Praying the Bible ~ Ephesians 1:3-6

In his book Praying the Bible, Donald Whitney encourages us to do just as the title suggests. When we pray, we should seek to pray according to the will and ways of God (Matthew 6:10; John 15:7; Romans 8:26-27). What better way to do this than to pray through a verse or passage of Scripture? The Bible, after all, is God’s word, inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is the very revelation of God’s heart, thoughts, and will to us.

The method that Whitney proposes for praying the Bible is simple:

To pray the Bible, you simply go through the passage line by line, talking to God about whatever comes to mind as you read the text. See how easy that is? Anyone can do that. [1]

Ephesians 1 was a part of this week’s Bible Reading Calendar. Here is an example from 1:3-6:

The Text
Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One. (Christian Standard Bible)

The Prayer
Father, I thank you for the great blessings you bestow on us through Jesus. There is nothing you hold back from your sons and daughters. You delight to do good to us and to give us good things, beginning with the goodness of yourself. I thank you that you chose us in Christ to be your people, without flaw or blame before you. I praise you because this is not my own work or anything that I have earned, but is all because of your magnificent grace. Therefore, may I not be prideful in my religion and faith, but may I seek to share your love and glory and grace with others. May I be as kind and loving to them as you are to me. May they, too, find life in Christ. Amen.

I would encourage you to pray though that passage of Scripture today. You can use the prayer above or, even better, you can pray where your heart leads as you reflect on those verses.

[1] Donald Whitney, Praying the Bible (Crossway, 2015), 33.

Truly Alive

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

In a sense, every person is a “dead man walking.” Death is an inevitable part of the human experience. Yet, there is a spiritual side to this as well. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” Or, as he said elsewhere, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

When God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden, mankind was not meant to experience death. Within the Garden was the Tree of Life, representing our endless being. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God and were banished from the Garden, the way to the Tree was blocked.

Yet, when you get to the end of the present and the beginning of eternity in the final pages of Revelation, the Tree has returned to give life and to heal the nations.

When we come to Christ, Paul wrote, we are made alive (Ephesians 1:4-5). To know Jesus is to no longer be a “dead man walking” but to have passed from death to life. In John 11, Jesus went so far to say that even if we die, we still live.

To know and follow Jesus is to become truly alive. Jesus himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). To be alive in Jesus is to be with him and be lavished with the “immeasurable riches of his grace” throughout eternity (Ephesians 2:6-7). To be alive in Jesus is also to be a different person today while we wait for the riches of eternity–to be people of truth, reconciliation, peace, generosity, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, encouragement, and things like these (4:20-5:5).

To be truly alive in Jesus is to live the realities of eternity to our fullest in our lives today. If we are truly alive, let us live that life to the fullest.

All scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Sunday 6.2.19 (when prophets doubt)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at Luke 7:1-35, and see how John the Baptist, while in prison, expressed a momentary sense of doubt in Jesus when he heard news about Jesus’ ministry. We’ll also see how Jesus responded, not by criticizing John, but by calling him to greater faith. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm “Why?” Video Study by Chip Ingram in the youth room

Sermon Notes
When Prophets Doubt ~ Luke 7:1-35

The sermon in one sentence: Questions and doubts can creep into our faith, but Jesus graciously answers and spurs us to greater faithfulness.

  • Why might we doubt, question, or reject Jesus? (7:18-35)
    • Life circumstances cause us to struggle in our faith
    • Jesus doesn’t match the expectations we place on him
    • Our sinful hearts remain stubbornly opposed to God
  • How do we stand firm in faith over doubt, questioning, and rejection?
    • Realize Jesus’ power and authority over life and death (7:1-17)
    • Go to Jesus with your questions (7:18-29)
    • Remember who you are in Jesus (7:24-28)

Songs for Worship
Let There Be Praise
The Solid Rock
Like a River Glorious
O Jesus, I Have Promised
I Know Whom I Have Believed
As the Deer

Luke

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Sunday 5.26.19 (words matter)

This Sunday, we’ll wrap up Luke’s account of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount with a look at 6:43-49. We’ll see how our words matter–both in what we say and what we hear. There will be no Bible study on Sunday evening this week. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@230pm Adrian Manor Nursing Home service

Sermon Notes
Words Matter ~ Luke 6:43-49

The sermon in one sentence: What we say exposes the depths of our hearts; we need to expose the depths of our hearts to hearing and obeying the word of Jesus.

  • žWhat you say matters; your words expose your heart (6:43-45)
  • What you hear matters; hearing and believing the gospel will change your heart forever (6:46-47)
  • žWhat you do with what you hear matters; a changed heart obeys King Jesus (6:46-49)

Songs for Worship
Give Us Clean Hands
Wonderful Words of Life
Change My Heart, O God
Trust and Obey
I Surrender All

Luke

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Sunday 5.5.19 (the happy life)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at Luke 6:17-26, where Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount, and we’ll see what it means to life a happy (blessed) life through Jesus. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Why? Video Study by Chip Ingram in the youth room

Sermon Notes
The Happy Life ~ Luke 6:17-26

The sermon in one sentence: True happiness flows from Christ, not the riches, pleasures, or acceptance of the world.

  • Jesus healed many in a large, diverse crowd and than began to teach on the subject of happiness (being “blessed”; 6:17-20)
  • Happiness comes from being rich in Christ, not from being rich in the world (6:20, 24)
  • Happiness comes from finding satisfaction in Christ, not from feasting on the banquets of kings (6:21, 25)
  • Happiness comes from finding pleasure in Christ, not from chasing lesser joys without Christ (6:21, 25)
  • Happiness comes from acceptance in Christ, not from the applause of the world (6:22-23, 26)

Songs for Worship
I Stand Amazed in the Presence
Give Thanks to God
Satisfied
My Worth Is Not in What I Own
I’d Rather Have Jesus

Luke

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A Taste of Glory

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

In Mark 9, Jesus took the inner circle of the apostles–Peter, James, and John–upon a mountain. While there, his appearance changed, so even “his clothes became dazzling–extremely white as no launderer on earth could whiten them.” In this transformation, Elijah and Moses appeared alongside Jesus, and the Father spoke from heaven: “This is my beloved son, listen to him!”

The three disciples stood dumbfounded.

In that moment, those three received a taste of glory, few others have experienced this side of heaven (perhaps, closest, would be Moses himself when he asked to see God’s glory in Exodus).

What they learned and what we are reminded of is that Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth as no ordinary man. He might have had the DNA of Mary and he might have been known as the carpenter’s son, but he was still the Son of God.

The Father calling Jesus beloved shows his delight in him. In his book Rejoicing in Christ, Michael Reeves states that Jesus being called the “beloved Son” means “there is nothing more precious to the Father than him.” For us, then, “there cannot be any blessing higher than him or anything better than him… He is the treasure of the Father, shared with us.” [1]

To taste the glory of Christ is to sample the greatest joy of all. Psalm 16:11 states that “in [God’s] presence is abundant joy and at [God’s] right hand are eternal pleasures.” It is Jesus himself that we find at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:3).

Yet, where the disciples stood agape in that moment, we find our salvation and sanctification in beholding Jesus’ glory through the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:15-18). Therefore, holding Jesus as our greatest joy, we “listen to him.” He gives us his very word to hear and obey that his joy might be in us and our joy be made complete in him (John 15:11).

Gaze upon the glory of Christ. Feast upon the goodness of his word. And find the greatest joy your heart can ever know.

All scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

[1] Michael Reeves, Rejoicing in Christ (IVP Academic: 2015), 21.

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Sunday 4.28.19 (Jesus is greater)

This morning we’ll think about the lives of the twelve apostles that Jesus chose in Luke 6:12-16, and we’ll see how if Jesus could use them in all their flaws and weaknesses to change the world, he can and will use us to do the same. Jesus, after all, is greater. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Why? by Chip Ingram, video study in youth room

Sermon Notes
Jesus Is Greater ~ Luke 6:12-16

The sermon in one sentence: When Jesus calls us to himself, he takes us as we are and transforms us by his grace and Spirit into people who can change the world, because Jesus is greater.

  • Jesus is greater than your doubts and fears
  • Jesus is greater than your attitude
  • Jesus is greater than your age
  • Jesus is greater than your education and occupation
  • Jesus is greater than your politics
  • Jesus is greater than your anonymity
  • Jesus is greater than your betrayal

Songs for Worship
Higher Ground
Let it Be Said of Us
Hark, the Voice of Jesus Calling
The Love of Christ Who Died for Me
My Faith Has Found a Resting Place

Luke

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