Manna for Today

 

Unity Displayed (Eph. 4:1-6)

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  (Eph. 4:1-6)

Learn it:

            After Paul prays for the Ephesians he then goes on to explain to them how they should live their life.  He wants them to walk in a life of unity, which he has been explaining to them in the previous chapters.  God has called believers to a life of unity, that is only possible because of the life of Christ.  A life in unity is possible through displaying humility, gentleness, patience and showing love to one another.  Unity is not about getting your way but showing selflessness.  In verse 3 Paul says that we must “make every effort to keep unity.”  We must allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in peace and come together there.  In verse 4 and 5 Paul uses the word “one” six times.  I think he is trying to stress a point here.  The God we serve displays unity in his very existence.  The trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are three yet one.  He is one and is over everything.  So, we as a church, that is made up of many people, are one. 

Live it:

            The church is very divided, by theology, race, styles and cultures.  We might say, “like people will always congregate together.”  While that is true, it doesn’t always mean that it is the best or what God has called his church to be like.  Diversity within the church is good and useful.  We need people different like us to show us how big and great God is.  We need to be worshipping God in different styles of music.  We need to hear people preach that have a different background than us.  It helps us get a better understanding of the gospel and how other people experience God.  It might make us uncomfortable, but we need to show humility and gentleness and become learners.  When we take the time to learn about another culture and how they relate to God, we are showing them love and seeking peace. 

            The power of faith bonds all Christians in the world together.  I encourage you to seek unity in your community of believers.  Maybe you have some friends that are Christians that go to a different church than you.  Ask them what their service is like?   What kind of music do they worship God with?  Seek to understand how they connect with God.  Remember what Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:10, “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.”  When the church comes together in unity it displays the wisdom of God.  When we seek to bring the church of God we are entering into Spiritual warfare and the power of might of God is being displayed.

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Prayer to Know God (Eph. 3:14-21)

For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  (Eph. 3:14-21)

Learn it:

            This is a powerful prayer that Paul is praying over the Ephesians.  He starts out by saying that the God he is praying to created everything.  He has authority over all things.  He then goes into his prayer wanting them to be fulfilled with the power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ.  He wants their lives to be founded in Christ and that they would understand the love Christ has for them.  He wants the fullness of God to dwell within them.  It is amazing that we have every aspect of God’s character and power lives within un, is unimaginable.  We under utilize the power God has given us.  Paul wants them to truly understand what it means to have their lives united in Christ. 

            Verses 20 through 21 is a benediction, a praise to God of what he has done for us.  He can do so much more than we can ever fathom in our lives.  We want to praise him in the church and in every aspect of our lives.  Trusting that the faith we have will be passed down to other generations forever.  That is an awe-inspiring reminder and challenge to us.  How can we see Christ’s power show up in our lives? 

Live it:    

            What would you feel if someone were to pray this prayer over you?  Can you imagine the love someone would have for you to pray such a beautiful prayer for you?  We desperately need to fully understand the love of Christ and how he dwells within our bodies.  If we truly had our identity in Christ, our lives would look radically different.  We would be proclaiming the gospel to every person we would pass on the street.  We would have no needs because Christ would satisfy every desire we had.  Even if we needed more food, patience or comfort we knew that Christ would meet them at the right time because he can do more than we could ever imagine or ask for!  We would have total trust in Christ.  Do you really trust Christ to meet every need in your life?  I can’t answer that with a confident, “Yes.”  There are areas where God is working on my heart to surrender them to him.  I want him to meet all the needs and desires in my life.  He is a loving Father who wants what is best for his children.  If we believe that then we can pray confidently that he will always take care of us.  What do you need to trust God with today? 


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God’s Eternal Plan (Eph. 3:1-13)

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—

2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.  (Eph. 3:1-13)

Learn it:

            Last Friday Paul talked about how the death of Christ united Jews and Gentiles.  Now he goes on to write about what God’s plan is for the church.  This plan has been a mystery since the beginning of time but was revealed through the life of Christ.  God always planned on sending his Son to die on the cross for the redemption of all mankind.  God did not give up on Israel or go to a plan B.  God’s plans have never changed.  God has always wanted to unite all of creation together through the death of his Son.  He wanted them to live in unity and share together in the promises of Christ. 

            Not only did God reveal his plan to believers but now he wants them to share this good news to everyone.  Paul talks about his own personal ministry about how he felt compared to preach to the Gentiles.  He then goes on to talk about how even the very existence of a united church displays the power and wisdom of God to angels and demons.  The united church proclaims God’s purpose and what the future is going to hold for them.  Angels will be worshipping God forever with humans and demons will be defeated.  This is God’s eternal purpose.  We should then have confidence when we pray to God that we have full access to him. 

Live it:

            We, the Church, need to continue to seek to understand God’s mystery that he revealed to us through Christ.  We need to understand what it means that all of mankind can be reconciled back into a relationship with God.  We can exist as one united body.  We have to be checking our hearts and attitudes to discern what is preventing us from sharing the gospel with people in our lives.  How can we be focused more on Christ and how he brings people together through his great sacrifice?  The church has been given to preach the gospel to all nations, to be ministers reconciling all things back to him.  When the church is living this out it will send a strong message to angels and demons about the power of Jesus Christ.  How can you play a part in God’s eternal plan?


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United in Christ (Eph. 2:11-22)

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.  (Eph. 2:11-22)

Learn it:

      After Paul talks about how the gospel changes a person’s life and identity, he then goes on in this passage to show how it can unite different people groups.  When this letter was written Jews and Gentiles were sworn enemies.  Jews, according to the Mosaic Law, were not allowed to eat with Gentiles or even enter their homes.  Jews though of themselves as more superior to all other nations.  When the church began, this tension made it hard for it to stand strong united.  Jewish Christians thought Gentile Christians should follow the Law, become circumcised and eat only clean foods.  Gentile Christians didn’t want to do any of those things, and the Apostle Paul was preaching that they didn’t have to become Jewish in order to follow Christ. 

      This unity that Paul was proclaiming was shocking.  Gentiles are being fully welcomed into the body of Christ.  Gentiles were not becoming Jews and Jews were not becoming Gentiles.  They both were becoming a brand-new creation.  The death of Christ destroyed the animosity between them so that they can become one in Christ.  Gentiles now have an identity in Christ as his chosen people.  This amazing thing has happened bringing all of creation together. 

Live it:       

          Christ has united all things in him.  Any tensions that exist between people groups have been removed by the blood of Christ.  This is not an easy thing to put into practice in our culture or local church.  It demands that we set aside our preferences and comfort for the gospel to be displayed.  We all have people in our lives that we struggle to love and be hospitable to.  It could be a family member, co-worker, or it could be people we hear about in the news.  We need to view people in two ways.  If they are believers, they are our brother and sister in Christ, so we should love them and encourage them in their faith.  If they are not believers, then they are lost sheep in desperate need of Christ, so we should love them and share the gospel with them.  Either way, we should be loving all people are uniting all people together in the family of God. 

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Pastor’s Corner