Friday, July 25, 2014

Ephesians, Part 3 4:1 - 5:14 - Walk Worthy

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Now that Paul has established that the Gentile believers are included in God's promises, he begins his instructions as to the responsibilities of being in the family.  Walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received, he writes in 4:1, then goes on to explain what that entails...

Walk in unity and peace - 4:1-7:
 One body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all and in all.

One, one, one, one...all, all, all, all.

No room here for division, 'us and them', 'we and you'.  It's all 'us', it's all 'we'.

Walk in works of ministry - 4:8-16:
We tend to think that the gifts God gave are apostleship, prophecy, evangelism, teaching, pastoring...and there are places where some are mentioned as gifts of the Spirit.  But the gifts of grace mentioned in this passage are not abilities, they are people.

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

And these people are given to the body of Christ to equip the saints...the individuals in the body...for works of the ministry.  And, as the body functions and each person performs his/her ministry, the body as a whole matures, we all move towards unity.

Not because the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are doing the work of the ministry, but because each individual is doing the work of the ministry.

Take a selah moment and reflect on that just a bit.  There's responsibility there.

Walk in transformation - 4:17- 31:
Paul reminds these folks -- and us-- of what it was like to live without Christ, and what changes take place as we follow Christ and grow in grace.  Old stuff is put away, put off, laid down; renewal and transformation take root and grow.  Habits change, reactions become godly responses, slander becomes instruction, wrath and malice become kindness and forgiveness.

Walk in love - 5: 1 -6:
Love of God, first,  following Christ's example of obedience, and love for each other, behaving as saints;  crude and impure behavior not only dishonors God but it is an offense to the body.

Walk in light - 5: 7 - 14
Walking in the light brings about what is good, right and true; it enables us to discern what is pleasing to God.  Light exposes deeds of darkness, which forces a decision point.  One cannot continue in darkness of ignorance once something has been brought to light.

Do we wake and rise from the darkness into the light...or pull the covers over our head and roll away from that light?

Will we choose to walk worthy of the calling?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ephesians Part 2, 2:11 - 3:21

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Having introduced the concept of a revealed mystery, Paul expounds on it, with some urgency.

In fact, he claims it is his special calling... (all scriptures today from the ESV)

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.  (3:8 - 10).

And look at his summation of that mystery:

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.  (3:6)

Paul has reminded them of what their life was like before they believed in Christ, in chapter 2:11 - 12, using words like  'separated' and 'alienated'  and 'strangers', 'having no hope', before introducing the glorious grace word, 'But'.

'But now in Christ Jesus,' Paul says, things have changed.  Jesus 
1) has made both (Israel and Gentiles) one
2) has broken down the wall of hostility
3) has created in himself one new man instead of two
3) has made peace
4) has reconciled us both to God
5) has preached peace to those near and to those far
6) has granted access in one Spirit to the Father
7) is building all into one dwelling place for God

(2:13 - 22)

His prayer for the Gentiles is that they may be strengthened with his power through the Spirit, that Christ would dwell in their hearts, that they would be rooted and grounded in love,  and that they

may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (3: 18 - 19)

Now, in teaching this to my girls, I emphasized to them the fact that we are included, in Christ, into the very family line of God, sharing in the inheritance, part of his kingdom.

But as I'm writing this out here, it has occurred to me that we, historically, have not walked in the unity that Paul so fervently preached.  One group or the other has found reason to believe the other was excluded.  And we have not seen the fulfillment of Paul's prayer, because we have not embraced the unity.

What do you suppose would happen if all the people of God grasped Paul's revelation?

History would change at that point.

Look again at 3:10... so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

Maybe, just maybe, one of the expressed purposes of the church is to walk in exactly that unity... 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Just returned from a great week at State Girls Camp;  the seven girls who went conquered their fear and rode the zip line across the lake, knocked pool balls into the carpet ball pit, discovered that 'blob' can be a verb,  shot out of the end of the Wet Willy slide, paddleboated, made new friends, learned that 'za' is a word in Scrabble, and heard some powerful teaching on their identity in Christ from some amazing ladies.

And, in a very late meeting after all activities on our last night, they also learned what is coming in the future for Girls Ministry at church.  Now that the girls have heard, and I have emailed their parents, I thought I would explain what the shifting transition that has been so much in the forefront of my prayer and seeking time has been.

We have had a reorganization of sorts that began last year with the shift of 6th graders from the Children's Ministry to the Youth Ministry; early this year,  Girls Ministry came under the umbrella of our Women's Ministry, where it truly belongs.

As part of the shift, there has been a decision to revise and relaunch our ministry program to girls.  The new program will kick off after our Girls Ministry Advancement on Aug. 6, and there will be details about the exciting things they will be doing at that service.

However, this program will only go through 5th grade, and at this time there are no plans to continue a girls ministry-type program for girls in grades 6 and up; they are encouraged to attend and become fully involved in our youth ministry program.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been able to hang out with the young ladies in the Friends and Girls Only clubs; they have truly blessed me and kept me on my toes.  They will forever be part of my heart and in my prayers.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ephesians, Part 1 - 1:1 -2:10

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Ok...having at least admitted to the gorilla in my living room, I can proceed with the Plan. ;-)

Since I had to put Ephesians' six chapters into four lessons, today I'm looking at 1:1 - 2:10.

The commentary notes I have available for Ephesians all agree that Paul wrote this letter while in prison,  probably taking advantage of the return of Epaphroditus to Philippi and Onesimus to Philemon to send this letter.  Some of the folks even go so far as to suggest that this is actually the letter originally sent to the Laodiceans that Paul mentions in Colossians, and what we have is the copy that went to Ephesus, as he clearly indicated that his letters were to be copied and circulated amongst the churches.

Whether it is a copy of the Laodicean letter or not, the original audience was still the same -- former pagans, Gentiles who had embraced the gospel and become followers of Christ -- and Paul's letter to them is  a welcome into the family of God.

Paul even goes so far as to declare that this is the mystery of God's will, that all things should be united in Christ -- including Jews and Gentiles.  'In him you [the Gentile believers] also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory' (Eph 1:13 - 14; all scripture today from the ESV).

Paul says that it's for that reason that he thanks God for them and prays for them constantly.  And...he's not praying that they stay safe and healthy, or have favor with people or financial success, he prays that
1) They will be given the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so they will know Him better and
2) their spiritual eyes will be opened to see the hope to which they are called -- the riches of his inheritance and the incredible power of God toward believers...the power that raised Jesus from the dead and gave him all authority.

'You were dead', Paul points out in 2:1, describing the lifestyle they once lived, which is common to all mankind, including himself,  'But God,...made us alive together with Christ.' (2:4 -5).

This is God's doing, through His grace, and through no merit of our own.  In fact, Paul points out, we were all dead and could do nothing.  He gave us faith to believe and receive his grace, and through receiving His grace, we live.

In fact, Paul concludes this passage,  'We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand...' 2:10.

Each of us has a purpose in Christ...a good purpose... it's up to each of us to choose to walk in that purpose. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Clogging up the Works

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I thought I could get around it by focusing on a Bible study.

But no.

I can't write the next Bible study post because The Transition is what's occupying all of my journal space and word smithing.

Even though I am trying not to have those imaginary conversations...

This is the last week of the 'fasting and keeping silent', but I'm not sure how much I will talk about it once I've passed the limit.  It's going to be difficult, however it plays out.

Not only because it hurts so doggone much, but because  ANYTHING I say could be misconstrued or misinterpreted.

And I am determined to do this right.

Because it would be so easy to get 'in the flesh' and do it wrong. But there is no closure in going that route; it only increases the potential for damage done.


I will just say that two books, both of which I have read some time ago, have been influential in how I'm working my way through this. 

Both are by John Bevere... Under Cover, which is about being under authority, and Bait of Satan, which is about the trap of allowing oneself to be offended.  The principles taught in those two volumes have been extremely helpful in this season.

And I have had one revelation myself.  Yesterday in worship, I realized that so long as I keep focused on Jesus, on what the Holy Spirit is saying to me through this, I am at peace and contented, recognizing that all things are working together according to his purpose.  It's when I look around me, trying to decide who's responsible for these decisions and why and what is the impact it's going to have on folks I care about and...and...and...that I become upset and grief stricken and angry and all those things that go with it.

So that's a no-brainer, right?