Over the past two weeks in Sunday School, we have continued our journey through the Gospel According to Mark by discussing Mark 7 together. In the first part of the chapter (7:1-23), Jesus confronts some of the false teaching of the Pharisees and points them to their true problem: the need for cleansing of the heart. Notes and audio can be found here. Then, in the second part of the chapter (7:24-37), Jesus demonstrates His point by bringing healing to “unclean” Gentiles. Notes and audio can be found here.
Two weeks ago, we took a break from our sermon series through Revelation and looked at Ezekiel 14. The text makes clear that God sees even to the depths of our hearts and knows what is there and will call us to account. Our only hope is to be forgiven and cleansed. Notes and audio can be found here.
Then, this past Sunday, we returned to Revelation and looked at Revelation 18:1-19:10. Ultimately, the world and all that is in it will pass away under the judgment of God. Those who love the world will mourn and find themselves with nothing. Those who love God, however, will rejoice and enjoy fellowship with Him forever. Notes and audio can be found here.
In the last two verses of Ephesians 3, Paul closes his prayer for the Ephesians with a simple and yet profound doxology – a word of praise about, and to, God Himself. These verses serve as a sort of “hinge” for the whole letter. In light of everything Paul has been describing for his readers, he cannot help but explode into praise to the One who has made all of this possible. And even as he praises God, he also paves the way for the practical instructions that will occupy the last half of this letter. By praising God, he encourages his readers to do the same, and then he spends the rest of the book telling them how to do that.
Continue reading Live By the Word (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Over the last few weeks, we have continued walking through the Gospel According to Mark by looking at the rejection of Jesus in Nazareth (notes and audio here), the sending out of the 12 apostles on their first “mission trip” (notes and audio here), and the recounting of John the Baptist’s murder (notes and audio here). Considered together, all three sections give an interesting glimpse into the life of Christ and his followers.
We have also continued our journey through Revelation by looking at chapters 13-14. Together, these chapters give us a glimpse behind the “curtain” of life into the deeper realities which will drive the events of this world at the end. Ultimately, God’s people will be spared – though they will suffer greatly at Satan’s hands, and God’s enemies will be destroyed. Notes and audio can be found here for chapter 13 and here for chapter 14.
We also celebrated our 7-year anniversary by looking at the Bible’s answer to two essential questions: What is the Church? And why is she here? Notes and audio can be found here.
In Genesis 26, we continue to see the story of Abraham continued through Isaac. Just as God was with Abraham and blessed him – even in spite of his behavior at times, we see that He was also with Isaac and blessed him – even in spite of his behavior at times. Again, the biographical details of Isaac’s life serve to reveal to us the character of God.
Continue reading Live By the Word (Genesis 26)
In Ephesians 3:16, Paul prays that his readers would be strengthened with God’s power through the Spirit who lives in them. This is a bold prayer. Can we even fathom having the power of God strengthening us? And what would that even look like? After making his request, Paul continues – in verses 17-19 – by answering those questions. Put simply: the reason Paul wants them to be strengthened with God’s power through the Spirit is because he wants them (and us) to have a real and intimate fellowship with God and Christ. It may seem odd to think of connecting God’s power and intimate fellowship with Him, but that is precisely what Paul does in these verses.
Continue reading Live By the Word (Ephesians 3:17-19)
This week we continued looking at Mark’s account of Jesus’ life by looking at Mark 5:21-43. This passage closes a section beginning with Mark 4:35 in which Jesus faces progressively stronger opposition – and proves Himself mighty over it all. Notes and audio can be found here.
We also continued walking through Revelation by looking at chapter 12. This chapter begins a section which passes back over some of the same terrain and gives us further insight into what will happen at the end. God and Satan are in a cosmic war. Satan has been defeated but not destroyed. Nevertheless, Satan still rages because he knows his time is short. Audio can be found here.
This past Sunday, we continued walking through the Gospel According to Mark by looking at Mark 5:1-20 – a story that serves yet again to show the power of Christ over all things – even evil spirits. Notes and audio can be found here.
We also continued our sermon series through the book of Revelation by looking at Revelation 11. This is a chapter meant to show us that God knows His people and will hold them fast through every trial and tribulation that comes. Moreover, He will make sure that His word is proclaimed – no matter how bad it gets. And in the end, Jesus will reign forever and ever. Notes and audio can be found here.
In Ephesians 3:14, Paul actually utters the prayer which it seems he began to utter in 3:1. If you look back at Ephesians 3:1, it seems as if Paul begins to say something before getting “sidetracked” by a discussion about the mystery of God and his place in proclaiming it. Because verse 14 begins with the same phrase as verse 1, it seems likely that Paul has resumed his thought after the “digression” of verses 2-14. And what was Paul’s “original thought”? Prayer. He was about to offer up a prayer for his readers. So as we look at the last part of chapter 3, we are looking at a prayer of Paul – much like the prayer in 1:15-23. This is a prayer offered by Paul on behalf of his readers that turns out to actually be inspired of God and useful to teach us. So what can we learn from Paul’s prayer?
Continue reading Live By the Word (Ephesians 3:14-16)
Beginning in Genesis 25:19, the focus of the story shifts from Abraham to his son, Isaac and Isaac’s children, Jacob and Esau. Over the next several chapters, we see the promises of God transferred from Abraham to Isaac and then from Isaac to Jacob. In the initial section – Gen. 25:19-34 – we see God miraculously provide children to Isaac and Rebekah while also declaring their futures in advance. Much like the stories involving Abraham, we see the truth about God revealed through “normal”, “everyday” life situations.
Continue reading Live By the Word (Genesis 25:19-34)
As we have seen, Ephesians 3 deals with the grand purposes of God. In His sovereign time, God chosen to reveal the “mystery of Christ” to His holy apostles and prophets through the Spirit. This “mystery” is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the covenant promise. God chose Paul to be a minister of this message, and Paul’s task was to bring to light the mystery for as many people as possible since it was the purpose of God to show His wisdom even to the angels in heaven by means of His work in the church. God’s grand plan is – and always has been – to reveal Jesus and save sinners through Him. As verse 11 says, “This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God has brought this great “mystery” to pass by sending Jesus to make it so.
But that still leaves this question: why do we care? Does this have any relevance for our day-to-day life? It certainly does – as verses 12 and 13 of chapter 3 make clear.
Continue reading Live By the Word (Ephesians 3:11-13)