Highlights In Today's Reading:
The daily conduct of a Christian: As a new man with a new walk (Ch. 4); Prepared as a bride, filled with the Spirit, a glorious Church (Ch. 5).
We are living in an exeptionally 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 longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (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 brethrens, 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 lovingkindness as well as uniting in earnest prayer for a spirit of unity to exist among God's people. Jesus prayed: Sanctify them through Thy Truth: Thy Word is Truth. . . . That they all may be one . . . in us (John 17:17-21).
More than 65 years ago, as 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 note pad and took notes to verify my mistakes. I let these comments every Sunday 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 there is only one Holy Spirit who 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 once criticized my sermons again and we became dear friends. Christians 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:
How pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity (Ps. 133:1). Wouldn't it be great to eliminate the stress of disunity in our homes, offices, and churches?
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 =b> spiritually mature through obedience to His Word; 4:14 carried about . . . by the sleight =b> led astray by false doctrine; 4:16 compacted =b> knit together in true unity; 4:18 blindness =b> closed mindedness; 4:22 conversation =b> old sinful way of living; 5:18 filled with =b> controlled by; 5:26 sanctify =b> set free from the guilt of sin and make holy; 6:5 singleness of your heart, as unto Christ =b> with sincerity as if you were desiring to please Christ; 6:11 wiles =b> deception; 6:14 having your loins girt about with truth =b> being familiar with all Scripture.
Pray for Staff: Beth Carlton • Government Official: Rep. Grace Flores Napolitano (CA) • Country: Qatar (600,000) in southwestern Asia • Major languages: Arabic and English • Muslim conversion to Christ is forbidden, but expatriate Christians are allowed to meet informally • 79.5% Muslim; 10.5% Christian; 7.2% Hindu; 1.8% Buddhist; .9% non-Religious/Other • Prayer Suggestion: Do not be fearful or live in dread of what might happen; trust the Lord to take care of you (Ps. 112:7).
Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Chronicles 7:14