August 11, 2013 Ephesians 4:1-6  Listen
Personal maturity is the substance of unity in the local church.
August 4, 2013 Ephesians 4:1-6  Listen
Christ has made the church spiritually one; joyfully, let it be one!
July 28 2013    Listen
July 21, 2013 Judges 19  Listen
This morning we will see what happens when we replace what is "fitting" for what God commands in our personal lives.
July 14, 2013 Ephesians 3:14-21  Listen
The enjoyment of unseen spiritual realities prepares our hearts for unified daily living in God's glorious church.
Pastor's Notes:
Our Personal Resolve (verses 10-11).
Verse 10 starts with a purpose clause: “so that.”  Paul reveals another reason why we engage in Gospel ministry.  We demonstrate the manifold wisdom of God to an audience of holy angels.  The angels Paul talks about here are angels whose righteousness was confirmed when they did not fall with Satan.

The word “manifold” means very varied.  The same Greek root is used to describe crystals in assorted shapes and colors.  Christ, who is Wisdom, made Jew and Gentile one in Him.  God has shown His impartial wisdom in saving us miraculously, and placing us together in the body strategically and beautifully. 

There is something about the Gospel that angels cannot understand without watching it at work in us.  The church has the responsibility to do something even Creation and the human conscience could not do.  It is the responsibility of every member of the body, not just a select few. 

Lest we think this is a periphery purpose, teaching the angels contributes to the glory of God.  It thrills God’s heart when a local body ministers to His angels in this way.  They report back to Him and praise Him on our behalf when we live to do God’s will.  This should be an encouragement to us!

Our purpose fits right in with Jesus’ purpose.  Jesus’ purpose was to save all those the Father gave Him, so that they would spread His name through the whole world.  He was perfectly and entirely successful!
Our Honorable Devotion (verses 12-13).
Our personal devotion to God strengthens the spread of the Gospel.  It starts with right relationships, and those in turn are strengthened by our personal devotional life.

“Boldness” means the freedom to say anything and “tell all” to God.  We have liberty of speech, with no reliance on self, when we engage with our Father in prayer.

We also have “confident access” to God.  Jesus has made it possible for us to approach God through faith.  In that environment, we gain a confidence to go out and be a testimony to others.

Paul repeats that his sufferings are on the Gentiles’ behalf (see Ephesians 3:1).  Paul’s sufferings are the Ephesians’ glory because God is always glorified when His people persevere.  We should take this perspective instead of being distracted by others’ tribulation or giving up.
Application Points
  •  Every time you do a good work that God re-created you to do, the angels sing praise to God.  Do you give the angels cause to sing? 
  • There is no other way for them to learn how the mystery of the Gospel works beside watching you live it out in the church.  Does your life teach them joyfully and accurately, so they can bring a good report back to God?
  • If we’re not relating to each other well in our homes or our church, that affects our outside witness for Jesus Christ.  Take an evaluation of your relationships – with a spouse, parents, children, siblings, and your brothers and sisters in the church.  Are any of your relationships hindering your Christian testimony or that of the body corporately?  What do you need to do to make that right, for the sake of the Gospel? 
  • Regardless of the degree of a difficult situation, God’s people persevere.  This brings glory to God – when you abide under the pressures of life in a faithful way, therefore showing the flock and demonstrating to your own heart and the angels before God that you are indeed familiar with the manifold wisdom of God in Jesus Christ.  If you are in a difficult situation – keep persevering!
Tools for Further Study
Cross References to Explore: 
  • 1 Peter 1:10-12 – Angels investigate how sinful creatures are made into worshippers.
  • Luke 15:7 and 10, Matthew 18:10, 1 Corinthians 11:10, 1 Timothy 5:21, Hebrews 1:14 – Other ways our behavior affects angels.
  • John 17:21 – Jesus’ purpose.
  • Ephesians 6:19 – Paul’s prayer for confidence in evangelism.
  • Luke 18:1 – The only New Testament use of “lose heart” outside of Paul’s writings.
A Hymn to Encourage:  “He Leadeth Me”
He leadeth me: O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate'er I do, where'er I be,
still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, he leadeth me;
by his own hand he leadeth me:
his faithful follower I would be,
for by his hand he leadeth me.

Sometimes ‘mid scenes of deepest gloom,
sometimes where Eden's flowers bloom,
by waters calm, o'er troubled sea,
still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me.
Lord, I would clasp thy hand in mine,
nor ever murmur nor repine;
content, whatever lot I see,
since 'tis my God that leadeth me.
And when my task on earth is done,
when, by thy grace, the victory's won,
e'en death's cold wave I will not flee,
since God through Jordan leadeth me.
Quotes to Ponder:
“The church becomes the mirror through which the bright ones see the glory of God.”
“We should desire to impress pure angels who offer praise to God when glorify God by how we love each other and together spread the Gospel [in] God’s way.”
July 7, 2013 Ephesians 3:14-21  Listen
The enjoyment of unseen spiritual realities prepares our hearts for unified daily living in God's glorious church.
June 30, 2013    Listen
June 23, 2013 Judges 17-18  Listen
This morning we will see what happens when we replace what is "fitting" for what God commands
June 16, 2013 Ephesians 3:10-13  Listen
We have adequate, divine resources to fulfill Christ's mission in a way that honors Him.
June 9, 2013 Ephesians 3:7-9  Listen
We have adequate, divine resources to fulfill Christ's mission in a way that honors Him.
Pastor's Notes:
Paul continues discussing the resources available to Christians in service of the “mystery.”  What was not formerly understood by everyone is now revealed: God offers the Gospel to all the world.  Paul’s focus shifts back to his person for these verses – but he is also describing you!  All members of the new, unified Christian family have a responsibility to carry out the mission.

Our Third Resource: Giftedness and Enablement
God gives each Christian a gift at salvation and enables them to use it in the spread of the Gospel.  Paul’s understanding and use of his own gift instructs us in three areas:
Two phrases reveal Paul’s demeanor.  He says, “I was made a minister.”  The word “minister” meant a waiter of tables, which was considered one of the lowest jobs in that culture.  This word is also translated “deacon” and “steward” in the New Testament.  We know Paul had a great influence on the church both then and now through his missionary journeys and penning two-thirds of the New Testament.  Yet he defines himself in the most humble role.

Paul calls himself “the very least of all saints.”  Even in the church, he considered himself last.  God is impartial, and He expects us to be impartial.  When we walk in to church, neither degree, car, clothing, job, house, or socio-economic status matters.  We should consider ourselves last in the line as we are humbly involved in ministry.

Yet Paul’s humble manner never led to inactivity.  In the Bible, humility is a response to receiving grace that we don’t deserve.  It compels us to dedicate our life in service to the Gospel.

You lose your spiritual effectiveness when you lose the spirit of servanthood.
Paul’s giftedness was a grace given to Him by God at the moment he was born again.  You too were given a superhuman ability to support the spread of the Gospel.  The source of this gift is God and His grace, and our use of it is empowered by God.

We use our gifts to minister to people within the context of the local church.  But internal service is not the ultimate end.  Exercising our gifts strengthens this body, which magnifies God’s glory, and allows us to spread the message of Christ beyond the church.  Everything we do is for this purpose.
Gifts are given “according to the working of [God’s] power”.  This is the same power that Paul experienced firsthand in Acts 9.  It is the same power that we experience when we are born again.  How much miraculous power did it take to change your heart and the direction of your life?  The same power carries us along and enables us to work out our gifts.
Paul’s gift was “to preach” and “to bring to light” – proclaiming and revealing the message of the Gospel.  Paul’s desire was to use his gift to expose the riches of Christ’s wealth to those who hadn’t seen it yet.  There are multi-faceted layers of beauty in the Gospel to enjoy.  We don’t want anyone to remain in the dark!

Paul makes a Creation reference to reveal spiritual truth.  God has shed spiritual light in our heart, and now we are a tool for Him to do the same for others. 
Application Points
  • There is a very unique way God has designed you to support the local ministry of this church.  Do you know what it is?  If not, work with a discipler to find out!  
  • When you know how God has gifted you, start ministering!  Our job is to live out our days in obedience to the ability God has given us.  Every day, you can learn a little bit more about how God has designed you to serve the purpose of the Gospel.
  • Do you take every opportunity to shine the light of the Gospel?  Every Christian has the ability.  Each is included in the family’s purpose, and is expected to carry the message of the Gospel to the world.  Are you doing your part?  Do you live a unique, joyful, and purposeful life in front of your family, coworkers, and neighbors?  This is our reasonable service – it’s just what we do when we have experienced the power of the Gospel.
Tools for Further StudyCross References to Explore: 
  • 1 Peter 4:10-11 – the unique purpose of spiritual gifts.
  • James 1:17, Genesis 1:3, Psalm 19:1-6 – God is the Creator of light.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:4-7 – We are light-bearers in a dark world.
A Hymn to Encourage:  “Lift High the Cross”
Lift High the Cross; the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Come, Christians, follow where our Savior trod --
Our King victorious, Christ, the son of God.
Lift High the Cross; the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
The hosts of God in conqu'ring ranks combine.
Lift High the Cross; the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

O Lord, once lifted on this glorious tree,
As Thou hast promised, draw men unto Thee.
Lift High the Cross; the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Set up Thy throne that Earth's despair may cease
Beneath the shadow of its healing peace.
Lift High the Cross; the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

For Thy blest Cross, which doth for all atone,
Creation's praises rise before Thy throne.
Lift High the Cross; the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Quotes to Ponder:
“Then and now, the man who is genuinely called by God is in constant danger of losing his effectiveness by coming to think of himself as more than a servant.  When he loses his sense of servanthood, at that same time, he loses his spiritual power and influence.”
“Paul recognizes that the dramatic intervention that transformed him from being an enemy into a friend of Christ was nothing less than an act of divine omnipotence.”
June 2, 2013 Ephesians 3:1-13  Listen
We have adequate, divine resources to fulfill Christ's mission in a way that honors Him.
Pastor's Notes:
Ephesians 3:1-13 is a “parenthesis” in Paul’s letter that redefines the content of 2:11-22.  It clarifies what we’ve been given in the mystery of God.  This mystery is essentially taking two separate entities, Jew and Gentile, and making one family out of all who own Jesus Christ as their Lord (1 Peter 2:9).  The single purpose of this one family is to let the whole world know about Jesus (John 17:20-21).

The Second Resource: The Proposal of the Gospel
The tense of the verb “revealed” in verse 5 indicates a past event but emphasizes the present.  This gives it a sense of urgency.  Every Christian should have an urgency that comes from God’s Spirit to spread the Gospel. 
Paul carried a divinely urgent message, that there are no more barriers between Jew and Gentile.  This was as revolutionary as Ronald Reagan’s “Tear down this wall” speech, and in fact more so because it had eternal spiritual implications!  This received understandable resistance from the Jews, who had ignored many Old Testament notices that the Messiah would also come to the Gentiles (see Psalm 72, Isaiah 11:10, and Isaiah 49:6 for examples).  As Christians, we should be exclusive in our message (only Jesus can save) but never exclusionary in who we share the Gospel with or welcome to church. 
God’s Gospel proposal is that all are invited to His new family.  As fellow heirs, all are welcomed into the same legal status before God.  As fellow members, all are linked together in normal church life with every other soul that is in Christ.  Many believe that Paul coined the word he uses here for “members,” to describe a new type of relationship that had never existed before!  The word “partakers” combines the two ideas.  All are joint sharers of the promise and the gift; all are on the board of directors. 
Application Point
There is a reason that God put you in His family and this church.  You have an eternal purpose here.  You should expect to reproduce yourself spiritually and to help others do the same, to get connected with the family.  There is no greater joy than to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world!

  • Are you pursuing the one purpose of the unified family God has created? 
  • Have you committed to pray to win one soul for Christ this year? 
  • What intentional steps is God leading you to take toward that goal?

Tools for Further Study
A Hymn to Encourage: 
“Chosen as His Children” by Paul Keew, text drawn from 1 Peter 1:1-2:10.
Chosen by the Father’s mercy, set apart to serve His Son,
Sanctified by His own Spirit— Praise the Holy Three in One!
Saved by resurrection power, shielded in His faithful love;
Now no enemy can tarnish my inheritance above!
I’m born again!
I’m God’s own chosen child of mercy!
Born again – what love and grace!
Father, keep me walking worthy
‘Til I look upon Your face.
Led by wisdom into suff’ring, grieved by many trials below,
Yet rejoicing in His purpose, that my faith as gold may glow.
Granted faith for overcoming, filled with love for Christ unseen;
Even angels cannot fathom what salvation God will bring!
Fixed upon this hope completely, as obedient children fear;
For the Holy One who called you purchased you with blood so dear.
Born anew from seed eternal, by His lovingkindness spurred,
Lay aside all tasteless yearnings— crave the true and living Word!
Built on Christ, the sure foundation, we are free from guilt and shame;
He is fitting us together as a house to praise His name!
We are chosen as God’s people, called from darkness into light;
O what mercy now entreats us to proclaim His glories bright!
May 26, 2013 Ephesians 3:1-13  Listen
We have adequate, divine resources to fulfill Christ's mission in a way that honors Him.
Pastor's Notes:
Just as a soldier’s backpack contains everything they need for survival and execution of their mission, Christians have been given adequate resources by God Himself.  As God’s soldiers, we are properly prepared to survive in the field of Christian service.

Ephesians 3:1-13 is the next paragraph in this letter.  We see the same phrase in verses 1 and 14, “for this reason.”  The verses in between are in effect a parentheses in which Paul reiterates many ideas from 2:11-22.  Paul repeats himself often, and it is not a flaw in his writing – we never understand a doctrine fully the first time we hear it.
The first resource to be a Gospel influence in our culture is our own person.
Paul calls himself “the prisoner of Christ Jesus,” not of the Romans, by whose orders he was under house arrest.  He knew that God controlled all his circumstances, and he was always looking for spiritual opportunities.  One author says, “This speaks of Paul’s perspective.  Perspective is everything as Christian Gospel soldiers.  God ordains the twists and turns of life, and within His governance, He weaves into the fabric of the dilemmas divine opportunity.”

Our Lord would never put us in a circumstance where we are useless to the Gospel.  He is already ahead of us and supplying for us.  If we would just be aware and pray for discernment to see the opportunity, He is ready to use us.
We are never prisoners of our circumstances.  They are always overseen by our Sovereign Lord, and even within hardship, there is always opportunity for Christ.
Paul endured affliction for the sake of others.  We need to see fellow believers take advantage of God’s grace as they endure affliction, and our faithful lives are always for the glory of God and so others may see how capable God’s grace has been through our perseverance.
A person of the Gospel must take a biblical view of authority.  Those who are in leadership need to pay special attention to adjust their heart toward biblical authority.  In the framework of Gospel ministry, there is spiritual unity within divine structure. 

Paul views his time to serve the Lord as a gift which he must steward wisely.  The authority is not his own, but has been given to him by God for the benefit of others. 

Any person governed by the Spirit of God dislikes pulling the authority card, and any Spirit-governed person loves, embraces and follows God’s authority structure, so long as the leader is following the Lord and adhering to Scripture.  No one is exempt from authority; everyone follows someone and everyone is leading someone.
Application Points
  • Assess your own person and heart.  What is your attitude towards affliction in your own life?  Do you consider your circumstances to be of God?  Do you pray to see the spiritual opportunities that God has prepared for you in every situation?
  • Examine your affection.  Are your works for the glory of God and for others, or are they to gain attention for yourself?  Are you affectionately demonstrating towards God’s flock the greatness of God’s grace in your life?  Have you allowed a situation to sideline you from active duty?  What adjustments do you need to make?
  • Is your heart in alignment with biblical authority?  Do those who know you best see you submit to God-ordained authority with joy?  Are you attending to your personal gifting and ministry within that structure?
Tools for Further Study
Cross References to Explore: 
  • 2 Peter 1:15, Mark 4:1-25 – the importance of remembering, reviewing, and continued learning.
  • Colossians 4:1-4 – always looking for spiritual opportunity for the Gospel.
  • 1 Peter 5:4-7 – humility under God’s hand.
  • Philippians 1:1-14 – Paul’s afflictions always resulted in the furtherance of the Gospel.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:8-15, Colossians 1:24-27 – Paul endured hardship for others’ benefit.
  • 1 Corinthians 9, 2 Corinthians 4 – Paul’s authority.
  • Hebrews 13:17 – God’s people joyfully submit to biblical authority.
A Hymn to Encourage:  “May the Lord Find Us Faithful”
God has not given us the spirit of fear,
But has given us the strength to obey
With power and sound mind, with love, the unfailing kind.
O be not ashamed of His way!
May the Lord find us faithful;
May His Word be our banner held high.
May the Lord find us faithful
Every day, thought we live, though we die.
No man that seeketh after things of this life
Is a soldier who passes the test.
Be faithful, be working, be running, be serving,
Be searching His Word for His best.
Living or dying, may honor be Thine.
From this wretched life, You loved and forgave.
A life that is on fire, be only our heart’s desire.
Be faithful from now ‘til the grave.
May 19, 2013 Ephesians 2:11-22  Listen
From alienation to restoration.
Pastor's Notes:
In this passage, Paul applies the truths from verses 1-10 to a specific problem in the church he wrote to: disunity among those who were already made one in Christ. 

Main Sections:
We were always Enemies of God (verses 11-12).
The Ephesian church experienced two types of alienation.  The first was communal estrangement:  The cultural community of the Jews had great disdain for Gentiles, but this was not to be the heart of those Jews who were now Christians. 

Spiritual:  The Gentiles had been “separate from Christ,” with no true King to govern them.  They had been “excluded from the commonwealth of Israel,” not part of God’s plan for Israel.  They were “strangers to the covenants of promise” given through Abraham and David.  They had “no hope” because true hope only comes from God and through His promises.  They were “without God in the world.”
We are now a Spiritual Family in Christ (verses 13-18) .
When we are saved, we’re placed into God’s family together with all other people who have trusted Jesus Christ for salvation, regardless of culture, nation, or background.  We no longer want to be defined by what we came from.  We are all loved the same; there is no favoritism with God. 

Two virtues become realities in the family of God: a settled heart and a new environment.  Note how many times “peace” is used in these verses.  God’s intent for His family is not just proximity but togetherness.  This word for “new” refers to something of a different kind.  When God takes both Jew and Gentile and makes them one, it is something the world has never seen before!

As members of God’s family, we enjoy a new environment in prayer.  What a privilege it is to talk to God as a father!  We could never have access to God without the mediator of Jesus Christ or the Spirit who underpins the ministry of the Son. 
Three Metaphors for our Restoration (verses 19-22):
Citizens of a Heavenly Realm – We are no longer primarily Jews, Gentiles, Americans, or any other label.  We are Christians and have a higher citizenship (Philippians 3:20).
Members of a Divine Household – God wants us even closer than citizens of His kingdom.  We are called children of God along with Christ.
Stones in God’s Temple – Christ is the chief cornerstone; the Word given through the prophets and apostles forms the foundation; and each stone is fitted together and perfectly arranged according to God’s blueprint.
Application Points
  • Where do you place your identity?  Is it located in a social or cultural group?  How can you find your identity in Christ above anything else?
  • Labels from our past don’t matter anymore when we are saved.  Is there any enmity in your heart towards a fellow believer?  Ask the Holy Spirit to work His unity in your heart so you can work it out in our local church.  This is God’s design for His people!
  • Prayer is a privilege to be exercised privately and together.  Do you make regular, focused time to talk with your Heavenly Father?  How can you practice this in your life?  Do you meet with your spiritual family to pray?  God ordains the local church to sustain us spiritually.  Praying together is crucial to our unity as a body.
  • Each stone in God’s Temple is precisely placed and expertly fitted.  That means God puts you exactly where you are for a reason!  Our placement is not of our own will but God’s, and He has a divine purpose for you here.  Do you know it?  Are you living it out?
Tools for Further Study
Cross References to Explore: 
  • James 2:1-7, Colossians 3:19, Philippians 4:2-3, Acts 15:37-39, 2 Timothy 4:10, Matthew 18:15-20, Galatians 6, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 – Sinful separation even in the church and how to resolve it.
  • Romans 2:28-29, John 4:1-42, Romans 4:9-12, Ezekiel 11:19-20 – God cares not about externals but the heart.
  • Genesis 12-15 – God’s covenant promises to Abraham.
  • Jeremiah 31 – The new covenant.
  • Psalm 146:5 – Hope comes from God’s promises.
  • Romans 1:19-20 – Gentile separation from God.
  • James 4:1-3 – The source of disunity is sin.
  • Isaiah 9:6 – One of Jesus’ names is Peace.
  • 1 Timothy 2:5 – Jesus as our Mediator.
  • Hebrews 4:16, Romans 8:15 – We too are sons with Christ.
  • Hebrews 2:11, Romans 8:17 – We have been taken into God’s household.
  • Isaiah 28:16, Psalm 118:22-23, Matthew 21:42 – God’s Temple.
A Hymn to Encourage:  “Like a River Glorious”
Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth fuller every day;
Perfect, yet it groweth deeper all the way.
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed,
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.
Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully all for us to do;
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.
May 12, 2013 Various  Listen
Mother's Day Message

2013 Sermon Archives