October 2

Ephesians 4

Ephesians 4 starts with “I therefore.” Remember this is one long letter. Chapter and verses were added later. Whenever we see “therefore,” we can ask, “What is the therefore there for?” In chapter 3, Paul spoke of the love and power of God available to those who walk in God’s grace instead of their own strength. We can walk in grace when we’re confidence of a love we can rely on. THERFORE, walk worthy of your calling.

How? Be humble, yielded to each other. When we are not thinking of ourselves as superior to one another, then we can have unity as one body. Nothing will break up relationships like a haughty, religious attitude. We’re told, “Be eager and strive earnestly to guard, and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.” Unity is something we are to work hard to maintain and keep. We are one body.

As one body, God wants us to mature in unity, to grow from immature spiritual Christians to spiritually mature Christians. Humility is key for unity in relationships, but it is also key for submitting to the spiritual authority Jesus has placed in His kingdom. They are the apostle, prophet, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.

God has one kingdom, made up of local churches. The apostle is a church planter or an overseer of church planting. The apostle, the Paul, came with a message, then started churches, and oversaw the churches he started. The Bible doesn’t teach that every local church has to have a governing authority over them, but Paul had spiritual authority over the pastors of the churches he started. He obviously didn’t micromanage them, but he put trust in the pastors he left behind, visiting just a time or two, writing a letter or two.

The prophet is in a position of authority, proclaiming those “now” messages God has for the church. A prophet is also a seer, and sees into the future in the kingdom of God, often extending outside of the local church. The prophet often works in the gift of prophecy for individuals as well as for a church, churches in the kingdom, and for the nations. The Bible also speaks of church members being used in a gift of prophecy, but the gift of prophecy is not the same as the office of the prophet.

The evangelist has a position of leadership in the kingdom of God to win souls, coupled with a special anointing to perform miracles. While we all are told to do the work of an evangelist and win people to Christ, the evangelist has spiritual authority in leading and activating others in soul-winning. While we all are told to lay hands on the sick and see them recover, the evangelist carries a special anointing for healing and miracles.

The pastor is the authority over a local church, and overseer. The pastor, compared to a shepherd, is to lead a church family in vision. That vision includes a focus on growth in God, building relationships within the church, and reaching out to the community, and it includes activating a team of people to do the work of the ministry. The pastor cannot do it all. The pastor shepherd gives oversight for relating to Christians where they are at and taking them up a level as they are ready. The pastor shepherd oversees restoring the hurting and correcting the ones who are damaged or headed off track. The pastor shepherd oversees teaching a well-rounded, balanced diet of the Word of God. The pastor shepherd is called to oversee the equipping of people to do the work of the ministry, raising people up through teaching and training, and sometimes sending them out to fulfill their calling. The pastor shepherd is also there to oversee the care of the congregation, as well as protecting the people from false teaching or wolves that would steal and divide the church family. Obviously, the pastor cannot do this all personally and continue to spend time in the Word and prayer, so the more a church family takes on the responsibility to do the work of the ministry, the better the pastor is able to oversee and hear from God.

The teacher mentioned here is someone in a position of spiritual authority to teach and uncover truth in the Bible that is applicable to today. Many people can teach the Bible and bless others, but the office of a teacher has a special anointing to uncover and reveal truth for the body of Christ and it carries an authority and anointing to deliver it in the kingdom.

In humility, these gifts respect one another, and work to build up one another. The perspectives and anointings differ, but in yielding to one another, the gifts should complement one another, not compete with one another. These gifts should work together, understanding how each role functions and builds one another up. Pride, ore self-sufficiency, will cause these gifts to work against each other, and the results are divisions, heartache, and often the aborting of the gifts and callings of God on our lives.

In humility, we honor these gifts and submit to them. This causes the kingdom to grow spiritually. Dishonor and rebellion toward authority is a heavy, serious matter, and is seen in the eyes of God as direct dishonor and rebellion toward Him. These gifts are representative of Him. If a person in one of these leadership roles abuses their position or power, as Christ’s representative, the consequences can be extremely damaging to the people God loves.

The second half of this chapter is about the yielding to God’s righteousness, followed by yielding to one another in love. Pride, or self-centeredness, will cause a person to struggle with the old nature and keep one bound to sin. We have to die to self. Pride, or self-centeredness, will cause us to struggle with faithfulness, kindness, honor, and forgiveness. It’s the humble heart that will strive against disharmony and division, working in and through the love of God.

Isaiah 24-26

Isaiah 24-27 is generally referred to as “Isaiah’s apocalypse.” In chapter 24 we read about God’s judgment on earth. The sin of the earth’s inhabitants have cursed it, and that curse has left it desolate. The covenant with God has been despised, rejected, and broken. This chapter sounds like the Day of the Lord, where the sun and moon are darkened, and the earth shakes with earthquakes. During the Day of the Lord, Jesus returns in a second coming and comes down on the Mount of Olives (not the rapture of the gathering of the saints in the air). He is here with His saints to fight in the battle of Armageddon. Then the wrath of God is poured out, the bowls of wrath we read about in Revelation. God cleanses the earth. Then God restores, placing Jesus in Jerusalem as King, and from there Jesus will rule the world for 1,000 years.

In chapter 25, there is praise to God. There could be a reference to the marriage supper of the Lamb in verse 6. Verse 8 says, “He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces (1 Corinthians 15:54; Revelation 21:4).” Chapter 26 continues the praise, speaking of the full peace we will experience throughout eternity. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, a covenant word, and it refers to being complete in God, health, happiness, well-being, and peace. In chapter 26 we see a dialogue between the Jewish people putting their hope in God, and we see God telling the Jews to find refuge in the time of judgment.

In this prophecy and others, God is foretelling the future thousands of years before it will take place. This shows the Jews, as well as Gentiles, that He knows the end from the beginning. He wants people to hope and anticipate for a time when the sin and corruption of the world will close, and we will be reunited with God in His glory forever. The pain and suffering of this present age will pass; meanwhile, God is patiently waiting for the precious fruit of the earth – for souls to be saved. Let’s be busy about the Father’s business, bringing as many along with us as we can.

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