THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 1-4-09
LESSON TITLE: "TAKE HEED TO YOURSELVES: KEEP YOURSELF IN THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT"
Today is January 4th, 2009, so let me say Happy New Year and welcome to our program on this glorious Lord's Day morning! What a blessing we have had to complete another year together in the service of our Lord. However, what an opportunity lies before us to again commit this year as well to the things of God.
As always, it is an honor to have you with us today as we give this time to God. I hope that everyone tuning in will take advantage of this time before God's throng, so that we all may give God the glory and grow according to His will. At this time, let's talk to our God in prayer!
Our first song of the morning focuses on Christ our Redeemer. So, won't you join with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "I Know That My Redeemer Lives."?
(SONG # 1)
Can you believe it, today we are starting the first full week of another new year, 2009? And how wonderful it is to be together again this morning as we focus on the things of God. What a blessed people we are as we strive to put God first and to do those things which are according to His Will.
But what about you, what will you do with this new year? How will 2009 turn out for you and your family? Is God first in your life right now and will He still be at the end of this year?
When will man ever realize that if he will just turn to God and trust in Him, then nothing else really matters? We can do and accomplish anything in God and with His help, Philippians 4:13. I think our biggest problem, as mankind is the false sense of security that comes from thinking we can do things alone. Or that we have accomplished the great things of the day, through our own abilities and greatness, without the help of anyone or anything else. This is not what the Bible teaches!
In 2 Samuel 22:31, we read, "As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him." Isn't all of this the truth? God is perfect and has been proven to be true for thousands of years - He has stood the test of time. His Word has been seen as that which could only come from a perfect being, as something which is as perfect as it's giver!
The last part of that verse also says a lot to us about why we should depend on God. Because He is our shield, and protector - to those who trust in Him. So what does this trust involve? Obviously, the ability to trust in God comes from our faith in Him, His Word and His promises. He protects us because He sees our faith in action, as we are obedient to Him through following His Will!
We also know that God not only protects, but He cares for us. In 1 Peter 5:7, we read, "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." Jesus cares for us and protects us, just as He promises in His Word.
Finally, we can be confident that the Lord our God provides for us. Jesus himself said, "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith," Matthew 6:30? God will provide! Also, notice what Christ further stated in verse 33 of the same passage, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
As followers of God, if we put Him first and His kingdom, and if we strive to do His will as he has asked us to, then He has promised us His protection and care. Furthermore, as we have seen He will give us what we have need of, because He blesses those who follow what He says!
Are you receiving these blessings and promises from God? If not, I would ask you why not? Are you living as He asks you to, according to His will? Choose today to truly serve God and He will give you all these things we have discussed! Thus, making 2009 the best year ever.
This morning we will be continuing our study on "Take Heed To Yourselves." Our specific lesson of the day is "Keep Yourself In The Unity Of The Spirit." So, please stay with us and in just a few minutes I will be returning to lead this discussion from God's Word. So for now, won't you join in at this time as we sing our second hymn of the day, its name, "I Need Thee Every Hour!"
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
We're glad you've continued with us now as we go to God's Word and consider another lesson in relationship to our theme that we have taken from Deuteronomy chapter 4 the idea of taking heed to ourselves. There certainly are many things that are mentioned in that text as we have learned that we are to take heed or to be diligent in that we might keep ourselves by the commands of God, keep ourselves pure, keep ourselves from evil. So again today, we want to look at another idea that shows certainly what God has asked or requested through His Word that we might take heed and make sure that we keep ourselves in unity or unity as we will read this morning in Ephesians chapter 4 in the spirit of the bond of peace.
If you'll turn with me there, we want to begin by looking first of all at our context in finding out what it was that God wanted for we know that the Bible speaks of the need for unity. We find that God'' servants have always been peaceable for all ages and throughout all the ages dating all the way back to even the Patriarchs. There we find that Abraham, and even Isaac and Jacob lived peacefully among those people that they were dwelling with in Canaan even before Israel inherited the land. And so we find that they strove to be at peace and to show themselves worthy before others as true followers and servants of God.
And again we see that throughout all of the Old Testament and also those who were faithful to God throughout the New Testament. But here in Ephesians chapter 4 I think we begin to find really the foundation somewhat of this need to be able to get along with other individuals, to be at peace, and as we say to be unified with others, at least to a certain extent. Here in verse 1 beginning of Ephesians 4 the Bible says, "I therefore the prisoner of the Lord beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep unity of the spirit and the bond of peace." Notice there that in verse 2 it gives some of the things that are necessary to strive for that unity, some of the characteristics or attitudes, including it says there love, being willing to be long-suffering, to put up with a lot that those around us do, sometimes that we don't like and sometimes things that we don't agree with, the idea of gentleness and the idea of a lowliness or a meekness or humility that is also included there. But then what is it all about? What are we striving as we walk to do what? To strive for this unity in the spirit and the bond of peace. In other words, because of the bond we have in the spirit and through the spirit of God or God Himself, we strive for unity. We strive for peace.
Now it goes on here in the same text to tell us some of those things needed or necessary not only in character but also in understanding that we might be unified. Now this takes us really to the next step because it shows us that in unity there are still fundamental and foundational things that we would also call doctrinal things that are required, that we agree on if we are to find what? Unity. Now what that immediately teaches us is that it doesn't mean anything goes or that anything is acceptable or that we have unity or peace at any cost. Certainly that is not what the Bible teaches and in fact the gospels teach us many times about he concept of Jesus saying that unless He divided a father and a mother and a child from his parents... Or unless someone be willing to give up whatever it takes for Jesus, to put God first, even if it is family, even if it's things that we love. Even Jesus said, "I didn't come to bring peace but a sword." You see the idea here again of the concept that if Jesus was peaceable and wanted peace, but not at any cost. You see there is a foundation. There are some fundamental things. There are some doctrinal issues. There are lessons that we must be unified on and that'' what we're going to try to understand this morning, the standard. Certainly you and I know the standard is God.
So what standard has He set here first in this text of Ephesians 4 continuing in verse 4? "Therefore," he says, "there is one body, and one spirit, just as you are called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in you all." You see here in this text we find there are some ones, things that we must agree on. How many faiths are there? One. How many baptisms? One. In what? In the church, in the kingdom of God today, in those things that we must understand, know and believe if we are to be unified in the spirit. What did the spirit do? He gave us the Word in the written form that we might what? Know the Will of God. "All may know the Truth unto (what?) salvation," and then as we have just said, be saved. So as we find here this unity requires that we believe in the oneness, even the concept of the one body here, the same idea there from Ephesians chapter 5 where it says that "We are part of the one body, that Christ is the head of the church, the body." You see He is the head of His body, which is the church.
Colossians chapter 1 helps us with that same idea around verse 18 in understanding not only is the church the body, but also back in verse 13 of that text that the kingdom and the church and the body are the same. How many churches are there? How many bodies are there? How many kingdoms? One! Because it is God's kingdom. Not a man's kingdom. Not a denominational kingdom. It is a kingdom, a singular kingdom of God based on God and the Will of God.
So that kind of takes us then to our next idea of understanding not only now that there are things that are required of God, that there is a gospel to follow, that there is a gospel that is true and there are those who teach other gospels or perverted gospels. If you are not sure about that, read there from Galatians chapter 1 verses 6-9. But what is it then that sets this standard? Where do we go to find that rule that the Bible speaks of, that pattern that we are to hold fast as Paul told Timothy?
I want you to notice with me now then another great text that will help us in these things. It is there found in 1 John chapter 1, a text no doubt you have read before and perhaps one of my more favorite texts in the Bible because the clarity that it gives us of what God does as well as what we are to do as children of God that we might be not only one with Him but one with each other as followers. If you'll notice with me there as it speaks about the fellowship that we have, we first of all read in verse 3 that a fellowship we have is with Jesus Christ, the Father and with the Son. In other words, with God. Our desire, my desire as a child of God, as a follower of God is first to have fellowship with God. So where is God? If we read on in verse 5, "This is the message that we have heard and declared to you that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all, and if we say we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth, but if we walk in the light as He is in the light..." Who is? God! He is all light. He is all-righteous. He is all pure. Where do we find that we must walk? In God, in the light. What does that say about us? That we strive to be what? Righteous and pure. In fact it says in verse 5 that "There is no darkness at all in God." What does that say about us again? We must also strive not to sin and not to be in darkness. But if you'll go on in the same verse, verse 7 that we were beginning to read in there, it goes on to say this: "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship (notice) with one another and the blood of His Son Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins."
You see, the fellowship is first, as John says, with God the Father for God is the light. God is the Creator. God is the giver of all. He is God. And so therefore, He is the standard.
How do we know the Will of God? We know it by the Word of God. So if God is the standard and this is His perfect and inerrant word, this is the standard that He gives us to follow, not only to know Him but to know what we must do, what we must believe in order to be unified or one.
Then notice the other part. It says that we have fellowship, that you and I have fellowship. How? Because I'm walking in the light and I have fellowship with God, and because you walk in the light and you have fellowship with God, the obviously as we are both walking in the light and striving to walk in the light, guess what. We share fellowship. We have that communion. As we have communion with God, we also have communion with one another. But again it is not because of our differences. It's not because we agree to disagree. Notice that fellowship is based on being God-like, on striving to imitate, to follow Him and to follow His Will.
Now a few verses that I believe will help us to understand this concept as well. One is found in the book of 1 Corinthians. Here in the first chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul speaking with the church at Corinth challenges them to know that they should not be a people that are divided, a people that are doing things contrary to the light, which again is God. Now if you'll notice there in verse 10 he says, "I plead with you brethren by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgement." Notice what he says here. He says that he does not want division. He says, "You strive for unity. You strive for unity in the spirit and the bond of peace." He says, "I don't want division amongst you." But notice the standard that he clarifies here. There are three things in it. Look at verse 10. He says first of all that "you might speak the same things." Now that tells us there if we are speaking the same thing, it means we what? We think the same thing. We have learned it and believed and tried to follow the same thing. Notice also what it says in verse 10. "But also that you are perfectly," not a little joined together, not in some areas joined together, but "you are perfectly joined together in the same mind." That means in our thoughts and everything as we have studied the Word of God and we hear the pattern, the rule, doctrine of God, we are common. We are joined together. We have communion. We are both equally in the light for God is our standard. And then we also see not only in the same mind, but in the same judgement. How do I know what God wants? Where do I find the judgement of God? The book. So again, if I believe what the book says and you believe what the book says, guess what we have. We have that which is in common again, not differences, those things which are in common. And so therefore, that's what we strive for? We strive to be like Christ. We strive to be like God. We strive to be where God is and as we have learned that is in the light.
In that same text of 1 Corinthians chapter 1, if we go on he is actually talking about the divisions there were and he again brought them back to the same thing. He says, "There is but one God." It's not about following men or who baptized me or what church I am of. It's about God and the Will of God and what He desires.
Another text there is found in 2 Corinthians chapter 6. Here in this text, we again find a great challenge where we are not to be unequally yoked. We need unity. Yes, we need peace. But there in verse 14 he says this, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness, or what communion has light with darkness or what accord has Christ with Belial or what part has the believer with the unbeliever and what agreement has the temple of God with idols?" He says, "We are the temple of God. We house God. God is in us. So how can we be united or one or having fellowship or being in communion with the darkness or things contrary to God, including those who teach error and are false teachers or do not obey God." Well the fact is we can't. So what we are learning is that this concept of unity is important. Peace is important, but not at any cost. Peace and unity as the standard is God, and we stand first and foremost with God.
Is this not what Jesus prayed for Himself? If you will, turn with me most likely to our last passage this morning there in John 17. We find what was often referred to as "The prayer of Jesus." Notice what He says there about His ability to be unified with God. There beginning in verse 20, He says, "I do not pray for these alone but for all who will believe in Me through the Word, that they all may be one as you, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in us that the world may believe that You sent Me and the glory which you gave Me, I give to them that they may be just as We are, one." What is it that Jesus said? He said, "Me and the Father are one." Now if God the Father and Jesus are one and they both are God, which means they have all common purpose, the same judgement, the same mind, that they are striving to do all things the same... In other words, if Jesus says it, we can be certain and take it to the bank that it is from God and vice versa, and if the Spirit says it, the very same thing. Well what does that tell us about our unity, our oneness? He says, "I would that everyone would be one in us as we are one in each other." Well what does that tell us about our unity? It tells us again that unity is about how we agree on the things God has given us, that unity is based in the light of God, that it is based on what God established through His Word and not on what I want or think, not what you want or think, and not what anyone else has proclaimed.
Why is it not enough to turn to God, to find what He wants and to keep ourselves pure and unified in the spirit of the bond of peace in all things doing what God has commanded that we might be seen faithful in His sight? Brethren, if we do these things, we have the unity that God has prescribed in His Word, but may we never sell the truth or turn away from what God wants to have unity at any cost for God is the standard. He is the light, and He tells us always which direction to go.
(SONG # 3 - "I Know Whom I Have Believed!")
Again, let me thank you for putting God first and choosing to give this time to Him. We invite you to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to worshiping God in His way!
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Thanks be to God for His Word and His example for unity. Therefore, may we strive for peace with all men in this life? However, not according to man's ideas or standards, but according to God's Perfect Will and His Word.