Alumni Bible Study

A Bible study initially set up for alumni of the Senior Sunday School Class at the First United Methodist Church of Lufkin, Texas. It is our hope and our prayer that this study touches the hearts of those who participate and helps spread the love and grace of Our Lord and God. All who want to learn more about God are welcome

My Photo
Location: lufkin, Texas, United States

I am a Christian family man, Lay Pastor and writer from Deep East Texas. I love life, and I enjoy working with young people. I have published two books; "A Small Mind Among Tall Trees" and "God If You Are Not Too Busy, Can You Give Me a Hand". If you want to obtain a copy drop me an e-mail or go to or barnesand . I have been a salesman, cowman and athlete in my past. I still have a strong sense of humor and am not afraid to use it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ephesians 4:7-13

Relax, Read and Reflect (3R’s)
Prayer- Lord, open my heart and open my mind and help me to learn. G-F-W. Amen.

Ephesians 4:7-13 (New International Version)
7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it
says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." 9(What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
What is Paul saying here? In the original Apostles Creed it says that Christ descended into hell and then went to heaven. There are several thoughts on this belief. The one I like the most, (and write this,) is that Christ went to the lower regions, defeated Satan, sin, and evil, and then triumphantly ascended to Heaven. Paul says he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men. This is what a conquering hero would do.
Paul then goes back to the gifts we all have and how we need to become one to glorify God. He also beckons the Church to become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. He wants all of us to go ahead and accept the gifts God gives us so that we can be faithful and effective. If you have got this far, you are more than curious about what God has planned for you. The time to ask God to give you the gifts so you can be "all that you can be" is NOW!
Lent Starts tomorrow, this is a time of preparation. It is a time for us to get ready to celebrate Christ’s victory over death. It may be time for us to become more intentional about our Christian life.
Prayer-Dear Lord, Help me prepare for your Son. I want to be with you, work for you, and I want you to be in me. Consider this a covenant for me to be loyal during this season of Lent, and for me to become a better follower. I need you for strength, patience, and wisdom. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Things to do: Read Ephesians 4:14-16
Fellowship with other believers and prepare for Lent. Find out if there are Lenten services Wednesday that you might be able to attend.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Ephesians 4:1-6

Relax, Read and Reflect (3R's)

Prayer- Lord, open my heart and open my mind and help me to learn. G-F-W. Amen.

Ephesians 4:1-6

Unity in the Body of Christ

1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Again, we look at the title of these verses. The Unity in the body of Christ. Unity just does not happen, we have to work at it. We are all different people, with different dreams, backgrounds, attitudes, talents, and ways of seeing objective things. Differences can lead to division, but they should not in the church. These differences should make us stronger. Why? Look at verses 4-6. "There is one Spirit, one body, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all."

God made us all different so that we can use each others strengths to do his work, not to divide us. As one, our power is limitless. Separately, we are weak. If we are not united for our one purpose, we can not use God's strength effectively.

No one is perfect, that is why we as a family under God, must accept and love each other in spite of our faults. We must have patience, gentleness, and humility and others will show these traits while dealing with us. We must show kindness to get kindness. People will be watching us, what will they see? Remember, you are the best Christian some people see. Are you showing them the love and grace of Christ, or something else?

Prayer- Lord help me unite with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Help me be the example to others that I need to be. Let others see you through me. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Things to do today: Read Ephesians 4:7-13

Be a positive model for Christ.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Ephesians 3:14-21

Relax, Read and Reflect (3R's)
Prayer Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

This ends the first three chapter of the letter. In these chapters Paul has tried to explains the role of the church through out the times. He calls it the "family." This family includes all who believe today, all who believed in him in the past, and all who will believe in the future. Like our earthly family, we have ancestors in faith, family with us today, and hope for family to come. If we desire to be part of our earthly family, we have to have contact with them. If we don't, we get cut off. If we ignore our church family, past-present-and future, we will also be cut out. God will not cut us off, but we receive our power through the spirit, and we get it as we fellowship with others. Those who isolate themselves from God's family and try to do things alone, cut themselves off from God's power. Don't do it.
God's love is total, according to Paul. It is "deep and wide." In union with God's love, we are complete. His love surpasses knowledge (19), we can not fathom it's size. You can ask the Holy Spirit to fill your life with God's love, and it will be done. God can help us do anything we want for him, so why don't we do more?
Prayer-God, thank you for your complete love. Thank you for our families, both earthly and heavenly. Help me use your love and grace to the fullest. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Things to do this weekend:
Read Ephesians 4:1-6 Go to fellowship, and relax.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Ephesians 3:7-13

Relax, Read and Reflect (3R's)
Prayer, Lord, open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. G-F-W. Amen
Ephesians 3:7-13 (New International Version)

7I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power. 8Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

Paul started preaching to gentiles after he received God's grace and became God's servant. God gives all of us opportunities to tell others about Christ, even if we are not preachers or evangelists,(maybe because we are not preachers or evangelists.) With these opportunities he will also provide courage, patience, and anything else you will need. We are all God's servants now, and as such we need to make ourselves available to do God's work. Paul knows that without God's help, he would never be able to do God's work,(verse 8.)God choose him to give the good news of Jesus to the gentiles, and that is a great responsibility. He really thought his role would be minor. He would have probably preferred to convert Jews like Peter was doing. A minor role? When we look at what God wants us to do for Him, do we also think it is a minor role? We may be right, but never forget what a difference God can make. It gets better.
As verse ten points out, we can approach the greatest King of all with freedom and confidence. We can talk and share directly with God! What a joy and comfort this is. Paul knows it, and he is happy about it. He closes by telling the Ephesians not to be discouraged by what is happening with Paul. If he had never preached the gospel, he would not be in jail. Gentiles would not have been converted, and Paul feels this is more than a fair deal. It has been compared to the pain a mother feels during childbirth. It is painful for a while, then you have the joy of bringing life into the world, it is a good deal.
Living for Christ can be painful, and obeying his call is never easy. We need to look at those who suffered and sacrificed before us, and feel honored that we have the opportunity to follow them.
Prayer- Lord, thank you for sending others to sacrifice so that I may know your love and grace. Help me have the courage and strength to take your love to others. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Things to do today:
Read Ephesians 3:14-21
Thank God for his grace.
Thank someone for having the love and courage to spread the good news to you.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ephesians 3:1-6

Relax, Read and reflect
Prayer Lord, open my heart and open my mind so that I may learn. G-F-W. Amen.
Ephesians 3:1-6(New International Version)

Ephesians 3
Paul the Preacher to the Gentiles 1For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles-
2Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. 6This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Paul is quick to point out that he is both literally and spiritually a prisoner. He wrote this letter from jail, because the Jewish leaders did not want him to preach about Jesus. He was also bound to Christ, and he understood that his task was to bring Jesus's message and grace to the gentiles. What makes this more amazing and powerful is that Paul was a Jew's Jew, and didn't have anything to do with gentiles until Christ converted him. Paul takes his administration of God's grace to the gentiles very seriously. He was in a bad spot ministering to people he had been taught to hate, yet he still understood that God was in control. Are we that committed? What would it take for us to do God's work no matter what?
Paul also continues to talk about the mystery of God's plan. God didn't hide anything from people, but it was not until Jesus came to earth and paid for all of us that God's full plan was revealed. After Jesus, there would be no dividing wall between God and his children, we are all called to be with him.
If Paul can be this positive and hard working, and he is no better or worse than we, what can we do to share God's grace. This is a constant question to all who read this letter, and it is Paul's question to the church. How can you respond?

Prayer- Dear God, Help me remember that when things are tough you are in control. Give me strength and give me wisdom for the next few days. Help me take on the job you would have me do. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Things to do before tomorrow:
Read Ephesians 3:7-13
Take care of all things needed to be done before the weekend.
Share with others.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ephesians 2:19-22

Relax, Read and Reflect (3R's)
Prayer Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. G-F-W. Amen

Ephesians 2:19-22 (New International Version)
19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
This is Paul defining what a church really is. A church is not a building, it is the people,(remember the Sunday School rhyme?) A church is a living thing, and we show God's love to others by how we act with other christians. A church is truly God's house, and we are all part of the household. God's spirit lives on earth through the church. No pressure.
Our beliefs and our church is built on a firm foundation, apostles, prophets and Christ as the cornerstone. This means that we need to look at the teachings and writings to guide us and strengthen us. New interpretations of doctrine are fine, but as a church, we can not base our beliefs on them. Theologies come and go, but the word of the Lord lives on forever. God's church, like well built buildings, need to have some flexibility. If we are too rigid, we will collapse.
The church as we know it has been under construction for 2000 years, and it is still being built. God is working in us and through us to build a temple. Remember, God's Temple lives and breathes.

Prayer Lord, help us be a strong church. Help us stand on your foundation and be able to move
as needed. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Things to do today:
Read Ephesians 3:1-6
Remember-we are God's church
Practice being strong, and being flexible.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Ephesians 2:11-18

Relax, Read and reflect (3R's)

Prayer God, Help me to open my heart and open my mind and help me to learn. G-F-W. Amen.

Ephesians 2:11-18 (New International Version)

One in Christ superior11Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)- 12remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

The title that the translation of the Bible gives these verses is "One in Christ." Paul starts out by talking about the differences between Jew and gentile. Obviously, the Jews are circumcised in religious ritual and at the time considered them to be better than the "uncircumcised" gentiles. The gentiles looked down on the Jews because that felt they had a false since of superiority. Paul say's that not only are we one in Christ, but none of us are worthy to be with Christ, except that he shed blood for all
of us. Christ has brought together all peoples, making us one body. Everyone is the same, and only through his grace can any of us be like him.
Paul may be referring to the squabble in Ephesus between Jew and gentile, but it is still relevant to the Church today. So many times we know of situations where some
Christians feel superior to others. Either between Catholic and Protestant, or between denominations of the protestant faiths. We are all equal in the eyes of God, and this is only because he loves us, not because of the way we act. We must live in peace, not only with other believers but with all peoples.
I don't know about everyone, but this will take some practice for me. I can cop an attitude pretty quick. I feel that because I do "so much for the Kingdom of God," that I am better than others. I am no more important than any other who professes to be a part of Christ's church. However, no other is more important to God than me, not even the Pope. That's a fair shake. Prayer Dear Lord, Help me remember that I am equal to other believers, no better, no worse. Help me treat all my brothers and sisters as I want to be treated. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Things to do today:
1. Read Ephesians 2:19-22
2. Reach out to your friends and tell them you love them
3. Reach out to a stranger and show God's love

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Ephesians 2:1-10

Relax, Read and Reflect (3R's)

Prayer Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. G-F-W. Amen

Ephesians 2:1-10 (New International Version)

New International Version (NIV)

Ephesians 2

Made Alive in Christ

1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Paul tells us that without grace, we are dead. For without grace, we live in sin and evil. In verse (2) he tells us that we are with Satan,(ruler of the kingdom of the air.) It was believed by Christians in those days that Satan lived in the area between the earth and the heavens, therefore he was the ruler of the air. Satan's spirit is at work in those who are disobedient. What does this mean?

This literally means those who are against Christ, and those that are not with him are against him. Christ has won a victory over Satan, so therefore Satan can only rule over his people temporarily. People sin, that is part of our nature. It is only by God's grace that we are able to rise above this and join Christ. Does this mean that only Christians are good?

No. There are others in this world that are moral, kind and law abiding. Without God's grace NO ONE is good enough to earn salvation. Combined with Christ's love we may become good in God's eyes.

There is more good news. In verses 4-7, Paul emphasizes that we do not have to live with sin. Jesus was resurrected to conquer sin and evil, and because of that we know we will be raised from the dead as well. This is because of God's kindness, and nothing else.

We should not ask how much we owe God for his grace. We need only to say "Thank you," and then live with praise and joy. Verse 10 explains that we are God's workmanship, his masterpiece. If God considers us to be that valuable, we should not think of ourselves-or others- as anything inferior.

Prayer-Thank you Lord, for saving me. I do not deserve it, but I will accept it. I want to follow you, and reject Satan. Protect me as I do your works. I see myself as you made me, a masterpiece. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Things to do today:

1. Read Ephesians 2:11-18

2. See God's workmanship in you

3. See God's workmanship in others

Ephesians Chapter One

As we have read and reflected on chapter one of Paul's Letter to the Ephesians, what have we learned?
We have learned that God wants to pour out his spiritual blessings on EVERYONE . He gives us these blessings because of God's grace. His grace is not earned by us, but was bought by his Son Jesus. We have been adopted and redeemed be His great love and power.
We have learned that God has a plan for us and we have been marked, or predestined , to be with him-forever. We may not fully know or understand his plan for us, but when the time is right, he will bring us together for enternity.
God has established his church, Jew and gentile together, with Christ as the head. The body is made from the believers and followers, all of us. We need to work together for the Head, and for God. Christ is our model, our pattern. He has come to earth to teach us how to live. We also have more help in the Holy Spirit, God's promise. The Spirit proves we are God's children and secures eternal life for us.
God is more powerful than any thing else, for he has created everything. When we do his work, we are truly working with the greatest strength and power in the universe. Amen.

Things to do before Monday:
1. Read Ephesians 2:1-10
2. Rest and Relax from your week
3. Reflect on the things you learned this week
4. Worship the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Ephesians 1:19-23

Relax, Read and Reflect
Dear God, Open my heart and open my mind, help me to learn. G-F-W. Amen

(19)And his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,(20) which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,(21)for above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but in also in the one to come. (22) And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,(23) which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

We have seen a lot of power in this world in the past century. We have gone from steam power to petroleum motors that can do almost anything. We have built rockets and jets that are even more powerful. We have split atoms, and the power unleashed is almost impossible to comprehend. Even with all this power that we have seen, nothing compares to the power of God. It is exceptionally powerful for those of us who believe, for He,(God) created all of those other forms of power.
To show this strength, He raised Christ from the dead. God then placed Him at the head of His church here on earth. He is the ultimate authority over all of the world, not only for now, but forever.
God placed all things under His feet(22) and that means that all of our talents and skills that God has given us are under Christ, and that makes for the fullness of the church. Paul is beginning to tell this great church that they are all part of God's plan. We are all part of the great power that is God. As Paul writes to teach the people of Ephesus, his words are still viable in today's world.
Re-read these verses as if Paul was writing them to your home church.

Prayer: God, Thank you for allowing me to be a part of Your power and glory. Help me to remember how important I am, and help me share it with others. Go-Fight-Win. Amen

Things to do today:
Re-read the First chapter of Ephesians as if Paul was writing to your home church. Ask someone to help you remember how important you are this weekend. Have fun, you deserve it.

Epehsians 1: 15-18;

Relax, Read and Reflect (3R’s)
Dear God, Open my heart and open my mind, and help me learn .G-F-W. Amen.
Ephesians 1:15-18 (New International Version)
Thanksgiving and Prayer

15For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[
a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

The subtitle for these verses is Thanksgiving and Prayer. If your Bible has these little subtitles in it, pay attention, these are hints. Paul is praying that the Ephesians would know Christ better. He wants them to have a personal relationship with Christ.
This prayer may be for all of us, so that we-the church present- will know Christ personally. Christ is our pattern, our model. The more we know of him, the more we can be like him. This is the translation of these same verses from The Message:
Ephesians 1:15-18 (The Message)

15That's why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the Christians, 16I couldn't stop thanking God for you--every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. 17But I do more than thank. I ask--ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory--to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, 18your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for Christians,
Sometimes it helps to read several translations to really let the word sink in. Even though we may have read the same verses over and over, if it is revealed in different words, we may be able to see these verses in a new and different way. That is part of Getting to Know Christ in a more personal level. End of sermon.
Verse 18 is very important. The hope we have is not a small feeling that things should get better in the future, but positive assurance of certain victory through God and Christ. That assurance comes to us through the Holy Spirit who is working in us.
Prayer-Lord, I want to know you better in a more personal way. Walk with me and send your Spirit to dwell in my heart-forever! G-F-W. Amen
Things to do today:
Read Ephesians 1:19-23
Take time to get to know Jesus personally
Thank God for living with us through the spirit

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ephesians 1: 11-14

Relax, Read and Reflect (3R's)
Dear God,

Open my heart and open my mind, and help me learn. G-F-W. Amen

Ephesians 1:11-14 (New International Version)
11In him we were also chosen,[a] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of his glory.

These verses show that God's purpose for life is to offer salvation. He has a plan and is in control.
When we look at the first verse, remember that the word predestined here means selected, like we discussed Monday. God's plan is our main purpose, and can not be thwarted.
In verses 13 and 14 Paul discusses the Holy Spirit and being marked with a seal. This refers to us as something bought or traded for. When a contract was finalized, it was sealed. It still is today. Both parties sign off, even if it is just a handshake. Laws of this nation are not final until the seal of government is placed on them. These contracts have considerations with them, usually money. God has sent the Holy spirit as consideration for his plan, a down payment if you will.
The presence of the Holy Spirit is a sign of God's "good faith" in us, and proves we are His children. We can use the Holy Spirit on earth, and it is a glimpse of what lies for us in eternity. Remember, God is in control. He want's to save us and can, no matter what evil comes at you.

Prayer: Lord, Thank you for saving me. Thanks for sending the Holy Spirit for us to use for your will, and giving us a glimpse of your purpose. Help me carry that purpose with me wherever I go. G-F-W. Amen

Things to do today:
Read Ephesians 1:15-18 before tomorrow
Let the Holy Spirit into your heart
Remember that God is in control.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ephesians 1: 7-10

(Happy Valentines Day)

Relax, Read and Reflect.

Dear God, Open my heart and open my mind, and help me learn. G-F-W. Amen.

Ephesians 1:7-10

(7) In him we have the redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace (8) that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. (9) And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,(10)to put into effect when the times have reached their fulfillment- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.(NIV)

Wow, what a run-on sentence. Remember; this is Paul's personal correspondence with the church. Here, he is teaching the early Christians about the importance of Christ's death,(the blood.) His death brings redemption and forgiveness. Redemption means to buy, to gain freedom. Through Jesus's death(blood) we are given freedom from sin. In the Old Testament forgiveness was given with a blood sacrifice. Now we are forgiven on the basis of Jesus shedding blood, a perfect and final sacrifice.

God's grace (verse eight) is given to those he saves. We have done nothing to deserve it, and we will never earn it. It comes through God's mercy and love. Without it-no one can be saved, but it is available to all. To receive it, we must understand that we can not save ourselves, only God can save. We can only be saved through faith in Christ.

Is God's plan for his children a secret? No, but that plan could not be totally understood until Christ rose from the dead. God sent Jesus to unite us all, gentile and Jew into one body with Christ as the head. A lot of us still don't understand God's plan, but when the time is right (verse 10) he will bring us together to be with him forever. Then, we will all understand. How Cool is that?

Remember, we are saved because of the death and resurrection of Christ, not because of anything we do. God's love is so complete that his grace is there for everybody!!! We may not know all of God's plan for man, but we know what he has done for us so far. For that, we need to always be joyful and thankful. Do you want there to be more joy in the world? Help some one receive God's grace.

Prayer-Lord, Thank you for your love and your grace. I don't deserve it , but I will accept it. Help me give that gift to others. Go-Fight-Win. Amen

Things to do today:

Read Ephesians 1:11-14 before tomorrow.

Be excited that God has given His son to save you.

Remember to share His grace with others.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ephesians 1: 1-6

OK, here we go. This will not take long to read. If you want to respond, do so with the reply. First; a little back ground on Ephesians. This is a letter to the church at Ephesus, one of the major cities of the Roman Empire. Since it was a big city, the church was probably fairly large. Even though it is addressed to the Ephesians, it is for the church everywhere. The main purpose of the letter is to strengthen the believers in Ephesus in their Christian faith, by explaining the nature and purpose of the Church, the body of Christ.

Before we start, remember to relax, read and reflect. Offer this simple prayer, and do so every day before the study.

Dear God, Open my heart and open my mind, and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Ephesians 1:(1) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:(2) Grace and peace to you from our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(3)Praise be to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (4) For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love (5) he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-(6)to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given in the One he loves. (NIV)

Paul always starts his letters out with a greeting, just as we do. We would start with "Dear___," Paul starts with verse one. The Church at Ephesus must have been really on fire. He refers to them as "the faithful in Jesus Christ." That may have been the highest grade Paul would give to any church. We can look at that as a letter to us. If so, are we the faithful? Have we as a worldwide church earned the title of "the faithful in Jesus Christ"? I like to think we have, but it is something we always need to strive for.

He then goes on to remind,(or inform,) us that God has blessed us totally and chose us in him before the creation of the world. He then says we were "predestined to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ." I know that some who have been in my class are saying, "Steve, I thought you said that we have choices, it says here we are predestined in our lives."

God has predestined his love and grace towards us. He has freely given it, as it states in verse six. We have the power (or responsibility) to choose. God gives us all his love and grace, but we have to accept them. This is something that we need to remember; sure, God knows everything about us. He, in his love and grace, does not force us to love him. When we do we fulfill God's plan for us. When we accept God as our savior, it is not because we deserve it, it is because we are "adopted" by God and marked by him. My question to all of us is, "have you entered into this loving relationship with God?

Prayer- Oh Lord, thank you for loving us so much that you freely gave us Jesus Christ-your Son. Help us live faithfully through him. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Things to do today:

Read the next four verses of Ephesians (7-10). Ask yourself if you are the faithful in Jesus Christ. Decide what you have done to show the world that you are, and what will you do.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Let's get started

Bible study to kick off 2-13-06

We will begin this Bible Study Blog next Monday, Feb. 13, 2006. After prayerful consideration, I have decided to start with the book of Ephesians. It is one of Paul's letter's (the apostle Paul,) and is fairly short. It has a lot of great information and is very uplifting. If you want to read over it before next week, do so. As we go through bit by bit, an overview would be helpful.

It is my hope and prayer that each of us spend a few minutes everyday to relax, read, and reflect (the three R's.) Make comments at the end of each day's lesson if you wish. Remember, the Holy Spirit lives in all of us. We may have an idea or be touched in a way that would help out our brothers and sisters, don't be afraid to share.

Use this as an evangelistic tool. Tell your friends and classmates. Invite them to share in this study. Invite your family back home. This could be a way for them to connect with you even though you may be hundreds of miles from home. Don't be afraid to tell anyone. Remember, evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. We are all hungry for God, share your knowledge with others.

I have a sidebar box in the blog, although I am still trying to get it to work correctly. I envision this to be used for prayer concerns or joys to be shared with others. I hope it is functional by Monday. Remember, I am not a computer guy, this is all new and scary for me. If you have suggestions or hints, please share.