DAY 13 - Unity In The Church Ephesians 4: 1-6; John 1: 20-23 " I therefore a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called". Eph 4:1 Paul begins chapter 4 by earnestly trying to persuade Christians to walk in a manner worthy of their calling. The analogy of a walk suggests activity and movement with progress and advancement. We are not to remain stationary, being content with our spiritual rebirth, happy to be where we are or constantly looking back. We are to press on. Paul says " forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus Philippians 3: 13-14. Now we have to ask, what does it mean to walk worthily? In short, walking worthy of such a high calling means to please God in all respects, bearing fruit through increased knowledge (Colossians 1:10). Remember, it's not our worth we are maintaining but the immense worth of our position in Christ. " with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bear with one another in love". Ephesians 4:2 Do you ever struggle to get along with a brother or sister in Christ? Paul knew that members of the body are at different levels of understanding and maturity. So he was urging us to bear with one another in love, knowing there will be differences of opinion, likes and dislikes, envy and pride within the church. With the adverb " therefore" in Eph 4:1 Paul is recalling what he has been emphasizing above everything else in the first three chapters of Ephesians, this great matter of Christian Unity. He tells us this very specifically in Ephesians 1:9-10. "Making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time. To unite all things in him, and all things in heaven and things on earth". This unity is the primary objective and Paul is urging us to bear with one another in love, especially through our sins and confrontations. Too many people just pick up and leave a particular church for prideful self-serving reasons, because we are not pursuing this unity as Paul is exhorting. Sin is a disruptive force, it divides, destroys and separates families, communities (churches) and Nations. Sin even divides a person within himself/herself. "endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace" Ephesians 4:3 God never intended us to walk this walk alone or with a blind eye to the sin of others. Rather than ignore sin or avoid confrontation, Paul gives us two stages to express this unity in love. 1. With humility (forsaking self-righteousness) and gentleness (maintaining self-control) and 2. With patience, bearing with one another in (unselfish) love". Eph 4:2. This Supernatural love is only of the Spirit and is a spiritual grace, it comes from within. This is God's grand design, it is the thing in which he glories in above all else, we must guard this unity, not to guard it is a grievance to the Holy Spirit. It's not about perfect people trying to produce unity, that would be uniformity, but about sinners attaining it Verse 4:13 with humility in love, then striving to guard it, then we can patiently endure differences and forgive sin, so that we may grow together in the knowledge and fullness of Jesus thus glorifying God. "there is one body, one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."(Ephesians 4: 4-6 ESV) Jesus emphasized this oneness in His high priestly prayer just hours before his death: " I do not ask for these only but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one so that the world may know that you sent me and love them even as you love me". (John 17:20-23) Is there any question that this God-glorifying oneness and unity of the Spirit is the Lord's primary objective and that He is aware of the world watching His church? Father, forgive us when we are not walking worthy of our high calling. May we not be prideful but like Christ in lowliness and meekness, help us not to be impatient or resentful, but enduring and forgiving to enable the unity that Jesus died to create to become real to the church and observable to a fallen and broken world. To the praise of your glory. Amen
Unity In The Church
January 18, 2020
P24 Climb • January 26, 2020
DAY 21 - Psalm 24:3-5 - P24 Climb Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. The Psalmist here asks us two very key questions in verse 3. Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? Then he answers the question for us in verse 4, He says “It is he who…" - Has clean hands - A pure heart - Does not lift up His soul to what is false - Does not swear deceitfully These four steps are how we ascend the hill of the Lord (i.e. Journey with Jesus. I call this the P24 Climb. You have all heard of the P90X exercise program, right? You cannot just pop in the P90X into the tv and then sit back on the couch with a bag of potato chips and watch, and think you are going to get physically fit. NO WAY!! You have to participate in the program!! Let’s briefly look at the P24 Climb. #1 Clean Hands To have clean hands means that we live our lives free from blatant sin. As Christians, or Christ Followers - Children of God, or Believers… Whatever you want to call yourself, we must choose to not sin! #2 A Pure Heart Matthew 5:8 says, ““Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. The Greek word for “pure” in Matthew 5:8 is katharos… It means to be “clean, blameless, unstained from guilt.” Interestingly… the word can refer specifically to that which is purified by fire or by pruning. The Greek word for “heart” in Matthew 5:8 is kardeeah. This can be applied to the physical heart, but it also refers to the spiritual center of life. This is the place where our thoughts, desires, sense of purpose, will, understanding, and character reside. So to be pure in heart means to be blameless in who we actually are. #3 Does not lift up His soul to what is false Proverbs 4:23-26 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” Just as there are many diseases and disorders that can affect the physical heart, there are also many ailments of the spiritual heart. These ailments can impair growth and development as a believer. A hardening of the spiritual heart occurs when we are presented with God’s truth, and we refuse to acknowledge or accept it. #4 Does not swear deceitfully This is a person who lives by honesty. They are truthful and trustworthy. They keep their promises, obligations, commitments, contracts, and covenants. Matthew 5:37 says, "All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Throughout this coming year, it is my desire that we as a body will walk in the Spirit every day and choose not to sin. To be blameless with open hearts to the truths of His Word, Journeying with integrity WITH HIM. This is the conclusion of our SURGE 21 2020 fasting program. Please join together on Wednesday evening the 29th for a time of worship and prayer to solidify in our hearts the small sacrifices that have been made to consecrate ourselves to make this P24 Climb together for the praise and honor of our Lord God Almighty that we may be a blessing and receive His blessings. Pastor Moen Psalm 24:5 says, “He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” SURGE twenty-one devotionals are prayerful contributions from the pastors, ministry leaders, and volunteers of Liberty Church. We offer a special Thank You for your contributions.
Being Community...In Prayer... • January 25, 2020
DAY 20 - Isaiah 5:6; Acts 2:42; 4:31- Being Community...In Prayer... In Isaiah 56:7 we learn “these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” In my initial reading of this verse, I wondered who Isaiah is talking about when he refers to “these”? I felt drawn to be with them on the holy mountain. Mentioned earlier in the passage, Isaiah is referring to all of those that “do what is good and right”, and those that “honor my Sabbath… and keep themselves from doing wrong”. Isaiah is telling us to draw close to God, go deeper in relationship with Him. Our relationship with God grows through time in prayer with him. All who devote themselves (offerings and sacrifices) to Jesus will be accepted in His house. It does not matter where you are in your Christian walk or where you are from (all nations) when we go deeper in our relationship with Jesus we experience the joy he gives us in his “house of prayer”. In these last 20 days, we have drawn closer to God through our fasting and prayer. By doing this together as a church body, we witness to the world. We see this realized in the New Testament when told about early church development in Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” As we devote ourselves to Jesus through spending time in the Word, time in prayer, and time in fellowship with other believers we feel fulfilled. Nothing can fill us as completely as this. Yes, we need Jesus, but we also need each other, for God reaches us through people. He uses our prayer for others and our fellowship time together to build one another up and to build a community of faith. We learn about the amazing impact the early church had in Acts 4:31: “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” When striving toward greater intimacy with God through obedience and prayer, and growing in community of faith that builds one another up, we are filled by the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit governs our lives, we witness boldly and journey with Jesus toward the holy mountain. Then our community of faith “shakes the ground” and we become one of “these” that Isaiah spoke of. Let us come together to pray! Our prayers may be awkward. Out attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who HEARS them and not on the one who says them, our prayers DO make a difference. Max Lucado
A Couple’s Journey to Wholeness • January 24, 2020
DAY 19 - Psalm 37:3-6 - A Couple’s Journey to Wholeness Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Maybe you’re in a situation where you feel like you just can’t take it anymore; maybe it’s your marriage, or a wayward child, the loss of a loved one, or your job. Do you find yourself saying? “I just can’t do it anymore!” “I’m done!” You may wonder why God isn’t answering your cries for help. Please know that our Heavenly Father sees your pain and knows the desires of your heart. As a wife, I had prayed for 26 years when I decided that I had enough and left. I had always wanted to be obedient and not get divorced, knowing how much God hated divorce, but strangely, I had an unexplainable peace about my decision. I had no idea what Jesus was about to do. I surrendered and trusted. As a husband, I watched my wife was busy praying for our marriage, I was also seeking a relationship with God, but on MY terms. I had asked Him into my heart and knew, according to the Bible, that I was saved and would have eternal life but I had never looked deep enough into my own brokenness to allow God to deliver and heal me. My relationship with God was kind of like my relationship with my doctor. We can try to fool our doctor by telling them everything feels great but when they look inside of us and examine our blood chemistry they can see what’s really going on. Until we totally surrender and allow His light to shine on the inside of hearts we never really know where the ailments are. Today as a couple walking this journey with Jesus we encourage you to allow Him, the greatest physician ever, to show you the brokenness that causes so much sickness and trouble in our lives and in this fallen world. Trust, surrender and commit. This can only be done by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are so blessed our marriage is now a three-stranded cord. Jesus thank you for your constant love, for knowing the desires of our heart. And for always being there. Our trust is in the LORD because He is working everything out.