Ephesians 4:1-6, 11-16
Live your life.
"Mail from Jail"
We talked last week about love and God's love for us. Pastor Don noted that we don't experience God's love because we devalue ourselves, because we inflate our selves and we distract ourselves. We prayed to have a clear understanding and most importantly the power to experience God's love for us. At the end of the prayer, we asked God to "accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."
If we lived a life where God would "accomplish
infinitely more than we might ask or think", what would it look like? Keep that in mind as we move forward today.
Today we read that we should:
Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1b
Today we will explore what this means. We will note
that Paul talks about
Ways to live.
Who to live with.
What happens, (or what does this look like?).
Paul tells them (us) to:
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in
accordance with the faith God has distributed to each
This means getting real about who we are. Sinner to Saint: A story...
There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother, the instructions of Ambrose and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures, redirected Augustine's love of life to a life of love. https://www.franciscanmedia.orq/saint-auclustine-of-hippo/
Sinner (we are)
Saint (we are!)
Redeemed - Justified
Last week Pastor Don talked about how we
sometimes overvalue ourselves, that is, we aren't
realistic about who we are.
Power under control
a sense of understanding, of accepting
bearing with one another in love.
These are some of the characteristics of Jesus. Thinking of ourselves with sober judgement means
getting real about who we are, who's we are and about our relationship with others. There is a relational aspect to our sober judgement.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Jesus prayed to the Father that we would be one as He and the Father are one. That's unity. Paul discusses this unity; it is a key point in this passage. The description of the "Body of Christ" is central.
Part of this unity has "Body" implications, and some individual:
Love must be sincere
Love has to have an object or objects. Love is a
Hate what is evil
Cling to what is good.
Hating evil and clinging to the good involves turning from sin and turning to the Gospel. After the gospel comes the power, will and desire to do good. This is an individual thing.
Be devoted to one another in love.
Here this devotion is a supporting attitude. I can't help think of the hating evil and clinging to the good which precedes it. We help each other turn from the wrong and turn to the right. We commend, help accountability, and most importantly come along side those who need help. All in love.
Honor one another above yourselves.
Just like Jesus.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
I find this hard sometimes. Living every day powered up is hard for me. I think doing His work, helping, serving, is a way of accomplishing being powered up.
Be joyful in hope.
Patient in affliction.
Faithful in prayer.
Life is hard, it's said, but God is good. No matter what we go through, God stands with us. We may feel alone, but we are not.
This list reminds me of the "Fruit of the Spirit" list
Paul talks about. He identifies these as:
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...
(Discuss fruit v gifts).
Through God's power, he can "accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." Just as Pastor Don mentioned last week. This fruit which comes from the Spirit lives in each of us believers and God wants to bring this fruit to full ripeness in us all.
Paul notes that if we can do this...
Then we will no longer be infants,
tossed back and forth by the waves
blown here and there by every wind of teaching by the cunning and craftiness of people
in their deceitful scheming.
The solidness of a life filled with the fruit of the Spirit is unassailable. Nothing can bring it down. Notice that Paul refers to "every wind of teaching". This is a reference to false teachings as well as being conformed to the world. In Romans 12:2, just before our first reading today, Paul urges the church to:
...not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
This renewing involves holding to what is true, (the Word of God), and rejecting that which is against the truth. It involves discernment where we hold ideas up to see what is right and wrong.
Last year Jamie and I were installed here to serve this body. Pastor Don charged us, just as he had been charged, to preach Law and Gospel. I'm doing that now. Jamie will do that next week. Pastor Don does that each week. Both Law and Gospel are necessary, both are part of God's call on our lives.
Paul identifies our unity and our calling as antidotes to the schemes and deceit of the world.
(discuss the "world" as system, not as the physical creation, etc...)
speaking the truth in love,
we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head,
that is, Christ.
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
This body, the Body of Christ, is the working out of God's Kingdom in the world. The battle against the world's system lies with God working through us. It's His fight, though. He has the power, we don't. At the cross, Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom. He is the King. But His Kingdom is not completely established.
Years ago, as a new Special Agent...
That's how the fight goes, one good act at a time, helping one person at a time. Being faithful the best we can. Working out (or out of) our own salvation. Being Jesus to people we meet.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8
What are your gifts? What can you do? Shouldn't we
all find out?
The end of this change in our lives is to form a church unified. Persons of all nations made one in Jesus.
Living together, loving each other, caring for one another.
The thrust of Paul's letter from prison is for the Ephesians to put off the evil of the world as a unified body of Christ. He contrasts the world and it's system with the unified and strong Body headed by the crucified and risen Lord Jesus.
We too are called to put off evil, and live Holy lives. We too are called to live in unity with each other and with the Body of Christ in this church, in our community, in this country and in the world.
This is living a life worthy of our calling. Let us pray.
Augustine's internal conflict came to a head in a garden in August of 386, as he sat tormented by indecision and powerlessness. Finally, weeping with despair and crying out to God, he thought he heard a child's voice chanting, as if in a game, "Take and read! Take and read!" Understanding this to be a sign from God, Augustine opened his copy of Paul's epistles and read the first thing he saw. His eyes fell on Romans 13:13-14: "Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof." Augustine later wrote of the moment, "I neither wished nor needed to read further. At once, with the last words of this sentence, it was as if a light of relief from all anxiety flooded into my heart. All the shadows
of doubt were dispelled." Following a quiet winter spent at Cassiacum with family and friends, the newly-converted Augustine was baptized, along with his son and a friend, on Easter 387. http://www.religionfacts.com/augustine