Part 5: Empowered
Sunday May 1, 2016
You’re Empowered! – Ephesians 6:10-17
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.
Belt of Truth
A soldier’s belt was not just an adornment, it was also an essential piece of military equipment. The belt was crafted of tough leather strips and small brass plates for extra protection. Wrapping about the loins, this leather belt clung closely to the soldier and shielded some of the most vulnerable areas of the body.
When preparing for battle, a soldier would put on his belt first. The belt was designed to keep the soldier’s uniform and other pieces of armor in place, especially his sword.
“You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
Body Armor of Righteousness
The breastplate, was a soldier’s protection for his chest and abdominal areas. Crafted of metal bands it afforded critical protection from powerful blows. Before battle, a soldier would fasten the breastplate around his chest like a vest to protect his vital organs. If a soldier failed to wear his breastplate, an arrow could easily pierce his heart or lungs.
“Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.” Matthew 15:18-21
Shoes of Peace
No soldier can go far without the proper shoes. Even with all his other weapons, a barefoot soldier would soon become immobilized by the rough terrain taking its toll on his feet. In Bible times, the breaking of a soldier’s shoe was a metaphor for weakness or defeat signifying that a soldier’s effectiveness was largely dependent upon his shoes.
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27
Shield of Faith
The Roman shield was made from bonded wood strips and covered with leather. The shield was not flat but semi-circular so that any missiles thrown at the soldier would be deflected to one side. The shield had a metal projection in the center which was used to stun or wind an opponent, easing the soldier’s subsequent strike with his sword. For this reason, the shield was both a defensive tool and an offensive weapon.
Even the enemy’s fiery darts (arrows tipped with a flammable liquid then set on fire) were ineffective against the Roman shields because the Romans drenched their leather-covered shields with water before going to battle.
And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you. Luke 17:19
“Daughter, be encouraged, your faith has made you well.” Matthew 9:22
Helmet of Salvation
A Roman soldier’s helmet protected a soldier’s skull and neck from enemy blows and falling debris. Fashioned from bronze or iron, the helmet included two hinged side pieces to protect the cheekbones and jaw. Helmets were often lined inside with sponge or felt for the sake of comfort.
The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock! May the God of my salvation be exalted! Psalm 18:46
And he will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ Psalm 89:26
Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Psalm 95:1
Sword of the Spirit: the Word of God
The Roman sword, or gladius, was crafted of iron. Blacksmiths hardened the iron by coating the red-hot sword blade with coal dust, thus forming a hard carbon coating on the blade.
The Romans used their swords both offensively and defensively. Used in a defensive manner, the sword, along with the other armor pieces, enabled the soldier to deflect the enemy’s blows. As an offensive weapon, the sword was used to attack and counter-attack an enemy.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Where are you most vulnerable?
Truth – Righteousness – Peace – Faith – Salvation – God’s Word
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm.
Part 4: Gifted
Sunday April 24, 2016
Lessons From Geese:
-Those in front rotate their leadership. When one lead goose gets tired, it changes places with one in the wing of the V-formation and another flies point.
-By flying as they do, the members of the flock create an upward air current for one another. Each flap of the wings literally creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. Studies have shown that by flying in a V-formation, the whole flock gets 71 percent greater flying range than if each goose flew on its own.
-When one goose gets sick or wounded, two fall out of formation with it and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with the struggler until it’s able to fly again.
-The geese in the rear of the formation are the ones who do the honking. It’s their way of announcing that they’re following and that all is well encouraging those in front to stay at it.
You’re Gifted – Ephesians 4:4-16
For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching.
We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
2 Ways the Bible Describes the Church
Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him. Ephesians 2:20
The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:12,27
“God has given you unique abilities, talents, and gifts. This bundle of gifts is the thing God has given you that makes you who you are and sets you apart from other people. If you think your gifts and talents are simply for you to make a lot of money, retire, and die, you’ve missed the point of your life. God gave you gifts to benefit others, not yourself. And God gave other people talents that benefit you. We’re all a part of the body of Christ, and each part matters. There are no insignificant people in the family of God.”
– Pastor Rick Warren
Administration – Apostleship – Craftsman – Discernment – Mercy
Evangelism – Miracles – Exhortation – Faith – Leadership – Music
Giving – Helping – Healing – Hospitality – Pastor – Prophecy
Spiritual Discernment – Teaching – Tongues – Interpretation of Tongues – Wisdom
Have you discovered your gifts?
Are you using your gifts?
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others.”
1 Peter 4:10
Part 3: United
Sunday April 17, 2016
Best Rivalries of All Time…
An Ancient Rivalry – Ephesians 3:11-22, 4:1-4
Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.
He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
-joined together for a common purpose, or by common feelings.
-people or groups working together to achieve something in common.
Mosaic: Many individual pieces of various material put together to form a beautiful work of art.
United by Christ
But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ…in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.
United as Family
So now you are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.
United for Each Other
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling…Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.
You Are United!
Part 2: Masterpiece
Sunday April 10, 2016
What would you buy?
$75.1 Million No 1 (Royal Red and Blue) by Mark Rothko.
$80M Turquoise Marilyn by Andy Warhol.
$82.5M Portrait of Dr. Gachet by Vincent van Gogh
$95.2 M Dora Maar au Chat by Pablo Picasso
$250 M The Card Players by Paul Cézanne
It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. Ephesians 2:1-9 The Message
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things
he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT
Poema (Greek): workmanship, masterpiece, creation…the root of our English word poem.
God says, “You’re my poem. You’re my masterpiece. I’ve uniquely formed you with talents, abilities, personality, and experiences, and I want you to use them.”
You’re not just wanted; you’re needed!
You’re needed in your church. You are needed in your community. You are needed in this world. God didn’t create you to just sit around collecting dust. God brought you here to make a contribution with your life! -Pastor Rick Warren
While the art industry celebrates the return of the stolen Cezanne masterpiece
“Boy in a Red Waistcoat,” worth 131 million dollars, recovered in Serbia, thousands of other famous stolen works of art continue to be traded on the black market or collect dust in storage.
According to the Art Loss Register, an international index of stolen works, there are 350,000 stolen works of art in the world. Stolen art goes underground to the black market and trades among criminals at about 5 to 10 percent of its true value.
Poppy Flowers by Vincent van Gogh, worth an estimated $55 million, was stolen from Cairo’s Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum in August 2010 and is still yet to be found.
What am I good for?
Answer 1 of 2 questions…
#1 Where is God already at work?
- In the world
- In my community
- In my church
#2 Where is your concern?
- What do you want to see changed?
- Who do you feel affinity with or compassion for?
Mosaic: Many individual pieces of various material put together to form a beautiful work of art.
Part 1: Chosen
Sunday April 3, 2016
Ephesians: Paul’s Letter to the Church at Ephesus
- Date of Writing: 62 AD from prison in Rome
- Major Theme: Our True Identity
- Genre: Circular Epistle
The city of Ephesus was the seacoast capital of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), and was one of the Roman Empire’s great religious, political, and commercial centers.
Paul spent almost three years in Ephesus longer than any other place after he started his missionary journeys. It was probably written while Paul was in house arrest in Rome implied by how he made several allusions to his imprisonment in the letter (Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; 6:20).
The famous Temple of Diana, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was situated in Ephesus. This mighty structure had taken more than 200 years to build and was the center of Diana-worship, which we read about in Acts 19:23-41. As a huge temple it served as a fitting illustration to Paul, when he wrote his Epistle to the Ephesians, of the nature of the true church.
You’ve Been Chosen – Ephesians 1:1-10
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
Adopting a New Metaphor
In modern law, we do not become heirs until someone dies. Paul’s metaphor fails in modern law because we can’t be God’s heirs without God’s death. But in Roman law, all the members of a family held their property jointly with the paterfamilias (family father). All children of any age—natural or adopted—were already heirs while their father lived and had joint control of their property. However, while a father could legally disown a natural born child, he was permanently bound to any adopted child.
God has chosen us to belong to an everlasting family and Paul uses the metaphor of his culture’s adoption laws to depict a purposeful bond that can never be broken that entitles family members to the same status as the father.
While the Greek gods would reward their own children or grandchildren for heroic acts, their treatment of humans, who could boast no divine ancestry, was often exploitative or punitive. Only mortals who behaved in a wholly moral, humble manner could hope to be rewarded by the gods.
-God and Men in Greek Religion
God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan…And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people.
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us.
What does it mean to be chosen?
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”
“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost. ”
-Jesus from Luke 19:10
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
-Jesus from John 15:16
“You are God’s favorite! This truth was explained to me in the company of Jesus Christ and the angels of heaven. Within our perception of the finite nature of the world, being favored and giving favor is choosing one over the many. But in God’s infinite capacity for love, God favors each us just as we are. This is one of the most important lessons my teachers were trying to teach me.”
-Pastor Howard Storm (near-death experience)
What does it mean to be chosen?
You’re Known!…You’re Wanted!..You’re Vital!