The Story of Christ Begins at The Beginning

God’s promises (or covenants) fill the Bible from the earliest pages. For example, immediately after the Fall, the Lord promised a Redeemer would come and warned Satan of what and Who is coming. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring: he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his head.” (Gen 3:15)

Eve believed and took the Lord at His Word. “She conceived and bore Cain, saying ‘I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.'” Literally, “the Man, the Lord.” (Gen 4:1)

God commanded Abram (Abraham): “Go from your country, your kindred, and your father’s house to the land I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you…..and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:1-3)

Abraham and Isaac: .…God said: “take your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as burnt offering.” Isaac asked: “where is the lamb for the burnt offering? Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” (Gen 22) Literally: ‘provide Himself, the lamb’!

“Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons….his brothers hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.” (Gen 37:3-4) They betrayed him, but reunited years later; Joseph said to his brothers, “it was not you who sent me here, but God.” (Gen 45:8) After Israel’s death, Joseph’s likeness to Christ shown brightly to his brothers; “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Gen 50:20)

God raised up Moses as that generation’s prophet-deliverer and said to him: “I AM WHO I AM.” (Ex 3:14)

Moses went to Mt. Nebo, and the Lord showed him all the land: “this is the land I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob….I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” Moses died and God buried him. (Deut. 34:4-5)

God commissions Joshua (“Jehovah is salvation”): ” Moses my servant is dead. Arise, go over this Jordan, you and all the people….every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you…..no man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life…..be strong and courageous…..being careful to do according to the law that Moses my servant commanded you….this book of the law shall not depart from you….do not be frightened….for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Josh 1:1-9)

-Scripture is by the Lord, about the Lord, of the Lord, from the Lord.

-The gospel is found throughout it all! Yes, even the OT contains the Who, the what, the where, the when, the how, and the why of the gospel.

-The book of Joshua will connect us to those ancient believers in many ways; our opportunities, fears, and failures are the same as their’s.

-The theme of all Scripture is the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t neglect to look for Him as Pastor Todd preaches through Joshua in the coming months.

With all the big ideas in this letter, the last word is about prayer!

This letter is addressed to those defined as ‘The Saints’. This scripture assumes a faith in Christ as Lord. Throughout this letter The Holy Spirit uses Paul to communicate to His Church in Ephesus and His Church Universal, a number of key truths. These truths shape our Biblical Culture here at Midtown Church. Here is a relatively comprehensive overview of this letter’s ‘Big Ideas’ for us as individuals and as Christ’s Body:

  • We don’t in any way deserve to be rescued from eternal separation from God, what we call HELL. But in His amazing love the Triune God of Scripture predestined those who surrender their lives to the Biblical Jesus Christ to an eternity WITH HIM, based on HIS grace alone.
  • We are all rescued by the same God, by means of the same sacrifice and resurrection, indwelt by the same Spirit and given the same eternal destiny based on the same Word of God that has been understood by HIS people the same way since MOSES!!!
  • We have been illuminated by God’s sovereign agency to saving faith, moving us from a state of spiritual darkness to one of Spiritual enlightenment.
  • Being ‘enlightened’ by Christ informs and governs all of our conduct and relationships, aligning our standards and values with scripture.
  • We are no longer separate ethnicities but are together one people’ in Christ.
  • We have been birthed into His body so we can grow and mature in Christ-likeness.
  • We actively, not theoretically, devote our lives & lifestyles to the Biblical Jesus Christ.
  • As members of Christ’s Body we are part of a supernatural war, so we must rely on His power to hold our own in the battle between Good & Evil.

This letter is chocked full of Gospel Truth but the truth that each of us must personally embrace before any of this letter matters is what Jesus The Christ said:

Then Jesus said to his disciples,“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

~ Jesus Christ @ Matthew 16:24-26 NLT

You can do it today: cry out to God, repent of your sin and lay down your life. To quote Jim Elliot: “”He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

OUR TEXT TODAY:

The last party of chapter 6, verses 10-24, is the conclusion to this letter. We want to view this text together with the passage last week, as examples of lifestyle, disciplines and habits that move us towards the relational and conduct standards for Christ’s follower. As His Body it is how we live in honor of HIM! In other words this is some of how we fashion a Biblical lifestyle that God will use to make us more like Christ Jesus and bring His presence to our world.

The beginning of this final passage sets the tone for how we lead this lifestyle we have been called to (Ephesians 4:1)

6:10 So in all things, be continuously invigorated by our Lord and His all surpassing power.

…be supernaturally infused with strength through your life-union with the Lord Jesus. ~ The Passion Translation

…draw your strength and might from God. ~ The Voice Translation

…be strong—not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless resource. ~ The JB Phillips Translation

This is the call to be in intimate relationship with God the Father, because of what Jesus the Son did, connected by the Spirit He places in us. Keeping that in our sights, let us look at the end of Ephesians:

Ephesians 6:18-24

18 And at all times, use all methods of prayer, always communicating with God thru His Spirit. To make this happen remain attentive, fully dedicated to always seeking God’s favor for all of His people.

  • This is not the idea of saying prayers…this is constantly connection with God
  • ‘All’ 4 times in the sentence is not bad grammar…repetition always has a point
  • God’s Spirit in us is the connectivity
  • One of our key purposes in pray is to seek God’s favor for other believers

19 And pray for me that when I speak God will speak through me and I will be without fear to declare the mystery that is the Gospel message.

  • We are to ask other members of Christ’s body to pray for us
  • We should remember those on the front lines and uphold them in prayer
  • Every month I send a donation for the church to D.R., for me & Barbie to Israel
  • The focus is on God using people to declare HIS message
  • In this case Paul is asking that that the Ephesians pray for him to be fearless

20 Being an ambassador of that message has landed me in prison. Ask God that I keep declaring the message faithfully when given the opportunity to speak.

  • Paul sets for us an example of going wherever God leads
  • Paul understands his role and that he needs God to empower him to fulfill it
  • Behind every person sent to do God’s will there are always people praying
  • Ultimately the focus is not on Paul’s wellbeing but on getting the message out

21 To get you up to speed on what my situation is and how I am holding up, Tychicus, a dear brother and servant leader of the Lord is going to share all the details with you. 22 I sent him to let you know what has transpired, and to bless your hearts.

  • Part of what hold people together in Christ is knowing about the other people
  • Communication of information regarding ministry and what God is doing
  • Those who pray need to know what is going on so they will be encouraged
  • The body is blessed through prayer and the sharing of information and feelings

23 God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ gives peace, generous love and faith to the members of His body. His grace is with all who truly and devotedly love our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • A promise from God to give His people what they truly need
  • A statement of fact about God’s grace being upon those devoted to Christ

SUMMARY:

Members of Christ’s Body are meant to have a different orientation towards prayer. It should be marked with constancy, creativity, Spirit-connectivity, and a focus on asking God to bless other members of ‘His Body’.

We are called to pray for those God has raised up to declare the Gospel in hostile and dangerous places. Our prayers spiritually and emotionally sustain kingdom work on ‘The Front Lines’.

Our prayers for those on the front lines should always be more concerned with the message getting out rather than the circumstances of the Ambassador we are praying for.

Staying in touch and having accurate information regarding kingdom work and the kingdom workers strengthens the relational bonds that keep the body together. The blessings of intertwined care flow both ways.

All members of Christ’s Body are ultimately sustained by His gifts of peace, love and faith, we access those gift through prayer. Our loving surrender of our lives to Christ releases all of these gifts to us ‘In Christ’!

APPLICATION:

How much have you intentionally developed your prayer life? What are the methods of prayer you need to grow in?

Intercessory / Worship / Listening / Imaginative / Scripture / Presence / Prayer Lists Thanksgiving / Non-verbal H.S. / Consecration / Corporate / Confession / Tongues

Increase or begin cultivating relationships to prayerfully support Kingdom Workers in hostile territory! (Carlos & Manuel in The D.R.)

In the Body God has placed you in currently, how can you play a more active and informed role in prayer concerning that Body?

Then Jesus said to his disciples,“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” ~ Jesus Christ @ Matthew 16:24-26 NLT

Spiritual Warfare 101

For those who are inexperienced in the concept of Spiritual Warfare: A lot to learn! For hose who have experience in Spiritual Warfare: More to learn! Spiritual warfare can be as subtle as demon interference in relationships / decisions. Or as intense as an attempt to destroy a church body or a ministry.

  • All things; being a Bondservant to Christ is 24/7… HE touches every part of life!
  • He is our power source, by His Spirit, to live HIS way
  • Being energized by God’s power happens when you intertwine your life in HIS
  • How does this happen? To get the power you have to plug in!
  • Inward habits and outward habits

This crucial information is addressed to Christ’s Body. You have to have God’s Spirit indwelling you for any of this to be real to you. It is our fundamental text regarding spiritual warfare.

Ephesians 6:10-17

10 So in all things, be continuously invigorated by our Lord and His all surpassing power.

Salvation in Christ is our identity. Communication with God through prayer & scripture is our way of life. We constantly seek to proclaim the Gospel with our faith going before us, wrapped in Christ’s righteousness with God’s enlightening truth at the center of everything we are.

11 Trust in the complete battle gear God provides, with it you can stop and counteract the strategies of the devil.

  • Trust is built through familiarity and regular contact
  • We need to practice with our gear / Military term would be to ‘Drill’
  • You cannot trust what you have not used (David didn’t want Saul’s armor)
  • Practicing with all of the gear at once, just like you use it in real life

12 This struggle of ours is not with human beings but a clash with demonic forces; active combat with the powers of this world’s darkness; a confrontation with the spiritual forces of malice in unseen realms.

  • In any contest you must KNOW YOUR OPPONENT
  • The somewhat repetitive descriptions make it clear: supernatural opponents

13 For this reason you must possess and use the complete battle gear God provides, so you can stand your ground whenever the evil attacks come, enabling you to endure anything.

  • You have to own it AND use it…(like exercise equipment)
  • All of it is used together, the language implies that it has full value used together
  • With God’s power used properly we can handle ANYTHING!

14a This is how you do it: wear divine truth as your foundation garment,

  • It is believed the ‘how you do it’ goes from here to V 20
  • The metaphor of ‘wearing gear’ denoting how close a doctrine is held
  • The ‘Gear’ is to be seen as a ‘Matched Set’, a ‘Full Array’, a ‘Suit of Armor’
  • The 1st three things are things you wear regularly but not always

14b put on the breastplate of God’s approval,

  • A breastplate is a front and back full torso covering
  • We have Christ’s righteousness and therefor God’s approval;

15 and pull on boots that prepare you to proclaim The Gospel of Peace.

  • We put in footwear based on what we are doing
  • Our feet take us where we are going
  • We have to carry the message, it makes us less vulnerable

16 Together with these, hold up the shield of faith in Christ, which enables you to smother the burning missiles of the devil.

  • When you suit up you get ready, holding your shield is the max readiness
  • The arrows are going to come… our faith is a shield and we need to ‘hold it up’

17 And always wear the helmet of salvation and the sword of The Spirit which is the communication of God.

  • In a war zone you need to keep your helmet & sword on at all times
  • Our identity as a redeemed child of God is something we inhabit 24/7
  • We need to keep the lines of communication open with God at all times

SUMMARY:

We have a supernatural God, when we become His Bondservants we will be involved in the the supernatural conflict that is part of this age. We are drafted into God’s army!

We need both awareness and energizing from God to stand our ground in the supernatural conflict that is our present reality. We are in a war zone and we need to understand the nature of the conflict.

An intimate, biblical relationship with Jesus Christ grows our trust in the gear He gives us to conduct ‘Spiritual Warfare’ successfully; we assemble our gear and learn how to use it.

Consistently using all the gear God provides His Bondservants for the warfare they face enables members of Christ’s body to ‘Stand Up’ to any spiritual attack.

God’s Truth is our core (belt), our life is covered by His imparted righteousness (breastplate) and we are prepared to deliver His message (shoes).

Our faith is our active protection (shield), it is effective when we ‘hold it up’ / exercise it. This is called Biblical Discipleship.

In Jesus Christ’s Body our lifestyle is built on attitudes and actions that affirm our salvation in Christ (helmet) and we practice constant communication with God (sword).

APPLICATION:

Do some research, read some things about ‘Spiritual Warfare’: get in the game!

Why is it crucial to understand who / what we fight against as Christ’s Bondservants?

As an individual, how might you prepare your gear and use it well?

What group activities can you ‘plug into’ to help you prepare and use your gear?

How can you intentionally use all of your gear together more often?

A Bondservant of Christ’s Vision of Spiritual Warfare