Devotional 5/22/20

Ephesians 6:18-24

18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

21 So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.

23 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

Paul does not request to be released from prison but for more ministry opportunities. This is a model for us. It is not wrong to ask the Lord to alleviate our suffering, but perhaps the first thing we pray for should not be the end of our pain, especially if it is for the sake of the gospel. Perhaps we should first pray for God to use our suffering for His glory.

What does the bible tell us about our struggles or trials?

How can we use our suffering to honor Christ?

Today we wrap up our study in Ephesians. Can you believe its already been 6 weeks? I wanted to thank everyone who followed along with the blog. I hope this was a good way for you to connect with the Lord. We’ll be continuing devotionals throughout the summer, so be sure to keep updated with the blog.

Leader Letter 5/21/20

Written By: Eli

Hey Chapel Youth,

Looking forward to our Zoom Olympics this Tuesday at 6:30! I wanted to take some time to slow things down and ask a few simple questions. As we’ve concluded our study in Ephesians, I’m reflecting on what God has told us through His word. We’ve heard of the goodness of God, and seen some practical tips about how to live our lives in light of the gospel. How is your relationship with Christ? Take some time toay to reflect on that. Be honest with yourself about what your struggles are, and think about ways to see victory through them.

Matthew 22:37-39

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

  1. How is the COVID-19 crisis impacting your relationship with God?
  2. How is the COVID-19 crisis influencing your ability to love others?
  3. How are you drawing closer to God during this crisis?
  4. How are you showing love to others during this crisis?

We’re all in this together. Let’s use this time to draw closer to the Lord.

Devotional 5/20/20

Ephesians 6:10-17

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

Paul tells us plainly to be strong “in the Lord and in the strength of His might”. God conquered sin and the grave, we did not. Without God, we can’t win. On our own, we are helpless and worthy of wrath. But through God we are made righteous. Jesus’s death on the cross made a way for us to be made holy. But this is only though God, and not through what we do or don’t do.

Being a Christian doesn’t exempt of from temptation. That is why we have to continually remind ourselves about what God has done for us. When Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God, he is reinforcing that this is an active thing we have to do, not passive. We have to think everyday about the decision we’re making and whether they are reflect Christ or the world. Just because we know Jesus doesn’t mean we make the proper decision by default, we have to stand on guard and actively make the choice to follow Jesus.

We are told of the belt of truth, representing the truth of God made known by His scripture. Truths like the love of God, salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and forgiveness of sin. We’re told of the breastplate of righteousness. This breastplate protects our hearts from evil. It is from the righteousness of God, not ourselves. Paul also tells us about the shoes of the gospel. As Christians it is our job take the gospel and share wherever we go. With these shoes, we can march where the Lord leads us and take the gospel there. We’re told of the shield of faith. When Satan attacks with doubts, the shield of faith turns aside the blow. We’re told of the helmet of salvation. In our minds, we can live knowing that because of Jesus, we are sure of our salvation and our status as citizens of Heaven.  Lastly, we’re told of the sword of the spirit. This is the only weapon listed in the armor of God. God has equipped with the Holy Spirit, and given us His holy word. Through the power of God, we can use this to bring light to the darkness.

Are you putting on the full armor of God daily?

Are you finding your strength in the Lord and what He’s done, or in yourself?

Leader Letter 5/19/20

Written By: Eli

Earlier in Ephesians, we discussed the cultural division between Jew and Gentile, and how Christ’s work tore down the divide. This is something Paul explores in Galatians 5.

1For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

As part of his mission to preach the gospel to the Gentile world, Paul planted the church in Galatia. Things were going well until he left, and then some fellow Jewish-Christian missionaries came to town and started preaching teachings contrary to what Paul had taught—namely, that they must become Jewish first in order to follow the Jewish Messiah. You can read about that in Acts 15.

While some of Paul’s words seem pretty harsh (verse 12—yikes!), he has to make a point that it is grace alone that saves us. The law is good in that it reveals God’s standards of holiness. But because nothing we can do is good enough to cleanse ourselves from failing to keep God’s law, we become a slave to our evil desires, and in turn, to the law through legalism. The message is that the power of Christ’s death and resurrection frees us from all of that and now transforms us into those who live out the law through sharing the same Spirit of Christ. If the laws of God are good, why does Paul say that the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (vs. 6)?


How does serving one another in love (vs. 13) reflect freedom? Isn’t that just another thing you have to do?


Another accurate translation for verse 22 would be “evidence” or “result” of the Spirit. Which of these behaviors are displayed in your life? Which ones are absent?


To “keep in step with the Spirit” means one must prune, practice, and learn in order to grow. What areas do you need to work on in your life, and what steps will you take to address those issues?


In our freedom, are we called to walk alone, or do we have a responsibility to other believers? If so, what?

Devotional 5/18/20

Ephesians 6:1-9

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Bondservants, obey your earthly masterswith fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Masterand yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

The duty of children is to obey their parents. That obedience includes inward reverence, as well as outward acts. By obeying your parents, you are obeying the Lord. By serving your parents, you are serving the Lord. Our families are meant to be an imitation of Christ, and our submission to our parents is a way of imitating our submission to Christ. God used our parents to create us. He uses our parents to provide for us and to sustain us. If it weren’t for our parents, we wouldn’t be here today. Honor Christ by honoring your parents. It is one of the best ways that you can serve the Lord in your youth. And make no mistake, you are serving the Lord by doing it.

Next, Paul takes a look at the relationship between a bondservant and a master. Some of your translations may refer to it as a slave and a master. However, the practice of slavery in the bible is different then what we think of when we hear the term today. In biblical times, slavery was not based on race. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. Some people would become slaves as a way to ensure that all their basic living needs were met. Paul isn’t writing this letter to reform the governments of the day, but to share the good news of Jesus Christ and offer a hope beyond what was imaginable to his audience.

Are you honoring your parents? What are some ways in which you can do so this week?

What does it look like for your obedience to show inward reverence as well as outward acts?

Devotional 5/15/20

Ephesians 5: 22-33

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

While none of you are married yet, I still think this is an important piece of scripture to cover. Not only because you may be married one day, but because it shows us how God uses relationships as a way for us to imitate Him. The analogy between marriage and Christ’s relation to His church has limitations, for no husband in this fallen world loves his wife perfectly, and no wife submits perfectly in every circumstance. Yet even the failure to achieve God’s high standard for marriage points us to Christ.

Christ calls all of us to submit to Him. We are to trust in Him and pursue Him. We are to rely not on our own understanding, but on what Christ has made known to us. Through our submission we show love. We are to submit to Christ in all things.

What does it look like to submit to someone? How does this show love?

What relationships exist in our lives in which we should show submission?

Leader Letter 5/14/20

Written By: Eli

Philippians is another one of the books Paul wrote during his imprisonment. Read through Philippians 4 and see what parallels you can draw from our study in Ephesians.

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

The church in Philippi lived in a Roman colony, where patriotism was prevalent. Hence, the gospel, which says that Jesus is now King of the whole world and that His kingdom will endure, was not popular—and the church was ridiculed and persecuted because of it.

Paul’s letter from prison to the Philippians is written in short essays of poetic form that focus on the theme of our lives being lived-out expressions of our faith in Christ. Paul gives the sample of how his status counts as nothing compared to knowing Christ and living as a citizen in His kingdom. He then closes the letter with a challenge to live by example.

Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians in response to a visit from his friend Epaphroditus, who brought gifts and money from the church in Philippi so they could support him during his imprisonment. What does the generosity of the Philippians say about their character?

How difficult is it to be anxious for nothing? What, if anything, do you find yourself anxious about? What is Paul’s advice as a response?

Reread verse 8. Is there any situation in life where this should not be our response? Explain.





Devotional 5/13/20

Ephesians 5: 12-21

12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Living apart from the darkness does not mean withdrawing completely from the world. Instead, walking as children of the light means not engaging in the sins of the unbelieving culture even as we love the sinners around us. When it comes to interacting with the world, we are not forbidden from making friends with those who are still enslaved to sin; rather, we are forbidden from acting in ways that displease God. In fact, we should expose the darkness, in love, to help others see the light of Christ.

Only two responses can follow being exposed to the light. Many will hate the light and those whose lives provide the illumination, and they will try to stamp out the light and silence the church (John 3:19–20; Acts 14:8–23; 19:21–41). Others will feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit and see the darkness of their deeds. They will turn from their sin to Christ and thereby begin to glorify the Lord.

The Holy Spirit’s work of transformation includes changing us into grateful people. In contrast to those in this world who are never content with God’s provision, the true Christian is thankful for everything, even the smallest joys. Believers understand that we deserve nothing but the Lord’s wrath, so we are thankful for all our blessings.

Is there anything in your life you are keeping in darkness? How can you expose this into light?

What are you thankful for? You can you turn this thankfulness into praise?

Leader Letter 5/12/20

           

Written By: Ariel B.

Second Thessalonians is a small book but loaded with great take-aways. It talks about being thankful for fellow believers, it mentions “the day of the Lord” (i.e. end times), not being a social loafer is in there, as well as many other applicable lessons. I am going to share three things that stood out to me as I was reading it, but I hope you will go back and read it through for yourself. It’s such a short book. You could probably read it faster than you could walk around your house three times!

            The first passage I would like to share is 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3.

2 “That you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.” 3 “Let no one in any way deceive you….”

Recently, my husband Daniel had a conversation with a Christian who was believing false doctrine in relation to the end times. Thankfully, after Daniel showed this person what the Bible had to say in both the Old and New Testaments, the person changed their stance and returned to what Scripture clearly says on the topic.

My point to you: Read your Bible and know what God has said! When you are a part of conversations on Biblical topics (or any topic), do you believe any idea people throw out there, or do you listen to what’s being said, then return to Scripture and seek the truth? I hope you are not easily swayed by people’s opinions, but seek the truth which is in God’s Word.

This person could have simply read a couple of passages in Revelation and found the clear, Biblical position. Instead they chose to believe speculations and; therefore, proceeded to worry. Guard against false doctrine and information. Know the Bible!

            The next verse is 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

15 “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”

            This verse immediately brought to my mind the many people around the world who do not have a physical Bible and, if they do have one, they crave for more time to read it. In a recent Voice of the Martyrs article, it told the story of a woman who had a Bible but did not get to read it very often. One day, her husband found the Bible and tore it to pieces. Sometime later, her husband softened his persecution of her and allowed her a new Bible. He even started going to church with her! Although she has a new Bible, she still keeps the first, torn one. Why? She knows the value of it. She knows how special God’s Word is. She cannot bear to throw it away.

            What about you? Do you value what God says? Have you taken time today to read His Holy Word? Perhaps your Bible is somewhere in your bedroom (or in a folder…that’s in a folder…that’s…on your phone), and it might as well be in the trash can.

            If you have a Bible, please read it. If you don’t have one, I’ll get you one! No human ideas or opinions can ever replace the import words of God. Many people in remote parts of the globe still rely on the Bible being told through word of mouth. If you can read it for yourself, you have a great blessing and should not take that for granted.

            My last point is from 2 Thessalonians 3:7-13, mainly verses 8-9.

8 “Nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example.”

             My takeaway is this: anyone can fall into social loafing. Be on guard against it. How? By looking for ways to be a servant. Taking out the trash at home or vacuuming the living room carpet can lighten the load on others in the family. Ways to be a servant at church include setting up chairs on Tuesday night for the Bible lesson or by volunteering at the church’s food pantry ministry. There are many ways to serve, and by serving, avoid the social loafing mentality.

When we serve, we need to serve Christ. Yes, if we help at the food pantry, we are serving people in need, but if done for God, we are also serving God (Matthew 25:34-40).

            This last point may seem pretty basic, but in one’s day to day life, this basic concept of serving others and not being a social loafer can easily be overlooked. I challenge you to join me in making an extra effort to look for ways to serve at home and at church. Let’s glorify God through our good works!

            I found these three passages in 2 Thessalonians encouraging and very motivating. I hope you did as well. I hope you will join me in choosing to read God’s Word, know what He says, value what He says, and put those Biblical truths into action.

            What book of the Bible are you currently reading?

                                                OR

What book of the Bible are you going to start reading?

Devotional 5/11/20

Ephesians 5:1-11

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

The standard for true love, wisdom, kindness, and justice, is the character of God Himself. This means that we cannot define these moral qualities without reference to the Lord and that we cannot base our understanding of these qualities on the way the world understands them. As we seek to image and reflect God, let us continually turn to His Word so that we can understand what it means to be what He calls us to be.

When we recognize how greatly the Lord has blessed us and how we do not deserve God’s favor, we are more likely to be content with what our Creator has given us. Contentment kills our natural inclination to think that we do not have enough and that we deserve what God has given to others. Thank the Lord for your blessings this day.

Studying the Word of God is not just gaining knowledge of its contents. It also requires us to put what we are reading into practice. As we practice the truth, we become more aware of how this truth is to be applied in difficult circumstances. Dr. John MacArthur writes, “As believers walk in the light of the truth, the knowledge of the Lord’s will becomes clear”.

What does it mean to walk in love?

What does it mean that you were once darkness but are now light?

How do we discern what is pleasing to the Lord?