Ephesians 4

Vs. 1, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Paul now transitions the rest of his letter to teaching the Ephesian believers to their duty and responsibility in the Lord. Because faith needs to have a response, one of the overarching themes Paul now shares is this idea of walking as evidence of our practice. Question: How do we begin to do this? Be humble, gentle, patient in love (vs. 1-3). To the world system this looks like weakness, but for who are being saved it is the secrets to unity in the church! That unity comes with a strong foundation in our doctrine and belief (vs. 4-6). Just in case we thought that unity is being the same, Paul outlines that there is diversity in unity (vs. 7-11). Each of us have been called to use our gifts within the body of Christ (vs. 12-16). The latter half of our chapter (vs. 17-32) Paul exhorts the believers to not live the old way of the corrupted sinful nature.

Regarding application…Godly Kindness. Vs. 32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Question: You know what? Being kind is not easy! When you think about it, being kind requires hard work and sacrifice. I believe the real test of kindness is showing it to two groups of people: your family and complete strangers. I’ve found my general inclination is to take for granted my family when it comes to showing kindness. It’s something that God is continuing to convict me of in my heart. People who just pass by us everyday without a single thought is another challenge we face. I’m an introverted person, so I tend to just go about my day not wanting to be noticed when I go out. However, smiling and greeting people is something that I see is really a kind act to do. Question: Do you face any challenges in showing kindness? Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to guide and challenge us to show Godly kindness.

Galatians 3

Vs. 1, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.” Paul would now get personal! Though it may seem harsh to call the Galatians foolish, Paul would emphatically remind them of the truth (vs. 1-5). They were their own witnesses to the saving grace of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul was a wonderful candidate to be able to go up against the Judaizers, for he also knew the Old Testament (vs. 6-14). Paul would refer to a plethora of Old Testament scriptures to validate his stance. They distorted the truth of Abraham, for he was justified by his faith, not his works. God would start with Abraham, but the end goal was to bless all nations (vs. 8-9, Genesis 12:3). The latter half of our chapter (vs. 15-29) involves Paul now appealing to the logical side. God’s promise to Abraham would not be overridden by the law given to Moses. The covenant with Abraham was made four centuries before Mount Sinai. The law served its purpose for its time. It convicted the Israelites of their sin, but did not save them. The law ultimately prepared the way for the Lord Jesus.

Regarding application…Godly Unity. Vs. 28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul cut through the ethnic, social, and gender barriers with one statement. While the Lord did make us all different, that should not keep us from the spiritual unity He desires for us. You may recall Jesus’ beautiful prayer (John 17) for the unity of the disciples and future church. We have a challenge for us today because we live in world where there is always the obvious disparity (ethnicity, social, gender). Consider unity as one of the ultimate tests for the church. Question: Are we getting a passing grade? As the old idiom states, “Let’s not be part of the problem, but part of the solution.” Consider how God can use you in helping bring unity to your local church.

I Chronicles 12

Vs. 1, “These were the men who came to David at Ziklag, while he was banished from the presence of Saul son of Kish…”  There is an old adage, “no one declares independence, only allegiance.”  Throughout our chapter today, we will see that David did not need to seek out warriors.  David was able to attract soldiers from all the tribes willingly ready to follow him.  Soldiers came to him because of his reputation and godliness; a stark contrast from King Saul. David went from a fugitive king to the rightful anointed king.

Regarding application…Loyalty.  Vs. 38, “All these were fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks. They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel. All the rest of the Israelites were also of one mind to make David king.”  It was David’s loyalty to God that would help bring unity to all of Israel.  Question: How?  David’s allegiance to the LORD was infectious in a positive way.  The people of Israel saw his devotion and desired to have that same type of loyalty.  We are still a people today who value loyalty whether we realize it or not.  That is why clubs, sports teams, organizations, etc…are still fabrics of our life.  We want to feel like we belong to something important.  We must be careful though; because loyalty is a subjective thing.  The decline in church membership and the divorce rate at nearly 50% show that loyalty is more to self than anything else.   Let us be people who are loyal to the Lord and His church!

I Chronicles 11

Vs. 3, “When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, he made a compact with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel, as the LORD had promised through Samuel.”  Because of the details from Samuel’s account, the chronicler gives us a short synopsis of David taking the throne.  The emphasis in this chapter lies in the unity that David was able to bring to the kingdom.  They united together in conquering Jerusalem (vs. 4-9).  The chronicler than spends time reviewing David’s mighty men (vs. 10-47), who would be the modern-day equivalent of our special forces/secret service.  These exploits of David’s mighty men are amazing feats of courage and strength!

Regarding application…Importance of Unity.  Vs. 10, “These were the chiefs of David’s mighty men—they, together with all Israel, gave his kingship strong support to extend it over the whole land, as the LORD had promised.”  The chronicler makes sure to emphasize how David, the mighty men, and all of Israel supported each other.  Question: Why?  Because the original audience were the Jews who had been returning from the Babylonian exile.  It was important for the people to rally behind the history of God’s faithfulness in the past to see the realization in the present.  Likewise, we too are building God’s growing kingdom in the 21st Century.  Unity is the heart of Jesus’ prayer for the church (John 17) on the night before His crucifixion.  Take time today to consider ways you can help bring unity to your church family.

John 17

Vs. 1, “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.”  Jesus lifted his eyes up to the Father in surrender.  We are upon one of the most beautiful chapters of prayer!  It is a prayer in which Jesus prays for Himself as He faces the cross (vs. 1-5).  He also prays for the disciples knowing their life was going to very difficult and that the enemy would attack them (vs. 6-19).  And Jesus also prays for us (the church) that through our unity the world would see Jesus in us (vs. 20-26).  We see the heart of Christ in this prayer as He soon would be obedient to death on a cross.

Regarding application…Prayer for Unity.  Vs. 23, “I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”  Question: What is unity?  Jesus isn’t talking about doing away with denominations or different churches.  What Jesus is referring here is that when people come to the church or when the church reaches out to the world…they would see something vastly different.  They would see a people unified through the love of Christ Jesus!  When we look at the world and it’s organizations (schools, workplace, etc) we realize that there is probably gossip, slander, hatred, bitterness, etc.  Jesus looked to His future church and prayed earnestly for us that we would not fall into the ways of the world.  When a parent see’s their children loving each other and getting along, I’m sure their heart is filled with joy!  This is what Jesus is praying that we too would love each other so richly that the world would see something so different.  Question: What can you do to help unify your church?