A Crash Course in the Gospel (Ephesians 2:1-10)

Ephesians

One of my favorite books of the Bible is the Psalms. Through the Psalms I have learned how to pray. One of my other favorites is the Gospel of John. John’s telling of Jesus’ story has helped me connect my spiritual longings with the revelation of God in Jesus Christ so powerfully. Right after the Psalms and John comes Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Here, the basic contours of right thinking about God and right living with God come together in such a short space that every sentence strikes with power.

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, as I continued with our series “Ephesians: A Crash Course in Basic Christianity,” I had the privilege of addressing one of my favorite Scriptural texts in this favorite book of mine. I turned to Ephesians 2:1-10 for “A Crash Course in the Gospel.”

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities for involvement.

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A Crash Course in Knowing Christ (Ephesians 1:15-23)

Ephesians

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I continued our new series walking through the New Testament book of Ephesians, entitled “Ephesians: A Crash Course in Basic Christianity.” This weekend, I continued with the second half of chapter 1, which offers us a “Crash Course in Knowing Christ.” This is really a prayer of Paul that unfolds for us how prayer in gratitude, intercession, and worship helps us know Christ more fully in our lives.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities for involvement.

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Ephesians: A Crash Course in Basic Christianity

Ephesians

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, we began a ten-week series walking through the New Testament book of Ephesians, entitled “Ephesians: A Crash Course in Basic Christianity.” Written by the Apostle Paul as a circular letter for young churches in Asia Minor, Ephesians covers the basics of our faith: God’s plans in Jesus for humanity, the essence of the gospel, relationships inside the church, living for Christ in the world today, spiritual conflict, prayer, and so much more. Join us for a crash course in basic Christianity with Paul in Ephesians.

You can watch Will Branch’s message from this past weekend, “A Crash Course in Blessing,” right here.

Below is the week-by-week outline for the series.

June 1/2 – “A Crash Course in God’s Blessing” – Ephesians 1:1-14

June 8/9 – “A Crash Course in Knowing Christ” – Ephesians 1:15-23

June 15/16 – “A Crash Course in the Gospel” – Ephesians 2:1-10

June 22/23 – “A Crash Course in Unity in Christ” – Ephesians 2:11-22

June 29/30 – “A Crash Course in the Church” – Ephesians 3:1-13

July 6/7 – “A Crash Course in the Love of Christ” – Ephesians 3:14-21

July 13/14 – “A Crash Course in Spiritual Growth” – Ephesians 4:1-16

July 20/21 – “A Crash Course in Christ-like Living” – Ephesians 4:17-5:20

July 27/28 – “A Crash Course in Christ-Centered Relationships – Ephesians 5:21-6:9

August 3/4 – “A Crash Course in Spiritual Conflict” – Ephesians 6:10-24

One Church

One Church Series Gfx_Web Header

Jesus said, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:20-21). Recently, we began a new series at Eastbrook entitled “One Church.” This series is an invitation to celebrate unity in Jesus Christ as pastors from around the area share God’s word of God with us centered on themes of unity.

July 4/5 – “Maintaining the Unity of the Church” by Pastor Elie Hasbani of Ethnos Church

July 11/12 – “Jumping the Broom” by Bishop Walter Harvey of Parklawn Assembly of God

July 18/19 – “Conflict: The Cause. The Cure” by Pastor Jason Webb of Elmbrook Church

July 25/26 – “Prayer as the Pathway to Unity” by Pastor Erickson of Eastbrook Church

August 1/2 – “Unity Worth Fighting For” by Pastor Jim Caler of Eastbrook Church

You can follow along with the series via our web-site, our Vimeo page, our Facebook page, or by downloading the Eastbrook Church app.

Ephesus: One New Man-One New Community (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message at Eastbrook Church this past weekend in our “Light for the City” series. This message focused on Ephesians 2:11-22.

Discussion Questions:

1.       The foundation for the discussion of the sermon is an understanding of sin and salvation.  Genesis 1-3 conveys the picture of humanity’s original ‘right-ness’ with God and the subsequent ruin of that relationship because of sin. Ephesians 2:1-10 tells of how Jesus Christ put things right through His life, death, and resurrection.  How would you put into your own words this story of creation, ruin through sin, and re-creation through Jesus Christ?

2.       What was the situation that the Gentiles experienced in relationship to God and Israel as Paul describes it in Ephesians 3:11-13? Specifically identify the five things Paul mentions in verses 12-13 and reflect on what they mean.

3.       How was this situation drastically changed through Jesus Christ (see 3:14-18)?

4.       Sin impacts not only our relationship with God, but also brings a sense of disconnection between one person and another. Salvation not only restores our relationship with God, but restores our relationship with one another. What does this mean for our relationships in the church today?

5.       Paul offers some different picture-images of what the church is now because of Jesus. Identify what these picture-images are in 3:14-22. Spend some time considering how these picture-images should shape our understanding of the church’s life together?

6.       At Eastbrook, we celebrate the diversity that God has brought into our midst as a church. What do you think it means that through the Cross, we are one new humanity inclusive of all people regardless of ethnic or cultural backgrounds?

7.       Take some time at the end of your study to consider at least one thing you have learned that will change how you live practically. If you are in a group, share this with one another. If you are on your own, write it out somewhere you will see it and come back to it each day this week.

5 Practices to Jumpstart Your Family (pt 2)

This continues the post from yesterday “5 Practices to Jumpstart Your Family.”

Practice 4: Worship together on the weekend.

Now it may seem unnecessary to even say this, but a practical way to encourage your children to know God is to come to worship in community every week.

If you want your kids to learn about Math, English, History, and the basics of Western education, you help them engage in a setting where they will learn, like a school.

If you want your kids to learn about a sport, you sign them up for the sport and help them get involved in practices to learn.

The same is true for helping them learn to live for God. Get them to the place and community where they can learn about living for Him. That’s called the church. Gather here as a family on Sundays.

Show them by worshipping God yourself during the services of worship. But also bring them to a place where they can see that in others and learn what it is all about by example, experience, and education.

Practice 5: Love your children.

Paul says in another of his letters “and over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Col 3:14). Along with the other things I’ve mentioned, love your children.

Take time to build a real relationship with them.

Take time to listen to them and have two-way conversations with them.

In the midst of all that there is to do in your lives, take time to do special things just with your children, whether taking them out on dates or having a family night.

Take time to understand their world, their friends, their difficulties, their joys.

Take time to see how God has uniquely made them and help them develop into people who can make a unique contribution to this world.

Loving your children well is what will tie all the other practices together into a meaningful way of helping them learn to live for God.

Undoubtedly, the list could go on with ways we could help our children grow to know and live for God. You may have some meaningful practices that you have as a part of your parenting. Share it with people around you so that we can all learn. If so, post your response here so that we can all learn from you.

As your children grow older, you will need to launch them out to make these decisions on your own.

Faithfulness, not ‘Success’

It must be said that there is no fail-safe way to make your children own their faith and live for God. At some point, they have to make their own decisions and we cannot control them in that. In fact, during my days as the college pastor at Elmbrook Church I saw that trying to control a child is one of the most counter-productive methods of helping them own their faith.

As parents, we should not aim for controlling our children so that we can wear the blue-ribbon of success as parents. I know too many great parents whose children have not followed the Lord or who have lots of problems in their life.

Success is not our aim. We cannot guarantee that.But what we should aim for is faithfulness. We should be faithful in doing all in our power – with the mighty power of God at work with us in prayer – so that we have done our part in raising our children ‘in the training and instruction of the Lord.’

[To listen to the message from which these thoughts are drawn, visit the Brooklife Church messages page.]

5 Practices to Jumpstart Your Family (Pt 1)

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4

If there is one thing that should you do for your children it is this: help them to know God and become followers of Christ. That is the bottom line.

This is an incredibly exciting task for us as parents. We have a unique opportunity to shape our world by helping our children get to know God and live for Him. In Proverbs 22:6 it says “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

That is what we have before us as parents, regardless of the age of our children: help them to know God and become followers of Christ.

But what does this really mean? What does it really look like to help our children know God and become followers of Christ? How do we do practically do this?

Over the next two posts, I’d like to suggest five practices that we could put in place in our personal and family lives to help this happen. These thoughts are drawn from my message this past Sunday at Brooklife Church, “Jumpstart Your Family.”

Practice 1: Live for God ourselves.

There is an old saying that you cannot take someone to a place you have not been yourself. As parents, the most foundational way that we can raise our children in the instruction of the Lord is to live for God ourselves.

We have to start this discussion of godly parenting by aiming to live fully for God ourselves – filled up and controlled by His Spirit and nothing else. That’s what Paul meant when he said: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

How are we at daily living for God? Here are a couple of things to consider?

Do you pray regularly?

Do you read the Bible regularly?

Do you serve others around you regularly?

Are you living with a moment-by-moment awareness of God?

If so, you are on the way toward modeling for your children what living for God is all about.

Practice 2: Pray for our children.

When Kelly and I were newly married without children we were friends with a couple in our church who had six children. They were an outstanding family whose children had begun to really grab ahold of living for God.

Once, when we were visiting with them, Kelly and I asked what their secret formula was for raising their children. We were hoping for a five-step game-plan for perfect children. We didn’t really get that. Instead, along with some helpful advice on discipline and other things, we were given some simple advice: pray together for your children.

That is the advice that I would like to pass along to everyone here. If you really want to see your children live for God then pray for them. Your best efforts will only go so far. But when you pray, you begin to unleash God’s power into the lives of your children.

Pray that God would get ahold of their hearts at an early age.

Pray that God would protect them from the temptations of this world, the flesh, and the devil.

Pray that God would give you wisdom beyond yourself to parent them.

Practice 3: Pray and read the Bible as a family.

Take time to read the Bible together and pray. If you want your children to learn about God, you will need to introduce them to God.

One of the best ways to introduce your children to God is by reading the Bible out loud and praying together about what was read.

There are many different ways to do this as a family. Praying together before meals is a simple way to do this together. It is a chance for us to actually recognize that the simple gift of food comes to us from God.

Another way is to read the Bible together at a set time in the day. When our kids were younger, we would do this before heading out to work and school in the morning. As time has gone on, that has become unrealistic for our schedule.

At this stage of our lives, we read a story from an age-appropriate Bible each night after dinner and pray briefly about it.

Some families like to do this at the end of the day. Find a time to do this that fits your schedule, your children’s schedule, and your stage of life.

It will likely look different at different times.

[Visit the Renovate blog tomorrow for the second half of this post.]