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Nov 18, 2018

Equipping the Saints

Equipping the Saints

Passage: Ephesians 4:1-3

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Category: Faith, minister

Keywords: minister, saints

Are you equipped to be a saint for the ministry of God?

**Sunday, November 18, 2018 Leadership Bulletin Insert**

Scripture:

"So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and the teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." - Ephesians 4:11-16 

Devotional:

For anyone who has read any of my writing over the years it will be no surprise that God has often shown up to teach me something of Himself (and even more so of myself) at various sporting events. Whether it be in the bleachers of a baseball game or on the sidelines at a basketball game, I suppose God has decided that if that's where I'm going to be, He'll just go ahead and unfold His holy stadium seat and set it up right next to me. Never doubt that God will find a way to speak to us - even if He has to do so loud enough to block out the squeak of Air Jordans and the buzz of the scoreboard. 

So it was that as I studied this verse this week, I thought of my son's Varsity basketball team. The basketball team is made up of individual talents, but there is no doubt that the team is one body, as is the church. The environment on the basketball court can be confusing and chaotic, so players have to think fast and act fast relying on their own specific instincts and talents and trusting their teammates to believe in their own.  In my experience with basketball, I've noticed . . . 

(This is where I point out that while technically my experience includes an illustrious 7th grade career in 1982 during which my feet hit the court for all of about 30 seconds of the entire season, I have spent over ten years sipping a diet Coke in the bleachers while I watch countless hours of my kids playing. This information might be something you want to consider before you proceed.)

Anyway, to continue, in my experience, a member of the team has to do a few main things: trust the coach's play strategy, know his own specific role in that play, and most importantly, believe in his gut that not only is he fully and adequately equipped to fulfill his role, but that each of the other four guys on the court are as well. While there can be certain star players whose stats might be impressive, there simply cannot be success for any team without each guy on the court understanding that his talent will work best when he uses it with and for the rest of the team. 

This is essentially the same in the church. Our heavenly coach has given us the game plan. According to Ephesians we are to use the gifts He has given us to build up the body of Christ - not just our own stat sheet - until we all reach unity in faith. Each of us has to understand that the specific position we play in this game is as vital to the victory for His kingdom as the next guy's position. In addition to trusting our gift, we have to recognize the strengths of other members of the body of Christ. And part of our job will be encouraging them, believing in them, and working alongside them so that the body can attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 

My favorite plays to watch are the ones when each five players get their hands on the ball. I watched a video recently of a play that my son's coach posted on Twitter with the tag line "Unselfish teams make successful teams." During that one play, any one of the five guys on the court could've tried to take the shot, but each kid played his role patiently and methodically, believing that if he kept looking to his teammates, eventually the one with the best opportunity for the shot would be revealed. After six passes as the ball was held and passed on by virtually every player on the team, the three point shot went up and swished through the basket. 

It was basically a video depiction of The Message's translation of Ephesians 4:11. Each player moved "rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful". As believers I think we can take those three tenants from basketball to fulfill the church's mission: Trust the Coach. Trust the gifts He has given you. Trust the gifts He has given your fellow believers. Work together to execute the play. In this way, we will "have the power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love Christ" and "we will be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." 

Prayer:

Holy, gracious, Lord. Help us to look to you to recognize the gifts you have given us. Help us to nurture those gifts and to recognize and value the unique gifts you have given others. Give us both the confidence and the humility to see how we are to work together to build up the body of Christ. Give us the game plan. We're ready to play. Amen. 

Written by Jennifer Skinner, member of Arcola Church and a Texan (Texas Longhorn to be specific!) living in beautiful Virginia with her very patient, funny husband, and three very impatient, funny boys/ball players. She is also a blogger, The View From Behind Home Plate, who writes about finding extraordinary grace and blessings among the cleats and dirt and testosterone that fill her ordinary days.