Old Testament: Isaiah 45:11-48:11
Isaiah 45:11-48:11 Israel Lives!
Chap. 45:11-25 Verse 17 says that God is not finished with Israel. The church is not Israel. The church never sacrificed cows or birds. But Israel will continue into eternity according to this verse, “Israel has been saved by the LORD With an everlasting salvation; You will not be put to shame or humiliated To all eternity.”
Chap. 46-47 These chapters are about the judgment on Babylon and their idols.
Chap. 48:1-11 Verses 10-11 of this section state that God has called them from idols (cf. v. 5) and wanted to refine them for Himself. Are you feeling pressure today? Perhaps God is refining you for Himself to make you more like Himself. He tried with Israel but couldn’t do it. But there will come a time in the future where believing Israelites will be perfected just as Christians will be, in the Millennium.
New Testament: Ephesians 4:1-16
Ephesians 4:1-16 Body Builders
Paul is in prison as part of God’s will (v. 1). He exhorts the Ephesians to live in a godly way since they have been called by God to do good things (cf. Eph. 2:10). They are to be humble, gentle, patient, tolerant so there will be unity in the Spirit and peace. Others will be able to see their love (vv. 2-3; John 13:34-35).
There is one universal body of Christ of all believers (v. 4), one Holy Spirit, one Lord God (v. 4b), one true doctrine of faith (v. 5b, cf. Jude 3), and one baptism in the Spirit (v. 5c, cf. 1 Cor. 12:13, context is the body so baptism in the Spirit is in mind here) and one Father (v. 6).
Paul says that the body received gifts after Jesus ascended to Heaven (v. 7-8). Paul quotes Ps. 68:18 to indicate that Christ led Satan and his demons captive like in a warrior’s victory parade. In that case the warrior receives gifts but in this case, Christ gives gifts. Verse 9 might mean that between His death and resurrection, Christ descended into Hades, the holding tank of the dead (and thus the phrase in the Apostle’s Creed). More likely it means that Jesus descended into the grave at His burial.
There are three other passages that lift gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:8-10; 1 Pet. 4:10-11; Rom. 12:1-8). Here Paul lists gifts of men given to the body, apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers. They seem to be in order of importance. Apostles are the sent ones who have seen the Lord and been given a special commission over the beginning of the church. Prophets in that time may have had direct revelation from the Lord since there were no New Testaments. Now revelation is in the New Testament and revelation is dispensed through the Word by pastor-teachers. Pastor-teachers is most likely one office since the word “some” is not repeated before the word “teachers.” Evangelists are church-starters. They were not like Billy Graham. They would go into new areas and preach the gospel resulting in new fellowships.
The purpose of the gifts is to build the local body to maturity (v. 12). A person on a pulpit committee one time told me that they could tell the candidates from Dallas Seminary. They would all cite Eph. 4:13 as their key verse for pastoring a local body. It is a good verse to describe the pastor’s function, to build everyone up to maturity and to be like Christ.
This type of maturity will keep believers from being tossed about when poor doctrine is introduced to the church. When cults come calling, if church members have been taught properly, they won’t be swayed by “trickery,” “craftiness,” or “deceitful scheming” (v. 14).
Church members are to speak the truth but not in a harsh, abrupt way. The truth is to be told in love (v. 15a) so that others can grow up to like the true authority of the church, Jesus Christ Himself (v. 15b). The whole fellowship is being put together piece by piece and grows as it builds itself in love (v. 16).
Psalm 68:19-35 March Of The Monarch, Part 2 A Song Of Yahweh’s Kingship by David
Proverbs 24:3-4 A Beautiful House
Years and years ago, a young Christian girl in our fellowship, said that God had given her a Scripture that was specifically for me.
Hmmm. I was a little skeptical. She said that God had given her the Scripture which can be found later in this very chapter. “Prepare your work outside and make it ready for yourself in the field; afterwards, then, build your house.” It is Proverbs 24:27.
A few years later, another young lady said she had had a word from God that I should go to Dallas before I enter the ministry.
These are two very unusual occurrences. They both meant that I needed to go to seminary and then become a minister. I didn’t fully understand either one at the time. Basically, God was confirming my call to ministry. About ten years later, I moved from Indianapolis to Atlanta to Dallas for seminary training.
The ministry has been a trying time. It has not been easy. And I am a blockhead. It would have been easy to drop out. But God has confirmed his direction for me.
Don’t expect Him to act the same way for you. But He could.
Hopefully, I have built a house that is full of “rooms” that are “filled with . . . precious and pleasant riches.”
God may have another path for you and may confirm His direction in another way (cf. Prov. 3:5-6). But, nevertheless, He will guide you if you want Him to. And you will end up building a beautiful house filled of wonderful things.
3 By wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
4 And by knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.
Choose Life: Scripture: Ephesians 4:1 NASB “Can You Hear Me Now?”
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called . . .” Ephesians 4:1 NASB
You’ve probably seen that commercial with the guy and the cell phone trying to pick up a signal. He keeps moving and saying, “Can you hear me now?” The point is that the phone company does its best to improve its service so all of its clients can get the best connection.
Believers all have a calling. We did not just trust Christ to have life assurance and escape Hell. We were saved to have an eternal relationship with God. We were also saved so that we could represent Christ to a suffering world (C.S. Lewis, ““God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”). We are to travel around trying to get the best signal from God, through the Word and the Spirit, reaching out to show God to mankind. That is our calling.
We should live in a such a way that the world will be curious about us and about Jesus.
God is calling to a deaf world and we are God’s ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20).
We are to ask, “Can you hear me now?” as we give out the good news through our words and our lives.
That is our calling. As we fulfill our calling, we can feel God’s presence and power.
How are you showing your calling to others today?
Are you showing your calling to the world?
If you are, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
One of my mentors at seminary used to say, “If you can be a farmer, be a farmer. If you can be a pastor, be a pastor.” What he meant by that was that no calling was superior to another. We all need to be doing what God has called us to in life. The key is that we should be doing what God has called us to do, not just what we want to do. Of course, those things may be the same. For a number of years I stayed working radio and since I was a Christian, I worked in Christian radio. Later it seemed clear that God had called me to ministry so I switched (that story is in this blog, Can You Take This Call?). Since I was a radio major in college when I became a Christian, I stayed in radio after reading 1 Corinthians 7:24, “So, brethren, in whatever state each was called, there let him remain with God” (RSV).
The important thing is to find out where God wants you and stay there unless He calls you somewhere else (cf. Matt. 7:21; Luke 22:42).
The purpose of the Choose Life is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: Body Builders