VIDEO Unity Yet Diversity

Keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3

Nature loves diversity, but nature also loves unity. There are many examples of groups of individuals functioning as one: ants walking in formation, flocks of starlings (and schools of fish) flowing effortlessly as one, Canadian geese flying in a perfect V-formation. Nature loves diversity but seems to rely on unity to accomplish what is good for all.

Scripture supports the idea of diversity and unity. In Ephesians 4:3-6, the apostle Paul appeals for unity in the Church (verse 3) by highlighting the word “one” seven times: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God. But then, in verse 7, he goes from unity to diversity. Each Christian has been given grace (gifts) to accomplish his or her part in achieving unity (verses 7-13). Just as a flock of geese achieves its migration goal by flying in formation, so the Church achieves its maturity goal by working together in unity.

Ask God today: “What is my part, Lord, in building up Your Church? What grace have you given me? How can I promote the unity of the Body?” Let your unique gifts strengthen the unity of God’s people.

Believers are never told to become one; we already are one and are expected to act like it. Joni Eareckson Tada


Ephesians 4 (Part 1) :1-3 The Character of a Worthy Walk

The End of Suffering

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” (C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain)

While suffering is unfortunately the common denominator of life in this present world, pain and suffering will have no place in the world to come. This is, in part, what was accomplished with Jesus’ death on the cross. The cross gives us a hope that helps us endure, by grace, when the long shadow of suffering passes over us. It is the cross that promises a time when wrongs are made right and suffering is brought to an end.

The apostle John, nearing the end of his life and exiled for his faith in Christ, glimpsed what the fulfillment of this promise looked like. He described his vision in vivid terms:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

He described his vision in vivid terms…

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son (Revelation 21:3–7).

Where is God when we suffer? Right beside us.

He allowed His Son to experience the same things we experience. He provided the cross, which pays for our suffering and offers restored relationship with Him. And He is the God who promises that, in the life to come, all those things will be no more.

With the words of Revelation 21, the Bible’s story comes full circle. From paradise, through paradise lost, to paradise regained. Having begun with an unrestricted perfect relationship between the first man and woman, we find that we end with eternal relationships that will be perfect in every way.

This is the end of the problem of the world’s pain. We need never fear that God is disinterested in our pains, struggles, or heartaches—He is right there in the suffering with us:

…He is right there in the suffering with us…

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35–39).

God’s love for us is most evident by His presence with us when we suffer, not when suffering is absent. In His presence we can find peace. —Bill Crowder

 

Satisfaction for the Thirsty Soul

1 Peter 2:1-2

Think about a time you experienced unbearable thirst. You probably would have traded anything for a drink. When you finally got your wish, there was nothing that could have tasted better than that cold, refreshing glass of water.

Compare this physical need to spiritual thirst. The Lord knows our deep need for fulfillment, and only He can truly satisfy.

Isn’t it interesting, then, that we live in a society where most people feel dissatisfied? In Christ, we have everything necessary to be complete, content, and fulfilled. Yet our world deceptively tells us to seek after wealth, glory, and other empty dreams. These seem to work only for a short time, if at all. Yet we often do not recognize our actual needs. The enemy continues to deceive by telling us that his poor substitutes will satisfy the craving inside us.

Our triune God, on the other hand, is all we need. Let’s take a look at several passages from Scripture. Jesus called Himself “the bread of life” and “living water”—the sustenance our souls require to survive and thrive (John 6:34-35; John 7:37-38). God’s Word is alive, able to teach, convict, and redirect us toward a godly path (Heb. 4:12). Biblical truth, which is compared to milk, provides the nourishment our souls need (1 Peter 2:2).

All of us have an emptiness within—a longing for something more. What are you attempting to use to satisfy it? Our hearts are like a jigsaw puzzle. No matter how hard you try to force a wrong piece, it will never fit correctly. Turn to Jesus, and trust that He knows how to fulfill you.

World, the Flesh, and the Devil

“This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” (James 3:15)

True wisdom is “from above” and is “pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (v. 17). False wisdom, on the other hand, may come from the world outside us (“earthly”), the flesh within us (“sensual”), or the powers of darkness tempting us (“devilish”). All such wisdom leads to “envying and strife . . . confusion and every evil work” (v. 16). Believers, therefore, should be able to recognize the influences of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

The good news is that each divine Person of the triune Godhead is on our side. The Father is opposed to the world, the Spirit to the flesh, and the Son to the devil, and they are well able to give victory.

“If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. . . . And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (John 2:15, 17). Thus, to overcome the love of the world, we must cultivate the love of the Father in our hearts and lives.

Similarly, to overcome the desires of the flesh, we should follow the leadings and convictions of the Holy Spirit, “for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other” (Galatians 5:17). Therefore, “walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (v. 16).

The devil and his evil hosts use their own dark powers to tempt and destroy the people of God, but “for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Christ assured Satan’s defeat when He paid for our redemption on the cross. “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15). HMM

Judging by Financial Report

Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.

—1 Timothy 6:17

We in the churches seem unable to rise above the fiscal philosophy which rules the business world; so we introduce into our church finances the psychology of the great secular institutions so familiar to us all and judge a church by its financial report much as we judge a bank or a department store.

A look into history will quickly convince any interested person that the true church has almost always suffered more from prosperity than from poverty. Her times of greatest spiritual power have usually coincided with her periods of indigence and rejection; with wealth came weakness and backsliding. If this cannot be explained, neither apparently can it be escaped….

The point I am trying to make here is that while money has a proper place in the total life of the church militant, the tendency is to attach to it an importance that is far greater than is biblically sound or morally right. The average church has so established itself organizationally and financially that God is simply not necessary to it. So entrenched is its authority and so stable are the religious habits of its members that God could withdraw Himself completely from it and it could run on for years on its own momentum.   WOS009-011

Lord, it’s hard to ask for You to send us poverty. Keep us mindful that though we have so much our only real wealth is in You. Amen.

 

Withhold not good from them to whom it is due

Withhold not good from them to whom it is due when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbor Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.—Proverbs 3:27, 28.

 

Do not only take occasions of doing good when they are thrust upon you; but study how to do all the good you can, as those “that are zealous of good works.” Zeal of good works will make you plot and contrive for them; consult and ask advice for them; it will make you glad when you meet with a hopeful opportunity; it will make you do it largely, and not sparingly, and by the halves; it will make you do it speedily, without unwilling backwardness and delay; it will make you do it constantly to your lives’ end, It will make you labor in it as your trade, and not only consent that others do good at your charge. It will make you glad, when good is done, and not to grudge at what it cost you. In a word, it will make your neighbors to be to you as yourselves, and the pleasing of God to be above yourselves, and therefore to be as glad to do good as to receive it.

Richard Baxter.

 

Whom, When, How to Deliver the Godly

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” 2Peter 2:9

The godly are tempted and tried. That is not true faith which is never put to the test. But the godly are delivered out of their trials, and that not by chance, nor by secondary agencies, but by the Lord himself. He personally undertakes the office of delivering those who trust Him. God loves the godly or godlike, and He makes a point of knowing where they are, and how they fare.

Sometimes their way seems to be a labyrinth, and they cannot imagine how they are to escape from threatening danger. What they do not know their Lord knows. He knows whom to deliver, and when to deliver, and how to deliver. He delivers in the way which is most beneficial to the godly, most crushing to the tempter, and most glorifying to Himself. We may leave the “how” with the Lord, and be content to rejoice in the fact that He will, in some way or other, bring His own people through all the dangers, trials, and temptations of this mortal life, to His own right hand in glory.

This day it is not for me to pry into my Lord’s secrets, but patiently to wait his time, knowing this, that though I know nothing, my heavenly Father knows.