The Full Armor of God

Sunday Sermon Notes from February 27, 2022

READ EPHESIANS 6: 10-20

What is the full armor of GOD?

  • An armor is usually worn by someone to protect their body parts from physical injury
  • The individual wearing the armor puts their trust in the armor to protect them when facing a challenge
  • Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter and was likely writing this letter in the presence of well armored guards, therefore, it is easy to see why he used this metaphor to describe how as disciples we have access an even better armor, the FULL ARMOR OF GOD
  • When we suit up in the FULL ARMOR of God, we clothe ourselves with various items to protect our body parts
  • We should trust that God’s ARMOR will protect us when we are in the spiritual battles of life
  • The parts of God’s ARMOR include the following: a helmet, a breastplate, a shield, a sword and feet!

How and When does God expect us to wear this ARMOR?

  • We should wear our FULL ARMOR of God at all times because we are in a spiritual battle everyday and need to be protected from satan’s schemes
  • Our ARMOR not only protects us but it allows us to defeat satan over and over without harming ourselves
  • God expects us to be ready and to stand firm for battle
  • Yes, God does the fighting for us but we need to be available and ready to fight or we will miss out on the awesome victories God has in store for us

Let’s discuss the pieces of God’s ARMOR and how each piece can protect us:

Belt of Truth

Jesus speaks truth. He says if you obey him you will know the truth and it will set you free. Truth holds us up in the midst of difficult times, like a belt-it hold’s everything together. Knowing Jesus’s teachings and obeying them will help to keep us together when satan sends his schemes our way

Breastplate of Righteousness

This portion of armor protects our heart and lungs- organs that are vital to survival. When we are righteous, we are  doing  what God wants us to do. When we obey God’s requirements, it can  protect us from serious harm and our actions will be well guided.

Feet Fitted with Readiness

As disciples, we are tasked with spreading the Gospel of Jesus to others. We should always be ready to go out and spread this great news to others as we live out the Gospel in our lives

Shield of Faith

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. We have to be willing to trust that God will deliver us from harm and protect us from the flaming arrows of satan. Our Faith protects us in times of trouble like a shield, don’t forget to take your shield with you each day!

Helmet of Salvation

A Helmet protects our brain. In our brain, we have the knowledge that we are saved for sure and therefore can  have security in God. Our brain can help us to focus on the confidence our salvation brings us. We can therefore remember the assurance that God handles our problems and situations and we can have peace instead of worry during those times. 

Sword of the Spirit

We use God’s word to bring truth to situations and to guide us in how we should respond during various situations. God’s spirit will always lead us to where God wants us to go when we follow. 

CHECK OUT EPHESIANS CHAPTER 1 for ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND!!!

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Read the following verses:

  • 1 John 3:1-16
  • Isaiah 43:1-7
  • Zephaniah 3:14-17
  • Psalm 33:18-22
  • Romans 8:28-39

Answer the following two questions:

  1. What helps you to connect with God’s love?
  2. What helps you to connect with God’s Love, demonstrated through Jesus?

Here are some answers to these questions that various church members shared:

  • Some people feel connected to God’s love when they are forgiven for something and know they did not deserve forgiveness
  • Some feel connected when they spend time in nature, listen to Godly music or spend time with other Christians
  • Others feel connected the more they study God’s word and obey it
  • Some are connected by experiencing God’s Holy Spirit, experiencing God through his creations and through interactions with others in the world

To Love God is to obey God. Love is an action involving sacrificing for someone else, the way Jesus sacrificed for us. We feel close to God and can connect with his Love more as a by-product of obeying him.

READ EPHESIANS 3:14-21

God really wants us to understand the depth of his love for us. When we are little, we may swim in the kiddie pool and then when we get bigger, we swim in the adult pool; then finally we are able to swim in the ocean. The more we know God the more we will understand how wide and deep his love is for us. 

Tagged

The Beatitudes

Read Matthew 5: 1-11

Why do you think Jesus decided to preach about the Beatitudes?

Why do you think Jesus decided to preach about the Beatitudes to his disciples?

Here are some possible answers:

  • He wanted to let them know the truth about God’s Character
  • He was giving new insights into the meaning of the “Law”
  • He wanted others to see his life matched his word
  • He wanted to make sure his disciples knew this since they would be teaching others
  • He wanted to make sure they knew what was expected of them in order to make it into his kingdom, he gave them a roadmap

Let us review each Beatitude:

What does it mean to be poor in spirit?

  • When we are poor in spirit, we will be humble and teachable
  • We will be aware that we are insufficient and need something, and because of this awareness that we need something, we are able to receive
  • We are able to see our need for God and our need to depend on God for everything
  • We need the Spirit of God to fill us up

What does it mean to mourn?

  • Mourning is the sadness we feel as a result of being separated from something
  • As Christians, it is easy to see when the presence of God is lacking which can cause us to mourn
  • The Israelites at this time period could have been mourning the loss of the prophets, the Levites etc. since they had not heard from God in over 400 years

What does it mean to be meek?

  • It is a willingness to set aside our rights to save or serve others; to make sacrifices to help others when we are not obligated to do so
  • Peter and Paul were great examples of servants who could have used their power to rule over others but they were meek and served others instead

What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness?

  • This is a desire to be filled with God’s word and to obey it
  • It is when we continuously want contact with God and  to be in alignment with God
  • The righteous activity we do are a result of our contact and intimacy with God 

What does it mean to be merciful?

  • Mercy occurs when punishment for a fault is withheld
  • When we give mercy, we are giving forgiveness and able to move past a hurt
  • Without knowing God’s character of mercy, we will have difficulty giving mercy to others
  • Read Hosea to understand the mercy of God

What does it mean to be pure in heart?

  • This is an innocence and trust in God; it is not pretentious
  • A single minded focus, unadulterated, trust and focus only in God

What is a peacemaker?

  • This is when someone helps another person to settle their account and make peace with God
  • We can do this by helping them to imitate Jesus’s character in any situation
  • Stephen in Acts was being a peacemaker when he was teaching others about Jesus and helping them to make peace with God

What does it mean to be persecuted or insulted for righteousness or the name of Jesus?

  • As Christians we are connected because we have Jesus in common, when we take a stand for who Jesus is and do what he did, we will face the repercussions of our actions

Healing on the Sabbath

Sunday Lesson Notes from January 16, 2022

Read Luke 14: 1-6

Where did this story take place?

At the House of a Prominent Pharisee

Who was present and who was absent?

Jesus, the Pharisees, experts in the Law and a man suffering with a medical condition were present. Based on how the Pharisees reacted to Jesus and his eating with “tax collectors and sinners” in other passages, there were most likely no tax collectors, commoners, women or other unclean people present. Non-Jews, or Gentiles, were definitely not present.

What does Jesus say to the Pharisees and what impact did this have in the room?

Jesus asked the Pharisees if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not. He called out the elephant in the room, so the trap backfired on them. The Pharisees must have been shocked that the guy was actually healed.

Jesus was able to point out to the Pharisees that there were exemptions to the rules of the Sabbath and healing people was more important than the rules of the law. 

The Pharisees here are not really concerned about the law, they were more concerned about trapping Jesus and when they were confronted they had nothing to say. 

What does this show you about the nature of God?

God is merciful and humanity is more important to him. God notices our suffering and cares about us and will provide healing. 

One encounter with Jesus changed this man’s life. This man started with an underlying disease that led to swelling, but in an instant he was normal. 

After the healing, Jesus did not brag about his abilities. He was very humble and pointed the Pharisees back to their own law and taught them how to really obey and understand it. He gave them a chance to change and to learn about why they were doing what they were doing. 

Why did the Pharisees remain silent?

Perhaps they were embarrassed, or did not want to be kicked out of the group for agreeing with Jesus?

Jesus continues to teach the Pharisees later on in the chapter, why?

Jesus wanted them to have a deeper understanding of the law they were supposedly upholding. Jesus wanted them to learn how to really honor the Sabbath and to know the reason behind why they did what they were doing.

What Do You Want?

Sunday Sermon Notes from January 9, 2022

Read John 1:35-39

Why did Jesus ask these men what they wanted?

Perhaps Jesus already knew what they wanted, but wanted to see if they, themselves knew what they wanted from him.

Also, since relationships should go both ways, these men needed to say what they wanted out of their own relationship with God. 

It is easy to desire something, but do we really want to put in the work to attain it?

Read John 2:1-11

What did Mary want?

Mary wanted Jesus to turn the water into wine to help out with a problem at the wedding. Mary demonstrated great faith that her son could do something about this situation. She was borrowing from her own experiences of faith when the Holy Spirit came to her and told her she would give birth to Jesus. 

Jesus knew now that Mary had faith in him.

Read John 2: 13-17

What did Jesus want?

Is Worship at churches today like a marketplace or show?

Jesus was indignant and removed all the money changers from the temple since they were disrespecting the house of God. They were also blocking gentiles and others from worshiping God by this set up. This was an example of rampant consumerism. They were making it easier for  the people to make a sacrifice by providing the animals they needed to make their sacrifice.  Therefore, they did not actually have to raise the animal and bring it to the temple, which was really watering down the impact of their sacrifice. 

Many churches today try to make it easier for members to just show up which means it doesn’t cost us anything to go to church. We can just go and receive and not give anything if we so choose. Jesus wants everyone to come and worship him without hindrances. 

Read John 3: 16-21

What does God want?

God wants us to live in the light, to be open and transparent and vulnerable with each other and with him. God wants us to be saved and goes to all ends to save us. God gave us his son Jesus and planned to save us from the laws of the Old Testament that we could not keep. 

What do the people want?

People prefer darkness to light. We like to do what we want to do and not what God wants most of the time. It is quite common that people respond negatively to someone who is trying to do what is right because we do not like to be exposed by our wrongdoing. 

Do you really want what Jesus wants in your life?

Do you go to Jesus to see what he wants in your life?

Do you allow Jesus to shepherd your life? 

What can you do to align your wants with Jesus’s wants?

Remembering God’s Promises, a lesson from Balaam a foreign prophet

Sunday Lesson Notes

Question: When you were a child, do you remember who you wanted to be like and why?

Read Numbers 23: 4-12

Balak was a King that did not like the Israelites. He hired a prophet by the name of Balaam to put curses on Israel for him. However, something happens to Balaam as he tries to curse Israel. Why did Balak want to curse Israel? Was he jealous? Did he want to be like the Israelites, why? 

Balaam could not and did not curse the Israelites. Instead, he only could bless them and recite the promises that God had for them. This made Balak upset. Why? Maybe he was jealous of the Israelites? Maybe he wanted to be like the Israelites but realized he couldn’t? Maybe he was upset because he could not get Balaam to do what he wanted him to do?

What were the blessings that Balaam recited?

  • The Israelites would be numerous
  • They would be set apart and chosen by God
  • They were not to be cursed by God only blessed
  • They could raise a strong army and be rich

Were the Israelites aware of the Great situation they were in? Did God withhold their blessings because they could not see that they were blessed?

It is clear from earlier readings that the Israelites did not realize what a great situation they were in. They were being led in the wilderness by God Himself as a pillar of smoke and still forgot that God was among them. How do we know? They were complaining and grumbling about not having water to drink, meat to eat or a place to settle down and live. They could not perceive the blessings they were receiving from God, but God blessed them anyway. 

The Israelites, with Moses as the leader, had just defeated the Amorites with a small number of fighters. God gave them the victory. Therefore, the Israelites were seen by other surrounding nations as a threat to their existence. This is part of why Balak wanted to curse them. 

(Remember the Amorites, later on in the old testament,  were a people that were to be destroyed completely by Saul, who did not listen and kept their plunder and lost leadership as King as a result)

Read Numbers 23: 13-26

God spoke to Balak through Balaam and told him he was not going to change his mind about blessing Israel. He would always keep his promise to bless that nation. God did this to show Balak that he was a very different GOD, different from all the other gods of the other nations. God’s love for the people did not depend on the actions of the people. God loved and took care of the people despite their actions. 

Balak should have learned that he could not buy his way into getting what he wanted. Sometimes as disciples, we can feel like we need to work our way into God’s blessings and forget God does not change his mind when he makes a promise to us. 

God took the time to personally talk to Balak, why? God is a personal God and takes an interest in our personal lives. Maybe God wanted to let Balak know that he would also have a chance to have a relationship with him too. Or, maybe God wanted to personally correct Balak’s misconception of who HE was. 

Read Numbers 23:27 - Numbers 24:17

Balak here is still mad at Balaam for not being able to curse the Israelites. He is now more blind to the situation than before. However, Balaam is now starting to see that the Israelites were chosen by God and were to be blessed and there was no changing that. He said he could see God’s plans clearly and spoke the truth about God’s promises.

Jesus spent lots of time teaching us how to see God’s promises clearly. Jesus would take the time to teach people how to see the truth and what is real and from God. 

Read Genesis 12: 1-3

In Genesis, God gave promises to Abram. We can see in Numbers where these promises are continuing to be fulfilled.  For example, God promised Abram that his offspring were to be blessed and not cursed, his name would be a great name and whoever cursed him would be cursed.. This is a promise for you in Christ!!

Although Israel was having a hard time perceiving their blessings, they still received them. It took a prophet from outside of Israel to help them to see that they were blessed and chosen by God. 

As disciples we can feel like we need to manipulate God to get what we want. Also, we can lose sight of our blessings in God when we are going through hard times. Jesus is our good shepherd and takes care of us always. He feeds us and clothes us and protects us. It is easy to get frustrated when we want more than what the shepherd provides. 

Read Numbers 24:15-19

This is a prophecy of David or Solomon’s future coming and also a prophecy about the birth and coming of Jesus. It is so encouraging to see we are deep in the Torah and there are prophecies about the coming of Jesus. Remember, don’t let a heathen prophet, ie Balaam, see God’s promises before you!

Encouraging one another

Read Colossians 3: 15-17

Background: Paul was writing to the church in Colossae because there were false doctrines floating around about:

  1. The need to  convert people to Judaism before they could become Christians
  2. Worship of Angels
  3. Following astrological signs and teachings 

Paul was writing this letter to refocus the Christians on Jesus and Jesus as the Head of the Church. He also was reminding them that we are family in Christ and should encourage one another.

Paul was calling the Christians to live in peace, to bear with each other, to forgive each other and to encourage each other with singing hymns and reading scriptures together. 

On this Sunday, several of us either read scriptures, sang songs or shared encouraging thoughts with each other as follows:

Read Psalm 100

Remember God is faithful and we should tell others about it!

Take a moment to sing Silent Night to remember Jesus brings peace to our hearts.

Take a moment to encourage someone in your household by saying how grateful you are for them.

Read Genesis 12:1-3

Reflect on the 5 promises made to Abram here. God kept his promises through time. If we are in Jesus we will receive these promises too!

God promised to make Abram’s name Great, to bless Abram with offspring, to bless those that bless him and to curse those that curse him. All people would be blessed through Abram.

Read Psalm 1:1-6

Remaining in God makes us effective for others.

Some History: Clement from 90 AD wrote that we should think of Jesus like we think of God and to not think it is a small thing to have salvation.

Read Galatians 1:1-12

Remember, Paul became unstoppable after his interaction with Jesus. His goal was to live to please God, not men. 

Read 1 Cor 3:5-9

Paul regarded himself as a servant to others. What a great example!

Read Hebrews 10: 1-23

Remember, God is faithful to the end. He gave the final and ultimate sacrifice in order to have a relationship with us. 

Read Colossians 3:22-25

Remember to work like you are working for God and not for our human leaders. 

Jesus from the eyes of John

Why was the Gospel of John written?

The purpose of the Gospel of John is so that we can know Jesus and have life in his name, John 20:30-31.

Read John 1: 1-9

Jesus is the physical embodiment of God’s Word 

Jesus was with God from the beginning of creation

Jesus was the light who came into the world to reveal who God really is

If I wanted someone to know me personally, how would I go about it?

We would spend time together communicating

I would have them spend time with people that knew me very well

Connecting them to Facebook or letting them follow me on Instagram alone would not really allow someone to know me very well, right?

Is it easier to know Jesus now or when he was physically present?

Read John 1: 10-13

When Jesus came into the world, only some believed and recognized who he really was. 

And better yet, all we needed to do was to believe that we could receive the gift of becoming God’s child. Once believing we would act and follow Jesus.

Would I recognize Jesus if I saw him today and how would I recognize him?

I would know who Jesus was based on the compassion he had for people, the life he lived and the company he kept. 

The church today represents who Jesus is, we can see him through the actions of his true disciples

Read John 1: 14-18

How can we see and know God?

By spending time with Jesus we can see God.

Jesus came to bring truth and grace into the world. God allows us to see our need for Him. Jesus demonstrates he relied on God and by giving us grace and allowing us to see the truth of who we are, we have a chance to be closer to God. 

If you are living in darkness, can you understand who Jesus is?

We need Jesus in order to see our way out of darkness

Jesus brings truth into our lives so that we can face our sins. He brings us grace and gives us a chance to change.

How do I connect with Jesus in my life? Am I going to focus on the light Jesus brings or the darkness of the world?

Distractions during the Holiday can take us away from who Jesus is. We should focus on remembering Jesus being born and being able to have a relationship with him. Jesus’s light has overcome darkness. 

“Remembering the importance of God’s Word”

Lesson notes from Sunday November 7, 2021

Background information: It took the Israelites 40 years to walk through the desert when it could have taken only 1-2 weeks. They were distracted, getting into sin, grumbling and complaining and forgetting that God was among them. “Deuteronomy” means “the second law” which actually is translated as: this is the second time the law was being given to the Jews. The Jews at this time were the children of the disobedient original group that came out of Egypt.

Read Deuteronomy 6: 1-3

  • God expected the Children of Israel to obey his word so that:
    • They would fear the Lord
    • They would enjoy Long Life
    • It would go well with them
    • They would increase greatly
    • Remember, God’s laws were given to us for our own benefit

Read Deuteronomy 6: 4-9

  • Remember to stay in God’s word, surround yourself with it
  • Know it, read it and teach it to your children

Read Deuteronomy 6: 10-12

  • Remember that God is faithful and he keeps his promises through several generations
  • Our blessings come from God, not our own hard work, this is easy to forget

Read Deuteronomy 6: 13-19

  • God  reminds us to avoid idolatry
  • Our whole life should be lived out based on God’s word

Read Deuteronomy 6: 20-25

  • When we obey God’s word we will be known as righteous
  • We need to remind the next generation that our blessings come from God
  • Moses reminded the Children of Israel  that they were all slaves in Egypt and that God set them free
  • We need to pass on this living memory to our children from generation to generation
  • This is similar to the passage in Romans where we shared in Jesus’s death and rose by God’s power to a new life, this is for every generation

Read Deuteronomy 8:1-5

  • God lead the Hebrews for 40 years in the wilderness to humble and test them to make sure they were certified and would do what is right in the future
  • God took care of the Israelites for 40 years and was in their presence yet they still had a hard time believing and trusting in him. Even Moses missed out because he did not trust God.
  • They were being tested because they were not ready to go into the promised land.

Read Deuteronomy 8: 6-20

  • These passages remind us to trust God
  • We only need his word to survive

Read Psalm 91

  • God is our refuge and we should trust in Him, without fearing
  • This Psalm is about God taking care of Jesus when he was at the lowest point in his life

Read Matthew 4:1-4

  • When Jesus was being tested by God and tempted by Satan, he quoted God’s word to make it through the tough challenge
  • Jesus too was being tested, like the Hebrews, to certify him and to make sure he would trust God in the future
  • The Children of Israel were in the desert for 40 years, eating and drinking food provided by God and when they were tested they did not do too well. 
  • Unlike the Israelites, Jesus had not eaten for 40 days and was tested and passed
  • Jesus was prepared to pass the test, he had been spending time with God and knew his word.

How will you do when you are tested by God? Will you know which scriptures to turn to in order to pass the test?

  • In Matthew verses 5-11: Jesus uses scripture from Deuteronomy 6 to refute Satan’s temptation
  • The same thing happened in Matthew vs 8-11
  • Look closely, Satan was using scriptures out of context to tempt Jesus. We have to know our scriptures well enough and in context to refute Satan’s tricks. 

Read James 1: 13-15

God does not tempt us, we are tempted by our own evil desires. Satan uses what is already in our heart to draw us away from God. Be sure to keep your heart right before God and know His words in order to recognize Satan and his tricks when he shows up on the scenes in your life.

For further study and deeper insight: Study John Chapter 5-6 with Deuteronomy in mind!

Remembering God’s Character

Sunday Lesson Notes from October 10, 2021

Read Psalm 33: 1-10

God is SO MAJESTIC! What does that mean to you?

Sometimes it is difficult with our human minds to grasp the concept of God’s Majesty. He is so vast, so powerful, so unfathomable. He speaks words and creates universes. He controls the weather, created physics and math. Sometimes it is hard to even know the vocabulary to use to describe how wonderful and great GOD is. God can control death and life, our destiny or life events, every event in the world!

Take a moment to meditate on how MAJESTIC GOD is. Yet, he wants to have a personal relationship with each individual human being. How often do we think of this as we go about our regular activities of the day? We especially can forget GOD when we are in distress. It is important to remember that there is a bigger picture in our life than just our individual life situation. We need to see the way God sees. 

Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

 God loves us SO much! What do you think or how do you feel about God’s Love for you?

Maybe is it easier for some to connect with God’s love for everyone else but not for you as an individual person?

Can we love God and not people? God expresses his love to us through our relationship with him and with each other. Love is not a feeling, it is an action. An action to sacrifice our own needs for someone else's needs.

God showed us how to love when he sacrificed his SON Jesus on the cross for us!
God loves us and expects us to love each other. This is how we show love to GOD and to each other, by practicing: patience, kindness, humility, honor, serving, not getting angry or envying each other, by forgiving and not holding a record of wrongs, by persevering, rejoicing in truth, protecting, trusting and hoping!

Read Psalm 107:1-15

How can we show THANKFULNESS to GOD?

Being grateful for who God is can take us to a better mindset in life. God is faithful and we can trust that he will always provide for our needs. God has allowed each of us to experience situations that we can sometimes take for granted. 

FInally remember to be thankful for the most important gift GOD has given us: Jesus dying on the cross in our place so that we can have a relationship with GOD!

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