Tag Archives: unity

Handle With Care: Fasten the Zipper

Week 4 – Fasten the Zipper

[John 17:20-23]

CARING FOR UNITY

Why?

  1. Jesus Prays for Unity
  2. Unity points to Jesus

 

 

1 Corinthians 1:10 – I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. [ESV]

  • Agree in what you say / No division
  • Same understanding – Same conviction

Aim for Unity

  1. Stay Connected to the Vine
    1. Jesus is the Vine. We are the branches.
    2. Ephesians 4:16 – 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. [ESV]
    3. Knit together. Properly working as each other individually.
  2. One mind. One purpose.
    1. 1 Peter 3:8 – Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. [ESV]
  3. Live your gifts
    1. Romans 12:4-5 – For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. [ESV]
  4. All about Jesus
    1. Don’t let pride get in the way.
    2. Romans 12:16 – Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. [ESV]

 

Psalm 133:1 – Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! [ESV]

 

 

Breakout Sessions

1) Read Romans 12:4-5 and Ephesians 4:15-16. Paul writes to the Ephesians about walking in unity. What did Paul say was important for us to do as followers of Christ in the Ephesians passage? Why do you think this action is important? What would be the result(s) of doing this? How do we ensure we are doing our own part? How do we encourage others to do the same?

2) Read Romans 12:16 and 1 Peter 3:8. These passages speak about the unity—one mind, one purpose—and the humility we should live by so we may live in harmony. How can we live with one mind, one purpose? How do we humble ourselves?

 

Handle with Care is a 6-week series focused on studying God’s Word and responding with care. The six weeks of messages may sound like instructions for laundry care — but you will soon find Handle with Care beckons you to examine within, to gauge how you truly love God and love others, and to grow inward and outward. Caring starts with the heart and pours out into the community.

 

 

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One Mind and Purpose

The Bible talks a lot about unity. This is something that is so important; in John 17, we read that Jesus prays for it! In Paul’s letter, we read of this desire for us to agree with each other, love each other, and work together with one mind and one purpose. Do you see that happening?

This is very difficult. Why do you think Jesus prayed for it?!? You must agree with each other. That doesn’t mean that you share the same opinions—it means that you agree on something together that will glorify God, serving His purpose and following His will. This also means you will love each other. This doesn’t mean you will like each other, but that you will love each other with the love of Christ. It is a love not based on what someone does or who someone is—but who Christ is. You love others because Christ loves them. As time passes, that love will grow deeper within as the Spirit moves in your life. Lastly, this verse talks about working together. Everyone has a part. Everyone is doing something. Everyone is active and working toward the same purpose with one mind. United purpose. United mind. We put aside everything that hinders and work together for God.

Today, remember this unity that God desires. Consider the church you attend. Each member is one part of the body of Christ. Each person has been gifted. Each person has different experience, background, interests, etc. Together, united, so much can be done and God is glorified. Let us agree, love, and work together with one mind and one purpose. JESUS.

“Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.” – Philippians 2:2 [NLT]

United

Some days I work from home. Today happened to be one of those days. I sat here typing away, but I started to hear crying. It was not a human cry, but a dog. I recognized that sound. I looked around to see where the sound was coming as both of my dogs were silently sleeping at my feet. Outside, in the middle of the highway, was a large retriever.

I am not sure what happened, but it was certainly a blessing to see what followed. The large retriever, wearing a bandana around its neck, sat still as cars drove around. Traffic was building up, but that didn’t stop some passerbys to pull over and assist the dog in need. The people all from different paths, all going in a different direction, united together. Their differences did not matter. Their opinions didn’t matter. At this moment, they united together to serve. Someone volunteered a blanket. Someone volunteered their cell phone. Many volunteered to help carry the dog to safety. Later, a police officer transported the dog a few blocks away to the veterinarian.

Unity was something Jesus prayed for and it was something discussed so often in the Bible. Unity is necessary for the Church. We all may come together from different paths, different opinions, etc., but we are united by the Spirit of God. If we each, led by the Holy Spirit, unite together for Christ Jesus, we can shine a light better than if we try to shine alone. If we unite together, we can serve more and reach more. We each complement each other well. If you have a problem uniting with others, talk to God about your prideful heart or your fears. Remind yourself of your purpose. We are to glorify God. Humble yourself before the Lord and ask that He help you to be more focused on the unity that He desires for His people. We can do more together.

“I have given them the glory You gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent me and that You love them as much as You love me.” – John 17:22-23 [NLT]

Belong to Each Other

As Christians, we understand that we are each part of the body of Christ. We understand that the Church is comprised of many parts that each has a special function. The Church is people. Each of us are different. Each of us are part of the body of Christ. We also know that Jesus Christ spoke of unity and prayed for unity. This is important.

Paul wrote that “we all belong to each other,” as translated in the New Living Translation. I love this translation. We all belong to each other. I think this helps us to get a better picture of unity. If we belong to each other, it should mean that we care for those who belong to us. Don’t you care for your belongings? If we belong to each other, it should mean that we treasure those who belong to us. Don’t you treasure your belongings? Don’t you treat what you own nicely because it is of value to you? If we belong to each other, that means that not only does a person belong to you, but you belong to the person. This speaks of humility, connectivity, loyalty, and so much more.

One of the biggest areas we struggle with is unity. Jesus spoke a lot about unity because He knew of the struggles we would have with harmony as a body. When you take a group of imperfect people and join them together, there will be problems. But what links us together is the Holy Spirit. If we allow the Spirit to move freely and guide our steps, we can live as if we belong to each other. We can seek out the best interests for our brothers and sisters. We can think more of our fellow believers. We can treasure those God puts in our lives and ask Him how we can bless, encourage, and strengthen them on their walk. We can live within the unity instead of trying to break out on top. Remember today, we all belong to each other.

“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” – Romans 12:4-5 [NLT]

No Favoritism

In the world, we have favoritism. There are people we enjoy more. There are things we like more. We usually have favorites. But the Bible says that favoritism is a sin (James 2:9). We are not supposed to have favorites.

There are people who believe that God has favorites; however, He does not show favoritism. When we struggle, and see others doing so well, we think God loves those with less struggles more than He loves us. The truth is we are all on a journey that is unique.  As we are going through struggles, it does not mean that God loves others more. God loves you. His love for you has nothing to do with you. His love is based on Who He is.

Favoritism is divisive. Showing favor to someone above another will cause stumbling blocks. God desires unity. Today, look at how you can promote unity. Take a closer look at your relationships and ask the Spirit if you are showing favoritism. Aim to look at people through God’s eyes today. Each person is special. Each person is important. Each person matters.

“For God does not show favoritism.” – Romans 2:11 [NLT]

Lost Spike

A few weeks ago, I bought my daughter some Cross Country spikes as recommended by her coach. As she’s now on the varsity team, I wanted to be sure she was equipped with the equipment that would help her get to the next level. Like her mom, she likes to keep her shoes loose. During her latest run, another runner stepped on the back of her shoe. As a result, her spike flew off. My daughter ended up with only one shoe. I couldn’t imagine running with only one shoe. Even more so, I couldn’t imagine running a few miles without a shoe. Despite the pain, my daughter continued to press forward. She didn’t let another runner disrupt her race. She actually ran faster and more focused. She finished with a personal record. Yes, her foot was a bit sore, but she finished the race and she finished it well.

We are each running a race. The Apostle Paul talks about this race. Remember, we are to run so that we win the race (1 Corinthians 9:24). There are people out there who will step on our shoes. We often think it’s the people who don’t believe that step on our shoes. We make non-believers out to be the enemy. Stop doing that! They are lost people, just like you and I were once lost.

Oftentimes, the reason our race is slowed down is because of the other runners—our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible speaks again and again about unity, about harmony with the body of Christ. Jesus Christ is the Head and we all are the body. Yet, we have a terrible time at getting along. We argue over doctrine. We tear each other down, instead of building each other up. We promote our own agenda, even if it means sacrificing what God is doing through the ministry of others. We are divisive. We are judgmental. We live by our opinions and emotions rather than God’s truth. Our human nature leads us off course. We get in the way of what God is doing through others because we want to be control happy.

Today, look at your feet. Are you running the race? Are you running to win? Are you encouraging the other runners, or are you stepping on their shoes? Are you running alongside your brothers and sisters in love, or are you slowing them down as a stumbling block? Live in harmony. “Be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.”

“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10 [NLT]

The Denomination of Non

When I speak with people about church, they always ask the denomination. Then I say, “Oh it’s non-denominational.” It’s an interesting phrase. There’s different denominations (for example Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist). Then there’s non-denominational. Those are the churches that claim to not be affiliated with any of the known denominations. After the Early Church that you read about in Acts, things started to break apart. As time continued, groups were formed from other groups. Some churches have so many different divisions in their names, it becomes a tongue twister.

The denominations all came about from a difference of beliefs. This still happens today, hence the reason we have tons of church plants and longer than life names. The reason for the differences of beliefs, and at times, disunity of the church, is because we are a broken people. The church is filled with sinners, many sinners who are saved by grace alone. But we aren’t perfect. Some of us are proud, lazy, quick to speak, discontent, disorganized, agenda focused, bossy, or fable telling folks. We aren’t perfect, so it’s hard for us to all live together in harmony.

Nonetheless, the Bible speaks a lot about unity or harmony. Yes, that’s the vision God has for His Church. The capital “C” Church is the universal church. Broken down, this is all of the denominations and non-denominations. Together, as the big C, we need to be united. Remember, the Church is the body of Christ. The Church is people, not buildings. As the big C, we must remember Who we worship, Who we follow, Who is the Head of the Body. Even so, all of the little C’s need to also be united as separate bodies.

This seems like an impossible task. People can rarely get along. There are bound to be disagreements. Yes. Very true. But with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Remember the reason for the Church. Keep running the race. The Spirit will unite us if we allow ourselves to be led (Ephesians 4:3). Don’t be proud. Don’t think you know it all. Humble yourself and seek the best for others (1 Corinthians 10:24). Love. It’s the bond of perfect unity (see Colossians 3:14). Live in harmony.

“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” – Romans 12:16 [NLT]

Ephesians Study: Anger Management

[Ephesians 4:17-32]

25) Don’t lie

26) Don’t act in anger – James 1:20 – Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. [NLT] Anger motivated by pride. Anger that lingers.

27) Give no opportunity to devil

28) If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. [NLT]

29) Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. [MSG]

30) Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for Himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. [MSG]

31)

  • Bitterness, harshness, embittered resentful spirit
  • Wrath, passion, rage, bad temper
  • Anger, resentment, animosity
  • Quarreling, brawling, clamor, contention, shout
  • Slander, evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language
  • Malice, spite, ill will, evil behavior, wickedness, vicious disposition

Proverbs 29:11 – A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back. [NASB]

Proverbs 29:22 – An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins. [NIV]

Proverbs 30:33 – For the churning of milk produces butter, And pressing the nose brings forth blood; So the churning of anger produces strife. [NASB]

1 Timothy 2:8 – Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument. [HCSB]

Holy Spirit – common to each believer – Spirit of God ties each of us together

Acting in a negative matter breaks the binding of the Body. It is the opposite of unity. Anger can divide a church (2 Corinthians 12:20)

Never let anything bring division to His Body. Speak life. Look out for the best interests of others…

Bible Study Questions:

Ephesians 4 focuses on the unity of the body of Christ, the Church, and living as children of Light. What are some of the items Paul tells us to refrain from to promote unity and righteous living?

Ephesians 4:27 says not to give the devil an “opportunity” or “foothold” or “place.” What does this mean? Why is this so important?

The passage says, “Be angry” but in some verses we read that a fool loses his temper, commits many sins, and stirs up conflict. Where do we draw the line? How can anger be okay?

What Fruit of the Spirt do you think is important to live out these words Paul has written in this passage? (read Galatians 5:22-26)

Why does Paul spend so much time talking about unity?

What have you seen be most divisive in the Body?

What can you do to promote unity?

This is one part of a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on Ephesians. The 12 weeks include:

1- Sons and Daughters

2- Immeasurable Greatness

3- God’s Workmanship

4- Our Cornerstone

5- Least of the Saints

6- Love of Christ

7- Abundantly More

8- Unity of the Body

9- Anger Management

10- Exposed by the Light

11- Submission

12- Prepared for Battle

 

 

 

Ephesians Study: Our Cornerstone

[Ephesians 2:11-23]

Psalm 118:22 – stone rejected by the builders has become the head of the corner

Verse 12 —   At one time we were                               Through Christ we are

Separated                                                                 Brought Near

Without hope                                                          With Peace

  • Fellow citizens with the saints – Members of the household of God
  • Built on Foundation of Apostles & Prophets
  • Christ – Cornerstone – whole structure joined together into Holy Temple in the Lord – We are living stones to be united to & built up by the Cornerstone

 

Christ is a stumbling block to those without faith

Isaiah 8:14 – And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. [ESV]

Parable of the Wicked Tenants – Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17

 

Christ is security to those who believe

Acts 4:11 – Built together into dwelling place for God by the Spirit – completeness & unity

Matthew 7:24-27 – built house on the Rock – hear words & act upon them – firm foundation

Isaiah 28:16 – Therefore the Lord GOD said: “Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable. [HCSB] — Firm, Unshakable, Reliable

1 Peter 2:6 – those who trust in Him will never be put to shame – no shame

 

Follow up questions:

Read Isaiah 28:16. This verse describes the foundation of Christ as firm, unshakable, and reliable.

Take time to consider in your life…

  • How has Christ been firm?
  • How has Christ been unshakable?
  • How has Christ been reliable?

Read Psalm 118:22. This verse speaks of a stone that is rejected by the builders becoming the head of the corner, the Cornerstone. The Cornerstone holds in place all of the other stones. Consider what you have used to build up your house. Examine the pieces you used to build. Is Jesus the Cornerstone? What are some of the pieces you have been using to build? What do you need to do to get back to your foundation of Christ and allow Christ to be your Cornerstone?

Read Acts 4:11. Peter makes it clear that this cornerstone is Jesus Christ who was rejected by the Jewish leaders and crucified. If the stone is precious and sure to be laid as a cornerstone, why would it be rejected by the builders? Why did the Jewish leaders not accept Him? What can we learn from this?

Read 1 Peter 2:6. This verse says those who trust in the Lord will not be put to shame. When have you felt shame in life? Why did you feel this shame? Why does the Bible promise that we will not be put to shame? How can you live this out?

This is one part of a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on Ephesians. The 12 weeks include:

1- Sons and Daughters

2- Immeasurable Greatness

3- God’s Workmanship

4- Our Cornerstone

5- Least of the Saints

6- Love of Christ

7- Abundantly More

8- Unity of the Body

9- Anger Management

10- Exposed by the Light

11- Submission

12- Prepared for Battle

United We Partake

Message delivered on 10/4/15 – World Communion Sunday