He gave gifts to men

‘But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”‘ Ephesians 4:7-8 (ESV)

God in His infinite wisdom and abundant generosity has bestowed gifts upon His children.

He has done this by “grace”.

As with so much God has given us we do not deserve it.

And in gratitude for what He has done we should use our gifts wisely: to bring glory to God; to further His kingdom.

Knowing what our gifts are involves insight.

But using them well involves wisdom.

Kim+

prayer : that I will use my gifts to glorify God

action : discuss with my pastor how I can best use my gifts through ministry

one

“There is one body and 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)

There is so much packed into these three verses that’s it’s hard to do them justice in a short daily quiet time.

Clearly the overriding message is unity – the one Paul speaks of – which he specifically mentioned in the preceding verse.

I find it a reassuring passage. A message that makes me feel included.

One that gives me nice, warm fuzzies. Like I’m wrapped up in the comforting embrace of “God the Father”: protecting me, comforting me, loving me.

Perhaps this is not the purpose of the passage.

The one “body” spoken of is no doubt the church: the company of fellow believers; our brothers and sisters in Christ.

And like a body, each of us fulfills different roles. This is something Paul deals with in greater detail towards the end of the chapter.

For now I’ll bask in the knowledge that I am in Him and He is in me.

Kim+

prayer : that I will act as if I am one with Him

action : seek to be more Christ-like each and every day

worthy of the calling

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:1-16 (ESV)

Paul is certainly making a big deal of this by emphatically “urging” the reader.

I find it interesting that Paul refers to “walking”, as if it’s a journey rather than a destination.

He expects the Ephesians, and by implication us, to live up to a certain standard. It’s no small thing to be called yet with it comes a clear responsibility to take it seriously.

He makes it easy to know what’s expected of us by outlining several examples of Godly living: “humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, love, and unity”. A list that is comprehensive but by no means exhaustive.

In essence, a way of dealing with fellow believers that builds up the body of Christ the Son and gives all the glory to God the Father.

Kim+

prayer : that I would glorify God through my actions

action : be humble, gentle, patient, forbearing, and loving towards, as well as united with, fellow believers

he must manage his own household well

“He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” 1 Timothy 3:4-5 (ESV)

Following on from yesterday’s Bible verses, Paul goes on to list in detail specifically how he expects godly leaders to behave.

The one that strikes me as particularly interesting and challenging is the call to manage our own household.

It makes sense. But it’s no easy thing. Especially when our own household involves teenagers, each with a mind of their own.

But perhaps we should look first to own behaviour before we point the finger at our children. After all, they learn a lot of their behaviour from us, like it or not.

The way we talk. The way we pray. The way we read the Bible. The way we help others. The way we bear witness.

The list is endless.

But if we want them to grow up into Christians with a firm faith and a heart that is passionate for God’s Kingdom then we need to live like that first and foremost, trusting God that He will give us the strength and the humility to discipline our children (Ephesians 6:4) as He disciplines us. (Hebrews 12:11)

In love. (1 Corinthians 16:14)

Kim+

prayer : that I would live boldly for my Lord

action : pray with my children once a day (when possible)

therefore an overseer must be above reproach

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach,” 1 Timothy 3:1-2a(ESV)

It’s no small thing to be a leader. It’s a great responsibility that needs to be taken very seriously.

All too often it’s seen as an opportunity to exercise power and influence. And this is certainly an important element of the role.

But it should not be done for selfish reasons.

Instead, as we see in Philippians 2:7, our example should be like that of Christ Jesus who chose to be a “servant King”. Not what one would expect from the creator of the universe.

And like Jesus, we should aim to lead a godly life.

Why? Not because we are saved through the keeping of rules and regulations. Because we’re not. It is only the blood of Jesus that can wash us clean.

Rather, as a leader within His body, His church, we are called to set an example. Both to other members of His body as well as to those outside the church.

It is the ultimate witness. As our actions speak so much louder than mere words. (James 1:22f)

Kim+

prayer : whether in the role of a leader or a follower I would strive to act in such a way that is above reproach

action : look at setting my goals this month with this in mind

Manhood, Womanhood, and the Freedom to Minister

1Ti 2:8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

1 Timothy 2:8-15 (ESV)

How sad that Scripture, God’s Holy Word, can cause such strife and division within the church.

It pains me every time I hear Christians arguing over the meaning of this text.

Yet listening to John Piper in his sermon, “Manhood, Womanhood, and the Freedom to Minister“, my understanding of these verses is now much, much clearer.

And interestingly, my view has not changed from what it was before but simply clarified. A testament to the sound teaching I’ve received in the past.

The message I take from the sermon, and of course God’s Word, is that men and women both have important, valuable roles to perform.

The “silence” spoken of in this chapter is not so much a complete absence of voice but rather a respectful quietness.

There is a ministry role for every believer. And there are countless opportunities available to both men and women allowing them to exercise their God-given gifts.

But what women are excluded from doing is exercising “authority” over men, especially through “teaching”.

This doesn’t mean they cannot teach. But the form that “teaching” will take may well differ to that performed by men.

We would do well to read Scripture more carefully and prayerfully rather than jumping to conclusions, taking passages out of context, or worse still, applying our own cultural biases to influence our thinking.

Because “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)

Kim+

prayer : that I would be mindful when reading and interpreting Scripture, asking for godly wisdom to provide me with insight and understanding

action : seek God’s will for the ministry role He would have me do within my church

for there is one God

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV)

I am reminded of the start to the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me”. (Deuteronomy 5:7)

Yet living here in Japan, where the Shinto and Buddhist religions dominate, it’s sad to see so many putting their faith in gods that do not even exist.

They’re praying to gods who are unable to hear their prayers let alone answer them.

Silent gods. Empty gods. Man-made gods. Idols.

For there is only one way that we can connect to God: through “the man Christ Jesus”.

And, although He is the all-powerful creator of everything, He still listens attentively to our cries of anguish, weeping when we weep, and suffering when we suffer.

He understands our pain.

And whilst He doesn’t promise an immediate remedy, there is the ultimate promise of “no more death, mourning, crying, nor pain”. (Revelation 21:4)

Kim+

prayer : thank you Lord that you sent your Son to act as a mediator between us

action : pray for the people of Japan, that they would see the light