The Incomprehensible Love of Christ
Ephesians 3:14-19

How can we comprehend that which is incomprehensible? To “comprehend” means “to grasp mentally” or “to understand.” To know facts and to understand are really two different things. We can know that the earth is 93,000,000 miles away from the sun, but who can really understand the magnitude of that distance. If we were traveling at the speed of light (186,000 per second) we could reach the sun in a little over 8 minutes. Even though we might not be able to comprehend the distance of 93,000,000 miles, we can comprehend 8 minutes can’t we? Let’s broaden our travels a little. Instead of traveling to the sun, let’s travel across our galaxy, the Milky Way. Traveling at the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second, it would take us 100,000 years to take a trip across the Milky Way! Now try to get your mind around that trip!

Astronomers estimate that there are approximately 200-400 billion stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way. If we take the low number of 200 billion that is still an incomprehensible number isn’t it? Of those 200 billion stars there are only about 2,500 stars that are visible to the naked eye at any one time. Of those 200 billion stars in the Milky Way there are about 5,800-8,000 total stars that are visible to the naked eye period. 200 billion stars? That’s incomprehensible. The Hubble Space Telescope site estimates that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. A German super computer simulation estimates that the number may be as high as 500 billion. The Milky Way that would take us 100,000 years to travel its length is just one galaxy among as many as 500 billion galaxies. We can’t even comprehend the vastness of the Milky Way so how are we to understand the possibility of 500 billion galaxies? Incomprehensible! We can understand all of the “facts” that I’ve just shared with you. We can memorize the numbers so that we can spout them off on demand, but to comprehend them, to truly understand what they mean, now that is an all together different reality.

When we consider the vastness and the magnitude of our universe it is truly incomprehensible, but I would dare say that there is still something far more incomprehensible and that is the love of our Savior. We talk about how much Jesus loves us, but do we really, can we truly, comprehend the depth of His love? Paul prays for the brothers and sisters in Ephesus that they might have “…power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge…” Let’s take a look at our Scripture for today found in Ephesians 3:14-19. Continue reading “The Incomprehensible Love of Christ
Ephesians 3:14-19”

Strengthening the Inner Man
Ephesians 3:14-19

It is one thing to “know.” It is a completely different thing to “act on what you know.” You can know everything there is to know about a subject and yet never act on what you know. Let me give you some examples of what I am talking about. You can be the world’s authority on Botany, the study of plants. You can know all of the approximately 400,000 living plant organisms. You can be able to recite volumes of information about Horticulture (study of cultivated plants,) Dendrology (study of woody plants, trees, and shrubs,) Mycology (the study of fungi,) and Agronomy (application of plant science to crop production.) You can wax eloquent about the processes of photosynthesis and respiration that takes place in plants. You can do all of this and more and never even plant a garden. You’ve gathered information, but you’ve not assimilated that information into everyday life.

Let me give you another example. Gastronomy is defined as the study of food and culture. It includes cooking techniques, nutritional facts, food science, and everything else that is related to discovering, tasting, experiencing, researching, understanding, and writing about food preparation and the sensory qualities of human nutrition as a whole. You can know all about food preparation. You can understand carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. You can grasp the science of using heat in cooking and know that heat is transferred either by conduction, convection, or radiation. You can come to understand the process of preserving foods by canning. You can know how to “proof” your yeast before you make your bread. You can watch every episode of “The Pioneer Woman” and “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” on The Food Network. You can memorize chapter and verse of every cookbook Paula Dean and Bobby Flay have ever written. You can do all of this and more and never cook a single meal.

To know all there is to know about trees, shrubs, and flowers and do nothing with it is a waste. To know all there is to know about food—how to prepare it, how to mix the right ingredients, apply the right amount of heat, and yet fail to act on what you know is a waste. What a waste! To have so much knowledge, to have gathered so much information, and for that knowledge to sit inside of someone’s head instead of being assimilated and translated into beautiful gardens and scrumptious meals to be enjoyed and shared with others is a tragedy. Continue reading “Strengthening the Inner Man
Ephesians 3:14-19”

The Transcendence and Power of Prayer
Ephesians 3:14

Prison can be a lonely place. In a small prison cell the world can close in on you. Confinement is, well, it’s confining. We were born to be free, to move about, and to experience life to its fullest. It is not in our nature to be confined, to be isolated. Yet this was the life that Paul knew when he wrote the people in Ephesus. Many of those who experience prison life experience emotional and mental challenges that come with their confinement. For many, their trials and tribulations become the topic of the day—each and every day that they are in prison. “How did I ever get in this place? How long will I be in this place? How can I get out of this place?” These, and many other questions like these, become the thoughts that fill the minds of the confined. Paul, rather than allowing his world to shrink–carried the world, his friends, his brothers and sisters in Christ, and those in need to the throne of God in his prayers even though he was confined in prison.

This past week, as I was studying the second half of Ephesians 3, I got hung up on Ephesians 3:14 where Paul wrote, “For this reason I kneel before the Father…” (Ephesians 3:14 NIV) It is a moving picture if you stop to think about it. Under arrest, with shackles on his hands and feet, and with guards looking on—Paul falls to his knees and prays for others. Paul had already spent two years in prison in Caesarea, but when he wrote the letter to the church in Ephesus, he had been transferred as a prisoner to Rome. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes,

When the Apostle was writing this letter he was a prisoner; it is one of the ‘prison epistles.’ The important thing for us to realize is that what he is saying in effect is, that though he is a prisoner, though a malignant enemy has arrested him, and has put him into bonds, and has made it impossible for him to visit them in Ephesus and to preach to them, or to go anywhere else to preach, there is one thing that the enemy cannot do, and that is, he cannot prevent him from praying. He can still pray. The enemy can confine him to a cell, he can bolt and bar doors, he can chain him to soldiers, he can put bars in the windows, he can hem him in and confine him physically, but he can never obstruct the way from the heart of the humblest believer to the heart of the Eternal God. In many ways in this uncertain modern world of ours this is one of the most comforting and consoling truths we can ever learn. (Lloyd-Jones, Martyn. The Unsearchable Riches of Christ: Ephesians 3. pg. 107)

There is no doubt in my mind that Martyn Lloyd-Jones is right. One of the most comforting truths we can learn is that nothing can stop our prayers from reaching the tender ears of our glorious King. The razor-wire and bars of a correctional facility can’t quiet the prayers of a humble servant crying out to God. The humming of machinery and activity of an Intensive Care Unit can’t drown out the petitions of one of God’s own. Paul wrote in Romans 8 that “there is nothing in all of creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39) We can also add that there is nothing in all of creation that can prevent the humble, sincere prayer of God’s people from reaching the heart of God.

About seventeen or eighteen years ago there was a woman named Mary Nave who had attended Britton Christian Church for many years. Most of you never knew Mary, but you do know her daughter, Sue Hayes. Mary was a shut-in. She couldn’t drive. She wasn’t able to participate in most of the activities of the church unless Sue brought her. She was feeble and her health was failing. I would go to Mary’s house, which was just a couple of blocks from the church, and she always wanted to know how she should be praying, who she should be praying for, and she kept a prayer journal to track God’s answers to her prayers.

Mary decided that we needed babies at Britton Christian Church so she began to pray. Mary went to the “Women’s Guild” and told them that we needed to redo the nursery so we could be ready when the Lord blessed with us babies. The Guild was made up of some wonderful, godly ladies, some who are still with us, but most have gone home to be with the Lord. The ladies of the Guild began meeting together when they were young. They all worked outside the home and couldn’t make the regular women’s meeting that met during the day. Well, the ladies of the Guild went to work. They made the nursery into something beautiful so that young couples would want to leave their babies there.

While work was going on with the nursery, Mary was praying. Our Youth Pastor at the time was a great guy named Kevin Flannery. Kevin and his wife, Cheryl, had been trying to get pregnant for some time, but it wasn’t happening. Mary was praying and before we knew it Kevin and Cheryl announced they were going to have a baby! In no time Mike and Lisa Curtis, Lance and Jane Boyd, and Phil and Mary Aday all announced that they were pregnant! Not too long after Shae Boyd was born, Lance and Jane found out they were going to have another baby…and Mary kept praying. Debbie and Ross Magness already had four kids, their oldest was in high school, but they use to sit right in front of Mary Nave in worship. Mary must have set her sights on Ross and Debbie because the next thing you know, Ross and Debbie announced that they were going to have a baby! Ross said, “We’re not sitting in front of Mary Nave anymore!” and they moved to another part of the sanctuary. Couples kept coming up pregnant, there had to have been 8-10 babies born, and eventually Connie and I found out that we were going to have a “Mary Nave baby”—we call her Annie.

This past week, as I thought about the Apostle Paul praying in his prison cell, I thought about Mary Nave praying in her house. Confined to a house, as Paul was confined to prison, Mary was free to spend her days before the throne of Almighty God praying for the needs of God’s church as well as God’s people. We cannot even begin to comprehend the power that is at our disposal if we would simply utilize it. I’m not referring to those prayers of desperation that we spastically throw up when we find ourselves in a fix. Those prayers are prayed by the masses, but what God is seeking are those who will daily, consistently, passionately, and persistently come before Him in prayer.

Prayers like those prayed by George Muller, who was born in 1805 and died in 1898. God called George to take care of orphans in Bristol, England and during his life his orphanages cared for more than 10,000 orphans. He established 117 schools which offered a Christian education to over 120,000 kids during his lifetime. George was known as a man of prayer. Whenever a need would arise at one of the orphanages, George would call the staff and all of the children to prayer. He never told anyone who would be able to help, he took them to God, and then watched for the answer until it came.

God laid five friends on George’s heart one day. None of the five friends were Christians, but George made a commitment to pray for each of them every day until they came to know Christ as Lord of their life. After many months, one of George’s friends surrendered his life to Christ. Ten years later, two others were converted. It took 25 years before the fourth man accepted Christ. George continued to pray. After 25 years, only one of the five friends still did not know Christ, but George would not stop praying. George persevered in daily prayer for his friend until his death. Throughout the 52 years that George prayed he never gave up, he never stopped believing that God would one day move in the life of his friend. Not too long after George’s funeral, the last of the five men on his prayer list gave his life to Christ. It’s people like George Muller, people who are persistent in prayer, trusting in prayer, believing in God to work through prayer that God is seeking.

I told you that Paul wrote letters to individuals and churches while he was in prison. I want us to take a few minutes to take a look at the content of Paul’s prayers while he was in prison with the hopes that it will encourage and inspire you and me to commit to prayer in our daily lives. We won’t have time to look at all of Paul’s prayers because in the four letters he wrote from prison there are 12 different prayers that Paul either prays for the people or asks that they pray for him. (Ephesians 1:3; 15-23; 3:14-21; 6:19-20; Philippians 1:3-6; 9-11; 4:6-7; 23; Colossians 1:3-14; 4:2-4; Philemon 1:4-7; 25) Let’s start with the letter we are studying, Ephesians. In the opening chapter of Ephesians we read,

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:15-23 NIV)

In this prayer Paul is asking God to open the eyes of their understanding so that the people might understand who they are in Christ. He wants God to give them the Spirit of wisdom and understanding so they might know Him better. Paul wants them to know the incredible power that is available to those who believe. In his second prayer for the believers in Ephesus, found in Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul prays that God will empower them to live out what they are in Christ. We will take a look at that prayer next week.

When Paul writes to the folks in Philippi he prays for them. As he opens his letter he greets them, blesses them, and then prays for them. Paul actually begins his prayer in verse 3, but I want to read to you from verses 9-11.

9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11 NIV)

Paul is confined in prison and yet his heart is set on interceding for those who are outside of the walls of the prison. He prays that their love for God and for one another would lead them to a greater knowledge and depth of insight into God’s will for them so they might live pure and blameless lives until Jesus returns. John MacArthur writes,

Almost every prayer of Paul’s that is recorded in Scripture was for the spiritual welfare of others. Even when he was persecuted, imprisoned, and in need of many things for his own welfare, he prayed primarily for fellow believers that they might be spiritually protected and strengthened…Paul prayed that the Philippians’ love would ‘abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that [they would] be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.” (Philippians 1:9-10) He did not cease to pray for the Colossian believers to ‘be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that [they might] walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power [lit. being empowered with all power], according to His glorious might.” (Colossians 1:9-11; Philippians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:2) (MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Ephesians.)

There is no time that we are more tempted to focus on ourselves then when we are going through difficulties in life. When our lives are crumbling we are less likely to think about others than any other time. When our lives are in a state of turmoil we are more likely to focus on ourselves than any other time. Yet, we find in Paul, that in his time of need he continues to focus on the needs of others, he prays for the Lord to move mightily on the lives of those who are living for the Lord outside of Rome. Paul may have been physically confined to a room, but his mind and his prayers are with those in Colosse, brothers and sisters who are over 900 miles from Rome, when he sat down to pray for them. Paul wrote,

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:9-12 NIV)

One of the most interesting letters Paul wrote while he was in prison was his letter to Philemon. While Paul was in prison he came into contact with a runaway slave named, Onesimus. Through Paul’s influence Onesimus became a follower of Jesus. Paul encouraged Onesimus to return to his slave master. Paul sent a letter with Onesimus as he made that long journey back to Philemon who lived in Colosse. In Paul’s letter, he praises Philemon for all of the good things he had heard about him. He also encourages Philemon to treat Onesimus not as a runaway slave, but as a brother in Christ. Paul asks Philemon to be gracious and forgiving to Onesimus. The little letter is only 25 verses long, a mere 335 words in the original Greek, but in the opening of the letter Paul lets Philemon know of his prayers for him.

4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. 6 I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints. (Philemon 1:4-7 NIV)

Paul had limitations imposed on him because of his imprisonment, but those limitations didn’t stop him from working to try and reconcile two men who at one time were at odds with one another. Onesimus might have left Colosse a runaway slave, but Paul wanted to remind Philemon that Onesimus was returning as a brother in Christ. Paul not only worked to reconcile the men, but he prayed that Philemon would be active in sharing his faith.

We all have limitations don’t we? There are some of us at Britton Christian Church who are shut-ins, unable to get out of the house, but we can pray. There are others who are busy taking care of little ones or caring for our aging parents, but we can pray. There are still others, like those ladies from many years ago who were in the Women’s Guild, who can’t be involved in activities and opportunities that take place during the day because of demanding jobs, but we can pray. There are some of the guys and girls who call BCC “home” who are busy going to school and involved in extracurricular activities who can’t be as involved in activities at the church, but you can pray.

At Britton Christian Church there are all kinds of opportunities for people of all ages to get involved, but let me assure you, there is no greater need than that of prayer. We are constantly in need of volunteers, but I believe that if we had a handful of folks who labored daily before the throne of God on behalf of the volunteer needs of this church—volunteers would come. God has called us to share the Good News of the Gospel with those who do not know Jesus as Lord of their life. I believe with all of my heart that if there was a group who was broken for the lost in our community and prayed daily for them as if they were their own mother, father, sister, or brother—we would see more people come to know Christ. You can look at the prayer list in our bulletin on Sundays and see that there are those among us who are sick, battling physical ailments, and we need folks who are willing to pray for the sick as well as visit them. Prayer is the oil that moves the machine. The voice that cries out to God is the voice that is heard by God.

Not all of us can treat sick patients at the King’s Klinic or work at the BritVil Food Pantry or oversee a construction project or teach a Sunday school class or help a high school student with her math problems, but we can all pray. C.H. Macintosh lived in the 1800s, but his writings are still with us today. He wrote about the need for “labourers of the closet.” Listen to this.

Again, the precious labours of the closet demand no special gift, no peculiar talents, no pre-eminent mental endowments. Every Christian can engage in them. A man may not have the ability to preach, teach, write, or travel; but every man can pray. One sometimes hears of a gift of prayer. It is not a pleasant expression. It falls gratingly on the ear. It often means a mere fluent utterance of certain known truths which the memory retains and the lips give forth. This is poor work to be at…This is not what we want and long for. We want a real spirit of prayer. We want a spirit that enters into the present need of the Church, and bears that need in persevering, fervent, believing intercession before the throne of grace. This spirit may be exercised at all times, and under all circumstances. Morning, noon, eventide, or midnight will answer for the closet labourer. (Mackintosh, C.H. Epaphras: The Servant of Prayer.)

There are many of you who are here this morning who have burdens you’ve been carrying around like a backpack. You’ve tried to figure out how to fix the problem. You’ve prayed, but nothing has happened, so you’ve gone back to trying to figure it out on your own. The problems that we have to deal with in life are as many as the stars in the sky, they are as varied as the flowers that grow in the fields, and though God calls us to continue to labor and work towards solutions, He calls us to pray with an even greater fervency. Don’t stop praying. Never stop praying. E.M. Bounds wrote,

Jesus taught that perseverance is the essential element of prayer. Men must be in earnest when they kneel at God’s footstool. Too often we get faint-hearted and quit praying at the point where we ought to begin. We let go at the very point where we should hold on strongest. Our prayers are weak because they are not impassioned by an unfailing and resistless will. (E. M. Bounds)

We are so conditioned by our society and the culture that we live in. We are use to drive through lines at restaurants, streaming movies, and instant lines of credit at the store—we are not good at waiting. Yet, Scripture constantly encourages us to wait for the Lord. Listen to some examples.

14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14 NIV)

22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you. (Proverbs 20:22 NIV)

7 But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7 NIV)

I’m convinced that the Lord brought you here this morning because you are feeling the pressure of unanswered prayer, you are dealing with problems that you can’t figure out, and you need to know that you can cast your cares on Him because He cares for you more than you will ever know. Oswald Chambers once said, “We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” I want us to close our time this morning in prayer. If you are someone who doesn’t know the Lord you need to know that you very well may be here this morning because someone has been praying for you. If you are battling an illness, a troubled marriage, a strained relationship, a lack of purpose, a troubled mind, or a tattered soul—you need to know that you can cry out to the Father and He will hear you. Let’s pray.

Mike Hays
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
March 3, 2012

Sharing the Truth Whatever the Cost
Ephesians 3:1-13

Over and over again in Scripture we are reminded that there is a cost to be paid for following Jesus. There is a price to be paid if we want to follow faithfully in our Lord’s steps. Jesus said,

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25 NIV)

20 Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also…” (John 15:20 NIV)

If we are going to faithfully follow Jesus then suffering will surely follow. We should anticipate persecution in some form or another if we are living unashamedly for the cause of the Kingdom and proclaiming the truth of God with word and deed. We will be mocked, laughed at, ridiculed, dismissed, marginalized, fired, or imprisoned if we refuse to remain silent. Suffering for the cause of the Kingdom was part of Jesus’ life and suffering for the cause of the Kingdom was known by His followers whenever they proclaimed the truth. Throughout history the followers of Jesus have paid a steep price for proclaiming the Good News in societies and communities that did not want to hear it. Continue reading “Sharing the Truth Whatever the Cost
Ephesians 3:1-13”

Once Hopeless. Now Family.
Ephesians 2:19-22

Everyone loves stories about those who rise from the depths of despair and hopelessness to find meaning and purpose in life. One of my favorite movies of all-time is the movie Blindside, the story of the life of Michael Oher. You can probably count on one hand those who have not seen the movie, but it is worth retelling.

Michael was one of twelve children born to Denise Oher and Michael Williams. Denise struggled with drugs and alcohol and Michael’s father was in and out of prison until he was murdered in prison when Michael was a senior in high school. Michael repeated first and second grade, he attended eleven different schools during his first nine years as a student, and he was placed in foster care at the age of seven. Michael moved in and out of foster homes and was at times homeless until he moved into the home of Tony Henderson, when he was a freshman in high school. Tony is the one responsible for getting Michael into Briarcrest Christian School when Michael was a freshman.

Michael only lived with Tony Henderson a short while before he went back into the foster care system in Tennessee. He had been living with several foster care families before he met Leigh Ann and Sean Tuohy in 2004. The Tuohy’s had a son and daughter who attended Briarcrest and when they learned of Michael’s living situation they allowed Michael to move in with them. Continue reading “Once Hopeless. Now Family.
Ephesians 2:19-22”

Access to the Father
Ephesians 2:14-18

In a world of seven billion people you would think that everyone has at least one friend. In a world of seven billion people you would think that there wouldn’t be anyone who would feel isolated or alienated. In a world of seven billion people you would think that everyone had at least someone to talk to when life gets rough and the darkness begins to creep in. You would think that everybody would have somebody, but that just simply isn’t the truth. James Parks writes,

Loneliness is an aching void in the center of our being, a deep longing to love and to be loved, to be fully known and accepted by at least one other person. It is a hollow, haunting sound sweeping through our depths, chilling our bones and causing us to shiver. Is there a person who has never felt the stab of loneliness, who has never known the eerie distance of isolation and separation, who has never suffered the pain of rejection or the loss of love? (James Parks. Interpersonal Loneliness and Spiritual Loneliness.)

Continue reading “Access to the Father
Ephesians 2:14-18”

Alienation to Reconciliation
Ephesians 2:11-13

Paul’s life hung in the balance. While he was traveling with some of his companions he stopped in Jerusalem. One of the men that was traveling with Paul was a Gentile, a man from Ephesus named Trophimus. The Jews were looking for a reason to kill Paul and when they saw Paul at the temple they decided that he had taken the Gentile with him into the temple so they seized the moment. Read along with me from Acts 21:27-31.

27 When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28 shouting, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple area and defiled this holy place.” 29 (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple area.) 30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. (Acts 21:27-31 NIV)

The gates of the temple were shut because if Paul had really taken the Gentile with him into the temple then it had been defiled. The truth is that Paul hadn’t taken Trophimus with him into the temple, but the story illustrates for you and me the deep, deep animosity and hatred between the Jews and the Gentiles. Continue reading “Alienation to Reconciliation
Ephesians 2:11-13”

We Are His Workmanship
Ephesians 2:10

God took Jeremiah down to the potter’s house to teach him a valuable lesson, a lesson that each of us desperately needs to learn this morning. The lesson is so important for us to learn because somehow, some way, we have convinced ourselves that we are the final authority, we are the determiner of what is right and true, what is to be acceptable concerning what God is like, and what God does and doesn’t do. God took Jeremiah down to the potter’s house and this morning I want to begin our time together in God’s Word by inviting all of us to make that journey with Jeremiah once again. Let’s read together from Jeremiah 18:1-6.

1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. (Jeremiah 18:1-6 NIV)

By the time Jeremiah leaves the potter’s house he knows for certain that he and every other person on the planet is merely clay on the Potter’s wheel. The lesson which we need to get a firm grasp upon this morning is that God is God and we are clay on the Potter’s wheel. Continue reading “We Are His Workmanship
Ephesians 2:10”

Look What God Has Done!
Ephesians 2:1-10

As we continue our study of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus it is so important that we remember who Paul was addressing in his letter. He wasn’t writing to the Chamber of Commerce, the members of some philanthropic organization, the academics at a local high school or college, and neither was he writing to the purveyors of some political party. Paul was writing to those who belonged to the Body of Christ. He was teaching them the fundamentals of the Christian faith. He was reminding them of biblical truth. It is important that we learn and relearn God’s truth over and over again throughout our lives my friends.

As we take a look at Ephesians 2:1-10 this morning we are going to see one of the most striking, awe-inspiring contrast found in God’s Word. We will see that we were once dead in our trespasses and sins, but now we have been made alive with Christ. We will learn that we were once, by our very nature, objects of God’s wrath, but now, by God’s rich grace, we are the recipients of His glorious mercy and salvation. We will see that we were at one time followers of the ways of the world, following the spirit who is at work in those who are disobedient, we were following our own fleshly desires, but now, because of God’s work, we are followers of righteousness, followers of Jesus. These are amazing contrasts! Let’s read our Scripture and then we will take a closer look. Continue reading “Look What God Has Done!
Ephesians 2:1-10”

“But God…”
Ephesians 2:1-3

God had a plan. He made a promise. It was a promise to Abraham to bless him and to make him a great nation. There were twists and turns. Things didn’t go as smoothly as Abraham or his descendants would have liked, but God had a plan.

The Jews were a nation, a unique people set apart for God, before they ever set foot in the Promised Land. Then the day came when the nation was united, strong, and David was their king. Life could not have been any better and they thought it would never end. The “shalom of YHWH” was resting mightily upon His people and the land. Rather than praising God for His blessings, the people squandered God’s grace. They each one did what was right in their own eyes rather than follow God’s call to be His people. Continue reading ““But God…”
Ephesians 2:1-3”