Thursday, November 8, 2012
Tuesday and Wednesday I posted the first and second part of a devotional given to our Ladies Meeting Tuesday. Click on the days, and you can catch up – or, simply start this closing portion:
Edify means to lift one another up. It’s not found in the Old Testament, only in the New, where it is used often. My favorite verse using it is where Paul is explaining about the different gifts, the different ministries, that God has given to each person. He goes on in Ephesians 4:12 to tell what all those gifts are for:
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
When we lift up another, we’re making the road, that King’s Highway, free of obstacles for others traveling the same path. A lot we do can apply both to our brethren, our fellow Christians, and to those who need to find Christ for their life.
In Sunday School this week, we heard a good portion of what we need to do to make the way easier for ourselves and for those around us. I’ll take 1 Thessalonians 5:12-23 verse by verse:
(12) And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
We need to get to know those who work for us in the church – the staff, the teachers, the volunteers. Pay attention to what they do for us – remember, it’s for the perfecting of His saints.
(13) And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
Pretty self-explanatory – we’re to appreciate those who serve the Lord simply because of the work they do. Then there’s more we can do for those around us. Now, don’t name any names when it comes to this next verse – mine might be among them:
(14) Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
That ones a little bit harder, isn’t it. I think of a member and the unruly AWANA’s that ended up in his care and I was always struck by the patience and love he showed for each of them. We all know who we need to comfort and support, and where we need to grow patience for us to work with all men.
(15) See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
Getting harder, isn’t it. How can we see that none render evil to any man? We have no control over another’s actions, but we can speak out in defense of the victim when evil is done. We can warn those who do evil just as we warn the unruly. This we must do for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to all men – to all non-Christians. Just a tiny bit harder.
(16) Rejoice evermore.
How can we rejoice in everything? Can we rejoice in automobile accidents this past week involving two members? In another member’s heart attack? Yes – we can always find a reason for rejoicing in difficulties, even tragedies. Even if we have to go to the Lord and ask Him to show us where to rejoice. Even if the only rejoicing we can do is that God is loving, merciful and the giver of grace. Even in the worst of tragic times.
(17) Pray without ceasing.
Yes, we can pray without ceasing when we remain in God’s loving care and open a conversation with Him at any time. We may have a set time for our studies and prayer, but He is available every moment of every day and we need to talk with Him all the time. He is with us without ceasing. That’s about the same for the next verse, too:
(18) In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Give thanks even if there are serious problems. We are always grateful that God is available to help us through them, then give thanks and praise when He does.
(19) Quench not the Spirit.
Remember, it is the Holy Spirit who speaks for us in groanings that cannot be uttered, according to Paul in Romans 8:26. We want His Spirit to always be working for us, not drenched with our pessimism. We do have the power to build a wall between us.
(20) Despise not prophesyings.
This isn’t the prophesying of biblical times – this is the preaching that we hear every time we come to church. Be prepared to hear God’s word from the pulpit and applied to our hearts. There is something in each message for every in the congregation.
(21) Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Just because it comes from the pulpit doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look it up and learn more about the subject. Luke wrote in Acts 17:11 that the Bereans were more noble because they searched the scriptures to see if what the disciples said was true.
(22) Abstain from all appearance of evil.
The very appearance of evil. Now that’s hard to do, for some people think that believing in God as we do has the appearance of evil. We must be discerning about what others see when they look at our lives. We must know not only what we believe, but why we believe it and be able to determine what does appear evil and what might just appear as different from others.
While we’re traveling this narrow highway, there is a goal. Paul tells us that we’ll have help along the way:
(23) And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
That’s our goal, and that’s the promise that we will reach it. Many have removed obstacles along our path just for us to reach this point. There is much more we can do for others so that we can all, through God’s grace and mercy stand blameless at the coming of our Lord. May He provide each one of us strength to continue on our King's highway.