Still Sucking Our Thumbs?

MICRO DEVOTIONALS FOR BUSY PEOPLE – READING THROUGH THE BIBLE IN LOW GEAR.  Ephesisans 4:11-16 NIV and Ephesians 4:11-16 – CEV
A summary from Richard Coekin’s commentary and a sermon by Nathan Lino.

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HOW DOES JESUS BUILD HIS CHURCH?  

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Jesus helps and uses His people to: 

  1. maintain the Spirit’s unity of the church by them relating to one another in humility, gentleness, patience and love.
  2. contribute their ministry, each one doing their part.
  3. grow in maturity, keep unity and delighting in getting to know Jesus more and more.

CHURCH LEADERS – Ephesians 4:11-13

  • Church leadership isn’t about celebrity.
  • Jesus is the Head o the church – there are no superstars in the Kingdom of God.

 

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  • Time to let go of our teddybears and be enthusiastically receptive to be changed by the Spirit through His inspired Word?
  • What a tragedy for us, our friends, our children to remain underdeveloped, happy-go-lucky Peter Pans.
  • Time to mature in speaking the truth in love.

UNITY OF FAITH IN AND KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS;  MATURITY IN BEING LIKE HIM. – 

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THEN…..

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Too, too  many people have a story of a loveless, dogmatic, fractured, proud churches who judged, controlled and  fed people false teaching.

  • It’s far too easy to drift off course into prayer-less intellectualism. ungenerous materialism, our Bibles unread.
  • When we grow to know our Lord Jesus Christ and we are rooted in the gospel, we are empowered to discern false teaching, to spot the deception of sin, and see through  posing personalities who appoint themselves in the church.

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  • Oh how our young Christian children need to be equipped to face the world that is so “in our face”.
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AS EACH PART DOES ITS WORK – this is how God’s people do church.
  • Have we identified, with others’ input, our own spiritual gifts – of course not for personal reputation, but to enrich and build others up in Jesus.

(Maybe we could see our pastor for further training?)

  • Christ distributes ministries to every believer –  no room for inadequacy, envy or superiority.
  • Church growth needs all the limbs of the body to be united in building one another up.  
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WHAT IS OUR TENDENCY? 
To speak truth without love or to love without speaking the truth?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eager to Maintain the Deepest Unity

MICRO DEVOTIONALS FOR BUSY PEOPLE – READING THROUGH THE BIBLE IN LOW GEAR. Ephesians 1:1-6 NIV and Ephesians 4:1-6

A summary from Richard Coekin’s commentary and a sermon by Nathan Lino.
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UNITY AMONG CHRISTIANS – a deep, deep oneness of the Spirit:  Christ in us and us in Him.

Jesus prays to His Father to keep His disciples in His Name so that they may be one even as the Father and the Son are One.

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BREATH-TAKING UNITY!

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  • How can we, proactively and in our pressurised modern lives maintain the unity of the Spirit?
  • By eagerly making every effort to live completely humbly and gently with one another in love.

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LOVE IS THE DEFINING ETHIC, THE ALL-INCLUSIVE VIRTUE THAT MAKES CHRISTIAN UNITY ATTAINABLE.

  • The is the dynamic:  love that behaves like Jesus maintaining unity in the church, in Christian relationships, and in the the family.
  • Christ works in us to love and treat others as He has graciously treated us.

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GOD HIMSELF TEACHES US IN HIS ACTIVE WORD TO BE ENTHUSIASTIC TO HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST – in humility, gentleness and patience, with love.

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HUMILITY (our pride can make us demanding} GENTLENESS (meek not weak) AND PATIENCE (when we get less love than we are giving.} Recognising that growth takes time and that we are all a work in progress.

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Our Western culture pressurises us to indulge our self-promoting views, saying it is a good thing to be opinionated, and highly ambitious for ourselves. It is this kind of arrogance that strangles church growth, relationships and families.  

What if tension rises?

  1. Will we stir  things up with dogmatic opinions, destructive gossip or bitter aggression?
  2. Will we take a deep breath, and prayerfully ask God to help us to encourage each other, to listen humbly, to speak gently and to forgive patiently – with love?

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Humility, Gentleness, Patience, Love.

MICRO DEVOTIONALS FOR BUSY PEOPLE – READING THROUGH THE BIBLE IN LOW GEAR. Ephesians 4:1-3 

A summary from Richard Coekin’s commentary and a sermon by Nathan Lino
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HOW DO WE WALK WORTHY OF THE CALLING WE HAVE RECEIVED?

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WOULDN’T WE ALL LOVE TO BELONG TO A CHURCH LIKE THIS – where we relate to one another with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love.

HOW DO WE CULTIVATE UNITY IN THE CHURCH, OUR FAMILIES, ALL OUR RELATIONSHIPS?  Humility, gentleness, peace and love.

HUMILITY – the opposite to pride, the serial killer of humility.

  • Humility is also the opposite to individualism where “I” am primary and “others” secondary: where we make commitments to ourselves at the expense of others.
  • Humility or self-promotion and meanness?

GENTLENESS

  • This  doesn’t mean a big softy or an easy push-over or sentimental gush.
  • Gentleness is harnessed power.

PATIENCE means slow.

  • Slow to become irritable and angry.
  • Slow-to give up on one another.

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  • Not quick to be harsh and demanding.
  • Humble, gentle and patient with one another’s quirks and rough edges.

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WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO HAVE FRIENDSHIPS, BE A FAMILY, BE A CHURCH MARKED BY GENTLENESS, HUMILITY AND PATIENT LOVE?

  • A true commitment to these qualities, will take a lot of little deaths to our selfish ambitions and demands for personal preferences..
  • “Humility, gentleness, patience, love” these words have the character and nature of Jesus written all over them.
  • Sheer will power will not do the trick. Growing up into the maturity of Christ-likeness will see us growing in humility, patience and love.

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Jesus laid down His rights and privileges as God the Son in heaven so we can live the eternal life by faith in Jesus.

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God, by His Holy Spirit, works in us to want to love and treat others as he so  graciously treats us.

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  • The God of peace equips us with everything good doing His will.
  • He works in us what is pleasing to Him!
  • God is at work in us to desire His good will: humility, gentleness, patience and enduring love in our homes, in our church, in our community.
  • God is at work in us to want this and to do this – to mature into Christ-likeness.

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Let the Almighty Answer Me!

MICRO DEVOTIONALS FOR BUSY PEOPLE – READING THROUGH THE BIBLE IN LOW GEAR. Job 31 NIV and Job 31 CEV

A summary from Derek Thomas’ commentary.

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Job writes his defence ( Job 31) signs it and then says, “let the Almighty answer me!”

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  • Do you think Job has gone too far? (He’s not claiming perfection.)
  • How do our lives compare to Job’s life?
  • How would we fare  if God evaluated our lives justly?
  • Christmas is coming – Jesus said He came to take away the sins of the world  How does His cross, resurrection, forgiveness, the gospel, impact on Job 31?

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JOB GIVES REASONS WHY HE SHOULD BE BLESSED AND NOT SUFFER.
Here’s his list of justifying himself before the holy God.
 LUST – Job knew sin is committed well before it is done outwardly. 
  • Job recognised the power of temptation and made a covenant with his eyes – to restrict what he allowed himself to look at – to deal with the potential to give in to sin.
  • He lived with God’s approval in mind and was prepared to walk around with blinkers.  
DISHONESTY Job 31:5-8 Job insists he has avoided falsehood in every area of his life – a pretty bold claim we might think.
ADULTERY AND SEDUCTION  31:9-12 – Job didn’t lurk at his neighbour’s door.
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  • For Job sex is for marriage and marriage only: marriage based on trust  and faithfulness.
  • Adultery is playing with fire.
OPPRESSION — Job had a large number of servants
He believed all people are created by God, made in His image with the right to be treated with dignity and equality.
THE NEEDY AND WEARY (31:16-23)
  • Job said he had been generous in supplying food and clothes from his own resources to the needy.
  • He got involved in their lives, training orphans and helping widows in court.
  • Motivation: he feared God: His splendour and judgment.
 GREED – Eliphaz suggested there was a mean streak in Job.
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Job resolutely denies it and says his security is not in pure gold.
IDOLATRY, VINDICTIVENESS AND MEANNESS.
  • Job was not offering any kisses of homage in worship to the sun or the moon.
  • Though it might be natural to feel some sense of satisfaction when an enemy suffers. Job didn’t gloat over his opponents’ troubles.
  • Job showed generous hospitality to his own big family, many servants, the vulnerable, strangers and travellers. Nobody every left Job’s table hungry.

HYPOCRISY (31:33-34) Job said there are no massive sins in his life.

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  • For Job there are no hidden guilt, no fear of exposure or naming and shaming.
  • Job was a good and godly man, not living a double life as Satan and Job’s friends accused him of.

EXPLOITATION – Job’s final denial: he’s not guilty of abusing the land nor the tenants.

 

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” LET THE ALMIGHTY ANSWER ME – LET MY ACCUSER PUT HIS INDICTMENT IN WRITING.”

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By the Holy Spirit, let’s praise our Father for His Son, our Saviour – Who paid it all!

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Job Wrestles with God’s Justice

MICRO DEVOTIONALS FOR BUSY PEOPLE – READING THROUGH THE BIBLE IN LOW GEAR.  Job 30 – NIV and Job 30 – NLT

A summary from Derek Thomas’ commentary.

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JOB HAS FALLEN FROM HIGH RESPECT TO DISGRACE IN THE EYES OF PEOPLE.
  • Instead of adulation, he is the butt of insult, a byword among  misfits and scavengers who taunt Job with mocking songs, sounding like braying animals. .
  • They detest Job with cutting insults, spit in his face and detest him.

JOB’S LIFE IS EBBING AWAY 

  • His resources, dignity and sense of security are all gone.  He feels like a broken bow.
  • All he has now are nights of gripping, gnawing pain that never lets up.
  • Job feels overwhelmed by these terrors: He feels as if his soul and vitality have been poured out like water from a jar.

Job is not cursing God to His face, as Satan predicted, but He is talking to and wrestling with God in a real relationship.

Do you think Job might be going too far when he accuses God like this?

 

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JOB IS SAYING TO GOD, “YOU!”, “YOU!”, “YOU!” as if God is a cruel bully and a dispassionate torturer.
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Unfair!

JOB IS THE ONE WHO WEPT FOR THOSE IN TROUBLE, HOPING GOOD AND LIGHT WOULD COME HIS WAY.  Job 30:16-23
  • He genuinely had deep sympathy with the poor, but darkness came to him.
  • His stinking wounds are festering, his skin peeling, his body burning with fever and  stands up in the assembly and cries out fo help!

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Job Remembers his Glory Days

MICRO DEVOTIONALS FOR BUSY PEOPLE – READING THROUGH THE BIBLE IN LOW GEAR. Job 29

A summary from Derek Thomas’ commentary.

 

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If only things were like they used to be in the good old days when the sun shone all day!

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TO PONDER
  1. When are thoughts like these an expression of discontentment with God’s ways?
  2. When do our backward glances do us good and  give us perspective?

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Job remembers God’s care, intimate friendship, provision and presence back then.  –  29:2-5

  • Then, God watched over, loved Job, and His lamp shone on His godly servant’s head.
  • Job walked by God’s light through the darkness.
  • How God’s intimate friendship blessed Job’s home in those days – how he enjoyed God’s felt presence, children around their dad, herds and crops,
“The good old days when his paths were drenched with cream and streams of olive oil poured from the rock.” Job 29
Job is no longer sure that God is with him as His Friend, Provider and Keeper.

Job was a man of considerable honour in the city of Uz.  29:7-17

  • When he took his seat in the public square the young men made way, and the old rose to their feet, eager to hear the wise Job.
  • Job had a super reputation for rescuing  the poor and helping the orphans

JOB WAS A MAN OF ACTION, GOODNESS AND JUSTICE – marked by godliness and integrity.

  • Job is the  hands-on man: eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, like a dad to the needy and he made it his business to take on the case of the stranger.
  • He was like a servant-king leading, organising, encouraging his people rescuing the vulnerable from the fangs of the wicked.

Job reminds us of Jesus!

Job’s hopes are crushed – 29:18-21

  1. He dreamed about living to a ripe old age, his honour intact – dying at home surrounded by his loved ones.
  2. Job hoped people would hang onto his every gentle word of counsel.
  3. He visualised the people surprised by his smile, then Job’s face would light up and it would be precious to them.
  4. Job remembered how he was the decision-maker as his people’s chief, living among the troops: a comforter to mourners.
But oh, the biting reality:  Job lost his family, financial security, peace of mind and dignity and God’s felt love and goodness.
  • This is causing a strain on Job’s relationship with God: His faith in who God is, is stretched to the limit.
  • Job felt dehumanised and demoralised on that rubbish-heap, scraping his festering wounds.

    How quickly things changed.

    Death, disease, financial ruin – these can all rattle and even destroy the equilibrium of our lives

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Is It Okay to Accuse God When We Suffer?

MICRO DEVOTIONALS FOR BUSY PEOPLE – READING THROUGH THE BIBLE IN LOW GEAR. Job 27

A summary from Derek Thomas’ commentary.

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 JOB IS ADAMANT IN HIS FINAL WORDS TO HIS SO-CALLED FRIENDS.
  • I will never admit you are right that I’ve reaped extreme suffering because I committed extreme sins. Job 27:5
  • Interestingly, the friends have not spoken directly to God.
  • Job on the other hand prays to God, complains to God and even fights with God.
WHEN WE SUFFER, HOW  VITAL TO KNOW WHO OUR GOD IS AND TO GET TO KNOW HIM BETTER AND BETTER.
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  • Can we hold on to our God even if we don’t understand His better ways and His timing?
  • Can we rest in Him, by faith, that He is just/fair…… when the pressure is on?

JOB IS SUFFERING IMMENSELY.

He says,  “As surely as God lives, Who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made my life bitter.” Job 29:2
  1. Job, God’s godly servant, does not curse God to his face – as Satan predicted.
  2. But……has Job gone too far in his sufferings, to accuse God of injustice?
  3. Can Job be excused for accusing God because of his deep pain?
(To see the full picture of Job’s wrong responses in his suffering, please go to devotional number 5.
This is a real challenge for us when the pressure is on, the wait is long, and things just go all wrong.
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SOONER OR LATER GOD’S JUDGEMENT WILL CATCH UP WITH THE WICKED.
  • In chapter 27 Job teaches his friends about the power and the ways of God the Almighty by how He deals with the wicked who die without God and without hope
  • Those who find no delight in the Almighty and only pray when they are in trouble will  get no answer from God when they call out to Him in their distress.

Romans 1

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THE FATE GOD THE ALMIGHTY ALLOTS TO THE WICKED IS SOBERING. Job 27

  • Their children die violent deaths or by the plague and their widows don’t weep for them.  The  righteous will inherit their silver and clothing.
  • They will be mercilessly overtaken by powerful terrors.
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