The passage in Philippians for today is one of my very favorite. I get comfort, assurance and hope from these words given by Paul. However, he leads into this great passage with a problem. Several of the women in the church were causing problems because of their disagreements. Paul calls them to be unified and of one accord. He knows them, knows they are all believers and wants them to recognize the potential danger of their disagreements to the body of Christ. We all need to heed his words and examine our hearts lest we fall into the same trap that Satan uses to divide the body. Philippians 4:2-3 “Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. 3 And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.”
Paul exhorts them to put all disagreements aside and focus on what is important in their spiritual life. Philippians 4:4-6 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” What great advice Paul gives to those arguing women, to the whole church there in Phillipi and to us in the 2020! Focus on what matters in your spiritual life- have JOY! Be reasonable, gentle with everyone! Remember Jesus is going to return! Don’t be overcome with worry about things, people or places- tell God what you need with a thankful heart. Wow! What perfect advice for our day. So many times we get mired down in worry about ‘things’, people- relationships or events. Paul is saying that is worthless worry. Let God know what you need, pray with a thankful heart and claim His JOY in your life. God’s got this so pray and claim His joy!
Joy– Let your joy be real and contagious!
Joy– Be joyfully gentle with everyone in your life!
Joy– Being assured that Jesus will return = JOY!
Joy– pray with thankfulness knowing He cares for you, loves you and will attend to your needs.
Ephesians Chapter 4 begins with an impassioned plea by Paul to the Ephesians to live a life worthy of being called a believer, one who in faith decides to follow Jesus.
“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
Paul begins with ‘therefore’ as he wants his reader to remember all the points he has made so far in his letter about unity, love, the power of God and loving and serving each other. He sees himself as a slave or bond servant of Christ. Paul is totally committed to Christ and to them in love. He is willing to do what ever is need to tell other about Christ and the freedom available through faith in Him. Paul has experienced the transforming power of Christ in his life and sees the fruits of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He is calling all those who follow Christ to step up and be followers in name and deed. Paul wants the Ephesians Christians to treat each other with love, patience, gentleness, humility, giving each other the benefit of the doubt, and walk and work together in unity. It is a tall order, but one that Paul knows they can live up to through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.
What about you? Do you see yourself as one who serves others in humility with love and gentleness? When you are involved with other believers and unbelievers, do they see Christ in you? Lent is a time of reflection, a time to examine our lives, thoughts, deeds, motives and heart. Look at what Paul is asking through the lens of the cross. He is challenging you to be worthy believers, but not in your own power but through His. Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead,we are indwelt, empowered and enabled to act and be more and more like Jesus as we grow in Him.
‘Be all that you can be!’ is a slogan made famous by the Army. However, it is our commander, Jesus, who empowers us to be all in Him. Endeavor to live that way today as you seek to relate to others in Jesus’ name being all He has made you to be!
This second week of Lent has given us important action verbs of faith from Ephesians-brought near, united as one Spirit and family, founded in Christ, privileged in faith and having access to Almighty God. What a week filled with truths in the midst of panic, fear and doubt due to the Corona-19 virus. New words have occurred- social distancing and self-quarantining that seek to limit and restrain us. The truths from Ephesians are free, open and available even in a crisis. They will transform our lives, assure us in faith and move us forward together in Christ. Let the truths from Ephesians 2 and 3seep into your soul and let the Holy Spirit use them to transform your faith. Let them replace any fears you are feeling.
we are brought near to God through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13
we are one in Spirit. Ephesians 2: 14,18
we are united in Christ as He is our foundation and chief cornerstone. Ephesians 2:19-23
we are part of God’s family plan that is filled with His blessings in Christ. Ephesians 3:6
we are privileged to show God’s love and the good news of Jesus to the world. Ephesians 3:7-11
we have access to the Father in prayer. Ephesians 3:12
Blessings as you worship today- in most places virtually, as we practice social distancing due to the Corona-19 Virus. Our church service will be live streamed on YouTube today-you can tune in at 10:30 am PST to hear our worship band and Pastor Aaron Gonzenbach preach from the Word. You simply type: wearecrossroads into Youtube and it should take you there.
Paul concludes this Chapter 2 of Ephesians with very persuasive words for the Ephesian Christians. They are all indeed part of the family of God! Gentiles are no longer considered aliens but full members in God’s house. This house of God is built on Jesus, as the builders would say, He is the chief cornerstone of the church and it is filled with His Holy Spirit. The faith of those before us, the apostles and prophets, are solidly at the foundational level of this building called God’s church. All believers in Jesus add levels to the ‘building’ God is building with us. Paul also wants us to know that no one is without family, all belong with the Father through faith in Jesus.
Ephesians 2:19-23 “So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.”
I am sure that Paul’s letter was a great relief to the leader’s of the Ephesian church as Paul tried to settle the issue of differences, entitlement, arrogance and snobbery. We are all one in God’s church and Jesus is our foundation. Praise God! I love this message and have been a part of several Interdenominational Bible Studies for many years. I love the community of believers and the strength of the gospel message that we are all believers in the same cross, the same Lord and the same Spirit. Paul’s message brings unity to believers and open handedness among believers.
Who can you reach out to today with an open heart of love and acceptance? Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are united in Christ as He is our foundation and chief cornerstone.
Paul continues to speak to the Ephesians about their disconnectedness and hostility towards each other, and their great need to see themselves as one in Christ. Ephesians 2:14 “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.” He concludes in verse 18, “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.”
How often do you see differences in the practices of faith as divisive? On matters of baptism, dress, communion, music, worship styles, we can and do differ. On matters of the heart of the gospel- the saving power of Jesus and His death and resurrection, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and His transforming power there should be no division. As Paul says we are united and can approach God or have access to God through His Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. Jesus has brought us peace and equal access to God the Father.
Let the heart of the gospel guide you as you connect with other Christians and unbelievers, so that the truth of His Spirit will shine through your life. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are one in access to His Spirit and can have His peace. Praise God for His powerful Holy Spirit that allows us access to God and His peace.
Because I believe Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead, I am a member of Christ’s body. This biblical truth is spoken of many times in the Bible. Believers are considered to be part of Christ’s body, which is the church. Paul explains this amazing unity with Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:12 “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.” verse 27 “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” In Romans 12: 4-5 Paul also speaks of this unique blending of believers into a body that functions to support each other in Christ. “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” The idea of us working together and supporting one another as a body committed to Christ is also expressed in Ephesians 4:11-12 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,”
So what does this mean for you and me? Do you consider yourself a member of Christ’s body, the church? “The Church” is the body of believers throughout the world that believe that Christ is their Lord and Savior. Together, whether local or within the world, we are to work to spread the good news of Christ and His redeeming work. Not all of us are preachers or teachers but we all have a special gift and are equipped by God so we can contribute to the body and support each other in faith. Are you using your gifts to encourage other believers? Christ suffered and died for each of us and desires that we all work together as members of His body to reach a needy world.