October 17, 2018

Today you should read: Ephesians 6:1-9

Ephesians 6:1-4 teaches us the two components of obedience in children with parents.

EXTERNAL and INTERNAL – Obey and Honor

Obedience involves action where honoring involves the heart. Obedience is while you are under the authority of our parents – honoring is forever. This is important to understand. I am even writing to myself. As much as I appreciate my parents, I don’t always honor them. But this is a commandment that has a promise attached to it (v. 3). God commits to those who obey their parents that they will have a GOOD LIFE and a LONG LIFE.

This is all throughout the OT: Deuteronomy 5:16, 27:16, Exodus 20:12.

I know some children or students live under a house with rules and regualtions for everything. It’s like Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology book. But we must Obey and Honor them regardless. It’s ok to ask questions, but still honor & obey.

Now quick QUESTION – Do kids come pre-programmed to obey?

Did you?

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Psalm 51:5

So… if we come programed (by the Fall of man) to DIS-obey – who’s job is it to teach us to obey? Parents: children need our help and grace in this. That is also why the apostle Paul wrote verse 4. Parents shouldn’t say or do things to provoke a wrong reaction in their children. Sometimes we know exactly what do to do to bring out a wrong reaction, and this is sinful.

And listen parent, this word “exasperate” or “provoke”,  doesn’t meant that you won’t make them angry. That will happen because they’re kids. They throw temper tantrums because you won’t let them eat all of their Halloween candy that very night. You’re going to make them angry. So it’s not “don’t make them angry but instead…” It’s don’t TRY to make them angry. 

Parents, Bring out the best in your children, not the worst.

What do you think you do more of parents?

And although we focused on the parenting part for most of this Jumpstart, I don’t want to let verses 5-9 pass without an explanation, especially since some of our most recent readers may be very new to the Bible and some of these seemingly troubling passages concerning slavery. I won’t focus on the main application of this passage which is showing how Christians should respond to unfair or unjust relationships with family and work, and how we are to serve others in those circumstances, but instead share how this example of slavery is radically different than what we know slavery as in America and sadly as a Church, even participated in trying to justify this sin with passages like this.

As the ESV Study Bible explains, slavery in this culture was radically different then the Atlantic Slave Trade and what was a key issue in the Civil War. ESV Study Bible explains this passage as such:

“Bondservants were considered an integral part of a family, so Paul’s instructions for bondservants were a natural part of his dealing with family relationships. In both Greek and Roman culture, bondservants had limited rights and were subject to exploitation and abuse. Paul does not condone the existing system of servitude but instead provides instructions to believing masters and bondservants regarding their relationship to each other in the Lord, and how this should be lived out within the bounds of their social and legal culture.”

So please, don’t be an idiot and use this passage to show why God would ever consider slavery as anything but sin and if you’re one who’s possibly thought that before, repent and do better because in this day and age we need to undo the wrongs that were made that still have consequences upon us.

What did you learn from today’s passage?

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

October 16, 2018

Today you should read: Ephesians 5:22-33

Very few passages are as misunderstood in our culture as Ephesians 5:22–33. That’s a sad reflection of the world in which we live. That’s also why one of the main witnesses we have to a lost world is our marriage. When people do marriage God’s way, it works. It works to the degree that people will ask how you and your spouse get along. Marriage is intended to picture Christ and the Church (32), and when done right, it points people to Christ.

Strong families make strong churches. The letter of Ephesians, which addresses conflict between Jews and Gentiles, makes this point clear. The truth of the Gospel must first be evidenced in your home. So, as we look at our section for today, what does the Gospel in my marriage way look like? Paul sums this up in verse 33, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Emerson Eggerichs wrote a great book I’ve never read called, Love and Respect, which, I think, comes from this verse. One of the ideas from this book is that all women crave love and all men crave respect (just like Paul encouraged). Likewise, couples in trouble enter into a downward spiral of un-loving men and dis-respectful women. In order for this spiral to stop, someone has to be willing to go first—to show either love or respect.

Men, it’s easy to love a woman that respects you, right? When she asks you what you think, when she builds you up in front of others, when she genuinely wants to help you in the ways that you need—that’s easy to love. And women, I can only imagine how easy it would be to respect a man that really loves you in a sacrificial way. When he studies you to understand the things that make you feel love and he puts in the effort to act on those things, when he listens, empathizes, validates, and encourages you, when he helps bear your burdens and ease every worry—that’s a man worth respecting.

The problem though, is that none of us act this way all of the time. That’s why we need this reminder from Ephesians 5 of love and submission*/respect. We must be taught how to do this, and we need help from one another along the way. Sometimes we’re bull-headed jerks, and only in Biblical community can we speak into other marriages and lovingly tell each other, “I love you, but you’re acting stupid.” The healthiest marriages I know of are not the ones that look perfect, but the ones who acknowledge that they’re not and ask for help when they need it.

Questions for reflection:

  1. When is the last time you did something to intentionally show love or respect to your spouse?
  2. What was your last conflict and how did you resolve it? If some conflict is still lingering, do you need help from your Connect Group or a staff member?

* “Submission means organizing voluntarily to fill out a pattern that constitutes a complete whole. The word “support” is a good synonym for the biblical concept of “submit.” A wife submits to her husband when she voluntarily “organizes” herself so she can complete her husband. A good example of this is her cooperating with him when they run a three-legged race. They have to work together to succeed. Submission is essential to achieve oneness in marriage.” (Constable’s Notes, lumina.bible.org)

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

October 15, 2018

Today you should read: Ephesians 5:1-21

The first two verses in this passage sound awesome, don’t they!? At first glance, if you are like me, you’re inspired and moved to action. “Yes! I will imitate Jesus! That’s the world needs, and I can do it.” Where God stopped me in my tracks when I wanted to write in that vein was the end of verse 2: “(He) offered himself as a sacrifice for us”… It’s not the nice bumper sticker anymore when you consider what you are called to imitate.

Hear what I am saying and not what I am not saying: I don’t think all of us will die for our faith (though hopefully we all die with our faith). But the example that we are told to imitate in this passage is not the pseudo-committed, pretentious Christianity that is rampant today. We are called to real sacrifice because of the real example of our sacrificial Savior. I saw this meme a while back via the popular hashtag #ThingsJesusNeverSaid, and it struck my heart about what I often see my faith as:

JesusMEME

Look, I know you get this already, but that meme hit at the heart of our comfortable, low-devotion “faith”. Real Christianity isn’t about just GOING to church, it’s about BEING the church. It’s about imitating Christ on a very sacrificial level.

We get our focus blurry when the end-all is attending a service on the weekend. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “I am Christian because I gave up two hours of my time at a worship service.” Actually, it says something much bolder (GREAT COMMANDMENT & COMMISSION).

If you’ve experienced the love of God through the cross of Jesus, it affects everything about you. There is no stone of your life unturned when Jesus is your King. And when you consider all He has done for you, the call to imitate Him and live for Him doesn’t really seem like an option anymore. It’s the least you could do.

How can you imitate Him today? Serve a neighbor. Call and encourage a friend. Give generously to missions. Find a place to serve the down-and-out. Tell someone the timeless message of the Gospel. And keep this in the forefront of your day: “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light…” (Ephesians 5:8 ESV).

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor

October 13, 2018

Today you should read: Ephesians 4:25-32

We just finished reading how we should “Put on [our] new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:24). When we become Christians, we are called “new creations.”

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV

Our passage today highlights what being a new creation practically looks like.

First, those of us who are new creations with a new nature are honest people. Paul reasons that since we are created to be like God, “truly righteous and holy,” then we should “stop telling lies” and even extends this to “quit stealing” for those who are dishonest thieves. If you have been transformed through the power of the Gospel, then you should be honest. Lies are of the devil. He is called the “father of lies.”

Second, people with a new nature are not sinfully angry. Paul exhorts the Ephesians to not “sin by letting anger control you” (Ephesians 4:26). I love how the NLT puts this passage. We can see how we are not to let anger control us and to not hold grudges because this “gives a foothold to the devil.” Holding grudges keeps us in captivity when we are called to live freely.

Lastly, new creation people are to be kind and compassionate in speech and action. Paul tells the Ephesians to not “use foul or abusive language” and to “get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” We are to be a people who are “kind to each other” and speak words that are “good and helpful.” In fact, when our words and thoughts are full of bitterness, we grieve the Holy Spirit. I always think about this passage when someone cuts me off in traffic (talk about conviction!).

We are to be a people marked by our honesty, compassion, and level-headedness in frustrating situations because “God through Christ has forgiven” us.

When you examine your life, are you someone that loves his neighbor as himself?

(Be honest before you answer that one!)

Who is one person in your life that you may need to call and apologize to after reading this passage?

Take some time in prayer today to ask God to help you to be compassionate and honest with others.

By: Lucas Taylor — West Campus Pastoral Ministry Apprentice