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?

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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?

BSF Acts: Week 22, Day 5: Ephesians 1:20–23

Questions:

15. a. seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly realms.  Ruling all with authority, power, and dominion.

b. The church is the body of Christ, the fullness of him who fills – the church is the “supply chain management” division of God Inc.

16. a. I have a great boss and clear job objectives

b. I have all the power and authority required to do the work given to me as a member of the church and to help, support and empower my team-mates (only by asking)

c. I am not needed, but chosen to be given the gift of being a member of the winning team

 

Closing Thoughts:

Imagine that you enjoy the game of baseball.  You’ve thrown a few balls, hit a few with a bat, just for fun and the love of the game.

Now, imagine you just received a call from a pro team letting you know they are considering picking you in the upcoming baseball draft.  Now, imagine you get a call that not only might they pick you, but you might go within the first 20 rounds of the draft.  First 10.  First 5.  First round.  Ok, how about 2nd pick of the overall first round of the draft?

You would be amazed.  Beside yourself.  You would be anxious and worried… what do they want you to do, you would ask.  Do?  You don’t have to do anything, we are going to win the world (universe) series anyway.  We just want you to put on the uniform and be part of the team – not on the bench, catch a few, bat a few.  Get out and be an active part of the team, it is more fun.

There are many people who would give their left arm for far less when it comes to baseball, which is only a game.  But this is exactly what God offers us as christians.  He doesn’t need any skill we have, he just wants us on the team.  We don’t earn our way on the team, he picks us, first round, right behind his son.  Want to feel the full joy of winning?  Put on your uniform and get out and catch a few!

BSF Acts: Week 22, Day 4: Ephesians 1:15–23

Questions:

12. Wisdom is knowledge put into action – choosing of a path or action.  the fact that is is of the Spirit assures it is the right path or action.  Revelation is light to the path and clear direction for the journey

13. a. for light, for wisdom, for grace – that the power we have been given in the Lord be put to full use.  That we not underestimate or underutilize that power for the glory of God

b. The God by the Son with the Holy Spirit

14. It makes all the difference.  “Knowing God” means doing right, means not doubting, means seeing the light, means exercising the power that allowed Christ to rise from the dead, the power to forgive sins, the power to be pure and complete, whole and holy.

 

Final thought:

What do you seek?  Light. (AF&AM).

1 John 1:5.  God is light.  In Him there is no darkness.

When we seek God, to know God, for His revelation and wisdom, we seek light.  We live in a world covered in darkness, but God is light.  But as question 14 asks, what difference does that make?

Well, to sighted people (open the eyes of my heart) living in a pitch black world, light makes all the difference.  Without it we are lost, stumbling, in dire and immediate danger.  But light gives us direction, a path, hope, direction.  God doesn’t just shine a light, He fills us with it.

My favorite verses (mostly because I see how far I fall short of grasping them) are Ephesians 1:19 and 20.  The notion that God has given me the same power that He used to raise Christ from the dead.  (go ahead, read that again).  That’s not a light, that is every flashbulb going off at the same time.

But do I live any day using even a fraction of that power?  I’m a 40 ton crane lifting toothpicks on a normal day.  How about you?

BSF Acts: Week 22, Day 3: Ephesians 1:3–14

Questions:

8. a. to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ, v10

b. Christ is in heaven, ruling with the Father, but the times have not reached their fulfillment because sin is still active in the world and there are still souls to be brought back into the flock

9. a. state of great splendor & magnificence.  God is glorious, because of this he does these things and in so that glory shown

b. by better reflecting – light is His, show His glory, not try to substitute my own.  I need to pray more, private and with people.

10. a. chosen, heard, believed, marked with seal

b. The Holy Spirit is deposited in the person – no longer the same.  This indwelling also is the deposit guaranteeing inheritance

11. the authorization and testimony of God is given.  This assures, confirms and binds the ownership and promise

Closing Thoughts:

This passage reminded me of John 17:20-23 where Jesus prays for us to experience the unity that He has with God the Father.  Jesus lived a human life as a reflection of God the Father.  Luke 10:22, “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Where am I going with this?  It makes me think about being with really close friends as a kid, arms crossing over each other, legs crossed, crossing over, totally entwined, to the point you couldn’t tell who was who or what was what.  That is the real answer to 9b that Jesus teaches.  Jesus, while fully human having stepped down from living as a spiritual being, was so connected with the Father that you couldn’t tell one from the other, they were one.  And, through the Holy Spirit, He invites us into that unity, community, family.

We are not meant to be diverse, to be different, to be proud, to be respected, or to be accepted.  We are meant to be so communed with the Trinity that when someone sees us, they see God.  That is glorious!

BSF Acts: Week 22, Day 2: Ephesians 1:1–14

Questions:

3. God

4. Acts 9:4 Encounter on road to Damascus, 9:17 given back sight, 14:19 stoned but then raised back, 20:9 brought back Eutychus from window fall, 16:26 jailhouse rock

5. From the seat of the throne in heaven, God has blessed us with all the power of being adopted into his family, of being co-heirs with Christ

6. a. chosen, blameless, gave glorious grace, redemption through his blood, forgiveness of sins, made known the mystery of his will, to be in Christ for the praise of his glory, marked with a seal, deposit, guaranteed inheritance.

b. redemption, forgiveness, to be in him and as such to be holy in the eyes of God

c. Adoption as brothers to Christ to be glorified by, in and with Him.

7. deliverance, rescue, salvation, atonement for guilt, repurchase – rescue helps me understand just how “at risk” I was.

 

Closing Thoughts:

I think you could do an entire sermon series on any one verse in Ephesians 1.  This is truly one of my favorite and one of the deepest chapters in the bible, IMHO.

For example, lets take our self image.  How are you feeling about yourself?  Do you consider yourself to be a saint?  Do you consider yourself to have been blessed by God with EVERY spiritual gift, all the spiritual blessings of heaven?  Do you consider that God chose you and in His sight you are blameless and holy?  Are you feeling holy?

But that is what Paul says of the believers in Ephesus who are, frankly, no different than us.  Not of these positive self images are because of anything they did, other than hear and believe (not major feats of skill).  But they are no less true.  But how we take away from God’s glory by denying the glory that He has cast upon us (not for ourselves, but because of who He is).

What difference would it make in your approach to live as a saint?  What difference could you make as someone chosen by God fully blameless and holy in His eyes?  What great things could you do without the baggage of doubt and worry.

The song Amazing Grace does not say we remain a wretch, only that we were one.

There is a poster I saw that sums this up:  What if you lived a life so that each day Satan said, “Oh, no, he/she is awake.”?  What is holding you back?