Day Five: “There is one…”

Ephesians 4:4-6 (NIV) – There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Ephesians 4:4-6 (MSG) – “You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.”

The word “one” is repeated seven times here. The one-ness, the unity of our faith, is that important, that central. And it is rooted in the one God who has moved mightily to bring us into one hope, one salvation, to Himself and His kingdom.

It is possible that these verses were a teaching that was given to new Christians as they came into the faith. Perhaps this is something that they memorized. If so, Paul was not teaching the Ephesians something brand new, but reminding them of a truth that they already received in Christ. Regardless, Paul was urging them to remember a fundamental truth that goes hand-in-hand with salvation:  God has brought us to Himself – together, as one.

Let’s memorize this passage in the NIV or MSG translation, giving thanks to God for what He has done, for this one-ness, while doing so. Then let’s pray for our churches, missional groups and campus ministries according to this passage.

Let’s declare the goodness of our God, who has given us unity, with this song, “God and God Alone”


Day Four: “Make every effort”

Ephesians 4:2-6 (NIV) – “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

“[Paul is] urging them to mount guard over that unity as one would set a troop of soldiers to guard a city or treasury. There are all sorts of things which can attack and spoil that unity, and these must be resisted, whatever they are and wherever they occur… Unless we are working to maintain, defend, and develop the unity we already enjoy, and to overcome, demolish and put behind us the disunity we still find ourselves in, we can scarcely claim to be following Paul’s teaching.” [Wright, Nicholas T. Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters. 2004, London and Louisville, KY]

We can follow the teaching of Paul in God’s word because Jesus Himself was completely humble and gentle, and He came to us in the greatest of love. We can live this way because the Spirit Himself has given us unity with one another.

Let’s pray for our relationships and unity with other Christians, His church. As you pray, and then as you live, be open to the Spirit as He helps you to see how, where, and when He is asking you to make every effort, to defend, and to develop this unity of the Spirit that we already enjoy.


Day Three: “Where is He?”

Isaiah 63:8-12a,15-16 (NIV)

“He said, ‘Surely they are my people,
children who will be true to me’;
and so he became their Savior.
In all their distress he too was distressed,
and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them
all the days of old.
Yet they rebelled
and grieved his Holy Spirit.
So he turned and became their enemy
and he himself fought against them.

Then his people recalled the days of old,
the days of Moses and his people-
where is he who brought them through the sea,
with the shepherd of his flock?
Where is he who set
his Holy Spirit among them,
who sent his glorious arm of power…

“Look down from heaven and see,
from your lofty throne, holy and glorious.
Where are your zeal and your might?
Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us.
But you are our Father,
though Abraham does not know us
or Israel acknowledge us;
you, Lord, are our Father,
our Redeemer from of old is your name.”

When [Israel] rebelled against God, things couldn’t just go on as before. God is not mocked. When a child runs into the street right in front of a car, the dad pulls his child to safety angrily… Only love cares enough to get angry and rebuke and discipline. So it is with God. If our lives grieve his Holy Spirit, he won’t support our stupidity.

Therefore, the question Isaiah asks twice in verse 11 is the question of every generation: “Where is he?”… If you see yourself as you are – helpless, guilty, needing a great Ally – this becomes the question of your life. Where is he? Stop everything else until you find the answer to that question.

Other generations experienced him. Now it’s our moment. Where is he in our experience? When we go to our Father in honesty, admitting everything… when we go to our Father with that kind of trust, while we’re still a long way off…, he sees us and runs to us and embraces us and kisses us. This is God. When we go into repentance, our experience of our complex God becomes simple – steadfast love through the blood of the Lamb. [Ortlund, Raymond Jr.  Isaiah: God Saves Sinners.  Crossway Books, 2005, Wheaton, IL]

Today, if we feel far off and have grieved Him, let this be the cry of our hearts – God, “look down from heaven and see, for you, Lord are our Father, our Redeemer.” If today we feel the nearness of His Father’s delight and compassion, then let’s pray for our generation, asking God that the Spirit will lead those around us to cry out, “Where is he?” and that they will experience His steadfast love through the blood of Jesus.


Day Two: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God”

Ephesians 4:26-27,29-32 (NIV) – “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold…Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

“Paul, again quoting the Old Testament (Psalm 4:4), doesn’t say you shouldn’t be angry; anger itself is a natural human emotion, and to pretend it isn’t here is a form of lying. But he insists that you mustn’t let it lead you into sin. You must learn to tame it, to deal with it before you lie down to sleep. Otherwise you are leaving an open door and inviting the satan to come in. Everything that follows from anger – the raised voices, the shocking words, the sour taste in the room – all these must be put away…

Paul adds some comments in the more positive direction. In particular, you should behave as those on whom God’s Holy Spirit has placed God’s mark. The word Paul uses could refer to the ’seal’ or official stamp on a document or package, marking it out for a particular use or occasion. The mark indicates who it belongs to and what it’s for. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the community, and in the heart of the individual Christian, declares that we belong to God, and that we are destined for full  ‘redemption’… That is central to the Christian hope, and possession this hope gives particular shape to our present lives.” [Wright, Nicholas T.  Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters. 2004]

Let’s pray for ourselves and for our churches in light of this truth – that God has sealed us with His Spirit for the day of redemption.  Pray that we will live, then, in the Spirit, not grieving Him, but pleasing Him.  Pray that we will be kept safe and pure until the day of redemption.


Day One: “He will take great delight in you”

Zephaniah 3:14-17 (NIV)

Sing, Daughter Zion;
shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
Daughter Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away your punishment,
he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm.
On that day
they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.
The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

“That Almighty God should derive delight from his own creation is significant in itself.  But that the Holy One should experience ecstasy over the sinner is incomprehensible.

God breaking out in singing!

God joyful with delight!

All because of you.

The mutuality of the loving response of Redeemer and redeemed is seen in the fact that some of the same terms used in the admonition to his people now describe the response of God himself to his people (cf. vv. 14 and 17). Zion is exhorted to sing; he rejoices with singing.  Jerusalem shall rejoice; he delights over Jerusalem with joy. The whole scene depicts a grand oratorio as God and his people mutually rejoice in their love for one another.” [Robertson, O. Palmer. The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. NICOT.  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990, Grand Rapids, MI.]

Today, let us sing the song, “Singing Over Us” in response to the One who sings over us and pray that we will love and bring delight to our God as He loves and delights in us.