Bible Pathway - Dec. 4, 2011
Read Ephesians 4
As children of God, we need to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3) to grow up into Him (4:15). We need the whole Armour of God (6:10-18).
We are living in an exceptionally stressful period of history. But it provides a wonderful opportunity to be a blessing in your church. Here's how: Pray for unity and harmony among believers with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:2-3). You can be very successful through a heartfelt concern for those in your circle of friends. But having this love for the brethren, regardless of what church in which they worship our Lord, is an essential part of being a Christian (I John 4:20-21).
Oh, how important it is to overcome Satan's efforts to destroy the harmony and fellowship in a church through criticism, gossip, bitterness, backbiting, jealousy, spiritual pride, and aloofness! Just think! All these evils can be overcome by sharing loving-kindness and by uniting in earnest prayer for a spirit of unity to exist among the people of God. Jesus prayed: Sanctify them through Thy Truth: Thy Word is Truth. . . . I (Jesus). . . . pray . . . That they all may be one . . . in us (John 17:17-21).
More than 65 years ago, when I was a young pastor, a well-educated school teacher, who was the church treasurer, never missed an opportunity to openly criticize my grammar in every sermon. In fact, he brought his notepad and took notes to verify my mistakes. Every Sunday, I let his comments irritate me until I thought I should resign. One week the Lord reminded me as I read His Word: Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you (Luke 6:27-28). Since the same Holy Spirit dwells in all Christians, then contention, bitterness, and envy among believers becomes a very serious offense against Him. My "love" needed to be improved and my prayers needed to sincerely include my adversary. It was customary for me to ask an elder in the church to pray before my sermon. But the next Sunday, as I considered whom to ask to pray, I suddenly felt prompted of God to ask this treasurer (not an elder) to pray. It was transforming. He never again criticized my sermons, and we became dear friends. As Christians, we need to take a serious look at our responsibility.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you (Eph. 4:31-32).
Thought for Today:
I . . . beseech you that ye walk worth. . . Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3).
For Eph. 4:8: See Ps. 68:18. Eph. 4:25: See Zech. 8:16. Eph. 4:26: See Ps. 4:4. Eph. 5:31: See Gen. 2:24. Eph. 6:2-3: See Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16.
4:13 perfect (does not mean perfection), sincerely desiring to be obedient to His Word; 4:14 carried about . . . by the sleight, led astray by false doctrine; 4:16 compacted, knit together in true unity; 4:18 blindness, hardening of their heart with no regard to repent of their sins or see the need to be saved; 4:22 former conversation, old sinful way of living; 5:18 filled with, controlled by; 5:26 sanctify, set apart to serve the Lord; 6:5 in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ, with no ulterior motive but to sincerely desire to please Christ; 6:11 wiles, deception; 6:14 having your loins girt about with truth, continuing to read the Word of God in order to be familiar with the will of God.
Pray for Government Official: Rep. Grace Napolitano (CA) • Country: Hong Kong (7 million) in eastern Asia • Major languages: Chinese and English • Limited religious freedom • 90% Chinese religions; 10% Protestant • Prayer Suggestion: Pray for godly discernment to know His will (Ezek. 44:23).
Memory Verse for the Week: 1 Corinthians 13:1