Monday, November 29, 2010
Ephesians Chapter 3
- footnote- “Paul was under house arrest in Rome for preaching about Christ. The religious leaders in Jerusalem, who felt threatened by Christ's teaching and didn't believe he was the messiah, pressured the Roman's to arrest Paul and bring him to trial for treason and for causing rebellion among the Jews. Paul had appealed for his case to be heard by the emperor, and he was awaiting trial. (Acts 28:16-31).
Even though he was under arrest Paul maintained his firm belief that God was in control of all that happened to him. Do circumstances make you wonder if God has lost control of this world? Like Paul remember that no matter what happens, God directs the world's affairs”.
-Yes Paul was prisoner but he doesn't say “of Rome”, he says “of Jesus Christ”.
-A prisoner is one held captive or kept bound.
-When I read this verse, I thought a prisoner is held against their will. But not necessarily. In a time of war, you may surrender in order to save your life. Thus willingly making yourself a bound captive. It is the same with Christ. We surrender our lives, our will, our plans, our days, and in return, we receive life everlasting.
-Why would you do such a thing? Why give up? Jesus said if you're not for him you're against him...But when you're not with him...that means you're an enemy. In order to switch sides, you have to give up something...else you will die in battle, still an enemy of God.
- James 4:4-10
- Philippians 1:20-30
-One way or another you are going to be a captive...whether a chained one to Satan and Yourself or a captivated one to Christ.
- So again, why surrender to Christ?
- first of all, to save your life. (Everybody's going to die. You're not getting out of this life alive. So the problem is not when you'll die, but where you're headed once you do. Will you save your life through the salvation of Christ? Or will you die in sin and burn an eternity in hell?)
- Secondly, Paul says he is a prisoner of Christ for the benefit of the Gentiles.
- When we surrender, when we gain our LIFE through Christ, it is then our prerogative to go and share with others for the preservation and salvation of THEIR lives. (There's no room for selfishness with God. There's always someone to reach out to.)
- Hebrews 5:11-14
- Colossians 2:8-15
- There's a story about something that took place during Desert Storm. Night and Day the army bombed the bunkers. Days on end. And when they finally stopped and went in, the soldiers came running out of the bunkers and fell at their captors feet so GRATEFUL that they'd come to take them away.
- Before we become Christians, sometimes God has to bring us to the end of ourselves. So that when He comes to ask for our surrender to Him, we are grateful to do so.
- We as a society depend so much on ourselves that sometimes, God literally has to burn our house down around us.
- Chapter 2 talked about the house on the foundation. When we build our own house (meaning our spiritual house)...it's like the three little pigs. The big bad wolf will come and blow at your house, but when we are built on the foundations of foundations, nothing can come against us.. No amount of huffing and puffing will destroy our foundation.
- So who will you choose to serve?
- Will you surrender? Or keep fighting God?
- Will God have to take you to the end of all you are in order to save your life?
- II Timothy 2:15-26, 4: 6-8
-God gave Paul the responsibility, (not only him, but others as well...Paul is making a personal statement) to extend God's grace further to the gentiles.
-God revealed his plan to Paul. All of God's word is inspired and it is always true, but sometimes just like in a Parable, He hides the truth so those who seek will find the treasured truth. We were talking about the Parables in Sunday School last week and the idea was brought up that Jesus used the Parables to teach because if people's hearts were open and ready to receive then truth is revealed to their hearts in a way that only God can relate truth. If their hearts are hardened to the things of God, then truth is veiled so as to keep them from turning to God. (Jesus quoted Isa. 6:9-13 in Mark 4:10-13)
- Hebrews 3:5-19, 4:1-13
-So God's plan in all of this was that God would send Christ to speak truth to the Jews first. When they rejected Him and His message, He would offer it to the rest of the world. The kicker is that God KNEW that the Jews would reject His son, but He sent Him anyway. Why? For God so loved.....(Jn.3:16), He loved them so much, loved YOU so much, that he just had to give you a chance. Had to try and reach you, had to express His greatest love regardless.
- Hebrews 8:1-13, 9:11-28, 10:15-18
- I Peter 1:2-5, 8-12, 18-25, 2:4-10
-Vs 5 says God did not reveal his plan to previous generations but now through his Holy Spirit he is revealing it to his Holy apostles and prophets. God is not entrusting the revelation of inspired truth to just anyone who claims the name but rather he is entrusting the truth to those who are willing to go out and teach and share his words with others.
-God's timing is perfect. He didn't reveal his plan to previous generations in full because hearts had to be prepared and world conditions needed to be set in order.
-Under the Roman Empire, people now had a common language, an actual road system which made travel all over the known world possible, and crucifixion was now a means of torture and execution. People were crying out for a deliverer. The setting, timing, and people were perfect. It was time to finalize God's perfect plan for salvation. (That all men would be joined in one family, with one Father, believing one faith, living out one purpose).
- II Timothy 1:7-12
- Titus 1:1-3
-Paul says that by God's grace and mighty power he was given the privilege of serving God by spreading the gospel.
-Paul. An apostle. The man who wrote a big part of our New Testament, one who lived for God with a passion that inspired. One of the founders of our faith. Next states that he is the most undeserving of all God's people. WOW!
-Why would such a man, make such a statement? Because Paul understood one of the most basic concepts of our Christianity. It's not about us. It's about Christ. And in comparison to Christ our righteousness is as filthy rags. We are unworthy of any of the gifts or blessings he pours out on us, but He chooses to do so anyway. We are not the center of the world, though early astronomers taught that everything revolved around the earth. Today Humanists teach that everything revolves around us. It's a nice thought until everything goes wrong and suddenly YOUR world crumbles because it's just not truth. The truth is, as Paul had revelation, Jesus is the center and everything is about HIM! Praise the Lord! Any and everything we do or become is because of Him in our lives. Anytime we start thinking that this walk is in some way relative to us, it's time to rethink your faith.
- I Timothy 1:12-17
-A preacher I heard a few weeks ago said there are two things that are essential to being able to get close enough to touch God and receive something from him—Humility and perseverance. Both of which will require you to decrease, that He may increase.
-Paul is at this moment exemplifying humility. He is remembering all that he was, is, or could have been by saying, “You know... I'm not worthy”.
-To see yourself without Christ in your life, first of all is lonely, and secondly it's horrifying.
-footnote- “When Paul describes himself as “the least deserving of all God's people,” He means that without God's help, he would never be able to do God's work. Yet God chose him to share the Good News with the gentiles and gave him the power to do it. If we feel that our role is minor, we may be right—except that we have forgotten what a difference God makes.” How does God want to use you? Draw on His power, do your part, and faithfully perform the special role God has called you to play in his plan.”
-Who would you be without Christ? All the temptations you face...what if they were sins you acted on?...not just a thought, though Christ knows your thoughts too...Without the Holy Spirit enabling you to withstand temptations, convict you of sin, and guide you away from traps set by the enemy of your soul, you would be just like any other sinner on his way to hell.
-But despite Paul's past, zealous to persecute and even have Christians killed, God chose HIM to take the gospel to the gentiles. God chose HIM to be a part of revealing the Good News that Jesus was THE
WAY God was going to redeem mankind to Himself.
-When God takes a vessel, regardless of the condition it is in, or where it has been, He can use it if the vessel allows Him to break and remake it a vessel of honor.
- Are you allowing the potter to shape the clay of your life, or are you trying to maintain the shape you think looks best on you?
- Are you a usable vessel for God?
- Titus 3:3-8
-The plan was that God would create a being who would love and serve Him out of a lover's type love. A heart that loves because it wants to. Thus free will. But free will also allows the option of choice. Thus the possibility of sin. The original plan before he created man was to send a method of redemption for that sin. Before he even started creation, Christ was prepared to die for your sins.
- Colossians 1:15-23
-Aside from God wanting a relationship with another human being, what was His purpose in all of this?
-This plan was so intricate and special that God kept parts of it hidden. God loves to surprise us and reveal things slowly, so that when we do finally see the whole picture we will stand in absolute awe.
-God's purpose in keeping parts of the plan to Himself was so that the church could be used as a showpiece to display his wisdom in all it's facets and aspects to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavens. To show not only us his all Holy power and foresight, but also to show the angels and Satan His superiority and might so that they yet again might see and know that he is almighty God.
- Hebrews 1:1-14, 2:1-18
- James 1:17-18
- Parts of God's plan for your life may be kept hidden from you. God may not tell you every turn the road is going to take... will you still trust Him? Will you trust that His plan for your life is just as intricate and special as was His plan for the salvation of the world?
-Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly into the presence of God with confidence. Why? Because we are now family.
- Hebrews 4:14-16, 10:19-24
-This doesn't mean that we can walk in and DEMAND something of God. You as a child should respect and honor your parents. You should never demand or tell them what to do. Your heavenly father already knows you better than you know yourself, and he knows what is best. You may ask for something, but if you ask amiss something not in His will, it wouldn't be in your best interest. Because He loves you, He will do the best. Because you love Him, you will only ask what you see the Father already doing.
- I Peter 1:17
-footnote-”It is an awesome privilege to be able to approach God with freedom and confidence. Most of us would be apprehensive in the presence of a powerful ruler. But thanks to Christ, by faith we can enter directly into God's presence through prayer. We know He will welcome us with open arms because we are God's children through our union with Christ.” I want to say this...We not only come into God's presence when we get down on our knees to pray, but if we will stay in a spirit of prayer we can enjoy His fellowship all the time!
- I John 5:14-15
- Colossians 4:1-6
- I Thessalonians 5:16-18
- Truthfully, how much time do you spend with God in an attitude of prayer every day? 5 minutes before you go to bed? 10 minutes when you wake up? What about when someone calls you with a problem? Do you pray that instant? Or do you wait until you have your regular prayer time? When something great happens, do you go into your prayer closet so excited you can hardly wait to tell God what He's done in your life? Or do you call your mom and maybe send up a short thank you before you go to bed...?
-To me this is the ultimate picture of unselfishness. Paul is on death row. He could have said, “Where are you God?” How am I going to do your will now? But instead we find Paul ministering right where he is to the guards, leaders, and servants. Not only these close to him in distance, but praying and trying to encourage others to allow the Holy Spirit to take root and empower them and establish them in all Truth. He prays for their strength and understanding of God's love.
-There is one thing everyone has in common...no matter if you're rich or poor, a leader or follower, a moral person or immoral, every race, every occupation, man, woman, or child wants to be loved. People have tried every counterfeit of love there is, but there is only one true pure love with no strings attached.
-footnote—“God's love is total, says Paul. It reaches every corner of our experience. It is wide—it covers the breadth of our own experience, and it reaches out to the whole world. God's love is long-- it continues the length of our lives. It is high—it rises to the heights of our celebrations and elation—His love is deep—it reaches to the depth of discouragement, despair, and even death. When you feel shut out or isolated, remember that you can NEVER be lost to God's love.”
-Paul offers his praise to God who can do through us and in us more than we can ever imagine. Paul being a good example of what God can do through a believer who totally submits to His will. This same Holy Spirit that empowered Paul to turn the world upside down is available to us today if we will only submit. Are you ready to let God have His way in your life or are you holding something back?
- Hebrews 13:1-8
- James 1:1-26
- I Peter 3:8-22, 4:1-9
- I John 2:9-17, 4:7-21, 5:1-12
- I Timothy 2:1-7
- Philippians 1:3-11
- Colossians 1:3-14, 3:1-17
- If God's love is total and we are to be the reflection of God, should not our love be great for our fellow men as well?
- If you see someone suffering, regardless of their relationship to you, if any, what should your response be? How about your enemies? What if they're in need?
- What if you knew that your enemy was in danger and you knew a way to save him. But if you save his life, he'll possibly still hate you, or kill you. Would you save him anyway? How would Christ have you respond?