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Another year is passed, which gives us an opportunity to do a self inventory. Have I grown in the Lord or have I digressed? Matthew 15:8 keeps coming to mind.
About-Him.Com Devotional 01-03-2015
Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with [their] lips; but their heart is far from me.
Jesus wasn't talking about rank sinners and unbelievers. He was talking about people who had an outward appearance of holiness, but their heart was rotten. They gave alms to the poor, kept the necessary rituals and attended the temple regularly. Jesus wasn't impressed. I have to ask myself, "Is He satisfied with me?
I don't want to be like the one who received the seed of the word of God and then let the cares and riches and pleasures of this life kill that which has been implanted in my life (Lu. 8:14). Jesus told us in Luke 21:14 to take heed unto ourselves (take inventory) lest His return catch us unawares.
Nor do I want to be found like the ten virgin of Matthew 25, Parable of the Ten Virgins. They were pure and clean, but they couldn't stay awake. They couldn't replenish their oil supply before the Bridegroom appeared. Jesus gave that as a warning for all of us.
Keeping the Unity of the Spirit
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The first three chapters of Ephesians deal mainly with doctrine and reassurance to the gentile believers that they are on equal footing with their Jewish brethren. Now we come to chapter four which deals with the practical application of the gospel in our daily lives.
Ephesians 4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,
Because of all that Paul has laid out in the first three chapters he beseeches the Ephesians to walk worthy of the calling (Vocation KJV) that has been so graciously and freely given to them. They didn’t do anything to earn their salvation, but God by the unmerited favor of His grace called then out of darkness and caused them to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Seemingly, one could not take such an honor lightly, and yet we do, don’t we?
Ephesians 4:2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,
We are to bear with one another in love, as we exercise lowliness and gentleness with longsuffering. We are to love as Christ loved us and forgive as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). A little reflection on some of our less than stellar past deeds will tell us just how much longsuffering is called for. I would say quite a bit, wouldn’t you ?
Ephesians 4:3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
The unity of the Spirit is something that we have to work at, it is not automatic. We remember that as far back as the first church in Jerusalem that their was racial discord and distrust because the Greeks felt that their widows were being neglected in favor of the Hebrew widows (Acts 6). The apostles didn’t ignore the trouble and sweep it under the rug and hope that it would go away. They dealt with the problem head on by appointing deacons. This is certainly a good example of endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit. Keeping unity in the bond of peace: A bond in this case is an adhesive. If we mix sand and water together with cement powder we end up with a solid mass. The bonding cement has surrounded each particle of sand and stone and we end up with a solid piece of concrete.
This is what happens when we apply the bond of peace to the church of Christ. We have people (particles) of every nation, creed and color, who have different backgrounds and practices. When we are all mixed together we are surrounded by the bond of peace and we become one entity. Jesus is our bond of peace (Ephesians 2:14). He was chastised for our peace at Calvary (Isaiah 53), and He left us a peace that was not of this world (John 14:27). Because we are justified by faith we have peace with God (Romans 5:1). Because we have been filled with His Spirit we enjoy righteousness and peace (Romans 14:17). Peace is listed as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
The Ephesian church was comprised of both Jews and gentiles. Many of the Jews still kept the law, while the gentiles had very few restrictions placed upon them (Acts 21:25). This certainly called for tolerance between the two groups. Well, is it any different today? Even within denominations there are wide differences in practice. Much more across denominational lines. Verses 4-7 give us what is called, The Seven Unities. God is one and His plans and purposes were set in place before Creation. We, as diverse as we are, are all members of His one body. God’s One Spirit dwells in us because we have believed the One faith and submitted to the One baptism (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:12; Acts 10:48; Romans 6:14; Colossians 2:12; I Corinthians 12:13). Because of this Almighty God is pleased to dwell with us all (II Corinthians 6:16).
Ephesians 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Jesus died for His church, period, No distinctions of race or denomination. No high church or low church. No white church or black church. Simply His church (Acts 20:28). When we get to the throne we will see this one entity of every kindred tongue and nation (Revelation 5:9) praising and magnifying their Savior who bought them with His blood (Ephesians 5:25-27).
We will be unified and at peace there. Perhaps we need to try a bit harder for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace here?
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Don and Marie Spooner
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