November 15, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Ephesians 4)

Submitted by Jina K. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 4:1-6

  • What does walking “in a manner worthy of the calling” entail??

This entails, first of all, being reminded of my personal calling by God.  It’s so easy to wake up and go throughout the day being inundated by the daily mundane demands and concerns of life and to forget my foremost calling and identity in Christ.  Apostle Paul is someone who never forgot his calling.  It was the greatest reality of his life that controlled how he lived and walked and related to people.  From some of this past week’s devotion passages, he was so clear about the fact that he was a prisoner for the Lord, fellow citizen with the saints and members of God’s household, a part of the dwelling place for God, fellow heirs and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus, a minister by God’s grace, to bring to light for everyone the mystery of God’s salvation.  He’s a part of God’s eternal purpose in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.  In Christ, these are the same truths of the same calling and identity for my life as well.  It is a far higher and loftier calling than what this world and Satan tries to get me to settle with for my life. I think personally for me one of the struggles I continually need to battle against is the “little old me” mentality and insecurity in which I feel like I can’t do much, I can’t amount to much.  However, over time, I have come to understand more deeply how this mentality is so offensive and sinful against God because it denies all of these truths of the calling which God has already secured for me through His death on the Cross.  So I think to walk in the manner worthy of the calling entails having faith and confidence in this calling that I’ve received, and embracing my role and identity by knowing that I have been entrusted with the highest calling of eternally impacting work.  To see that my decisions and my choices have eternal stakes in God’s plan of salvation and for the church.  Also, I think it means to remember that I am no longer a citizen of this world.  I’m a citizen of God’s household and His kingdom of heaven, and heir of Christ, and this should lead to a life in which I am not living life the way this world makes sense, and according to the world’s values, but living a life worthy of God’s kingdom and according to His values—a life which is obedient to God’s will for my life day to day, to die to my own personal preferences or agendas for my life, and to be surrendered and focused upon this highest purpose and calling of my life.

  • What would it take for me to walk “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love”?  Who are the people with whom I need to be humble, gentle, patient, and bear with in love?

In order for this to happen, it would require for me to reflect consistently upon the reality of who I am and what Christ has done for me–that I was dead in my transgressions, was rightfully an object of God’s wrath, like the rest of mankind, a hopeless sinner deserving condemnation and death.  But that God out of his rich mercy and grace has made me alive in Christ.  It is purely by Grace that I am saved and alive in Christ.  When I remember this reality of who I am and what Christ has saved me from, then it helps to keep me humble, and helps me to not become deluded and not proud be about myself or anything I can possibly do.  And it also helps me to have greater gentleness and overall patience and greater capacity to bear with others in love, even when others have hurt or frustrated me.  Because ultimately I know that I am just as much of a sinner, with my own set of sins and weaknesses.  To see clearly that people have put up with and borne with me in love and have been so gentle and patient with me despite my frustrating and unlovable ways.

  • Apostle Paul is urging these Christians to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit.”  Why would this be so important (see also 3:10, 21)?

Apostle Paul is urging the Christians to maintain unity of the Spirit because he knows how important it is given the important mission they have been entrusted with.  God’s plan is to use the Church to reveal the mystery of the Gospel to this world.  His main salvation plan involves using the Church to demonstrate His power and love to the watching world.  And ultimately when Christians are united in one Spirit and have bond of peace, it is one of the most powerful demonstrations of God’s power.  That people who are so different from one another in many ways (culturally, personality, social or economic class, etc..) can become united in one heart and mind in Christ.  It is ultimately through people of God who are united and loving one another, which is able to bring the greatest glory to God and to help fulfill His plan of salvation.

  • Reflect on the grace given to each of us “according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” How should this reminder usher unity within the church?

This helps to break down the whole comparison game or competitiveness or self-pity of wanting to be better than the next guy and helps to create unity, because it’s a reminder that Christ is the One who has made each of us the way that we are. That each person is gifted by God to a certain measure according to His purpose.  So that we can find contentment and peace in knowing this.  So that we don’t have to try to prove ourselves or try to out-do someone else.  But instead we can experience appreciation for one another’s gifts and strengths when we’re united in the Church.  Other people’s strengths can make up for my weaknesses, and my strengths can help make up for other’s weaknesses as Christ has gifted each of us differently.

Submitted by Christina P. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 4:1-6

  • What does walking “in a manner worthy of the calling” entail?

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.

  • What would it take for me to walk “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love”?  Who are the people with whom I need to be humble, gentle, patient, and bear with in love?

I would need to surrender this sense of entitlement that I have toward my life.  I instinctively want to draw boundaries as to the demands people make of me.  I want to draw boundaries as to who can make demands upon my time, resources, and emotional and mental energy.  I want to dictate when I am available and for what purpose and how much and in what way and form.  It requires this process of letting go of this control that I have over my life.  It would require me to let go, little by little, and accepting my role as that older sister who needs to be mature and steadfast for others to come and lean on me.  It is not because I am so wonderful or abundant in wisdom and in emotional space, rather, simply because I need to be available for people and because I am here.  I would have to accept and act in faith that it is not because I am competent to be that older sister to meet the needs of those around me, rather, it is God who will make me competent, molding me to fit into the role that He has given me.

I need to be humble, bearing people God has placed to love.  I am so blessed that I got to have so many of the older sisters as my spiritual leader at some point in my life as well as people who led me during the mission trips.  To those who have the responsibility to teach, guide, correct and discipline me, I need to have the humility to heed to their guidance.  I am also obligated to love and care for my leaders in this way.  I cannot do what they do, but I can certainly learn increase in my care and concern for things and people in their lives.  By loving the people they love and caring for people they love, in this way, I can bear with them in love.

I am also obligated to bear in love people in this body—foremost with people whom I interact with on a regular basis.  I do find it that it is the most difficult to be humble, gentle and patient toward people I see the most or feel most familiar with, including my friends.  It is far easier to be polite and mind my manners toward people I don’t see often because I don’t interact enough to be annoyed at them.  I need to be gentle and patient, bearing people I live with and the younger sisters around me as an older sister.  I am naturally impatient, gruff, blunt to the point of being rude at time and so on.  It is clear to others and me that I am truly weak in gentleness as the tone of my voice comes off sharp and critical.  I know that I am also not patient as frustration is easily shown on my face.  Nevertheless, I am obligated to bear others in love with humility, gentleness and patience because it is these qualities that will enable me to be united with other in Spirit.

  • Apostle Paul is urging these Christians to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit.”  Why would this be so important (see also 3:10, 21)? 

The church embodies and communicates the very fullness of God.  Therefore, it is through this Christian body that the world sees the gospel being lived out before them.  It is through Christians loving one another and loving the world in unity, that they can get a glimpse of God love for the world.  Lack of unity not only distracts people from seeing God, but also mars the message of the gospel, robbing it of its power.  In sum, unity of the Spirit can lead people toward God and lack of unity may push people away from God.

  • Reflect on the grace given to each of us “according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”  How should this reminder usher unity within the church?

Being reminded of this frees us to love one another deeply. I am blessed to be surrounded by so many talented people with different gifts.  Just looking at my peers, I am amazed at how God made all of us so differently and with various strengths.  And some are further ahead of me in term of spiritual maturity.  Nevertheless, I do not envy them, even though I wished I had their strengths because it is God who made each of us the way we are and gave us the gifts that we have for his good purpose.  My life is not to be used to advance my life, rather his kingdom.  If that is the case, then God knows best how to place for his good purpose.  Because we are all striving for one purpose, I don’t see others as my competitors, rather my co-workers.  I am surrounded by people who I consider to be my betters, and I am honored to work alongside of them.  This always reorients me in how I view others.

Submitted by Suzanne S. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 4:1-6

  • What does walking “in a manner worthy of the calling” entail?

It entails very concrete ways of relating to others in the church of God. As I look at the list that Apostle Paul gives after he urges them to walk in a manner worthy of the calling, it is all characteristics that would be necessary to love and serve others in the context of close interpersonal relationships. I find it interesting that after Apostle Paul spent several chapters on the amazing spiritual blessings in Christ and described the amazing love of God, and describes this amazing mystery of the church that has been revealed, he brings things very concrete to how we need to interact with one another. This I think is what he means by how now shall we live with this amazing gospel and ministry of the gospel we have been entrusted with. It entails humbling myself with people and trying to love.

  • What would it take for me to walk “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love”?  Who are the people with whom I need to be humble, gentle, patient, and bear with in love?

It would take a lot for me every day to walk humbly, gently, with patience bearing with one another. I fail in this daily and my own interpersonal relationships with others in the church is probably the biggest test of my authenticity of how much I have internalized the cross of Jesus and my identity as a redeemed and forgiven sinner. It would take me to humble myself and see myself correctly so that I can have compassion on others. The only way I can have a genuine spirit of gentleness and patience and “bear” with one another in love is if I understand my own frailties, weaknesses, and need for mercy. I would need to really empty myself of envy, competitiveness, resentments, and all the self-pitying voices in my head that are focused on myself in order to humble myself and treat others with patience and gentleness.

  • Reflect on the grace given to each of us “according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”  How should this reminder usher unity within the church?

Reflecting on God’s grace should always usher in unity within the church. It’s the gift of Jesus Christ crucified on the cross that equalizes all individuals and really should unify all those who have received this gift of grace. I think when I’m feeling particularly inadequate and like I don’t belong relationally, I’m really focusing on a certain failure or some aspect of myself where I feel doesn’t measure up. When I’m focused on myself and how I fare between others and what my status is in a comparative way then I’m not really reflecting on God’s grace and it causes disunity in my heart with others. Once I use worldly criteria of significance and power and position and title to rule my heart and not my worth based on the blood of Jesus Christ who loved me and died for me, then it causes strife and disunity. God’s grace will always usher in unity because no matter who you are, what title you have, what the results of your ministry are, what failures are haunting you, the love of God displayed in the cross of Jesus will equalize all sinners because his blood covers all. The gift of grace is Jesus Christ and the cross and this amazing gift of salvation is for all who turn to this blood for cleansing and healing. My value and worth then is not based on comparative standards or worldly criteria that feeds my ego, my value and worth is based on receiving this love and it is not based on any significance on my part but only on my need for mercy and admission of sinfulness. I thank God for this gospel that really unifies proud sinners like me through showing me who I am through the cross and how much I’m loved through the cross of Jesus. It is only grace that totally unifies because it’s totally unmerited favor, God’s favor and love despite any merit of my own.

Submitted by Eddie N. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 4:1-6

  • What does walking “in a manner worthy of the calling” entail? 

Apostle Paul calls himself a prisoner of the Lord.  He limits himself to serving Jesus through living a life of love and service unto others. His sphere of concern is not about himself or within, but his gaze is outward towards others.  Concretely, Apostle Paul’s focus is on serving, encouraging and challenging the believers in Ephesus to be faithful to God.

As a husband, father of two children and a full-time employee, I could be tempted to take matters into my own hands and try to secure my future by putting forth extra hours of work in order to do a good job at work so that I could earn praise, recognition and respect from my colleagues and bosses, or to work hard to be promoted to a higher position, with more work responsibilities.  While it is not bad to be someone who is hardworking employee or student, I must remember what is most important in my life, which is my relationship with God.  I must not neglect daily time with God through devotions, meditation over his Word, and prayer and not give into compromise when things get busy and deadlines approach.  While I could put in more time and extra hours at work, I choose to use my evenings and weekends to serve people at church.  I have found joy in embracing the role of being a servant unto others and doing whatever I can to help our church.  I must remember that my true worth comes from being a child and servant of God.  I am thankful that I can be wasteful with my time and energy in loving others.

  • What would it take for me to walk “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love”?  Who are the people with whom I need to be humble, gentle, patient, and bear with in love?

In order for me to walk with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, I must see other people as more important than myself.  I must die to myself and open my eyes to the needs of the people who are in front of me.  Specifically, these people are my wife, my children, my brothers and sisters in Christ, my co-workers, and the children that I am ministering to.  Specifically, this means that I have so many opportunities to serve others, to rack my brain to think of ways I can encourage others, such as sharing an encouraging word through a phone call or conversation centered around the Word of God or showing genuine concern by remembering the details of another’s struggle and being that faithful friend who prays for the concerns for your brother or sister.  My life indeed has become so rich and full through following Jesus, as he calls me to focus on the needs of others and to put them first, even before serving myself.  The amazing hidden blessing is that as I try my best to love and care for others, God works through me to be a source of blessing unto others.

  • Apostle Paul is urging these Christians to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit.”  Why would this be so important (see also 3:10, 21)?

By focusing on maintaining unity of the Spirit, as a church, we can be more effective in reaching the world.  I am so thankful that I am part of our church, where we have been called by God to minister to children, middle schoolers, high schoolers, college students, working adults, and the elderly.  As our church continues to grow and expand, it is so important to protect and maintain the unity of the Spirit, to pass down the bible studies and lessons onto the next generation of believers, so that the church can continue to expand and minister to more and more people.

Specifically, I am especially thankful to be entrusted with the role as a Joyland teacher to children, and I have the precious responsibility of ministering to the next generation of believers.  Although it may seem initially that ministering to children may not seem insignificant to the world’s eyes, yet in God’s eyes, these children are so precious.  I have been entrusted to care for them and to be a role model for them, as their spiritual development and shaping has been entrusted to me.  Ephesians 3:21 talks about glorifying God in the church throughout all generations.  I am so thankful that I can apply this verse directly to my life as I am reminded that I am called by God to love and teach the children of our church and be an example and role-model for them so that God’s name would be glorified.

  • Reflect on the grace given to each of us “according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”  How should this reminder usher unity within the church?  

As I marvel and wonder at how God saved me, a person who grew up with the world’s values of materialism and comfort, I am so thankful how God used our church to minister to me during my tumultuous college years.  God has placed me in our church to offer up my one talent in serving and loving others.  1 Corinthians 12: 12 states, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of he body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”  As brothers and sisters in Christ, we have different strengths and talents that can be used to build up the body of Christ.

From the Thanksgiving Retreat, we just recounted as a church how God was so faithful in working throughout this past year, culminating to 328 salvations.  This was possibly only through the sacrifice of our brothers and sisters, working alongside one another, doing whatever needed to be done.  Specifically, I recall this fall’s welcome week where almost everyone at church pitched in and served in various capacities from sound tech, to lighting, to decorations, all the way down to the youth who grilled meat.  It culminated with Pastor Ed giving the message to hundreds of new students, and the seed of the gospel was sown.  Everyone worked hard together, young and old, with the same passion and zeal, for the purpose of sharing the gospel to the lost.  In that sense, I am so thankful that our church was able to serve God together in reaching the lost.  As we were able to recount all that has happened from the Thanksgiving Retreat, this was a reminder and challenge to me to press on and be faithful with all that God has entrusted me with through serving others and persevering in loving others.

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