God-Prepared People to Prepare People

God, in His grace, has given us the greatest of all gifts. He gave us Himself! Once we have Him (and He has us) we are given gifts to be used by Him. He prepares us to prepare others. It may be one-on-one or it may be a special responsibility to minister to a number of people. As someone wisely put it, God gave gifts to men and then gave gifted men to the Church. Jesus did this while He was here. In the wake of His departure, He established certain offices to serve the Church. This is told to us in Ephesians 4:7-11: But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.)  And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” Why He gave them is explained in Verses 12-13. Paul said, under inspiration, that it was  “ For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” The intended outcome of this preparation will occupy us tomorrow, God willing.  Selah! What gifts has He given you and how will you use them? What will be your objective? Ron

A Very Special Body

 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). Paul wrote of the unity of the Spirit in Verse 3. He urged the saints to strive to maintain that unity. A body should function with each part in harmony with the whole body (I. e; the Church). Of all bodies, the Church is not to be disjointed. This working together is necessary and can be done. We share one hope:  Heaven and all that leads to it. We have One Lord. All of our love and loyalty is due Him, first and foremost. There is only one faith. All genuine believers (or those who are learning Truth) are (or will be) united on the major doctrines. There is one baptism: we are immersed into His Body, the Church. (Water baptism is a visual illustration of that and an identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. Without going into detail, we have one God, manifested in three Persons. Our God surrounds us, fills us and immerses us in Himself. Our God is above all! Let’s submit our all to His wise, loving and blessed guidance and directions for our lives. Selah! Thinking these implications through will be a wise and rewarding investment of time for all who are serious about discipleship.  Ron

Tangible Evidence

We’ve been thinking on some of God’s amazing plan and purpose for His own. We’ve seen His provision for and preparation of His children. These things go on for us and in our inner being. God knows and we gradually come to see what His working is accomplishing. However, the world around us doesn’t have a clue. Unsaved people do not have any way to comprehend God’s working in the lives of the born again………..unless they see the results of that working. This is why Paul was inspired to write, “I therefore the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). This kind of Christian character and conduct is tangible and observable evidence of the working of God. It is the outworking of what God has been working into us. This kind of character and conduct is not something that we can bring about by our own efforts. It comes as the Holy Spirit brings the Word of God to bear on our hearts and minds. He does that as we soak in and are saturated with Scripture. When God’s Word impacts our minds, enters our hearts and generates holy desires to honor our Savior and Lord, the world around us has tangible evidence of the reality of God and what He can accomplish in a human being. Some are motivated to desire that God would do this kind of work in their lives and they open themselves to Him. Selah! When the evidence is seen, the preaching of the Word is much more likely to be truly heard.   Ron
 

Him!

Do any of us actually grasp even a fraction of what Jesus means to us? In Ephesians 3:12-21, we are granted some wonderful insights about Him. In Verse 12, we are reminded that we can confidently and boldly enjoy access to God, by our faith in Him. By implication, we learn that He is the only way that we can enjoy access to God. In Verse 13-14, based on all the things Paul has included in his letter to the church, he parenthetically expresses his desire, “….that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Verse 15, we are reminded that we bear His Name. Paul’s prayer continues in Verses 16-20. He prayed that they and we by His very rich glory would draw upon the mighty strength of the Holy Spirit in our inner being. We draw upon this strength when we read, study and apply God’s Word in our daily lives. Next, in Verses 17-19, a wonderful thing is prayed for us. First, that He may be at home in our hearts and that our roots would go down deep into the Word of God and we would build our lives (ground them) on the only solid foundation: Him! In addition, Paul went on to pray in Verses 18-19 that we and they would know and understand the love of Christ in all its dimensions. Such a comprehension would lead to our being filled with all the fullness of God. Finally, in Verses 20-21, Paul renders a crescendo of praise: “Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ through out all ages, world without end. Amen!” Selah! What a treasure trove of Spiritual Truth is found in the above! I wonder how many of us will expend much effort in internalizing these blessings.   Ron
 

Creation’s Trophy Display

Here in Ephesians 3:1-6, Paul while in prison, explains his knowledge of the mystery of Christ. He is in prison (a prisoner of Jesus Christ-See Verse 1) because of the need of the Gentiles to learn about God’s grace toward them. He testifies that this mystery was revealed to him. This mystery was unknown to the sons of men in past ages but had been revealed at that present time to Christ’s holy Apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit (Verses 3-5). Just what is the mystery? Verse 6 tells us the mystery is, “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body (the Church), and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” In Verse 7, he adds that he was made a minister, “according to the gift of the grace of God.” He adds that this grace was given unto him, “by the effectual working of His power.” He continues in Verses 8-9, acknowledging his unworthiness to be granted such grace. He was appointed to, “preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ.”  Then, in Verses 10-11, he gives the reason for such a commission. It is that all of creation will see His trophies of grace on display. God’s wisdom, His grace, His purpose will be known  “to the principalities and powers in heavenly places. ”  God purposed all of this “in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Selah! Wondering why God would ever even think of giving His Son for us, these Heavenly creatures behold undeserving sinners transformed into the very likeness of Christ. These trophies of grace, Christ’s Church, display the wonder of God’s wisdom, power and love!  Ron

Looking Back, Around and Ahead

Looking back to when we were still in our spiritual graves, our condition is vividly described in Ephesians 2:11-12. “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” This was a horrible condition! Now, however, we can look around to see how wonderfully our condition has changed. Verses 13-17 give us a picture of our present blessings. “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who hath made both (Jew and Gentile) one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain (Jew and Gentile) one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both (Jew and Gentile) unto God in one body (the Church) by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh, For through Him we both (Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Verses 19-22 take us from our present condition and direct us ahead. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple (the Church) in the Lord: in Whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” The Church, into which all who are born again have been baptized, is a holy dwelling place for God on earth, in the Person of the Holy Spirit. His Spirit glows through this Spiritual structure (Body) shining Light into a dark world through us. Selah! Let’s avoid all that would diminish His glory in the eyes of those watching.   Ron

Valid Conversion

What a crime it would be, if we led people to believe that they were saved and they weren’t. A false security is far worse than no security. It causes the person to believe all is well when, in fact, there is actually eternal danger. I believe there are many who have been misled in exactly this way. What indicates a valid conversion? Paul, writing under inspiration in Ephesians 2:2-3, explained that once a person is born again, resurrected out from the grave of spiritual death, great change has begun. In Verse 2, he says that we walked in the way of the world, under the influence of the devil. In Verse 3, He points out that it was among the people of the world, the unsaved, that we all “had our lifestyle. Note that word: “had.” Once we have received Jesus as our Savior and Lord, the old lifestyle is being replaced with a new lifestyle; one that honors God. Paul explains in Verse 7, that God shows His rich grace by His kindness to us through Christ. In Verses 8-9, he points out that we are saved by grace alone, through faith. There isn’t a thing that we can do but trust His Son for the gift of Spiritual life. Nevertheless, it is a deadly mistake to end the subject at Verse 9. Verse 10 gives the outcome of truly trusting Jesus for salvation. In Verse 10, we discover that God’s workmanship is to discipline us to walk in Godly conduct, governed by Godly principles found in His Word. He has ordained that this will be! The “is” of our new life is ongoing change from sin’s way to God’s way. Anything less indicates a lack of true conversion.  Selah! Could the low level of living that is common among many who claim to be saved actually reveal that they are not genuinely converted?   Ron