“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1:1-2)
When I was young, my best friend moved away. It was before the age of email, and long-distance phones calls were quite expensive, so we diligently set out to write letters back and forth. We wrote nearly every week for many years. Our good friendship stayed strong many years after she moved away. This childhood friend still holds a dear place in my heart because of the time we spent writing to each other.
Paul spent three years firmly establishing the church at Ephesus during his third missionary journey. He taught and shared his life with them, and as he moved on, I am confident that this special bond continued. Years later while in prison, he penned this amazing letter meant to encourage the congregation he pastored and cared for.
I asked and you voted, so welcome to the study of Ephesians!
Have you ever wondered how so much heretical teaching infiltrated the early church?
Several years ago, a couple started coming to our church. Right away, they were interested in helping with our children’s ministry. We needed more volunteers, so they were integrated effortlessly and seamlessly. After a while, we started getting unsettling reports on what they were teaching. Many of the parents were questioning their ideas because they were slightly skewed from what the church taught.
While this whole scenario played out in a matter of weeks, the result was critically dangerous. First, because what they were teaching was slightly off and seemed harmless enough, it could have gone unnoticed for a lot longer. Second, because this teaching was aimed at the children’s ministry, it could have had long-term devastating effects on the health of the church.
It’s early, it’s dark, coffee’s on…I love early mornings, it’s my favorite part of the day—before the world is awake.
However, today is different, today is special—today is Christmas.
I hope that the world pauses for a moment at some interval to reflect on the reason why we’ve set aside this day. Today is the day to celebrate Jesus and His dramatic and miraculous entrance into the world.
If you’re like me, then you’ve heard, studied, taught and wrote about the incarnation from just about every angle. And yet, this year a friend showed me a new element about Jesus’ birth that I had NEVER heard before. So I spent a few days looking into it and what I found was overwhelming in that it takes my breath away and brings me into a place where worship comes easily.
About a year ago, I took my first ever spiritual gifts assessment. Has anyone ever taken one? It is kind of fun—The particular one I filled out consisted of around 100 questions and in return you get back a list of your spiritual gifts (Download Assessment to find out your spiritual gifts). Like I said, I had never taken one before—the top two things on the list were not surprising, but the third one completely took me by surprise. It was the spiritual gift of evangelism. It floored me that this was a spiritual gift of mine—I had no idea!
Now, when I say evangelism, what image come to mind?
Let me tell you what images come to my mind…
Need a New Definition of Evangelism?
Check out this Sunday sermon by Juli entitled, See.Serve.Speak. Juli unpacks the account of the women at the well in John 4, while sharing personal illustrations of evangelism that differ from her preconceived notions growing up. This will help you be prepared to share the good news of Christ Jesus in a natural way with those you encounter.
Scripture: John 4:4-42
Summary: The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus is meant to be shared in powerful and natural ways by all of us who follow Jesus. We can do this in ways that fit with how God wired us. There is no formula, but there are patterns from Jesus’ life that we can emulate. That pattern is found in these three practices: presence, service and words. We should be ready to serve and love in these ways, and then allow the Spirit to guide us as we live our lives in the world.
*Juli taught this sermon at Orchard Hill Church on October 26, 2014.