Cherished - Day 5 - Who’s the Boss?

Listen:

Ephesians 6:5-9 - 5 Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. 9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

Learn:

I love working in R-Kids on Sunday mornings. It’s a ministry to kids from babies through 5th grade and every week we talk about the gospel and about Jesus. In working with the kids they ask truly profound questions (recently we discussed when Jesus was returning), and they say some of the darndest things that reflect our times and our culture. Recently, I was in a classroom with some of the younger children, and I witnessed two kids fighting over a toy...I know...big surprise...right? One of the kids said, “This is my toy because I’m older than you and that makes me the boss.” Has anyone ever heard that one before?

The subject of authority and submission is a principal that affects all of us. It’s not just in the workplace. We find it in government, somebody leads and others follow. In marriage, somebody leads and somebody follows. In the military, somebody leads and somebody follows. In the family, somebody leads and somebody follows, and in the business world, somebody has to be in charge and somebody has to carry out the orders. But the key verse in this section that pertains to authority and submission is verse 9, specifically where it says, “there is no partiality with him.” Both parties need to understand mutual submission and learn to submit to each other. Both must be conscious of the needs of the other so that none have the right to dominate.

God does not favor one over the other. Both parties need to understand (Eph. 5:21) “submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” When leader and follower both submit to God, it brings to the surface the good of both.

Live:

• Think of the authority/submission relationships in your life. Is there mutual respect and care for each other? If not, what can you do to foster that relationship?

• We’ve all had a bad boss that has been threatening and domineering. Why do you think they are like that? What can you do to be a disciple maker in that situation?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for those who hold positions of authority and asking God to give them wisdom, discernment, and compassion (in Jesus).

Cherished - Day 4 - Work is a Blessing.

Listen:

Ephesians 6:5-9 - 5 Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eyeservice, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. 9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

Learn:

My son Mike was anxious about his new promotion from busboy to waiter. He was working at an exclusive restaurant that was well known for its outstanding food and uncompromising service. He was well aware of the fact that people had a certain expectation of an “experience” when they went to this restaurant. He loved the pace, the challenge, and the satisfaction of people receiving a quality meal. Even still, he was really nervous because he had never done anything like this before. We chatted about it for a while, and I urged him to think about this situation from the owner’s perspective. The next day he came back beaming. Mike told me he went to the owner and said, “I know that the customers want a great experience. I also know that you (the owner) want to maintain the highest quality possible. What can I do better, as a waiter, to make sure I meet and exceed both those expectations?” Mike said the owner reached over and gave him a big hug and said, “I’ve been doing this for 30 years and nobody has ever asked me that question.”

Add a scriptural connection between the verses above and the story about Mike. Connect bondservant to employee and master to employer.

As Christians we are called to work. Hard work is a virtue. As Christians we have an imperative, an inspiration, and a commitment to an honest and faithful days work with the right attitude. When work is done in this manner, you show the world how a disciple of Christ excels in the workplace.

Live:

• Do you view work as slave labor or as part of discipleship?

• If you asked your boss, “how can I perform better to exceed your expectations?” how do you think he/she would respond?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for the opportunity to work (in Jesus).

Cherished - Day 3 - Father's Day

Listen:

Ephesians 6:1-4 - Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Learn:

Have you ever provoked your children? Provoked is a word that is not common in today’s lexicon. So, what does it mean? Provoking your children to anger means that you have disciplined your child in a way that is excessive or severe, that you’ve placed unreasonably harsh demands on your children, maybe you’ve abused your authority, or maybe you’re being unfair or arbitrary, or constantly nagging or condemning your children to the point of humiliation.

Clearly provoking your children to anger is not loving, patient, or kind. We should treat children with respect and dignity and valuable as any creation by God.

In traditional homes, fathers often have the primary responsibility for disciplinary actions. They have a unique role in that they need to strike a balance between proper discipline, to demonstrate authority in the household yet be gentle and be loving. Neither the over-encouraging parent who neglects to discipline his child nor the strict disciplinarian fulfills the biblical ideal of parenting. It may seem that fathers have no margin for error. They must be powerful yet gentle. They must be the disciplinarian yet loving and nurturing. They must be authoritarian yet understanding. In that dichotomy, father’s will make mistakes, yet even in that moment of provocation there is incredible power in the asking of forgiveness as a father. It is in that moment of asking of forgiveness where you can become a father of mercy and forgiveness.

Live:

• Have you ever provoked your children or another individual? Spouse? Co-worker? Friend?

• In that moment, what was your heart motivation?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for creating all people in his image and loving them for exactly who there are (in Jesus).

Cherished - Day 2 - No, No, No Johnny!

Listen:

Ephesians 6:1-4 - Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Learn:

Many times when we read Ephesians 6, we blow right past this first part about children obeying their parents. Yep, children should obey their parents...got it...what’s next.

Consider some of these Old Testament fun facts to know and tell: In the Old Testament, honoring parents was absolutely critical, and it was considered so important that disobedience by your children was compared to disrespecting God himself. Also in the OT, child disobedience was considered to be on the same level as idol worship (Ex. 21:15, 17; Lev. 19:1-4). Have you ever noticed that the commandment of honoring your mother and father comes right after the first four commandments which have to do with God’s holiness? Coincidence? Ultimately, in early Jewish culture, the honor of the entire family was at stake based on the behavior of the children; however, obedience of your children is not just an OT phenomenon.

Scripture, in the OT and NT, calls for children to show honor, respect, and a healthy “fear” of their parents similar to a godly fear of Christ himself (Eph. 5:21). Do you get a sense that obedience of your children is really important? So, what’s a parent to do?

Children obeying their parents is an important part of discipleship. It is just as important as teaching them about prayer and bible study and the other spiritual disciplines.

Live:

• Why do you think Scripture places such a high value on child obedience?

• How does exercising obedience ultimately relate to their relationship with God?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for his ultimate example of parenting through love, grace, mercy, and obedience (in Jesus).

Cherished - Day 1 - The Mystery of the Gospel

Listen:

Ephesians 5:31-33 - 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Learn:

The gospel is understandable and relatable to any person, but several times in his letters, Paul uses the word “mystery” to describe it. This is not only because it will take eternity to explore the depths of the gospel’s implications but also because much of the Messiah’s (Christ’s) coming was unforeseen - even by those who in the Old Testament writings pointed forward to him. A great example of this is when Moses wrote the passage on marriage that Paul quotes above (Gen. 2:24); he had no idea he was also talking about the gospel (v.31-32). I love the way N.T. Wright explains it:

"In Genesis, even before human rebellion had tainted the world in general, and the relation between the sexes in particular, [Paul] sees a glimmer of God’s ultimate intention in creation. The man—the Messiah—will leave the place where he was at home, and go in search of a bride."

And I would add, the Messiah would not only search for his bride but also he would find her, die for her, and join himself to her forever. Amazing!

Now think of this: the “however” in verse 33 is a clarifier - yes, Paul is talking about Christ and the Church (his bride), but also husbands and wives. Both marriage and the gospel are meant to point to each other, and for marriage to truly reflect the beauty of the gospel, the wife must submit to her husband out of a respectful heart (v.25,33) and husband must love his wife as his own flesh (v.33).

Live:

• For married couples, how does it feel to know your relationship is designed to reflect God’s relationship to us?

• For married or unmarried men and women, this teaches us that sexual intimacy is reserved for one man and one woman for one lifetime (v.32). How does this beautiful gospel picture affect your view of your sexual purity?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for sending Christ to rescue us, his bride.