Lessons from Ephesians
Know || Week 13
Gratitude • November 24, 2019 • Aaron Young
Believe it or not, this past Sunday we finished our KNOW series in Paul's letter to the Ephesians by rewinding to Ephesians 5:20 where Paul says, "always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." One of the key byproducts of understanding God's will for our lives and being filled with his Spirit is that we will become increasingly filled with gratitude. Our minds will be renewed and we will begin looking at our lives and our circumstances differently. We will come to understand that God doesn't owe us anything. We are not entitled to God's blessings. God's provision and protection are not inalienable rights that we are owed. This new perspective gives us the freedom to see every good and perfect gift as a blessing from our Father in heaven. The Pilgrims understood this reality, and so despite massive heartache and grief, were able to stop and give thanks to God for everything 398 years ago in the Fall of 1621 at the very first Thanksgiving. The question today is will we follow their example and recapture a heart of thanksgiving and appreciation for God's blessings? Will we choose to see things from a new "renewed" perspective? Will we foster gratitude? Will we express thanksgiving for the things and people God has blessed us with? This Thanksgiving, take some time to stop and consider everything you have to grateful for!
Know || Week 12
Ephesians 6:13-20 • November 17, 2019 • Aaron Young
What would you say if I told you "the day of evil is coming"? In our very individual and personalized wrestling bouts with the Enemy, he is always waiting for an opportune time to attack. In that sense, the day of evil coming is inevitable. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. If that's the case, then what do we need to do now in preparation for that day to come? What is going to enable and empower us to stand firm and stand strong on that day? As Paul closes out his letter to the Ephesians, he makes it clear, if we're going to stand firm, we need to put on the armor God has provided for us. We need to clothe ourselves in Jesus. We need to put on his righteousness, not our righteousness. We need to put on his salvation, not our salvation. We need to put on his truth, not our truth. We need to take up his word, not our word. We need to take up faith in him and his word, not faith in ourselves or our word. We need to put on our full armor and we need to pray in the Spirit on all occasions. We need to intercede in prayer on behalf of one another. We need to fight for one another, praying for strength, praying for power, praying for perseverance. This week the challenge was to come up with 2 names, the name of someone at RISING who you know is in the midst of a struggle, and the name of one of our mission partners. Will you intercede on their behalf as Paul has challenged us to?
Know || Week 11
Ephesians 6:1-10 • November 10, 2019 • Aaron Young
Are you dressed for battle? Are you prepared for the struggle which lies ahead? As Paul reaches the conclusion of his letter, he sums up his desires for us with 2 commands: "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power", and "Put on the full armor of God". Paul knows from first-hand experience what we are up against and knows that we need to be filled with God's power, God's might, and God's strength if we're going to overcome the Enemy. Paul knows we can't afford to go in to this battle unprepared, without our full armor on, or the Enemy will overcome us. Although we may not be aware of it, Paul has come to know that our struggle, literally our wrestling bout, is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual rulers, authorities, powers and forces of evil. This wrestling bout is personal. It's one on one. Our coaches, parents, team-mates and friends can cheer us on, support us, pray for us, encourage us, train us, but at the end of the day, its just us and the Enemy in the wrestling ring. And if we're going to overpower and thus overcome this Enemy who has battle-tested schemes, tactics, methods and strategies for defeating us, we're going to need God's power, God's might, God's strength at work within us! So what demons, literal or figurative, are you personally wrestling with? Where are you weak? Where are you vulnerable? You need God's power to overcome the Enemy! So "be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power". "Put on the full armor of God!"
Know || Week 10
Ephesians 5:15-21 • November 3, 2019 • Aaron Young
Because life can be "treacherous", we need to "pay attention" to how and where we walk! Because life is short, we need to be wise and make the most of every opportunity, redeeming each moment we have. Because God has a higher calling, a higher purpose, and a higher standard for our lives, we need to understand what God's will is for our lives. Do you know God's will for your life? While the specifics for you individually may not be clear, what is clear is God's general will for all believers. God's will for all of us is that we wouldn't be fools getting drunk on wine, but that we would instead be filled with his Spirit! God's desire is that we would be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God! What are you filled with?
Know || Week 9
Ephesians 4:1-15 • October 20, 2019 • Aaron Young
If you had one final message you wanted to pass along to your loved ones, what would it be? That's the impression we get with Paul's statement in Ephesians 4:1, "Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received!" What does it look like to live a life worthy of this higher calling, higher standard, higher purpose God has called us to? Paul gives us 5 standards, 5 diagnostic tests to determine if we're spiritually healthy and maturing in our faith, and curiously enough, they all have to do with how we relate to one another within the body of Christ. Now that we are all brothers & sisters in Christ, how do we maintain our one-ness? Well a good place to start is with humility, gentleness, patience and bearing with one another. So what does each of those look like in reality as we seek to live lives worthy of God's higher calling on our lives?
Know || Week 8
Ephesians 3:14-21 • October 13, 2019 • Aaron Young
Right smack dab in the middle of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul stops and prays. In this prayer, Paul offers us a great template and example for how we should enter into and exit prayer. We should enter into prayer in humility and desperation, yet also with freedom and confidence as we make our requests known to our heavenly Father. We should exit prayer remembering that God is able, literally powerful enough, to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. We desperately need God's power at work in our lives: power to love the unlovable, power to forgive the unforgivable, power to overcome what seems insurmountable. It is only by God's power that we can do these things. God's power is not some force that works outside of us, God's power is a force that works within us, in our hearts, at the core and center of who we are. So when life is "gettin', gettin', gettin' kinda hectic", remember that because of Jesus, "I've got the power!" Use Paul's prayer as a template for how you bookend your prayers!
Know || Week 7
Ephesians 3:14-19 • October 6, 2019 • Aaron Young
Is it possible for us to grasp what is un-graspable? How about know what is beyond knowing? Right in the middle of Paul's letter to the Ephesians, Paul stops and prays that God would give us the power to grasp what is un-graspable and to know what is beyond knowing, namely, the love of Christ. He prays this so that the end result would be that Christ would dwell, literally make himself home, in our hearts. He prays this so that the end result would be that we would be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God! The reality is although Jesus became our Savior the second we received Jesus into our hearts and lives, the process of Jesus becoming our Lord is a much longer process. It's a lot more work on our part as we surrender our lives over to him and his Lordship one area at a time, one room at a time. Is there a correlation between our ability to experience the fullness of God in our lives and the amount that we are allowing him to be Lord?
Know || Week 5
We are all ONE • September 8, 2019 • Aaron Young
This past Sunday in our KNOW series, we looked at Ephesians 2:11-22 and the background story behind Paul's ministry in Ephesus to the Gentiles and Paul's eventual arrest in Jerusalem because of his ministry to Gentiles. God's ultimate purpose in sending Jesus was both vertical and horizontal. Jesus made peace between us and God vertically, and Jesus has made peace possible between us and others horizontally. In the church, Jesus' purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of those formerly divided and separated from one another, whether because of race, language, socioeconomic status, favorite college football team, etc. Because of Jesus, we both have "access" to God. Because of Jesus, we are no longer estranged from God or one another. In the church we are now fellow citizens together of God's kingdom, fellow brothers and sisters in God's family, and fellow stones in God's new Temple. Jesus has destroyed the dividing wall of hostility between us. The church is the one place in society where all of those dividing walls should no longer exist. We are first and foremost fellow citizens, brothers & sisters, stones in God's Temple, and everything else a distant second!
Know || Week 4
Ephesians 2:9-10 • August 25, 2019 • Aaron Young
In Jesus, God has delivered us out of danger, out of darkness, out of death. and into safety. Salvation is a good and perfect gift given to us out of God's great love for us. It's got absolutely nothing to do with our character, our nature, or our personality and everything to do with God's character, God's nature, and God's personality! Our Salvation is not a group project. It's not a "we" thing. Its 100% completely a "he" thing! It is not from ourselves! We have nothing to boast about. In fact if we're going to boast, we should boast about God and what God has done for us! When we accept this gift, we become new creations. We become God's "handiwork", his one-of-a-kind masterpieces, that he begins shaping, molding, carving, "re-creating" us in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. In this sense, we begin taking on the character, nature, and personality of our Re-Creator, and we become God's gift to the world, the physical manifestation of Jesus and the physical expression of his love to those still in danger, darkness and death. He uses us to deliver others out of danger and into safety. We have a part to play! So how is God preparing you? How has God been molding, shaping, carving, sculpting, painting you specifically? What people, circumstances and tests has God used to "re-create" you for good works which he prepared in advance for you specifically to do?
Know || Week 2
Ephesians 1:17 • August 4, 2019 • Aaron Young
"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better." -- Ephesians 1:17 The more you know God better, the more you'll understand the unending reasons why we have to praise him! No matter what our present circumstances may be, if we can "zoom out" like Paul does in Ephesians 1:3-14, possibly the longest sentence in all of Greek literature, and get a glimpse of the bigger picture, a taste of everything God has done for us, then we can find reason to sing "blessed by your name" whether on the mountaintop or in the darkest of valleys. We may never be able to fully understand or comprehend the riches of what God has done for us with our limited, finite, 3-pound brains, but we can praise him for it anyways! Praise him for the mystery of our redemption and salvation! When you are feeling confusion, anxiety & stress, zoom out and remember all of the reasons you have to lift up your head to the heavens and praise him!