Highlights from Ephesians

31 01 2013

1:1-8  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. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 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.

2:3-10  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. 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. 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. 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.

3:6  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.

3:16-20  I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

4:1-3  Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.

4:15-16  Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

4:29-32  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

5:1-2  Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

5:15-20  So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, 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.

6:10-13  A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For 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. Therefore, 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.

6:18  Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

6:23-24  Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus knew that we would need help.

31 01 2013

Jesus knew that we would need help. He spoke of God sending us a “Helper” to that end.

Here’s a quick Bible study for you to read up on what Jesus said about this “Helper”:

Please read each passage in full, I’ve only abbreviated them here, and reflect on what Jesus says. 

John 14:12-17 “another Advocate” “never leave you” “leads you into truth”

John 14:26 “my representative” “teach” “remind”

John 15:26 “Advocate – Spirit of Truth” “testify about Jesus”

John 16:5-9 “Advocate” “convict of sin & God’s righteousness”

John 16:13-15 “Spirit of Truth” “guide you in truth” “tell about future”

John 20:19-23 on first appearance resurrected “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 1:1-5 “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”

Praying through our Big 3

24 01 2013

Connect –

People would have a personal encounter with Jesus (at each CBCB gathering).
Every time we gather, Jesus would be expanded in our view.
Not-yet-believers that we are building relationships with would come to repentance.
Each of us would meet new people and grow new relationships.
Sundays & LG would grow in attendance supernaturally and through “God ideas” for us.
More people would find life giving relationships in CBCB.
MIRACLES – more people finding the salvation and healing power of Jesus!

Grow –

Each CBCB attender would grow in their faith walk.
People who feel stuck in their growth would experience freedom through Jesus & help from others.
Every time we gather, each believer would find something to help their growth.
Each of us would find ways to help others within CBCB grow spiritually.
That God would help us grow the number of Life Groups, with specific purpose.
We would see and regularly celebrate spiritual growth in each CBCB member.
2013 would be a year where CBCB members THRIVE in their lives, marriages, influence, jobs!

Share –

Each CBCB attender would learn to live like Jesus and share His love, sharing their resources.
Courageous Generosity would exceed our expected giving amount and be a blessing to others.
Every Life Group would find new and creative ways to share God’s love with expanded groups of people.
The growing Dream Team would constantly share life and reproduce such leadership in others.
Our efforts in Baltimore City, some through non-profits, would be guided by God & fruitful.
CBCB members would be inspired and equipped to share their faith with others.
2013 would be a year of increased Jesus influence from us to others!

Prayer Matters! Let’s Do This!

Today I say to God quite simply, “I am Yours!”

24 01 2013

In wrapping up our FIRST focus (January 7-27 time of prayer and fasting to help us start the year with a heart focus on God) it seems appropriate to make a fresh commitment to God. David wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd,” in Psalm 23 and there is great benefit in declaring who we are following. 

Today I say to God quite simply, “I am Yours!” My dedication must be complete, without reservation and yet with a resolve. 

This week my mom sent me a copy of Jonathan Edwards’ such prayer:

Jonathan Edwards’ Prayer of Dedication 

I claim no right to myself, no right to this understanding, this will, these affections that are in me, neither do I have any right to this body or its members, no right to this tongue, to these hands, feet, ears, or eyes.

I have given myself clear away and not retained anything of my own.  I have been to God this morning and told Him I have given myself wholly to Him.  I have given every power, so that for the future I claim no right to myself in any respect.  I have expressly promised Him, for by His grace I will not fail.  I take Him as my whole portion and felicity, looking upon nothing else as any part of my happiness.  His law is the constant rule of my obedience.  I will fight with all my might against the world, the flesh, and the devil to the end of my life.  I will adhere to the faith of the Gospel, however hazardous and difficult the profession and practice of it may be.

I receive the blessed spirit as my Teacher, Sanctifier, and only Comforter, and cherish all admonitions to enlighten, purify, confirm, comfort, and assist me.  This I have done.  I pray God, for the sake of others, to look upon this as a self-dedication, and receive me as His own.  Henceforth, I am not to act in any respect as my own.  I shall act as my own if I ever make use of any of my powers to do anything that is not to the glory of God, or to fail to make the glorifying of Him my whole and entire business.

If I murmur in the least at afflictions; if I am in any way uncharitable; if I revenge my own case; if I do anything purely to please myself, or omit anything because it is a great denial; if I trust to myself; if I take any praise for any good which Christ does by me, or if I am in any way proud, I shall act as my own and not God’s.  I purpose to be absolutely His.

Books for this month

22 01 2013

Here’s a few books to choose from, for your early 2013 prayer focus:

Fresh Air – Chris Hodges

Circle Maker – Mark Batterson

Sun Stand Still – Steven Furtick

The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

a few verses from FIRST

22 01 2013

Here’s a few of the Scriptures we’ve looked at, during our “FIRST” prayer focus in January:

“When you give, pray, fast…focus, seek FIRST, and don’t worry.” Matthew 6

“Love with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind ie: with all your passion, prayer, intelligence,” FIRST Commandment  Matthew 22:37

“You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion.” 2 Chronicles.6:14

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

“Turn to me now. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate.” Joel 2

Why do I love God? Write a list of your own after reading: John 3, Ephesians 3, Colossians 3