The Church Jesus Longs For
Ephesians 4:1-16 (NIV) is probably the best description of a church in recorded history. Read this text over slowly and prayerfully. Notice the words highlighted and then move on to the devotional sections of this message resource.
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Day 1: A Unified People
The Apostle Paul planted a church in Ephesus on one of his missionary journeys. He stayed there for 3 years, built a movement of discipleship, and then moved on. Some time later, Paul was arrested and imprisoned. From prison, he wrote a letter back to the church(es) in Ephesus to establish them more fully. This is the letter we have in our Bibles called Ephesians. The first three chapters are all about theology, doctrine, and doxology (worship). Paul explains what our salvation in Jesus is all about, and then he praises God. But in chapter four Paul shifts gears and says here is how to LIVE THIS OUT.
He describes a UNIFIED church, a SERVING church, and a MATURING church.
Paul says all have the same calling, which is to seek God, know God, seek first his kingdom, and become his disciples. And how do we live out this calling with others in the church? Paul emphasizes humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness.
Reflect: Why is unity important in a church? What about serving? Maturing? How is God strengthening Living Word’s unity, culture of service, and maturity through your presence?
Day 2: A Serving People (Part 1)
God gives us spiritual abilities to serve the church. All of these gifts are ways of doing practical things, with loving intent, to meet the tangible needs of others. Serving takes the compassion of Jesus from the pages of Scripture and writes it into the story of others’ lives.
Reflect: How have you been served at Living Word? How is God calling you to grow as a servant of others in the church? How have you been equipped for serving? How have you been gifted by God to serve?
Day 3: A Serving People (Part 2)
Living Word’s expanded building/facility presents lots of new and awesome opportunities to serve. You are probably aware that for decades we have used the term ministry partners for volunteers who fill serving roles on serving teams. Well, we are currently in a season where we need to add many more ministry partners across the spectrum of ministry needs at Living Word.
- If you have been serving, what has the act of serving done to grow you as a disciple of Jesus?
- If you are not a ministry partner, would you prayerfully consider joining one of our serving teams?
- If you have served in a previous church, but have never served as a part of Living Word, would you talk this over with the Lord, and friends here at church, and consider becoming a part of our serving culture of blessing others here?
Day 4: A Maturing People
What is spiritual maturity? Put simply, Christian maturity is becoming like Christ. The more we become like Jesus, the more we care like him, think like him, love like him. Jesus is our picture of spiritual maturity. Are we becoming like Jesus? A mature church is a Christ-like church (Ephesians 13-14). And we need to grow in relational maturity, where truth is spoken in love (v. 15-16). Finally, a mature church is a church of participation. Read verse 16 again. Notice the last five words: “each part does its work.”
Reflect: How is God speaking to you about how you can leverage your gifts to bless others, edify the church, and make a difference in the Kingdom of God?
We're Here to Help You Find Your Place
He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. - Ephesians 2:10
We will help you think through the three great themes in this verse:
- You are created by God
- There are specific works, “good works”
- That he has created for you to do (not someone else, you!)
Designed as a learning process, we will consider five key areas of your unique design: personality, love, ability, character, and experience. And then as we celebrate God’s design for his Church, we will discover ways to say yes to our next best step to take.
The true legacy of our lives will be seen and felt through the everyday world of loving and serving God while loving and serving others.
If you are interested in taking this next step, this one-evening, 2-hour workshop will help you choose the best place to serve. Learn more and sign up at LWCCyork.com/place.
- Songs We Sing
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