Unity Through being Christ-Like – 8-17-22

and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:23-24 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! And we pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Ephesians chapter 4 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Walk in Unity

I, therefore, the prisoner [a]of the Lord, [b]beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were 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 [c]you all.

Spiritual Gifts

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says:

“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”

(Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also [d]first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the [e]edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

The New Man

17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as [f]the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Do Not Grieve the Spirit

25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give [g]place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary [h]edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, [i]clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Footnotes
a. Ephesians 4:1 Lit. in
b. Ephesians 4:1 exhort, encourage
c. Ephesians 4:6 NU omits you; M us
d. Ephesians 4:9 NU omits first
e. Ephesians 4:12 building up
f. Ephesians 4:17 NU omits the rest of
g.
Ephesians 4:27 an opportunity
h.
Ephesians 4:29 building up
i.
Ephesians 4:31 loud quarreling

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Romans 8:1

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

I hope you are enjoying this book as much as I am. Although I am bound to it as my duty to Christ. I must do this because God asked me to and I am committed to and you all are expecting to see it – I am a prisoner of the Lord in this work.
Paul was a prisoner in Rome, but not a prisoner to Rome – even under house arrest with armed guards his commitment to Christ to teach the church was the only bondage he felt. In Christ we are free and when in bondage to His work, more free!

1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,”

I’ll be the first one to admit we cannot do this without the help of the Lord – but do not be trapped by that, because the Lord is willing and able to help. We still have the obligation to hold up our end of the relationship. We’ve entered into a relationship with Christ. And just like we must hold up our end of our relationship to our friends and spouse – we must also work on and hold up our end of the relationship with Christ. That is a huge part of walking worthy. We own our responsibility in this – even though we need help with it, we still do it.

with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Lowliness is humility. Gentleness is pretty self-explanatory. Longsuffering is not really suffering, but it is an endurance type of patience. Bearing means carrying. One another in LOVE – and that is the unconditional love that loves without reason or condition, as God is love.
Do you remember what Peace is? Peace is the resolution of the conflict of enmity with God – and that is Jesus. Jesus did that. He did that at the cross when grace transformed a sinless man into our sins, then death, then victory into life.  Therefore to keep unity in the bonds of peace – we must not just recall the work of the cross, but also recall the experience we had with grace that transformed us and compelled us in love to be bound to it – to do all good works.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;”

Therefore if one suffers under oppression, we are suffer. If one suffers from blindness, we are suffer. If one needs deliverance, we all suffer. There is but one body and we are all members.  Do you see why we should lay hands on the sick and oppressed, and those afflicted – because we need to tend to ourselves to keep us whole and healthy.  It is in this same unity that we are called.
Yes – one hope of our callings. When you see another called and working for God, even if their calling is the same as yours, bring them in and let God use you both. Then find more and bring them in. God is in charge of his work, so He will make it complement each other. This is not about people who are called – this is about the people who are healed, set free, delivered, and disciple. We all have the same mission and calling – Go ye therefore: tell them about Jesus and make disciples, and often times that requires healing, delivering and setting people free.

one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

We are one body, with one calling, one hope because we all serve one and the same Lord.
Paul said in other books we’ve studied, about baptism being a sharing in Christ’s work of the cross and our death to our fleshly desires. But Paul now takes it a step further and as we bear each other’s burdens we have died with each other in our baptisms and came back up out of the water together in unity.
And one Father who is everywhere, including in us. So our spirit bears witness.

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.”
(Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Yes, Jesus descended and fought sin and death and rose again – but he did not stop at coming back to earth! Nope! Because if he was here then he could not send His spirit to come dwell in each of us. The battle would have been lost! He has to ascend – and to heights far above the heavens! There is power in the name of Jesus because he is ABOVE all things! And we are not bund to one language so the same power is in the English version of His name and the Hebrew version and every pronunciation and version. We are a people who serve a God of every tongue (which he created at the tower of Babylon) and every spiritual tongue poured out in Acts. Because it is not the word, it is the authority of having been raised up above the heavens! Above all things.
Even above us who he has raised up to sit in heavenly places.

Before we accept our gifts, before we stand fast in who we are in Him, before we enter God presence and worship and bring petitions, we must know where Jesus is – above all at the right hand of the Father and we are seated in heavenly places. Take your position and do not forfeit it, give it up, or be tricked out of it, as the enemy is trying!

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,”

I’ll admit, the idea of apostles being for now is something foreign to me. I grew up in a 4 fold ministry church without Apostles. Since then the governing body has also said there are not prophets and no evangelists. But some have prophetic gift and missionaries have evangelists’ gifts. And suddenly things are muddy – and boy do I hate the word of God muddied. (And missionaries are not even on this list! They are evangelists!)
In the days (in the Old Testament) when Babylon was coming to take them captive and into the captivity – there was an out pouring of the prophetic gifts and many prophets rose up: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zephaniah and Zachariah, to name a few. Today, with our captivity at hand there is AGAIN another outpouring of the prophetic. And we all know, I have been burned and I am leery and pray and fast and seek God about ALL prophetic words! But the Prophet is definitely for NOW!
Let us agree together to say, believe and declare and decree that: it is written, “He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers”

 “12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”

To equip us – to edify us… until. Yes – verse 13 says “till”. So there is an end to these gifts? Yes. There is a potential end. Because the gifts are here for a reason.

13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

The gifts are here to make new believers and grow up perfect Christians. Therefore once we are all perfect believers without sin – AND everyone is saved, we will no longer have the gifts.
You say: but that will never happen here on earth. And I think Paul agrees with you. We will always have these gifts in the earth we know. But in heaven and in the new earth, we will no longer need these gifts and no longer have them.

17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Repent. Walk away from it. I know it is hard. I get the flesh on me all the time. We must be good repenters. We must work on this daily with the help of our Lord.

20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

So we strive to be holy when it is impossible? Kinda. There is a point to it. We can follow Paul as he followed the Lord (the bible says). He was pretty darn close. He was not obsessed with holiness and following laws and rules for sanctification. He was obsessed with Jesus and freedom. So if we seek holiness – seek Jesus. If we seek sanctification, seek Jesus!
If we have needs in our finances, health, heart and mind – SEEK JESUS! If we seek the anointing, SEEK JESUS!!

25 Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.”

Lying is of the devil and a liar is his child and not a child of God.

26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,”

It is not wrong to be angry and I thank God for this! He gave us this feeling and said that it is not wrong – but how you CHOOSE to respond to this feeling can be right or wrong. Be angry – but do not hate, do not curse, and do not sin!

27 nor give place to the devil.”

I have so many things to say about this verse. Do not give place to the devil. You give him a speck and he builds a stronghold. YES – even Christians, even Christian leaders… you believe a lie of his and boom there is a strong tower of the enemy! Don’t run into that tower for protection!
I know from working with women that their looks are often the area that they surrender to the devil. Vanity will kill you, because once the enemy has ground it is easier to grab more ground. Let’s take me. I have always accepted myself and liked the way I looked. I also liked playing with it with makeup and changing my hair – but it was for fun and was not a trap for me. My weight was a struggle until I realized I was ill and it was caused by that – so I began and continue to pray for complete healing.
Now, I lost my hair to covid and being sick caused me to gain weight. I do not like the way I look, moreover, I do not recognize myself. However God made me. And I have to trust His process. And if he is making me to look different physically, He has the right to tell His story through me any way He wants. I will surrender. Besides I have no one to impress but Jesus.
That being said – I forgot to put on my makeup this weekend when I was out with friends and left it in the car. So I returned to the car and put it on. Man was I teased about how I look good without makeup and I do not need it and so on. Ok. But I still like it. It is ok to wear makeup if it is not vanity. I am an artist, a painter, you really expect me not to paint my face and my jewelry and my clothes and scarves and so on and so forth!

28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”

This verse can also be read to let him to do any sin, do that sin no more. Paul is clearly saying repent. Often we ask forgiveness of our sins and forget that we must STOP doing them. What is crazy is that this includes sins that are also bondages, and demonic strongholds like addiction. As I told you before I used to smoke and prayed for forgiveness over and over and over. I quit for 3 years that was and instantaneous freedom. I just didn’t even want to smoke. I picked it back up again and when I tried to quit – it was harder. God again gave me supernatural instantaneous freedom from it but he did not remove the cravings nor did he protect me from the lies of the devil. When I was freed, I had to put it down. I had to stop. I have to resist the devil. I had to take part and fight for the freedom God gave me.
We need to NOT sin. And we have the power to NOT sin. We have to put it down.

29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”

This past weekend with my friend, we went to hear a preacher who touched on idle words. And in the car after I made a joke that was negative in nature. Just that fast! Corrupt words, negative idle words, thoughtless words… these things do damage. Bless ONLY.  I had to repent.
God convicts me of this often. And points it out when others do it also, because he is working on it with me. But above and beyond what I notice and repent of… I had not even noticed in the car when I did it and my friend pointed it out. I thought, it would be great if she followed me around everywhere keeping me accountable! Lol She was worried she’d offend me. NOPE! I love it. I want to do what is right, and it is hard to. God is good. And He is my helper. We cannot even guard our mouths without him.

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

I have heard that grieve the Holy Spirit means to take the Lord’s name in vain. I am sure that would grieve him – but he is HOLY and wants to dwell within you and if you are sinning… well, holiness and sin cannot occupy the same space. So the Holy Spirit is evicted from the space where sin is. That is pretty grievous and the next verse does talk about putting down other sins!

31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Put down the sin and close the door. Give it no space. Can you imagine what would happen if there were 10 people in your church who gave no space to the enemy, kept their position in heavenly places, with humble confidence, and put down all sins. Become like Paul. He was not asking us to do something he couldn’t. He succeeded and he was just man. We can to with the help of Jesus.
And even just 5 Paul like people in our local churches could change the whole world! I know, because just one Paul did change the world.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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