Manna for Today

 

Get rid of vices (Eph. 5:3-7)

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.  (Eph. 5:3-7)

Learn it:

            Since the beginning of chapter four Paul has been writing about what it looks like to live in a manner worthy of your calling.  In today’s passage he lists out some vices that the Ephesians church might be struggling with.  The first one he mentions is dealing with all types of sexual immorality.  He has more detailed lists of these in Galatians 5:19 and 1 Corinthians 6:9. Some of the big sexual sins in this time would be adultery and visiting prostitutes.  These are improper for God’s people.  He then goes into the way believers should talk.  Believers should not be crude and disgusting.  Instead they should be focused on giving thanks to God.  If we are truly thankful for what God has given us it will help us avoid these two sins. 

            He then points out the consequences of people who live their lives in unrepentant sin.  They will not share in the kingdom of God.  People who do these things habitually and show no signs of remorse will not be welcomed into the kingdom of God.  This is a stern warning from Paul.  This is something we must take seriously and examine our lives to make sure we are pursuing holiness.  He then ends with one more warning about not being influenced by other people.  There will be people in our communities that will rationalize sin and say that it’s okay to do.  We should not be lead astray by them and we should not be partners with them.  We need to be sure that we are focused on God and live in the manner that he wants us to. 

Live it:

            There’s a lot in this passage about how we are to live our lives.  We must stay away from sexual sins, filthy talk, and greed.  With our culture constantly influencing us we must make sure we strive to live by the standards that Christ has given us.  We see culture influencing us in sex before marriage or moving in together before you get married.  Christians are also influenced in how people talk with one another.  It is not always uplifting, clean and can be vulgar but it’s all considered normal.  These are things that culture tells us is alright and it influences believers.  We must push against what is common and strive for something better.  We must examine our lives and see how we can pursue holiness and giving thanks to God.  What areas of our life do we need to surrender to God and let him change us?  Are there people that we are “partners” with that we may need to change how that relationship looks like.  We don’t want to totally isolate ourselves because then we lose the chance to be a change agent with that person.  Lots to think about and I hope you can be focused on God and give him glory with your life. 


Read more...

Words and Unity (Eph. 4:25-5:2)

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

5   Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  (Eph. 4:25-5:2)

Learn it:

            In today’s passage Paul continues to guide the church in how they should be living together as the body of Christ.  We need to be speaking lovingly with our neighbor, not gossiping.  We should be quick to clear any disputes we have between members of our body.  The longer we wait the more the devil will use it as an opportunity to let bitterness fester in our hearts.  Paul’s list continues in telling us not to steal and speak only in a way that builds up the body.  When we act in a way that causes division Paul says it grieves the Holy Spirit.  It frustrates him, but since the Holy Spirit is God his mission continues but it does slow things down.

            Paul then goes rapid fire and tells us six things that we have to get rid of.  We should replace those things with kindness, compassion and forgiveness.  These are things we have to be striving for and loving other people in the body of Christ.  We have experienced unimaginable grace and forgiveness through Christ.  Because we have experienced such love we should be able to show the same type of love to our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Live it:

            In our culture gossip and sarcasm come as natural as breathing.  The words we speak to one another can do powerful things.  The can spread division and bitterness or bring people together.  There is nothing more the devil likes to see then a church that is divided because people spread rumors and gossip about one another.  Sometimes it seems like harmless chit-chat, but it can often lead to things that we should not be talking about.  We should only be speaking in ways that build each other up and point one another to Christ.  How are you using your words to love those in your church?  Are there people you need to apologize to and bring healing to the relationship? 


Read more...

Breaking free from our past (Eph. 4:17-24)

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  (Eph. 4:17-24)

Learn it:

            Paul continues to move in more practical habits that emerge from a person that has surrendered their life to Christ.  Starts out this passage, in verses 17-19, reminding the Ephesian readers of their former life.  Before they followed Christ, they were living a life of no hope.  Their hearts were hardened, and they were pursuing every type of impurity or sensuality their hearts desired.   But then their lives were changed.  They were taught to put off their old self.  This means they were to let go of how the used to act as pagan Gentiles.  They were to stop giving themselves over to every desire that came their way.  Paul gives a list of these but for right now he wants them to focus on how they have been transformed.  They now have a new attitude and new thoughts.  They should be pursuing holiness and glorifying God.  We see this is something they should be striving for and there is always room for growth.  In this new creation we are now apart of, we are called to have a character like God, righteous and holy.

Live it:

            How are you doing at breaking free from your past?  Have you taken off your old self and put on a new self?  I get a mental picture of changing clothes.  Our old selves were dirt old ripped up clothes and we are now in the process of putting on the clothes of Christ.  Pure, holy and perfect.  As we go through this process it might feel like the clothes do not fit.  Like a new pair of jeans, they sometimes feel tight and not broken in.  We like our old clothes because they were comfy and well worn.  We need to strive to put on the new clothes because they are so much better, and they glorify God. 

            It is a long process in letting go the impure desires we had before we came to know Christ.  We have to continue to strive every day to find our new identity as his creation, as his son or daughter.  Those old desires no longer have a place in our life.   We have to surrender those feeling and desires and ask God to fill us with his fullness.  He truly satisfies us.  He completes us and gives us everything we need.  What is something from your past that keeps popping up and distracting you from following God?  Pray to God that he would take that burden from you and that he would fill you with his Spirit to overcome it. 


Read more...

Gifts given to the Church (Eph. 4:7-16)

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”  9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Learn it:

            Friday, Paul wrote about how we are united in Christ and in our faith.  Today he transitions into how in this unity we are also given gifts from God.  Verses 8-10 are complicated verses that have been understood in different ways.  I believe the best way to understand it in the context is to see that when Christ ascended into heaven the Holy Spirit then descended on the earth.  When the Holy Spirit descended he also brought gifts with him. 

Then in 11-13 he tells us what these gifts are and what the purpose is.  The gifts are apostles (people who cast vision for the church); prophets (people who are sensitive to the Spirit and obey what it says); evangelists (people who bring others into a relationship with God); pastors (people who are good at caring for God’s people); and teachers (people who study God’s word and teach it to others).  These gifts are not distinct roles, but people can be both apostles and teachers.  I’d love to go into them more, but space does not allow me.  These gifts are given to the body of Christ for building it up.  Making it strong and mature in Jesus Christ.  We must be seeking to become more mature in our faith and in doing so we will stand firm on the love of God.

Live it:

            This passage is so important to the life of the Church.  We all have been given gifts by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.  It is up to us to recognize what those gifts are and then use them to build up our local church.  We all play a part in teaching, leading, and loving one another.  It not solely dependent on pastors and other leaders in the church.  Each one of us has to take ownership of what God has gifted us with.  If we want to see the church working properly and smoothly then we all need to be exercising our gifts.  We must be doing it all in a loving manner and in a way that points people back to Christ.  He is the mission of the church.  We want everything to flow from Christ is a way that is loving and kind.  Whether someone is going through a rough patch and they need to experience the love of Christ.  Or maybe someone is walking away from God and needs to be lovingly corrected.  Look at your life and see if God has gifted you with any of the gifts in this passage?  How can you use your gift to build up the members of your local church? 


Read more...

Pastor’s Corner