BSF Genesis: Week 20, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

11.
25:23, Two nations are in your womb,    and two peoples from within you will be separated;one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

12
a.
He sought to give his blessing over to Isaac in secret

b.
He sought to place the blessing onto his favored son, not the one God chose.  In Chapter 28 he again blesses Isaac, without any deceit involved and sends him to get a wife from a tribe of believers.

13.
a.
Obedient, but had same ditches to trip in as did his father.  He is noted as praying, meditating and trusting in God.  He loved one son over another.  He was blessed by God.

b.
Time with God, trusting and obeying Him leads to blessings to bring honor to God

c.
Know our inherited weaknesses and don’t trip

My Daily Journal:

I was struck by the way the joy of the Lord overflows into answering our prayers and questions.  Rebekah asked, what is going on in my womb.  God could have answered, you are having twins.  But, He didn’t stop there.  He doesn’t talk just about what is going on right now, but tells her about the future and His plans as well.

That abundant answer to simple questions is evident throughout the bible.  God’s answer to prayer over and over again is “I am executing the plan to bring my Son to save you.”  We pray and focus on today’s challenges.  God answers those, but also the bigger picture.

Illustration:  you are ship wrecked in the middle of the ocean, adrift on debris and you have a hangnail.  You pray to God about your hangnail.  He answers and helps comfort you, but also reminds you that He is sending the boat to rescue you from the sea. (Disclaimer: I am not trying to equate the pain of carrying twins with a hangnail… Just an illustration of the temporal versus the eternal).

BSF Acts: Week 24, Day 5: Ephesians 5:22–6:9

Questions:

12. At the center is love, and not just any love, but the love like Christ had to sacrifice all for those He loved.  Christ became fully man.  A man invests himself fully in his wife, holding nothing back.  This isn’t 50/50 it is “all in”

13. How often my first thought is “I want them to” or “I need them to” whether at home, work or even church.  When my focus is on receiving I cannot be focused on giving or loving.

Thoughts:

There is a very significant call to husbands in these verses.  I think, too often, people get stuck on the wives submit to your husbands line.  But the expectation and call that is placed on husbands is hugely significant, and goes hand in hand with this statement to wives.  Verses 25 and 26 state, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy…” This isn’t a theoretical I would be willing to die for my wife sentiment.  (I would catch a grenade for you, fall on a blade for you – sorry, broke into song there for a minute.)  This is a decision to love so much that you step down from every right and honor that might be due to you for the purpose of loving and serving and building up another to make her holy, clean, without stain or wrinkle.  It is not, what would you do, but what have you done and what are you willing to do every day.  As a husband, how much of your time and life is focused on yourself.  If we choose to marry we are judged by the holiness of our household.

Do men know how to love like that?  Only through Christ and only through examples of God-fearing men in the church.  This is not something promoted by society, culture or schools.  But it is what is right and true.

I love my wife and I find that my love for her grows deeper the more I learn of the bible.  I can see so many ways that God is working in her life and it is easier and more natural for me to give thanks for the blessings I see flowing through her even more so than in my own life.

And Paul doesn’t stop with husbands and wives.  He included instructions for children and parents, particularly fathers:  Don’t exasperate your children.  What an interesting verb: Irritate intensely; infuriate.  How do fathers irritate and infuriate their children?  how do they fail them? When they fail to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  Children want to do what is right, but how do they learn and know – only when the parents provide opportunities for them to learn.

The same principles apply in those we work with.  Never forget, we all report to the same boss, the same Lord and master and He does not play favorites because of any earthly positions.

BSF Acts: Week 24, Day 3: Ephesians 4:9–16

Questions:

6. Apostles: founders, leaders, backbone of church;  prophets: speakers of God’s unwritten truth, listen and tell His direction;  evangelists: Going forth to spread the good news to those who have not heard or do not understand; pastors: shepherds of a local flock of believers; teacher: those who explain and encourage believers in the word of God

7. By preparing God’s people for works of service we build up (strengthen) the body.  We do this through bringing people to faith, teaching, supporting, helping structure local places and practices, so they can do the work that God has called them to do with the skills and knowledge passed on by the holy spirit through the church

8.

a. As we mature in faith, Christ’s dwelling in us increases up to the full measure.  This fullness anchors us, like a rock in a bag, so that we are not tossed about by false teaching, whims, deceit, cunning and craftiness

b. By doing the work in my head to grow the spirit’s home in my heart.  He brings strength and weight and an anchor to my life – a firm foundation in Christ

9.

a. Talk more about God and specifically what the Lord is doing or what I am asking Him to do.

b. This is not an argument, it is prayer.  We speak the truth in love more by actions than words

c. Study and prayer.  I need to work to remove the hoarding in my temple so God can dwell fully

d. Flex, but don’t break.  Bend to reach out to others as God, in grace, bent down to save me.

Discussion:

Let’s look deeper at 4:11 and 12.  “It was He who gave some to be…”  the offices of the church and the people who serve in them are commissioned and selected, i.e., called by God.  While we may have processes in place to identify and select people for certain jobs in the church, our efforts should be directed to affirm God’s calling.  When it comes to leadership in the body of believers, God has already decided who is going to do what, we just need to listen prayerfully to His choices.

“some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers”  Depending on how you count the last, this is either 4 or 5 distinct jobs in the church.  We often expect our leaders to be able to “do it all.”  But Christ calls people to different roles.  Now, it may be that He calls one person to different roles at different times in life, but we should expect that He has identified specific people at a specific time to serve in each of these specific roles within a body of believers.

“to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”  Newsflash: the purpose of church is not entertainment.  Even if we are not called into one of the 4 or 5 offices of the church, we are still called to do works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.  We are in the construction business, not the demolition business.  Our work of service is to get underneath people and lift them up.  God lays a new foundation under them – puts a new structure on the outside of them (new creation) all while filling them up with all new insides (the spirit) and, by grace, he let’s us play a part in that service.

At the BSF conference we were encouraged to learn about some of the heretical teaching of our day, to read some of the popular books that deny everything from the existence of heaven to the virgin birth to many other truths of scripture.  As I’ve read the books, what I have found is shoddy workmanship.  Rather than building to code, they are like bad builders who want to cut corners.  It sounds like a bargain at first, but then you see the cracks, the paint peels, the floor boards come loose, the roof like and the air conditioning doesn’t work.  I don’t want help from these builders – I want help from someone who follows building code standards – and, for a Christian life, those are all printed in one place, the bible.

BSF Acts: Week 24, Day 2: Ephesians 4:1–8

Questions:

3. Live (i.e., do the work God designed for us to do, not be idle or spectators of life), be completely humble and gentle, be patient, make every effort to keep the unity of the spirt through the bond of peace (Christ is peace)

4. the unity of the spirt through the bond of peace

b. Eph 2:14 says, “He (Christ) himself is our peace.”  So unity with the spirit through peace is being in Christ and the Spirit in us – united.  We keep unity with others through the work of the spirit, not by anything we craft or do: We should pray to live life each day as God designed with the work He designed in advance for us to do through the power of the Sprit in us in communion with the saints (fellow believers) in His church.

c. According to Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Shakespearean Criticism, 1930), Organic Unity “is innate; it shapes as it develops itself from within and the fullness of its development is one and the same with the perfection of its outward form. ” Organic unity is the unifying thread that makes all the parts come together, from the inside out, joined in one form so that everything is unified.  In the bible this is reflected in 1 Chor 1:12: “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”

Organizational Conformity is outward in.  It is a set of norms and rules, goals and missions that are shared and observed but each part of the organization does not change within.  In scripture Christ observed organization conformity in Matt 22:21a: “Give to caesar what is caesar’s.” Also in Heb 13:17a “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.”

d. To remember that the design of the church is to live in communion with man and God.  We should learn and teach, support, pray and work in unity with the spirit not being divisive or burdensome but loving and true.

5.

  1. one body: One church, not many churches, one as the bride of Christ to serve as he commands
  2. one spirit: A single entity (God) indwelling within all believers.  Not different spirits in us, but one spirit in all.
  3. one hope: The thing all believers long for is the same, to be reunited forever with our savior in God’s kingdom
  4. one Lord: We all serve the same Lord and master, not different Kings with different rules and privileges
  5. one faith: We believe in the same thing – Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again.
  6. one baptism: We have all been washed completely clean of our sins through grace – no difference, all pure/white
  7. one God: The alpha and omega – there is only one God and Father of all.  He is consistent and true.

 

Additional Thoughts:

I thought this was an exciting segment to dive deep into and I loved the questions today.  First and foremost, we are called to “live life.”  I think we forget that sometimes and let life live us.  We go through the motions of another day.  We plop down in front of the TV to be fed stuff (that is the polite word) largely developed by others who do not share similar standards for not causing another to stumble.  Even at church we show up to be entertained or to “get something out of it”.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing against being fed, rested, inspired or even entertained, but those are inputs that should enable us to live.  They are filling stations, not the final destination.

I attended one of the BSF seminars this past week and the Assistant Teaching Leader really highlighted how the seminars are designed to fit into the structure of BSF.  Our groups and daily lessons are designed to feed and equip us, to grow, to share fellowship, to pray for each other, to learn and study.  The seminars are designed to help prepare us to do something with all of that and take it out into the world.  I thought that was great perspective and it was a really good seminar to help lead a small group in a bible study.

BSF Acts: Week 23: Lecture

Aim: God has a purpose for me and for you

Why?  Why?  Why?  We love to ask that question.

Why do I have to?  Why did you?  Why did that happen?  Why didn’t that happen?  Why am I here?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Why do bad people do well?  Why? Why?

But, so often we approach that question not really wanting an answer we just want to gripe and complain.  But, here is the answer, even when we are only fake asking:  Why?  Because it is part of God’s plan. Period.

Now, we may not always understand God’s plan and we sometimes may not like God’s plan, but who do you think is better at a making a plan?  Us or God?

Let’s look at how He communicated this to the Ephesian church through Paul:

1st Division: Eph 2: 1-10 We are made alive through faith in Christ

Principle: God has work for us to do

Illustration: Our job is to work – that is what it means to have a job – that is what it means to have purpose – that is part of the answer to the question “why?”  The work we do is not to earn something (wages or favor), it is simply what members of the family do.  In your family you have jobs.  They are not things others need you to do – let’s face it, your parents have far more experience and skill at doing most of the things than you do and sometimes they could do them faster than having you do them.  (sorry to burst your bubble).  But, if you do not participate, you are not part of the family – see that word participate – it starts with “part” and means you have to do your part.  If you don’t you aren’t.  God gives us work so we can be part-icipants in His family.

Applications: Are you doing work to be a part or to get something special?  Are you doing work gratefully or grudgingly?  What is God asking you to do but you are denying or hesitating?

2nd Division: Eph 2:11-3:13 Christ provides unity for believers

Principle: Christ’s church was a mystery

Illustration: Have you ever seen a magic trick?  A magic trick is kind of like a mystery.  To people on the stage, there is  no mystery, they know what, when and how everything happens.  But to people that choose to just sit and watch, they don’t understand, it is unclear.  The difference is perspective and revelation.  Jesus revealed to Paul the mystery.  God revealed it to Paul, Peter, Isaiah, etc. etc.  There was no lack of information.  But there were lots of people who chose to view things from their comfy seats in the audience.

The church of Christ – Jews and Gentiles, was always God’s plan.  It is not, “for God so loved the Jews”  God loved the world – and, thank God, because otherwise we would not be on the stage and part of the show!

Application:  Are you curious or just wanting to be entertained?  Have you made up your mind or do you continue to ask and learn?

3rd Division: Eph 3:14-21 Paul’s prayer for Ephesus

Principle: God is glorified through His power in His church (you and me)

Illustration:

“Filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”.  What an interesting statement.  It is easy to pass over because at first glance it sounds common.  I’m old enough to remember my dad pulling up to the filling station.  ding, ding.  The station attendant jogged out and my dad would say, “fill ‘er up with ethyl.”  But, wait a minute – while that is where this verse starts, it actually says more.  Let’s take a deeper look.

In greek, the first filled is the word πληρόω plēroō, (strongs G4137).  This literally means to fill it as full as is possible – that another drop would over flow, that another grain would fall off.  Literally that there can be no more.

Now, most of us would look at that and say – filled is filled. Anything over filled is spilled and wasted, right?

But Paul doesn’t go there.  He goes on to say filled to all the fullness of God.  The second fullness is πλήρωμα plērōma (strongs G4138).  In the New Testament verses, this word takes on additional meaning: the body of believers, as that which is filled with the presence, power, agency, riches of God and of Christ.  In particular, it is the same word used in Colossians 2:9, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”.

See, even in this seemingly simple verse Paul is continuing to emphasize this important message.  He doesn’t want us to be filled in accordance with what our earthly selves can hold.  He is praying that we are filled to the fullness that Christ in us can hold – He is praying that we are filled with the fullness of the Deity in bodily form – He is praying that we are filled not to the level we can manage but to the level God can manage, not with human limits but with holy limits (are there holy limits or is it limitless?)

But what a contrast that is to how I think – I think that I have a tank that holds a certain amount, just like the tank on our car.  Filling it any fuller just would overflow on the ground and be wasted.  But I am no longer just me when I am a Christian.  I am no longer just me when I am a Christian.  (that repetition was on purpose – don’t make me say it a third time :-) ). I am the church.  I am the body of Christ.  I am the body of believers.  I am the power, agency and riches of God and of Christ.  I am limitless in God’s eyes.

Application: How are you asking God to fill you up?

BSF Acts: Week 23, Day 5: Ephesians 3:14–21

Questions

13. a. Strength through his spirit, power to grasp the magnitude of the love of Christ

b. My co-leader when he is instructing the children.  I can sense and hear the holy spirit speaking through him.  It is someone who gives up themselves to be filled by the spirit to share the word of God and reveal His love to others.

14. How I underestimate and under utilize God’s power.  My approach is to pray to God to have an earthmover standing by just in case my shovel breaks.

Additional Thoughts:

“Filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”.  What an interesting statement.  It is easy to pass over because at first glance it sounds common.  I’m old enough to remember my dad pulling up to the filling station.  ding, ding.  The station attendant jogged out and my dad would say, “fill ‘er up with ethyl.”  But, wait a minute – while that is where this verse starts, it actually says more.  Let’s take a deeper look.

In greek, the first filled is the word πληρόω plēroō, (strongs G4137).  This literally means to fill it as full as is possible – that another drop would over flow, that another grain would fall off.  Literally that there can be no more.

Now, most of us would look at that and say – filled is filled. Anything over filled is spilled and wasted, right?

But Paul doesn’t go there.  He goes on to say filled to all the fullness of God.  The second fullness is πλήρωμα plērōma (strongs G4138).  In the New Testament verses, this word takes on additional meaning: the body of believers, as that which is filled with the presence, power, agency, riches of God and of Christ.  In particular, it is the same word used in Colossians 2:9, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”.

See, even in this seemingly simple verse Paul is continuing to emphasize this important message.  He doesn’t want us to be filled in accordance with what our earthly selves can hold.  He is praying that we are filled to the fullness that Christ in us can hold – He is praying that we are filled with the fullness of the Deity in bodily form – He is praying that we are filled not to the level we can manage but to the level God can manage, not with human limits but with holy limits (are there holy limits or is it limitless?)

But what a contrast that is to how I think – I think that I have a tank that holds a certain amount, just like the tank on our car.  Filling it any fuller just would overflow on the ground and be wasted.  But I am no longer just me when I am a Christian.  I am no longer just me when I am a Christian.  (that repetition was on purpose – don’t make me say it a third time :-)). I am the church.  I am the body of Christ.  I am the body of believers.  I am the power, agency and riches of God and of Christ.  I am limitless in God’s eyes.

Fill ‘er up! Amen.

BSF Acts: Week 23, Day 4: Ephesians 3:1–13

Questions:

11. a. Through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

b. God’s purpose to bring all things together under Christ, all as one body all share the same promise – that Christ is in us and we are in Christ and able to approach God with freedom and confidence. – also given specifically to Peter by revelation (Acts 11:1-18), and it is consistent with prophecy in the Old Testament (such as Isaiah 49:6) and the specific words of Jesus (Acts 1:8)

12. That regardless of how much I and them might feel there is an un-crossable chasm, God has purposed that we will be joined together and that, in truth, we already are in Him if we both believe and profess.  No matter the barrier (pain, disagreement, wrong, anger), it was destroyed on the cross.

Final Thoughts:

Let’s discuss the word mystery.  What an interesting word.  For most of us, it brings to mind Sherlock Holmes and deductive reasoning.  But in the context here it is actually a much simpler meaning.

As a visual reference, think about a door frame in your house.  On one side of the door frame is the answer to all of lives big questions (why am I here, where did I come from, what is everything all about, is there a God, what happens to us after we die, etc., etc.).  From where you stand you can see people gazing up at the wall above the door, but on your side it is just painted wall.  You see them living differently.  You see them dropping to their knees.  You see them loving and sacrificing everything worldly for the message.

But, here’s the thing that makes it a mystery.  You can’t understand it, you can’t know it without passing through the doorway and, you can only pass through the doorway by accepting that it is where the answer lies.  Once you are through, you can’t imagine not knowing ever again.

This is the mystery of faith – it is shielded on the other side of the door, but by crossing through the door (Christ) we have already received all of the blessings of God.  The words on the wall are not the critical element, although they are of help and benefit and growth to us – crossing through the doorway is the what it is all about.

In the Roman Catholic faith there is a great element of the order of mass related to this:

Priest:  Let us proclaim the mystery of faith: 
All
AChrist has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Doxology and Great Amen:
Priest
:  Through him, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever.

For the first to have meaning we must step through the door.  When we step through the door we accept Christ and realize everything is about him: through him, with him, in him.  The entire reason for everything pivots around Jesus.

BSF Acts: Week 23, Day 3: Ephesians 2:11–22

Questions:

7. a. where they came from: gentiles, uncircumcised, separate from Christ, excluded, foreigners, without hope, without God

b. The blessing that He gave me from a loving family and great church education and how far I fell from that promise before coming back to Him, but then also the power that He has entrusted to me by calling me to be holy and a brother of His son.

c. Remembering helps me understand how deeply God dug the foundation pillars with me.  Despite all but ignoring Him for several years, the foundation was strong and did not waiver.  He had work for me to do and each day He reveals more of what that is.

8. a. Negotiation, mutual compromise, give and take, mutually beneficial scenarios, promises and agreements, “aid”, war (peace by submission)

b. He is peace.  He made the two one (human and heavenly).  Abolished the law.  one out of two, making peace, reconciled

c. It is not a bargain, it is of God, by God and only is possible when it is with God.  There is no other lasting peace.

9. peace, no barrier, no wall of hostility, law abolished, joined (1 out of 2), reconciled, no hostility, 1 body, peace to far away and peace to near: both have access to the Father by the one Spirit

10. They are non-existent – we are one body in Christ, there is no difference or separation in God’s eyes as He views the church.  Near or far (I’m not sure which I am, the near or far) both have the same access to the Father and the One Spirit.

Final Thoughts:

1.This whole concept of peace negotiations is really critical to understand.  There are so many ways that earthly thinking (our world view) is so upside-down compared to God thinking.  I mean, even the term: peace negotiation.  Christ didn’t negotiate peace.  He didn’t offer a deal or coerce us into accepting something by threat, intimidation or force.  Could He have – well: He created everything and everyone and is all powerful.  I’m pretty sure the answer to that is yes.  But that isn’t what he did.  Peace with God is not a deal or state of time or condition of practice.  Peace is a being.  Peace is Christ: Christ is peace.  Stop a minute and get your head around that:  peace isn’t a what or a how, it is a who.  The only way to be “in peace” is to be “in Christ.”

We (humans) were not with God – because of sin we had separated from God.  Jesus Christ destroyed the wall, in him he took what was two and made it one again.  In dying on the cross, when he defeated death and rose again.  He did it as God and man combined in one.  The what he did cannot be separate from the who He is – joining us into Him joins us into Peace by making us holy as He is holy.  Being outside of Him is an un-natural and unstable state.  We were made in God’s image to be in communion with God.  The unstable state is sin and separation; the stable state (the one He created and designed) is peace in communion with Him. No wonder we have so much turbulence in a world that continues to live a outside of Christ.

2. Differences:  I live in a prominent suburban neighborhood and attend a church in city/county with a significantly above average household income.  And, the “Us helping Them” movements drive me insane.  Yes, I and people I sit in the rows with have money, education and resources at our disposal, but as soon as we enter into a mindset that we need to help them, we create a wall – the same kind of wall that Paul is trying to teach the Ephesians to not have in place.  We are the church, not this church and that church.  We need to give for the needs of the church, not for us to help them, because there isn’t an us and them (other than supporting missionaries who are going out to people who are not yet in the church).  Whenever we draw lines of white churches, black churches, hispanic churches, wealthy churches, poor churches, people with house, homeless people, well-fed people, hungry people – we put up a wall that separates.  Christ didn’t do walls – he ate with tax collectors, he healed lepers, he talked with prostitutes and thieves.  He even died for sinners to pay the price for their sins (that is you and me that we’re talking about).

Give generously and joyfully as your heart allows, but give with thanks to God not with guilt to demonstrate you have more or are better than “them.”  If you hear someone talk about helping “them” in your church – please, stop them.  There is no them in the body of the church – just us – helping each other through Christ.  Amen?

BSF Acts: Week 23, Day 2: Ephesians 2:1–10

Questions:

3. a. As good as dead with no redeeming qualities.

b. As Paul told the Corinthians: Do I live a changed life, do I know the H/S is in me, working, Do I claim the gift of Jesus?

4. 4. Loved, 5. Made alive with Christ, 5. Done even while still dead in transgressions, 5. Gave grace, 6. Raised us up with Christ, 6. Seated us with Him, 7. Will show incomparable riches of his grace, 7. will express kindness. 8. Saved

5. From hearing the word through the word of Christ

6. a. Ones that cause us to boast.  Ones that attempt to “earn” God’s gift – takes away from it being a gift

b. Those works that God prepared in advance for us to do – done as workman in Christ

c. Teach and lead.  Write and share. Serve as a godly parent and husband.

 

Final thoughts:

Since this lesson jumped into it, let’s take a closer look at the Romans 10:17 passage, because I think it is crucial to our understanding of faith.

Let’s break it down: Consequently/So.  This is important.  This verse is a conclusion to a point Paul was making.  While we love it as a memory verse, it is important to look back to what he is saying, starting back in vs. 13 or 14.  Basically, he is saying, there is only one God, the same God that Jews and Christians believe in and, yes, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, but… hold the boat.. how can they call on the name of the one they don’t believe in? and how can they believe in the one they have not heard? and how can they hear unless someone preaches? how can someone preach without being sent? … but, despite all of that sending, preaching, hearing, many have still rejected:  Consequently…

Faith comes from hearing the word.  The point isn’t listening, or calling or preaching or anything else, it is faith and to get faith you must “hear” the word.  There are many places you can go with this.  Clearly, there are many things that are said during the day that we do not hear.  We have so many distractions, background noises, etc., maybe we miss an important alert.  But I don’t think that is what Paul is saying.  The Jews of his day clearly heard him.  They heard him clearly enough to have strong reactions to what he said.  5 x whipped, 3 x with a rod, 1 x stoned.  They got the message… but hearing the word did not convert into faith: why?

Hearing through/by the word of Christ.  They heard Paul’s words as Paul’s words.  We might hear an eloquent preacher or speaker.  But for it to become more than words we must open our ears to the source of the word: Christ.  See, the word is the middle part, and we love to start with the middle (I’ve eaten a few oreos and peanut butter cups in my day).  But for the words to really mean anything to be what they really are, to become faith we must understand and accept the source.  You can’t start with Faith unless you end with Christ.

So what do we do with faith?  Well, despite the Fiddler on the Roof song, the goal is not to sit in the temple and discuss the learned books with the holy men Seven hours every daidle deedle daidle dum.  We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works which God has prepared, in advance, for us to do.  Do you think God has work for you to do?  Let me help you: Yes.  Did God prepare you to do it?  Let’s see, you are His workmanship – oh, yeah, maybe he didn’t do a very good job (not!).   There is nothing wrong with being fed, and churches and BSF are great places to start growing and learning – but we are called for something more than being fed, we are called to work.

BSF Acts: Week 22: Lecture

The past couple of weeks we have studied about Paul telling about the great joy and blessings the church in Macedonia was experiencing that he also desired to have the church in Corinth be able to experience as well.  This wasn’t because things were better in Macedonia (they were under much greater persecution and stress).  This isn’t because the Macedonians were first, better, or anything else.  It was simply because they “gave themselves first to the Lord.”

After leaving Corinth on his second missionary journey, Paul traveled with Priscilla and Aquila across the sea to Ephesus, where they stayed and build the church in their home town.

This week we get to read the opening of a letter that Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus.  From it we learn about God’s great purpose to bring everything, both in heaven and on earth, together, all under the authority of Christ.  These people were like family to God and, from the letter, you can see his joy for them.

I don’t know about how you do things in your family, but in our family we love to have big holiday family feasts.  For birthdays, we’ll pick a favorite meal: marinated tenderloin steaks in Opa’s famous marinate with baked potatoes, loaded with Shatto butter and boirsin, Haricot Vert, spinach salad.  And of course, amazing cakes and ice cream with toppings like you wouldn’t believe.

But the best part isn’t the food, it is the family working together to bring it all together and participating together in the feast and the joy it celebrates.

1st Division: Eph 1:1-10  God provides

To prepare a great feast, you have to have great ingredients and all the right tools, equipment and skills.  But, in the spiritual feast – God provides everything we need.  We show up, put on an apron, and everything else is there, ready to go.  God has the menu, the food, the recipes, the cookware, even the stoves and grills, like nothing we could put together.  Every spiritual blessing, all with Jesus name on them.

What dish are has God put you in charge of for the feast?  Are you watching the pot, or is it burning?
Are you stirring the pot and lighting a fire under someone who should be in the kitchen?
Are you waiting to say grace until the meal is served or are you giving thanks at every turn?

2nd division: Eph 1:11-14

God has a purpose in His methods.

Does God need me to help cook the feast?  No.  He is an amazing chef.  He has all the saints and angels.  But, he knows eating is only part of the joy.  Being in the kitchen, laughing, preparing, tasting, that is where the fun is happening.  God could have me sitting alone at a table and serve me.  But, he has done so much more – he has invited me into the kitchen.  He has given me an apron of my own and dressed me in it – beautifully white and stainless.

What are you waiting for – if you have an apron on, you belong in the kitchen?

3rd division: Eph 1: 15-23

Paul says grace.

Paul prays for the church, the Ephesians and you and me.  He prays for faith and love.  He prays for wisdom and revelation.  He prays for hope, riches and power.  Paul gives thanks.

This is a great prayer for the serving of the meal.  Everyone is grateful and appreciative of every other cook, of every dish, of the beautiful place settings of for the host of honor of whom the celebration is called.  Most of all, we are grateful to the one who brought us to this family, who gave us everything and let us be a part – to God.

Applications:

Dinner will be served – don’t miss this meal, you want every course and every taste.
Don’t underestimate what you have been given.  You have nothing but the finest to work with – don’t be shy about using it.

Whose hungry?  Amen?