More Precious Than Silver / Lynn DeShazo Lord, You are more precious than silver. Lord, You are more costly than gold. Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds, And nothing I desire compares to You… Tuesday, May 06, 2014, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “Jesus is All the World to Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 4:1-16 (ESV). http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+4&version=ESV He Led Captivity Captive 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. 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. 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.” What does it mean to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called? By God’s grace, because of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, and through his Spirit we were called out of the darkness of sin into the light of God’s truth - his gospel of salvation; out of slavery to sin into freedom in Christ to walk in his righteousness and holiness; out of conformity to the ways, thinking and philosophies of this sinful world into commitment and servitude to live holy lives pleasing to God; and out of following after the ways of humankind into fellowship and obedience to Jesus Christ. So, to walk in a manner worthy of that calling is to daily walk (in lifestyle) in the light; in freedom from the control of sin; and in freedom to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, i.e. in the ways of God, with perseverance and steadfastness of faith, and in thought, word (conversation) and deed. We are to do so with humility (not pretentious, conceited or arrogant) and gentleness (tenderness), with patience (persevering), bearing (enduring) with one another in love (agape love), eager to maintain (continue) the unity (harmony; agreement) of the Spirit (of God; in agreement with God’s word and the working of the Spirit in our lives) and in the bond (connection) of peace (wholeness; well-being; good; and the benefit of others). Verse 8 says (KJV): “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” What this means is that Christ Jesus, in his death and resurrection, conquered and triumphed over sin and death, over the curse of sin, as well as over Satan (captivity), who leads humans captive to do his will; as well as over the enemy’s areas of control and influence in this world, and over his powers of darkness. Because Jesus Christ conquered death, hell, Satan and sin, we are able to also be victorious, in the power and working of the Spirit within us, over these same forces of evil which come against our lives. In other words, we who have put our hope and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives no longer are held in bondage to sin for we have been set free. As well, we no longer are without the power to prevent us from being brought under captivity to sin once again or to any of Satan’s devices against us, but we can use the gifts and the armor Jesus Christ has supplied for us in order to stand up against all evil and to defeat it. To Equip the Saints And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. So, what does this first section (vv. 1-10) have to do with vv. 11-16? – Everything! If we are to be prepared, trained and armed (equipped) for the work of the ministry, we must first of all have a practical understanding of how this first group of verses is to be applied daily to our lives. We can’t be knowingly giving the devil a foothold in our lives and expect that we are going to be able to do the work of the ministry in the power and working of the Spirit within us, because we would be shooting ourselves in the foot, so to speak. We have to realize that God’s grace has provided the way out from under captivity to Satan and his wicked schemes against us, and we must take that way out if we are going to be effective ministers for the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, we must thus put on Christ with all his righteousness and holiness so that we can walk in the Spirit and in the ways of God. We who are believers in Jesus Christ comprise the body of Christ, i.e. we are his earthly representatives. God has assigned certain individuals within the body to thus equip us for the Lord’s work and to build up (inspire; encourage; motivate; move; urge and admonish) us in the Lord. The goal is that the whole body should attain to the unity of the faith. “Unity,” nonetheless, is a buzzword in many of today’s modern church congregations, but often this unity is not unity with Christ and with his word and for the benefit of others, but it is unity with the thinking, philosophies, teachings and marketing schemes of human leaders who would have you following them and their visions and goals; their messages and their style of doing church; and their brand of church and their philosophies, often which target certain people groups and “filter out” those they deem to not be a “good fit” for what they are doing. And, they are ok with that. I know the speech. I have heard it over and over again. This is how they are being trained. They only want people who are on board with their human plans and teachings, and they will discard those who hold fast to the truths of scripture. They may include scriptures here and there, but many of them do not teach the scriptures, but the philosophies of humans. Some tell lies and disguise them as truth. And, those who would challenge them are not “fit” for their particular way of doing church. So, God has assigned certain individuals within the body of Christ to speak the truth of God’s word into these situations so that the body of Christ is not deceived, and so they are not led astray by what is false, and so they do not become captive to the cunning and craftiness of humans in their deceitful scheming, and so we are not tossed back and forth by various winds of teaching which would keep us from standing on the word of truth, but would lead us to supporting and defending the teachings of humankind. As well, we are all called upon to speak the truth in love one to another so that we can mature in every way into Christ who is the HEAD of the church (not humans). When Christ is the HEAD, the word of God is our authority for all that we do, not the teachings of humans. When Christ is the HEAD, we all FIT and we each have a part to do as assigned by the Spirit of God, not man. We need to open our eyes so we are not tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Jesus is All the World to Me / Will Thompson Jesus is all the world to me, My life, my joy, my all; He is my strength from day to day, Without Him I would fall. When I am sad, to Him I go, No other one can cheer me so; When I am sad, He makes me glad, He’s my Friend. Jesus is all the world to me, My Friend in trials sore; I go to Him for blessings, and He gives them o’er and o’er. He sends the sunshine and the rain, He sends the harvest’s golden grain; Sunshine and rain, harvest of grain, He’s my Friend. Jesus is all the world to me, And true to Him I’ll be; Oh, how could I this Friend deny, When He’s so true to me? Following Him I know I’m right, He watches o’er me day and night; Following Him by day and night, He’s my Friend. Jesus is all the world to me, I want no better Friend; I trust Him now, I’ll trust Him when Life’s fleeting days shall end. Beautiful life with such a Friend, Beautiful life that has no end; Eternal life, eternal joy, He’s my Friend.