be.

II Timothy 3:16,17

II Peter 1:19-21