The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Month: March, 2015

Lent Devotional: Ephesians 4:1-16

Ephesians 4:1-16 (click here)
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. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

What does it mean to walk in a manner worthy of our calling?

This sounds like the language of earning or meriting something. We need to work hard to be worthy of being a Christian. Is that what this means? I don’t think so. There’s another way to see it.

When someone comes to visit our home, we often spend time cleaning before they arrive. Why? Are we trying to earn the right for them to come over? Are we trying to be worthy of their presence? No. They’re already committed to come. Our cleaning says something about their worth and we want the cleanliness of our home to say something about how we value them.

Likewise, we have already been called by Christ to be his people. We do not make ourselves worthy to receive that calling… we walk in a manner that displays the worth of the calling we have already received. In other words, Jesus is already coming to the house of our lives…and the transformation of our lives displays his worth!

We long to live in a manner that displays the worth of the King of kings and Lord of lords who has called us as his own!

How do we do that? We do it by walking in unity with other believers. We love Christ the groom by loving his bride. This is the way we display our love for Christ, whom the world cannot see, in a visible manner.

Jesus has empowers us to love one another, to be humble, gentle, patient, and bear with on another in love. When we do this, we are putting his power and his worth on display to the world!

Paul goes on throughout Ephesians 4 to lay out exactly the manner in which Jesus works his empowering grace into our lives so that we may live in this powerful, peaceful way as part of his church. He has given us the gift of his Word, expounded by the gift of teachers. In this way, he works to equip his church, mature his church, and grow his church.

Through the teaching of the Word we are equipped for the work of ministry…both within the church and before the world!

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.


Lent Devotional: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (click here)
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Was Paul’s thorn from God or from Satan?

The answer is… YES!

Paul calls this thorn (whatever it is) a messenger from Satan to harass him! Clearly, this thorn is from Satan and is intended to destroy Paul’s faith and defame God.

Yet…Paul also says that this thorn was given to him in order to keep him from becoming conceited. Now whose purpose is that? It’s God’s purpose! God has sovereignly brought this thorn into Paul’s life for his good and perfect purposes! Clearly, this thorn is from God and is intended to sustain Paul’s faith by grace and glorify God!

Paul prays for the thorn to be removed, but the reply is that God’s grace will be sufficient to sustain him amidst having this thorn. God’s power will be more fully displayed in the life of Paul as he presses on with this thorn and continues to love, worship, and serve the Lord. God tells Paul that in his weaknesses is precisely where divine power in all it’s perfection may be most clearly seen!

So Paul embraces his weaknesses! He embraces his sufferings! Why? So that he can experience more and more of the power of Jesus at work in him, sustaining him. And, so he can show the world more and more of the truth of Jesus and his power!

Through his suffering, Paul is coming to know more of Christ and making more of Christ known!

No matter how much Satan means this thorn for evil…God means it for good! Satan may have wicked, evil purposes in this thorn, but God has righteous, good, loving purposes. This is the truth in any suffering we experience.

When you go through suffering… is it from Satan or from the Lord? Yes. There is a sense in which you can look at your suffering and say, “This is evil and wicked. Satan is working in this to destroy my faith and defame God.” Yet, there is also a sense in which you can look at your suffering and say, “The Lord is sovereignly working here for my good and his glory. He has not abandoned me and he will not let Satan win through this suffering. God will sustain me…I will know more of him and his goodness as a result and the world will see more of him and his glory.”

Through our suffering, we come to know more of Christ and make more of Christ known to the world!

No suffering wins! Christ wins! Grace wins! God will be glorified and our hearts will be satisfied in him!

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

Lent Devotional: 1 Corinthians 6:1-11

1 Corinthians 6:1-11 (click here)
When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? (1 Corinthians 6:1-2)

Yesterday, we saw that we are not to judge one another in the sense of condemning each other because only God, the ultimate judge, has that right (click here to read yesterday’s devotional). However, our text today seems to indicate the exact opposite?

Apparently we are supposed to judge one another because we will be involved in the final judgment alongside God! What is going on?

Paul is not confused. He wrote the text we read yesterday and the one we are reading today…and he means them both! The judgment that Paul is endorsing in 1 Corinthians 6 is not the judgment of condemnation, but of accountability and holiness before the world.

As Christians, we do not ultimately belong to the kingdoms of this world, but to the kingdom of God. The world should be able to see the difference and one of the ways we display the difference is in how we handle conflicts within our community.

We do not viciously drag one another to court with lawsuits. No. We submit ourselves to the church leadership God has placed in our lives, seek Biblical wisdom from leaders, and try to settle our disagreements with grace and mercy and forgiveness being extended to one another. In short, we try to put gospel grace on display!

Why do we do this? Because we believe that ultimately the kingdom of God will prevail!…that we will be granted to rule with God on his throne (Rev 3:21) as we were intended to do in the original creation (Gen 1:28). We believe that the kingdom of the world will be judged and come to an end.

When we refuse to drag each other underneath the judgment of this world’s legal system, but instead submit ourselves to the leadership of the church, we are making a statement about which kingdom we ultimately belong to, which kingdom has true authority, and which kingdom will last.

All of this does not mean that Christians will never end up in a court of law. There are a million different scenarios to be considered and some will have to be settled by the state. What this does mean, is that when you have two Christians who are a part of the same local body and both are willing to submit themselves to the leadership that God is providing through that church…then they should seek to settle matters within the church as a witness to who their ultimate authority is…namely Christ!

In the kingdom of God, we hold each other accountable not through condemnation, but through love that longs to see every believer find full joy in Jesus.

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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