Devotional 4/17/20

Ephesians 1:19-23

19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

The same power that rose Jesus Christ from the grave now lives in us. Through His sacrifice on the cross, we are given forgiveness in our sins. God has given us His Holy Spirit as a way to mark us in His kingdom. When God was raised from the dead, he ascended into Heaven and was seated at the right hand of God. Jesus is the risen head of the church. Every believer belongs to the universal church, which is a spiritual organism entered into by receiving Christ. Our body, as the Chapel Youth, is meant to be a part of that universal church.

In God’s love, he adopted us as His children. We were adopted into His church, where we are subjects under Jesus. Jesus has the power that no one past, present, or future can challenge. Isn’t it comforting to know that the God of the universe loves you?

What is the significance of the resurrection? Why do we celebrate it?

What does it mean to belong to the church?

How would you describe Jesus? What does that say about your relationship with Him?

Thanks for checking out the blog this week. We’ll be back Monday with another devotional, this time in Ephesians 2. Have a good weekend, be blessed!

Leader Letter 4/16/20

Written By: Eli Dozier

Do you have a favorite bible verse? What about a favorite book of the bible, or chapter? Today, I want to share with you what my favorite chapter of the bible is. If you don’t already have it, go ahead and grab your bible and turn to Romans 8. Romans is another New Testament book written by Paul. As you read through Romans 8, think about what your biggest takeaways are in the chapter and write them down. I’ll share my 3 biggest take aways from the beginning, middle and end. When your finished reading and have had a chance to write down your takeaways, connect with someone from your small group and share with them. Also, if you have a favorite verse, chapter, or book, think about why its your favorite and share that as well. Now here are my 3 biggest takeaways from Romans 8:

Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Paul starts Romans 8 by laying down the truth. If you are a Christian, you are forgiven. While this was a hard concept to understand back in 57AD, I’m willing to say it’s still a hard concept to understand today. When Jesus died on the cross, He died for every sin. That means past, present, and future. Because of His death, our debts are payed and we are marked by the Savior. In Christ, our sins are forgiven and we are children of God.

Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

This one gets me excited. Have you ever had a bad day? What about a bad week? There is so much sin and pain in this world that sometimes it can feel unbearable. Whatever it is that we wrestle with here on Earth, just know that something much better is waiting for us in Heaven. Paul reassures us that even the lowest moments of this life aren’t worth comparing to what we’ll see in the next one. When we are with Jesus, our focus won’t be on the trials of our lives, but on the glory of His. Life is hard, and we will suffer. But be assured that something better is coming.

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Paul ends this chapter with reassurance that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Christ’s love has been proven to us through the sacrifice of Jesus. God became man and suffered so that we could be glorified. God’s love for us is so strong that nothing can separate Him from us. Have you ever experienced a love like that before?

I hope that you were able to enjoy Romans 8 in the same way I do every time I read it. I’ll say this again, reach out to someone in your small group and tell them what stuck out to you in this chapter. God wants for us to have a relationship with Him, and He wants us to have relationships with each other.

Be sure to come back tomorrow as we wrap up our devotionals in Ephesians 1. While we won’t be posting anything on Saturday or Sunday this week, I would encourage you to still make time for God. Maybe read over your favorite chapter, and if you haven’t already, think of 3 reasons why it’s your favorite.

Thanks for checking in with the blog, hope to hear from you all soon!

Devotional 4/15/20

Ephesians 1:13-19

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guaranteeof our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your lovetoward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.

God has given us His Holy Spirit as a guarantee of salvation. How do we receive this gift? Do we see the Holy Spirit as a pledge from the Father, or is it something we “take once” and forget? Here are some steps to take to help us be more in tune with the Holy Spirit:

Meditate on God’s word. Don’t just read it, but read it again and again. Verse by verse, let the truth of God sink in. Think about the radical and life changing impact that these verses have on our eternity.

Be a doer of the word. When we read scripture, we should be applying it to our daily lives. God calls us to be doers of the word and not hearers only.

Pray. Thank God for all He has done, and ask Him to continue to lead you closer to Him.

In verses 18 & 19, Paul prayed that the believers would know the hope of God’s calling, the riches of God’s inheritance, and the great power of God displayed in Christ’s resurrection and exaltation. That is my prayer for you today, that you would realize the power of God, and that that same powerful God has chosen to love you and save you from sin.

What are some practical steps we can take today to be more in tune with the Holy Spirit?

What does it mean to have the eyes of your heart enlightened?

How can we practically show God’s love while under quarantine?

Leader Letter 4/14/20

Written By: Eli Dozier

Hey Chapel Youth,

I wanted to take this time to explain the blog format a little more. The plan for now is to post a devotional in the book of Ephesians on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The devotionals will serve as a way to “go deeper” from what we talk about on Tuesday nights. A big reason we’re going through the book of Ephesians is because it was written by a man named Paul while imprisoned under house arrest. Paul was under house arrest for 2 years, and he used that time to not only write four books of the bible, but to share Jesus with anyone around him, including those guarding him. I give a little more background on this in yesterdays (Monday 4/13) devotional, so be sure to check it out.

On Tuesday and Thursday, we’ll have what we’re calling “Leader Letters”, which are a chance for our youth leaders to share with you what is going on in their lives. It’s a goal of ours to stay connected in this time and we think this blog is a great way to do so.

I would encourage everyone checking out the blog to have a journal on hand. Each devotional will include scripture as well as reflection questions. While reading the scripture, take down any notes or questions you have. Use it to write down your response to the reflection questions. Then, if you have any questions that are unanswered, reach out and we can discuss.

Through this trial of COVID-19, God is revealing to me more and more that the church is not just a building. It’s not just an event that happens on Sunday mornings. The church is the body of believers, you and mean. We aren’t limited to Sunday mornings and Tuesday nights. We’re called to live in community with one another. I’m looking forward to engaging with you in different ways through technology!

Devotional 4/13/20

For the next 6 weeks, we’ll be walking through the book of Ephesians. Ephesians is one of the 4 books (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon) often referred to as the “Prison Epistles”. They are called this because the author, Paul, wrote these 4 books while imprisoned in Rome under house arrest. I know we’ve been quarantined for a few weeks now, but can you imagine being stuck in your house for 2 years? While this was the situation Paul found himself in, he didn’t use it as an excuse to pause his ministry. In fact, Acts 28:30-31 tells us “30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”

My hope for us is that we can follow Paul’s lead when it comes to this quarantine. Don’t let this time at home keep you from growing in your walk with God. Instead, lets use it to pursue Christ, and to proclaim Him with all boldness and without hindrance.

A new blog will be posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. These blogs will include scripture from Ephesians and questions to reflect on. As we go through the book of Ephesians together, share with one another what God is teaching you through His word. If you have any questions about the scripture, write them down and reach out to me. I look forward to going through this with you, and look forward to a time where we are able to gather together again.

-Eli

As you read through the scripture, be sure to take notes about anything that sticks out to you. Feel free to keep a journal handy for these devotionals to help you reflect on God’s word!

Ephesian 1:1-12

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithfulin Christ Jesus:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined usfor adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making knownto us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

Before we were ever born, God knew us. Not only did He know us, but He loved us. It’s because of this love that He sent His son to die for us. Because of what Jesus did, we are able to come before the Father “holy and blameless before him”. Through Jesus, God “predestined usfor adoption to himself”. If you’re a Christian you have “obtained an inheritance” from the God of the universe. His love is our hope in this broken world. We know that in the end, God wins.

What does Jesus’ death and resurrection mean for us today?

What does it mean to be “holy and blameless” before the Lord?

How can we practically show God’s love while under quarantine?

Devotional 4/10/20

“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.” – Galatians 5:22-23

You may have some marks on a doorframe at your house. Some parents make those marks as their children get older to chart their growth. If your parents have done this, take the chance to look back at those marks. Can you believe you were ever that short?

As you go about your life as a disciple, do you think there are ways you can check your growth as a follower of Jesus? Paul spoke to this in Galatians 5:22-23. Stop for a second and read it. Now, Paul told the Christians in Galatia to keep an eye on their attitudes and actions each day. He called these the fruits of the Spirit. Just as a tree produces specific fruit, Christ-followers should be known for the things God produces in and through our lives, things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Want to track your growth as a follower? Keep an eye on how your life reflects these things. The more of your life you give to God, the more He’ll work through you to bring these qualities to life.

Think about this:

  • Which of the fruits of the Spirit seem to flow more easily out of your life?
  • Which ones seem to be more difficult for you?
  • Have you noticed when your life is more in line with the teachings of Jesus that the fruits of the Spirit seem to come more naturally?
  • This week, choose one of the nine fruits of the Spirit and ask God to work through your life to grow in that area. Maybe it will come from spending more time with Him, through a mission or ministry, or perhaps by sending circumstances your way that help perfect that particular fruit. Are you willing to pray that prayer?

Devotional 4/8/20

Getting to a place where you’re in love with following God doesn’t happen overnight. And it doesn’t happen without some intentionality on your part. Our sin-nature, that part of us that wants to live for us and not God, is just too strong.

So, you have to start with your heart. You have to allow God to work on your heart and draw you closer to Him.

Try this out:

For the next day or two (or five or ten!) come up with a creative way to remind you to pray, asking God to help work on your heart to make you WANT to follow Him with all you are.

You might choose to wear a rubber band around your wrist, or a string around your finger. Or maybe draw a dot on your hand. Or paint a fingernail a different color than the others. You could carry a glass bead or some other little trinket in your pocket. Or set reminders on your phone to vibrate on the hour . . .

Whatever you do, do something to remind you to stop and confess to God that, left on your own, you’ll never follow Him like you want to. Tell Him you need His help. And open your heart to being moved by Him.

God is faithful! He wants to be closer to you, and He wants you to be closer to Him. Allow Him the chance to work in you. You won’t be sorry!

Devotional 4/6/20

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:11-13

The word “content” means to be satisfied or otherwise pleased with what you have. It means not having a desire for something more or something different. Of course, you probably knew that already. But let’s think about this concept for a bit.

Do you know of anyone whom you would describe as content? Someone who is happy with who they are? Or maybe someone who is entirely satisfied with where they are and what they have? It’s not impossible to know someone like that, but it’s rare in our culture. The world we live in seems to place a high value on getting or being “more.” Contentment doesn’t often show up in our vocabulary. But if you’ll take a moment and read Philippians 4:11-13, you’ll see a picture of contentment. The Apostle Paul lived 2,000 years ago. And from what we have of his writings, we can quickly tell that he discovered the key to being content.

What was Paul’s secret? He discovered that what he needed to satisfy his desires was wrapped up in God. More stuff will never fill our souls. Even fame and notoriety fails to please most celebrities. No, contentment is found in a loving, committed relationship with a Holy God who loves us and lives in us.

Paul would tell you today that as a Christ-follower, the highest level of contentment comes the more thoroughly you follow Christ.

Think about this:

  • As you go through your week, think about the calling to be a disciple and the contentment Paul spoke about in today’s devotion passage. Can you see the connection?
  • Are you content with who you are? How is your contentment, or lack of it, tied to how close you are with Christ?
  • What things, relationships, or attitudes come in between you and God? How might your heart be more satisfied if those things weren’t in between you and God?