Maturing Faith – Ephesians 4:1-16

Polls conducted in the USA by George Barna and others show little differences in the practices and theology of those outside the church and those that would be considered occasional attenders or born again believers.  But there are significant differences between non-Christians and evangelicals.  Evangelicals as defined by George Barna equate to mature Christians.  Those who understand the importance of regular church attendance, studying the Holy Bible, serving the church and others, and sharing the good news (Gospel) of Jesus Christ.  God calls all who follow Jesus to seek to become mature in their faith.

Paul the Apostle wrote:  Ephesians 4:1-16

Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ

“4 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 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.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it[a] says:

“When he ascended on high,
    he took many captives
    and gave gifts to his people.”[b]

(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions[c]? 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.”

 

In the century after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it was common for new believers to spend three years in community studying the Holy Scriptures before they were considered mature in their faith.  Today most Americans spend more time each week watching TV or videos than they they spend studying the Holy Scriptures alone or in community.  I pray this encourages you to spend more time on that which is eternal and less time on entertainment that will pass away.

How can you encourage maturing in faith?

  • Start with an attitude of humility – recognize you have room to grow
    (Ephesians 4:2)
  • Treat those in need of maturity with patience and love
    (Ephesians 4:2)
  • Make use of the gifts of the church
    (Ephesians 4:7-13)
  • Earnestly seek wisdom to mature instead of drifting in life and just getting older
    (Ephesians 4:14-16)

How is God calling you to increase spiritual maturity in you and others?

  • How do you need to change your attitude towards spiritual maturity?
  • What can you do to work with your church’s discipleship process?
  • How can you be more intentional in seeking maturity?

Resources on maturing faith and reflections

Bible study tools

You can better understand your God-given gifts for service by taking a Gift Test.

I found some good stuff on Huckabee this weekend on TBN.  I pray these bless you.

Justin Flom – A Veterans tribute with just a pack of cards and a beautiful ending.

Music videos

maturing faith in Jesus Christ

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Build Unity

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be
proud, but be willing to associate with people of
low position. Do not be conceited.”
Romans 12:16 NIV

Secular society naturally encourages separation or isolation and exclusion as a way to express superiority or enhance privilege.  People tend to naturally group with others they view as similar to themselves.  This is normally emphasized in high school, but sometimes people keep up the social grouping and excluding after high school. God calls us to treat others with respect as all are created in the image of God.  When God came to earth as Jesus of Nazareth, he called the people of Israel (who considered themselves privileged and non-Jews as unclean) to no longer look down on others who were different, but to be loving ambassadors to all and to build unity.

How do you build unity?  Ephesians 2:11-22

– Include the excluded
• Ephesians 2.11-13

– Seek Peace, not war
• Ephesians 2.14-18

– Build up, not tear down
• Ephesians 2.19-22

Reflection on what the Holy Spirit is saying to you through this passage

How do I need to firm up my foundation and build unity?
– How can I reach out to the excluded?
– What can I do to be a better peace maker?
– How can I treat Christians more like family?

– Reflection Song: Sisters & Brothers (Sidewalk Prophets)

Resources to help Reservists and their families

Find other ways you can serve the city near you for Jesus at City Serve USA and City Serve NJ

Build Unity Ephesians 2 - Sermon Outlines from Chaplain Ed Paul

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Love each other – John 15:9-17

May 2018 – Sermon reflection on John 15:9-17

Love each other 

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” 1 John 5:2-3 NIV

Focus Scripture

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.” – John 15:9-17 NIV

Scripture Reflection

In America today, liberal media and politicians promote things Christians are against and what we oppose in our society.  As Christians, we are called to emphasize what we would admire and what we consider good in society.  We are called to love God and love our neighbor.  Our attitudes, actions, and words should be grounded in love and truth. We need to understand, embrace, and follow God’s commands to show our love for God and to our neighbors.

There are a few ways we can show how we can love God and people

1. Know God’s commands

  • Listen to sermons
  • Read the Holy Bible
  • Study the Holy Bible using a devotional or study book
  • Study the Holy Bible with a group
  • Watch Christian teaching videos

2. Keep God’s commands

  • Make intentional efforts to apply God’s commands to your life
  • Work with an accountability partner, spiritual coach, or mentor
  • Look for ways to show God’s love to those in your life
  • Volunteer at your church or with a charity to show God’s love to your community

3. Kraft ways to encourage others to know and embrace God’s commands

  • Share scripture on social media
  • Talk about scripture at work on breaks
  • Share at small group bible studies
  • Talk with friends and family about how following God’s commands has benefited you

Reflection Questions

How is God calling you to draw closer?
Who could you work with to help you keep God’s commands?
How can you increase your sharing of God’s commands?

Love each other - love others as Jesus Christ loves us

Let us love each other

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Resurrection Response

Sermon outline from April 2018, The Resurrection Response

American society has seen an increase in persecution of Christians by the media, politicians, and others. Believing in the resurrection of Jesus and knowing He is with us can help us be courageous in sharing our faith in truth and love.

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

John 20:19-31 NIV:

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), 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.”

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.”

28 Thomas said to him, “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. 

The Purpose of John’s Gospel

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

(John 20:19-31 NIV)

How do you respond to the resurrection of Jesus?
Respond with fear or joy?
• John 20:19-20
(Perfect love casts out all fear.  We can rejoice because Jesus is with us)
With or without forgiveness?
• John 20:21-23
(We are called to ask forgiveness from God and those we offend and forgive those who repent of their sins.)
Doubt or faith?
• John 20:24-29
(It is ok to question the faith honestly, because the Christian faith is well documented and reasonable)
Believe and embrace life
• John 20:30-31
(We must all choose whether or not to believe in the resurrection, but choosing to believe is better because it leads to eternal life.)

Reflection Questions:

How do I need to respond to Jesus?
–How can I embrace forgiveness?
–How can I strengthen my faith in the resurrection?
–How can I share the resurrection of Jesus with others?

 

 

 

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The Gift of Eternal Life

Scripture:

Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

John 3:14-21 (NIV)

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[a] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[b]

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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned,but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.  

How can you know and share eternal life? 

  • The Gift of Eternal Life has a cost of Atonement (forgiveness of sins)

John 3:14-15 (Son of Man, not sum of man)  What Jesus did, not what you do.

  • The Gift of Eternal Life is a loving choice

John 3:16  (God loves us and chose to redeem those who would seek after God)

  • The Gift of Eternal Life is a limited choice

John 3:17-18  (Everyone must choose life or death, there is no third option)

  • Choose in your Life to Embrace and Share the light of Jesus Christ

John 3:19-21  (Choose to follow the light of Christ knowing some will reject Jesus and you)

Reflection questions on the gift of eternal life:

  • How do I need to choose life?

– How can I seek forgiveness for my sins?

– How can I show respect for other peoples choices while disagreeing?

– How can I share Jesus with others?

Resources to help embrace life:

I pray this draws you closer to God and encourages you to choose to embrace the Gift of Life in Jesus Christ. Choose Life, Choose Christ.

gift of Eternal life in Christ

 

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Making Peace in Politics

November 2017 – Making Peace in Politics

John Jay: “ Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

Source: October 12, 1816. The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, Henry P. Johnston, ed., (New York: Burt Franklin, 1970), Vol. IV, p. 393.

” Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God. ”

Matthew 5:9 New International Version (NIV)

How can you make peace in politics?
–You need to Choose to follow God
• Joshua 24:14-15
–Value others as equally created
• Genesis 1:27
– Speak the truth in love
• Ephesians 4:15
– Point to Jesus Christ
• John 3:16-17

How do I need to improve how I handle politics?
–How can I seek honor God in my handling of politics?
–How can I show respect while disagreeing?
–How can I draw others to Jesus?
–Reflection Song: Voice of Truth (Casting Crowns)

peace in politics

Other Sermon Outlines

More on Government Stewardship

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Embracing forgiveness and Releasing debts – Matthew 18:15-20

Personal and national debt has increased dramatically over the past 10 years.  Public civility has been on the decline during the same time.  We need to find freedom from debt in Jesus Christ and embracing forgiveness where debts exist with us.

September 2017 -Releasing debts and embracing forgiveness

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
Romans 13:8 New International Version (NIV)

How can you release debts and embrace forgiveness?

–Check yourself
• Matthew 5:23 ; Deuteronomy 15:1-11
–One to one
• Matthew 18:15
–Get a witness
• Matthew 18:16
–Take it to leadership
• Matthew 18:17
–Stand firm on the decided resolution
• Matthew 18:18-20

How do I need to release debts and embrace forgiveness?

–Who do I know that I need to ask forgiveness from them?
–Who can I go to if I cannot reach forgiveness on my own?
–How can I strengthen my understanding of God’s love and forgiveness?
–Reflection Song: Forgiveness (Matthew West)

Learn more about embracing forgiveness with Jesus

Other sermon outlines

Jesus Christ - embracing forgiveness

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Moving Forward – 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 by Chaplain Paul

“… one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 New International Version (NIV)

Moving Forward – January 2015

How can you seek to move forward with God?
– Seek prosperity and peace by seeking God first
• Isaiah 48:14-20
– Seek freedom by leaving behind that which detracts from loving God and loving others
• 2 Corinthians 5:16-17
– Seek to help others find peace and freedom in Christ
• 2 Corinthians 5:18-21

How do I need to improve my moving forward?
– How can you be more intentional about seeking God in the year ahead? http://presidentialprayerteam.org
– How can you be more intentional about seeking to leave behind sinful things? http://daveramsey.com
– How can you be more intentional about seeking to be an ambassador for God in the year ahead? http://operationrescue.org
– Reflection Song: Hungry (Falling On My Knees)

Jesus Christ - moving forward Move forward in Christ

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Share the Good News

October 2014

Share the Good News

“…making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:16

What are three things Paul did in Athens that we can do when sharing about Jesus?
–Connect with those like you
•Acts 17:16-17
–Connect with those not like you
•Acts 17:18-21
–Direct them to the Good News
•Acts 17:22-34

How do I need to connect more?
–How can I connect with similar people?
–How can I connect with different people?
–How can I be more intentional in directing others to God?
http://edpaul.us/sharejesus
Reflection Song: This is Your Time by Michael W. Smith

Share the Good News

Other Sermon Outlines

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