Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ephesians 1:5-6
“In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”

God’s purpose and plan for us means that we are adopted into God’s family.  Because of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ we are the sons and daughters of God.  God has done this for us because it is his pleasure and his will that we be reconciled to him and have a close and intimate relationship with him.  What does it mean to you that God’s purpose and plan for your life is that you be a part of the family of God?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Ephesians 1:3-4
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight…”

As we look at God’s purpose and plan for us Paul reveals that it is God’s plan to choose us to be blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  He has chosen us to be holy and blameless in the sight of God.  That means that through the action of God in Jesus Christ we are no longer sinful people in the eyes of the Father.  Through Jesus we become holy and blameless.  Spend some time today thinking on this great truth that God has made us holy in his sight and will not bring any blame against us.

Weekly Theme June 28, 2015 - July 4, 2015

God’s Purpose and Plan for Us

Ephesians 1:1-2 “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Apostle opens his letter to the Ephesian Church with this greeting.  He offers each of them the grace and peace that can only come from God through Jesus Christ.  Paul begins to focus on God’s incredible love that has been expressed in his Son, Jesus.  This theme, the riches of Jesus Christ that have been poured out upon us is referred to again and again throughout this short letter.

This first section helps to reveal God’s purpose and plan for us.  This sermon series is an in-depth study of the book of Ephesians.  The prayer journal each week will help us focus on the theme of the passage that is selected for that week. 

As Paul began his letter to the Ephesians he prayed and gave thanks for the Ephesian Christians.  I want to pray that the study of this marvelous book will bless each and every one of you. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

2 Chronicles 16:9

"For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose heart are fully committed to him."


It is a hard task to give up "whatever" in order to follow Jesus completely and fully.  However, if we make the commitment to do that we will not have to do it on our own.  This verse of scripture promises that if we are committed to Jesus then the Spirit of God will strengthen us and help us to live for him.  We need to ask ourselves if we are allowing that strength of God to help us live out our commitment to Jesus?  We need to do "whatever" in order to fully follow Jesus even if it means we must surrender to the strength of God in our lives.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Luke 18:28-30

"Peter said to him, 'We have left all we had to follow you!' 'I tell you the truth,' Jesus said to them, 'no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents of children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.'"


Peter seems to be concerned that the huge sacrifice that he and the other disciples made in order to follow Jesus might be for nothing.  However, Jesus assures Peter and all who follow him that whatever we give up to be faithful to Jesus we will receive much more from God.  He promises that all of his faithful disciples will be blessed that ultimately they will receive the gift of eternal life.  Do you ever begin to think that what you have given up to follow Jesus might not be worth it?  We must always remind ourselves that "whatever" we give up will be returned to us over and over again.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Luke 14:25-27

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters - yes, even his own life - he cannot be my disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."


Jesus speaks some hard words in these three short verses. In short, Jesus is saying that he must be the most important thing in our lives.  In short, Jesus is saying that knowing him is the only thing that matters.  That means that everything in our lives must come after Jesus.  That means we have to give up those things that would compete with Jesus for our devotion and commitment.  To make Jesus the center of our lives is not easy but that is what Jesus requires of us.  Can we do that?  We must be willing to give up "whatever" in order to follow Jesus even if it means giving up everything and everyone for his safe. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Luke 12:22-31

"Then Jesus said to his disciples: "therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.  And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the lilies grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown in in to the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!  And do not set your on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.  For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.  But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well."


We sometimes worry about things we can do nothing about. We know it will do no good but we do it anyway.  It is as if we are addicted to worry and that it actually makes us feel some sory of "sick" comfort to be able to worry about the uncontrollable issues of our lives.  Jesus says that if we are to follow him we won't have time to worry.  We need to focus on establishing the kingdom that Jesus came to announce.  That is what we need to spend our time on, not worrying.  Worrying is something we have to give up if we are going to be faithful disciples of Jesus.  We should ask ourselves what worries us the most?  Can we give that up? We must be willing to give "whatever" in order to follow Jesus even if that means we should turn our worries over to Jesus.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Luke 10:38-42

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he had said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to him and asked, "Lord don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "You are worried and upset about many things, but only one things is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." 


Martha is like many of us.  We have our own agenda and we think that we know what is truly important.  When others, including Jesus, don't get on our bandwagon it upsets us.  After all, everyone should be concerned and focused on what I think is important.  Jesus helped Martha to see that if we are going to follow Jesus and choose what is best for our lives then we need to give up our own agenda and what we think is important.  In the end the only thing that is important is that we know Jesus and he knows us.  Today, ask yourself if you are willing to give up those things you think are most important in order to follow Jesus?  We must be willing to give up "whatever" even if that means surrendering our personal agenda.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Luke 9:46-48

"An argument started among the disciples to which of them would be the greatest.  Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him.  Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all - he is the greatest." 


It is human nature to want to be recognized and be honored.  However, Jesus says that we shouldn't be worried about that.  The kingdom of God and spreading the good news of Jesus' love and grace should be our only concern.  Jesus demonstrates to his disciples that we must be humble.  We must put aside our desires so that we can fulfill the desires of Jesus.  We must give up the desire to be the center of things if we are to follow Jesus.   We must give up "whatever" even if that means not being the center of attention.

Weekly Theme June 21-27

Following Jesus:  Whatever

"So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat.  He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair.  Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.  Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah.  "Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye," he said, "and then I will come with you."  "Go Back," Elijah replied.  "what have I done to you."  So Elisha left him and went back.  He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them.  He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate.  Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant."
When we follow Jesus we are called to follow whatever we have to give up.  When Elisha was called by Elijah to become his apprentice prophet he was called to give up his entire way of life.  Elisha was a very wealthy individual.  He was a farmer who owned 12 yoke of oxen.  That represented great wealth at that time.  When Elisha received the call from Elijah he was willing to give up whatever he had to in order to respond to Elijah's call.   How did Elisha show his willingness?  He slaughtered all twenty-four oxen and cooked them over the fire he made out of the wood of his plow and then gave the cooked meat to his friends and family.  Elisha had a neighborhood bar-b-que! In doing so ELisha was showing that he was willing to leave everything behind adn give up whatever he had in order to respond to God's call that came through Elijah.  This week we will be contemplating the question: "Can we give up "whatever" in order to follow Jesus?"

It is a hard task to give up "whatever" in order to follow Jesus completely and fully.  However, if we make the commitment to do that we will not have to do it on our own.  This verse of scripture promises that if we are committed to Jesus then the Spirit of  God will strengthen us and help us to live for him.  We need to ask ourselves if we are allowing that strength of God to help us live out our commitment to Jesus?  We need to do "whatever" in order to fully follow Jesus even if it means we must surrender to the strength of God in our lives.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Philippians 1:18b-26
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Paul begins now to talk about his own situation. He is torn because he does not know his fate. But through all of this because he has the faith that no matter what happens to him there is cause for rejoicing.  If he lives he will continue to preach the good news and if he dies he will return home to Christ. We get worked up about so many things in our lives. Worries and stress overwhelm us but the truth is that in every moment and every situation there is a reason to rejoice. What can you rejoice about today?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Philippians 1:12-18a
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,
 that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

This section of scripture defines the occasion for Paul writing the letter. The occasion is that Paul is in prison and wants the people in Philippi to know two things. First, the state of the gospel and secondly what is his current state in prison. This first section fits into the category of the state of the gospel. He celebrates that other ministers of the gospel are taking his place you even ones who may be doing it for the wrong reason. Do have trouble being like Paul? Could you celebrate even in your own loss because the cause of Christ is advancing? What makes it so hard to give up our wants and needs to share the good news with the world?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

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

In the last section of this thanksgiving, Paul rejoices in the future of the gospel in the lives of the community of faith. What is your prayer for the future of the gospel in the lives that you come in contact with? How are you yourself living out Paul’s prayer, “that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight?”