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April 23, 2024

SEEING YOURSELF AS GOD SEES YOU –PART 6

 

We’re still in this series – and we’re still in the book of Ephesians.  As I said before, the book of Ephesians gives us a really clear picture, in so many areas of our lives, the way God sees us, what He wants us to do, how He wants us to see Him and ourselves – and it gives us information on HOW DO YOU DO IT?  

 

So, last week, we ended at Ephesians 4:10.  So we’re going to pick up at Ephesians 4:11.  At the end of last week’s session, we were getting the picture of the fact that God has given us gifts.  So – I’m going to read Ephesians 4:11-16 – and then we’ll talk about each of them individually.

 

11 – And, He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

 

12 – for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

 

13 – til we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

 

14 – that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, to the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,

 

15 – but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ –

 

16 – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

 

Now – that’s whole lot to take in – but the Lord wants us all to get a hold of the truth here in this portion of Scripture.

 

First of all – I want to point out that Paul mentions these first 5 giftings in verse 11 and then in verse 12 he says that those giftings are “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”  As I have read these verses through the years, I have learned that these 5 giftings are not just doing the work of the ministry – BUT THEY ARE TO EQUIP THE BODY OF CHRIST TO DO THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY.  In other words, God places giftings upon His children so that they can help the rest of the children do what God wants them to do.  THESE MINISTRY GIFTS ARE TO HELP THE SAINTS REACH OUT TO THE WORLD AROUND THEM AND HELP THEM UNDERSTAND WHAT IS AVAILABLE TO THEM IN CHRIST.

 

All the saints are to reach out to the world around them.  In other words, God’s plan is that full time ministers are to equip the saints to the work of ministering to the world to build up THE BODY OF CHRIST.

 

Now think about this  - shepherds don’t HAVE sheep – they TEND the sheep!!!!!  The sheep reproduce other sheep!

 

Brothers and sisters – the Lord wants to use every single one of us in the BODY OF CHRIST to reach out to the world around us and help them understand what He has done for them.  It’s not just the duty of the five-fold ministry – the whole Body of Christ is supposed to be involved in reaching out to the world.

 

Now – when we get a hold of this truth, we have to realize that the Lord knows each one of us individually and, therefore, gifts us in various ways.  We all have different personalities, different backgrounds, different strong points, different desires, and that’s not just fleshly, and scientific – it’s planned by our Heavenly Father.

 

As I have thought about this, and looked back at me in my childhood, I have seen how all this works.  Yes, I had a physical disability with my eye – BUT – there was much more than that.  I was an only child until I was 9 years old.  I was at peace being alone in my bedroom, reading, studying, thinking, and on and on.  I thought and thought about everything that I was reading or was being taught.  I began, at an early age, doing a lot of writing.  I started writing little poems, and little words to family members for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc.  I loved, loved, loved to get an understanding about how things worked and I loved to ponder on it – and then share it with others I was close to.  As I have reflected about all that, I have seen how it was already in me to write – and to get a hold of truth and share it with others.  When I was in college, I was an English major.  To this day, I like to sit with my phone and go on ‘Word Scapes’ and spell words.  That’s just me!

 

Now every single one of us is unique and God has planned in advance for our uniqueness to be used by HIM to help other people know God – and get to know Him better and better.  Not everyone is supposed to be in the five-fold ministry (those giftings that were mentioned in verse 11) but we, His born again children) are all gifted in unique ways for the Lord to use us.

 

That is the reason that we have to REALLY, REALLY LEARN HOW TO SEE OURSELVES THE WAY GOD SEES US.  You know you better than anyone else on earth knows you – and GOD knows you also.  You know what pleases you, and you know what just gives you peace and comfort like no other thing.  I knew, all my life, that I wanted to write books, but I was afraid to tackle it because I was afraid I didn’t have enough wisdom about that whole industry to be able to do it right.  But, God dealt with me and I’ve written and published 6 books.

 

God has a purpose and plan for every single one of us – and it’s not all about the 5-fold ministry – it’s about how He wants to use us to help others know Him better and better and better. HE WANTS YOU TO SEE WHAT HE SEES FOR YOU AND YOUR LIFE.

 

Now – verse 13 talks about us all coming to the unity of the faith – and I know, that in this present time that we are all in, that seems impossible – but it’s right there in the Bible!!!!  I know that it is hard to grasp – but we born again believers ALL have the ability to reach into our NEW BORN AGAIN SPIRIT – BY FAITH AND PRAYER – AND THROUGH FORGIVENESS, AND LOVE, WE CAN LOVE ALL OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS – NO MATTER WHAT!!!!!!!

 

I really do suggest that we all go to these Scriptures in our own Bibles, when we’re all alone, and read them over and over again. You may want to read them in other translations.  I usually read in New King James but, when I come to Scriptures like these, I like to read them in other translations to get just the most understanding possible.

 

Think about the early Church – and about all that those people had to overcome from the past.  Can you imagine how some of those Christians, whose family members had been killed or put in prison by the Apostle Paul before he was saved, had to forgive and walk in love, toward this new man in Christ?  Wow!  FORGIVENESS AND LOVE IS IMPORTANT TO BE ABLE TO WALK IN UNITY!!!!!

Now – I want to center in for a moment on verse 16 – I’m going to read it again – (Christ is the last word in the last verse) – “Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

 

Now – I believe this is showing us that, when a part of your physical body has a problem (even a joint), it has an effect on the whole body.  So-o-o-o – in the Body of Christ, when there is a problem of any kind in an individual, IT HAS AN EFFECT ON THE WHOLE BODY OF CHRIST.

 

Listen to these two verses – Colossians 2:2 and 2:19 –

2 – “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father and of Christ.”

 

19 – “And not holding the Head from whom all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increases with the increase of God.”

 

I’m quoting from Andrew Wommack’s Living Commentary – “This is speaking about how the Body of Christ can only function to its full potential when every part is working together.  Lack of cooperation or supply from any part of a physical body makes what we call a handicap.  The individual may still be able to survive but there are limitations that restrict some activities.  Likewise as long as the members of the body of Christ are not knit together in unity and functioning as one, the Body of Christ is handicapped.  This restricts our ability to fully represent Christ here on the earth.  The end result of the whole Body of Christ functioning properly would be that all the Body would be built up in love.  When we operate in love, then all the world will know that we are Christ’s disciples.”

 

Now – down to the nitty-gritty – this has two areas of importance.  First, it is talking about individuals in the Body of Christ, who are not actively involved in doing what the Lord has planned for them to do, to minister to other people in the world.  Each person has a uniqueness about them – preplanned by the Lord to serve in the Body of Christ to the world in one way or another or to serve to the Body of Christ in one way or another.  Each is unique.

 

Then, of course, it is also talking about when ‘breakdown’ occurs within the Body of Christ and people are not operating in love toward one another.  When that takes place, it requires for LOVE (AGAPE – THE GOD KIND OF LOFE) TO BE BIGGER AND MORE IMPORTANT THAN INDIVIDUAL SITUATIONS.  

 

You have heard me say this before but I’m going to say it again.  I BELIEVE THAT THE LOVE OF GOD IS THE STRONGEST FORCE IN THE UNIVERSE!

Now – these verses in Ephesians give us a really good picture of the way God sees the world, sees us, individually, sees the Body of Christ, and it shows us how He wants us to live while we are here on this earth.  So – it really fits in for this series that we’re in – Seeing Ourselves The Way God Sees Us!  In other words, unless we really get an understanding of the way God thinks, the way God acts, the way God loves, the way God wants us to think, act, and love, we will not be able to see ourselves the way He sees us.  

 

Now – let’s move on to Ephesians 4:17-24 –

 

17 -“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,

 

18 – having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;

 

19 – who being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

 

20 – But you have not so learned Christ,

 

21 – if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus,

 

22 – that you put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,

 

23 – and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,

 

24 – and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

 

Now – I know that’s a lot to take in – but it’s right there in this book of Ephesians that we started in  quite awhile ago, in this series.   So – let’s just tackle it.  Paul is mainly saying here how we need to think, act, talk, and live our lives in our full potential.  We are followers of God – therefore, we must understand how God thinks, acts, talks SO THAT WE CAN SEE OURSELVES DOING THINGS IN LIFE LIKE HE DOES!!!!!!

 

The Apostle Paul is saying here essentially that we have to see ourselves as the children of God, followers of Him, and, therefore, we must think, act, and talk like Him.  Our self-centeredness way of living, before we were born again, has to be left in the past and we have to really, really, really leave it there.  We must renew our minds, as we’ve discussed in this class, as its talked about in Romans 12:2.  

 

This portion of Scripture is primarily telling us that we are new creations now and we have the ability in our NEW SPIRIT to live completely different that we used to live.  One way, through the years, that I have learned to put this into operation in my life (and, by the way, I haven’t done it perfectly, but the more I’ve done it, the more I’ve seen a different life), I like to sit with my eyes closed, and imagine Jesus, hanging on that cross, and saying, “Father, forgive them – they know not what they do.”  As I think about that, I become more and more aware in my heart, that I have the same power in my spirit TO DO WHAT HE DID!!!!!!!!!  In other words, Jesus is the perfect example of how we are to love, forgive, act, think, talk, and live every day of our lives.

 

Jesus was obedient to HIS FATHER, as we should be.  He acted like HIS FATHER, as we should.

He loved like HIS FATHER, as we should.

 

Now – a lot of Christians struggle with this because they don’t see themselves as able to be like Jesus.  Well, I admit – we’re all a work in progress – but it’s right there in the Word of God that we have been given the power within our new born again spirits to walk the walk.  I have learned in my life that I have to take what it says in the Word above my emotional feelings, above my hurt, above my upset, above my personal mental attitude – and on and on!

 

I really believe that this way of thinking becomes more a part of our daily life, the more we soak in His Word.  When I am reading in the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – I like to imagine myself there in the crowd of people in each story.  I actually ask myself, “What would I have done?”  When I’m reading one of the letters that Paul wrote, I ask myself, “If I had been living in that day, would I have struggled with believing this man, who had been so brutal to Christians before he was born again?  Then, I ponder on that – then I begin to think, “He was a changed man – a new creation – AND SO AM I – IF GOD COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING IN PAUL, HE CAN DO THAT IN ME!!!”

 

Brothers and sisters, if we’re going to live the lives, while we’re here on this earth, that the Lord has planned for each one of us, we truly have to get a hold of these truths in the Word of God, and they must be personal for each one of us.

 

God has given giftings of all kinds to every single one of us – giftings that, through His power, can be used by the Lord to help other people in ways that we can’t even understand.  We are all so different and unique and, for some of us, we just can’t imagine us being used by the Lord to get a message through to others.  But, you know what?  It first takes surrender to the Lord to get a complete picture of how God desires to use us.  Sometimes, we look at things purely from a fleshly point of view.  I know that’s true!  I never, in my wildest imagination, could see myself being used by God – I was such an introvert!  But – I’ve told you my story!  It takes full surrender to Him and He can do things in your life that will blow your mind.

 

Don’t try to figure it all out!  Just give in to Him.  Now – for lots of us, that’s not easy – because we are used to running everything in our lives.  Surrender to Him puts Him in charge.  That’s hard for lots of people.  We want to be in charge.  A surrendered life to the Lord is really the only way to really live the life that the Lord has planned for you.

 

I know that, as we get older and older, we kinda’ figure that it’s too late to give it all to the Lord – because we see ourselves as too old to be of any real use to Him.  THAT’S A LIE FROM THE DEVIL  God has ways to do things – but remember this – I’ve said it many times – THE LORD WILL NOT JUST WHOOSH DOWN AND OVERTAKE YOUR FREE WILL – AND CHANGE EVERYTHING.  WE HAVE TO SURRENDER TO HIM FIRST.

 

In fact, you really, truly, can’t see yourself as God sees you until you really surrender to Him.  It’s not enough to just say the right words – you have to mean it from your heart.

 

You may have heard this from me before but I believe the Lord wants me to share it with you now.  I had been living in Port St. Lucie with my daughter and son-in-law since 2007 and was very involved in my church there, in several different ways.  I had  many friends there and we were close.  When my daughter and son-in-law decided to move to Leesburg and kinda’ plan ahead for retirement, I was devastated.  My husband had been gone to heaven since 1999 – we had been in ministry for years and we hadn’t been able to financially plan much for retirement – so Social Security is all I had.  I am very grateful to my kids for having me live with them.

 

I really didn’t want to leave.  I prayed and prayed and prayed but the plan was in motion.  Right before we made the move, I was spending a lot of time praying – and, I finally just SURRENDERED to the Lord and told Him that I just trusted Him to lead me and guide me.  I prayed in the spirit quite a lot – and by the time, we pulled out, for our move, I was just overwhelmed with a PEACE THAT PASSES UNDERSTANDING.  I can’t explain it – I just wasn’t worried, or frustrated, or sad – I JUST KNEW, THAT I KNEW, THAT I KNEW that God would handle everything.

 

We got moved and began the whole thing of getting moved in.  After handling all the stuff involved, which takes awhile (I’m sure you know about that), and my daughter and I began to search for churches in the area.  We visited 3 or 4 of them – but we weren’t convinced that they were for us.  Then – one day, we got an email from a precious friend of mine in Port St. Lucie, and she told us that she had been doing a lot of searching and that she thought she had found the CHURCH FOR US.  It was Grace Tabernacle – about 35 to 40 minutes drive from our home.  So – that next Sunday, we came.  We loved it, when we walked in – we found seats – the worship began – we loved it – then the Pastor began speaking – and about half way through the message – we looked at one another and smiled and shook our heads up and down.

 

Within 2 or 3 weeks, we each had our private meeting with the Pastor to become members.  When my meeting was over, we were getting up, I said to the Pastor, “You’ve got a lot of older people in this church!”  He said, “Yes we do!”  I said, “I did a teaching recently in our church at a monthly meeting for older people, called Prime Timers.  I called it, “Growing Older Gracefully!”  Pastor grabbed my arm and said, “Oh – you gotta’ do that here – will you teach a small group – a class – each week – on that topic?”   I looked at him, amazed, and shook my head up and down, and said, “Yes!”  

 

As I stood there in awe, I remembered when I had just surrendered to the Lord – and that PEACE HAD JUST SURROUNDED ME – AND I KNEW THAT THIS WAS GOD’S PLAN. (By the way, we’ve changed the name of the class this year to “Living Life Gracefully.”) 

 

Now – when you know that you know that you know that God has led you in a specific way, and began to use you in the gifting that He has given you, when trouble comes, or confusion, or whatever – you can go through it WITH THE PEACE THAT PASSES UNDERSTANDING.  In other words, you don’t understand it, you don’t have an answer to everything, but deep inside yourself, you know that God has led you, has guided you even when you didn’t realize that He was – and you can just rest in that peace that He has flooded you with.

 

Surrendering to the Lord and allowing Him to lead you, to show you, to help you, and to keep you walking in His peace is one of the greatest blessings there is to a person who is IN THE BODY OF CHRIST.  It helps you to walk in love.  It keeps you from WORRY AND FEAR.  You can’t explain it and you can’t give someone a ‘Step 1, 2, 3 plan – because it is all about completely surrendering to the Lord and TRUSTING HIM – and that is an individual thing for every single one of us.

 

Don’t you know that’s what Jesus did to His Father, when He was being nailed to a cross!!!!!! (FOR YOU AND ME)

 

That loving attitude to the Lord is the way to really get to understand what God is really like – how He thinks – how He sees you and me – why He does what He does – AND REALLY HOW HE CAN LOVE EACH ONE OF US SO DEARLY.  

 

Brothers and Sisters – it is so amazing to begin to get a good view and perception of what our Father God is really like – and that is when we begin TO SEE HOW HE REALLY SEES US INDIVIDUALLY.  THEN OUR LIVES ARE CHANGED – IN WAYS WE CAN’T EVEN EXPLAIN.

 

He wants us to see ourselves the way He sees us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  God has provided a way for human beings to live the life on this earth that He wants them to live - and it all just boils down to letting go of self-centeredness, and everything that goes along with it.  In fact, I believe that what it really is all about, is COMPLETELY TRUSTING IN HIM.  I REALLY BELIEVE THAT ‘SURRENDERING TO THE LORD’ IS VERY CLOSELY RELATED TO ‘TRUSTING IN THE LORD’.  

 

I have learned that, if I am not really trusting in Him, it’s hard for me to surrender to Him.  

 

So, in as easy way to understand this as possible - I have to COMPLETELY TRUST MY HEAVENLY FATHER THAT HE WILL LEAD ME AND GUIDE ME - OR IT WILL BE DIFFICULT FOR ME TO SURRENER TO HIM.

 

THEN ALONG WITH THAT, IT WILL BE DIFFICULT FOR ME TO REALLY TRUST HIM IF I HAVEN’T LEARNED HOW TO SEE HIM AS HE REALLY IS AND TRULY BECOME AWARE OF HOW HE SEES ME.  THAT TAKES SPENDING TIME WITH HIM AND BEING IN HIS WORD.

 

HE WANTS YOU TO SEE YOURSELF AS HE SEES YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!     

 

Scriptures for this lesson

Ephesians 4:11-16

Colossians 2:2

Colossians 2:19

Ephesians 4:17-24

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