WEEK 26, Day 2, Tuesday, 28 June 2022

https://esv.literalword.com/?q=deuteronomy+24%3B+eph+4

Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 28 June 2022:

Deuteronomy 24:5 — “When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken.”

God is greatly concerned about the welfare of families and sees marriage as a national security issue.

Deuteronomy 24:6 — “No one shall take a mill or an upper millstone in pledge, for that would be taking a life in pledge.”

God forbids taking away another person’s livelihood.

Deuteronomy 24:10, 11 — “When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not go into his house to collect his pledge. You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you make the loan shall bring the pledge out to you.”

God expects you to respect the dignity of others and honor their personal sanctuary.

Ephesians 4:1-3, 15-16, 22, 24, 30 — “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love…. put off your old self…. put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness…. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

Are you walking worthy?

In grace, God expects us to “walk with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

God has called us to pursue holiness with all our might (every effort). You have been saved by grace, through faith in Christ; now “live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” What is that calling?

- called to be set apart for the gospel of God (Rom 1:1)

- called to belong to Jesus Christ (Rom 1:6)

- called to be saints (Rom 1:7)

- called to be holy (1 Cor 1:2, 2 Tim 1:9, 1 Pet 1:15)

- called into fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor 1:9)

- called us to live in peace (1 Cor 7:15, Col 3:15)

- called to be Christ’s slave (1 Cor 7:22)

- called to be free in Christ (Gal 5:13)

- called to know hope (Eph 1:18)

- called to share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thes 2:14)

- called to eternal life (2 Tim 6:12)

- called to follow in the footsteps of Christ (1 Pet 2:21)

- called to inherent a blessing (1 Pet 3:9)

- called to eternal glory in Christ (1 Pet 5:10)

The Bible says that we “are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that [we] may declare the praises of him who called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Today Paul is urging us to wake up and grow up – to stop living like the world and to be holy because God our Father is holy – to attain “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Don’t we realize that we were “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness?” It is time to live up to our calling.

Take some time today to seriously meditate upon Ephesians 4 and your role as a unifier, a reconciler, a peacemaker, and an equipper within the body. Compare Ephesians 4 with John 17 and 2 Corinthians 5:18-20. Jesus prayed for our unity in Him, and He gave us the ministry of reconciliation as His ambassadors. The mark of individual maturity is Christ-like character that promotes peace and love with God and with others. The mark of a mature church is unity in Christ, where the members are “bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit.” You cannot mature as you have been called outside of, or disconnected from, the body of believers, and the church cannot mature unless the members are an encouragement to one another and build each other up in Christ – “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

However, anyone who has been an active member of a church congregation knows that churches always have people in them who are hard to get along with. Some people are judgmental, caustic, rude, egotistical, you name it. In fact, some people don’t go to church simply because they don’t want to be around “hypocritical” people. However, consider Paul’s comments on the matter –

  • 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 — For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Not only does Paul make it clear that God made you to be connected to a church body and to play a specific role within that church body, he also points out that the “unpresentable parts,” of the body are just as essential to the health and life of the body as the more presentable parts. The unpresentable parts are those people who might be called slang, profane names referencing private parts of the body – “He’s a real a……!” These are people you’d rather not expose to the public. So, what does Paul say about these people? The church can’t say, “I have no need of you.” The weaker (less mature and less agreeable) members are indispensable to the body, and the more mature (presentable) Christians are to show greater honor to those they think are less honorable — the mature Christians are to treat them with greater “modesty” (humility and restraint). Of course, let’s not forget that most unpresentable parts think they are presentable, and we often lack the humility to see where our behavior is unpresentable. You too likely receive more grace from others than you realize.

Why are we called to give honor to those within the body who are not honorable? “…that there may be no division in the body, but that members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” In fact, these members of the church are indispensable because God uses them to teach us how to love as He loves — “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:32-36) God knows how difficult some people can be, which is why he put them in your life (your church), so you can grow in love – “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12)

Your church (like your family) is a schoolhouse for Christ-like character development. If you don’t put in the effort to love those within the church who are hard to love, you won’t learn much about love and won’t have the relationship with Jesus He desires for you. If you quit church, it is like quitting school but with eternal consequences. If you have been the sort of Christian who feels that watching or listening to sermons from home is enough church for you, then you are not only missing the whole point of the church, you have as much life in you and growth potential as an amputated limb.

  • Proverbs 18:1 — Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

Are you walking in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called? Is your church a healthy body with each part working properly, including you? How are you personally contributing to the health and growth of your body of believers?

Ephesians 4:4-7 – “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

We must strive for unity at all times because God’s character seeks unity and because He brought us to unity with Him through grace, giving us relationship with Him despite our ugliness.

Ephesians 4:9-16 — We must strive for unity with those who are hard to deal with, considering what depths Christ sank and what wounds He suffered to unite us with the Father. No one compares worse to us than we compare to the One who saved us.

Ephesians 4:11-14 — “He equip[ed] the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

You were made to help others get closer to Christ and to grow in the true knowledge of Him.

Ephesians 4:15 — “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”

You cannot love without speaking the truth, but you must speak the truth in a way that draws others closer to Christ, not further away. True love speaks the truth in love.

Ephesians 4:16 — “…the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

God’s people should be as united and as mutually supportive as a human body, all responding to the desires of the Head, Jesus.

Ephesians 4:18 — “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”

A lack of wisdom is a heart problem.

People are far from God because of the hardness of their hearts, not because God has made Himself inaccessible.

Ephesians 4:19, 20 – “They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!”

When people reject God they turn to impurity. When people turn to Christ, they pursue the purity modelled by Christ.

Ephesians 4:26 — “Be angry and do not sin.”

Anger is not sinful. Misapplied anger is sinful.

Ephesians 4:26-32 — Un-forgiveness, idleness, and careless talk enable the devil in your life.

Ephesians 4:29 — “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up.”

If it isn’t helpful, don’t say it.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 28 June 28: Today, commit to contributing to the health of your church body and growing in Christ-like character as a member of your church family.

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