“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the quipping of the saints for the work of services, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
The emphasis of these verses is the building up of the body—not on spiritual gifts, as some like to emphasize.
God’s Plan: To build up the body: 1) Unity in Faith; 2) Unity in knowledge
A mature person can discern right and wrong, and thereby practice God’s will.
Ephesians 4:17-19—there is only one head--Christ. We either have a head or we do not have a head.
Household of God —New Testament Perspective
The Household of God is one of the key features in God’s plan seen in Scripture
Household means family.
Acts 15:16-18. Prophecy that God will build back the ruins of David’s House or Household so that the Gentiles can come in to God.
The New Testament Church as looking forward to an unshakable, eternal kingdom or home.
Luke 12:32 Don’t be afraid little clock, the Father has chosen to give you the Kingdom
Hebrews 12:38 Unshakeable kingdom
John 14:1-3 — Jesus refers to this “Home” idea when He says, “In My Fathers’s house there are many mansions.” He is creating an image of a home that is owned by the Father.
John 3:16 — We gain access into His Household through faith in Christ
Romans 5:1 — We are justified by faith and therefore have peace with God
Galatians 3:28-29 — Paul was clear in his writings about one family
Family Member is defined by his/her behavior:
You are of your father, Satan — you speak his language!
Paul says, “You are no longer of Satan’s household, stop acting like him!”
Three Definitions of Family that are rejected by the Gospel:
John 1:12. He has given us the authority to be children. The invitation is open to all.
There can be no division based on:
Nationality… Matt. 15:21-28
Culture… Acts 10:24-34 (no partiality w/Cornelius)
Race… Philip & eunuch / Jesus and Phoenetian woman
Wealth… Luke 8:1-3 Mary delivered, Joanna Herod’s steward and Susanna
Education… John 1:40-41. Fisherman
Occupation.. Matthew 9:6. Matthew was a tax collector
Lifestyle… John 4: Woman at the well was a Samaritan and a sinner
Condition in life… John 9:6-7. Blind man can see
There are many other scriptures which show the inclusiveness of Christ…Roman soldier, tax collector, prostitutes, Pharisees, women of wealth, lepers, poor, blind, rich, Gentiles, Jews
God as the Father of the Household
Romans 8:14-16. By receiving Christ, we receive His Holy Spirit. That is why we can call God our Father. His life is now in us!
Luke 15…Parable of the Prodigal Son shows us the truth that LIFE IS WITH THE FATHER. Son who was far and son who was near both misunderstood the importance of the RELATIONSHIP.
Result of Being in the Household of God: Worship in Spirit and in Truth
John 1:12; John 4; Exodus 19; 1 Cor. 11:23
Daily Fellowship: Acts 1:13-14; 2:46-47; 5:42; 12:12
When I come to the end of my life, I don't think I am going to say things like, "I wish I had spent less time talking with my wife," "All that time spent teaching my kids was a waste," "I wish I had spent more time sleeping, rather than being as productive as I could be," "I wish I had spent less time in prayer and reading the Bible," "I wish I had spent less time worshipping God and in fellowship with other Christians, learning and growing in devotion to this great God who I will live with for eternity," "All the time spent reaching out to neighbors with the hope of the Gospel, helping those in need any way I could, and preaching and teaching the Word of God was fruitless," or "I really should have spent more on my selfish desires, such as -------."
Paul's letter to the Ephesians says we should make the most of our time because the days are evil, and that the way to do that is to learn the will of God for each of us.
"...having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God...though He is not far from us;" (Acts 17:26-27).
God is this one determining our time here on earth, and is pleading with us to seek Him--the one who has given us life, breath, and all things.
As hard as we try, we really cannot give ourselves more time than God has allotted. How are we using that time?
For me, it is a question of whether I am living my life with an attitude of pleasing myself and others or with an attitude of pleasing God.
Many issues in this fallen world present challenges in various capacities. This is not a simple question because what could be considered an “issue for Christianity” could be examined through the lenses of the Church, Christianity the religion, Christian orthodoxy (right thinking) and orthopraxy (right practice), or the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
A question comes to mind that may shed some light on contemporary thinking. What will be our Lord? Will the Church—organization, institution or body of believers—be our lord? Will adherence to some perceived or human-created standards of right teaching and practice govern our every thought and action? Too many churches get bogged down and sidetracked with these things. Our one Lord is Jesus Christ Himself, whether we accept Him or not. Ephesians 4:1-6, "Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all."
The most significant issue facing the Church and affecting our thought and practice is whether or not we accept the Lordship of the God of the Bible. It is really going to be a question of whether or not people understand and accept the ultimate authority of Scripture. Too many people even now get at least distracted and at worst turn themselves and others completely away from the faith. Families are and will be neglected. Sin is accepted and propounded—and things are only going to get worse. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” (2 Timothy 4:3). People—and whole churches—are already doing this, so over the next ten years we are going to witness things getting much worse, in the world and in the church. Judgement is coming. The question is will we be people who will endure God’s discipline and the world’s persecution? We can only do this by examining God’s Living Word and seeking deeper submission to the Holy Spirit.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness
for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry.
Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and yet He was tempted.
1. Temptation often comes upon a believer with its strongest power when he/she is nearest to God.
Why does God allow temptation for a believer?. Look at a tree...storms make roots go deeper and deeper and enable to stand even greater storms. Oak trees don't become strong within a day or two; they go through different seasons and heavy storms.
2. Another example: Fire makes paintings on ceramics permanent and beautiful. Take examples of any missionaries, John Bunyan, William Tyndale or William Carey and many saints, who were going through temptations and testing and became a model for us.
3. When the devil tries to distract us from following the Lord, we need to overcome by the Word of God. Then we can feel the touch of our Lord Jesus Christ in the middle of the storms sufferings (Heb. 12:11). There are many examples from the Bible of people who overcame.
4. Our Lord Jesus stood the test and came out victorious, defeating the devil. Jesus said "In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." We may experience various tribulations and temptations, but we have a victorious Lord in everything. Praise the Lord, let's follow His steps.
This devotion was sent to us from a friend who trains pastors in India.
"For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the Lord of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth.
Our meditation today:
This is a wonderful verse which has very rich meaning of each of the attributes of our Lord.
3. The Lord of hosts
5. Holy one of Israel
6. God of all the earth.
There is a rich meaning of all the above attributes. We were meditating, He is our Redeemer. This redeemer aspects has relationship to all other attributes.
1. The Redeemer concept developed from Exodus onwards. The Lord redeemed Israel from their physical bondage which has a direct implication of our redemption from sin and death, spiritual.
2. No redemption possible without shedding of blood. Hebrews chapter 9 specifically deals with the issue of redemption, comparing OT verses NT redemption ( 9:9 & 14). 3. We were under the bondage of devil and his power (Colossians 1 13,14). Jesus Christ our Lord paid it by His precious blood and redeemed us.
4. Christ is our Redeemer, like Boaz became the redeemer of Ruth. Ruth symbolizes the church and Boaz as Christ.
5. We are redeemed to be His, His alone. Complete recovery to be used by Him, to be His servants.
Compared the following points and added into our meditation:
The purpose of God redeeming the people of Israel. This is a wonderful imagery of the real lifestyle of Israel and the New Israel, we the church and each one of us. The people of Israel are redeemed by God:
1. To dwell among them (Ex.25:8;29;46; Deut. 23:14; Jn.1:14)
2. To be their God (Lev. 25:38; 26:12,13; 2 Cor. 6:16)
3. To sanctify them for Himself, a special people for Him (Lev. 22:32,33; 1 Thess. 4:3)
4. To be His servants (Lev. 25:42,55; isa.41;8;42:1;43:10; Rom. 1:2)
5. To separate them from the Gentiles (Lev. 20:24, 26; Deut.26:18,19; 1 cor. 10:20,21; 2 cor.6:14-17)
6. To be a Priest and a Holy nation for the Living God (Ex. 19:5,6; 1 Peter 2:9,10).
The redemption brings a special privilege for a special responsibility to perform.
Our prayer today Lord discipline us, help us, give your grace to be used by you. We're yours, your servants alone. Give us a single eye devotion towards you and to live in your presence eternally.
(This is not our original work. The original author is cited at the bottom).
Have you ever noticed how in the scriptures men are always going up into the mountains to commune with the Lord?
Yet in the scriptures we hardly ever
hear of women going to the mountains,
and we know why — right?
Because the women were too busy
keeping life going;
they couldn’t abandon babies,
and a thousand responsibilities to make the climb into the mountains!
I was talking to a friend the other day,
saying that as modern woman
I feel like I’m never “free” enough
from my responsibilities,
never in a quiet enough,
or holy enough spot
to have the type of communion
I want with God.
Her response floored me,
“That is why God comes to women.
Men have to climb the mountain to meet God, but God comes to women where ever they are.”
I have been pondering on her words for weeks and have searched my scriptures
to see that what she said is true.
God does in deed come to women
where they are,
when they are doing their ordinary,
He meets them at the wells
where they draw water for their families,
in their homes,
in their kitchens,
in their gardens.
He comes to them
as they sit beside sickbeds,
as they give birth,
care for the elderly,
and perform necessary mourning and burial rites.
Even at the empty tomb,
Mary was the first to witness Christ’s resurrection,
She was there because she was doing the womanly chore of properly preparing Christ’s body for burial.
In these seemingly mundane
and ordinary tasks,
these women of the scriptures found themselves face to face with divinity.
So if — like me — you ever start to bemoan the fact that you don’t have as much time to spend in the mountains with God as you would like. Remember, God comes to women. He knows where we are and the burdens we carry. He sees us, and if we open our eyes and our hearts we will see Him, even in the most ordinary places and in the most ordinary things.
Original 🖌: Heather Farrell
John 14:6—Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father apart from Him. In other words, we are lost, in confusion and dead apart from Christ.
Proverbs 14:12—There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. I can’t figure out my own way, become enlightened, or find wisdom on my own which will give me life. Therefore, I am at God’s mercy for life. Am I receiving His mercy? Picture:
Kind of like Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, God is giving life to our mortal bodies, one day to be fully revived—resurrected.
-Romans 8:9-11—the spiritual life should be seen in my mortal body
God is making every effort to revive me.
-Romans 8:18-21—God’s creation longs for this.
-Sufferings are actually Holy Spirit breaths and pressure from God’s Word—from Scripture—to keep my new heart going.
I have to participate in the revival process—I have to receive God’s help!
Psalm 51:8, 10-13—David as an example. He knew he needed a new heart. He also knew he needed God’s help in sustaining this new life.
Ezekiel 37:1-6; 37:11-14—the Valley of Dry Bones. God is the one who gives it life and he is the one who will be glorified. This should be the same in my life!
John 15:1-2…God is making it so we will be more fruitful. We have to participate in the “pruning.” vs. 8-9…I have to let go of anything not helping me to love others
9th Commandment: You Shall Not Give False Testimony Against Your Neighbor (Ex. 20:16)
This passage in Deuteronomy illustrates how seriously OT Israel was to take this commandment: Deuteronomy 19:15-21…the person accusing falsely was to bear the punishment of the one convicted. THE FIRST LIAR: Satan (Genesis 3)—when we lie in any way, we are aligning ourselves with the devil.
Why would a person give false testimony against their neighbor? There could be many possible motivations. Like most of the other commandments this sin is probably rooted in selfishness: bringing someone else down for my gain. Whether that is profiting through bolstering my image/status, actually monetary or physical gain, or just simply feeling better about myself, it is a selfish action. It is an attempt to put myself in God’s place, as if I actually know everything about a person’s actions and motives behind their actions. I may even be convinced in my own mind about someone, but it could still be a false perception. The Jews in Jesus’ time were convinced about their status as God’s children, but sought to justify themselves apart from Jesus—they were actually children of the devil! (John 8:42-47).
God is the only righteous judge—the one who has given the Law and set the standard (Psalms 7:11; James 4:11-12). This was ultimately realized in Jesus. (I am the Way, the TRUTH and the Life—John 14:6).
This commandment can be broadened from the courtroom setting to everyday life—not even listening to rumors or gossip, or things that we are not certain are true. The truth that the LORD is God (Exodus 20:2) is what *should* rein in our tongue/speech (James 2:3). If we are undisciplined in what/how we speak, then we are perpetuating the way of death (James 2:4-8).
No human being can “tame the tongue” (James 2:8); therefore, all have broken this commandment and are under God’s wrath! But Christ fulfilled the Law (Matt. 5:17). By the power He gives, our tongues can be “tamed.” (John 8:31-38…have to have room for His word in our hearts!) In other words, we can subject ourselves to the truth of God—being made new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17)—and in His love, speak what is really true. Love rejoices in the truth (1 Cor. 13:6). Ephesians 4:23-25 also speaks to this.
James 3:9…takes this a step further. If we truly are new creatures in Christ, able to tame our tongues, then why would we curse—or speak against—our brother?
Remember, it is not our place to judge people, but rather to love them out of the riches of wisdom in Christ (Matthew 7:1-5; Colossians 2:2-3).
“Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)—>this should be one of our foundational guiding principles as Christians. Everything we have is from God. His mercy; His love; His wisdom; revelation of His word; power of His Spirit.
Everything should be done to build up others in the faith, not tear them down. Ephesians 4:1-13 ; Jude 20-25. This may require speaking hard things to people, but how we do it is important. The reason should be to encourage, exhort, and build up. 1 Timothy 5:1-7 highlights how any teaching and correction in the body of Christ should be done with care, and in a personal way.
God’s Word, through the working of the Holy Spirit is what will convict people of sin and guide them into all truth as they seek Him. (Hebrews 12: ; John 16:13)
Therefore, we should leave judgment to God and simply speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15)
What if someone speaks falsely against us? Jesus cites Deuteronomy 19 in answering this question in Matthew 5:38-42, ““You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”
—We should even be seeking to build up those who are trying to tear us down! It is not possible for a person to have this outlook apart from the Love of Christ.
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33).
Jesus, help us!
How we live our lives should be a clear picture of the mercy of our Savior and everyone’s need for Him. —2 Corinthians 4:1-12.
Let’s get rid of secret ways which always seek selfish ambitions and distort the word of God.
8th Commandment: You Shall Not Steal
To steal is to take or use something that does not belong to me without permission. It points out, like most of the other commandments, how selfish a person can be.
Stealing can take many forms. We could outright steal a physical possession of someone, or their money directly or indirectly. Sometimes we might just “borrow” it with the intention of returning it, but better to ask permission! This may seem overly strict, but why risk offending someone and cutting off a relationship which the Lord has given us to share His word and make His love known? “Love…does not seek its own” (1 Cor. 13:4-5).
We can steal time, too. Let’s say I make an appointment with a friend from out of town which requires him to set aside other plans for the day. If I cancel that appointment last minute, I have stolen my friend’s time! If I waste time at work on things which do not contribute to the school, my students, or bettering myself as a teacher, then I am stealing time from my employer.
It’s safe to say we have all broken this command. Let’s throw ourselves at God’s mercy.
Romans 7:21—8:8…Paul says he wants to follow God’s Law, but he can’t due to the influence of the flesh. However, he has been set free by Jesus who has given Paul—and us—the Spirit which has given us life and peace. Now the question is, “do I have my mind set on the flesh (selfish desire) or on the Spirit (true life and peace)?”
If I have my mind set on the Spirit, I will not be allowed by Him to steal anything. In fact, He will show me things I never would have thought were wrong. One example is not using my work computer for personal business. I don’t think I would get in trouble for this, but a little less usage will probably make the school-owned computer last a little longer…
My desire to have more than I do will diminish, too.
Contentment. I know the Lord is the giver of everything I have, but it is taking some time to really be content—which if I am lacking can lead to the temptation to steal. Proverbs 30:8-9 says, “Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.”
Focus on Giving, not Getting. Paul connects these two ideas as opposites in Ephesians 4:28, “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” It is important to note here that there are a lot of giving people in this world who don’t know Jesus, but claim to have altruistic motives. To truly give as God would like us to, we have to realize what Paul says just before this in verses 22-24—“Put on the new self”—really Christ HIMSELF. This requires us to lay aside the old self which has been “corrupted by the lusts of deceit.” In other words, every person on this planet is deceived into thinking they have some good in them. They are not focused on the things of God, rather excluded from the life of God apart from Christ (vs. 18).
Our giving should always be focused on the advancement of God’s kingdom. 2 Corinthians 9:6-15…”sowing” or giving will, by the grace of God, result in a harvest of righteousness, and God will be glorified. The LORD is the source of all things and deserves all thanks, praise and glory given to Him!
Psalm 24:1…Everything belongs to God. Therefore, if I am claiming anything as my own, not using it for God’s purposes, then I am stealing from God.
Our giving should always be to please God, not people. Matthew 6:2-4…giving in secret. If I am giving to receive attention/glory from others, then I am stealing God’s glory! The person receiving will have no choice but to see that the gift is from God. Our reward: we may see someone come to Christ!
If we truly have our mind set on the Spirit, the best reward we could receive on earth is seeing people give their lives to the rightful owner—Jesus Christ.
We will occasionally post Scripture meditations, encouraging stories, answers to prayer, or Bible Study notes here.