October 19, 2018

Today you should read: Ephesians 6:19-24

In the midst of Missions Impact Month, this is a fitting passage to end our walk through Ephesians with. Think back to a time where you supported an organization or good cause, specifically Christ-centered organizations. Maybe it was volunteering at a soup kitchen. Maybe it was donating time to help mentor today’s youth. Or maybe it was donating money to help with a Bible translation project in Mozambique (shameless plug). Whatever the case may be, there are hundreds of organizations that all provide a service of kingdom-importance. Now… I want you to think about the last time you prayed for those organizations.
The truth of the matter is that while it is good to give our money, time, and talents to these projects (even necessary), it is also of paramount importance that we pray for these organizations! Paul makes this clear to us in verses 19 and 20. “And [pray] also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.” Church, if I can be so bold to say so, nothing that we do for missions will have a lasting impact unless it is with the pursuit of spreading the gospel. And if we are not in East Asia, Mozambique, or Uganda ourselves, then our primary duty is to pray for those who are.
While Paul spent most of his letter to encourage and instruct the church in Ephesus, he took the last little bit to remind the church that he, too, needed prayer and encouragement in his ministry. The apostle Paul, the writer of most of the New Testament, realized that he was not exempt from the power of prayer. He was saying, “Although I’ve been preaching the gospel consistently for a while now, and I’ve already been through trials of many kinds, I need your specific prayers in order to proclaim it boldly for those who do not already believe!” Church, let us remember that 1) there is power in our prayers (the ground is level at the foot of the cross), 2) no one is too good for those prayers, and 3) it is the least we can do for our brothers and sisters in the mission field, and the power of prayer is desperately needed for them.

By: Tyler Monroe — Worship Ministries Intern


October 18, 2018

Today you should read: Ephesians 6:10-18

…so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.  2 Corinthians 2:11

Imagine going to war and never studying your enemy… or sports with no films of the opposing team.  How arrogant would that be? What would you think of that coach or General? Not studying the enemy is not fighting to your advantage.  This passage is all about giving us as Christians the advantage.

Recognize. – where your strength lies (v.10)

Not in your might – your know-how – or your strength.  Strong in the Lord and in the strength of HIS might. He’s the mighty God – the God of Noah, Moses, David, Elijah, Esther, Nehemiah, Peter, Paul, Martyrs, and YOU!

Utilize. – the full armor of God (v.11, 13)

This is an action step – put it on.    Put on the FULL armor – if you leave off one piece – where do you think Satan will attack you?  Here’s a powerful prayer that might help you…

The Christian’s Spiritual Armor Prayer

In the Name Of the Lord Jesus Christ, I claim the protection of the Belt Of Truth around my waist. I pray the protection of the Belt Of Truth over my personal life, My home and My Family and Gods Ministry for my life. I use the belt of truth directly against Satan and his kingdom of darkness, I ask the Holy Spirit to Protect me from Believing Satan’s Lies.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I put on the BreastPlate Of Righteousness. I hold up the righteous life of the Lord Jesus Christ to defeat Satan and his Kingdom. I affirm that my Victory is won and lived out by Saviour in Whom I Live.

I take the Shoes of Peace in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by faith I shall walk in them this Day. I affirm that I am Justified and that I have Peace with GOD through the Lord Jesus Christ, who is my Peace. Teach me to wait in Your Presence until the Inner Peace of GOD. Which Transcends human Understanding Replaces My Anxiety.

Heavenly Father, I take the by Faith the Protection of the Shield Of Faith, I count upon Your Holy Presence to Surround me, Offering total protection from all of Satan’s Flaming Arrows. Grant me the Grace to accept Your Refining Purpose in allowing any of Satan’s Arrows to pass through the Shield and to even thank You for it. Help me to Concentrate upon Your Presence and not the Enemy’s Arrows.

In the Name of The Lord Jesus Christ. I claim the protection of the Holy Angles to guard and shield me from the assaults of Satan’s Kingdom. May these ministering Angles be present to interfere with the Strategy of Satan to harm me and my Family. I appropriate the Victory of the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and hold it against the advances of the Evil One. With Gratitude and Praise in The Name Of The Jesus Christ I Rejoice In Your Victory.

Heavenly Father, I take by Faith The Helmet Of Salvation, in the person of Your Son, The Lord Jesus Christ. I cover my MIND WITH HIM. I desire that He put His Mind within ME, Let my thoughts be His Thoughts. I open my Mind fully and Only to the Control of the Lord Jesus Christ. I Reject every Projected thought of Satan and His Demons and Request instead the Mind of the Lord Jesus Christ. Grant to me the Wisdom to Discern thoughts that are from the World and Satan’s Kingdom. I Praise You Heavenly Father, That I may Know the Mind of Christ as I hide Your Word within My Heart and Mind.

In the Name Of The Lord Jesus Christ, I lay hold Of The Sword Of The Spirit. The Word Of GOD. I Embrace Its Inerrant Message Of Truth and Power. In the Name Of The Lord Jesus Christ and by the Ministry of the Holy Spirit, Grant to me the Wisdom to always apply the Word against The Enemy. May I use the Word Of GOD to Defeat Satan and to advance the Cause of Christ into the Realm Satan CLAIMS.

Heavenly Father, I choose to see Myself as You see me in the Person of Your Son, The Lord Jesus Christ, Invincibly Strong and able to do all that is in Your Will for me to do. Help me to see that in My Union with Christ I am more Than Conqueror. Cleanse me in My Saviour’s Blood. I take back from Satan all the ground I have Given Him by my Sin and Transgressions. On the Authority of the Cross, I Resist the Devil and His Kingdom, Steadfast in the Faith. I Command Satan and His Demons to Leave Me and to go Where The LORD JESUS SENDS THEM.   AMEN.

Realize. – who the war is with (v.12)

It’s not against your wife, your husband, your boss, your teenager, your mom or dad – it’s against Satan and his forces.  He’s trying to destroy you and ruin your life.

Strategize. (v.14-17)

  • Belt of Truth – The belt held up the robe so you could fight.  Truth is what holds everything up in our lives. Truth comes from God’s Word.  Believe it!
  • Breastplate of Righteousness – Righteousness means right living.  Protection comes from living right.
  • Shoes of the Gospel – Always thinking about where we go and our Gospel witness there.
  • Shield of Faith – When Satan shoots an arrow of doubt – defend yourself by commitment to your faith.  Stand firm in it.
  • Helmet of Salvation – always remembering what God saved you from and what change your salvation has brought in your life.
  • Sword of the Spirit – God’s Word.  Just like Jesus did in Matthew 4 – when tempted use the one offensive weapon you have – the Bible.  That’s why you have to know it.

Prioritize. – the secret to winning (v.18)

Prayer is the secret weapon to winning the war against Satan.  Make time for dedicated prayer with God AND pray each day as you go.

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor

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