August 7, 2014

Today you should read: Ephesians 4:7-16

I know what you’re thinking today – what on earth does this mean – He lead captivity captive?  Paul is referencing Psalm 68 – but who are the captives?  Harold Hoehner in his commentary says:

“Who, then, are the captives?  From Ps 68 it is clear that they were the enemies of Israel who were defeated when Jerusalem was captured.  In Ephesians some have interpreted the captives:  (1) as the enemies of Christ, namely, Satan, sin, and death; or (2) as the people who have been the captives of Satan, sin and death, and who are now taken captive by Christ in redemption.  The first interpretation seems to be more fitting.  Christ had victory over Satan, sin and death and gives gifts of the Spirit to those who have been identified with him.”  Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians:  An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Baker Academic, 2002), pp. 529-530.

I don’t know if I (or anyone else for that matter) completely understand this passage.  In light of verse 7 – He has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ – v.8 That is why the Scriptures say…  I like Spurgeon’s commentary on it…

As great conquerors of old led whole nations into captivity, so Jesus leads forth from the territory of his foe a vast company as the trophies of his mighty grace. From the gracious character of his reign it comes to pass that to be led into captivity by him is for our captivity to cease. The Lord Jesus puts death to death.

One thing we know for sure – Jesus is the Victor – over sin, over death, over Satan, over the grave – over everything!

Now for the good part – the purpose statement for the church – v. 11-16

God calls people into full-time ministry to lead the church (v.11) – look at the list.  Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.  All called by God to guide and govern His church.

God gives us their job description (v.12) – ever wonder what your pastors should be doing with their time?  It’s not what the average church expects – but it IS what God expects – EQUIPING God’s people to do His Work.  Not doing the work for them – equipping others to do it.  That’s how the church is to function.

God gives the standard (v.13) – how will we know if we did it?  God’s people will act like Jesus – measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

God tells us the result (v. 14-16) – what will happen if we do His work His way?  People will grow up – no longer acting like children.  They will know what they believe and will stand firm on God’s Word.  The church will grow and serve and be full of love.

Sound like a church you want to attend?  Things always work better when you do them God’s way.

Posted by: Tim Parsons

August 6, 2014

Today you should read: Ephesians 4:1-6

Keeping The Church First …

“Life is not all about my individual calling.”  That was a lesson God taught me in the recent past.  We regularly keep our “individual calling” as the front-runner of reasons why we should or should not do something.  We say things like… “He has wired me like this…” or “He has gifted me like this…” and therefore we decide to do something or not do something.  Make no mistake, God HAS gifted us in unique ways.  He has made us for certain callings and tasks.  He does call us into things and out of things.  He does bring opportunities to do His work in ways we would have never expected in earlier years.  This is all great!!  But, what we see from today’s passage is that church is more important than my individual calling.  The church is the benefactor and beneficiary of my individual calling.  My calling is not an end in itself.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

Paul begins this passage giving us his qualification.  He is a prisoner for Jesus. He believes in his message so much that he is imprisoned for it.  Then he tells us to “walk in a manner worthy of our calling.”  In layman’s terms: live a life that matches up with the truth of the Gospel.  Our main calling is to live for Jesus, therefore we should live lives that match His truth.

Then Paul tells us what that looks like exactly.  He mentions things like humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and love.  The purpose?  The common denominator?  The goal?  Maintaining unity.  He says we should be eager to do so.  Eager to maintain unity.  Eager.

Paul says there is one Church body just like there is one God and one calling that we have all been called to.  Our overall calling to Christ, through the Gospel, and our calling to one church body is far more important than anything else.  The church represents Christ to the world and is called to love God together.

Therefore, to close, I would like to ask you:

Are the decisions you are making, the callings you are following, the relationships you are pursuing, and the ways you are living displaying an eagerness to maintain the unity of the church?  Is the church more important to you than your individual calling?  I pray that it would be.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

August 5, 2014

Today you should read: Ephesians 3:20-21

“There is just no way”, “That is impossible”, “Sure, when pigs fly.”

The aforementioned phrases are things that all of us have said in some shape or form in our lives. I remember praying for my grandfather asking God to save him and at the same time thinking, “there is no way.” It seemed impossible. The guy who led me to Christ in college thought the very same thing about me. I remember him telling me in discipleship after I came to know the Lord that when he first met me he wasn’t sure if I was going to listen to him or punch him. The past few years I have had the privilege of watching God take impossible people and situations and change them through the gospel. Many times I struggled to have faith that God would change them. Today’s passage is such a refreshing reminder of God’s power and grace.

1. God’s power knows no limits. (v.20a)

No matter what the circumstance or situation that you are facing God is able to do more in that scenario than you could even begin to ask. I think at times we limit our faith in God’s power because we view God through our human lens of understanding. For instance, I can’t see how this (insert impossible scenario) will possibly work out, so I have little or no faith in God being able to change it either. In order to have faith in the power of God, we have to view God through the God-sized lens that he deserves.

David helps us adjust our belief in Psalm 29 of the power and glory of God. Take a moment to read and mediate on this passage.

2. God’s power is at work within us. (v.20b)

Sometimes the hardest thing to have faith in is God’s ability to change us. I know that sin struggles can feel impossible to overcome. I want to remind you today that the full power of God lives within you through the Holy Spirit. The problem is not that God doesn’t have the power to change you it is that you don’t have the faith in His means for change. God has called us to repent and faithfully put on the character that He has given us (Ephesians 4:17-24, Colossians 3:1-17). Have you put to death the old self and renewed your mind in the word of God? If not, then let me urge you to make that decision today.

Posted by: Chad Wiles

August 4, 2014

Today you should read: Ephesians 3:14-19

Since recently finishing the book of Job here at Jumpstart, I looked forward to a more encouraging Bible read. Not that Job isn’t important or necessary, but it is challenging while it tests both the intellect and the emotion with a rather melancholy story. I’d bet you can identify with this statement: Ephesians is a breath of fresh air!

Paul’s letter to the churches in the region of Ephesus is pastoral, theological, and practical; these three are each vital to the life of the Christian. We need God’s shepherding protection & guidance, we need God’s timeless truth, and we need to live a changed life of benevolent, Christ-honoring action. Today’s passage (3:14-19) ties in all three of these critical elements found in Ephesians. Paul shepherds these believers by reminding them of God’s love and sovereign care. He builds them up with invaluable tenets of the faith that they need to believe. And then he calls them to live their faith boldly!

Concerning the practical application, there is something Paul does here that I can appreciate. While he is telling them that they are to do great things for God, he challenges them to draw their strength from God. In fact, he is reminding them that they can’t really do it on their own; they need the Holy Spirit to do it through them. Why do I appreciate this reminder? Because I, far too often, try to carry out my life plans/decisions/ministry/__________ in my own power, many times resulting in a mess of things. Yet, when I am yielded to Jesus and find His power through my weakness, He does more than I could ask or think! What a paradox!

What did the Lord teach you today from this helpful letter?

One final extra thing that the ESV Study Bible called to my attention. If you wonder if Paul affirmed the doctrine of the Trinity, look no further than the book of Ephesians. It is saturated with references to Father, Son, and Spirit. Check out this little chart: Eph-Trinity

Happy Monday, CPC!

Posted by: Todd Thomas