Email:ebc@sasktel.net

Sermon podcasts
Esterhazy Baptist Church Podbean

May 15, 2022 Podbean

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God in three persons, blessed Trinity.
May 15, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

 

Call to Worship: “And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”” “God our Savior showed us how good and kind he is. He saved us because of his mercy, and not because of any good things that we have done. God washed us by the power of the Holy Spirit. He gave us new birth and a fresh beginning. God sent Jesus Christ our Savior to give us his Spirit.” Isaiah 6:3 (NIV); Titus 3:4–6 (CEV).

Hymn: #262 “Holy, Holy, Holy

Verse 1 – Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty Early in the morning Our song shall rise to Thee Holy holy holy Merciful and mighty God in three persons Blessed Trinity.

Verse 2 – Holy holy holy All the saints adore Thee Casting down their golden crowns Around the glassy sea Cherubim and seraphim Falling down before Thee Which wert and art and evermore shalt be.

Verse 3 – Holy holy holy Though the darkness hide Thee Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see Only Thou art holy There is none beside Thee Perfect in power In love and purity.

Verse 4 – Holy holy holy Lord God Almighty All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea Holy holy holy Merciful and mighty God in three persons Blessed Trinity.

CCLI Song # 1156 John Bacchus Dykes | Reginald Heber © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

The Nicene Creed:

This creed arose from the Council of Nicaea, held in 325 CE. The council sought to address the heresy of Arianism, which asserted that the Son of God was not eternal, but created by the Father.

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father.  Through him all things were made.  For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.  On the third day he rose again in accordance with the scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.  With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.  He has spoken through the prophets.  We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.  We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

 

      A little over two years ago when covid-19 shut down our public church service only weeks before Easter, we had just started a series on the Book of Ruth.  I then continued with 1 & 2 Samuel, looking at how God worked in the lives of key figures in these books.  My goal through these sermons was to remind ourselves that even if our life or our nation seems out of control, our God is still sovereign, He is still on His throne and He is still in control!

      It’s been two years with covid, and while we may like to think things are getting back to normal, for many of us it doesn’t quite feel that way.  There is a general sense of fatigue.  As I’ve looked at myself, I find the past couple of year’s emphasis on isolation and working independently because of covid have amplified a battle that was always there, and that is trying to do the Lord’s work in my own strength; is that a struggle you can relate to?

      I’ve met some Christians who have grown tired in their Christian walk, and some have drifted away.  The problem is not that the Christian life doesn’t work, the problem lies in trying to do it in our own strength rather than in the strength which the Lord God supplies.  We can see the contrast in the lives of Jesus’ disciples between the Gospels and the Book of Acts.  Earlier we read the Nicene Creed, a third century document developed to affirm the fundamental beliefs of orthodox Christianity, founded on the Trinity.  God in three persons, blessed Trinity.  In answer to those who say they will only accept the Trinity if they can understand it:

·         Vernon Grounds says: Explain the Trinity? We can’t even begin. We can only accept it—a mystery, disclosed in Scripture. It should be no surprise that the triune Being of God baffles our finite minds. We should be surprised, rather, if we could understand the nature of our Creator. He would be a two-bit deity, not the fathomless Source of all reality. —Vernon Grounds, “Radical Commitment,” Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 4

·         C. S. Lewis says: If Christianity were something we were making up, of course we would make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete in simplicity with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he doesn’t have any facts to bother about.” —C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (MacMillan, 1952), p. 129

The Lexham Survey of Theology says about the Trinity:

       The Trinity is the collective name given to the three persons in God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

       The doctrine of the Trinity emerged because it was the best explanation of the whole scope of the biblical witness to the identity of God. The Bible clearly teaches that there is only one God (Deut 6:4; Isa 42:8; Jas 2:19). The Bible just as clearly teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Spirit is God. Each of them do things only God can do and receive the worship due to God alone. These persons are not detachable parts of God, nor are they merely different masks that he wears according to particular times or functions. Some theologians have distinguished the persons as Creator (Father), Redeemer (Son), and Sanctifier (Holy Spirit), and there’s a sense in which these distinctions can be useful—but in fact each of these titles and activities can be applied equally to all three persons as God.

       The Bible also clearly teaches that the Father, Son, and Spirit are not identical with one another or merely different masks God wears according to particular times or functions. The Father, Son, and Spirit are “persons” who interact with one another and with us in distinct ways. Because each person of the Trinity is fully God, they share the same purpose and activity, but the ways they think and act are distinctive to each. Jesus told his disciples that he was God’s unique Son and that he was sent from the Father to accomplish their shared mission of salvation. He also promised that after his departure he would send his disciples the Holy Spirit who would live in them, and that when the Spirit came, the Father and the Son would come with him.[1]

      It is in the Gospel of John, chapters 14-16, some of Jesus’ final words to his disciples prior to his crucifixion, that we have Jesus’ fullest description of the ministry of the Holy Spirit to us now.  In these verses Jesus tells his disciples he will send them another advocate, Jesus is the 1st and the Holy Spirit being who the Father will send to be with them:

John 14:15–17a. “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.” (NIV).

John 14:25–26 25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (NIV)

John 15:26–27 26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” (NIV)

John 16:12–15 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”” (NIV)

The person of the Holy Spirit will continue the work of Jesus, reminding them of Jesus’ words and teaching them truth through Jesus’ words.

John 16:5–11 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” (NIV)

      The Holy is active within believers and He works within the human heart to convict one of their sin, Jesus’ righteousness and the judgment to come.

      Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, coming to earth, God becoming a human being to take our sins upon himself.  Christian, the Holy Spirit is God within us, as we respond, He guides, prompts and strengthens us.  In upcoming messages, we will learn of the Holy Spirit’s work through watching Him work in the lives of those in the early church – and may we also see Him at work within us!

Hymn: #267 Come Thou Almighty King.

Verse 1 – Come Thou Almighty King Help us Thy name to sing Help us to praise Father all glorious O’er all victorious Come and reign over us Ancient of Days

Verse 2 – Come Thou Incarnate Word Gird on Thy mighty sword Our prayer attend Come and Thy people bless and give Thy Word success Spirit of holiness on us descend.

Verse 3 – Come Holy Comforter Thy sacred witness bear in this glad hour Thou who almighty art Now rule in ev’ry heart and ne’er from us depart Spirit of pow’r.

Verse 4 – To Thee great One in Three Eternal praises be Hence evermore Thy sov’reign majesty May we in glory see And to Eternity Love and adore.

CCLI Song # 29073 Felice de Giardini © Words: Public Domain  Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: May the Eternal God whose name is Lord give you His Spirit, and may the Holy Spirit pour into your heart God’s love, through Jesus who said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

 


[1] Bray, G. (2018). The Trinity. In M. Ward, J. Parks, B. Ellis, & T. Hains (Eds.), Lexham Survey of Theology. Lexham Press.

 

 

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

Sermon podcasts
Esterhazy Baptist Church Podbean

May 8, 2022 Podbean

Dial-A-Sermon – 1-306-985-9001
 (Note: this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply)

 
 
“A mother’s influence.” 1 Samuel 1 – 2.  
May 8, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship:We’ve come to worship God, who loved us before we were yet born, who knows us even better than we know ourselves, whose presence never leaves us, and whose love for us never ceases.  This is our God.  Let’s worship together!   

Hymn: “We have come into His house.”

Verse 1 – We have come into His house, and gathered in His name to worship Him (REPEAT)

We have come into His house, and gathered in His name to worship Christ the Lord, worship Him Christ the Lord.

Verse 2 – So forget about yourself, and concentrate on Him, and worship Him (REPEAT)

So, forget about yourself, and concentrate on Him and worship Christ the Lord, worship Him Christ the Lord.

CCLI Song # 17212 Bruce T. Ballinger © 1976 MCA Music Publ., A.D.O. Universal Studio (Admin. by Universal Music Publishing Group) Sound III, Inc. (Admin. by Universal Music Publishing Group) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

      Today is Mother’s Day, a day to celebrate and remember our mothers and their love.  It is encouraging & enlightening when a newly crowned champion’s first words of thanks are to their mother!  These days we may easily overlook the impact of mothers in the lives of our favorite celebrities and heroes, but they have left their mark!  A poem intitled “A mother’s influence” says:

I took a piece of plastic clay and idly fashioned it one day;
And as my fingers pressed it still, it moved and yielded at my will.

I came again when days were past, the form I gave it still it bore,
And as my fingers pressed it still, I could change that form no more.

I took a piece of living clay, and gently formed it day by day,
And molded with my power and art, a young child’s soft and yielding heart.

I came again when days were gone; it was a man I looked upon,
He still that early impress bore, and I could change it never more.  – 
Source unknown

      The wisdom and understanding of a mother are often under appreciated, but always significant! One day a boy came home to his mother with a note from his teacher, which read: “Your child is dumb. We can’t do anything for him.”  The mother wrote back: “You do not understand my boy. I will teach him myself.”It would seem that this mother proved she was right about her son, as few would now call Thomas A. Edison, holder of 1093 US patents, dumb![1]

      The Bible also shows us the influence of mothers on their children.  Moses’ mother is listed in Hebrews 11:23 as among those who walked by faith for her choices and influence on her son Moses.  How does one become an influencer of lives?  Is it just the way they are or how they’ve been raised?  Our makeup, background and gift mix influence how we do things, but it is how we respond to life’s trials that determine our spiritual maturity, that then, we pass on to others (James 1:2-4).

      Today we are going to look at a woman who never grasped for greatness, yet grew through her trials, trusted her God and by influencing her son’s faith, impacted the spiritual direction of her entire country!  The woman’s name is Hannah.  She was married to Elkanah, a godly man, which unfortunately was rare in those days.  It had been around 300 years since the Israelites had arrived in their promised land, and many had since turned their hearts away from the Lord.  Even the priests were ignoring God’s commands directing their behaviour.

      Hannah’s marriage was ‘good’, she was loved by her husband, yet the Lord had not blessed them with children.  Perhaps this is why Elkanah had a second wife, Peninnah.  God blessed Peninnah with Children, but she often reminded Hannah of her barrenness, esp. when the family would go to the Tabernacle in Shiloh for their annual worship and sacrifice to the Lord. 

      On one such visit, Hannah, completely distraught, went to the Tabernacle to pour out her broken and bitter heart to the Lord; Judges 1:10“In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.” (NIV84).  The New American Commentary tells us the significance of the language used in this verse: Hannah wept and prayed to the Lord “in bitterness of soul,” a phrase used elsewhere to characterize the psychological pain experienced by one who has been deprived of a child through death (cf. Ruth 1:13, 20; 2 Kgs 4:27; Zech 12:10) or who is experiencing great personal physical suffering (cf. Job 3:20; 7:11; 10:1; Isa 38:15). Relief from this sort of pain is never pictured in the Hebrew Bible as coming from a human being; in each case divine intervention was the only remedy. Wisely, Hannah also went to the Lord for help.[2]

      After some initial misunderstanding, the High Priest who witnessed Hannah’s silent prayer asked the Lord to grant her request, and he did.  What was her request?  I’m sure we can guess she asked for a child!  She’d likely prayed that prayer countless times before, this time there was more: 1 Samuel 1:10–11. “In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”” (NIV).  What a promise to make!  Even more telling about Hannah’s character is that she keeps her promise after the Lord gives her a son!  After the boy was weaned, she brought him to the High Priest who had asked the Lord to grant her prayer and dedicated her son to the Lord’s service.  She kept in touch with her son, each year bring him a new linen robe to wear in his duties serving the Lord.  In 1 Samuel 2:21 we learn that the Lord God blessed Hannah & Elkanah with five more children!

      By now you have likely figured out the name of Hannah’s first son – Samuel.  Samuel was not seduced by the evil around him, but followed his parent’s God whole heartly.  Samuel became Israel’s last judge and was used by God to bring the people back into relationship with Him.  Samuel was also used by the Lord to choose and anoint Israel’s first two kings, Saul & David.  Hannah, through the impact she had on her son, influenced the spiritual direction of her people, just by faithfully following the Lord and letting Him work in and through her.  Are you going through some difficulties today? From Hannah’s life in 1 Samuel 1 & 2 Be assured that:

1.  God knows about your situation (1 Sam. 3-8, 10-18; 2:3b).
      Are you in the midst of a difficult situation?  Be assured that God knows and that he has not overlooked or forgotten you.
2.  God care about your situation (1 Sam. 1:20).
      Sometimes while in the midst of a lingering trial we may have the thought “this is because God doesn’t care about you” – but that is not true!  In Hannah’s case, the Lord was preparing Hannah, the High Priest Eli, and the country for what he wanted to do through a soon to be born Samuel.  James 1:2-4 reminds us that when we use trials as opportunities to place our faith in the Lord’s presence and care, and persist, we will mature in our faith.  Finally, when you are going through difficult times, remember:
3.  God is with you, supporting you as you lean on him and grow through your trials.
      This doesn’t mean that things will be easy!  Following and obeying the Lord in this sinful world never is, but it is the right thing to do!  Obeying the Lord is the only choice in life which will produce ‘fruit’ which will endure into eternity.  Also, only the Lord knows how my faithful obedience will impact others, so I obey him and leave the result to Him.
 
Hymn:“Now thank we all our God”
Verse 1 – Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices, Who wondrous things has done, in whom His world rejoices; Who from our mother’s arms, has blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love and still is ours today.

Verse 2 – O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us, with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us; And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed, And free us from all ills In this world and the next.

Verse 3 – All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given, the Son and Him who reigns with them in highest heaven, The one eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore; for thus it was is now, And shall be evermore.
CCLI Song # 86638 Catherine Winkworth | Johann Crüger | Martin Rinkart © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:

Salvation belongs to the Lord—so failure is not the last word; our problems are not the last word; loneliness is not the last word; guilt and shame are not the last words—so rejoice in that.

Salvation belongs to the Lord—so rest in the Lord, even if the circumstances have your head spinning; realize that God will make a way.

Salvation belongs to the Lord—seek to be in God’s Presence—let Him be your glory and the lifter of your head—let Him do in you what will be for your best.

Salvation belongs to our God, who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. Praise and glory, wisdom and thanks, honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen. (Influenced by Ps. 3)



[1] Galaxie Software. (2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.

[2] Bergen, R. D. (1996). The New American Commentary 1, 2 Samuel (Vol. 7, p. 68). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

Sermon podcasts
Esterhazy Baptist Church Podbean

May 1, 2022 Podbean

Dial-A-Sermon – 1-306-985-9001
 (Note: this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply)

 
 
“Jesus, my Redeemer.”  1 Peter 1:13-19
May 1, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship: “Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer. Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.” “O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows. He himself will redeem Israel from every kind of sin.” Psalm 130:2–47-8 (NLT)

Hymn: #506 “I will sing of my redeemer”

Verse 1 – I will sing of my Redeemer, and His wondrous love to me, on the cruel cross He suffered, from the curse to set me free.

Chorus – Sing O sing of my Redeemer, with His blood He purchased me, on the cross He sealed my pardon, paid the debt, and made me free.

Verse 2 – I will tell the wondrous story, how my lost estate to save, In His boundless love and mercy, He the ransom freely gave.

Verse 3 – I will praise my dear Redeemer, His triumphant power I’ll tell, how the victory He giveth, over sin and death and hell.

Verse 4 – I will sing of my Redeemer, and His heav’nly love for me, He from death to life

hath brought me, Son of God with Him to be.

CCLI Song # 2648163 Philip Paul Bliss Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     Today I want to speak about “Jesus, my redeemer.”  What does it mean when we speak of Jesus as our redeemer?  Redeemer is not a term that you hear very often outside of church. However, you will hear “redeem” used in settings like business & banking.  To redeem means to gain or regain possession of something in exchange for payment.  A redeemer is a person who redeems someone or something.  Hayford’s Bible Handbook defines redeemer as “one who frees or delivers another from difficulty, danger, or bondage, usually by the payment of a ransom price.”[1]

     Sometimes when people were in financial difficulty, they would sell land or homes, or even themselves to pay off their debts. Hebrew law had a process to redeem people and property. Land was not to permanently leave a family’s ownership and so a system was in place where it could be bought back and redeemed by a relative for them.

     The term ‘redeemer’ is rich in meaning throughout the Bible. I would like to turn our attention to 1 Peter 1:18-19. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (NIV).  The Greek word translated ‘redeemed’ here was used of slaves seeking their freedom.

     We are told three key things about the redeeming process in these verses:

1.The price paid for our redemption is beyond the resources of this world!(v. 18a) it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed.” 

     We consider silver and gold precious because they are rare, are beautiful when polished up, and endure because they do not rust or corrode like other metals. However, these “precious metals” while outlasting many things here on earth, will not last forever, they are not eternal because they are perishable. Peter is reminding us that even gold & silver was inadequate to cover the cost of the high cost of our redemption.  Since our most valuable commodities were not enough, this was a ransom we could never hope to pay ourselves.

2.Our hopeless situation has endured for generations(v. 18b).

     Notice what Peter says about the life we were rescued from, redeemed from: For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors”.  It was “empty.”  This means that it was worthless, futile, and empty. What is the use of living a life without meaning?  It is hopeless, and many people who have reached this conclusion don’t realize that because of Jesus it doesn’t have to stay this way! This is a picture of generational slavery, this is what we were born into, and our parents and their parents. This hopeless life is all we knew; there was nothing we could do to change it, so we tried to make the best of it.  And yet, there was someone who loved us and acted to change things for us – our redeemer came and paid the ransom to free us from our slavery to sin.  What could possibly purchase our freedom if silver or gold was not sufficient? 

3.  Our freedom came at the cost of Christ’s life!(v. 19).

     Verse 19 tells us that we were redeemed by “the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” This is describing Jesus.  John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God: John 1:29. “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (NIV)

     The imagery used by both Peter and John is of the Passover Lamb seen in Exodus 12.  As the Lord God was preparing His 10th and last plague to humble Egypt and allow the Israelite slaves to leave the country.  Exodus 12:5–7. “The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.” (NIV)

Exodus 12:12–14. ““On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.” (NIV)

     The Passover reminded the Israelites how the Lord had freed them when they were slaves in Egypt; they were redeemed by the blood of the lamb.  1 Peter 1:19 tells us the cost of our redemption was the blood of the precious, unique, one-of-a-kind, eternal, not perishable Christ, the lamb of God.

     How should we, the redeemed, respond?  Listen to verses vv. 18-19: 1 Peter 1:13–20. “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (NIV)

     What is our response to be to our redeemer? That we take seriously the cost of our redemption by living a life that celebrates and honors our Lord.  We are to let go of the old empty life we were brought out of.  Peter reminds us to live in the hope of Jesus’ return.  He also reminds us that we part of God’s family, and we are to reflect his character and values in our lives – to be holy in all we do, because He is holy, remembering we will account for what we have done with the resources he has intrusted to us with.  1 John 3:1a. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (NIV)

Closing Hymn: #206 “There is a redeemer” (vv. 1-3)

V. 1 – There is a Redeemer Jesus God’s own Son, Precious Lamb of God Messiah Holy One.

Chorus – Thank You, O my Father, for giving us Your Son, And leaving Your Spirit, Till the work on earth is done.

V. 2 – Jesus my Redeemer name above all names, Precious Lamb of God Messiah, O for sinners slain.

V. 3 – When I stand in glory I will see His face, There I’ll serve my King forever, In that holy place.

CCLI Song # 11483 Melody Green © 1982 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) Birdwing Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Ears To Hear (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:Revelation 1:5b–6. “To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (NASB95)



[1] Hayford, J.W. (1997, c1995). Hayford’s Bible Handbook. Nashwille: Thomas Nelson.

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

Sermon podcasts
Esterhazy Baptist Church Podbean

April 24, 2022 Podbean

Dial-A-Sermon – 1-306-985-9001
 (Note: this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply)

 
John 20:24-31. Believing in the risen Jesus.
April 24, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to worship: “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!”  ““I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “Those who come to me will never be hungry; those who believe in me will never be thirsty.” Matthew 5:6; John 6:35(GNB) 

Opening Song:“Lord I lift your name on high.”

Lord, I lift Your name on high, Lord I love to sing Your praises. I’m so glad You’re in my life, I’m so glad You came to save us.

You came from heaven to earth to show the way, From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay. From the cross to the grave, From the grave to the sky, Lord I lift Your name on high.

CCLI Song # 117947. Rick Founds. © 1989 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

      John chapter 20 is the Apostle John’s account of Jesus’ resurrection and the responses of his disciples in the days following.  In verse 2 we are told that along with Peter, was “the other disciple, the one Jesus loved,” this is how John refers to himself in his Gospel, without using his own name.  We are getting a first-person eyewitness account of Jesus’ resurrection!

·        Jesus was crucified, died & placed in a sealed tomb on Friday.

·        Sunday morning the tomb is found open, Jesus’ body is missing & Mary Magdalene runs to tell Peter and John.

·        The 3 then go to the tomb. Jesus’ body is missing but they see that his grave clothes are still there! John tells us that when he saw the grave linen in one place and cloth which had been on Jesus’ head folded up and in another place in the tomb, “he believed.”

·        Mary is left weeping at the tomb.  She talks with 2 men, angels; then to man she thinks is a gardener.  When he calls her by name is realizes he is Jesus and cries out ‘Teacher’. She returns to the disciples with a message from Jesus, saying: “I have seen the Lord!”

·        That Sunday evening 10 of Jesus’ apostles are together in a locked room when Jesus appears to them alive.  He is risen from the dead! 

John 20: 24-25 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”” (NIV)

I.   JESUS AND THOMAS:

      The other disciples were excited for Thomas to hear that Jesus is alive and they had seen him. I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone told him their experiences. 

1.   Thomas’ response to the disciples’ reports:

      Thomas isn’t going to believe just because they insist it is true.  He states his need for concrete, hands on proof before he will believe that Jesus is alive again!

2.   Jesus’ response to Thomas’ doubt:

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

      Jesus responds to Thomas’ need to see and touch him, but not in a private meeting. Thomas needed to come and be with the other disciples, and it may be significant that Jesus waits until the following Sunday.  Is this Jesus’ way of affirming our need to be together on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) to experience the risen Lord together?

      It is beautiful to see how Jesus deals with Thomas so quickly & gently.  He doesn’t require Thomas apologize to himself or the other disciples; he simply offers what Thomas said he would need to believe Jesus is risen.  God didn’t want to leave Thomas in his unbelief; here are my hands and my side, reach out; stop doubting and believe.

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

3.   Thomas’ response to the risen Jesus:

      Thomas now goes beyond acknowledging that Jesus is alive by expressing unreserved faith. Thomas may have demanded concrete evidence that Jesus has risen from the dead, but it seems he had also thought through what it would mean if he had!  He concludes that since Jesus has defeated death, he is no ordinary man so he declares that Jesus is “MY Lord and MY God”!

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

4.   Jesus’ response to Thomas’ declaration:

      What is Jesus’ response to Thomas’ statement in verse 28 where he refers to Jesus as “my Lord and my God”?  “29a Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed.”  Jesus accepts Thomas’ declaration that He is Lord and God!   Others had called Jesus the Christ, good teacher, miracle worker, and the Son of God, but Thomas called him “Lord and God” - ​“Adonai and Elohim.”  Here in one statement, we have the meaning of the person and work of Jesus. He is Lord; that means sovereign ruler or all. He is also God; that means he is divine, the Messiah and the Savior.

5.   Jesus’ response to Thomas’ need to see him:

      In response to Thomas’ requirement to see Jesus to believe, Jesus lets us know that this is the exception and not the rule!  Jesus gives a special beatitude for all those who will believe in him by faith. Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. John 20:29 (NIV).  

      Years later the apostle Peter likely had this beatitude in mind when he wrote to believers: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8–9 (NIV).

II. JESUS AND US:

      You may find yourself identifying with Thomas and have felt that if Jesus would just show up in your living room you would believe.  Yet Jesus’ blessing, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29a (NIV) means it is completely possible, how?  The Apostle John as he ends this chapter says that in his Gospel is all you need to come to believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah and the Son of the living God.  30Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30–31 (NIV). Listen to what Jesus says about himself and watch what he does, he is not just any man; he is the Son of God.  G.L. Borchert in his commentary on John in the New American Commentary series sums up John’s portrayal of Jesus.  He says: Thomas’s response forms the high point of confession in the Gospel. What it does is bring the Gospel full circle from the Prologue, where it is emphatically said that the “Word was God” (1:1) to this confession, “My Lord and my God.” In the process of writing this Gospel the evangelist has proclaimed that Jesus was active in creation (1:2), the Word who became incarnate/enfleshed (1:14), the sin-bearing Lamb of God (1:29, 36), the Messiah (1:41; 4:25–26), the Son of God (1:18), the King of Israel (1:49), the new Temple (2:19–21), a teacher sent from God (3:2), a new symbol of God’s power exhibited through Moses (3:14), the evidence of the love of God (3:16), the Savior of the World (4:42), equal with God (5:18), the authority in judgment (5:27), the agent of God (5:30), the fulfillment of Scripture (5:39), the expected prophet (6:14), the “I am” (6:35, etc.), the supplier of living water (7:38), the one who was from God (9:31–33), the Son of Man (9:35), the consecrated/Holy one (10:36), the lifted up one (3:14; 12:32–34), the glorified one (13:31), the preparer of his followers’ destiny (14:2), the nonabandoning one (14:18), the one in whom we must abide and who is the basis for the fruitfulness of his followers (15:5–7), the sender of the Paraclete (15:26), the bearer of truth (18:37), the crucified King (19:15), the risen Lord (20:20) and God (20:26). The list can be expanded greatly, but… John has supplied for the church of all ages a truly masterful statement about Jesus—Jesus is indeed Lord and God![1]

      How about you?  Is Jesus your Lord and your God?  You will receive life eternal as you accept Jesus as your Savior & Lord.  How:

1.  Admit your need (…I am a sinner)

2.  Confess & turn away from your sins (repent)

3.  Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the Cross and rose from the grave.

4.  Invite Jesus Christ to come in and control your life through the Holy Spirit. (Receive Him as Lord & Savior.)

      What if you, as a Christian are struggling with doubt even as you know Jesus’ assurances?  Dr. George Sweeting, former president of Moody Bible Institute was approached by a man after he had shared a message.  He said: “May I talk with you about my salvation? I’m desperately confused.” He went on to state that he had acknowledged the Lord as Saviour but had little peace and Christian confidence. “As I listened to your message, I decided I must settle it.”

      I replied. “First, look into your life to discover if all is right between yourself and the Lord. Carnal believers are usually full of doubts. If the Holy Spirit is grieved through self-will or sin, He cannot witness effectively to your salvation because there is contradiction. For this reason, the witness of the Holy Spirit is often dimmed. Second, after discovering the wrong, openly confess it to the Lord. Third, deal with it and do works to prove your repentance.”

      We bowed our heads as he sought God’s gracious forgiveness. It was evident that the Lord was in the room, for when we arose from our knees he was changed. His expression, his voice, his whole attitude radiated blessed assurance. Careless living will always create doubt, but the opposite is also true. Doubt leads to careless living. [2]

      Now, what our tasks as Christians?  To obey our Lord’s will.  The purpose on Jesus’ heart as He came from the glory of heaven to the cross, and then returning from the grave to the throne, was to let people know that real, lasting, eternal life is available through believing in Him. Our purpose is to share that truth which changed our life, with others!  John 20:21 “…As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

Closing Song: Amazing Grace, my chains are gone

Verse 1 – Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.

Verse 2 – ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.

Chorus – My chains are gone I’ve been set free; My God my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy rains, Unending love amazing grace.

Verse 3 – The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.

Verse 4 – The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, The sun forbear to shine, But God who called me here below, Will be forever mine. Will be forever mine. You are forever mine.

CCLI Song # 4768151 Chris Tomlin | John Newton | Louie Giglio © 2006 sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Vamos Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  15a Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. 16a Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:15a, 16a, 17 (NLT)

 



[1] Borchert, G. L. (2002). The New American Commentary, John 12–21 (Vol. 25B, pp. 314–315). Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Sweeting, G. Great quotes & illustrations, p. 98.  ©1985 Word Inc.

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“What Easter gives us.”
Apr. 17, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship:Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory.” 1 Corinthians 15:20;Revelation 19:6b–7a (NKJV)

Hymn: #217 “Christ the Lord is risen today” (vv. 1-4)

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia.  Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia.  Raise your joys and triumphs high, Allelu allelu.  Sing ye heavens and earth reply, Alleluia.

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia.  Where O death is now thy sting?  Alleluia. Dying once He all doth save, Allelu allelu. Where thy victory O grave? Alleluia.

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia.  Fought the fight the battle won, Alleluia.  Death in vain forbids Him rise, Alleluallelu.  Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia.  Following our exalted Head, Alleluia.  Made like Him like, Him we rise, Alleluia.  Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia.

CCLI Song # 2728588  Charles Wesley  Public Domain  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use. All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Scripture Reading: Matthew 28:1–10 (The Message)
After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb. Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God’s angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn’t move. The angel spoke to the women: “There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed. “Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ That’s the message.” The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb. They ran to tell the disciples. Then Jesus met them, stopping them in their tracks. “Good morning!” he said. They fell to their knees, embraced his feet, and worshiped him. Jesus said, “You’re holding on to me for dear life! Don’t be frightened like that. Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee, and that I’ll meet them there.”

      He is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!  Today, Easter is the pivotal day in the Christian Church.  Yet it is difficult to imagine the sorrow & sadness Jesus’ disciples were experiencing after his crucifixion.  The one they had devoted three years of their lives to, believing he was sent by God, is gone, he is dead.  However, when they saw, touched and talked with Jesus, risen and alive their sorrow gave way to celebration and they worshipped him.

Methodist Pastor, William Sangster contracted a disease that was gradually paralyzing him. It was especially hard for him as preacher when his vocal cords became paralyzed. On what became his last Easter Sunday on earth, as his daughter was visiting him, he scribbled a message to her: “How terrible to wake up on Easter & have no voice with which to shout, ‘He is risen!’” After a moment of reflection, he then added the words, yet it is “far worse to have a voice and not want to shout!”  What is it about Easter that is worthy of our shouts of praise? Using the Gospels and Paul’s letter to the Romans; let’s look at why we celebrate Easter.

1.  Easter Gives Us Confirmation of Christ’s Identity (Rom. 1:1–4).

      Who is Jesus?  We know that Jesus was born to Mary, and that he is a descendent of King David, we have his genealogical record.  How do we know he is divine, the son of God?  The Gospels tell us Jesus claimed to be God:

John 10:30–33 (NIV) I and the Father are one.” Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

John 14:9 (NIV) Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

      Now, making a claim to be something is one thing, but proving it is another.  If someone knocked on your door late at night claiming to be a police officer, you’d ask to see some credentials before letting them into your house.  Jesus claimed to be God; is there anything he said or did to verify that?  Jesus did many miraculous things confirming God was with him.  He also gave details before his death about his arrest, crucifixion and resurrection. 

      At the beginning of his ministry Jesus said: (John 2:19) “Destroy this temple (referring to His body), and in three days I will raise it up”.  Later he said, (Matt. 12:40) “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”. Jesus told his disciples that the Son of Man (a term he used to refer to himself) must suffer many things and be rejected and killed, and after three days rise again (Mark 8:31).  People knew these claims.  That’s why guards were posted at Jesus’ grave to prevent anyone from stealing his body, but when the tomb was opened, Jesus was gone!

      Listen to how the Apostle Paul begins his letter to the Romans: This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. (NLT)

      How do we know Jesus Christ was truly divine, God?  He rose from the dead!  Jesus’ Easter resurrection verifies his claims to be true! 

      A second reason for rejoicing is that:

2. Easter Gives Us the Cancellation of Sin’s Penalty (Rom. 4:22 – 5:1).

      It was no mistake that Jesus was crucified during the Passover.  John the Baptist, referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:29).  The Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:24 wrote: “Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross so that freed from our sins, we could live a life that has God’s approval. His wounds have healed you.” (GW).The Apostle Paul in Romans 4:25–5:1wrote: He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” (NLT).

      The Bible Knowledge Commentary says: “Christ’s resurrection was the proof of God’s acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice (Rom. 1:4). Thus, because He lives, God can credit His provided righteousness to the account of every person who responds by faith to that offer.”

·       Easter confirms Jesus’ divine identity.

·       Easter cancels sin’s penalty through faith in Jesus. And…

3. Easter Gives Us the Celebration of Life Eternal (Rom. 6:4-5; 8:11).

      Those who know & follow Christ as their Savior & Lord have certain hope of a resurrection of our own, of eternal life.

Romans 6:4–5 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.” (NLT)

Romans 8:11The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” (NLT)

      Robert Ingersoll, the skeptic, rejected belief in the Resurrection, but at the casket of his brother he speculated as to whether or not something might lie beyond the grave. “We cry aloud,” he said, “and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry.”

In John 11:25–26 we read these powerful words of Jesus: Jesus said, “I am the one who brings people back to life, & I am life itself. Those who believe in me will live even if they die. Everyone who lives & believes in me will never die. Do you believe that?” (GW)

Conclusion:  So, what’s the significance of Easter?  Easter means Jesus has won the victory!  Easter gives us everything we need:

·       Easter confirms that Jesus is the powerful Son of the living God – He IS risen, He is alive!

·       Easter demonstrates that sin’s penalty has been met – Jesus’ resurrection confirms that the price for sin has been paid and death is defeated!

·       Easter begins the celebration of life eternal. Jesus’ resurrection is the first of those who will put their faith in him and follow him.

      Are you excited by Easter, by what Jesus has made possible for you? All of this and more is yours for the taking, for the believing, for the accepting. Will you come to Christ today?

He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

Hymn: #213 “Because He lives”

Verse 1 – God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus, He came to love heal and forgive, He bled and died to buy my pardon, an empty grave is there to prove, My Savior lives.

Chorus – Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, Because He lives all fear is gone, Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because He lives.

Verse 2 – How sweet to hold our newborn baby, and feel the pride and joy he gives, but greater still the calm assurance, this child can face uncertain days, Because Christ lives.

Verse 3 – And then one day I’ll cross that river, I’ll fight life’s final war with pain, and then as death gives way to vict’ry, I’ll see the lights of glory, And I’ll know He reigns.

CCLI Song # 16880 Gloria Gaither | William J. Gaither © 1971 Hanna Street Music (Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  May the presence of the risen Christ, both personal and powerful, both intimate and infinite, go with us both now and forevermore. Amen.

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Luke 19:11-44. “What is my response to Jesus?”

April 10, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

 

Call to Worship:9 The crowd that went ahead of him and that followed him was shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”” Matthew 21:9–10 (GW).

Worship in Song: “Hosanna”

Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest!  Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest!

Lord we lift up Your name, with hearts full of praise, Be exalted oh Lord my God!  Hosanna in the highest! (Glory to the King of Kings! – second time around)

Glory, Glory, Glory to the King of Kings!  Glory, Glory, Glory to the King of Kings!

CCLI Song # 21545 Carl Tuttle © 1985 Shadow Spring Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® . All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

       Today is known in the church calendar as Palm Sunday. It remembers the day Jesus arrived in Jerusalem with his followers the week before his crucifixion.  All four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry records this joyous event.  You will not be alone if you find it difficult join a celebration today, know that Jesus’ crucifixion is only days away.

       Today we will look at Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as recorded in the Gospel of Luke.  We will also take note of some content unique to Luke found in chapter 19.  The events surrounding Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem show us that Jesus is aware of what is coming and is actively trying to preparing his disciples for it.

       Luke 19:28-40 tells the account of Jesus travelling to Jerusalem with his disciples to celebrate the Passover.  Luke has much to tell us about this final week and limited space, so any included details are given for our benefit.  Let’s reflect on what Luke draws our attention to.

       Luke’s account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem begins in verse 28 with a link to the previous discussion: “28 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.Luke 19:28 (NIV). We will come back to this transitional statement shortly.

       Next Luke gives us very specific details about how the colt Jesus now rides on was obtained.  What does Luke want us to see?  He is reminding us that Jesus is in complete control of this moment.  He knows where an appropriate animal can be found, what to say to borrow it from its owners, what is will be used for and how the crowd will respond.  The subsequent parade and shouts of: “38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”Luke 19:38 (NIV) is spontaneous.  In fact, John 12:16, tells us that the disciples only come to realize after Jesus’ resurrection that this moment was a fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9; yet as we will learn, Jesus already knows its importance!

       In a detail unique to Luke, we see some of the Pharisees traveling with Jesus tell him to rebuke his disciples for their messianic praise alluding to him as king.  Jesus’ response to them is that if the people won’t give praise, the rocks around them will!  Luke wants us to hear Jesus acknowledging that this moment is important and since praise is appropriate, he will not prevent it, because, as the Gospel of John tells us, this celebration was a fulfillment of prophecy!

       Luke 19:41-44, another story unique to Luke, is a sad moment in an otherwise joyful journey. Why does Jesus weep upon seeing Jerusalem?  Because he knows what is to come!  The recent rebuke of some of the Pharisees foreshadows the people’s rejection of the Messiah and the later demolition of Jerusalem.  In 66 A.D. the Jewish rebellion against Rome began and in 70 A.D. Jerusalem fell to the Romans and the temple was destroyed and remains that way today.  Why was it important for Luke to include these details?  He wants us to see and be reassured that none of what is coming will catch Jesus by surprise! 

       Remember verse 28? “After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.Luke 19:28 (NIV).  Let’s look at what came before it:

       Luke 19:1-10 tells of Jesus meeting the tax collector Zacchaeus, a story found only here in Luke.  After Jesus is rejoices in salvation coming to Zacchaeus’ house, he tells the parable of the ten Minas (Luke 19:11-27).  This is a a parable about investment similar to the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25, but unique in its content and the time when Jesus tells it.

         I’ll read Luke 19:12-27 then we will consider why Luke includes this right before the Palm Sunday passage.  “12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ 14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ 15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. 16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ 17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ 18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ 19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’ 20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’ 24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’ 25 “ ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’ 26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”” Luke 19:12–27 (NIV).

       The scenario that Jesus describes in this parable may seem harsh to us, yet it was quite familiar to his listeners.  When Herod the Great died in 4 BC, he wanted his kingdom divided between three of his sons, however this had to be ratified by Rome.  Archelaus, who wanted to be king of Judea, went to Rome to plead his case before Caesar.  However, delegation of 50 Jews was sent to object to his rule over them.  Archelaus was given the right to rule them and remembered their opposition to him!

       Why does Jesus tell this parable now, and why does Luke choose to include it for us?  His transition statement in verse 11 tells us: “11 “While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.”

       Jesus knows that his followers are hoping that he will be declared king in Jerusalem are high.  This expectation is going to be fueled by what he knows will happen as he enters Jerusalem, the triumphal entry; so, he tells them this parable.  Jesus has repeatedly told his disciples that he is going to be rejected, killed and rise after three days (Lk. 9:22; 18:31-34) but they do not understand.  This lack of comprehension continues after Jesus’ death and resurrection.  For example, in Luke 24:21 the two people on the road to Emmaus say: “We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.” Luke 24:21 (NLT).  Jesus, knowing the power of a story to stick in our memory, told this parable for the sake of his disciples in the time after his resurrection.

       This parable tells us that Jesus clearly knew his timetable, and wants his followers to have accurate expectations, such as:

  • There will be those who reject to him as their king.
  • He will be away for a time, but he will return as king.
  • With the authority of king, he will deal with those who reject him as their king.
  • His servants must account for their use of the resources he made available to them.

       The triumphal entry is a fore-shadowing of what is to come, the celebration of Jesus’ kingship.  Ask yourself, am I ready?

  • Does my life show that Jesus is my king?
  • Am I living like I believe Jesus is coming back and will hold me accountable for what I’ve done with his resources to increase his kingdom?
  • Am I sharing this vital truth with others who need to meet King Jesus?

       What’s your response to Jesus as king?  Is he your king? Acknowledge him today.  And remember, just celebrating an event isn’t enough, as we see with Palm Sunday.  If Jesus is my king, then his reign will begin to be seen in MY life!  Decide to follow him today and let your life declare that you are living for the one who died for you!  Walk in the Lord’s strength to live for him today!

Hymn: #376 “I have decided to follow Jesus”

I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back no turning back.

The world behind me the cross before me, The world behind me the cross before me, The world behind me the cross before me, No turning back no turning back.

Though none go with me I still will follow, Though none go with me I still will follow, Though none go with me I still will follow, No turning back no turning back

Will you decide now to follow Jesus, Will you decide now to follow Jesus, Will you decide now to follow Jesus, No turning back no turning back.

CCLI Song # 2151540 Jeffrey Rickard | Unknown © Words: Public Domain Music: 1994 Selah Publishing Company, Inc. For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: God did not say that it would be easy to bring the good news to all people, but God did say that He would be with you. So go now in peace, walking humbly with God. Bring the good news of hope to all the people. AMEN.

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

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Galatians 5:22-23. How do I know I’m putting Him first?

April 3, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church

 

Call to Worship: “Let us wait on God and seek daily to obey Him.  He is our salvation and our security, and nothing in this world can take that away from us.  Let us calm our hostilities, overcome our anxieties, and walk in peace and love. (L.F. Brandt, paraphrase of Ps. 37)

Hymn #457 I Will Sing Of The Mercies Of The Lord

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; I will sing I will sing.  I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; I will sing of the mercies of the Lord.

With my mouth, will I make known, Thy faithfulness, Thy faithfulness.  With my mouth, will I make known, Thy faithfulness to all generations.

CCLI Song # 23316 James Henry Fillmore Sr. © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     If you read or heard last week’s message, you know that we were considering the question: What is to be our highest priority?  God’s answer was seen in the first commandment he gave his people: “Do not worship any god except me.” Exodus 20:1 (CEV).  The very first commandment tells us to guard our relationship with God as our highest priority.  No plans, affection, god, person, object, task, duty, or pleasure is to come before our relationship with the Lord our God.  He is to be the one we chose to love, and the only one we worship!

     With all the responsibilities, opportunities and challenges that life brings, keeping the Lord God my number one priority has to be a deliberate and daily choice or else other things will start to crowd him out.  We saw that worry is a warning sign that we are not putting God first.  Proverbs 3:5 & 6 reminded us to trust in the Lord, to lean on the Lord for everything, with the assurance that he will guide our steps.  We also saw that we should be ready to explain the reason for the hope we have in Jesus, because people will want to know why we respond different in the same situation than they would.  Today we will continue thinking about putting Jesus first in our life with the question: 

     How do I know if I am putting the Lord first?  Where do I start? In the Gospel of John 1:10-13 we see various responses to Jesus: “10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.John 1:10–13 (NLT).  The world he made didn’t recognize him as their creator.  His own people rejected him.  Yet those who believe and accept him as God in the flesh; this means to make him #1 in your life; he gave the right to become children of God!  What is this saying about those who accept Jesus as their saviour sent by God the Father?  We become his children, part of his family!  And what does that mean for our discussion today?  It means that if you are putting the Lord first in your life there is going to be some family resemblance – “you have your father’s mannerisms; I can tell you are sisters you have the same smile.”  You may have heard statements like these at family reunions, and the same thing happens when God’s family comes together.

     Today I would like to consider some things you & I can look for and continue to develop in our lives which affirms that we are part of God’s family and we are putting the Him first in our life because of family resemblance.

  1. I am growing in the characteristics of the Holy Spirit.

     We are all so different and individual, how can we have any common characteristics to distinguish us as “family”?  Listen to Galatians 5:16, 22-23: “16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.22 …the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (NLT).   

     How do I know if I am putting God first in my life?  Look for evidence of His Spirit’s presence in my life – my words, actions, thoughts and attitudes.  Ask the Lord, ask those closest to you, evaluate your own response in times of pressure.  As I put God first, am I growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?  Can I see within myself characteristics and behaviours which reflect my heavenly Father, his Son and his Holy Spirit?

  1. I join Jesus in his mission:

     Luke 19:5-10 records Jesus stopping in Jericho to see what God is doing in the life of a tax collector named Zacchaeus.  However, Jesus is criticized by the crowd for being the guest of a sinner!  Later that day, when Zacchaeus caps off his spiritual rebirth with a pledge to repay those, he had cheated, Jesus said: “9 “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”Luke 19:9b–10 (NLT).

Jesus is declaring his mission and his passion – to seek and to save those who are lost – those who have fallen out of relationship with God and long to return.  This is God the Father’s mission through Jesus, as we see in John 3:17 “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (NLT).

     Seeking to save the lost was Jesus’ passion and we, as his family, as we understand Jesus’ heart will hold this same desire and passion within us.  However, remember that Jesus has commissioned us to be his witnesses to the lost under his authority and by the power of the Holy Spirit, not in our own strength or will power! Ask him to give you his heart for the lost and for the Holy Spirit’s guidance when sharing with them. “18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:18–20 (NLT).

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:8 (NLT).

  1. I chose to turn my will over to the will of God the Father:

     What my heavenly father wants is what I want!  We see this in Jesus.  After talking with the Samaritan women at the well, she left to tell the villagers about Jesus and his disciples came with food they had bought.  They urged Jesus to eat something but found him uninterested in their food, and wondered if someone else had fed him:  John 4:31–3331 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” As it turned out, Jesus’ focus was on the Samaritans who responded to the women’s testimony and were coming to meet Jesus, the Messiah.  John 4: 34 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (NIV) Doing the will of God, his father and finishing his work was Jesus’ nourishment.

     Shortly before Jesus is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, we hear him pray: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”” Matthew 26:39b (NIV) And again in verse 42: “He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”” Matthew 26:42 (NIV).  He knew the cup of suffering which was coming, and twice asked that if it was possible to have it removed but both times submitted his will to the will of God the Father.

     As part of the family of God, a third way I am going to reflect my family resemblance is my desire to daily choose to submit my will to that of God the Father.  We have seen this is how Jesus lived, and it is what he taught his disciples: “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 (NIV). This is what the Apostle Paul modeled in his life and how we are to live as followers of Jesus: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NIV).

     We are coming to the end of Lent and are preparing to remember Jesus’ final week before his death and resurrection.  Today remember what Jesus did for you to make it possible for you to become part of God’s family, and be forever grateful – showing your joy in how you live: bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, sharing Christ Jesus’ passion for reaching the lost and putting God the Father’s will before your own.  Amen.

Hymn: #282 “The family of God”

I’m so glad I’m a part of the fam’ly of God, I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood.  Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod, for I’m part of the fam’ly, the family of God.

CCLI Song # 17023 Gloria Gaither | William J. Gaither © 1970 William J. Gaither, Inc. (Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: As the disciples walked with Christ so long ago, walk with Christ in your hearts and spirits. Feel the power of the Holy Spirit guiding your path. Know the love of God which is poured out for you and rejoice. Go in peace and may God’s peace go with you. AMEN.

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“Our highest priority.”  Proverbs 3:5-6; 1 Peter 3:15.

March 27, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

 

Call to Worship: “God our Savior showed us how good and kind he is. He saved us because of his mercy, and not because of any good things that we have done. God washed us by the power of the Holy Spirit. He gave us new birth and a fresh beginning. God sent Jesus Christ our Savior to give us his Spirit.” Titus 3:4–6 (CEV).

Hymn: #2 Come, Thou font

Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.  Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.  Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it mount of God’s redeeming love.

Here I find my greatest treasure; hither by thy help I’ve come; and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.  Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God; he, to rescue me from danger, bought me with his precious blood.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!  Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee: prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it; seal it for thy courts above.

Text: Robert Robinson; adapted by Margaret Clarkson. 

     What would you consider is the hardest part of being a pastor?  Not being able to sleep in on Sundays?  Preparing sermons?  Dealing with people?  Administration?  Funerals? Visiting the sick & discouraged?  While all these tasks have their challenges, they are not the hardest part.  The hardest part of being a pastor is almost certainly the same as the hardest part of being a board member or being a vibrant Christian – it is keeping Jesus the number one priority of my life.  We can be busy with a lot of busy stuff but be a lacking in God’s eyes, why? Because my relationship with Him isn’t healthy.

     The importance of a healthy relationship with God is evident throughout the Bible.  Consider what the Lord God said to the Israelites at Mount Sinai when he made his covenant with them: Exodus 19:1b–61…two months after leaving Egypt, they arrived at the desert near Mount Sinai, where they set up camp at the foot of the mountain. 3 Moses went up the mountain to meet with the Lord God, who told him to say to the people: 4 You saw what I did in Egypt, and you know how I brought you here to me, just as a mighty eagle carries its young. 5 Now if you will faithfully obey me, you will be my very own people. The whole world is mine, 6 but you will be my holy nation and serve me as priests. Moses, that is what you must tell the Israelites.” (CEV)Exodus 20:1–31 God said to the people of Israel: 2 I am the Lord your God, the one who brought you out of Egypt where you were slaves. 3 Do not worship any god except me.” (CEV).

     The very first commandment tells us to guard our relationship with God as our highest priority!  Why is this relationship so important?  NCEM missionary Noah Walhstrom sent a newsletter this week which begins with a quote from James K.A. Smith: “We become what we worship, because we worship what we love.” 

     Our number one task as followers of God is to make sure that nothing comes before Him in our priorities, plans or affections: no god, person, object, task, duty, or pleasure is to come before our relationship with the Lord our God!  This is no small task; we must daily be intentional in our care of our most important relationship! 

     We just finished looking at the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, possibly written around 60 A.D.  When the Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation around 90 A.D., we see that keeping their relationship with God their highest priority was a struggle for them as well. The believers in the church at Ephesus worked hard, kept their hopes alive, stayed doctrinally sound and suffered patiently in the Lord’s name.  Yet the Lord warned them that they were very close to losing both their light, their witness in the world!  Why?  Because they had drifted from their first love:  Revelation 2:4 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!” (NLT).  Hard work, good teaching, and a willingness to suffer for the Lord aren’t a replacement for growing deeper in love with Jesus.  This isn’t a job, project, or obligation, we are talking about, this is a living relationship, and the Lord is very concerned with the condition of our hearts towards Him.

     What can we do?  How can we ensure our relationship with the Lord Jesus remains the centre of our focus?  Proverbs 3:5–6 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV84).  All of your ways” means all our opportunities and undertakings. “Acknowledge” doesn’t mean only to know him by studying about Him, but rather through a personal relationship with Him.  The Living Bible says: “In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (LB)

     The key to a healthy relationship with our Lord is to trust him and put him first, then He will direct you.  What does that mean?  It means He not only will give you direction, but he commits himself to deal with the obstacles that stand in the way he designed for you.  He will make the path straight before you as you trust him with all your heart and don’t trust your own limited wisdom.  Doing things in God’s strength is a much more efficient use of your time!

     What happens when I trust in the Lord and make sure He has priority in my life?

  1. It will change my destructive patterns of worry and anxiety.

     Psalm 56:3 says: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” (NIV).  Recognize your fear, then remember the Lord – His love for you and His promises to you.

     Pastor Ron Mehl lived for many years with leukemia until the Lord took home. In a book he wrote before his death, he said people would often ask him how he managed, knowing he had leukemia, it seemed to them like: “years of hanging by a rope over the edge of cliff.  His answer – it’s no so bad when you know who is holding the rope.  I’ve settled into a sense of confidence that my time is in the Lord’s hands.”  1 Peter 5:7 in the Philips translation assures us: “You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon Him, for you are His personal concern.”

     Pastor Mehl went on to say: “I believe it is what you don’t surrender that ends up eating you alive, because you carry it and feel so responsible to somehow bring it all to a good conclusion – when deep in your heart you know you never can.

     What does Jesus say so clearly in Matt. 6? “Don’t worry. Don’t worry about anything… Pastor Mehl learned how to respond to worry, he said:  Worry is like a red warning light on the dashboard, informing us that we are not putting God first in our lives.  It alerts us that we’ve taken back our lives from His care – a very foolish and dangerous thing to do.”[1]

     Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (NIV84).  The verb trust is complemented by the verb “lean.” Trusting in God is a conscious dependence on God, much like leaning on a tree for support. The idea is reinforced here by the command to acknowledge Him, which means to observe Him and get to know Him in the process of living. In doing so, a person finds time and time again that God smooths out paths.[2]

     Proverbs 3:5-6 are familiar verses, listen to verses 7 & 8: Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:7-8 (NIV84).  Don’t rely on your own understanding, thinking you are wiser than you are, fear the Lord and shun evil, and it will make a difference in how you look and feel.  Fear and anxiety take a terrible toll on our bodies, we notice it and so do others. This leads to our next point.  When I make sure that God is first in my life…

  1. It will impact the people around me

     People can’t help but notice something different about you, because of the way you handle stress and pressure, and because of your attitude towards material things.  They will wonder why you respond the way you do.  The apostle Peter told us to be prepared for people to ask questions: 1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (NIV). 

     “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord,” what does this mean? “Put Him First, because he is your Lord!” Now, as we put Christ first, the chances to explain the reason for the hope in our hearts will come because people will see a difference in your life.  They may notice your peace when times are tough or your patience with difficult people, but something makes you different – what is it?  Are you ready to explain your hope?  Are you ready to explain why you put Him first?

     Never forget what Jesus did for you because of Love.  He took your sins upon Himself, even though He was sinless, and he suffered for those sins in your place so you could live with Him – now and in eternity.

     Pastor Ron Mehl sums it up well when he says: “Why should I ever want to put anyone or anything in from of Him? Why should I tolerate other gods in my life? Why should I serve lesser lords? He promised to provide for me everything I need. My life has completely changed, so why not tell the whole world what a mess I was in when He found me? But Jesus came along and took away my embarrassment and shame. Oh, how I love Him. That’s the reason we can hold out hope for others. That’s the reason we can say, ‘Put God first and He’ll cover your past. If God has forgiven me, He can forgive you.’ How could I not want to put such a God first? [3]

Hymn: #350 “’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus”

Verse 1 – ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word, just to rest upon His promise, just to know thus saith the Lord.

Chorus – Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him, how I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er, Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, O for grace to trust Him more.

Verse 2 – O how sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to trust His cleansing blood, Just in simple faith to plunge me, ‘Neath the healing cleansing flood.

Verse 3 – Yes ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, just from sin and self to cease, just from Jesus simply taking, life and rest and joy and peace.

Verse 4 – I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee precious Jesus Savior friend and I know that Thou art with me wilt be with me to the end.

CCLI Song # 22609 Louisa M. R. Stead | William James Kirkpatrick © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: To him who said: “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.” To him belongs all the “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength… forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:17–18; 7:12 (NLT)

 

[1] Ron Mehl, “The Ten(der) Commandments”, pp. 47-48.

[2]Radmacher, Earl D. ; Allen, Ronald Barclay ; House, H. Wayne: Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville : T. Nelson Publishers, 1999, S. Pr 3:5-6

[3] Ibid. p. 50.

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“How can we possibly fulfill God’s great plan?” Concluding thoughts on Ephesians.
March 20, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; proclaim his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell about all his wondrous works! Boast in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.” Psalm 105:1–3 (CSB).

Song: “As we gather” (2x) – As we gather may Your Spirit work within us, as we gather may we glorify Your Name. Knowing well that as our hearts begin to worship, we’ll be blessed because we came, we’ll be blessed because we came.

CCLI Song # 35469 Mike Fay | Tom Coomes © 1981 CCCM Music (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) Remaining portion is unaffiliated For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

      As we come to the end of this series on the letter to the Ephesians and reflect on what we have learned, it is imperative that we ask ourselves, what should we now do?  The Lord has preserved his Word so we may respond in action to it.

      As we have seen, Paul begins chapter one with praise to God for the spiritual blessings he has lavished on us in Christ Jesus. Then, beginning in verse 9, Paul begins to reveal God’s plan to bring everything under the authority of Christ and our part in fulfilling that plan.  Let the significance of that sink in… our part in fulfilling God’s plan to bring everything under the authority of Christ!  How can we possibly fulfill God’s great plan?  Jesus’ disciples had the same question.

     “How can we possibly fulfill God’s great plan?” – this was likely a question the believers in Ephesus had as well, so Paul reminds them in 1:12-14: 12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him. (NLT).  God has identified his own people through sending them his Holy Spirit.  Next Paul shares his prayer for these believers which reveals one of the main purposes of this letter. 

        Ephesians 1:15-20 15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

         19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. (NLT)

      I would paraphrase vv. 18 & 19 as: “That the Spirit of God would enable you to grow in your understanding of the hope, riches and power God has made available to Christians through Christ Jesus.”  Paul wants his readers to understand that God is on their side and is supplying the power they need to live a life which brings glory to God.  This same power of God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, seated him next to God and gave him authority in the heavenly realms.  This was for our benefit, Christ’s body, the church (vv. 19-23).  The power to accomplish God’s great plan come to us through God himself, by his Holy Spirit!  This is what we also saw as Paul concluded this letter: Ephesians 6:10. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” (NIV).  The power of the Lord is expressed in and through the person of the Holy Spirit.

      This is what the resurrected Jesus told his disciples in Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV).  This is exactly what we see taking place in book of Acts!  All the great figures in Acts are empowered by the Holy Spirit: Peter (4:8), Stephen (6:5), Paul (9:17, 13:8), and Barnabas (11:24).

      William Barclay in his book “The promise of the Holy Spirit” observes: One of the unmistakable features of Acts is the way in which it tells us that every great decision which the Church took was taken under the guidance of the Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit who tells Philip to approach the Ethiopian in his chariot (8:29).  It is the Spirit who tells Peter that men from Cornelius await him, and who bids him to go with them (10:19, 11:12).  It is the Spirit who tells the prophets and teachers of Antioch to set apart Paul and Barnabas for the mission to the Gentiles (13:2), and it is by the Holy Spirit that these two are sent out (13:4).  It is the Spirit who guides and directs the decisions of the Council of Jerusalem, whereby the Gentiles are welcomed into the Christian Church (15:28-29).

      The significant fact is that every one of these references to the Spirit is a reference to an occasion on which a decision was taken to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.  It was the Spirit who made the Church a missionary Church. [1]

      As the first Christians went in the strength of the Lord & the power of his might, the Holy Spirit, they took the gospel to the ends of their known world.

      The Holy Spirit is given to all who accept forgiveness from God through the gift of His Son Jesus.  Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (NIV) 

      The Holy Spirit is a person with whom we have a relationship. He is not an object to be claimed or measured, however, the strength of a relationship can be measured.  Being filled with the Holy Spirit means the Spirit of God has full control your life – having no area of your life not under His authority.

      Have you on a clear day, ever heard the sound of a jet and looked up into the sky to try and see it. While you might not have been able to see the jet, you likely saw the vapor trails of the jet high above you.  The vapor trail left proof the jet was up there.  Jesus said something similar in John 3:8 when he compared the Holy Spirit to the wind. The wind cannot be seen, but its effects can be seen.  Likewise, although you cannot see the Holy Spirit, you can see the results of the Holy Spirit’s presence as He is allowed to work in your life.

      Pastor Tony Evans suggest 5 ways a Christian should be able to observe the Holy Spirit’s presence working in their life:

1.  You become a witness about the person and work of Jesus.  This is not something I “do” but who I am.  As Jesus said “…and you will be my witnesses…”, Acts 1:8.

2.  You worship God, not because you have to, but because you want to, a result of a growing relationship with him.  Ephesians 5:18b-20 “…be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NLT)

3.  Mutual submission within the body of Christ.  Rather than being selfish, the Spirit at work within allows me to: Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21 (NIV).  We can see this in Jesus’ life: “Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God. He gave up everything and became a slave, when he became like one of us. Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross.’ Philippians 2:6-8 (CEV)

4.  You bear spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22). This vapor trail of the Holy Spirit in your life will be seen in you as:

·        Love – selflessly seeking the will of God for the one you love.

·        Joy – inner contentment despite our external circumstances.

·        Peace – harmony in our relationships.

·        Patience – surrendering our right to hurt when another hurts us.

·        Kindness & Goodness – loving treatment of those who don’t deserve it.

·        Faithfulness – dependable commitment God can count on.

·        Gentleness – the ability to submit yourself to the will of God.

·        Self-control – the ability to resist fleshly impulses.

A final way you will see of the Holy Spirit working in your life is as:

5.  You are involved in service for Christ, done willingly and for His glory. 1 Corinthians 12:7 “The evidence of the Spirit’s presence is given to each person for the common good of everyone.” (GW).

–       Now I need to evaluate myself:

o   Am I a witness about Jesus and his work?

o   Do I worship God, because you want to?

o   Do I have a humble attitude within the body of Christ?

o   Am I bearing spiritual fruit in my life?

o   Am I involved in service for Christ Jesus?

–       Is this describing me? If not, why not?  What needs to change in my life?

1.  The first thing which needs to be clarified is do I have a personal relationship with Jesus as my Savior (he died for my sins on the cross) and my risen Lord (I submit to His will for my life).  In John chapter three Jesus said you must be born again, reborn by the Spirit of God; this is the only way he can fill you and empower you.

2.  As a Christian you need to ask, “Am I resisting God’s working in my life?”  Has God been prompting me to do something yet I keep saying no to it! 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says: Do not quench the Spirit. (ESV) The NIV says “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.”  Follow the Spirit’s leading and trust in His strength to accomplish all that God has for you.

3.  If I continue not to experiencing the Holy Spirit at work in my life, I need to ask if I have been ignoring the Holy Spirit’s prompting regarding sin in my life. “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live.” Ephesians 4:30a (NLT).  When the Holy Spirit brings a sinful action or attitude of yours to mind, confess it immediately and ask for His strength to leave that behind.  Then remember Paul’s words in Galatians 5:16 “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” (NLT)

      How is it possible for me to fulfill God’s great plan? Only by using the strength our Lord supplies: “Be strong in the Lord, and in his mighty power.”  It IS possible to stand firm in this battle, but not in my own strength, but with the strength of God.  Be bold, be strong, for the Lord your God is with you!  “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Hymn: #277 The Church’s one foundation (vv. 1-4)

Verse 1 – The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord; she is His new creation by water and the Word: From heav’n He came and sought her to be His holy bride; With His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.

Verse 2 – Elect from every nation yet one o’er all the earth, her charter of salvation one Lord one faith one birth; One holy name she blesses, partakes one holy food, and to one hope she presses, with every grace endued.

Verse 3 – ‘Mid toil and tribulation and tumult of her war, she waits the consummation

Of peace forevermore; Till with the vision glorious Her longing eyes are blest, and the great Church victorious shall be the Church at rest.

Verse 4 – Yet she on earth hath union, with God the Three in One. And mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won: O happy ones and holy, Lord give us grace that we, Like them the meek and lowly, on high may dwell with Thee.

CCLI Song # 55377 Samuel John Stone | Samuel Sebastian Wesley © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13 (NLT)

 



[1] pp. 56, Barclay, The Promise of the Holy Spirit.  The Epworth Press, 1960

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

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March 13, 2022 Podbean

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Ephesians 6:18-20.  “The Gift of Prayer”.
March 13, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship:“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4, 6–7 (NLT).

Hymn:Rejoice the Lord is King

Verse 1 – Rejoice the Lord is King, Your Lord and King adore, rejoice give thanks and sing And triumph evermore.

Chorus 1 – Lift up your heart, lift up your voice, rejoice again I say rejoice.

Verse 2 – Jesus the Saviour reigns, the God of truth and love, when He had purged our stains, He took His seat above.

Verse 3 – His kingdom cannot fail, He rules o’er earth and heaven, the keys of death and hell are to our Jesus given.

CCLI Song # 36592 Charles Wesley | John Darwall © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

      In Ephesians 6:10-18, as Christians, we are made aware to two things 1st we are in a spiritual battle, like it or not.  2nd through Christ, we have the ability to stand but we must use the resources which have been provided to us, which are:

a. Our position with and in relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, Eph. 6:10a – “be strong in the Lord”.  It is Christ who makes us strong.

b. The Work and ministry of the Holy Spirit, Eph. 6:10b “and in the power of His might.”  Acts 1:8a “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (NLT).

c. We need to put on by faith the Whole Armor of God, vv. 11-17, so that we can take our stand.

d. The final resource mentioned in this passage, meaning it is critical to our victory in the spiritual battle is PRAYER, vv. 18-20. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” Ephesians 6:18–20 (NIV).

      I’ve entitled this message “The gift of prayer” because prayer is a gift God has given us to use to draw near to him for strength and also a gift, we can bless others with as we pray for them.

      This is not the first time Paul has mentioned prayer in this letter. Paul has been teaching us through his prayers for his readers in this letter.  Ephesians 1:18,19a “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, and his incomparably great power for us who believe”.  Notice Paul isn’t praying that God will give them something more in 1:18, he is praying for them that their eyes/hearts would be open to realize all that God has made available to them!  This is a prayer for believers to grow in their appreciation of God’s power available to them!  Paul prayer in Chapter 3:14-21 is that his readers might take hold of the glorious riches accessible to us in Christ Jesus that are beyond all we ask or imagine. 

      Through these two prayers we see the value of prayer.  Prayer is both the key to our enlightenment (1:18) and the key to our enablement: Ephesians 3:16 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being”.  It is then no wonder that Paul lists prayer as essential to our victory as Christians in this spiritual battle!

Ephesians 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (NIV).

1.  HOW TO PRAY: “Pray in the Spirit”

      This means to pray in harmony with and under the assistance of the Holy Spirit. I do this by:

A.Asking the Holy Spirit to control and guide my prayers, Romans 8:26-27 tells us the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness when we don’t know how to pray. Listen in your thoughts for the prompting and guiding of the Holy Spirit as you pray. We want our prayers to be guided by God’s will & infinite knowledge, not our limited perspective.

B.Deliberately reject all fleshly, self-centred praying. God is not the cosmic Amazon store designed to fulfill all our desire.  Seek first God’s kingdom. James 4:3tells us “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”James 4:3 (NIV). Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your prayers according to his will and not your own. The next step will help you do this.

C.Pray in harmony with the truth of the Word.  Scripture is Holy Spirit breathed, 2 Timothy 3:16,17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  When we are led to pray God’s Word back to Him, we can be sure we are praying in the Spirit.

D.Pray with alertness.  Be a prayer sentry, standing guard for yourself, your family, your church and the works of the Lord.

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”” Luke 21:36. (NIV)

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2. (NIV)

2.  WHEN TO PRAY: “On all occasions”

“On all occasion” can also be translated “in all seasons.” In ministry, as in life, there are seasons when it doesn’t seem like much is happening, and this can be discouraging.  We know that the seasons of fall & winter will come and then pass into times of spring & summer when life & growth appear.  Do not base your willingness to pray on how you feel or what’s happening around you.  You need to pray when things are exciting as well as when it is hard to pray.  Prayer needs to become a part of us like breathing, something we are doing on all occasions, not just during the “Churchie” stuff.  For it is the persistent, Spirit guided prayer which brings victory in spiritual warfare!

3.  WHAT TO PRAY: “With all kinds of prayers & requests”

      When Paul tells us to pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers, he gives us the freedom to respond to each situation as the Holy Spirit guides us. This means short, long, spoken, silent, public, private, extended, fasting prayers, festive prayers, broken prayers, thanksgiving, repentant, confessional, praise, lament, intercession, warfare, in song, for those closest to you, for those you have never met, there is no limit to how we can communicate with the Lord concerning what he has laid on our hearts.

4.  WHO TO PRAY FOR: “For all the saints”

      We are reminded that prayer isn’t just about my concerns.  Be alert & pray for all the saints, they are your family – the family of God!  Learn from Paul’s personal prayer request.  Look at what he asked them to pray for: It was not to be freed from his situation (in prison) but to be effective and fearless in proclaiming the gospel in that situation as an ambassador (representative) of Christ!

Ephesians 6:18-20 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” 

      What we see is:Persistent prayers + perceptive prayers = Powerful prayers.

      When you spend time with the Lord in prayer let Him broaden your prayer vision to include prayer beyond your immediate circumstances or that of your family or Church.  Use international prayer requests you see and hear about and ask the Lord to give you his wisdom on to how to pray for the individuals or situation: “Lord, I don’t know what to pray for these people, guide my prayers”.  As you read your Bible watch for those areas which God reveals to you are His passion – i.e., the lost, lonely, hungry, hurting… and lift them in your prayers.

      If you are seeking more help with prayer, try the following from W.E. Sangster’s “Teach me to pray(https://archive.org/details/20200324teachmetopray/page/n17/mode/2up)for one week, and see what happens:  Begin by spending 15 minutes in the morning with God:  First, be still – remind yourself “I’m here to meet God.” Then, adore. Think of God’s incredible greatness. Third, give thanks for friends, family, food, and everything else. Fourth, dedicate things to God: relationships, job, your life. Fifth, ask for guidance for each aspect of life. Sixth, intercede for others. Bring their needs before the throne of grace. Then bring your own needs before God, and finally, wait. Wait to hear what God wishes to say to you.  End your day with five minutes of prayer: Review the day. Confess sins that come to mind, then commit the day to the Lord and yourself to his keeping for the night ahead. [1]

Prayer is an awesome gift that the Lord has given us.  We are able to lift others up in prayer and we are able to have fellowship with Almighty God, to come into His presence and know that He hears us.  THIS IS WHERE OUR STRENGTH COMES FROM!

Hymn:“Sweet hour of prayer”

Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer, that calls me from a world of care, and bids me at my Father’s throne make all my wants and wishes known: In seasons of distress and grief my soul has often found relief, and oft escaped the tempter’s snare, by thy return sweet hour of prayer.

Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer, thy wings shall my petition bear, to Him whose truth and faithfulness, engage the waiting soul to bless: and since He bids me seek His face, believe His Word, and trust His grace, I’ll cast on Him my ev’ry care, and wait for thee sweet hour of prayer.

CCLI Song # 32273 William Batchelder Bradbury | William W. Walford © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20,21 



[1] Vander Griend, Alvin J. with Edith Bajema. The praying Church sourcebook, p. 332.  ©1997 Church Development Resources, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

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March 6, 2022 Podbean

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Ephesians 6:17b.  “The Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God”.
March 6, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship: Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.” “For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.”  “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.” Psalm 33:1, 4, 20–21 (NIV).

Hymn:  #272 – Thy Word

Chorus – Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path, Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Verse 1 – When I feel afraid and I think I’ve lost my way, still You’re there right beside me. Nothing will I fear, as long as You are near, please be near me to the end.

Verse 2 – I will not forget Your love for me and yet, my heart forever is wandering. Jesus be my guide and hold me to Your side, I will love You to the end.

CCLI Song # 14301 Amy Grant | Michael W. Smith © 1984 Meadowgreen Music Company (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Curb Word Music (Admin. by WC Music Corp.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394        

      “Take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” Ephesians 6:17b. As we have seen in Ephesians 6:10f, we are in a spiritual battle, and by using all our God supplied armour, we will be able to stand.  We begin by putting on the belt of truth, which means only accepting God’s truth as our hope and guide.  Next, we put on Christ’s righteousness as our breastplate, and then claim Christ’s peace to guide us and help us stand firm for him.  Take hold of the shield of faith in the completed work of our Lord Jesus Christ and protect your mind with the helmet of salvation in Christ to withstand the devil’s accusations against us. 

      Belt, shoes, breastplate, helmet, shield, & today, the sword.   When you think of a soldier in the 1st century AD., which would you consider is the most important piece?  I would probably say the sword.  Yet in Ephesians 6 the sword is the last of all the pieces of equipment – WHY?  In a spiritual battle we 1st need to be properly equipped, a sword isn’t enough, we need to be dressed in the full armour of God. 

      A solider uses a sword to both defend themselves and advance in the battle.  Paul tells Christians to take hold of the sword of the Spirit, what is it?  It is the Word of God.  How are we to use the Word of God as a spiritual sword?  I see three ways:

1st For My Protection:

      The sword can be used as a defensive weapon; how can we apply this thought to the Word of God?  How can you defend yourself in a spiritual conflict with words?  Let’s be clear, these are not your words, or my words, what turns words into an effective weapon in a spiritual battle is that they are the Words of God, guided and empowered by the Spirit of God.  The Holy Spirit of God brings life and power to the written and spoken Word of God in the hearts of those in whom he is working.  Here are three ways the Word of God acts as a sword for our protection:

  i.            To affirm my relationship with God as I have responded to his offer of forgiveness, repented of my sin and accepted Jesus as my Lord.

~       I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24. (NIV)

~       I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13. (NIV)

ii.            To battle fear, worry, and hopelessness.

~       I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 (NLT)

~       Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10. (NLT)

iii.             To resist temptation.

~       “Surrender to God! Resist the devil, and he will run from you.” James 4:7. (CEV)

~       The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13. (NLT)

      In Matthew 4:1-11the Lord Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for an extended fast.  During these 40 days, Jesus was tempted by Satan.  Jesus used scripture to defend against Satan’s attack. You need to know the scriptures to resist temptations, especially scriptures which deal with areas where you are frequently under spiritual attack.  Know what the Bible says and use it to defend yourself from Satan’s attack!

2nd To Extend Christ’s Kingdom:

      In Matthew 12:29 Jesus is saying that his ability to cast demons out of people proves that the strong man (Satan) is bound by Jesus and is powerless to stop him.  After Peter verbalizes the disciple’s belief that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus says And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18 (NIV). Jesus is telling his disciples that the Church (including you & me) will prevail against the gates of Hades, Satan’s kingdom.  The Greek word translated as “overcome” means “will not prove stronger.”  Jesus is saying the gates of Hades cannot hold back the Church of Jesus Christ as it comes to free captives from Satan’s grasp. 

      Believers can rescue those bound by Satan’s kingdom, under whose authority? Under the authority of Jesus Christ – who has authority over all principalities and powers.  Remember what Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:19-22:  19I want you to know about the great and mighty power that God has for us followers. It is the same wonderful power he used 20when he raised Christ from death and let him sit at his right side in heaven. 21There Christ rules over all forces, authorities, powers, and rulers. He rules over all beings in this world and will rule in the future world as well. 22God has put all things under the power of Christ, and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything.” Ephesians 1:19-22. (CEV)

3rd To apply God’s healing to my Heart:

      As you spend time in God’s Word, the sword of the Spirit, you must also allow it to work in your life.  For us to be effective in our spiritual battle for our Lord Jesus Christ, His Word must rule in our lives, IT MUST BE OBEYED BY US, we must do what He tells us to do and not do!

      We must allow the Spirit of God to use the Word of God within us – to strengthen us where we are weak and to correct us where we have sinned.  Hebrews 4:12 tells us “The Word of God is living and active…”  Perhaps this is the secret of its power against Satan in the life of a believer – “the Word can penetrate, cleanse, and change the believer’s life and in so doing, cuts away Satan’s grip upon that life”.[1]

      As you prepare to take hold of the Word of God to go into battle, first spend time letting it take hold of you!  Next week we will consider the importance of prayer in this Spiritual battle.  I want you to remember this week what the Word of God says about effective prayer.  Our prayers are hindered, if we come before our Father with sin-stained hands, unconfessed sins.  Let the Word of God speak to you and respond with humility not pride, excuses or defensiveness – listen to what your loving Father is saying to you through His Word, and then obey Him.

      Put on the full armor of God.  Pick up the sword of the Spirit.  Aggressively use God’s Word in your inner battle with sin, accepting only the truth of God’s Word as your life’s standard!

Closing Song:  #271 “Standing on the promises”

Standing on the promises of Christ my King, through eternal ages let His praises ring. Glory in the highest I will shout and sing, Standing on the promises of God.

Chorus – Standing, standing, standing on the promises of God my Savior.  Standing, standing, I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord, Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord, overcoming daily with the Spirit’s Sword, Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall, List’ning ev’ry moment to the Spirit’s call, resting in my Savior as my All in All, Standing on the promises of God.

CCLI Song # 31803 Russell Kelso Carter © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

 

Benediction:  “14 I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will bless you and be kind to you! May God bless you with his love, and may the Holy Spirit join all your hearts together.” 2 Cor. 13:14 (CEV)



[1] Bubeck, Mark – p. 116, “Overcoming the Adversary.”  Moody Press, 1984, 17th printing.

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

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“The Helmet of Salvation.”  Ephesians 6:17a

Esterhazy Baptist Church.  Feb. 27, 2022.

 

Call to Worship:  2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” 3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. 5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Isaiah 12:2-5 (TNIV)

Hymn: #106 Praise Him, praise Him!

Verse 1 – Praise Him praise Him Jesus our blessed Redeemer, Sing O earth His wonderful love proclaim, Hail Him hail Him highest archangels in glory, Strength and honor give to His holy name, Like a shepherd Jesus will guard His children, In His arms He carries them all day long.

Chorus – Praise Him praise Him, tell of His excellent greatness, praise Him praise Him, ever in joyful song.

Verse 2 – Praise Him praise Him Jesus our blessed Redeemer, for our sins He suffered and bled and died, He our Rock our hope of eternal salvation, Hail Him hail Him Jesus the Crucified, Sound His praises Jesus who bore our sorrows, Love unbounded wonderful deep and strong.

Verse 3 – Praise Him praise Him Jesus our blessed Redeemer, Heav’nly portals loud with hosannas ring, Jesus Savior reigneth forever and ever, Crown Him crown Him Prophet and Priest and King, Christ is coming over the world victorious, Pow’r and glory unto the Lord belong.

CCLI Song # 40409 Chester G. Allen | Fanny Jane Crosby © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

 

“Take the helmet of salvation…” Eph. 6:17a (NIV).

     Today as we look at Ephesians 6:17a, we see that the Apostle Paul continues to take items that first century soldiers used in battle and equate them with the resources God provides to Christians to enable us to stand firm in the spiritual battle we are in.

     Physically our head is one of the most important and vulnerable parts of our body, with four of our five senses being centred there along with our brain, the body’s control centre.  What do we do avoid damage to our head?  We wear a helmet, preferably one designed for specific situations – a hard hat, military, hockey, football, baseball, bicycle, motorcycle helmet etc.

  1. WHY DO WE NEED A SPIRITUAL HELMET?

     Because in a spiritual battle our minds, the place where we make decisions, will come under attack and require protection.  Our evil desires, the wicked world around us and the devil endlessly look for opportunities to act independent from our God.  The devil will assault our minds with temptations and also plants thoughts in our minds which if allowed to remain unchallenged will lead to doubt, deception, and disobedience. We know this because Satan has used his lies from the beginning of our creation to do this to humanity.

     In Genesis 3:1-7 we see Satan, through the serpent, sowing the seeds of doubt in Eve’s mind about God’s goodness and honesty by misquoting God and raising questions about God’s motive for his command: “1b He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?”4 “No! You will certainly not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”” Genesis 3:1, 4–5 (CSB).

     In Romans 1:25 Paul tells what happened when humanity listened to Satan: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator…” (NIV)  The devil hasn’t given up using this tactic.  In 2 Corinthians we see that Paul was concerned that the church in Corinth was being conned by the devil’s clever lies: “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ”. 2 Corinthians 11:3 (NIV)

      A Christian man complained of being deeply troubled when he prayed, because he kept thinking, “pray to Satan, pray to Satan”.  “What is wrong with me” he cried, full of guilt “that I have such wicked thoughts?”  The pastor led him to understand that those thoughts were being projected into his mind by the kingdom of darkness; he was not responsible for them.  His responsibility was to resist those thoughts and reject those thoughts and command the powers of darkness to depart to where the Lord Jesus Christ would send them.  The devil will try to plant thoughts in your mind, hoping you will accept them as truth, as your own and rearrange your thinking to suit them.  The Lord has given you the ability to discern truth (the belt of truth) from falsehood, you need to use it!

     We have seen that our minds need protection because they do come under attack…

  1. HOW DOES SALVATION PROTECT OUR MINDS?

“Put on salvation as your helmet” Ephesians 6:17a (NLT).

  1. Because of Salvation’s Source: The Lord!

     Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

     In Luke 2:30 Simeon says: “For my eyes have seen your salvation.” What was happening when he said this?  He was looking at the baby Jesus as he held him.  For Simeon, salvation was not a concept, salvation was a person he could see and hold in his arms – Jesus! 

     When the angel appeared to Joseph, he was told to name the baby Jesus, not because it was a nice name, but because it represented what this child would do!  “…and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 (NIV).  Jesus would bring salvation from sin to his people!

     This was the testimony of John, one of Jesus’ closest followers: “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.” 1 John 4:14 (NIV).

     This is also what the Apostle Peter declared to the Sanhedrin after being arrested for preaching about Jesus: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 (NIV)

     What do we learn from these passages? Salvation is not an idea or concept; Salvation is a person.  The Lord Jesus Christ is our Salvation!  If you were drowning, the person who rescued you would be your saviour.  They were there for you when you where helpless and they saved your life.  When we were sinners, powerless to save ourselves, Jesus gave up his life for ours, he IS OUR SAVIOUR!  He loves us that much!  When we start to have thoughts which question our worth or God’s love for us, we need to put on the helmet of salvation and remember what the Lord Jesus Christ did to bring us into a relationship with him, we ARE loved by God! 

     The best way to combat Satan’s lies is to fill our minds with the truth of God’s Word.  Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (NIV).  During Jesus’ 40 days fasting in the wilderness, he withstood Satan’s temptations by knowing and using the True Words of God from the scriptures.

  1. HOW DOES SALVATION PROTECT OUR MINDS? “Put on salvation as your helmet” Ephesians 6:17a (NLT).
  2. Because of Salvation’s Hope:

     Have you ever been lost? It can feel hopeless.  Mark Bubeck in his book Overcoming the adversary tells of being lost while hunting.  The guide had told all the hunters that if they got lost, they were to walk to the clearing on the hillside and wait, he would come. Bubeck did get lost so he made his way to the clearing, but hours went by and it got cold and began to snow.  The only thing that kept him from panicking was his guide’s promise; “stay there and I will come and get you.”  He stayed and his guide did come as he had promised. [1]

     The scriptures are God’s Word for us, promising his hope to us, assuring us of the saving work of Christ Jesus on our behalf.  Romans 8:31-34 from the Message Translation encourages us: “31 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? 32 If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? 33 And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? 34 Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.” Romans 8:31–34 (The Message).

     Christ is our salvation and our hope.  As he promised, he has a plan to rescue us for good from sin’s grip and will come as he promised, we just need to stand watch and wait for him!  When we feel the most lost and forsaken, as if the enemy will win the day, with certainty of the helmet of salvation covering our minds, we need never lose hope “…because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5,6.

      1 Thessalonians 5:8,9.  But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

     God has provided us with the helmet of salvation, for us to wear.  This begins with asking God to take your life in his hands and forgive you, guide you, protect and direct you – as you willingly follow.  Then Christian, ground your life in Christ.  Fill your mind with the promises and the directions of God’s Word.  Romans 12:1-2

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (TNIV)

Closing Hymn: #404 “The solid rock”

Verse 1 – My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Chorus – On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.

Verse 2 – When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace, in ev’ry high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

Verse 3 – His oath His covenant His blood, support me in the whelming flood, when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

Verse 4 – When He shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in Him be found, Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.

CCLI Song # 25417 Edward Mote | William Batchelder Bradbury © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: 13 May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (GNT)

[1] Bubeck, Mark I.  “Overcoming the adversary” pp. 109-110.  Moody Press, 1984, 17th printing.

 

 

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

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February 20, 2022 Podbean

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Ephesians 6:16 “The Shield of Faith.”
Feb. 20, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship: I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever! Young and old will hear of your faithfulness. Your unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.   All heaven will praise your great wonders, Lord; myriads of angels will praise you for your faithfulness.”  Psalm 89:1-2, 5 (NLT)

Hymn: #43 Great is Thy faithfulness

Verse 1 – Great is Thy faithfulness O God my Father there is no shadow of turning with Thee Thou changest not Thy compassions they fail not as Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Chorus – Great is Thy faithfulness Great is Thy faithfulness morning by morning new mercies I see all I have needed Thy hand hath provided Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me

Verse 2 – Summer and winter and springtime and harvest sun moon and stars in their courses above join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness mercy and love.

Verse 3 – Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.

CCLI Song # 18723 Thomas Obediah Chisholm | William Marion Runyan © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Ephesians 6:10-16 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (NIV).

      We have been going through Ephesians 6:10f looking at Paul’s call to be strong in the Lord and his mighty power by putting on the full armour of God so we can stand against the devil’s schemes.  We must begin by taking hold of God’s truth – which comes from him alone, and then live truth guided lives.  Next remembering the righteousness with which we stand is not our own, but Christ’s, we claim that and strive to live God directed lives.  Then we claim Christ’s peace to guide us and help us stand for him.

      Today, we turn our attention to verse 16: “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

      Paul continues to take items that first century soldiers used in battle and equate them with God’s resources which Christians need to use so they will stand firm in the spiritual battle.

      The shield Paul refers to in verse 16 is not the small round shields used in close combat situations, but rather the large rectangular shields used to protect soldiers from arrows or spears launched from a distance.

      I imagine that as Paul heard war stories exchanged by his guards, he began to see some similarities between the tactics used by earthly and spiritual adversaries.  Flaming arrows and spears, when used in surprise attacks could cause devastating loses on unprepared troops.  “How did you survive that attack?” One soldier might ask another?  “We had soaked the hides on our shields the night before so when the flaming arrows struck, our shields stopped the arrows and quenched the flames, protecting us.”

      Our adversary the devil is no less cunning.  One of his favourite tactics is the surprise attack, hitting us “out of the blue” when everything seemed to be going so well.  When that happens, if you haven’t prepared, the flames of doubt, discouragement, fear and hopelessness will overwhelm you!  What can you do to protect yourself and put out the flames?  Paul says, use the shield of faith, it will stop the darts and quench their flames – take it, use it.

      How can ‘faith’ act as a shield to protect us in a spiritual attack?  I ask this question, because we must be clear on what we are or are not placing our faith in!

–       It is NOT faith in myself, my plans, my goodness or my connections!

–       It is NOT faith in faith, hope or wishes (i.e. if you believe it you can achieve it)!

–       It is NOT faith in potions, magic or other gods!

–       It IS Faith in our God and His promises to those who place their faith in him! (#204 “Rock of Ages” vv. 2 & 3: “Not the labors of my hands, can fulfill Thy law’s demands; could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; Thou must save and Thou alone.” “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress, helpless, look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly, wash me, Savior, or I die!”)

      As a youth, the Lord had chosen David to be Israel’s king after Saul.  Year’s later, after many trials, David sang these words to the Lord: 2 The Lord is my rock and my fort. He is the One who saves me. 3 My God is my rock. I go to him for safety. He is like a shield to me. He’s the power that saves me. He’s my place of safety. I go to him for help. He’s my Savior. He saves me from those who want to hurt me.” 2 Samuel 22:2–3 (NIrV).

      The shield of faith is faith in our Almighty God who reached out to us in love and grace and offered forgiveness through accepting the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus, in our place, for the forgiveness of our sins.

      Maxie Dunnam in the Preacher’s Commentary on this verse tells us more about the faith we are talking about:  Faith is a shield, guarding the believer against all attacks of invisible and visible enemies.  Be careful, though.  Paul never uses the word “faith” glibly as we moderns do.  We use it to refer to what we believe and the act of believing… For Paul, trustful obedience was always involved in faith.  Justified by faith, we live by faith, in trustful obedience to Jesus Christ.  This faith, Paul says, will quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”[1]

      Dunnam is reminding us that the faith we are talking about means to trust, and we express that trust through our obedient action.  That trust/faith is not just a head belief, but something which is seen through our behaviour!  Our faith/trust is to be acted out in both our daily life and our responses to “ambushes.” 

      The shield of faith, in its fullest meaning is the presence of our triune God: 

Genesis 15:1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”

Deuteronomy 33:29 “Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample down their high places.”

Ephesians 1:18–23 18 My prayer is that light will flood your hearts and that you will understand the hope that was given to you when God chose you. Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours together with all of God’s people. 19 I want you to know about the great and mighty power that God has for us followers. It is the same wonderful power he used 20 when he raised Christ from death and let him sit at his right side in heaven. 21 There Christ rules over all forces, authorities, powers, and rulers. He rules over all beings in this world and will rule in the future world as well. 22 God has put all things under the power of Christ, and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything. 23 The church is Christ’s body and is filled with Christ who completely fills everything.” (CEV).

      Through faith, we are aware of the presence of the Lord between us and the enemy.  But notice that in Eph. 6:16 we are not passive.  “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”.  We must actively participate in the warfare – we must take up (claim) the shield’s protection and use it on a daily basis.  So, what does this look like?  How do we take up the shield of faith?

      It means it is up to you Christian to not believe the enemy’s lies that you are powerless against him, that you might as well give up resisting this temptation to lust or steal or lie or gossip or hate, because he will eventually get you “resistance is futile!”  The tactic of intimidation is as old as war itself! Christian, do not believe the propaganda no matter what.  Take up the shield of faith and use it daily, be prepared with faith in your mighty God for protection from the flaming arrows: “Everyone else is… going, doing it…” “No one will know,” “Just this one time…” “No one care about you; you don’t matter to anyone…”  Pick up the shield of faith in your ever-present, loving, almighty God, and stand! 

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (NIV)

Isaiah 43:2-3a  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (NIV)

Romans 8:31-35 What can we say about all this? If God is on our side, can anyone be against us? God did not keep back his own Son, but he gave him for us. If God did this, won’t he freely give us everything else? If God says his chosen ones are acceptable to him, can anyone bring charges against them? Or can anyone condemn them? No indeed! Christ died and was raised to life, and now he is at God’s right side, speaking to him for us. Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death? (CEV)

Romans 8:37-39 In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us. I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord! (CEV)

Psalm 23:1, 4 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (NIV)

      Take up the shield of faith – claiming the protection of God’s holy presence.  Live in obedience to Him.  Claim the blood of your Saviour Jesus Christ as your covering and rejoice in your victory! The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Psalm 28:7 (NLT)

Closing Hymn: #350 ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus

Verse 1 – ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus Just to take Him at His word Just to rest upon His promise Just to know thus saith the Lord.

Chorus – Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him, How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er, Jesus, Jesus precious Jesus, O for grace to trust Him more.

Verse 2 – O how sweet to trust in Jesus Just to trust His cleansing blood Just in simple faith to plunge me ‘Neath the healing cleansing flood.

Verse 3 – Yes ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus Just from sin and self to cease Just from Jesus simply taking Life and rest and joy and peace.

Verse 4 – I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee Precious Jesus Savior Friend And I know that Thou art with me Wilt be with me to the end.

CCLI Song # 22609 Louisa M. R. Stead | William James Kirkpatrick © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: And now to him who can keep you on your feet, standing tall in his bright presence, fresh and celebrating— to our one God, our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master, be glory, majesty, strength, and rule before all time, and now, and to the end of all time. Yes. Jude 24-25 (The Message)



[1] Dunnam, M. D., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1982). Galatians / Ephesians / Philippians / Colossians / Philemon (Vol. 31, pp. 239–240). Thomas Nelson Inc.

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

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February 13, 2022 Podbean

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Ephesians 6:15. “Put on the Gospel of Peace.”
Feb 13, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to worship: Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:1-2, 11 (NIV84).

Hymn: #457 “I will sing of the mercies”

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever, I will sing, I will sing.  I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; I will sing of the mercies of the Lord.

With my mouth will I make known, Thy faithfulness, Thy faithfulness.  With my mouth will I make known, Thy faithfulness to all generations.

CCLI Song # 23316 James Henry Fillmore Sr. © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain

For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

      We are continuing to look at the Apostle Paul’s call to put on the full armour of God, as found in Ephesians chapter 6, verse10 and following.  Paul wrote this letter while he was under arrest in Rome, yet notice this, his battle is not with Rome!  He realized his imprisonment was a result of a larger spiritual battle taking place in this world that all Christians face.  In these final verses of Ephesians, Paul is assuring us that through our relationship with Lord Jesus, God has provided us with all that is needed to withstand the battle.

      Today the piece of gear we are looking at is footwear.  While boots may not be what first comes to mind when thinking of a well-equipped soldier, they are crucial to a foot soldier’s long-term success.  The Roman soldier wore sandals which were bound by throngs over the instep and around the ankle, and the soles were thickly studded with nails. This would give him a firm footing in case of attack. [1]  Good footwear allows a soldier to stay in the fight in any terrain – muddy, snowy, hilly, or rocky. 

      Remember, Paul is using the essential equipment of a first century soldier as a reference point to what we must put on to succeed in the spiritual battle we are in.  The Apostle Paul understands how important a secure foundation is to a believer’s ability to stand firm against the devil’s assaults.  Therefore, he tells us: “For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.” (NLT)

      It may seem strange to talk about peace in the context of battle preparation especially since our adversary, the devil, is not interested in making peace.  He knows he has lost the war and so is conducting scorched earth attacks, trying to inflict as much damage as he can before he is finally vanquished!

      What good is it to think about peace when we are facing a ruthless foe?  Isn’t it best to let our anger and frustrations out?  David Jeremiah addressed these questions in a recent and timely devotional:  Illustration from David Jeremiah:

      A couple of frustrated people sat at a counter of a diner for half-an-hour without anyone coming to take their order. They finally got up and left, but not before taking the ketchup dispenser and writing these words across the counter in “red” letters: WE WAITED 30 MIN. NO SERVICE.

      A lot of things can annoy us during any given day. Do you sometimes have more trouble dealing with everyday irritations than with major life events? Like sand in an oyster or grit in a rock tumbler, we become worn down by life’s inconveniences—a flat tire, a lost key, a fussy child, a nagging neighbor, a broken pencil lead, a delayed flight—or a long wait at a restaurant.

      How easily we become frustrated in our daily lives! We need to remember that while frustration is temporary, God’s calming presence is always available and what a difference it makes in our life when we trust that our God has a plan for our good.  Remember: It’s the sand in the oyster that makes the pearl, and it’s the grit in the tumbler that polishes the rock.

      It’s one of life’s great lessons—great maturity is handling small irritations with sanctified patience.

      He closes with a quote from A. W, Tozer: “Problems patiently endured will work for our spiritual perfecting.”

      The peace we are talking about and the peace we are to claim is a peace with in us, an inner peace from God, available to us during the fierce spiritual battle.

      This inner peace with God comes from being certain of our forgiveness and is for everyone who receives Jesus as their sin forgiver and life leader.  This is the Good News – the Gospel, which when accepted brings peace to humanity.

          We have received peace with God, but we must choose to claim it, especially to apply it when experiencing trials!  How?  By keeping the belt of truth firmly fastened around your waist, and thus follow what the Word of God tells us to do to experience God’s peace.  Listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote from prison to Christians in Philippi: “8 Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise. 9 You know the teachings I gave you, and you know what you heard me say and saw me do. So follow my example. And God, who gives peace, will be with you.” Philippians 4:8–9 (CEV).

      It is our responsibility to choose to put on this peace to be properly protected and equipped for the spiritual battle we face.  We must walk in the reality of what God has done for us and apply that to our daily lives and as we do, we will experience His peace.

      Each one of the Apostles faced persecution for speaking about the Gospel of Jesus.  Remember, Paul is writing to the Ephesians from prison.  He was living what he was writing about.  Paul had learned to apply God’s peace in difficult and unjust situations.  Acts 16:23-25 records how when Paul and Silas were in jail after they had been arrested and whipped for casting demons out of a slave girl – punishment not to be inflicted on Roman citizens without a trial.  If Paul & Silas were like most people, they would have been complaining to God about the injustice of their treatment and vowing to never help a demon possessed person again – see what that get you! Is that what they were doing in their prison cell?  NO, they were praying and singing – they knew they were in God’s care and were at peace!  Later Paul, while in another prison, wrote to the church that was started in Philippi about the lessons he had learned from these situations: 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13 (NASB95).  Experiencing God’s peace within our hearts need not be dependent upon our outward circumstances, Paul had “learned to stand in peace.”  It came as he acknowledged the presence and strength of Christ Jesus with him.

      Why did Paul choose “peace” to be represented by a soldier’s footwear?  He may have been thinking of Isaiah 52:7 which he quoted in Romans 10:15: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!” (NLT).  The peace of God in our hearts is like a good pair of boots on our feet; with it we can endure those places that would our shred our heart without its protection.

      How do you deal with the hurts and worries of this life?  Do you face them on your own or do you turn to your Bible, the Gospel of peace? 

      Do you worry about your troubles?  Worry is a peace robber!  Worry is a tactic our enemy uses to get our eyes off God and onto our problems.  The danger with worry is that it doesn’t seem like an assault but allowed to remain in your thoughts it can defeat you – it’s like a slow leak, which if ignored will lead to complications. The more we focus on our problems, the more our anxiety grows, the more our peace shrinks and the more our thoughts of God fade, because our focus has become ourselves.  The devil loves it when we ignore God and try to fix things ourselves, because that’s how he lives his life, but remember what will happen to him!

      Next time you are tempted to waste time in worry, try this approach instead: lace up God’s peace and you take your troubles to Him in prayer!  This was Paul’s solution to worry:  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT).  Take a close look at the promise in the last sentence.  Whose peace will guard your heart & mind?  Yours?  NO!  As you live in Christ Jesus, God’s peace will guard – those area under attack, your heart & mind!  Isn’t that GREAT!  Thank you, LORD!
      How do you face those situations where people resent or even hate you because you represent Jesus to them?  Claim Jesus’ promises:  John 14:27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (NLT).  And also, in John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (NLT).  Where is the source of our peace found?  In Jesus!  How can we have peace in trials & sorrows (the battle)?  Because Jesus has overcome the world – the world, in this case means the spiritual forces fighting against us mentioned in Ephesians 6:12 – Jesus has overcome them!

      Are you experiencing Jesus’ gift of inner peace?  It comes as you stop trying to be good in your own strength and surrender your life into his care.  Admit you are a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness.  Believe that Jesus died for your sins on the cross and rose again in victory over sin and the grave.  Come to Jesus as your Saviour and Lord and tell someone about your decision. Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” (NLT)

      Christian, are you choosing to trust God and walk in His peace?  Take hold of the shoes of the Gospel of Peace and put them on!  Remember the Gospel truth and put on the peace of God daily, it is yours to wear! 

HYMN:  #493 “It is well with my soul”

Verse 1 – When peace like a river attendeth my way When sorrows like sea billows roll Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say It is well It is well with my soul

Chorus – It is well with my soul; it is well It is well with my soul

Verse 2 – Tho’ Satan should buffet Tho’ trials should come Let this blest assurance control That Christ hath regarded My helpless estate and hath shed His own blood for my soul

Verse 3 – My sin O the bliss of this glorious tho’t My sin not in part but the whole Is nailed to the cross And I bear it no more Praise the Lord Praise the Lord O my soul

Verse 4 – And Lord haste the day When the faith shall be sight the clouds be rolled back as a scroll The trump shall resound And the Lord shall descend Even so it is well

With my soul

CCLI Song # 25376 Horatio Gates Spafford | Philip Paul Bliss © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: God has raised from death our Lord Jesus, who is the Great Shepherd of the sheep as the result of his blood, by which the eternal covenant is sealed.  May the God of peace provide you with every good thing you need in order to do his will, and may he, through Jesus Christ, do in us what pleases him.  And to Christ be the glory for ever and ever!  Amen.  Hebrews 13:20-21 (GNT)

 

 


[1]Wuest, Kenneth S.: Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997, c1984, S. Eph 6:14

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Ephesians 6:14b.  “The Breastplate of Righteousness.”
February 6, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship:  I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.  Psalm 145:1, 4, 7, 17 (NIV)

Hymn: #203 “And can it be”

And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood?  Died He for me who caused His pain?  For me who Him to death pursued?  Amazing love how can it be that Thou my God shouldst die for me?  Amazing love how can it be?  That Thou my God shouldst die for me!

He left His Father’s throne above, so free, so infinite His grace!  Emptied Himself of all but love, and bled for Adam’s helpless race!  ‘Tis mercy all immense and free, for O my God it found out me.  Amazing love how can it be?  That Thou my God shouldst die for me!

No condemnation now I dread: Jesus, and all in Him is mine!  Alive in Him, my living Head, and clothed in righteousness divine, bold I approach th’eternal throne, and claim the crown, through Christ my own.  Amazing love how can it be?  That Thou my God shouldst die for me!

CCLI Song # 25280 Charles Wesley | Thomas Campbell © Words: Public Domain. Music: Public Domain. For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

 

     We are looking at Ephesians 6:10ff.  Paul tells us in this passage to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty Power, and to stand our ground against the spiritual forces which battle against us.  Let me remind you again, that we are not left to do this in our own strength.  Paul calls us to put on the full armor of God, with which we will then be able to STAND!  It Can Be Done!

     The first piece we are to put on is the Belt of Truth.  We saw that if a thought or situation is not in line with the Word of God, you don’t need to wonder – IT’S NOT FROM GOD!  Have nothing more to do with it!  Satan is a deceiver, the father of lies; he uses lies to confuse, mislead and discourage everyone, even believers!  Your only reliable measuring stick for truth is the Word of God which is the Word of Truth!

     The second piece of armor we are to put on is the breastplate of righteousness.  The belt of truth keeps the breastplate in place, and the breastplate protects the vital organs from harm. 

     The breastplate of righteousness we put on is first and foremost that which the Lord accredited to us through grace as we accept Christ as our Lord, God then declares us not guilty. As a result, as Paul has pointed out in the second half of this letter, we are as children of God are to make righteous life choices. A God focused righteousness defeats Satan and turns him back. 

     Righteousness is one of God’s attributes and it comes to us through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Psalm 145:17. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. (NIV).  Jeremiah 23:6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness. (NIV)

     Our righteousness comes through Jesus Christ: Philippians 3:8-9 “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” (TNIV)
     I’m sure you all know the protection body armor gives our core in the physical sense. However, why is righteousness so important to us in our spiritual battle that is it described as having this vital protection? Let’s consider the battle we are in:

     Have you ever felt guilty for something you have already brought before the Lord and know that He forgave you?  Do you wonder why these guilty feelings are coming back?  Didn’t the Lord forgive me? 

     Maybe you’ve had thoughts which question your love for God which must impact His love for you and His ability to use you and therefore the hypocrisy of you doing anything for Him…

     Does any of this sound familiar?  Christian, what is going on?  You are under attack!  Therefore, it is important to know the enemy and his tactics so you can be ready to defend yourself!

     Look at Revelation 12:10 “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying: “The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have now come. The accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accused them day and night before our God, has been thrown down.” (NCV).  Who is the accuser? The Bible tells us that Satan accuses believers, day and night, its one of his favorite tactics.

     In Zechariah 3:1 the prophet describes a vision of a specific case of this occurring:  “I was given another vision. This time Joshua the high priest was standing in front of the Lord’s angel. And there was Satan, standing at Joshua’s right side, ready to accuse him.” (CEV).  Joshua was the high priest serving during the time of Zechariah’s ministry.

     But why would Satan bother with me you ask? “Yes, I have accepted Jesus as my Savior; I’m a new creation, filled with the Holy Spirit, but I’m not a high priest!”  Satan will do anything to take you out of the battle, for he fears what God can do through His saints.  Even after you have been redeemed, if the devil can convince you God can’t use you, that you are not worthy of doing anything for God or telling anyone of the change God has made in your life; the devil, has limited the damage to his kingdom God can do through your testimony.  In addition to that he has caused you to doubt God’s power to save you & change you – and that may be useful to him in the future! 

     What is the answer to this attack?  How do we defend against this kind of assault?  It starts with knowing the truth!  God’s truth is our defense against Satan’s attack on our hearts, but we must remember to use it in our defense when the attack on our mind begins!  Romans 8:1–2. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (NIV)

     Keep that belt of truth fastened. Continue reading in Zechariah 3, verses 2-4: “But the Lord said, ‘Satan, you are wrong. Jerusalem is my chosen city, and this man was rescued like a stick from a flaming fire.’ Joshua’s clothes were filthy. So the angel told some of the people to remove Joshua’s filthy clothes. Then he said to Joshua, ‘This means you are forgiven. Now I will dress you in priestly clothes.’” Zech. 3:2-4 (CEV)

     What do the “filthy clothes” represent?  Isaiah 64:6a says “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.” (NLT)
     Notice what Satan is attacking.  Our attempts at being righteous.  Compared to God, our best attempts at perfection are like filthy rags. When we admit our sins and accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, God removes that which is filthy and clothes us with pure garments – we have been made clean!  We are now fit to stand before the Lord! 

     Yet why is there still sometimes a battle within my mind?  Jesus told a parable in Luke 18:10-14: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (NLT)

     This may seem like a strange story.  The good person is considered bad and the bad person is considered good.  Why did Jesus tell this story? Luke tells us in verse 9: Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: Luke 18:9 (NLT)

     Jesus is pointing out a vital lesson we all need to realize; trusting in our own goodness is not only worthless, but also dangerous; it blinds us to the sinfulness of our heart and leaves us open to attack.

     Here’s a story from Pastor Mark Bubeck’s book Overcoming the Adversary: “A beautiful, young Christian woman in my Church carried a very despondent, somewhat angry look on her face for an extended period of time.  I was thankful when one day she asked to have an appointment with me.  As she began to share her burdens, she talked of some deep and distressing disappointments that had come into her life.  They were hard blows that had upset her emotionally.  She had allowed those disappointments to raise questions in her mind about the goodness of God.  In a burst of tears, she finally blurted out, “God has no right to treat me this way.  I’ve always tried to put Him first and to keep my life free of sin.  It’s not fair.  It’s just not fair.”

     As gently as I could, I tried to help her see that she was in essence saying, “God, You have no right to treat me this way, because I’m so good and so nice.”  When she saw this, she began to laugh and cry at the same time.  Isaiah 64:6 lighted her path to repentance. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (NIV)

     We talked about the fact that God’s goodness is true whether of not our experience seems to testify to it.  Goodness is the very essence of His character.  When our experience does not seem to support that truth, we are to praise Him anyway.

     As the Lord revealed the self-righteousness of her heart to her, a beautiful prayer of repentance ensued.  She left my presence that day with a look of radiant joy.

     The breastplate of righteousness is meant to do that for every believer.  It provides us the daily opportunity to remind ourselves that the only righteousness we have is that which our Lord has provided. {Mark Bubeck Overcoming the Adversary, pp. 77-78.}

     I think all of us have been where this woman was.  Some of us may be there right now.  Today is the perfect day to leave that self-righteous thinking behind us and as we approach the throne of grace, to put on the breast plate of righteousness that comes through our relationship with Jesus Christ.  We do not stand before God in our righteousness (those filthy rags have been taken away), but with that given us through faith in Jesus Christ.  We do not stand before the powers of darkness clothed in our righteousness, but with the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

     Today, do what you need to do before your God.  Cast off the old, put on the new.  Reaffirm your desire to go in the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ and nothing else!  Discover what Paul discovered and we read of in Philippians 3:8-9.  8 Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ 9 and to know that I belong to him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses. God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ. Philippians 3:8-9 (CEV)

 

 

Closing Hymn: #195 “Nothing but the blood”

What can wash away my sin?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus; What can make me whole again?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Chorus – O precious is the flow that makes me white as snow; no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone, nothing but the blood of Jesus; naught of good that I have done, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my hope and peace, nothing but the blood of Jesus; this is all my righteousness, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

CCLI Song # 21332 Robert Lowry © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 24-25 (TNIV)

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Ephesians 6:14a.  “The need to choose truth.”

January 30, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!Psalm 43:3–4 (NLT).

Hymn: #26 A mighty fortress is our God

Verse 1 – A mighty fortress is our God A bulwark never failing; Our helper He amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing.  For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe, His craft and pow’r are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.

Verse 2 – Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God’s own choosing.  Dost ask who that may be?  Christ Jesus it is He, Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same, and He must win the battle.

Verse 3 – And tho’ this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, We will not fear for God hath willed His truth to triumph thru us.  The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him, his rage we can endure, for lo his doom is sure: One little word shall fell him.

Verse 4 – That word above all earthly pow’rs, No thanks to them, abideth; The Spirit and the gifts are ours thru Him who with us sideth.  Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also, the body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still: His kingdom is forever.

CCLI Song # 42964 Frederick Henry Hedge | Martin Luther © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     Ephesians 6:10-14a. (NLT) ” 10A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth”

     Paul has called us to be strong in the Lord by putting on all of God’s armour (vv. 11, 13).  He next explains what each piece of the armor we are to wear represents.  Keep in mind, NONE of this equipment is optional or unnecessary!  Each one is essential for our success in the spiritual battle we face.          Also remember we are told to put on this armour for a reason.  We know the tactics of the devil, these are the areas we need protection, because these are areas we will come under regular attack!

     The first piece of equipment to help us stand firm against the devil’s strategies is the BELT OF TRUTH.  Ephesians 6:14a: “Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth” As Paul wrote this letter while he was in prison, it is quite possible that he saw the parallel between how a soldier would dress in preparation for battle, and how we need to take the  protection the Lord offers us and put it on.

     The belt was an essential part of a soldier’s equipment because it held all the armor in place securely as he moved and defended himself from attack.  Why is the belt of truth so important to us?  Because as we know, our adversary Satan, is the father of lies.  Therefore deception and deceit is one of his favourite tactics and he uses lies to mislead and deceive us.  Jesus told us this in John 8:44:  “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

     The devil would like us to compromise with the truth, to bend it, shape it to suit our situation.  But truth isn’t like that.  The law of gravity can’t be switched on and off and it isn’t just applied when it is convenient to you – it remains constant regardless of your belief in it – however your failure to believe in the truth of gravity’s existence may have measurable consequences to you or those around you!

     Truth is precious; we often forget its value until it is gone.  Trust based on truth is the basis of healthy stable relationships, whether at home, business or social settings.  Truth is very valuable.

     We should notice that truth is something we must choose to PUT ON!  This is not a passive action done to us.  Paul is describing something we must do, that is to clothe ourselves with the truth, and to choose truth over falsehood.  This is what we’ve already been told in Eph. 4:25: “25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Ephesians 4:25 (NIV).  In the battle for your mind, only as you base your defense on God’s truth will you be able to withstand the devil’s attacks – He cannot stand against the truth of God.

     What is this truth that we speak of?  The belt of truth is woven with Four cords:

1st The Lord Jesus Christ is the Person of Truth

     Jesus is the very embodiment of absolute truth.

John 1:14 “The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us.” (CEV).

John 14:6: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 18:37 “Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this purpose I have been born, and for this I have come into the world: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”” (NASB 2020).

2nd The Word of God is the Word of Truth.

     Since the Bible was given to us by God it is the final authority for truth in our world today.

2 Samuel 7:28: O Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. (NIV)

Psalm 119:42-43: then I will answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in your word. Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws. (NIV)

2 Timothy 2:15: Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (NIV)

James 1:18: He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (NIV)

     How can we know right from wrong?  How do we fight the enemy?  We can never trust man’s wisdom and ability to find truth.  Truth comes by God’s revelation.

3rd The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth.

The Holy Spirit is the one who illumines and opens the Word of truth to our understanding and profit.  Without the Spirit of Truth, natural man cannot understand the Word of God.

  • John 14:16-17: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (NIV)
  • John 15:26: “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. (NIV)
  • John 16:13: But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (NIV)

     “Remember, the Holy Spirit will always lead us into beliefs, actions, and attitudes that are in complete harmony with the Word of Truth (the Bible) and the Person of Truth (the Lord Jesus Christ).”[1]

4th The Church is the Pillar & Foundation of Truth.

     Every believe needs to choose to be related closely to a Bible centered, Christ exalting local church to hear the truth of God. Paul told Timothy:

1 Timothy 3:14,15:  Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. (NIV)

     When believers come together to pray, protect, and encourage, the enemy is put to flight.

Conclusion

     The battle is won or lost in our mind.  It is won through walking in truth or lost through living out a lie.  Do not accept any thought or suggestion which is not from God – He is the only source of truth – don’t let anyone convince you different!

     Follow your Lord Jesus, He is the person of Truth.  Arm yourself daily with the Word of Truth, the Bible.  Read it, study it, pray it, claim its promises as your guiding truth.  Obey the Spirit of Truth as He opens the Word of truth to your heart and mind.  In your daily battle, determine to fight lies with God’s Truth!

Hymn: #350 ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus (vv.1,2,4)

Verse 1 – ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His word, Just to rest upon His promise, Just to know thus saith the Lord.

Chorus – Jesus Jesus how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!  Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!  O for grace to trust Him more!

Verse 2 – O how sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to trust His cleansing blood, Just in simple faith to plunge me ‘Neath the healing cleansing flood!

Verse 3 – Yes ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, Just from sin and self to cease, Just from Jesus simply taking Life and rest and joy and peace.

Verse 4 – I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus Savior Friend; And I know that Thou art with me, Wilt be with me to the end.

CCLI Song # 22609 Louisa M. R. Stead | William James Kirkpatrick © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV).

[1] Bubeck, Mark I. “Overcoming the Adversary,” p. 70.

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January 23, 2022 Podbean

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Ephesians 6:10-13.  “How to prepare for spiritual battle.”

January 23, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship:  God is our mighty fortress, always ready to help in times of trouble. And so, we won’t be afraid! Let the earth tremble and the mountains tumble into the deepest sea. Let the ocean roar and foam, and its raging waves shake the mountains.” “The Lord All-Powerful is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:1-3, 7 (CEV)

Hymn: Stand up, stand up for Jesus

Stand up stand up for Jesus, You soldiers of the cross, Lift high his royal banner, It must not suffer loss; from victory on to victory His army he shall lead, till evil is defeated and Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up stand up for Jesus, Stand in his power alone; For human might will fail you, you dare not trust your own; put on the gospel armour, keep watch with constant prayer, where duty calls or danger

Be never failing there.

CCLI Song # 1046701 George Duffield Jr. © 1982 The Jubilate Group (Admin. by Hope Publishing Company) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

      Today we return to Paul’s letter the Ephesians, looking at chapter 6:10-13, “How to prepare for spiritual battle.”  Paul’s letter of encouragement to these believers begins with praise as he marvels at all the spiritual blessing we have received in Christ.  Salvation was God’s plan and God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit made it happen.  Paul then reminds his readers that through Christ Jesus, God has healed the divide that existed between Jew and Gentile and how both are welcomed as members of his household.  As Paul prays that God would give us the power to understand the vastness of his love for us, he then calls us to respond to that love through making choices which reflect that we are now God’s children.  These choices impact our words and attitudes within the church, the home and the work place.

      In chapter 6:10-13 Paul begins to wrap up his letter by reminding us that we are in a spiritual battle and must prepare ourselves.  Some Christians are fearful of being involved in a spiritual battle because they don’t want to get the devil’s attention.  The fact is, when you decided to confess your sins, accept God’s gift of grace & forgiveness and follow Christ, you became a target!  Come on now; don’t look so worried or surprised.  Jesus told us we’d have trouble in this world, but he also said he had overcome the world!  Since we are in a battle, we need to have a plan and the great news is that God has one for us to follow.

      When a professional sports team prepares to play another team, they not only work on their skills, they also study their opponent, looking for weakness and how to avoid playing into their strengths.  In Ephesians 6:10f Paul tells us how to do the same thing, and this is information you need to have and use. 

      This battle we are preparing for is not with people who oppose us but with the spiritual forces manipulating them, this is where the real battle is being fought.  Paul wants us to understand that spiritual battles need to be fought with spiritual weapons and spiritual tactics.  Today, we will start with some of the basic information we will need in order to be prepared.

1.  KNOW YOUR ENEMY:

      The Satan is a fallen angel with intelligence and power.  It is believed that he was the chief of angels until pride that he could be like God caused his down fall. He was expelled from heaven along with other fallen angels and after leading Adam & Eve to sin, he now rules this world. The Devil is more than a match for human beings. 

      Some may conclude, “I guess that’s it, the battle is over” – but wait.  Satan is powerful, but he is still a created being, and despite what he has led himself to believe, he is not God.  He is not all-power, all-knowing or all-present.

      The name “Satan” is the English transliteration of a Hebrew word which means “adversary.” He is opposed to God and those who follow God.  What do we know of the devil’s tactics?  The word “devil” is the English translation of the Greek word ‘diabolos’ which means “accuser” or “slanderer.”  That already tells us a great deal of what he does! 

      Jesus gives us critical information regarding the devil’s character and his tactics.  The devil is a master of deception.  Jesus called him the source of lies, the father of lies.  Jesus, in speaking to people who wanted him dead, in John 8:44 in says: “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (NLT)

      Jesus’ sinless, selfless death on the cross paid the price for humanity’s sins and removed the power that Satan has over those who receive Jesus’ forgiveness.  Satan is a defeated foe (Eph 1:18-23), but he still remains a danger to us.

      1 Peter 5:8 warns us that the devil is always on the prowl like a lion looking for prey, using fear to intimidate and control, but we can stand against him through our faith in Christ.  “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.” 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NLT).  Most modern day armies have special units dedicated to similar physiological warfare, attempting to discourage and raise fear in their opponents, even before the fighting begins.

      So the first step in our plan is to know the enemy.  The second step is to know your own weaknesses.

2.  KNOW YOUR WEAKNESSES:

      Why should we be aware of our weaknesses?  Because your adversary, the devil certainly does!  Your weaknesses are where you will need your strongest defense.  This includes past areas of failure and current areas of chronic failure.  The battle of your mind is the high ground, where the fight is either won or lost.  This is where the enemy plants thoughts; fear, lust, jealousy, hurt… hoping you will accept them as your own and allow them to grow. Matthew 26:41 “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”” (NLT)

Ephesians 4:26-27 “And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” (NLT)

      Also consider those areas you think are strengths; so much so that you never think to ask God for help with them because you think, “I can handle this myself.”  That is the perfect place for an attack.  A faith that is dependent upon others, your parents or your spouse is easy for the devil to shake!

      Don’t be hesitant to evaluate and admit your weaknesses to God.  Give them to Him and ask that if He chooses, that He use your areas of weakness for His glory.  The Apostle Paul prayed more than once, asking God to remove a weakness he felt limited his ability, but God said:

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (NLT)

      First we must know our enemy & his tactics.  The second step is to know your weaknesses.  The third step is:

3.  KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS

      “But I don’t have any!”  WRONG!!!  That is exactly what the devil hopes you will believe, so you don’t resist him!  But don’t listen to him, don’t expect truth to come from him, he is the father of lies!  When he lies, he doesn’t have an accent, it sounds so smooth; it’s because he is speaking in his native tongue!  His goal is to convince you to stop trusting God’s goodness and truthfulness.  So what CAN we do?

      Listen to what Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:10: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” (NIV)  This is the key!  Our strength to face the devil and his demons comes not from within ourselves but from depended upon the Lord.  Romans 8:37b “…we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (NIV)  Please don’t let Satan’s doubt & fear campaign defeat you – draw the strength you need from your Lord, He has won the war!  Satan wants you to cower before him in fearful submission, James tells us instead to “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NIV)

      Jesus ability to cast out demons was because he had bound their ‘leader’ Satan.  This is what Jesus says in Mark 3:27: “Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.” (NLT)

Hebrews 2:14 “Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.” (NLT)

Conclusion:

      The question is not, whether you want to go to war or not, we are in the battle now!  The real question is, “Do I have a plan for success?”  Paul lays out a plan for us in Ephesians 6, and it begins with focusing our attention on our Lord Jesus Christ and the strength we have in Him.  Without Him we ARE powerless.  With Him, we have the victory!  Paul wants us to focus on the Lord, and to take from Him what we need to win. 

      For those of you wondering if you’ve lost too many battles to be of use to the Lord, let me close with some thoughts from author Mark Bubeck:

There is no point at which the believer needs to “cave in” and admit defeat at the hands of Satan’s craft and power.  There is hope and victory available for the most defeated.  The church at Laodicea illustrates this point.  That body of believers had succumbed to Satan’s deception.  Spiritual lukewarmness had taken over.  That church felt itself very sufficient and spiritually victorious.  They were saying: “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.”  They were so blinded by Satan’s cleaver deception that they didn’t know there were “wretched, pitiful, poor blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17).  Yet, even to people so totally deceived, the Lord Jesus offered full access to His victory.

“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:18-20 (NIV)

That great offer and assurance belongs to every believer. No matter how far Satan has come in deceiving and controlling us, we can have gold tried in the fires of refining; white, clean garments; and salve of healing to remove our spiritual blindness. Close, intimate, in-the-heart fellowship with Christ is there to be claimed. Satan is not invincible, but Christ is, and the believer is invincible in Him.[1]

Hymn: Who is on the Lord’s side?

Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King? Who will be His helpers, other lives to bring? Who will leave the world’s side? Who will face the foe? Who is on the Lord’s side? Who for Him will go? By Thy call of mercy, By Thy grace divine, We are on the Lord’s side, Saviour we are Thine.

Fierce may be the conflict, Strong may be the foe, But the King’s own army None can overthrow.  Round His standard ranging; Victory is secure; For His truth unchanging Makes the triumph sure.  Joyfully enlisting By Thy grace divine, We are on the Lord’s side, Saviour we are Thine.

CCLI Song # 22135 C. Luise Reichardt | Frances Ridley Havergal | John Goss © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  “Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.” Jude 24-25 (NLT)

 


[1] Pg. 26, Overcoming the adversary.  Moody Press, 1984 ISBN 0-8024-0333-6

Emailebc@sasktel.net

Sermon podcasts
Esterhazy Baptist Church Podbean

January 16, 2022 Podbean

Dial-A-Sermon – 1-306-985-9001
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Luke 2:21-35.  “When you look at Jesus, who do you see?”

Jan. 16, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”  For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”” Psalm 118:24; Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

Hymn:  #14 – Come let us worship and bow down

Come let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our God our Maker.  Come let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our God our Maker.  For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand, just the sheep of His hand.

CCLI Song # 27329. Dave Doherty. © 1980 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.). For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     The Christmas holidays are over, but what was the celebration about?  Most of the Christmas movies say the importance of Christmas is in the three “f’s” family, friends and food.  If Jesus is remembered, it is as that baby in a manger we see on the Christmas cards.

     When you look at Jesus, who do you see?  His mother Mary was told he would be called “The Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32).  Her fiancé Joseph was told Mary’s baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit and that “he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).  The shepherds were told by the angelic messenger “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11).   Clearly the Gospel writers want us to know that Jesus is no ordinary baby!

     In Luke 2:21-35 we are given a glimpse of what happened in the days following Jesus’ birth.  Eight days after his birth, he is named Jesus. This tells us that Mary & Joseph accepted the message from the angel prior to his birth, because they were each told to name the child Jesus. 

     Luke 2:22 tells that Joseph & Mary went to the temple to offer sacrifices for purification which happened 33 days after a baby boy was named (Lev. 12).  “When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord” Luke 2:22 (NIV)

     Luke draws our attention not just to what Mary & Joseph did, but especially whom they met at the temple.  When they had completed the required offerings, a devote man stopped them and asked to hold their son.  Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms and said: “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:30-32 (NIV)

     Luke includes Joseph & Mary’s reaction to Simeon’s words:  The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Luke 2:33 (NIV).  Why do you think they marveled at what Simeon said?  It wasn’t because this was new information, but here was someone they had never met before and as he looked at the baby Jesus in his arms, he saw God’s plan which would unfold through Jesus, salvation for the world! 

     Remember that 40 days had passed since the shepherds had come with the angel’s message looking for a newborn Savior.  Now Simeon was reaffirming what had been said about this child then and before his conception as he looked at him.

     Luke explains that God had revealed to faithful Simeon he would have this moment:  Luke 2:29-32 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.  For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (NIV)

     What a powerful, exciting message Simeon has:  “For my eyes have seen your salvation”  When Simeon looked at this little baby, maybe less than two months old, he saw God’s plan, not only to bring salvation to Israel, but to the whole world.

     Consider how many other people must have taken a look at Jesus during the first 40 days of his birth, and yet Simeon saw much more than just a baby.

     When Jesus began his earthly ministry, he attracted the curiosity of thousands of people, who came to see, listen to him & try to decide who he was. 

     Most religious teachers came, looked, listened and decided he was trouble.  Nicodemus (John 3) wasn’t so quick to dismiss Jesus because he didn’t fit expectations. He came because in Jesus’ miracles he saw evidence of one sent by God.  There was no other explanation for what he saw.

     Many hoped Jesus would free them from foreign political oppression.  Other’s feared he would disrupt the status quo their power and influence was based on.  Some of his followers came to see Jesus as the Savior of the world.  Who do you see when you look at Jesus? 

     Do you see a baby still in a manger?  Do you see someone who was a good, moral teacher?  Do you see Jesus as someone who came to teach us how to be kind and loving to each other?  Is he the miracle worker who fixes life’s problems?

     These and other things may be a part of the collage that makes up the picture of who Jesus is.  However, I wonder, do you see what Simeon saw?  Do you see the Savior of the world?  Do you see your Savior?  Do you know him as your Savior?  How you answer that question will determine your eternal destiny!

     The apostle John says that Jesus, on the night he was about to be betrayed, told his disciples more about himself.  In John 14:6-9 Jesus said: 6“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (NIV)

     Who do you see when you look at Jesus?  He is the way, the truth and the life!  He is the way (the only way) to God the Father!  Salvation is found in Him alone, this is what we have seen. Listen to what Jesus goes on to say.  7 “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (NIV)

     Some of us who had less than ideal fathers can struggle with the image of God the Father.  He may not be someone we can trust, or feel very close to.  We fear him and try to please him, but assume like our earthly father we never will.

     Jesus tells us something more, something so amazing that it may change the way you think about God the Father. 

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”  9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (NIV)

     Jesus says, if you want to know what God the Father looks like, LOOK AT ME.  ANYONE WHO HAS SEEN ME AS SEEN THE FATHER!

     Jesus said if you want to understand what my Father is like, look at me!  He cries at funerals, shows special concern for the widows, and reaches out to those society has rejected.

     Do you realize who you are looking at?  When you look at Jesus you are seeing mankind’s hope, and God’s grace. 

–   He is the Savior of the World – He shed his blood for your sin. 

–   He is Almighty God, who came as a man that He might make His grace and mercy plain to us.

Acts 4:12 – “Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone.” (CEV)

     Now, what are you doing with this information?  Does this make you rejoice like Simeon?  Last week our Camp director, Luke, challenged us with James 1:22 “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” James 1:22 (NLT). What will you do with this news that Jesus is the Saviour of the world in 2022?  Will it change how you see Him?  Will it change how you live? Will you share this life changing news with those who haven’t heard it this year?

Hymn: “Tell all the world of Jesus” (vv. 1-3) {tune of #483 Lead on O King Eternal}

Verse 1 – Tell all the world of Jesus, our Saviour Lord and King, and let the whole creation of His salvation sing.  Proclaim His glorious greatness in nature and in grace, Creator and Redeemer the Lord of time and space.

Verse 2 – Tell all the world of Jesus, that everyone may find the joy of His forgiveness – true peace of heart and mind.  Proclaim His perfect goodness, His deep unfailing care, His love so rich in mercy, a love beyond compare.

Verse 3 – Tell all the world of Jesus, that everyone may know of His Almighty triumph, defeating every foe.  Proclaim His coming glory, when sin is overthrown and He shall reign in splendour – the King upon His throne.

CCLI Song # 2956927. James Edward Seddon. © 1968 James Seddon – The Jubilate Group (Admin. by Jubilate Hymns Ltd, sub to Hope Publishing for various regions) (Admin. by Hope Publishing Company). For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts; Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  (Colossians 3:15a, 16a, 17 NRSV)

Emailebc@sasktel.net

Sermon podcasts
Esterhazy Baptist Church Podbean

December 26, 2021 Podbean

Dial-A-Sermon – 1-306-985-9001
 (Note: this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply)

 
 
  • We will be having special speakers on Jan. 2 & 9.  Pastor Robert’s sermons will resume on Jan. 16.
 
 
“The source of true peace.” Luke 2:14.
December 26, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10b–11 (NASB 2020).

Hymn: #141 – O little town of Bethlehem
Verse 1 – O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie!  Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.  Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light; The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
Verse 2 – For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above, while mortals sleep, The angels keep their watch of wondering love, O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth!  And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth.
Verse 3 – How silently how silently the wondrous gift is given!  So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.  No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive Him still the dear Christ enters in.
Verse 4 – O holy Child of Bethlehem!  Descend to us, we pray; cast out our sin and enter in; be born in us today.  We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell; O come to us abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel.
CCLI Song # 27879 Lewis Henry Redner | Phillips Brooks © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     When the ancient cultures of humanity are examined one thing, they all have in common is the awareness that something or someone exists far greater us. You see it in the Americas, Africa, India, Egypt, Greece etc.; the worship of something or someone(s) greater than humanity who has influence over the world we live in.  They saw the inconsistencies in temperature and rainfall from earlier years, felt the earthquake, saw volcanoes erupt and wondered what they meant.  In some cultures, the belief was simple, in others the stories are more involved – but common in each is the desire to know more about the god or gods over nature and how to live at peace with them. 

     The Bible is not a record of man’s search to find and explain God, but rather of God creating us and reaching out to us.  The Bible tells of God making Himself and his plans know to us, yet often much of humanity shows little interest in changing their ways (e.g., The days of Noah).  But to those who did respond, God continued to speak and reveal His plan to restore the relationship with him we were created to have.

     The passage in Luke 2:8-14 brings news of the summit of divine self-revelation.  8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”” Luke 2:8–14 (NLT).

     Rather than just further information about God, the angel announces that the birth of the Saviour has occurred; God has become man. As the Apostle John expresses it in his Gospel, the Word has become flesh and has come to live among us (Jn. 1:14a), incredible.  It is reported there was a European monarch who worried his court by often disappearing and walking incognito amongst his people. When he was asked not to do so for security’s sake, he answered, “I cannot rule my people unless I know how they live.” It is the great thought of the Christian faith that we have a God who knows the life we live because he too lived it and claimed no special advantage over common men.[1]

     As soon as this message is given, the angel messenger is joined by a host of other angels who join in praising God with an amazing call to worship: “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Luke 2:14 (NLT)

     This call to worship correctly begins by focusing our attention on God with the call for all of heaven to give Him praise.  God deserves the highest praise for his plan, the greatest of divine self-revelations.  Reflect for a moment on whom this incredible message of good news is first told. It was shepherds, like King David, ordinary working people who were surrounded by the Lord’s glory and hear the amazing message first!

     After first addressing heaven, the angels then have a message of peace for those on earth to consider: “and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased. 

     The New International Commentary on the New Testament summarizes the importance of this message:  The birth of the Christ bears the richest significance to the world – it brings peace, real peace on earth.  When Christ was born, some form of external peace (the ‘pax romana’) did prevail.  But, as was declared by Epictetus, the pagan thinker of the first century, “while the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, grief and envy.  He cannot give peace of heart, for which man yearns more than ever for outward peace.”  Through the coming of Christ, however, as the angels sing, true peace will come on earth.  Here… is meant peace with God and a peace given by God through Christ.” [1]



[1] Geldenhuys, Norval NICNT – Luke, pg. 112. © 1983 WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.

 

      “And peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”  Peace with God through Christ – this is where real peace begins.  This is where we need to begin as we are searching for true peace, peace with God the Father through His Son Jesus. 

     A minister was visiting a dying woman and he asked her if she had made her peace with God?  “No” she replied, “I haven’t made my peace with God.”  “Then you are not afraid to die?”  “No.” “Do you realize that in a few hours you must meet God?”  “Yes.” “And you have not made your peace with God?” “No, and I’m not going to.”

      There was a strange light of perfect peace in the woman’s eyes, and the minister realized that there was something going on so he asked, “What do you mean?”  She said, “Listen!  I know I am dying, yet I have no fear of meeting God. I am resting in the peace which Jesus Christ made in his atoning death upon the cross, and I don’t have to make my peace with God for I am resting in the peace which Jesus Christ has already made.”

      She was thinking of Romans 5:1. “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” (NLT).  Through accepting by faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who gave his life in my place for the forgiveness of my sins, my relationship with God is restored, and I have peace with him.

     Coming to a peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ leads to the possibility of peace within.  There is now inner harmony because you now have peace with your Lord.  Many of us struggle with accepting ourselves for various reasons – coming to a peace with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ tells us we are loved by God, precious to Him, valuable to Him (He gave his only Son) and He has important work to do through us, sharing the good news of this peace with others.  We may struggle with the circumstances we find ourselves in, but we can live in peace knowing God is with us, and nothing can separate us from His love.

     Another blessing of God’s peace through the coming of Jesus among us is peace between human beings is now possible.  Peace is one of the fruit which results from the presence of the Holy Spirit of God living within followers of Christ Jesus (Galatians 5:22).  Being at peace with God and knowing who holds our future; we no longer live to only please ourselves.  We can enjoy the joy of giving and of helping those who are struggling to find peace in this world.  We can be a blessing by being peacemakers.  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9. (TNIV)

      “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Luke 2:14 (NLT) Have you received the peace of God that comes through accepting Jesus as your Savior and Lord?  Jesus is the source of true peace!  Ask him to forgive you of your sins and commit to follow him as the Leader of your life.

     Have you experienced the inner peace of receiving Jesus Christ as your sin forgiver and life leader?  Then share this message of the source of true peace and great joy with those around you!  This is the appropriate response to the greatest gift you have received.  Experience God’s gift and share God’s gift!

Closing Hymn:  #125 “Joy to the world.”
Verse 1 – Joy to the world the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King; Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room, And heav’n and nature sing, And heav’n and nature sing, And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing.
Verse 2 – Joy to the earth the Savior reigns; Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, Rocks hills and plains Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat repeat the sounding joy.
Verse 3 – No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found, Far as the curse is found, Far as far as the curse is found.
Verse 4 – He rules the world with truth and grace, And makes the nations prove The glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love, And wonders of His love, And wonders wonders of His love.
CCLI Song # 24016 George Frideric Handel | Isaac Watts © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NIV)



[1] Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1975). The Gospel of Luke (p. 23). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.

[2] Geldenhuys, Norval NICNT – Luke, pg. 112. © 1983 WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.

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“Trusting in God’s Timing.”  Luke 1:5-25.
Dec. 19, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

 

      Today, for the fourth Sunday of Advent, I have written today’s message entitled “Trusting in God’s timing” using a monologue style of presentation.  My main text is Luke 1:5-25, where the birth of John the Baptist is foretold.  Using my imagination, Zechariah’s story is told through the eyes of the faithful Simeon (Luke 2:25-35).

Call to worship:  “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.” “My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.” (Psalm 145: 18–19, 21 NIV)

Hymn: It came upon a midnight clear

It came upon the midnight clear That glorious song of old From angels bending near the earth To touch their harps of gold Peace on the earth good will to men From heaven’s all gracious King The world in solemn stillness lay To hear the angels sing.

For lo the days are hastening on By prophet bards foretold When with the ever-circling years Comes round the age of gold When peace shall over all the earth Its ancient splendors fling And the whole world give back the song Which now the angels sing

CCLI Song # 31078 Edmund Hamilton Sears | Richard Storrs Willis © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

      Hello, my name is Simeon.  I live in Jerusalem during the time of Herod king of Judea and I often come here to the Temple to worship the Holy God of Israel.  My constant prayer is for the Lord to send his promised Messiah. The Lord has laid it on my heart that Messiah will come during my life time and that I will see him with my own eyes!  So, each time I come to the temple, I keep my eyes and ears open for any news of Messiah’s coming.

      Yes, yes, I know it’s been 400 years since the Lord last spoke to us through one of his prophets.  Yes, many of my people have given up hope, yet some of us still watch and wait.  For what, you ask, for Messiah, of course, but first for the one who will prepare for his coming.  In the last book of the Hebrew Bible, Malachi 4:5-6 the Lord tells us what to watch for: 5 “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. 6 His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”” Malachi 4:5–6 (NLT).

      As you can imagine, those of us who come to the Temple daily become very familiar with the working and personal of the Temple.  Anything out of the ordinary stands out and is remembered.  For example, last year while the Priestly division of Abijah (A buy Jah) was serving, a remarkable event took place, and that is why I am now come here every day – but first let me tell you what happened last year. 

      An older priest was blessed with the once in a life time experience to be chosen by God through the casting of lots to offer the incense within the Holy Place of the Temple.  The smoke from the incense represents the prayers on behalf of our nation to the Lord God.  The crowd watched as the priest went in and we prayed as he offered up the incense and awaited his return… and waited… and waited!  He took an unusually long time, and then when he did come out, he didn’t say anything!  I mean he not only didn’t say anything, but he couldn’t say anything.  All he could do was make motions with his hands and arms – he had seen something and been left speechless, most unusual!

      As I went to the temple the next day I asked if the old priest had recovered his speech and explained what had happened to him.  I was told that he still couldn’t speak, but had written of seeing an Angel!  An Angel, what was the Angel’s message?  The one I spoke with said the old man had written that Elijah was coming!  Elijah?  Could he mean the Elijah that the prophet Malachi wrote about?  I asked to see him, and was brought to him by one of his friends. I explained I was eagerly awaiting Messiah’s coming and looking for any news in that regard.

      The elderly priest’s name was Zechariah and he was married to Elizabeth who was also from a priestly family, she as well was a descendent of Aaron’s.  Even though they carried the stigma of having no children, Zechariah’s friend assured me that they were both righteous in God’s sight, curious circumstances to have been visited by an Angel, I thought. 

      I learned that as Zechariah was offering the incense on the altar an Angel appeared on the right of the altar.  The Angel called Zechariah by name and told him not to be afraid. The Lord had heard his prayers and his wife Elizabeth would give birth to a son they were to name John.  John would go before the Lord in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the people for his coming!

      This was incredible news, I could barely contain myself.  So I asked Zechariah why he couldn’t speak, why he couldn’t tell everyone this incredible news.  He hung his head and wrote that he had doubted what the Angel had said would happen.  The Angel responded that as a sign Zechariah would remain silent until everything had come to pass.  After that, Zechariah grew tired and signaled he was leaving and went to his quarters. When his temple service was completed returned home to his wife Elizabeth.

      Since that meeting I’ve been wondering what happened?  Did Elizabeth get pregnant?  Did she give birth to a son?  Was he named John?  Is Zechariah able to speak again?  So, after nine months had passed I wondered if I would get to meet Zechariah again.  I was hoping perhaps I would see them when they brought their first born son to the Temple to be consecrated to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice.

      Then one day, there he was, with an enormous smile, beaming ear to ear and calling out, yes, he was speaking – Simeon, Simeon my friend, come and see our son, our beautiful boy, isn’t God great!

      Once the celebrating around us quieted down Zechariah and I found a quiet place to talk.  I asked him what he had done during his nine months of silence.  He said he had spent much time in prayer and reflection.  He especially asked himself why he had demanded a sign – if your wife gets pregnant, you would think that would be the sign!  Zechariah realized that like many of the people around us, he had begun to doubt that God was listening to his prayers or would act.  Elizabeth had endured years of scorn from other women and disappointment; he didn’t want to raise her hopes, or his own. 

      He also realized and laughs about it now, that he had thought that their age was too much of a barrier for God to work through.  During his silence he recalled that God had performed this same miracle with Abraham & Sarah giving them Isaac; Elkanah & Hannah giving them Samuel.  Why had God done this?  To get people’s attention and make it clear to them that He is at work here!  It’s said: God doesn’t call the qualified.  He qualifies those he calls. Abraham, Moses, Gideon, David are only a few we meet in the scriptures.  I had to ask myself: Am I telling God he can’t use me because I don’t think I am qualified?  Or am I willing to trust that if he calls me to a task he has a plan on how to use me to fulfill it?  I know in my head he can do this, but do my actions show I am willing to trust he will supply what I need?

      As we talked, Zechariah was able to tell me exactly what the Angel had said to him, his name was Gabriel, by the way!  I also asked Zechariah how he got his voice back.  He told me his voice was restored after he wrote down that the boy was not to be named after him, but that his name is John!  Immediately he could talk and filled with the Holy Spirit, he began to praise God.  The Lord had kept his promise to redeem Israel and to send his promised Saviour.  And his son John would go before the Messiah to prepare the people for his coming.  5 “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah… 6 His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.”” Malachi 4:5a, 6a (NLT). 

      These words from the Prophet Malachi were quoted by the Angel Gabriel; this child, John, is the forerunner! I wondered out loud, how much longer before Messiah comes; I said these last words not expecting Zechariah to have an answer for me, but praise the Lord, he did!

      He told me of a young relative of Elizabeth’s who had come to her when Elizabeth was six months pregnant.  Listen to this!  Elizabeth’s pregnancy was a confirmation to her that a message she had received from an Angel by the name of Gabriel.  Gabriel told this virgin not to be afraid, for the Holy Spirit would come upon her and she would conceive and bear the Messiah!  And when she came to see Elizabeth she was already pregnant!!!

      So now you can understand why I’m here every day, watching and waiting for the Holy Spirit to point me to the one God promised to send us all.  I am encouraged to know that no matter how difficult life may get, we can be assured that our God will not forget one of his promises!

      How about you?  Are you struggling with a loss of hope?  Has disappointment led you to question whether God still cares?  Sometimes the silence screams at you “God doesn’t care, forget him,” but his Word and his Spirit in your heart says “that is not true.”  Let me assure you, God is still at work, but he works according to his time table, not ours and he works in his ways and not ours.

      Will you let him work his will in you and through you? Will you let him be the strength, wisdom and power you need or will you tell him he’s picked the wrong person because you don’t have the abilities, experiences or resources needed.  Remember Moses, Gideon and David and let God use you for his honour and glory.

      I believe God’s promise to me that I will see the Messiah with my own eyes, and so here I am, watching and waiting.  How are about you?  Are you waiting for Messiah’s return?  Are you telling people about the difference Messiah makes in your life and can make in their life – overcoming disappointment and emptiness?  68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people. 69 He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, 70 just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.” Luke 1:68–70 (NLT). Praise be to God!

Closing hymnGo tell it on the mountain

Chorus – Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and ev’rywhere. Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.

Verse 1 – While shepherds kept their watching O’er silent flocks by night behold throughout the heavens there shone a holy light.

Verse 2 – The shepherds feared and trembled when lo above the earth rang out the angel chorus that hailed the Savior’s birth.

Verse 3 – Down in a lowly manger the humble Christ was born and God sent us salvation that blessed Christmas morn.

CCLI Song # 29080 John W. Work Jr. © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction“And now I commend you to God and to the message of his grace, a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32 NRSV)

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John 3:16 & Ephesians 3:18. “The message of Christmas.”

Dec. 12, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist.

 

Call to Worship: (referencing Psalm 95:6, Psalm 24:1 and Isaiah 9:2)

O come let us worship and lift our hearts . . . Not because the world is good and last week was awesome,

but because the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the God of the whole Earth.

O come let us worship and raise our hands . . . Not because our lives are all sweetness and light,

But because even those who walk in darkness can see a great light, the Bright and Morning Star.

O come let us worship and bow down . . . Not because God gives us what we want,

But because God gives us what we need – the holy child Jesus, God’s Unspeakable Gift.

~ written by Leonard Sweet, posted on Preach the Story. https://preachthestory.com/

Hymn: #125 Joy to the world:

Verse 1 – Joy to the world the Lord is come, let earth receive her King; let ev’ry heart prepare Him room, and heav’n and nature sing, and heav’n and nature sing, and heav’n and heav’n and nature sing.

Verse 2 – Joy to the earth the Savior reigns, let men their songs employ; while fields and floods rocks hills and plains, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

Verse 3 – No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow, Far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found, Far as far as the curse is found.

Verse 4 – He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love, and wonders of His love, and wonders wonders of His love.

CCLI Song # 24016  George Frideric Handel | Isaac Watts  © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     Christmas is the time when Christians remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ.  However, attached to this celebration are memories and traditions connected to faith, family, friends, and food.  When one or more of these are missing, especially people, Christmas may cause feelings of disappointment and depression.  Right now, things may be going on in your life which lead you to not feel like joining in the holiday festivities, and that is ok.  Today I hope that as we look at the message God is sending us through Jesus’ birth, that we will choose to celebrate the life changing message of Christmas every day of the year, regardless of our current circumstances!

     There is a song I heard several years ago by Brenton Brown & Brian Doerksen called “Hallelujah” which marvels at God’s love, and it says:

Your love is amazing, steady, and unchanging.

Your love is a mountain, firm beneath my feet.

Your love is a mystery, how you gently lift me,

When I am surrounded, Your love carries me.

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, Your love makes me sing

     The Apostle Paul also marveled at God’s love and prayed for his readers to grow in their appreciation of God’s love for them: “16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,” Ephesians 3:16–18 (NIV).

     The love of God, which we celebrate with the birth of Christ Jesus, is encapsulated in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV).  Let’s take a look at the four dimensions of God’s love expressed in this verse, which remains true throughout the year, regardless of the circumstances.  In Jesus’ coming we see these four dimensions of God’s love expressed:

  1. The Width of God’s Love – God so loved the world.

     The Jews knew that God had chosen them and loved them.  Here we see the scope of God’s love is not limited to any one group, area or people – it is directed towards all the people of world.  Yet even greater cause for our rejoicing is realizing that God so loved this world of people: good, bad and indifferent people!  His love is not stifled by our sin.  As Romans 5:8 says: “8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV).

     Lord God, Your love is amazing!

  1. The Length of God’s Love – God gave His one and only Son.

Reflect on this thought from Bruce Milne; in his commentary says: If … love is measured by the value of its gift, then God’s love could not be greater, for his love-gift is his most precious possession—his only, eternally beloved Son. He could not love more.[1]

     God’s love was expressed to us in the giving of His most priceless gift—His unique Son. The Greek word translated “one and only means “only begotten,” or “only born-one.” This word is also used in John 1:14, 18; 3:18; and 1 John 4:9.

Here is 1 John 4:9 “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” (NIV)

     The use of “one and only son” recalls God’s words to Abraham in Gen. 22:2 when he was told to “take his son, his only son Isaac” and sacrifice him.  When God saw that Abraham was willing to offer his only son, he stopped him and provided another sacrifice.  Now, with the coming Jesus Christ, the Father offers up his only Son because he so deeply loves the people of this world.

Romans 8:3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man,

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (NIV)

     God’s love cost Him dearly.  This love was not given lightly.

III. The Depth of God’s Love – whoever believes in him shall not perish.

     Those who respond to God’s love by putting their trust in Jesus are saved from their otherwise certain fate of perishing – eternal separation from God.  Notice this salvation is not a result of our own goodness, efforts, parentage, race, or education – none of these things will save us – only faith in God’s One & only Son, Jesus.

Ephesians 3:12,17a “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”  “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

1 John 5:1a Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God,

Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

     God’s plan, from the very beginning (Eph. 1) was to provide the means, through Christ, by which humanity might be saved.

  1. The Height of God’s Love – But have eternal life.

      God, in love, offers those who put their trust in the one and only son he gave, the gift of eternal life.  Jesus says in John 6:40 “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”  J. Ramsey Michaels in the Understanding the Bible Commentary on John says: Eternal life is this Gospel’s equivalent of the kingdom of God, about which Jesus had spoken to Nicodemus (vv. 3, 5). It is not simply endless life; nor is it a life that begins after death. It is a new kind of life, a new order of existence that characterizes even now the person who believes in Jesus and is born again.[2]

Conclusion:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)

     You may be having difficultly enjoying the festivities of Christmas this year because of what you have been through.  Yet, may the message of God’s love wrapped up in the gift of God’s one and only Son bring real and lasting joy to your heart.  Christmas is a time to reflect on the incredible love of God – offered to every human being, sinful as we are, so we need not remain that way if we will believe Jesus is the answer to our sin problem!  The second person of the Trinity, in loving humility offered himself in our place, that if we would accept him as our sin forgiver and life leader we will receive eternal life.  Is there anything else that matters more?  God doesn’t think so, that is why he gave us his best to save you!  Thank you Lord God, your love is amazing!

     A little girl and her mother were reading the New Testament one morning when they read John 3:16. Stopping for a moment in the reading the mother asked, “Don’t you think it is wonderful?”  The child looked surprised and replied in the negative.  The mother, somewhat astonished, repeated the question, to which the little daughter replied, “Why, no, Mommy, it would be wonderful if it were anybody else, but it is just like God.” The young girl reminds us that it is God’s nature to give freely of His grace, mercy and love. (Illustration of Bible Truths, p. 93, #285. AMG Publishing)

     Regardless of what else is happening around you this Christmas, you have so much to be thankful in Christ Jesus!  The Song “Love was when” by John E. Walvoord describes God’s love in action shown through the coming of Jesus:

Love was when God became a Man, locked in time and space, without rank or place.

Love was God born of Jewish kin, just a carpenter with some fishermen. 

Love was when Jesus walked in history, lovingly He brought a new life that’s free,

Love was God nailed to bleed and die, to reach and love one such as I.

Love was when God became a Man, down where I could see love that reached to me.

Love was God dying for my sin, and so trapped was I my whole world caved in. 

Love was when Jesus met me, now it’s real; Lovingly He came, I can feel He’s real! 

Love was God, only He would try, to reach and love one such as I.

John E. Walvoord ©1970, arr. 1974 by Singspiration

Closing Hymn: #127 “Thou didst leave Thy throne”

Verse 1 – Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown when Thou camest to earth for me; but in Bethlehem’s home there was found no room for Thy holy nativity.  O come to my heart Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee.

Verse 2 – Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang, proclaiming Thy royal degree; but of lowly birth cam’st Thou Lord on earth, and in great humility.  O come to my heart Lord Jesus, There is room in my heart for Thee.

Verse 3 – The foxes found rest and the birds had their nest in the shade of the cedar tree, but Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God, In the deserts of Galilee.  O come to my heart Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee.

Verse 4 – Thou camest O Lord with the living word, that should set Thy children free, but with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn, They bore Thee to Calvary, O come to my heart Lord Jesus, Thy cross is my only plea.

Verse 5 – When heaven’s arches shall ring, and her choirs shall sing at Thy coming to victory, let Thy voice call me home, saying ‘Yet there is room, there is room at My side for thee ‘, and my heart shall rejoice Lord Jesus, When Thou comest and callest for me.

CCLI Song # 2689067  Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott Public Domain  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

 

[1] Milne, Bruce (1993). The message of John: here is your king!: with study guide (p. 77). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[2] Michaels, J. Ramsey. (2011). John (p. 59). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

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December 5, 2021 Podbean

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“Who’s the Boss?”  Ephesians 6:5-9.  Dec. 5, 2021; Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.  I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1–2 (NIV)

Hymn:  O Come O Come Emmanuel

Verse 1 – O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear.

Chorus – Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel.

Verse 2 – O come Thou Dayspring come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here.  Disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Verse 3 – O come Thou Wisdom from on high, And order all things far and nigh. To us the path of knowledge show, and cause us in her ways to go.

Verse 4 – O come Desire of nations bind, All peoples in one heart and mind. Bid envy strife and quarrels cease, Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.

CCLI Song # 31982 John Mason Neale | Thomas Helmore © Words: Public Domain  Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     Today in Ephesians 6:5-9, the Apostle Paul is continuing to show us how Eph. 5: 21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” is to be applied to life; today looking at slaves and masters.  While slavery is outlawed among us, we can apply principles from this passage to ourselves, especially from the perspective of work.  But first, let’s consider the context of this passage.

     When Paul wrote in the first century A.D., most households had slaves.  Some estimates suggest there were 60 million slaves in the Roman Empire at that time, and that 1/3 of the population of Ephesus was made up of slaves!  John Stott in his commentary says of slaves: They constituted the work force, and included not only domestic servants and manual labourers but educated people as well, like doctors, teachers and administrators. Slaves could be inherited or purchased, or acquired in settlement of a bad debt, and prisoners of war commonly became slaves.[1]  Slaves were considered living tools and their treatment was generally left to their masters. Yet by the 1st century A.D., ill treatment of slaves was generally frowned upon, if not because of public opinion then at least to protect the owner’s investment.  Slaves could earn their freedom, be granted freedom or even inherit part of their owner’s estate and many were integral parts of the household.  Unsurprising, some slaves were also Christians, part of the house churches meeting in many communities, and so Paul address them and their masters in Ephesians 6:5-9.  Let’s take a closer look.

     5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

     9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” Ephesians 6:5–9 (NIV).

     The way Paul has written these verses should make us keenly aware of whom he wants us to focus on.  Paul refers to the Lord Jesus in each of these five verses, using either: Christ (2x), the Lord (2x) or Master in heaven (1x).

     Next we see that the call to obey, respect and serve well, is to be motivated by the slaves love, respect and desire to serve Jesus, rather than being based on how their master treats them.  Paul is calling for those who are slaves to chose to transfer masters and complete their duties as if they are serving their Lord Jesus.

     Finally, masters are also reminded to wholeheartedly serve their Lord, knowing they are being held accountable by Christ for whatever they do, because He is their Master!  They are to treat their slaves as if Jesus owned them and so treat them as he expects them to be treated. Then Paul remind masters, make wise choices because the Lord is also your Master and he doesn’t show favoritism!

     How can we apply this passage today?  Paul words call us to check our attitude whether we work or lead.  Are we acting as respectful and sincere as we would be if we were doing this for Jesus?  It doesn’t matter if we are repairing equipment or making a meal, we are to consciously see ourselves as if we are doing this for Jesus himself.  Employers, you are to lead your employees through Jesus, depending upon his strength and lead like Jesus, by displaying servant leadership.

     When you find yourself struggling with having a Christ centred attitude in your life, review this letter to the Ephesians.  Let Eph. 1:1-14 remind you of what God has done for you, and who you are NOW in Christ.  Read over Eph. 4:17 – 5:21to remember how you as a Christian are to live in response to God’s love, while obeying the guidance of His Holy Spirit.  Read Eph. 5:21 – 6:9 to see what it looks like in practical ways to submit to one another out of reverence to your Lord Jesus.

     What if you love the Lord, but find yourself struggling with this whole concept of submitting to others, after all, you’re thinking “You don’t know my______!  My situation is bad!  To do what the Bible is asking me to do is impossible!  You are right, I don’t know what you are going through or why the Lord has allowed you to face this right now.  But I do know that He is with you and will help you do what he is asking you to do.  In the Old Testament, when Joseph is sold into slavery by his own brothers, four times in Genesis 39 it says that people noticed a difference in Joseph because God was with him (vv. 2, 3, 21, 23).  You are not alone, God is with you!

     How could Paul write to slaves, and have it read for all the church to hear, that they are to obey their earthly masters with respect and fear, with the same attitude as if they were serving Christ?  How could Paul look into Onesimus’ eyes and tell this runaway slave that as a Christian he needs to return to his master Philemon?  Because of what Jesus did for us.  Paul understood that the soul changing which takes place within us as we accept God’s gift of salvation came as a result of the most extreme act of submission possible.  Jesus spent the first 30 years of his life laboring as a carpenter or stonemason.  He came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).  He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  He washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:3-17). Jesus is the suffering servant of Isaiah 53.  Jesus understands humility and servanthood.  The Lord Jesus, the second person of the trinity, left the glory of heaven and took on flesh and blood to play the penalty for our sins by dying in our place on the cross.  Philippians 2:5–11 says: “5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5–11 (NLT).

     With Philippians 2:5-11 in mind, listen to Eph. 6:5-9 once again:  “5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

     9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” Ephesians 6:5–9 (NIV).

     Who’s the boss?  This passage calls us to evaluate what matters most to us.  Is it how we are treated or is it how I respond to things because Christ Jesus is my master?  Does Jesus matter most?  In Mark 8:36 Jesus asked “36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” Mark 8:36 (NLT).  Jesus gave himself for you, because he loves you and wants you to spend eternity with him, starting right now!  Let’s not let what the world thinks is important distract us from what God says is really important, and live our lives in ways that bring honour to him!

Closing song: Make me a servant

Make me a servant humble and meek, Lord let me lift up those who are weak.  And may the prayer of my heart always be, Make me a servant, make me a servant, Make me a servant today.

CCLI Song # 33131 Kelly Willard © 1982 CCCM Music (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) Willing Heart Music (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “5 May kindness and peace be yours from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness. Jesus was the first to conquer death, and he is the ruler of all earthly kings. Christ loves us, and by his blood he set us free from our sins. He lets us rule as kings and serve God his Father as priests. To him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 1:5-6 CEV).

[1] Stott, J. R. W. (1979). God’s new society: the message of Ephesians (p. 250). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Emailebc@sasktel.net

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Relationships between parents and children in the Christian home.

Ephesians 6.1-4.  Nov. 28, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: Psalm 90:12, 14, 16–17 12 Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.14 Satisfy us in the morning with your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.16 Let your work be seen by your servants, and your splendor by their children. 17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish for us the work of our hands— establish the work of our hands!” (CSB).

Hymn: Ancient Words

Verse 1 – Holy words long preserved for our walk in this world, they resound with God’s own heart, O let the ancient words impart.

Verse 2 – Words of life words of hope give us strength help us cope, in this world where’er we roam ancient words will guide us home.

Chorus – Ancient words ever true changing me changing you, we have come with open hearts, O let the ancient words impart.

Verse 3 – Holy words of our faith, handed down to this age.  Came to us through sacrifice, O heed the faithful words of Christ.

Ending – We have come with open hearts, O let the ancient words impart, O let the ancient words impart.

CCLI Song # 2986399  Lynn DeShazo  © 2001 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (Admin. by Integrity Music)  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

      We are nearing the end of our look at the Apostle Paul’s letter to Christians in and around Ephesus, as we start in Ephesians chapter six.  This letter encourages both Jewish and Gentile Christians to be thankful for the overwhelming redemptive love of God.  Our thankfulness can be expresses in praise & song, but Paul wants us to especially focus on Holy Spirit guided living.  Being saved from the emptiness of sin and the certainty of judgment to forgiveness and adoption into God’s own family must generate a willful change in our behaviour.  In chapter 5:1-2, Paul sets the tone for how we are to treat one another, especially within the family.  Here are verses 1-2 from the Message translation: “1 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. 2 Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” Ephesians 5:1–2 (The Message).

      Christ’s selfless, sacrificial, extravagant love is the example of how Christians are to relate to each other, our spouses and as we shall see today, in the relationship between parents and children.

Ephesians 6:1–4. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (NIV)

      It’s difficult for us to imagine how impactful Paul’s instructions would have been as Christians began to practice them.  First century, Roman fathers had full authority, over their family, including children, for the lifetime of the father!  He could sell them as slaves, make them work in his fields in chains, even apply the death penalty if the child was sickly, the wrong gender, or disobedient.  William Barclay says: It was against this situation that Paul wrote his advice to children and parents. If ever we are asked what good Christianity has done to the world, we need but point to the change effected in the status of women and of children.[1]

      While it’s tempting to conclude we’ve got no problems within our families compared to the first century Romans, we do see the results of broken families all around us in the lives of young and old.  The Lord’s words, spoken through Paul, continue to speak needed wisdom and healing we need to take heed of today to build healthy relationships between parents and children.

  1. The relationship of children to their parents (Eph. 6:1-3).

      Paul gives us three reasons children are to obey their parents in the Christian home: Natural law, God’s revealed law, and the Gospel.

1-   Natural Law: Children, obey your parents… Eph. 6:1a (NIV)

      First Paul appeals to what some call a natural law.  This “law” is something which is expected of children, by their parents around the world.  It has been written on our hearts by God and is a universal standard of behavior in every society.

2-   God’s Revealed Law: “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Eph. 6:2-3 (NIV)

      Next Paul quotes from the fifth of the Ten Commandments God gave to the Israelites after he led them out of slavery in Egypt and promised to take them as his own people if they would follow his law.  John Stott in his commentary makes this enlightening observation: …many Christians have divided the decalogue into two uneven halves, the first four commandments specifying our duty to God and the remaining six our duty to our neighbour. But the Jews regularly taught that each of the law’s two tablets contains five commandments. The significance of this arrangement is that it brings the honouring of our parents into our duty to God. And this is surely right. For at least during our childhood they represent God to us and mediate to us both his authority and his love. We are to ‘honour’ them, that is, acknowledge their God-given authority, and so give them not only our obedience, but our love and respect as well. It is because parental authority is divinely delegated authority that respectful obedience to parents was invested with such great importance in the life of God’s covenant people. Moses was commanded to say to Israel: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father … I am the Lord your God.’ (Lev. 19:1-3) [2]

3-   The Gospel: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Eph. 6:1 (NIV)

      In this letter to the Ephesians, when Paul says “the Lord” he is referring to the Lord Jesus.  Paul is saying that as believers in Jesus, we are to obey and honour our parents because of our own relationship with the Lord Jesus. Jesus in Matthew 15:3-9 was critical of what the Pharisees taught was acceptable behavior: “5 But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ 6 In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition.” Matthew 15:5–6 (NLT).  This clearly shows Jesus’ expectation that even as adults we would honour our parents through being aware of their needs and assisting where possible.  Next, Paul turns his attention to:

  1. The relationship of parents to their children (Eph. 6:1, 4).

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Ephesians 6:1 (NIV).

      We have already seen that verse 1 in speaking to children, but it also shows us that parents are to be guiding and setting expectations for their children’s behaviour.  It should go without says, but parents; you are to be involved in their children’s upbringing!  Tony Merida in his commentary “Exalting Jesus in Ephesus” tells this thought provoking story: 

      I will never forget a story my friend Dr. Chuck Quarles shared at a pastors’ conference a few years ago while expounding Colossians 3:18–21. A well-known biblical scholar invited Dr. Quarles to lunch one time. Dr. Quarles told this scholar he was extremely inspired by his productivity as a thinker and writer, and he went on to ask, “I’m amazed by your work. How did you manage to be so prolific?”

        This theological heavyweight mumbled under his breath, “I sacrificed my son.”

“I was stunned by his words,” Dr. Quarles said. He thought he misunderstood him, so he asked again, “What did you say?”

        The scholar replied (almost angrily), “You heard me! I said I sacrificed my son!”

Dr. Quarles said this scholar added that he had been so driven to research, write, publish, and make a name for himself in the academic world that he neglected his family. His son essentially grew up as a stranger to his father. Now, as an adult, his son was a homeless man, sleeping on the streets.

        Dr. Quarles tried to comfort him: “I’m sure that’s not your fault.”  Even more angrily the scholar replied, “Don’t you try to console me.… Yes, I did that! Even though people seem to be amazed by my productivity as a scholar, the fact is, I would give up every one of those books and far, far more just to have my son back!” Then this prolific writer looked across the table, straight into the eyes of Dr. Quarles, and said, “Just in case you want to walk in my footsteps, know that I pray to God you won’t.”

        This conversation echoed in Dr. Quarles’s mind for the next few weeks. He was so haunted by it that he began to take a close look at his own life as a husband and father. Dr. Quarles said, “I was blowing it.” That conversation led him to consider his own priorities and adjust his lifestyle. It ultimately led him to make a change in ministry roles and a change in a place of ministry. Dr. Quarles said, “I have never once regretted that radical change.”

        That story had a powerful effect on my life as well. It still does. Now, obviously, kids can grow up in great homes and turn out rebellious. I understand that. The point is, parents must seek to love, nurture, and disciple their children.[3]

      As we have seen, that children are to obey their parents presupposes a parent’s authority over their child.  John Stott says: Yet when Paul outlines how parents should behave towards their children, it is not the exercise, but the restraint, of their authority which he urges upon them.  The picture he paints of fathers as self-controlled, gentle, patient educators of their children is in stark contrast to the norm of his own day.[4]

      Verse 4 addresses fathers, for they were the finally authority in the home.  The word he uses here can include mothers, but Paul could have stayed with the same word he used in verse 1 if this was his main focus.  He seems to especially want to get the father’s attention; telling them first, what not to do, and then what they are to do instead.  Some speculate that Paul is drawing from the experience of his own upbring.

      4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6: 4 (NIV).

      Paul is urging Fathers not to misuse their authority.  Do not disciple in anger or frustration.  Dr Lloyd-Jones says: “When you are disciplining a child, you should have first controlled yourself … What right have you to say to your child that he needs discipline when you obviously need it yourself? Self-control, the control of temper, is an essential prerequisite in the control of others.” [5]

      Let’s remind ourselves that this section on family life is an application of Ephesians 5:15-21, which calls us to be wise, filled with the Holy Spirit and willing to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Parents, your ability to handle the challenges which come from raising your children will come as you daily submit to Christ and are filled and guided by the Holy Spirit.

      Paul next encourages fathers to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (NIV).  The word we translate with the phrase “bring them up” literally means to nourish and has the idea of cherishing.  The Amplified Bible says: “Bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  The word translated “training” does include discipline and correction, which we all need to learn.  Instruction of the Lord refers to verbal instruction in the Lord, but remember, your children are learning the most by watching how you apply what you teach them! 

      Let me close with some further thoughts from Tony Merida’s commentary:     When you speak to your children’s hearts about the Savior, remember to teach them the biblical story line, not just biblical stories. Show them the hero of the Bible. In her amazing book The Jesus Story Book Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones writes,

        Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.

        Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you will soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times, they are downright mean.

        No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne—everything—to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!  You see, the best thing about this Story is—it’s true.

        There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

        It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture. (Lloyd-Jones, Jesus, 14–17)

A Word of Hope

        Finally, in your communication and education you may feel insufficient. You are right. Parenting makes you desperate for God’s help. Some days I think success equals keeping my children out of prison; on other days I think success is keeping myself out of prison!

        But we take great comfort in Titus 2. Paul says the grace of God instructs us for godliness (Titus 2:12). While parents have this responsibility to train their children, God in His grace is working in their lives. Look to God for grace and strength. The psalmist reminds us of our desperate need:  Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain. (Ps 127:1) [6]

      This week as I was looking for an illustration on trusting God, for my service at Sumner Place, I came across the following story.  I’ll read it for you then make some final comments.  It is called: He grows men, not peaches.

        A young man who was trying to establish himself as a peach grower had worked hard and invested all his money in a peach orchard. It blossomed wonderfully but then came a killing frost. He didn’t go to church the next Sunday, nor the next, nor the next, nor the next. His minister went to see him to discover the reason. The young fellow exclaimed, “I’m not coming any more. Do you think I can worship a God who cares for me so little that He would let a frost kill all my peaches?”  The old minister looked at him a few moments in silence, then said kindly, “God loves you better than He does your peaches. He knows that while peaches do better without frosts, it is impossible to grow the best men without frosts.  His object is to grow men, not peaches.”

        We are sometimes so concerned about our material possessions that we fail to realize that setting our hearts upon them can stunt our spiritual development.  God often has to open our eyes to life’s real values by taking from us its lesser ones.[7]

      Mom’s & Dad’s, sometimes it is your kids are the cause of frosts in your life.  Put your full weight on the Lord to get you through, to learn what God has for you to learn from this as he develops you, and to teach your children the lessons they are to learn from the frost.  And always ask God to open your eyes to what has real, lasting value treasure that!

Hymn: #535 – A Christian Home

Verse 1 – O give us homes built firm upon the Savior, Where Christ is Head and Counselor and Guide; Where ev’ry child is taught His love and favor and gives his heart to Christ the Crucified:  How sweet to know that though his footsteps waver

his faithful Lord is walking by his side.

Verse 2 – O give us homes with godly fathers, mothers, who always place their hope and trust in Him; Whose tender patience turmoil never bothers, whose calm and courage trouble cannot dim; A home where each finds joy in serving others, and love still shines tho’ days be dark and grim.

Verse 3 – O Lord our God our homes are Thine forever, We trust to Thee their problems toil and care; Their bonds of love no enemy can sever if Thou art always Lord and Master there:  Be Thou the center of our least endeavor, be Thou our guest our hearts and homes to share.

CCLI Song # 494914  Barbara B. Hart  © 1965, 1986 New Spring (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “24 And now, all glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will bring you into his glorious presence innocent of sin and with great joy. All glory to him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Yes, glory, majesty, power, and authority belong to him, in the beginning, now, and forevermore. Amen.” (Jude 24-25 NLT).

[1] Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (p. 177). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.

[2] Stott, J. R. W. (1979). God’s new society: the message of Ephesians (pp. 239–240). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[3] Merida, T. (2014). Exalting Jesus in Ephesians (Eph 6:1–4). Nashville, TN: Holman Reference.

[4] Stott, J. R. W. (1979). God’s new society: the message of Ephesians (p. 245). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[5] Stott, J. R. W. (1979). God’s new society: the message of Ephesians (p. 249). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[6] Merida, T. (2014). Exalting jesus in ephesians (Eph 6:4). Nashville, TN: Holman Reference.

[7] Illustrations of Bible Truths. #142 He grows men, not peaches – pg. 47. ©1995 by AMG International Inc.

Emailebc@sasktel.net

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Ephesians 5.21-33. A Christ centred marriage.

November 21, 2021, Esterhazy Baptist Church

Call to worship: “1 How good it is to give thanks to you, O Lord, to sing in your honour, O Most High God, 2 to proclaim your constant love every morning and your faithfulness every night,” “4 Your mighty deeds, O Lord, make me glad; because of what you have done, I sing for joy.” Psalm 92:1–2, 4 (GNB)

Hymn: #1 “Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee” (vv. 1, 3)

Verse 1 – Joyful joyful we adore Thee, God of glory Lord of love. Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee, Opening to the sun above. Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, Drive the dark of doubt away. Giver of immortal gladness, Fill us with the light of day.

Verse 2 – All Thy works with joy surround Thee, Earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays. Stars and angels sing around Thee, Center of unbroken praise. Field and forest vale and mountain, Flowery meadow flashing sea. Chanting bird and flowing fountain, Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Verse 3 – Thou art giving and forgiving, Ever blessing ever blest. Wellspring of the joy of living, Ocean depth of happy rest.  Thou our Father Christ our Brother, All who live in love are Thine. Teach us how to love each other, Lift us to the joy divine.

CCLI Song # 25321 Edward Hodges | Henry Van Dyke | Ludwig van Beethoven © Words: Public Domain.  Music: Public Domain. For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     We are continuing our study of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.  As we have seen, the first half of this letter celebrates God’s plan to save and restore people who respond to him.  In the second half of this letter, Paul outlines what our response should be to our Saviour’s love.  In Chapter 5 we are called first, to walk in love (v. 2), meaning to love as Christ loved us. Second, we are to walk in the light (v. 8) – lives of goodness, righteousness & truth which pleases the Lord.  Finally, we are called to walk in wisdom (v. 15) by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our interactions with one another.  What follows in Eph. 5:21- 6:9 is Paul showing how this is practically applied in the setting of the Christian home.

     Let’s be honest, several of these verses are more popular with some of us than with others of us.  Recently a lady from our congregation jokingly asked if I would skip Ephesians 5:22-24, which begins with: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”  I said I would consider it if the price was right, and then wondered if I should take the highest bid between the men and the women.  In the end I decided we all needed to reflect on what is meant by a Christ centred marriage. 

     Husbands, before you get too excited and start nudging your wife or casting a “now are you finally going to fall into line?” glance towards her, consider this. If your wife is struggling with submitting to your headship it may be due to the kind of leadership or lack of it you are giving her!

     The theme of the Pastor and Spouse’s conference we attended this year was: “It all starts at Home: The minister’s marriage”.  We were reminded that the health of our marriage is not only important to us as a couple, but also impacts both our church and community – we can be either a good or bad example of marriage.  Christians, I believe this applies to all of our marriages, as Paul explains; the marriage relationship is a picture of Christ’s relationship with his church. 

     So, what’s our problem with Eph. 5:22-24?  The main issue is that it says one party is to submit to another, and we don’t like submitting to any authority!  Also, some men have used this passage to dominate their wives.  Let me ask, why isn’t Eph. 5:21 an equal or even larger concern for all of us?  It says we are to submit to one another!  “21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21 (NIV).  Notice Eph. 5:21-33 begins by telling us that the motive for our submitting is to be out of reverence / awe for Christ. 

     The word submit in the Greek has origins in the military and means “to order oneself under a leader.” This is not one party taking full control over another.  In Ephesians 5:21 it means voluntary subordination of the wife to her husband, and it comes from being filled and guided by the Holy Spirit of God.  Our example is the Lord Jesus who willing humbled himself  by becoming one of us and dying in our place out of love for us (Phil. 2:1-11).  It is because of all that Jesus has done for us that we are to submit to one another.  The verses which follow verse 21, show how we are to apply this principle in specific, practical ways in the relationships within our homes.  As we look at these verses we must remind ourselves that we can only do this through our submission to Christ Jesus and through the empowering of the Holy Spirit, otherwise our selfish nature will rebel and reject such self-sacrifice.

I.   The wife’s role in a Christ centred marriage (Eph 5:22-24).

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22–24 (NIV).

     Why does the wife need to submit to her husband?  Is this coming from a cultural bias that can be let go of like head coverings and keeping silent in the church or is it a foundational principle we are to continue obey?  In other passages (1 Cor. 11:3-12; 1 Tim. 2:11-13) Paul shows the headship of the husband is based on the order of creation.  Adam was made first and then Eve.  God gave Adam the responsibility of leading, to take the initiative, and to be the provider and protector of his family.  Eve as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh was to help him, and together they would steward this world.

     Why didn’t God create Adam & Eve at the same time?  One thought that came to my mind is that Adam needed to be convinced by his own experience that he needed a partner!  This experienced also helped him to see Eve as a blessing to him from his loving God, yet she was not different from him in essence because she was literally made from his rib.  From that time forward, every human has come from a woman, showing our need for each other.

     Why didn’t God create Adam & Eve at the same time?  The Biblical answer goes back to God’s pre-creation plan to send us a redeemer (Eph. 1:4-6), Christ, to be the second Adam who would right this sin torn world and redeem us to himself.

     Bible scholar John Stott in his commentary on Ephesians in regards to this passage, says of Paul:  Although he grounds the fact of the husband’s headship in creation, he defines it in relation to the headship of Christ the redeemer: for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour (verse 23). Now Christ’s headship of his church has already been described in Eph. 4:15–16. It is from Christ as head that the body derives its health and grows into maturity. His headship expresses care rather than control, responsibility rather than rule. This truth is endorsed by the surprising addition of the words and is himself its Saviour. The head of the body is the saviour of the body; the characteristic of his headship is not so much lordship as saviourhood.[1]

     The church submits to Christ, the one who reached out to us in love while we were dead in sin and gave himself up for us (Eph. 2:1, 4-5; 5:2).  That Paul calls wives to respond to their husbands in this way, and then goes on to call husband to love their wives as Christ loved the church is staggering even in our time.  One can hardly imagine the impact this type of relationship would have had in the first century where women had little to no rights as a person!  Let’s look at the rest picture of a Christ centred marriage and notice there are nine verses devoted to the role of the husband (three times that for the wife’s!):

II.  The husband’s role in a Christ centred marriage (Eph. 5:25-33).

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:25–33 (NIV).

     Spirit filled husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  This involves:

1.  Sacrificial love (5:25)

     Christ Jesus endured the cross for his bride, the church.  Sacrificial love includes modeling service (foot-washing love) which means dying to self, our schedules and ambitions for the sake of love for your bride.  Men, we can’t do this without submitting first to Christ Jesus, who loved us and gave himself for us while we were still at our worst.

2.  Sanctifying love (5:26-27)

     As husbands, we cannot atone for sins or cleanse anyone, but we can help our wives grow in her likeness to Christ.  We are to be concerned for our wife’s spiritual well-being, care for her soul and Shepherd her faithfully as we are Shepherded by Jesus.

3.  Satisfying love (5:28-31)

     Husbands, you are to provide, nourish, and care for your wives just as you care for your own bodies – really, that what God’s Word says!  You both have become one flesh, seek to satisfy your wife’s needs as you satisfy your own.

      Wayne Grudem, world-renowned theologian, was on faculty at Trinity University for 20 years. He served with scholars like D. A. Carson and Douglas Moo. They were the “Seal Team Six of Professors.” But his wife suffered from fibromyalgia, a disease that causes pain to many muscle groups and for which there is no known cure. She had a difficult time walking up stairs and doing household work. They had prayed and tried everything, but there was no relief. Her pain was aggravated by cold weather and humidity. Chicago was not the most ideal place for her to live.

      Some friends invited the Grudems to Mesa, Arizona, for vacation, and they learned that the warm dry climate was wonderfully helpful. They made a few trips and even rode bikes together there for first time in 12 years. Dr. Grudem told his bride, “I would like to move here, but there are no seminaries.” A few days later they were flipping through the Yellow Pages and found Phoenix Seminary. Dr. Grudem called and asked if the school had any openings. The school was interested.

      After much prayer and thought, Dr. Grudem began pondering the implications of Ephesians 5:28, that you should love your wife as you do your own body. He said, “If I were suffering like Margret, would I not want to move for the sake of my health?” The obvious answer was yes. But his bride did not want to move because she knew her husband had an influential role at a large, respected institution. So there they were. He wanted to move for her sake; she wanted to stay for his sake.

      Finally, when Phoenix told him that they would give him a reduced teaching load with more time to write, Mrs. Grudem thought this was a wonderful incentive; the two began processing a possible move. Eventually she told her husband, “I’m going to trust you to make the decision.” In the end she followed the loving leadership of her husband, who made a great sacrifice in order to nourish and care for his bride (Grudem, “Upon Leaving”).

      Husband, love your wife as your own body, even if it means sacrificing your career dreams. Nourish her. Cherish her.  God ordained marriage. Christ set the pattern for marriage. The Spirit empowers marriage.[2]

     Husbands, God wants you let Him help you lead your family.  You’ve been assigned the role of quarterback, but you can’t and shouldn’t try to do this all by yourself, you are a team, work with your wife as a team.  Plan as a team, pray, worship and serve God as a team.  Remember, God is holding us accountable for how we treat one another in our marriage!  To have a Christ centred marriage is not something I can do without submitting myself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and by walking in the strength of His Holy Spirit.  Go Team!

 

Hymn: #390 “May the mind of Christ my Saviour” (vv. 1, 2, 4)

May the mind of Christ my Saviour live in me from day to day. By His love and power controlling all I do and say.

May the word of God enrich me with His truth from hour to hour. So that all may see I triumph only through His power.

May the love of Jesus fill me, As the waters fill the sea. Him exalting self abasing, This is victory.

CCLI Song # 1039031 Kate Barclay Wilkinson © 1982 The Jubilate Group (Admin. by Hope Publishing Company). For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: (May you) grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

 

 

 



[1] Stott, J. R. W. (1979). God’s new society: the message of Ephesians (p. 225). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[2] Merida, T. (2014). Exalting jesus in ephesians (Eph 5:28–31). Nashville, TN: Holman Reference.

Emailebc@sasktel.net

Sermon podcasts
Esterhazy Baptist Church Podbean

October 31, 2021 Podbean

Dial-A-Sermon – 1-306-985-9001
 (Note: this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply)

 
 
Ephesians 5.1-20.  “Living as children of God.”
October 31, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to worship:  “8 Lord God Almighty, none is as mighty as you; in all things you are faithful, O Lord.”  15 How happy are the people who worship you with songs, who live in the light of your kindness!” Psalm 89:8, 15 (GNB).

Hymn: Jesus loves me, this I know
Verse 1 – Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.  Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong.
Chorus – Yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.
Verse 2 – Jesus loves me He who died, Heaven’s gate to open wide. He will wash away my sin, let His little child come in.
Verse 3 – Jesus loves me He will stay, close beside me all the way. On the cross You died for me, I will ever live for Thee.
CCLI Song # 4771887 Anna Bartlett Warner | Philip Percival | William Batchelder Bradbury © Words: Public Domain Music: 2004 Percival, Philip (Admin. by Philip Gordon Percival) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     Ephesians was written by the Apostle Paul while in a Roman prison to Christians in and around Ephesus.  Listen to Eugene Peterson’s introduction to this letter: 

     What we know about God and what we do for God have a way of getting broken apart in our lives. The moment the organic unity of belief and behavior is damaged in any way, we are incapable of living out the full humanity for which we were created.
      Paul’s letter to the Ephesians joins together what has been torn apart in our sin-wrecked world. He begins with an exuberant exploration of what Christians believe about God, and then, like a surgeon skillfully setting a compound fracture, “sets” this belief in God into our behavior before God so that the bones—belief and behavior—knit together and heal.
      Once our attention is called to it, we notice these fractures all over the place. There is hardly a bone in our bodies that has escaped injury, hardly a relationship in city or job, school or church, family or country, that isn’t out of joint or limping in pain. There is much work to be done.
      And so Paul goes to work. He ranges widely, from heaven to earth and back again, showing how Jesus, the Messiah, is eternally and tirelessly bringing everything and everyone together. He also shows us that in addition to having this work done in and for us, we are participants in this most urgent work. Now that we know what is going on, that the energy of reconciliation is the dynamo at the heart of the universe, it is imperative that we join in vigorously and perseveringly, convinced that every detail in our lives contributes (or not) to what Paul describes as God’s plan worked out by Christ, “a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.”[1]

     As we continue our look at Ephesians, today in chapter 5:1-20, Paul reminds us of what we know about God as his adopted children and our part in God’s “long-range plan” to bring everything together in Christ Jesus. It doing so, he calls us to live lives which reflect our new ‘parentage,’ not our old one.  Listen to Eph. 4:31-5:1 from the Amplified Bible (AMP): 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence]. 32 Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave [a]you. 5:1 Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father] (AMP) 

     Knowing you are loved, deeply loved can make all the difference in your life!  A college professor had his sociology class go into the Baltimore slums and get case histories of 200 young boys.  They were asked to write an evaluation of each boy’s future.
      Twenty-five years later another sociology professor came across the earlier study.  He had his students follow up on the project and see what had happened to these boys.  Twenty boys had moved away or died.  Seventeen of the remaining 180 had achieved more than ordinary success as lawyers, doctors, and businessmen.
      The professor was astonished and decided to pursue the matter further.  Fortunately all of the men were in the area and he was able to ask each one: “How do you account for your success?”  In each case the reply came with feeling: “There was a teacher.”
      The teacher was still alive, so he sought her out and asked the old, but still alert lady what magic formula she had used to pull these boys out of the slums into successful achievements.  The teacher’s eyes sparkled, and her lips broke into a gentle smile.  “It is really very simple, I loved those boys.” [2]

 

     It may only take one person who believes you are worthy of their love to change your life. Knowing you are loved by God and under his constant, watchful, loving care (cf. Ps. 139), should change your life and how you care for others!
     Paul begins chapter 5 by calling us to imitate God as dearly loved children.  Picture a child who so much wants to be like their dad or mom that they want to copy them, for example, a young boy pretending to shave just like his daddy.  Do you appreciate you are deeply loved by Almighty God and are one of his precious children?  Paul says; let this fact lead you, in love, to want to copy your heavenly Daddy and live like him!  The verses which follow show us how to do that:

1.  Walk in love (Eph. 5:2-7).

A. By:  Following Christ Jesus’ example of love (v. 2)

and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance. (AMP)

     We are to imitate God by following Jesus’ example of sacrificial love – he loved us, and gave himself for us.  Yes, we are to love God, but we are also to show this Christ-like love to others, seeking their best, not just what benefits us.  Read this verse over again in the Amplified Version – this is NOT easy; we cannot do this without submitting ourselves to God and allowing his Holy Spirit to love others through us.

B. By:  Rejecting sin and its focus on self (vv. 3-7).

But sexual immorality and all [moral] impurity [indecent, offensive behavior] or greed must not even be hinted at among you, as is proper among saints [for as believers our way of life, whether in public or in private, reflects the validity of our faith]. Let there be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse [obscene or vulgar] joking, because such things are not appropriate [for believers]; but instead speak of your thankfulness [to God]. For be sure of this: no immoral, impure, or greedy person—for that one is [in effect] an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God [for such a person places a higher value on something other than God].  Let no one deceive you with empty arguments [that encourage you to sin], for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience [those who habitually sin]. So do not participate or even associate with them [in the rebelliousness of sin]. (AMP)

     The sins Paul list focus on pleasing the self, which is opposite to the selfless love of Christ we are to reflect. They are contrary to who we are as children of God and some of the very reasons for God’s coming judgment – therefore we are to have nothing to do with them!  Examine your heart before God for these things (vv. 3-4), work to rid yourself of them and put on Jesus Christ.  Fill your mind with thoughts, words and actions which put the needs of others before yourself (Eph. 5:2; Phil. 2:3-8). 

2.  Walk in the light (Eph. 5:8-14).

A. By:  Behaving towards others as Jesus would (vv. 8-10).

For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [live as those who are native-born to the Light] (for the fruit [the effect, the result] of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth)10 trying to learn [by experience] what is pleasing to the Lord [and letting your lifestyles be examples of what is most acceptable to Him—your behavior expressing gratitude to God for your salvation]. (AMP)

     We are again reminded of what we were and where we are now because of God’s life changing grace.  We were darkness, now we are light in the Lord.  Notice, we didn’t just live in darkness, but because of sin, darkness lived in us – we were darkness!  Paul reminds his readers, as you received Jesus as your sin forgiver and life leader, you are light in the Lord, and therefore we are to live like Jesus.  Walking as children of light means reflecting Jesus’ goodness, righteousness and truth to others through how you live – and this is done by being in moment by moment dependence on Jesus!

B. By:  Living Christ lit lives, which show the fullness of Christ and the emptiness of sin (vv. 11-14).

11 Do not participate in the worthless and unproductive deeds of darkness, but instead expose them [by exemplifying personal integrity, moral courage, and godly character]; 12 for it is disgraceful even to mention the things that such people practice in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light [of God’s precepts], for [a]it is light that makes everything visible. 14 For this reason He says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine [as dawn] upon you and give you light.” (AMP)

     Christian, if you are trying to live a Jesus led life by walking in his light, people around you will notice that something is different about you, and will try to figure out why.  They may even tease you for your “boring weekends” because you are not filling your life with the things that captivate theirs.  Their spirit is dulled, and needs to be awakened from the stupor of sin.  However, some whom the Holy Spirit is awaking, will notice your life seems freer, happier, and in the end much less complicated than theirs and wonder why?  When the question arises, the Holy Spirit is showing you he is working in their heart, tell them how God brought you out of darkness and into the light of his goodness!  This leads to our next point:

3.  Walk in wisdom (Eph. 5:15-20).

A. By:  Making full use of the time God has given you (vv. 15-16).

15 Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people], 16 [b]making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil. (AMP)

     Wise living is demonstrated by making full use of the opportunities given to us to do good.  This is because we know an opportunity to represent Jesus may not be present for long, so we take them when they come – this is what Jesus did (I see my Father at work, and I join him, Jn. 5:17, 19-20).  Walk in wisdom by making the most of every opportunity the Lord gives you.  Also, walk in wisdom…

B. By:  Replacing the world’s ‘wisdom’ with the Lord’s Wisdom (vv. 17-20).

17 Therefore do not be foolish and thoughtless, but understand and firmly grasp what the will of the Lord is. 18 Do not get drunk with wine, for that is wickedness (corruption, stupidity), but be filled with the [Holy] Spirit and constantly guided by Him. 19 [c]Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, [offering praise by] singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (AMP).

     What passes for wisdom in this sinful world rejects the authority of God and focuses on what brings comforts to ones’ self.  Paul urges these young believers to resist the temptation to fall under the influence of the spirit of alcohol and instead to give themselves to the life changing control of the Holy Spirit – this is careful, wise living!  The Holy Spirit controlling ones’ life is seen through the changed attitude of someone who has learned to praise God, encourage others and be thankful in all circumstances.

     If what we know and believe about God has truly taken root in our hearts, then it must impact how we live and interact with our world – this is the nature of God’s truth!  As Children of the God who loved us so dearly as to give himself for us, we are to live lives worthy of the calling we have received by imitating him!  Walk in love as God is love!  This world is a dark place because of sin; Walk in God’s light making the use of every opportunity to represent Him!  Don’t dabble with the world’s wisdom, Walk in God’s wisdom and be guided by his Spirit!

Hymn: My Jesus, I love Thee.
Verse 1 – My Jesus I love Thee I know Thou art mine. For Thee all the follies of sin I resign. My gracious Redeemer my Savior art Thou, If ever I loved Thee my Jesus ’tis now.
Verse 2 – I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me, and purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree. I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow, if ever I loved Thee my Jesus ’tis now.
Verse 3 – I’ll love Thee in life I will love Thee in death, and praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath, and say when the death dew lies cold on my brow, if ever I loved Thee my Jesus ’tis now.
Verse 4 – In mansions of glory and endless delight. I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright. I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow, if ever I loved Thee my Jesus ’tis now.
CCLI Song # 27817 Adoniram Judson Gordon | William Ralph Featherstone © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;” (Numbers 6:24-25 NIV). Go forth joyfully. God is with you. Bring peace and hope to all you meet. And may God’s eternal love shine through you always. AMEN.   



[1] Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Eph). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

 

[2] Strater, Floyd.  Sermon outlines on Ephesians, p. 38. © 1996 Standard Publishing, Cincinnati, Ohio

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October 24, 2021 Podbean

 

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Ephesians 4:17-32. “Unity through our new identity.”
October 24, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship:“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5–7 (CSB).

Hymn: #220 He lives

Verse 1 – Iserve a risen Savior He’s in the world today I know that He is living Whatever men may say I see His hand of mercy I hear His voice of cheer And just the time I need Him He’s always near

Chorus – He lives He lives Christ Jesus lives today He walks with me and talks with me Along life’s narrow way He lives He lives Salvation to impart You ask me how I know He lives He lives within my heart
Verse 2 – In all the world around me I see His loving care And though my heart grows weary I never will despair I know that He is leading Through all the stormy blast The day of His appearing Will come at last
Verse 3 – Rejoice rejoice O Christian Lift up your voice and sing Eternal hallelujahs To Jesus Christ the King The Hope of all who seek Him The Help of all who find None other is so loving So good and kind
CCLI Song # 17597 Alfred Henry Ackley © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     We are continuing in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.  As we have seen, Ephesians chapters 1-3 describe the incredible plan of God’s grace.  It leaves no one out of the offer of forgiveness, eternal life, spiritual blessings and adoption into God’s family.  Ephesians chapter 4 begins to explain how we should respond to God’s amazing grace.

     Ephesians 4:17-32 builds on what Paul has urged us to do at the start of this chapter: 4:1 “live a life worthy of the calling we have received.”  In this verse Paul identified himself as a prisoner for the Lord.  Clearly, he sees self sacrifice as being worthy of our calling!  In today’s passage, a life worthy of the calling Christ Jesus has given us involves a discarding of behavior resulting from our sinful past and choosing behavior reflecting our new nature.

     In Ephesians 2 we see that God has given Gentiles the same opportunity to receive Christ Jesus’ grace and forgiveness as the Jews and that the two groups have become one, his body.  Gentiles do not have to become Jews in order to become Christians, however in chapter 4:17-32 Paul reminds his Gentile readers that this does not mean they can continue to live as they once did.

     Ephesians 4:17-19 shows the downward spiral of sin that causes alienation from God.  It may begin in secret but it leads to ever decreasing sensitivity to sin and concern for who else it may hurt.  The good news is that anyone who responds to God’s whisper of redeeming love can leave this life of sin behind.

     This is what Paul reminds them of in vv. 20-24.  When they met Christ and the truth of Jesus’ love for them, they were taught “to put off your old self.”  This is describing what we were (vv. 17-19), the old garment we have discarded.  “Put on the new self, created to be like Godin true righteousness and holiness.”  Tony Merida in his commentary notes that in this phrase we hear echoes of Genesis 1:26:“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’ ” He says: “God made humanity in His image, but sin entered the world at the fall. Now, through Christ, we are re-created into His image. When we put on Christ, we put on a new person.”[1]  Paul is saying, since this is what has happened to us, apply it, put away sin practically, daily, and continually!

     In verses 25-32 Paul shows us the power to change comes from God, and that we are to live out our new identity in Christ.  Notice these exhortations are relational and our relationship with Christ should change the way we live in community.  Paul wants us to see our sin affects others negatively, just as our righteousness will bless others positively.

1.  Replace lying with truth-telling (4:25).

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Ephesians 4:25 (NIV)

     We are to stop pretending to be what we are not, beginning with honesty in our speech.  Beginning with “therefore” Paul now gives examples of how our new self, created to be like God is to interact within the body of Christ. “…each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor.  The phrase Speak truthfully to your neighbor” is from Zechariah 8:16. Paul adds to the prophet’s command that we are to do this because now “we are all members of one body” God’s family, the Church. Our choices impact the body we now belong to – Christ’s body!  In our physical body if our senses are sending incorrect information to the brain, we say we are sick.  False or misleading words hurt the whole body; truth strengthens unity, therefore we are to speak truth.

2.  Replace unrighteous anger with righteous anger (4:26-27).

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)

     Our emotional life is also to be submitted to God and ruled by the Spirit of God.  Unrighteous anger is self-defensive, out of control and leads to a host of other sins.  Righteous anger is a holy anger directed against sin.  Paul lists three things necessary to guard that our anger holy: 1) Do not sin, guard your motives, we are defending an offense against God, not ourselves.  2) Resolve the problem quickly, not letting it fester or bitterness will grow. 3) Seek forgiveness and reconciliation quickly for Satan uses anger as an opportunity to sow divisiveness which damages unity within the body of Christ.  As William Barclay says: the longer we postpone mending a quarrel, the less likely we are ever to mend it.[2]

3.  Replace stealing with working and giving (4:28).

Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Ephesians 4:28 (NIV)

     Our new life in Christ is also to be practical and includes our behaviour. Two of the Ten Commandments are designed to maintain community and call for the respect of private property.  Stealing was rampant and Paul tells Christians to resist this temptation and replace it with the satisfaction of doing some useful work.  Notice too that Paul redirects the purpose of work from simply focusing on self-interest and reminds them that now they will be able to share with those who genuinely need assistance; this nurtures community as we look out for one another.

4.  Replace corrupt talk with edifying talk (4:29-30).

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:29-30 (NIV)

     The word translated “unwholesome” in the Greek means: “rotten, worn out, unfit for use, worthless, bad.”[3] Why would we use such useless words in our conversations?  Jesus in Matthew 12:34-37 tells us that the words which come out of our mouth reflect the condition of our heart and that we are accountable for those words!  34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:34–37 (NIV) 

     Do not take what comes out of your mouth lightly, it is telling you about your heart, your true nature.  Evaluate your speech, what you focus on and enjoy discussing, not so you can “fake it” when you are among other Christians, but to ask the Lord to help you surrender to him and fix it.  Rather than unwholesome talk, we are to speak helpful words which benefit those we speak to – isn’t that what Jesus would do, and we are his body. 

     We are also reminded that unwholesome words grieve the Holy Spirit of God, whom remember, dwells within the Temple/body of Christ and identifies us as God’s own!  The Holy Spirit is a person, whom we hurt when we use words to tear down rather than build up. This reminder alone should call us to carefully appraise what’s going on in our heart when unwholesome speech is coming out of our mouths!

5.  Replace bitterness & rage with kindness & forgiveness (4:31-32).

31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)

     Verse 31 describes behavior and actions that divide and fragment the body of Christ.  The Amplified Bible says: 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence]. 

     What is the antidote to such natural tendencies which spring out of our old nature?  It is to remember the love and grace extended to us as God in Christ forgave us prodigals (Matthew 6:12, 14-15; 18:21-35) and respond with kindness and compassion to others.

32 Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you. (Amplified Bible)

     The Apostle Paul began chapter 4 by calling us to live a life worthy of God’s calling, including our determined effort to guard the unity of the body of Christ.  Remember Ephesians chapter 4 and remind yourself: “This is my responsibility as a member of Christ’s body!”  For our own good and for the good of the body of Christ we are to examine our hearts before God and remove those things which damage unity and replace them with things which reflect God’s presence within us AND build up the body of Christ!  Then we will live lives worthy of the calling we have received from God. 

Hymn: #387 O to be like Thee

Verse 1 – Oh to be like Thee Blessed Redeemer, This is my constant Longing and prayer.  Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures, Jesus Thy perfect Likeness to wear.
Chorus – Oh to be like Thee, Oh to be like Thee, Blessed Redeemer Pure as Thou art.  Come in Thy Sweetness, Come in Thy Fullness.  Stamp Thine own Image Deep on my heart.
Verse 2 – Oh to be like Thee, Full of compassion, Loving forgiving, Tender and kind.  Helping the helpless Cheering the fainting, Seeking the wandering Sinner to find.
Verse 3 – Oh to be like Thee, While I am pleading, Pour out Thy Spirit, Fill with Thy Love.  Make me a temple Meet for Thy Dwelling, Fit me for life and Heaven above.
CCLI Song # 4852524 Michael Adler | Thomas Obediah Chisholm © Words: Public Domain Music: 2002 Adler, Michael For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:11b Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.” “14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:11b, 14 (NLT)

 


[1] Merida, T. (2014). Exalting jesus in ephesians (Eph 4:22–24). Nashville, TN: Holman Reference.

[2] Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (p. 157). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.

[3] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 4, p. 115). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
 

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Ephesians 4.1-16 – Together, we grow.

Oct. 17, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church

 

Call to Worship: Jesus said, “Allow the children to come to Me; do not forbid them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Mark 10:14; Matthew 18:3 Amplified Bible

Hymn: #213 Because He Lives

Verse 1 – God sent His Son they called Him Jesus, He came to love heal and forgive. He bled and died to buy my pardon, an empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Chorus – Because He lives I can face tomorrow, because He lives all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.

Verse 2 – How sweet to hold a newborn baby, and feel the pride and joy he gives. But greater still the calm assurance, this child can face uncertain days because Christ lives.

Verse 3 – And then one day I’ll cross that river, I’ll fight life’s final war with pain. And then as death gives way to vict’ry, I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns.

CCLI Song # 16880 Gloria Gaither | William J. Gaither © 1971 Hanna Street Music (Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394 

     Today in our series on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we are beginning chapter 4. Chapter 4 transitions from teaching about what God has done, to applying these truths to our situations. 

     In chapters 1 -3 Paul marvels at God’s incredible plan to offer redemption, forgiveness and adoption into his family to both Jews and Gentiles through the shed blood of Jesus Messiah.  Chapter 3 ends with Paul praying that God having rooted us in Christ’s love through faith would allow us to begin to grasp the breadth of his love for us and his incredible power at work within us.

     In the remaining 3 chapters Paul will apply these truths to our daily lives.  Here is Eph. 4:1-16 from the NIV: “1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.” 9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:1–16 (NIV).

     Paul begins in chapter 4:1-16 by calling us to grow together in unity, starting with the Unity of the body of Christ (vv. 1-6), first with an appeal to unity (vv. 1-3).

I.  The unity of the body of Christ (4:1-6)

A. The Appeal for unity (4:1-3)

1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1–3 (NIV).

     At first glance we may not see it, but these verses are full of God’s “turn your world upside down ideas!” 

     Paul begins by first appealing to us as “a prisoner for the Lord”? Why would he choose this title instead of using his authority, for e.g.: “As an Apostle of the Lord, I urge you to live a life worthy of your calling…” I don’t think he wants our sympathy; rather it is to remind his readers of how invested he is in his calling – which is to include the Gentiles in God’s salvation plan!  It’s a way of reminding us that God’s salvation plan is so important it is worth staking one’s future on – Paul has, what about us, are we willing to?

     Paul then, as a prisoner for Christ, establishes his right to challenge us to evaluate our own commitment to God. How does one respond to God’s incredible love and grace which not only saved us from eternal judgment, but welcomes us into his eternal home as sons and daughters?  Should I pledge to become a missionary or will my estate to the church when I die?  Both of these are fine if that’s what the Lord calls you to do, however that’s not what Paul asks of his Jewish & Gentile readers. 

     In verses 2 & 3 Paul begins with our heart, calling us to display the fruit of the Holy Spirit within, in our relationships with each other for the purpose of Christian unity.  We read these verses and think, ok, standard Christian directives, what’s next?  Paul’s readers would have been staggered by this!  It would have caused enormous reflection and discussion.  William Barclay says: humility… is actually a word which the Christian faith coined. In Greek there is no word for humility which has not some suggestion of meanness attaching to it.  …before Christianity, humility was not counted as a virtue at all. The ancient world looked on humility as a thing to be despised.

     …In the days before Jesus humility was looked on as a cowering, cringing, servile, ignoble quality; and yet Christianity sets it in the very forefront of the virtues. …what does it involve?

(a) Christian humility comes from self-knowledge. …true humility comes when we face ourselves and see our weakness, our selfishness, our failure in work and in personal relationships and in achievement.

(b) Christian humility comes from setting life beside the life of Christ and in the light of the demands of God.

God is perfection and to satisfy perfection is impossible. So long as we compare ourselves with second bests, we may come out of the comparison well. It is when we compare ourselves with perfection that we see our failure.  …the Christian standard is Jesus Christ and the demands of God’s perfection—and against that standard there is no room for pride.

(c) Humility comes from the constant sense of our own creatureliness. We are in absolute dependence on God.

…We are creatures, and for the creature there can be nothing but humility in the presence of the creator.

Christian humility is based on the sight of self, the vision of Christ, and the realization of God.[1]

     This is just a glance at the attribute of humility!  Each one of the attributes Paul is calling us to display as part of a life worthy of the calling we have received, is only possible in its fullness as we submit to the power and authority of Almighty God.  As we do so in love to God and to one another, unity is the result.  Paul likely had Jesus’ prayer for his disciples in mind as he called us to unity:  John 17:11. “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” (NIV)  John 17:20–23. ““My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (NIV)

     Why is it important that we approach the subject of unity with humility, gentleness, patience and love?  Because it is not our plan, but God’s plan for us that we, through the guiding of the Holy Spirit, are to work to keep. 

     Ephesians 4:4-6 gives the foundation of our unity.  Paul highlights seven reasons, all bathed in the Trinity of God.

B. The Basis for unity (4:4-6)

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:4–6 (NIV)

·        One body – Paul has explained how God the Father, in Christ has brought believing Jews & Gentiles together to make one church, Christ’s body. We are interdependent!

·        One Spirit – The Holy Spirit of God who indwells the body of Christ, his Temple.

·        One hope – God is in control and Christ is returning to make all things right.

·        One Lord – we are united by our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

·        One faith – the foundations of our faith in Jesus and what he has done for us.

·        One baptism – our identification with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

·        One God and Father of all – Therefore we are to allow nothing to be god or lord over us than the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

II. Unity through giftedness (4:7-16)

     Next, Paul looks at the unity we have as demonstrated through the gifts of the Spirit and their purpose.

     Paul, inspired by Psalm 68:19, first celebrates that Christ Jesus as he ascended victoriously to the Father, sent down gifts via his Spirit for his body the church.

A. Christ gives gifts to the body (4:7-12)

     These gifts are not for our individual edification but to unite the body of Christ in faith to for works of service to him. 

B. Gifts unite and mature the body (4:13-16)

     The purpose of the gift of these offices is for the ongoing unity and maturity of the Church. “13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Eph. 4:13 (NIV).  This Spirit nurtured maturity that enabled the church to survive 2000 years of storms, is the only kind of unity which will enable us, to continue to flourish as we await our Lord’s return.

Hymn: #284 “They’ll know we are Christians by our love” (1,4).

Verse 1 – We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord. We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord, and we pray that all unity may one day be restored.

Chorus – And they’ll know we are Christians, by our love by our love. Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

Verse 2 – We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand. We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand, and together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land.

Verse 3 – We will work with each other, we will work side by side. We will work with each other, we will work side by side, and we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.

Verse 4 – All praise to the Father from whom all things come, and all praise to Christ Jesus, His only Son, and all praise to the Spirit who makes us one.

CCLI Song # 26997 Peter Scholtes © Words: 1966 F.E.L. Publications. Assigned 1991 The Lorenz Corporation (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6 NIV).



[1] Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (pp. 135–137). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.

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Ephesians 3.14-21 – Reasons to be thankful.
October 10, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to worship:  Shout praises to the Lord! He is good to us, and his love never fails. Everyone the Lord has rescued from trouble should praise him, You should praise the Lord for his love and for the wonderful things he does for all of us. Honor the Lord when you and your leaders meet to worship. Be wise! Remember this and think about the kindness of the Lord. Psalm 107:1-2,31-32,43 (CEV).

Song:“Give thanks with a grateful heart”

Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One, give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son.  Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One, give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son.

And now let the weak say I am strong, Let the poor say I am rich, Because of what the Lord has done for us.  And now let the weak say I am strong, Let the poor say I am rich, Because of what the Lord has done for us.

Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One, give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son. Give thanks.

CCLI Song # 20285 Henry Smith © 1978 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (Admin. by Integrity Music) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Ephesians 3:14–2114 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (NIV).

     The Apostle’s Paul’s letter to the Ephesians follows his usual format in that to address his reader’s practical struggles he first reminds them of what God has done for them, and then in the second half of the letter helps them apply those truths to their current situations.  Ephesians is unique in how Paul teaches us about what God has done for us.  Rather than reading a sermon (lecture) we are reading outburst of praise to God and then prayers to God on behalf of his readers.  In doing this, we learn of God and glimpse what is possible in a relationship with him as we listen to Paul’s heart.  Paul has been a little further down the relationship road with God, he knows what is coming as our faith, love and trust grow in our Lord.

     Today is Thanksgiving Day Sunday.  We have SO much to be thankful for.  The time of Thanksgiving after the harvest season naturally calls our attention to how God provides for our physical needs, in order that we may provide for our families, communities and country.  For all this we are truly thankful!

     In this letter to the churches in the region of Ephesus, Paul is drawing our attention to the loving activity of God, planning before creation to offer us salvation by grace through the substitution freely given by Jesus, the Messiah.  Incredibly, not only for those originally chosen, the Jews, but full rights to God’s kingdom are also available to all non-Jews who respond – an astounding act of grace!  This is what inspires the prayer of Ephesians 3:14-21; a prayer for unity of Jewish and Gentile Christians based on a growing appreciation of God’s love which made the two one.  Paul prays that we would experience the power of God, the presence of Christ and the perception of his love, for which we have reason to be thankful!

I.      Thankful for the Power of God (v. 16)

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,” Ephesians 3:16 (NIV).

     First of all, Paul prays that God would strengthen his readers with the glorious riches of his power.  As we think about all that Paul has told us about the God’s great pre-creation plan, we may feel overwhelmed by his greatness and hesitant to approach him.  A young boy was feeling this way after hearing that his father had just been made a brigadier general.  So he asked his mother, “Do you think he will mind if I still call him Daddy?”  This prayer of Paul’s not only reminds us of the bounty of resources God has available for us, but it also invites us to draw near to experience them through a personal relationship with God as our Father (3:14). 

     On our own the thought of true unity between such diverse groups is an impossible dream, but we are not on our own!  Just as Paul claimed God’s power as the source of his ability to be an Apostle to the Gentiles (Eph. 3.7-9), now he asks God to supply his readers with the strength they will need deep within to be the unified family God has made them to be (2:14-18).  The power to do this doesn’t come from within us, but from God whose resources are unlimited.  During the construction of one of the East River bridges in New York, the engineers were baffled by an old sunken barge. It lay embedded in the river bottom. Powerful engines, steel cables, derricks, and rafts—all were powerless to remove the obstruction.

     A young man just out of technical school received permission to try his hand. At low tide he had a large barge towed out to the spot. The ends of it were fastened on the sunken vessel. As the tide came in from the Atlantic, the barge rose, bringing with it the submerged wreck. The young engineer had linked to his task the limitless power of the ocean tides. So we have the infinite power of God available to help us. Do you understand the power available to you from God to love those you once scorned?  It is real, life changing and available to you through a relationship with Jesus Christ as your sin forgiver and life leader as you depend upon him and not yourself.  Thank God for his power available to all disciples of Jesus.  Be humble to ask and then bold to act! 

II.     Thankful for the Presence of Christ (v. 17a)

 “17a so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Ephesians 3:17a (NIV).

     In verse 16 Paul prays that God the Father would through the power of the Holy Spirit working deep within them, in their inner being, and continues that thought praying for Messiah to dwell in our hearts through faith.  This is where the true battle with sin and self is fought and this is where we need Christ’s presence.  In 1 Samuel 16:7 we are told that while people look at one’s outward appearance God can see one’s true self, the heart.  Paul is not now praying that we would know about Christ, but that through our growing faith in him we may experience the reality of his presence ruling at the core of our being!  The word Paul translated as dwell means “to settle down” and carries the idea of a long-term resident.  “20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NIV).

III.     Thankful for the love of Christ (v. 17b-19)

17b And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17–19 (NIV).

     Paul’s prayer is not for us to love Christ more, instead we wants us as disciples of Jesus, to consider the vastness of his love for us, which is so great it is beyond our comprehension.  William Barclay says: It is as if Paul invited us to look at the universe—to the limitless sky above, to the limitless horizons on every side, to the depth of the earth and of the seas beneath us, and said, “The love of Christ is as vast as that.”[1] Paul wants the love of Christ to “take our breath away” as we try to understand how immeasurable it is, and for this to lead us gratefully into the loving arms of our God to experience his loving presence!  Know that you are secure in God’s love, rooted and firmly established on Christ love, expressed before the foundation of the world (1:3-6) and love which brought us life in Christ (2:4-5).  Harold Hoehner in the Cornerstone biblical commentary says:  To fully comprehend the sacrificial love of Christ is beyond the capability of any human being. His continued love for believers is equally incomprehensible. In fact, no matter how much knowledge believers have about Christ, his amazing love surpasses that knowledge, and the more we know of that love, the more we should praise him for it.[2]Amen, thank you Lord Jesus!

1939 He Merely Showed Hands

     William Dixon lived in Brackenthwaite, England. He was a widower who had also lost his only son. One day he saw that the house of one of his neighbors was on fire. Although the aged owner was rescued, her orphaned grandson was trapped in the blaze. Dixon climbed an iron pipe on the side of the house and lowered the boy to safety. His hand that held on to the pipe was badly burned.

     Shortly after the fire, the grandmother died. The townspeople wondered who would care for the boy. Two volunteers appeared before the town council. One was a father who had lost his son and would like to adopt the orphan as his own. William Dixon was to speak next, but instead of saying anything he merely held up his scarred hand. When the vote was taken, the boy was given to him.  —Neil Strait[3]

     “16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV).

     As we accept Jesus Christ as our sin forgiver and life leader we have so much to be thankful for:  The love of God greater than our sin.  The presence of Christ within us, guiding, changing and helping us to share live out his love to others.  The power of God which, as we trust and obey him, enables us to do what he calls us to do!

Hymn: #67 “The love of God”

Verse 1 – The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell. It goes beyond the highest star

And reaches to the lowest hell. The guilty pair bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win. His erring child He reconciled and pardoned from his sin.

Chorus – O love of God how rich and pure, how measureless and strong. It shall forevermore endure the saints and angels song.

Verse 2 – When years of time shall pass away and earthly thrones and kingdoms fall, when men who here refuse to pray, on rocks and hills and mountains call. God’s love so sure shall still endure all measureless and strong, redeeming grace to Adam’s race, the saints and angels song.

Verse 3 – Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made. Were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade. To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry, nor could the scroll contain the whole though stretched from sky to sky.

CCLI Song # 18448 Frederick Martin Lehman | Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20–21 (NIV).



[1] Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (p. 132). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.

[2] Hoehner, H. W., Comfort, P. W., & Davids, P. H. (2008). Cornerstone biblical commentary: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, Philemon. (Vol. 16, p. 75). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[3] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 495). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

 
 
 

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The honour of being chosen by God.  Ephesians 3.1-13

Esterhazy Baptist Church.  October 3, 2021

Call to worship:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. 7 Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold—gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away—and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.1 Peter 1:3–7 (NET).

Song: “Refiner’s fire”

Verse 1 – Purify my heart, let me be as gold and precious silver.  Purify my heart, let me be as gold, pure gold.

Chorus – Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire is to be holy, set apart for You Lord.  I choose to be holy, set apart for You my Master, ready to do Your will.

Verse 2 – Purify my heart, Cleanse me from within and make me holy.  Purify my heart, cleanse me from my sin, deep within.

CCLI Song # 426298 Brian Doerksen © 1990 Mercy / Vineyard Publishing (Admin. by Integrity Music) Vineyard Songs Canada (Admin. by Integrity Music) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     Today we are looking Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, 3:1-13.  Paul wrote this letter to the churches in and around Ephesus while he was in prison.  Many scholars feel he wrote this letter while under house arrest in Rome following his appeal to Caesar (Acts 24:1-12).  Paul was being accused by the Jewish leaders of breaking their laws concerning the Gentiles and of preaching that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah).  To help us understand this passage better, I will start at 2:19 and read until 3:15.  To his mostly Gentile readers, Paul says:

     “19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

      3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

      7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

      14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” Ephesians 2:19–3:15 (NIV).

     Despite the fact that Paul is incarcerated solely for preaching about Jesus Christ, the tone of this letter is one of rejoicing over God’s amazing salvation plan.  In Ephesians 3:1-13 Paul is expressing his honour over being chosen by God for his service.  First of all, we see Paul is:

  1. Honoured to Knowthe mystery of Christ (3:1-6)

     In these verses Paul explains God’s special plan unfolding through Christ Jesus, which has now been revealed by God to the apostles and prophets (3:5).  This revelation, called ‘the mystery of Christ/Messiah’ was hinted at in the past but only fully seen now and Paul is honoured to have been included in the revealing of this mystery (3:3).  Verse 6 explains the revelation: “6 And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 3:6 (NLT). 

     We (Gentile Christians) have become so used to this truth that we forget there was a time when it was stunning to those who first heard.  It was literally unbelievable that God would open the doors of his Kingdom to the ignorant of God’s ways: godless gentiles without first requiring them to enter through the “door of Israel”!  This truth was first revealed to the apostles and prophets (Peter, Paul…) and then taught to the church.  Paul was honoured to have been chosen by the Lord Jesus to be in on this incredible news from the start – in spite of his previous distance from the gentiles as a Pharisee!

     Not only had Paul been given insight into God’s plan to redeem all of humanity, God in grace, chose him to lead the way in bringing this message of Christ’s saving grace to the Gentiles.

  1. Honoured to Sharethis good news with the world (3:7-12)

     In Eph. 3:8 Paul writes: 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ (NIV). 

     It is fascinating that the word translated “less than the least” in the Greek was coined by Paul.  He didn’t choose available words like little or less or even least.  He added onto the word “least” giving it the meaning “less than the least” or “leaster.”[1]  When given special honour most people experience some pride and even arrogance to have been selected.  What kept Paul so humble?  He realized how unworthy he was of the task and also how inadequate he was to fulfill it!  Then what was it that made Paul bold enough to do it anyway?  Look at Eph. 3:7 – 7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.   Paul realized that his call to serve Christ was a work of God’s grace and his ability to preach about Christ to the Gentiles only came as a gift of God’s grace.  In other words:  Since this is what God called me to do, I will trust him to empower me to do it!

     I am reminded of Jacqueline Peeace’s message to us last Sunday from John 6:1-15 where fed over 5000 people – do I trust God to be able to use me?  It takes humility and boldness to say: “I am only one person; I can only give $10; I’ve never done this before… but I trust you!  I am the servant, you are almighty God!”

     Are you honoured to know God’s salvation plan?  Are you honoured to share it?  Honoured to share the incredible news of hope that God the Father has revealed by his Spirit concerning his Son that will change peoples’ eternal destiny if they respond to it?

III.     Honoured to _______ –                                                  (3:1, 14, 13)

     What could be the third thing Paul is honoured with in this passage?  Keep in mind how this passage started: 3:1 “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles…”  This refers back to 2:19-22 where Paul rejoiced over the Gentiles being fully included into God’s household. After the parenthetical statement in vv. 2-13, Paul returns to this thought in v. 14 “For this reason I kneel before the Father.”  In verse 14 Paul is returning to his focus in 3:1 – “…Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles”, but notice how he links this “digression” back into verse 14. Listen to vv.12-13: 12 In him (Christ Jesus) and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.  14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name…

     Why does Paul not want them to be discouraged because of his suffering to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles? Because he is doing so as a servant, a prisoner not of Rome, but of Christ Jesus, and Paul is Honoured to Sufferfor Jesus Christ!

     The idea of suffering for Christ as an honour may be a difficult concept for us.  Usually, suffering is something we want to avoid!  Large parts of our nervous system are designed to alert us of danger using pain, so we can respond before more suffering occurs.  For example, touching something hot hurts and makes us pull our hand away in pain.  We may get a blister, but the pain and our response to it prevented greater damage.  So how does Paul understand suffering as an honour?

     Paul felt honoured to be so identified with Jesus as to receive the same treatment as Jesus for following him, because Jesus told his followers to expect it (Jn. 15:18-21; 16:33)!  William Barclay in his commentary on this passage says:

      If a man is in prison for some great cause he may either grumblingly regard himself as an ill-used creature, or he may radiantly regard himself as the standard-bearer of some great cause. The one regards his prison as a penance; the other regards it as a privilege. When we are undergoing hardship, unpopularity, material loss for the sake of Christian principles we may either regard ourselves as the victims of men or as the champions of Christ. Paul is our example; he regarded himself, not as the prisoner of Nero, but as the prisoner of Christ.[2]

      Paul regarded himself as a sufferer for Christ. He did not expect the way of service to be easy; he did not expect the way of loyalty to be trouble-free… F. R. Maltby used to say that Jesus promised his disciples three things—that “they would be absurdly happy, completely fearless, and in constant trouble.” When the knights of chivalry came to the court of King Arthur and to the society of the Round Table, they came asking for dangers to face and dragons to conquer. To suffer for Christ is not a penalty; it is our glory, for it is to share in the sufferings of Christ himself and an opportunity to demonstrate the reality of our loyalty to him.[3]

     In the communion service we remember our Lord’s suffering for our sake.  The bread reminds us of his body broken for us.  The cup, his blood, shed as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.

     Paul was honoured to have received the amazing news of God’s grace extended to him and ALL of humanity.  He was honoured to have been empowered by God to share this good news with the world.  He was also honoured to endure suffering to proclaim the life changing news of God’s salvation in Christ Jesus.

     How about you and I?  Have you responded to the mystery of Christ, that no one is excluded from the opportunity to be forgiven of their sins and become part of God’s family?  If you have accepted Jesus as your sin forgiver and life leader, are you honoured to share this good news with those around you?  Are you honoured and willing to suffer for the name of Christ Jesus if called upon?

     As I read the many stories about Muslims coming to Christ in closed countries, the common thread was: excitement over the opportunity to received God’s gift of salvation by grace, which encouraged them to tell others.  Even with the likelihood of suffering, the good news they had discovered was worth any pain they might face on this earth!  Let me close with Paul’s words from Romans 8:35-39

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35–39 (NLT).

Song: Knowing You, Jesus

Verse 1 – All I once held dear built my life upon, all this world reveres and wars to own. All I once thought gain I have counted loss, Spent and worthless now compared to this.

Chorus – Knowing You Jesus, knowing You, There is no greater thing.  You’re my all, You’re the best, you’re my joy, my righteousness, and I love You Lord.

Verse 2 – Now my heart’s desire is to know You more, to be found in You and known as Yours.  To possess by faith what I could not earn, all surpassing gift of righteousness.

Verse 3 – Oh to know the pow’r of Your risen life, and to know You in Your sufferings.  To become like You in Your death my Lord, so with You to live and never die

CCLI Song # 1045238 Graham Kendrick © 1993 Make Way Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! …To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!  Revelation 5:12-13

 

[1] Briscoe, D. Stuart Let’s get Moving, A Bible Commentary for Laymen, Ephesians. pg. 69.  ©1978 Regal Books Division, G/L Publications, Glendale, CA.

[2] Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (p. 122). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.

[3] Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (pp. 124–125). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.

To listen to this message visit:  Podbean or call our Dial-a-sermon number for the weekly sermon: 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).

Ephesians 2. “What a mighty God we serve.”

Sept. 19, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “God our Savior showed us how good and kind he is. He saved us because of his mercy, and not because of any good things that we have done. God washed us by the power of the Holy Spirit. He gave us new birth and a fresh beginning. God sent Jesus Christ our Savior to give us his Spirit.” Titus 3:4–6 (CEV).

Hymn #206: “There is a redeemer”

Verse 1 – There is a Redeemer Jesus God’s own Son, Precious Lamb of God Messiah Holy One.

Chorus – Thank You O my Father, For giving us Your Son, and leaving Your Spirit till the work on earth is done.

Verse 2 – Jesus my Redeemer name above all names, Precious Lamb of God Messiah O for sinners slain.

Verse 3 – When I stand in glory I will see His face, There I’ll serve my King forever in that holy place.

CCLI Song # 11483 Melody Green © 1982 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) Birdwing Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Ears To Hear (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Ephesians 2 (NLT)

     1Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

       4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

       8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

       11 Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. 12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. 13 But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.

       14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.

17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. 18 Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

     19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.

     Ephesians begins in chapter one with a song of praise followed by a prayer for spiritual insight into all that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit has done to make our salvation possible.  Ephesians chapter two then makes it personal, by getting us to remember our situation before God reached out to us in Christ (vv. 1-3) and finishing with the blessing of being part of God’s reunited family in Christ (vv. 19-22).  We have been brought from death to life, from an outsider to a member of God’s household, and from deserving God’s wrath to receiving God’s grace.  How did this happen and how did we get here?  Ephesians chapter two is a celebration of the answers to those questions, summarized in Ephesians 2:3b-10:

     In this passage we see what God demonstrated through us, did for us, and designed us to be.

  1. What God demonstrated through us (vv. 4-5):

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

     When we think of our salvation may we always be in awe of God’s mercy, love and grace that he extended to us.  In our deliverance from sin the magnificence of God’s character is on display as he shows his mercy to us undeserving rebels (see Eph. 2:2-3)!  Why does he extend us such grace?  Because he loves us so much!  “The distinctive word for “love” here is agapē (γαπη) which speaks of a love called out of one’s heart by the preciousness of the one loved, a love that impels one to sacrifice one’s self for the benefit of the object loved. It is the love shown at Calvary (John 3:16).”[1]

  1. What God did for us (vv. 5-8):

A – God saved us (v. 8)

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

     God saved us from the penalty of sin as a gift of his grace and not because of anything we have done.  As we grow in relationship with him and live in the power of his strength we are being saved from sin’s power over us.

B – God gave us life in Christ (v. 5)

that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

     Eph. 2:1-3 shows us our condition before Christ; we were spiritually dead in our sin.  When Jesus willingly laid down his life for our sins and God the Father raised him from the dead, we were given life in him.  Paul shows us this in Romans 6:1-4 by reminding us that our baptism pictures our burial with Christ and then our resurrection from the dead to new life with him.

C – God raised us with Christ & seated us with him in the heavenly realms (v. 6)

For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.

     Our identification with Christ Jesus continues.  In Eph. 1:20-21 we read that Christ Jesus was raised and seated in the place of authority in the heavenly realms.  Here in 2:6 we see that because we are united with Christ, we are seated with him in the heavenly realms.  We not only share in Christ’s life, but we now share in his victory over those things which once ruled over us! 

  1. What God designed us to be (vv. 7, 10):

A – Exhibits of his grace (v. 7)

So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

     Stuart Briscoe in his commentary says: “Some parts of His creation, like the infinite reaches of the galaxies, will be exhibits of His power. Others, like the angels, will demonstrate His holiness.  But only redeemed sinners will be able to show forth His grace…In eternity all things will have their place showing the many splendored majesty of our God.  But you will be in the grace department.” [2] 

B – Examples of his workmanship (v. 10)

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.  In the original Greek the word order in the first sentence emphasizes whose we are, sounding something like: God’s masterpiece are we!  The word translated masterpiece/workmanship is the Greek word from which we get our word ‘poem.’  Paul is saying that we are examples of God’s creative genius!  He goes on to explain that we were crafted by God for a purpose, “to do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  Our good works cannot save us; they are like oil stained rags.  However when we accept Jesus Christ as our sin forgiver (Saviour) and life leader (Lord), we are remade, becoming and able to accomplish all that God intended us to be.  These good works are now in response to God’s amazing grace which brought us from death to life.  What are these good works?  In a nut shell it is to reflect the character of our Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself for us.  We have been blessed to be a blessing and we go out under the authority and protection of our Lord Jesus Christ!  What a mighty God we serve!

Closing Song:  “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)”

Verse 1 – Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.

Verse 2 – ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved, how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed

Chorus – My chains are gone I’ve been set free, My God my Savior has ransomed me, and like a flood His mercy rains, unending love amazing grace.

Verse 3 – The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be As long as life endures.

Verse 4 – The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine, but God who called me here below, Will be forever mine. Will be forever mine, You are forever mine.

CCLI Song # 4768151 Chris Tomlin | John Newton | Louie Giglio © 2006 sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Vamos Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: You have been given every good gift for proclaiming God’s presence and God’s love. The world is thirsting for this good news. People struggle for words of hope and peace. As you have been blessed, now go to be a blessing in God’s Name. AMEN.

[1] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 4, p. 65). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[2] Briscoe, D. Stuart Let’s get Moving, A Bible Commentary for Laymen/Ephesians. ©1978 Regal Books Division, G/L Publications, Glendale, CA. 

To listen to this message visit:  Podbean or call our Dial-a-sermon number for the weekly sermon: 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).

 

God’s blessings to us in Christ.  Ephesisans 1.

Sept. 12, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church

Call to Worship: “How good it is to give thanks to you, O Lord, to sing in your honour, O Most High God,  to proclaim your constant love every morning and your faithfulness every night,” “Your mighty deeds, O Lord, make me glad; because of what you have done, I sing for joy.” Psalm 92:1–2, 4 (GNB)

Hymn: #66 “To God be the glory

Verse 1 – To God be the glory great things He has done So loved He the world that He gave us His Son Who yielded His life an atonement for sin And opened the life gate that all may go in

Chorus – Praise the Lord praise the Lord Let the earth hear His voice Praise the Lord praise the Lord Let the people rejoice

O come to the Father through Jesus the Son And give Him the glory great things He has done

Verse 2 – O perfect redemption the purchase of blood To every believer the promise of God The vilest offender who truly believes That moment from Jesus a pardon receives

Verse 3 – Great things He has taught us Great things He has done And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son But purer and higher and greater will be Our wonder our transport when Jesus we see

CCLI Song # 23426 Fanny Jane Crosby | William Howard Doane © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     Today we are resuming our look at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians by taking another look at chapter one. Here it is from the New Living Translation:

Greetings from Paul

     1 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.

I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.

         2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Spiritual Blessings

         3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

         9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

         12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom

         15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

         19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. Ephesians 1 (NLT)

     Ephesians 1:3-14 is a single sentence song of praise to God for his actions to save us and adopt us into his family (vv. 13-14).  It is from this praise that Paul builds his prayer request for these Gentile believers that form the purpose of his letter, explained in vv. 18 & 19.  I would paraphrase it as: “That the Spirit of God would enable you to grow in your understanding of the hope, riches and power God has made available to Christians through Christ Jesus.”  Paul wants his readers to understand that God is on their side and is supplying everything they need to live a life which brings glory to God.

     Paul reminds us that an example of the power of God he speaks of was witnessed as Christ Jesus was raised from the dead and given authority next to God in the heavenly realms.  This was for the benefit of Christ’s representatives on earth, Christ’s body, the church (vv. 19-23).  This is incredible, God is on our side! 

     In his song of praise in vv. 3-14 Paul marvels over the hope and inheritance given to believers in Christ.  Let’s take a closer look at our Spiritual blessing in Christ:

  • Because we are united with Christ we are spiritually blessed (v. 3).
  • God loved & chose us in Christ to be holy (v. 4).
  • God foreordained us to be adopted into his family through Christ (v. 5).
  • We are overwhelmed with God’s grace to us through Christ (v. 6)
  • We are brought to God & forgiven of our sins through Christ’s shed blood on our behalf (v. 7).
  • We are part of God’s plan to unify everything together under Christ’s authority (vv. 9-10).
  • Being united with Christ, we will receive an inheritance from God (v. 11).
  • The presence of the Holy Spirit within us confirms we will receive all God has promised us in Christ (v. 14).
  • God has called out a new people for himself from both Jews & Gentiles, the church to praise & glorify him under the authority of Christ Jesus (vv. 12-14).

     There are so many blessings, and yet our salvation is not the end of the story, but a part of God’s plan to bring the whole cosmos under Christ.  We have been chosen, in order to be a blessing to the world that our Lord is reaching out to.  A number of Bible commentators feel that in this song of praise Paul is rejoicing in God’s work to fulfill the ultimate Exodus, freedom from bondage to sin.  God plan in saving Israel’s descendents from slavery in Egypt was so they as his people would represent him to the nations.  Now in Christ, God has chosen us, Jews & Gentiles together in the church, to bring the news of his redemption to the world. 

     The Lord Jesus willingly became our Passover lamb, shedding his blood to free us from slavery to sin.  Now we are on our way to receive our promised inheritance (v. 14) guided and protected, not by a pillar of cloud or fire, but by the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing the fulfillment of God’s promise to us.

     It is amazing to get even a glimpse of God’s great salvation plan and our part in it.  It is no wonder that Paul prays that the Holy Spirit would grant us spiritual insight to grasp the scale of what God is doing around us and in us and through us!  It all makes me ask “What do we need to do?”  Some people are highly motivated by incredible goals.  Others of us are overwhelmed, wondering why even try to do anything; we are in way over our heads!

     To deal with this dilemma, let’s remind ourselves how this letter of Paul’s began: 1a This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.   Paul begins his letter by reminding us, already in his greeting, that this is all God’s idea, part of his gracious and powerful plan!

1-  Paul was chosen by the will of God.  We might not give much thought to this phrase, but Paul cannot forget what he was like when God chose him!  Paul, in sinful arrogance was trying to impress God with his ‘perfect’ life.  However, his obsession with keeping man’s interpretations of God’s laws led him to hate Jesus and persecute his followers!  Paul deserved God’s judgment but instead God forgave Paul, choosing to adopt him into his family – what an amazing display of God’s grace!  Listen to 1 Timothy 1:15–16.  Paul writes: 15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. (NLT) We need to realize that when Paul claims he was chosen by God, he is not expressing pride but amazement!  This truth is the same for every single Christian!  Our salvation is a work of God, through Christ Jesus and not of ourselves.  We have been saved through an act of God’s grace as we express our faith in him.

2 – Paul recognizes he is an apostle of Christ Jesus.  William Barclay says this would have meant three things to Paul:

(a) That he belonged to Christ.  His life was not his own to do with as he liked; he was the possession of Jesus Christ, and he must always live as Jesus Christ wanted him to live.

(b) That he was sent out by Jesus Christ. The meaning of apostle is ‘sent one’. It can be used, of a naval squadron sent out on an expedition; it can be used of an ambassador sent out by his native country… The Christian all through life is to see themselves as a member of the task force of Christ. People on a mission, the mission of serving Christ within this world.

(c) That any power he possessed was a delegated power. The Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the Jews. In matters of religion the Sanhedrin had authority over every Jew in the world. When the Sanhedrin came to a decision, that decision was given to an apostolos to convey it to the persons whom it concerned and to see that it was carried out. When such an apostolos went out, behind him and in him lay the authority of the Sanhedrin, whose representative he was.

     The Christian is the representative of Christ within the world, but we are not left to carry out that task in our own strength and power; the strength and power of Jesus Christ are with us.[1]

     Paul through his introduction, praise and prayer wants us to see that salvation is a work of God that we have been chosen to be a part of.  Relax in his plan and care.  Trust him to provide the wisdom and strength to accomplish all that he was planned!  I close with this summary from N.T. Wright: Look back over the story which Paul has told as an act of worship. God has taken the initiative; God has done what was necessary, at great cost to himself, to buy us back from the slavery of sin; God has given us the spirit as a sign and foretaste of the whole renewed cosmos which awaits us as our inheritance. Discovering that you are to receive an inheritance like that should change your whole life. How can you not join in the hymn of praise? [2]

Hymn: #350 “’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus”

Verse 1 – ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His word. Just to rest upon His promise, Just to know thus saith the Lord.

Chorus – Jesus Jesus how I trust Him, How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er. Jesus Jesus precious Jesus, O for grace to trust Him more.

Verse 2 – O how sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to trust His cleansing blood. Just in simple faith to plunge me, ‘Neath the healing cleansing flood.

Verse 3 – Yes ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, Just from sin and self to cease. Just from Jesus simply taking, Life and rest and joy and peace.

Verse 4 – I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus Savior Friend. And I know that Thou art with me, Wilt be with me to the end.

CCLI Song # 22609 Louisa M. R. Stead | William James Kirkpatrick © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: 15 This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:15–17 (CSB).

[1] Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (pp. 74–75). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.

[2] Wright, T. (2004). Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon (pp. 13–14). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.