We pray...That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth,and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge
…that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19
Discovering What SeemsThe Impossible Realm of God’s Grace
By Ed Corley
HEAVENLY FATHER, Reveal Yourself to these I hold before You. Let them bathe in Your healing presence. Draw them into Your fullness by revealing to them how Christ wants to dwell in them. Draw them toward knowing their specific place in Christ's body so they can fulfill their part in the expression of Your fullness in the earth. Help them remember that dwelling in unbroken communion with You is possible and it will lead them to a personal fullness. Increase the desire within them to know more and more of Your fullness,
In the Name of Christ Jesus, our Lord…
The above term grace for grace is beautiful and unusual. Seeing it in the Original opens a depth in the passage that we do not readily see in its translation. The Greek New Testament reads thus: charis anti charitos. The words charis and charitos are forms of the same word that means the deep and awesome grace of God. It accepts us as we are. In it we find the expression of God’s unconditional love that is extended to us in Christ Jesus Who died for us. Now He lives for us—to live in us.The word anti places the two words for “grace” in a beautiful collaboration one with the other. It’s “grace anti grace.” While anti basically means “against,” we need a better understanding of it. We find this in an illustration seen in the waves of the ocean. I watched one day as I stood on a beach allowing the waves to wash over my feet. They came from an unknown depth. As one wave would retreat to become lost again in the depth of the ocean, another was already on its way to meet me.It was wave “against” wave, just as we’re coming to know grace “against” grace. Before one wave of grace is gone, another is already on its way.
The greatest force that might work to keep us from knowing the fullness of God’s grace is the sin that came to us from Adam. If allowed, this sin will try to rule us even after we have trusted the Lord Jesus as Savior. But, the Apostle Paul found that the grace that came through Jesus has a greater power than the sin that came through Adam. Paul expressed it well in Romans 6:14—For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.In the Greek New Testament, the word for sin has a Definite Article with it. So does the word for death. This would make the passage read “the sin” and “the death.”
Paul made first reference to this in Romans 5:12. Wherefore, as by one man—that is, through Adam—the sin entered into the world, and the death by the sin; and so the death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
The root of all sin and the beginning of all death came into the world by that one man Adam. The rebellion against God began with a fullness that would end in hopelessness, were it not for the greater fullness that came by the Lord Jesus.
Romans 5:15—But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
NIrV®Many people died because of the sin of that one man (Adam). But it was even more sure that God’s grace would also come through one man. That man is Jesus Christ. God’s gift of grace was more than enough for the whole world.
O, GREAT REDEEMER, what a wonder that You have loved me enough to take my sin! And, not my sin only, but the sin of every person who ever lived. I am only beginning to know the fullness of the salvation You brought into my own soul. And now, my heart is beginning to know that this fullness is for every person in the world. Please give me a heart of concern for all for whom the Lord Jesus died.
Paul leads us to pray...that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God in Ephesians 3:19. It’s clear we must find the depths of God’s love. This goes beyond what our minds can discern and leaves us with a matter for the heart.
So, as we start our praying, let us keep in mind last month’s prayer about love. See it here again from the NIrV:
Ephesians 3:17b-19—And I pray that your love will have deep roots. I pray that it will have a strong foundation. May you have power with all God’s people to understand Christ’s love. May you know how wide and long and high and deep it is. And may you know His love, even though it can’t be known completely. Then you will be filled with everything God has for you.
Since God is love (I John 4:8), knowing His fullness means we will know His love. Fullness and love are closely connected in getting to know God. Since we are going where our hearts must go first, we must allow the Holy Spirit to supply the force needed to drive us into some of the places that love will require us to go.
Romans 5:5And hope maketh not ashamed (disappointed, or frustrated); because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.
DEAR FATHER, I am ready for Your love to take over in my life. Let it lead me into areas that I have kept closed. You know that there are some people I have difficulty in loving. But, I am asking You today to work a miracle of love and grace in me. Set me free to love these people unconditionally. O, DEAR LORD, I am asking this even though there is still something in me that does not want to ask it. I do want You to overrule me in this matter.
DAY 3—The greater love called for by our new life in Christ proves no problem for God.
Christ died for us when we were yet sinners. So, let us know this well: the sin that has ruled our lives has been an exceedingly deep sin. If God had been motivated by a love like some of us have, He would have wiped us all “off the map.” But, the love that God Himself is makes what we call “love” look like no love at all.
Romans 5:6-8—For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth (recommend) His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
The word commendeth, is an action that goes on without ceasing meaning, “to recommend.” No matter what we may be facing, God recommends that we open ourselves to His love as it continues to manifest in Christ Jesus. Oh, what a fullness continues!
NIrV®At just the right time Christ died for ungodly people. He died for us when we had no power of our own. It is unusual for anyone to die for a godly person. Maybe someone would be willing to die for a good person. But here is how God has shown his love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
What has come to us from God is an unconditional love. This means unconditional mercy, unconditional grace, unconditional benevolence toward us who were stripped of all hope. Were it not for His love, where would we be?
DEAR LORD, it seems that never a day goes by but that I stand in need of Your boundless love. In fact, as the days progress, it becomes increasingly difficult for me to make it through a day without looking straight in the face of despair. I praise You for what I hear Your Spirit recommending to me—even for what I face today.
Straight out, the answer is “No!” Nothing can separate us from the love of God that came to us in Christ Jesus our Lord. In Paul gives us quite a list to check off regarding His love.
Romans 8:35-39—Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall •tribulation, or •distress, or •persecution, or •famine, or •nakedness, or •peril, or •sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither •death, nor •life, nor •angels, nor •principalities, nor •powers, nor •things present, nor •things to come, nor •height, nor •depth, nor •any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul was convinced, even in the face of untold hardship, that the combined energy of whatever may come in one’s life will result in good for ...them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).Again, what fullness!
GRACIOUS LORD, I just want to praise Your Name for all that You are to me, and to these that I love. I praise You for the marvels of salvation that day after day are being released toward us. Please move upon the hearts of these whose names I call out before You. Let Your Spirit convict them of Your powerful goodness, and of Your love that never stops reaching for us.
DAY 5—God has prepared a fullness for us in Salvation through Christ Jesus.
Confidence is growing in us that we are yet to know a salvation with a fullness beyond anything we have seen before. Paul knew about this.
I Corinthians 2:9—Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
Peter also held a deep conviction concerning this salvation that is yet to come.
I Peter 1:3-5—Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope (a living hope) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved (kept under watchful guard) in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God (who are being guarded as by a powerful military command under God’s orders) through faith unto (a) salvation ready to be revealed (prepared to have its revelation) in the last time.
The above word salvation is a salvation with a quality that has never yet been known, guarded in heaven for us whose faith is ready to receive it.
DEAR LORD, my faith sometimes grows pretty weak. But now, I renounce all fear of the future and present myself before You for an infusion of faith. I’ve learned that faith comes from You. I’m also learning that it begins its work in my heart, not my mind. The salvation You are extending to us is beyond the ability of my mind to even try to understand it. Oh, but it’s not beyond the ability of my heart to trust You! I do trust You regarding our future. Now, please put it within the hearts of these that I name to also trust You. Fear be gone from us all! In Jesus’ Name!
DAY 6—The fullness that is ours in Christ reaches into eternity past, is ours now, and will continue with us into the ages to come.
Not only is ours a salvation that carries a fullness for this present time, and reaches into the ages to come, it also carries all the power and work of eternity past. It is not a salvation that came upon us as an afterthought from God. From before the foundation of the world, He planned that we should be an integral part of His eternal Kingdom.
Ephesians 1:3-5—Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He hath chosen us (for Himself) in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having •predestinated (in love, having predestinated) us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.
The above word predestinated means that He designed us with a prior intention that we should be placed in His family as mature sons and daughters. I believe that the words in love do not belong to the end of verse 4, but rather with the beginning of verse 5. This would make it clear that God’s previous design for us was executed with love.
The fullness into which we’re being drawn in Christ has come with love to us from out of eternity. It is ours to know now. It will go on with us into the eternity we are yet to know.
DEAR FATHER, it is my heart that is day by day following You. Even if I should think to say that I understand how You could love me so, my mind would falter at trying to explain how You planned me, how You designed me, how You loved me, or how You gave Your Son to redeem me. All I can do is just simply let my heart believe it is so. But, I do KNOW Your redeeming love is with me today. I have confidence to know it will continue.
DAY 7—The Risen Lord Jesus Christ appointed five distinct ministries to lead His Body—the Church—into its fullness.
The following Scripture from Ephesians 4 names the five Ascension Gift Ministries appointed by the Lord Jesus from His Throne in heaven for the purpose of leading His Body into its fullness. This passage carries a profound weight of importance in leading believers into the fullness that is ours in Christ. We will spend several days with this Scripture as it leads us in praying this month about the fullness. The bullets indicate the points we will take for some of our day to day praying.
Ephesians 4:11-13—And He gave some (to be), •Apostles; and some, •Prophets; and some, •Evangelists; and some, •Pastors and •Teachers; •for the perfecting of the saints, •for the work of the ministry (for the knitting together of the saints, each for their own place in servant-hood ministry), •for the edifying of the Body of Christ (for the building up of the Body of Christ): till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man (moving toward each of us becoming complete), unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (for the fulfilling in each one for our own particular purpose in the Body of Christ).
DEAR LORD, I praise You for the ministries You have given to Your Body. Please cause these I name, who stand in appointed ministries, to live and move under the anointing of Your Spirit. These are some of the ones I know who have been given to the Church. Please anoint them to lead Your Body with wisdom, grace, understanding, and under the power of Your Spirit.
DAY 8—A relationship with an Apostle is beneficial for any of us in finding fullness.
For years after being saved, I served the Lord in a denomination that believed the ministry of Apostles ceased after the first century. It was after the Holy Spirit came upon me, several years after I had “entered the ministry” myself, that I became aware of Apostles.
I remember asking Brother Ivan Spencer, founder of Elim Bible Institute, if he could tell me what an Apostle does. He told me that Apostles hold spiritual authority, even when they do not assert that authority before men. In life, and in years of ministry, I have come to know the utter value of submitting to the “apostolic authority” of a person who is himself under the authority of Christ. This is a place of safety, especially in the time when anti-Christ spirits are running wild in the earth deceiving every believer they can.
My conviction concerning Apostles is that they are “fathers in the faith.” However, one’s age is not so important a matter as is one’s spiritual maturity.
DEAR FATHER, I praise You for the times You and I can be alone with one another. But, I am very much aware that I need the counsel, guidance, fellowship and love that comes to me from others who are mature in the faith. Thank You for placing persons like this into my life. NOW—I ask You to help me be, for others in the Body, a source of strength, and counsel, and encouragement. Please help us all maintain a walk that is right, that glorifies You, and that points others toward knowing Your Kingdom.
DAY 9—Having a relationship with a Prophet can be very important as the time of trouble comes on.
This passage from Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy indicates that Prophets will be most useful in the Body of Christ as the time of the end draws closer in upon us.
II Timothy 3:1-3—This know also, that in the last days •perilous times shall come (ferocious seasons will hang over the land as if brought on by demons). For •men shall be lovers of their own selves, •covetous (lovers of money), •boasters (arrogant, vainglorious), •proud (haughty), •blasphemers (railing against God and all that is holy), •disobedient to parents, •unthankful (ungrateful), •unholy (profane, immoral), •without natural affection (heartless toward one’s own family), •trucebreakers (unwilling to enter into a treaty; irreconcilable), •false accusers (slanderers, like the devil himself), •incontinent (without self control), •fierce (ungentle, brutal), despisers of those that are good (not a lover of people or things that are good), •traitors, •heady (headstrong, rash), •highminded (puffed up), •lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God...
These conditions will prevail in people everywhere as sin reaches its full. With conditions like this working in people all over the earth, and even infiltrating the Church, Prophets will be of great help in guiding believers toward becoming overcomers. We cannot minimize their value as the time of the end comes on.
FATHER, please raise up Prophets throughout the land who can guide Your people during the perilous season when iniquity will reach its full. May these prophets be sure and certain in their Word. Give Your people wisdom to respond. But, O DEAR LORD, please keep us balanced in that we do not just give our lives over to being guided by others who prophesy over us. Keep us in the place of being led also by Your Word and by Your Spirit as they both work in us.
DAY 10—A Prophet will do more than speak out a loud word of Prophecy in a prophetic tone.
The Lord has placed Prophets in the Body of Christ to guide believers through the dangerous days of deception that will prevail as the season becomes ripe for the judgment of God. See the continuation of the passage at which we were looking yesterday. One of the most alarming statements follows on in these next verses.
- II Timothy 3:5-7—...•having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
The conditions of lives, as defined in the preceding verses, will come even among believers. Some people will embrace the ungodliness that Paul has named, and yet carry on with a form of godliness. Whereas people may act as if they are believers, they will not, however, be able to make pretense of the power of God. There will be some whom Paul calls silly women laden with sins who will fall prey to ungodly religious people. These people have learned to speak and act like devout Christians, yet their lives are full of sin.
Oh, let us make strong supplication to the Lord that Prophets will be raised up in the churches for the sake of those who are susceptible to the deception and lust that will make inroads among the fellowships of believers.
DEAR LORD, please open the eyes and hearts of Your people while yet there is time to repent. Please move in my own life, and in the people with whom I am in fellowship. Move in my family. Bring conviction upon these who are so dear to my own heart. Sweep through us all with that movement of Your Spirit that will bring conviction and repentance. And, LORD, please protect us all from spiritual deception.
DAY 11—Evangelists have a significant role to play as a fullness comes to the Body of Christ in the closing days of the age.
According to this following Scripture, there will be a significant representation in God’s Kingdom of people from out of every family, every language group, and every culture group in every nation. It must be that Evangelists will participate in this.
- Revelation 5:9—And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the Book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.
The fullness that will be known in the Body, and ultimately in the Kingdom, will be comprised of people to whom Evangelists have risked their lives to carry the Good News of the Kingdom. While it is clear that Evangelists have an important role to play in bringing the Body to its completion, the very meaning of the word “evangelist” implies that their part is played out among unbelievers who are being brought into the fold. Again and again, we remember the Great Commission given by the Lord Jesus to His disciples just as He was departing from them. To know the fullness toward which the prayer from Ephesians 3:19 points demands that the commission be carried out to its completion.
- Matthew 28:18-20—And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (unto the consummation of the age). Amen.
FATHER, it is clear that the fullness cannot come about till the commission given by the Lord Jesus is fully obeyed. Please move among us by Your Spirit. Call forth those in our midst whom You will use as Evangelists. Move in those who remain behind so there will be a healthy body to receive the new ones who will be brought in.
DAY 12—It is the duty of Pastors to do more than preach sermons.
Early one morning I awoke and went to the front door of a little house where I was staying in a remote section of India. There was an empty field in front of the house. In the darkness I could tell there was some kind of movement there that had not been there before nightfall. As the dawn came on I saw the field was filled with sheep that two shepherds had brought there during the night. The sheep were all sleeping, but the shepherds were not. They had been keeping watching over their flocks by night. One of the shepherds drove away some dogs. The other kept driving back some big attack birds. I thought: “What a beautiful picture of Pastors caring for their flocks.”
On another occasion, Glenda and I were traveling early one morning before daylight along a remote country road. We came upon a crowd of sheep being led along by some shepherds. We had to travel very carefully through the midst of the flock. As we passed, I looked out the window to see one of the shepherds carrying a small lamb in his arms. That one was too weak to keep up with the others, so the shepherd carried him along.
That’s what “pastors” do. They are shepherds who care for flocks. Recently someone told me of a person going through a time of personal trouble. They were regular attendees at a church, but there was no Pastor with enough time to call upon them, or pray for them.
I grew up in a church small enough for the Pastor to know me and care for me personally. I guess I still feel that way about a Pastor.
Matthew 9:36-38—But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye (with strong supplication) therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth (cast forth) laborers into his harvest.Then see the very next verse.
Matthew 10:1—And when He had called unto him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
DEAR FATHER, Lord of the Harvest, please cast forth laborers into the fields that are already overripe. And, please raise up Pastors who will care for flocks of people in the remote areas.
In Ephesians 4:12-16 Paul tells what the five Ascension Gift ministries are to work together toward accomplishing—and how long their ministries will continue. They are to work toward bringing the Body of Christ to its perfection. The bullets placed throughout this Scripture emphasize what works toward bringing each of us unto our completion for the Day of the Lord.
Ephesians 4:11-16 And He gave (appointed) some, •Apostles; and some, •Prophets; and some, •Evangelists; and some, •Pastors and •Teachers; •For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, •for the edifying of the Body of Christ: •Till we all come in the unity of the faith, •and of the knowledge (the acknowledgment) of the Son of God, •unto a perfect man, •unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: •That we henceforth be no more children, •tossed to and fro, •and carried about with every wind of doctrine, •by the sleight of men, •and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; •But speaking the truth in love, •may grow up into Him in all things, •which is the Head, even Christ: •From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth,• according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, •maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
LORD, I’m one of those who is caught in a place where there seems no possibility of the above Scripture coming to pass. I understand there are many in the world who are in prison for the sake of the Gospel. Please visit them with Your Holy Spirit. The hope of all of us is in Your mercy. Please complete Your work in me, and in these I hold before You.
DAY 14—The Ascension Gift Ministries work for the knitting together of the Body.
The ministries placed in His Body by the Lord Jesus after His resurrection are to work toward ...the •perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12). The word perfecting comes from a New Testament Greek word that is used also in Matthew 4:21 where we find James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, •mending their nets.
What those fishermen were doing to their nets illustrates the work of the ministries appointed by the Lord for His Body. The Greek word from which these words—perfecting and mending—come is katartiz’o. It means “to adjust thoroughly; to knit together; to unite completely.” In Ephesians 4:12, it means to bring about a complete qualification for a specific purpose. This work is to be accomplished in the saints, the same ones the Prophet Daniel declared ...shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever—(Daniel 7:18), the ones to whom Paul addressed the Epistle to the Ephesians.
The work of these Five Ministries is directed to the whole Body, to bring the many members into a place of usefulness in the Kingdom of Christ. Besides carrying the meaning of knitting the individual units together like the strands of a net, it may also mean setting a broken bone. The spiritual implications are boundless and simply emphasize the need all of us have for the ministry of others.
FATHER, I’ve had difficulty fitting in with others. It seems I’d rather just carry on by myself. Surely there’s something in me that needs healing. Oh, please heal what needs to be healed in me! And, DEAR LORD, it’s been difficult for me to find a Body with whom I can feel joined. Won’t You please undertake and bring this about for me. And here is something else: I have a great tendency to find faults in other people. This has been a hindrance in my being joined with others. Please teach me, instead of finding faults, to see people I don’t like as opportunities to pray for them and to see the beautiful qualities You have placed in them. Many of them probably have qualities that I need in my life.
DAY 15—The Ascension Gift Ministries prepare the Body for works of humility.
The perfecting of the members of Christ’s Body is to work toward each member becoming qualified for a particular function in God’s Kingdom. And, let us just remember this: we are all moving toward the Day of the Lord in which what Christ brought into the earth will spread to ...every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation (Revelations 5:9).
Can you imagine being useful out among the nations? Perhaps that tugging at your heart you’ve been feeling lately is the Holy Spirit drawing you toward this very thing. Just remember the Kingdom in which we have a part is ...forever, even for ever and ever (Daniel 7:18).
The work being wrought in our lives today is a work for eternity. Some believers—maybe the majority of them—have the idea that “going to church” is simply a requirement to get into heaven. The people that Jesus redeemed have a far greater purpose than just listening to a sermon on Sunday and then going to heaven.
The five ministries are to work toward ...the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12). That string of words is from the Greek er’gon diakonías. The word ergon means any work, deed, or service rendered. But, the word diakoni’as carries with it the idea of humility and love. It is ministry not only to brothers and sisters, but to Christ also.
LORD JESUS, I know You have redeemed me for a higher purpose than I yet see. While I cannot look around me and see how this can come about, I dedicate myself to You today and leave it to You to bring about the preparations of my life and heart. Please move in these around me. Open their eyes and hearts also, to know Your calling and purpose. Please work in our leaders as well as in those of us who are ready to follow.DEAR LORD, please teach us all. Bring us forward into Your eternal purpose. Teach us how to let go of the things that have no value for Your Kingdom. Teach us to live our lives with eternity’s values in view.
DAY 16—Those who minister and those who receive it participate in the building up of the Body of Christ.
Whether we teach or preach, serve the table, or clean the toilets, we are called to do it all ...for the edifying of the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12b). While the less honorable services seem to belong to those of us who are less qualified, this need not be the case. It would be well for all of us to learn to serve the Body of Christ by taking care of the menial tasks that make things better for others in the Body. Let’s remember that the true Church is more than the building in which we meet for worship. It is people redeemed by the blood of Jesus, living stones who have needs that some haven’t yet turned over to the Lord.
The most useful thing we can do for someone in the Body is to pray for them. That’s the reason we take on the discipline of intercession for people that don’t yet know how to bring their own burdens to the Lord. There is no greater service any of us can render to another. Edifying means “building up.” What a powerful commission is laid upon us all: to help build up the Body of Christ for the purposes of God’s Kingdom on earth.
I Corinthians 14:12—Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
I Corinthians 14:26—How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
FATHER, please place within me an understanding of how I can serve others. Sometimes I’m held back by my own timidity. Sometimes I feel I might be intruding. Other times I just don’t know what to do. And then, there seems to be so little time for me to do the things necessary to keep my own affairs running. Please open my eyes and my heart to ways that will make my life useful for Your Kingdom—Your eternal Kingdom.
DAY 17—It is the desire of the Lord Jesus that we all become one in union with Him.
Coming into unity may seem hopeless and beyond what anyone of us might take on as part of our task. But this is how we look at things with our own natural understanding. It is time for us to lay this aside and begin considering what the Lord Jesus, the Head of the Body, wants. We can discover this quite clearly in the way He prayed, as recorded in John 17. We won’t see all of His prayer here, but we can see much of it. Become familiar with the whole of this chapter. Let the Holy Spirit bring into your heart the feelings and the faith that were in the heart of Jesus as He prayed.
John 17:20-23—Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me. And the glory which Thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect (brought to completion) in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.
It is only when we are brought to completion in one Body of redeemed people, that the Lord Jesus will be satisfied that His Body is what He longed for. It will be then that ...He shall see the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied (Isaiah 53:11).
MY DEAR LORD, please bring within us the same desire that You desired. Forgive us for all the divisions in Your Body. It is a sad testimony to the world that we cannot be in agreement. When the time of trouble comes, to which You and Daniel have pointed, perhaps then we shall all come together. Please give us the grace to stand when that hour comes.
DAY 18—The ministries appointed by the Lord Jesus are to work until we all come into unity of the faith.
The commission of the Lord Jesus is that we work toward bringing His Body into unity. To the contrary, however, too many of us have worked toward dividing His Body.
While it may seem beyond the ability of any one of us to bring about unity, we can at least begin by recognizing those who may worship differently than we worship—and maybe even believe some things differently. We can pray one for the other that the unity longed for by Jesus may come to pass.
I Corinthians 1:10—Now I beseech you, brethren, by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
- I Corinthians 10:16-17—The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the Body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
I Corinthians 12:25—That there should be no schism in the Body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
DEAR LORD, we have sinned against You in causing Your Body to be divided. Please forgive us. Please extend Your mercy to us. Please work in our community to bring us together in loving You, in worshipping You, in glorifying Your Name, and it bearing testimony to Your saving grace.
DAY 19—The ministries appointed by the Lord Jesus are to work toward bringing us all to our own personal perfection.
As we continue in the unfolding revelation of Ephesians 4:11-16, we see in verse 13 that the movement of the ministries is to bring us each toward becoming what Paul called ...a perfect man. This may seem more idealistic than realistic, but it should be the goal of each one who makes up Christ’s Body. There is no reason anyone of us should remain behind the other in fulfilling the purpose and calling of the Lord. Even though some may seem less gifted than others, and, thus, given to a lesser place in the Body, there is not one of us who cannot become all the Lord would have us to be. After all, it is the Lord Himself Who becomes our life. Some of us who are of lesser skill may, indeed, offer Him more place in our lives than those who have greater skill. Too often, the one who considers himself more capable is inclined to work for the Lord. Whereas, the one with lesser gifts and skill may be inclined to allow the Lord to do the work.
II Corinthians 12:9—And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Isaiah 40:29-31—He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
FATHER, I feel I’m one of those who has less to offer than others. Because of this, I give my weak vessel over to You. Please fill me with Your love. I can give that to You and to others. Fill me with Your compassion. I can give that. Fill me with the understanding of what those who hurt feel. I can give them an understanding heart. Help me know how to listen, how to love, and how to care for someone who feels pain.
DAY 20—The ministries appointed by the Lord Jesus work together toward helping us be no longer spiritual children.
The ministries appointed by the Lord Jesus will help us be no more children. This is a marvelous thing. Too many of us have remained immature in our emotions and in our response toward others. The anointing that will come upon us from the Throne of the Lord Jesus will work toward helping us ...grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15). This means we can come into the spiritual maturity that He desires for us. It will be a maturity that makes us useful not only in the Body of believers, but also in the world. We are coming to know that the maturity and wisdom and understanding born in us by the Spirit of Christ can make us useful in all dimensions of life. When we allow the skill and wisdom worked into our lives by the Lord to be useful in our work with people of the world, it bears testimony to them that Christ is wonderful and caring, even for them. We see an example of this in Daniel.
- Daniel 1:17-20—As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
LORD, give us ministers in Your Body who will bring the young people in our midst onward to a spiritual maturity. Teach us who are Pastors and Teachers that we may teach the young ones your principles of Life, that will make them useful for Your Kingdom. And DEAR LORD, help those of us who are older to set right examples before the younger ones. Let them see Your Life and Your Love reflected in us.
DAY 21—When appointed ministries lead the Body under the Leadership of Christ, we will not be tossed about by the false ways of the world.
That we henceforth be no more ...carried about with every wind of doctrine is one of the assurances that will come to those in a Body of believers under the protection and spiritual upbringing of the Ascension Gift ministries. Since this is a time when deception may come from every direction, it is important that there be the security over us that only Christ Jesus can bring.
While anti-Christ spirits keep continuing surveillance over the Church, those who remain connected to the Throne of God’s Kingdom can maintain an assurance that Christ will protect us. All believers need this assurance. If we are counted among those appointed by the risen Lord Jesus as ministers in His Body, then we have a responsibility to keep close connection with His Throne.
I have found several principles beneficial that I recommend. One is that I •seek to abide in close communion with the Holy Spirit. Another is that I •seek to remain always in line with the Scripture. Another principle I seek to follow is that of •remaining in submission to others who will help keep a check on what I teach and how I minister. The most important principle, I believe, is that we should always •seek to work toward the honor and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
II Timothy 3:16,17—All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
FATHER, I trust You to keep me in the way of what is true, and what is vital, for this day. Bring upon these that I hold before You an understanding that is born out of Your Word. Place upon us all a love for the truth that will keep us safe in the time of temptation and trouble that is coming upon the world. Move in these nations that have made it unlawful to recognize the Lord Jesus. Show Your power among them. Raise up leaders among the nations who know the power and protection of Your Kingdom.
DAY 22—The ministries appointed by the Throne will keep us from the deception of the anti-Christ.
The passage that follows on after the Word telling of the appointment of the five ministries are set to lead the Body of Christ to its perfection.
Ephesians 4:12-13—For •the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: •That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and •carried about with every wind of doctrine, •by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive...
The Apostle John warned us of the anti-Christ's that will work toward leading us away from our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
I John 2:18. Little children, it is the last time (Greek hora, it is the last hour): and as ye have heard that anti-Christ shall come, even now are there many anti-Christ's; whereby we know that it is the last time.
As the time of the end draws closer to the final hour, the activity of anti-Christ spirits will become more determined to deceive believers. For this reason, we want to stay as close to the Throne of God’s Kingdom as possibleWe do this by remaining close to the Lord Jesus, and the continuing help of the Holy Spirit. We also must stay close to the Word of God. Another point of vital importance is that we remain in an abiding communion with others in the Body of Christ.
DEAR LORD, I need the continual guidance of Your Holy Spirit. Please keep watch upon my spirit, my emotions, my will and my understanding. Please keep me aware of my relationship with You. Help me remember day by day, that I dwell in You, and that You dwell in me. And, DEAR LORD, please draw these that I hold before You into this abiding relationship. Place within their hearts a deep desire that will draw them always toward loving Your presence and loving Your Word. And please draw them into a fellowship with other believers who themselves are remaining in close communion with You.
DAY 23—As the ministries remain in close communion with the risen Lord, they will lead others toward becoming the embodiment of Truth.
The next verse in the Ephesians 4:11-16 passage calls for some amazing understanding to be brought in us by the Holy Spirit and by a close examination of the Word. See this in verse 15:
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things,
which is the Head, even Christ...
The term speaking the truth is from the Greek Verb aletheu’o. This carries more meaning than simply “speaking” truth. It is closer to meaning “being” the truth. It presents the idea that what they are becomes a demonstration of what is true. This filters down upon us from the Lord Himself, through ministers in the Body of Christ.We take close note that this demonstration of truth comes in close connection with love—agápe love. Selfless giving of one’s self for the benefit of others insures that we grow up into Christ. It will become manifest in all that we say or do—from buying something in the market to pulling a stranger from the ditch. Jesus taught about this in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.
FATHER, give me a tender heart of love toward those in the world who don’t know You in a personal way. Give me the ability to love others, and to put others before myself. Give me a heart that can see the pain and difficulty others are facing. Then give me the wisdom and anointing to minister Your love to them. Let our fellowship with You be such that anyone in trouble can discover Your love and Your truth through us.
DAY 24—When Love is perfected in us, we can have boldness in the day of judgment.
The concluding verse of the passage we have lifted out from Ephesians about the Ascension Gift Ministries becomes so full that it might require volumes to discuss it. But even then, its fullness cannot be disclosed in words. It leads us toward knowing the Body of Christ as a living “organism.” What it describes comes from the Lord Jesus Himself and moves toward our becoming the demonstration in earth of Who He is in Heaven. Take note that the last word in this passage is love.
Ephesians 4:16—(even Christ) from Whom the whole Body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
What John told in his first Epistle may be even more difficult for our minds to comprehend. But—that’s why we have a heart.
- I John 4:17—Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world.
Christ’s Body is compacted together. This means there is a sharing of life and love that moves throughout His Body which is the Church. This is imparted from Christ Himself to the Body by the ministries that He appointed.
LORD JESUS, You are my life. Your are OUR life! May Who You are and What You are become known in us as we fellowship one with the other. May something be born of Your Spirit in our midst that will move out to touch the lives of those outside our fellowship. Let what You do in us touch the nations for the sake of Your Kingdom And, FATHER, may the prayer that Jesus prayed be answered in us. Oh, let us be a demonstration of that oneness for which He prayed!
Let us take that powerful passage from the Apostle Paul about Love and spend the rest of this month considering it, praying about it and letting it work in us for the Glory of God. Below is a simple interpretation of I Corinthians 13. It is so profound even the angels of heaven stand in awe of it.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us!
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation:
Trust steadily in God,
And the best of the three is love.
DAY 25—With the Love we receive from Jesus we are moving toward perfection.
The perfection toward which the Body of Christ is moving can be defined by one word. That word is love. That should not seem strange to us, at all. God, Himself, is Love. By no means should we expect the perfection of His Kingdom in the earth to bear any other defining mark. If we think the way we speak might characterize us as those who have been redeemed, we are mistaken. See this:
I Corinthians 13:1—Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (agápe, selfless love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
Eloquence in oratory, the ability to explain theological mysteries, the skill to move people to tears with emotionally charged stories—none of these can take the place of just plain and simple love. It’s the kind of love that moves down through the Body of Christ from the Head of the Body. That Head is Jesus.
Let us resolve that none of us will allow that love to stop when it reaches us. It is Christ’s love, not our own. That makes it strong enough to move through us and touch those around us who are in need of love. Some, who need His Love the most, may not be worthy of being loved. But, let us remember that the love that flows from the Lord is unconditional. Never should it stop with us. Let us not be the ones to decide whether certain others are worthy of love. Let us remember—always!—that God commendeth His love toward us (gave favorable attention toward us by extending His love to us), in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us—Romans 5:8.
We are left with this: to owe no man any thing, but to love one another—Romans 13:8.
DEAR LORD, forgive me for the times I held back love from people who I felt were not worthy of being loved. Too many times I’ve demonstrated contempt and hatred, instead of love. And the very people from whom I withheld my love are the very people for whom You died. Oh, what great love that You could ever have loved me! I praise You. I thank You. I love You. I want Your love to move on through me to reach others. Please help me be a channel of unconditional love.
DAY 26—Great faith and ability can never take the place of love.
Faith to accomplish great works and skill in explaining great mysteries can never be a substitute for love. Paul made a clear statement regarding this in I Corinthians 13:2. He said:
Being an orator of the highest order, having understanding of the greatest mysteries, possessing faith to perform the greatest of miracles, and yet, being void of love, makes of me an absolute nothing.
The final day, facing the gravest problems and coming up against the fiercest enemy, leaves us with but one choice for a weapon. That choice is love. That love flows from the Throne of God’s Kingdom. There is no solution that our mind can discover the mystery of love’s power. All we can do is yield to its power and see it demonstrated. Thereby we discover the most perfect weapon of all, love.
I Corinthians 8:3—But if any man love God, the same is known of Him.
What a wonder! that love attracts God to know us in our difficulties. We are known of God! He knows the way we take. Our loving Him brings Him into our battles and immediately we know that He knows us. That is what wins our wars. It settles our peace.
FATHER, there is no greater way to win a battle than by love. I know that self-centered love will not prevail. Usually it works in an opposite way. Please help me as I enter this conflict that I’m facing today. Please help me become settled in the more excellent way that Your Love provides—for any situation, in any battle, with anybody.
DAY 27—Giving great amounts of money, or suffering for others, all without love, does not accomplish anything for God’s Kingdom.
It is possible to do great charitable work and even to give one’s own life in behalf of others and still be empty of love. Love is closer to being a spirit than it is to being an action that is performed. Too often we are inclined to think of love as something we do. We miss out on what true love actually is. More than a matter of doing or giving, love is a matter of the heart.
Paul made this observation as to how one might do great deeds that would seem to be acts of charity and sacrifice, but still miss out on the kind of Love that God is.
I Corinthians 13:3—And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (agápe), it profiteth me nothing.
How could one do great works for the benefit of others and have no real love? It is quite possible that the works are done for one’s own gratification. They would seem to be works of love, but instead they would be works of religious pride. We can receive some understanding regarding this from Jesus, in the lesson that follows:
Matthew 6:1-3—Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.
FATHER, sometimes my own heart deceives me. I do what I think are acts of love, but secretly hope that others take note of what I have done. Surely this contaminates what could have been love. Please work in me so that I will have no desires to receive recognition from man. Work a pure love into my heart. Let it be a love that gives whether there be any recognition for my giving or not.
DAY 28—The Love that comes to us from God, and that brings perfection with it, is never proud.
Love does not seek to make itself known. It is content to perform whether anyone ever knows, or not. The real Love of God, when it is put into action in a believer, may be so hidden that none will ever know but God Himself.
Paul, inspired marvelously by the Holy Spirit, is able to describe what this kind of love is like.
I Corinthians 13:4,5—Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up; doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.
In order to gain a fuller grasp on what the Apostle has said, let us read this from the New International Reader’s Version. See the simplicity and let it bathe your own heart, as it does mine. The fact is, I believe that the love from God that moves upon us, and within us, is itself a simple movement from His Spirit to our heart.
•Love is patient. •Love is kind. •It does not want what belongs to others. •It does not brag. •It is not proud. • It is not rude. •It does not look out for its own interests. •It does not easily become angry. •It does not keep track of other people’s wrongs.
DEAR FATHER, I come before Your Throne with simple requests. Work into the love that I have received from Your Spirit a long-suffering and kindness toward the people around me. Help me be content with what things I have while rejoicing in the prosperity of others. Please work a true humility into my spirit and set me free from the rudeness that sometimes comes upon me. Help me, DEAR LORD, to be concerned about the welfare of others, whether I get along well or not. Set me free from the outbursts of anger that have been coming from me lately. And, LORD, lately, I’ve spread to others the information of some other’s failures. I should not have done this. Please set me free from this tendency.
DAY 29—The Love that comes to us from God has a great power for endurance.
The time of the end is coming on. The spirits of anti-Christ are bringing attack after attack against those who hold in our hearts a connection with God’s Throne. Some of these attacks come upon us with deception. If we do not allow God’s Spirit to rule in our inner man, we will fall under these attacks. The dark spiritual forces coming from that man of sin reach for any ground in the spirits of believers that are attractive to them. The greatest repellant for these spirits is the Love that comes from God.
I John 4:7—Beloved, let us love one another: •for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
The little phrase in the middle of this verse is loaded with spiritual truth and understanding. Seeing it in the Original gives insight that remains with us through our search. It evolves from the little word of. This comes from the Greek word ek which means “out of.” God Himself is the source out from which the agápe kind of love comes to us. This Love gives us a vital connection with God. The next verse tells us that ...God is love—I John 4:8. When the spirits that come from anti-Christ make their assault upon us, they are met and driven off if the Love of God dwells in us.
Can we imagine this? Can it become reality in us? Yes. The greatest force in all the world has come to us from out of God’s Kingdom. There is no power from hell that can withstand it.
Not only does the Love that comes from God provide us the greatest protection to stand in the day of anti-Christ’s greatest attacks, it also gives us bold freedom to stand in the Day of God’s judgment. See what more John said regarding this:
I John 4:17,18—•Herein is our love (love with us) made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. •There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love
DEAR FATHER, what mercy you have poured upon us! It surrounds us, it upholds us, it becomes our shield and provides assurance against all the attacks the anti-Christ has planned against us. For this we praise You. Oh, thank You for giving us Your love. It is the perfection of our faith.
DAY 30—God’s Love gives us the ability to stand firm with a hope that will not fail.
Truth, hope and love are three qualities of Kingdom Life that will sustain us through anything—yes anything—that may come at us from the realm of evil. We draw hope and understanding from the few words at the beginning of I Corinthians 13:8. Charity never faileth.
The word charity is from the word agápe. It has come to us from the eternal bearings of God Himself. It holds the quality of being eternal. When it entered us, it brought that quality with it. Through all the time it has remained with us, it has kept that quality. Love never fails because it is eternal. Just think of that. The love that comes to us from God brings eternity with it.
Through all the years and days of our lives we can have this divine quality alive in us, no matter how difficult our path is. And, whatever lies ahead, this eternal quality remains. It enfolds our every day and every pain and every hopeless situation that seems to be waiting for us in the road ahead.
Those words ...never faileth are as strong as they could possibly be. Never comes from a compound word oude’pote meaning, “never ever.” The word faileth comes from the Greek ekpip’to which means “to come to an end.” The kind of love that has come to us from God will never ever come to an end.
What can the man of sin do to bring us down? Why, he will come to his end before the love that sustains us will even grow weak! It will remain with us through every attack in all the realm where anti-Christ supposes he might prevail. There is no hope for him.
Our great shield, imparted into us by the Lord out from His eternal being, remains. And the marvel is, while we are still in this age, we have opportunity day by day to live out of the Life and Love He imparts to us.
FATHER, my plea to You this day is that I might adjust more and more to the Love that has come to me from You. This is a work that You must perform. Please don’t cease working in me.
DAY 31—There is a perfection yet to be known in this age—and yet, a greater perfection will be ours in the age to come.
How can this be? If we have perfection now, how can there be more perfection waiting for us in the age to come? Is this something we must allow our hearts to handle? I think so. There is so very much that our minds just simply cannot answer. Only our hearts can reach for that which is eternal. Only our hearts can open up to the perfection that only the Lord Himself can release in us.
Moving toward this, we will take some more of the Word that the Lord gave to Paul and see what it will do for us.
I Corinthians 13:8-13—...whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity (agápe), these three; but the greatest of these is charity (agápe).
What more can we say? It just all winds up with what it all began with. Love. It’s that eternal Love that God is. It reached for us in His only begotten Son. It entered us and remains with us. It carries us into eternity.
FATHER, what more can I say other than that I love You. I love You. I love You. And I thank you for loving me. Please let Your love invade all my being so that everyone around me will get to know You.In the Lovely Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
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