Originally given on January 3rd 2021
Sunday January 3rd 2021
2020 is over! WOo Hoooo!!
And I can think of no better way to start the first Sunday of 2021 off----- than with partaking in divine Communion with other believers.
God Himself left us instructions of how Church should operate----
How to do things---
How to Worship---
When to gather----
Why to gather---
What should be said when we gather----
He didnt just leave us blank check and say: “Go for it, do Church however you want”
He gave us instructions and commands
God cares about how His bride, the Church, operates, and one of the things He told us to do----- was take Communion together.
Because of Covid restrictions, we have been asking everyone to bring their own Bread and Wine -----
But if you forgot, then we do have some prepared in the back for you.
In the verses I am about to read, Saint Paul leaves us with a warning;
He tells us that if we take Communion in an unworthy manner, then we are eating and drinking the judgement of God
So we must examine our hearts before we partake----
Do we have unconfessed sin ----- making itself at home?
Do we have anything evil that we are accommodating in our life?
Do we want to be free from it, but fear the pain it will cause because of how deeply its roots are in our life?
Is there anything in our heart or mind that stands in contrast to what Scripture teaches?
If there is ---- confess it to God, and He will forgive us.
He will breath fresh life into you, and clean you from all of your mistakes.
1st Corinthians 11 says this:
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
Let us partake together of the body of our God----
25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
The body of our God was broken and His blood was spilled to make us clean ---
Let us partake together of the Blood of our God
A few announcements before we let the kids go off to grow their brains and grow their hearts as they look at God’s Word.
First - Our digital Bible study will be starting on Tuesday January 26th at 630pm.
Thats 3 weeks from now
We dont have a topic yet - but we’ll keep you updated about it as that date gets closer
Tuesday January 26th at 630pm and then every tuesday after that
Second - were going to be having our Annual Business Meeting in 2 weeks on Sunday January 17th right after service.
We’ll be talking about the past year, and what the future holds, so if you want to be a part of what the future of Christ Community looks like, stay after service on the 17th….
If you don’t care that much------but want some Pizza, we’ll be having that too
In fact, one of the changes thats going to be coming, is actually going to start today.
After the Sermon today, and then after every Sermon ------ were all going to stand and sing a song called “The Doxology”
It’s a well known song, but if you can’t think of the lyrics off the top of your head, we’ll make sure to put them on the Screen.
It’s very short, easy to remember, and will put our heart and our mind in a good place to digest the Sermon before we go out into the world.
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
And while we are all still standing, ill say the closing prayer.
This is something called liturgy---
Its the way we go about Worshipping God
So after our Sermon, ill be asking everyone to stand with me, and we’ll sing together the words of the Doxology
With that ----- the kids are dismissed
Today, we’ll be looking at Ephesians 1:2
 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
( → → Opening Prayer ← ← )
So….the reason we are looking at this seemingly mundane verse, is that we are working our way, verse by verse through Saint Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus.
Last week we looked at verse one, where Paul introduced Himself by name and title.
We talked about who Paul was and who he used to be---
How he used to persecute Christians
Going door to door to their houses to bring them to jail or worse
And then one day, out of nowhere, Jesus ripped the sky open and blinded him, and from that point on, Paul went on to write about ⅓ of the New Testament.
We asked ourselves how could a man like who Paul used to be, come to know God?
A violent, educated, God hating heathen ----- out of the blue came to accept Jesus Christ as lord and Savior
And we learned that everyone’s salvation starts with God first and then we respond.
Then we looked at Paul’s title of “Apostle” and everything that it carries along with it.
How important it is that we recognize what an Apostle is, because they are the ones chosen by God to write down His words
How Scripture gives us three qualifiers for what an Apostle is: (does anyone remember them?)
Personally chosen by Jesus
Taught by Jesus
Has seen the resurrected Christ
And with the qualifiers given by Scripture, it means that there are no more Apostles.
Yes there are people who carry the message of God to others, so in the loose definition of the word ----- someone can be an (((((air quote))))) apostle
But given that Ephesians 2:20 says that the Apostles are the foundation of the Church ------ anyone who claims that title today, needs to be completely ignored in everything that they say and do.
Now….that brings us to Verse 2.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
At first glance, it seems uncomplicated---
All it is ------ is a formulaic greeting, that means nothing more than “Hello”
However, if we look at the context, of not only this book, but ALL of Paul’s writings---
He actually starts every single one of them with this greeting
1 & 2 Corinthians
1 &2 Thessalonians
1 &2 Timothy
Every single one of Paul’s writings starts with this phrase:
Its not the first sentence, but within the greeting of every book, we see these same words:
 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
An apostle by the will of God ----- uses the exact same phrase every time he wrote the words of the Lord down for all Christians everywhere to read.
Grace and then peace
Grace and then peace
Not peace and then grace
Not this and that and this and that ----- and then peace
Grace and then peace.
Two of his books (1st & 2nd Timothy) adds in the word “Mercy” ----- they say “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
--- and when we do a study of those books, we will talk about why, but for now, we have:
Grace and then peace -----
It may seem like im splitting hairs ----
But the words we have in Scripture, wernt put there accidently.
Paul didnt doodle and barf out words in his letters
He didnt just keep writing after losing his train of thought in hopes that the act of writing would get him back on track
All of Scripture is ----- and you have heard me use this word before ----- theopneustos ---- God breathed.
Including the greetings---
The seemingly over the top repetition ----
The chapters and chapters of nothing but names and genelogies ---
All of it
Grace and then peace.
You see, its like this, because if we want to have peace in our life, we first need the grace of God.
If we want peace in our own heart and our own mind ---- we need the grace of God
If we want peace in our marriages----
In our families
Peace in our jobs
If we want peace ------- we need the grace of God.
Yes we can try really hard to bring about peace in all those areas of our life where we desperately need them ----- and in fact we should!
We are called to care for our spouses in ways that will show them love and respect and be there for them -----
We are called to raise our children and interact with our parents ---- in certain ways that will help us grow and thrive
We are called to look to other believers and Christian counselors or therapists Pastors and Elders and to look for help in those areas of life where we struggle and fight----and need some help ----
We are called to act in ways that bring peace and honor God in every area I listed earlier-----
From our own personal hearts ---- to how we interact with our governments
We have instructions in Scripture to live our life in such a way that peace and love flow from us into all the areas of our life that we are actually involved in ----
But the things about being a human ---- is that we fail.
Husbands ---- there will be times when we fail our wives
Wives ---- there will be times when you fail your husbands
Parents and children ------ there will be times when you each fail eachother
We will let down our bosses-----
Let down our employees----
Our governments will fail us and we will fail them---
All of us, following after and pushing and fighting for peace ----- will experience times when we just miss the mark.
We’ll say things like:
“I have failed my wife ------ I have failed my children”
“We had this issue in our family and I sought after ways to help and support and I tried to do all things that I could do to bring peace in my Marriage and peace in my family -------
But ----- I ----- failed ----
“I have failed my parents---
“I have failed my friends---
“I have failed my Country---
“I have failed myself---
“I have failed God ----
Before I go any further ------- hear this:
Just because you failed to bring peace to your family or your marriage ----- doesnt mean God has left you behind
It doesnt mean God has abandoned you---
It doenst mean that your great great uncle was a drunk or a pervert ---- so now 50 or 100 years later your family is cursed and God has to sit back with handcuffs on waiting for you to get your act together before He can do anything
It doesnt mean that your choices have somehow bound God and He is being prevented from moving in your family because of YOU
But that also doesnt mean you can act and live in ways that you know are wrong and go against Scripture, because God will love and forgive you anyways ----
But when you actually work to bring peace and stability to your life and your family’s life, but fail ------ do not beat yourself up!
Failing at bringing peace to your life doesn't mean you stopped God and now He’s abandoned you, it means you are a human.
You see, thats why Paul said:
“Grace” first, and then he said “peace”
If we want peace in our life, we need the grace of God first.
Its like that, because of what “GRACE” is:
Romans 5:8 says that grace from God is undeserved
Romans 3:24 says that it is a gift
Which means it cant be earned
It cant be solicited from Him as if He looks down from heaven and sees someone being really special and really holy and really Christian ----- and then He rewards those special people with grace
Grace is a totally and completely undeserved, unearned, unwarranted, unsolicited gift from God.
Everytime we act in ways that He says we shouldnt, and we arent immediately struck down ---- it is because of grace.
When we live years and years in rebellion and immorality ----
Following our own hearts instead of God--
Following after our own lusts and desires--
When we frame and arrange our lives around our sin, instead of actively working against it ----- and God doesnt abandon us -------
When we read the words in Scripture, and still mess up ---- but God doesnt turn His back and say “THATS IT! IVE WARNED YOU THIS MANY TIMES!” ---- thats grace
When He doesnt ignore us ---
When He doesnt leave us even though we deserve to be left ---
When we have messed up in ways that He knew all along we were going to mess up in ---- He isnt sitting atop His golden throne looking down at us in righteous anger -----
He is standing, with open arms, saying “Come home child --- nothing you do can make me leave you.”
“Nothing you do, will stop you from being my child”
“You are in my hands, and nothing can take you away from me”
Romans 8:38 says:
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
That is the grace of God.
That nothing we have done, or will do, can ever prevent Him from moving in our life --- if indeed He lives within you.
Before we close --- though ---- we need to understand that this grace shouldnt be used as an excuse to indulge in what we know is wrong.
Romans 6:1-2 says: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
If you have died to sin---- If The Holy Spirit lives within you---
Resist and fight your sin with blood sweat and tears ----- until that day when God calls you home
Some days will be easy ------------ Some days will be hard
But do not accommodate sin into your life
In closing -----
that brings up a big question then doesnt it?
A BIG big question
Why do I still not have peace in my life?
If I am a recipient of the grace of God, and were agreeing that we cant have peace until His grace is present ----- why do I still not have peace?
Am I some weird exception?
Am I such a rotten person, that yeah maybe God loves me ---- but He doesnt really care about me?
Where is the peace in my marriage?
Where is the peace in my family?
Where is the peace in my heart over the way I have lived my life in opposition to the God of the Universe?
We need to understand something today----
Peace isnt the absence of conflict ---- it is the presence of the knowledge of God
Peace isnt the absence of depression or anxiety or hurt or trauma
It is understanding that we will all go through garbage ----
We all will experience loss and trauma and tragedy ----
We all will make mistakes ----
We all will follow bad advice and give bad advice ----
Being a human means living a life of plateaus and ups and downs ----
But through all of that ------ when we keep our eyes on God, and go after Him with everything in our life ----- that is when peace comes.
It is not when the hectic-ness and hurt of this life goes away --- but when peace comes
It starts when we repent of our sins and believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ
THEN we are adopted into His family
THEN peace is available to us
But then we move forward -----
When we study His word --- peace comes
When we faithfully attend Church ---- we see the peace of heaven before we are thrown back into our week
When we give and volunteer ---
When we love our neighbor ---
When we love our enemy ---
When we realize that everything in our life is in God’s hands and not our own ---
When we glorify Him in everything we do ---
When we go after and dive into the plans and purposes that God has for each of us individually ----- is when we will see peace.
But how can that be?
How can I have peace with everything going on in my life?
All the bad -- All the crazy -- All the hectic
How can I see and experience the peace of God ---- with everything that is going on in my life?
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Wade through the mud and mire of this life ---- with your eyes firmly focused on God, and you will see and experience the peace that surpasses understanding.
( → → Doxology ← ← )
“Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”
( → → Closing Prayer ← ← )