Category Archives: Studies

Day 2

This past Sunday, Pastor Earl began a six week study on the book of Ephesians. He suggested that members of the congregation go ahead and read through Ephesians so that they are prepared for the next six weeks. Today, we’ll start a 14 day journey going through the book of Ephesians, to better prepare ourselves for what Pastor Earl will be sharing in the next six weeks.

This study comes from the YouVersion Bible App…and can be downloaded to your phone.

“Eulogy’ means a ‘good word’. Paul starts his letter to the Ephesian Christians with an eulogy to God – he wants people to know that ‘God is good!’ 

First, he is good because he ‘approves’ (vs.3-4), that is what ‘bless’ means. God approves people like Paul – a murderer turned messenger – to dwell with him. How is this possible? 

Well, secondly, God is good because he chooses to deal with human sin (the attitude and action that says, ‘I am God and God is not’) (vs.5-8). He does this through the life, death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus. 

Third, God is good because this has always been his plan (vs.9-10); to make sense of this world through Jesus. That means that the goodness of God is experienced best, and most fully, by being connected to Jesus (‘in him’ – vs.11-14). How good is God!


How have you experienced ‘God is good’ as Paul outlines here?


Dear God, you are good because you take sinners and approve them to be ‘holy and blameless’ in your presence. Thank you that this has always been your willing plan in Christ Jesus. Thank you that I have experienced that goodness. Amen.

Ephesians 1:3-14

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 us[a] for 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 known[b] to 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. 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 guarantee[c] of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,[d] to the praise of his glory.


This past Sunday, Pastor Earl began a six week study on the book of Ephesians. He suggested that members of the congregation go ahead and read through Ephesians so that they are prepared for the next six weeks. Today, we’ll start a 14 day journey going through the book of Ephesians, to better prepare ourselves for what Pastor Earl will be sharing in the next six weeks.

This study comes from the YouVersion Bible App…and can be downloaded to your phone.

7/13/2021 Devotional

How do you define yourself? How would you describe your identity? Paul is writing a letter to a group of Christians he had helped establish in Ephesus, about seven years earlier. It is 60-62AD. He is under house arrest in Rome. They live in a bustling cosmopolitan port town, with many different pressures on their identity: the temple on the hill to the Greek goddess Artemis, the Roman currency in their possession, their birth family. Paul lays before them two ideas that trump all these: ‘God’s will’, which drives the whole universe (just think of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9!); and being ‘in Christ Jesus’, the most desirable postcode in the world. In laying down these two identity-markers, Paul wants his readers to consider deeply who they are. How do you define yourself?


In thirty words (the same number of words Paul used in the original Greek), try to write down your identity…


Dear God, thank you that you intervene in this world, that your actions affect our identity. Thank you that your actions give us peace and grace. Amen.

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

Ephesians 1:1-2

What is Pentecost?

On Pentecost Sunday, we remember the day the disciples received the Holy Spirit in a special way. The story in Acts 2 describes a powerful wind and tongues of fire as the Holy Spirit was poured out on people from all over the world who came to Jerusalem to celebrate a Jewish feast. At the first Pentecost over 3000 people were baptized, creating the first church. This is why Pentecost is known as the birthday of the Christian church.

The word Pentecost comes from a Greek word meaning fiftieth. The Jewish Festival of Pentecost (called Shavuot, meaning “weeks” in Hebrew) falls on the fiftieth day after the original Passover. On that day, God gave the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Christian festival of Pentecost falls on the 50th day after the resurrection of Jesus.

Pentecost for Christians culminates the celebration and work of the church begun on Easter Day. In early Christianity, Easter Day was the primary day for baptisms. The newly baptized were then trained in basic Christian doctrine, including the meaning of the sacraments they had now experienced, as they prepared to take up their ministries in the life of the church. On Pentecost, Christians celebrate the commissioning of new members into ministry.

Two colors are historically associated with Pentecost. Red is a visual reminder of the “tongues of fire” that empowered the apostles and others to proclaim the good news of Christ’s resurrection in many languages to the crowds of pilgrims from many lands (Acts 2:3). White is also used because Pentecost was the major day for baptisms in the early church. Those being baptized were given new white robes to wear as a sign they had taken off the world, died to sin, and were raised with the risen Christ to new life. This is why Pentecost may be referred to as “Whitsunday” or “White Sunday.”

The Season after Pentecost is the time of the church year to support new disciples and the whole congregation in living out the gifts we have been given in the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Don’t take Jeremiah 29:11 out of context……..

by Kelly Givens

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” – Jeremiah 29:11

My Old Testament professor had this to say about the ever-popular Jeremiah 29:11: “I am going to destroy what this verse means to you, but then I’m going to reframe it so you understand it better within it’s original context, and then you will love it even more when we’re done.” He definitely had our attention!

We often approach Jeremiah 29:11 as a security blanket: God has a plan for me that is good, so clearly this suffering I’m going through will end soon and then my flourishing will begin! But that is not at all what God was promising to the Israelites, and it’s not what he’s promising us, either.

Author and blogger Mary DeMuth addresses our misunderstanding of this verse in her article, Jeremiah 29:11 Doesn’t Mean What You ThinkAs she explains, the heart of the verse is “not that we would escape our lot, but that we would learn to thrive” in the midst of it.

Here’s the context for Jeremiah 29: the Israelites were in exile, a punishment from God as a result of their disobedience. The prophet Jeremiah confronts the false prophet, Hananiah, who had boldly proclaimed that God was going to free Israel from Babylon in two years (spoiler alert: God doesn’t do this).

Jeremiah calls out Hananiah’s lie, and then states the promise we read in 29:11. God does indeed have a good plan for the Israelites, and it is a plan that will give them hope and a prospering future. Sounds good, right?

The thing is, before he shares this promise, just a few verses earlier, he gives them this directive from God: “seek the peace and the prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (29:7)

This is not at all what the Israelites wanted to hear! They wanted to be told that they were going to go home. They wanted to be told that their suffering was going to end. Instead, God’s plan was for them to stay right where they were, and to help prosper the nation that enslaved them!

And then came the biggest blow of all. In verse 10, God says that he would fulfill this “after seventy years are completed in Babylon.” This meant that none in the current generation of Israelites would ever return to their home.

What a crushing thing to be told!

Mary DeMuth writes:

Yes, of course God knows the plans He has for us. And ultimately He will give us a glorious future. But as we walk out our lives on this crazy earth, let’s remember that the best growth comes through persevering through trials, not escaping them entirely. And when we learn perseverance, we find surprising joy.

What hard thing are you currently going through? In the midst of your suffering, cling to Jeremiah 29:11, but cling to it for the right reason: not in the false hope that God will take away your suffering, but in the true, gospel confidence that he will give you hope in the midst of it.

Devotional for 4/14/2021

Make a difference where you are planted.

“Make a dent where they are sent” is a phrase we’ve often used when preaching at our church. We strongly believe that God has strategically placed each one of us to be His light. Jesus said it best when he told His disciples:  

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven. — Matthew 5:14–16 

Jesus was giving His disciples a bull’s-eye to shoot for with their lives. It gets better though. The original language of the words “town built on a hill” specifically referred to a town strategically placed that could not be hidden. Jesus was teaching His disciples then — as well as His disciples now — an important truth. Just as a city in those days was strategically placed in a location where others could see it and find it when they were looking for safety and help, we too are strategically placed by God to bring safety and help to those around us who are seeking the same.

Our lives are not simply random. God wants to use us where He has placed us to advance His Kingdom. Make a dent where we are sent. Be and give hope for those who hurt, comfort for those who mourn, food for those who hunger, shelter for those who shiver in the cold, and more.  

The question most people want to ask is, “Okay, then, where am I sent?” The answer is profound in its simplicity: you are sent where you are. The job you have, the house or apartment or condo where you’re living, the school you’re attending, the sports team your kid is playing on — these are where God has strategically placed you right now. Make a difference where you are planted. Make a dent for Jesus.

I was a coach on all three of our sons’ football teams from their Pee Wee leagues up through high school. It was one way I chose to be a part of their lives. After our high school games on Friday nights, the coaching staff usually headed to a local pub to talk about the game. As a pastor, I felt that a bar wasn’t the best place for me to be seen with my coaching buddies, and yet I knew that God had called me to make a dent where I was being sent — which meant He had sent me to do life with these coaches and their families.

One Friday night after a victory, I called my buddy Rob, a fellow believer on the coaching staff, and said, “We need to be at the bar with the coaches.” He agreed, and off we went to drink our Cokes with the guys. When we walked into the bar, the coaches stood up and gave us a standing ovation. They were that excited we had joined them.

I sat next to our special teams coach, Jack. He asked me why I never cussed while coaching the team. Not cussing may be a little thing that doesn’t make me more righteous than anyone else, but regardless, it gave me the chance to share how Jesus changes all parts of a person’s life. I told him how I had gone from being a man with a foul mouth to the person I was in the present only because of Jesus.

This was the first of many conversations with Jack that led to more questions about faith. A few months later, Jack surrendered his life to Christ. Along with his wife and kids, Jack now serves at our church. God began this change in Jack by leading me to hang with him at the local bar.

God wants to use you and your children right where he has planted you. There is truly no higher calling than to be able to pass on such a vision to your kids in a way that is life-changing for them and for you.