Ephesians 6:10-16; Romans 8:1-14 “The Helmet of Salvation”

We often talk about salvation as a commodity, a gift that we will receive upon our death. Biblically, however, God’s salvation, while carrying that theme, is seen as a lived reality that we experience daily when we put our faith in Christ. This echos the truth that we do not fight for victory, but rather we fight from victory.

Far too often, however, we find ourselves in bondage, trapped in cycles of thinking that keep us immobilized rather than walking in victory. Today we are reminded that salvation is ours in Jesus Christ as we witness the sacrament of Baptism and remember the promises that are for Raven Hope Pavlak and for us as well. We remember that God has given us the “Helmet of Salvation” for both protection from attack and freedom to live in Christ.

Questions to take home:
What changes does your mind need to make in order to walk confidently in the knowledge of past, present, and future salvation? What game plan do you need to put into practice in order to fill your mind with Truth and Hope?
Can you identify any patterns that undermine your faith and confidence in God’s ability to deliver? What verses can you use to counter them?
Think of what you consider to be your biggest failure or mistake in life. How does the helmet of salvation protect you from ongoing guilt, regret, or fear about “the next time?”

Audio Credit: Pricilla Shirer, “The Armor of God” DVD Bible Study video series. Copyright 2015, Lifeway Press

Luke 5:1-11; Ephesians 6:10-16 “The Shield of Faith”

Scripture says that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  The Bible also says that “faith, if not accompanied by action, is dead.”  We often talk about faith as a subject, the concept that we are “saved by faith,” but what does that look like?

Biblical faith is more than just a theological concept or a subject to discuss, it is a verb, an action word.  Paul’s language in Ephesians 6 changes as he talks about “taking up” the shield of faith.  For us, it means living out the things that we claim to believe on Sunday in our everyday lives.  It means applying them to the situations we find ourselves in.  When we stand on God’s promises and apply them to our lives, we take up the shield that defends us from the bombardment of doubts and fear that the enemy is sending our way.

 

Questions to take home:

  1. Have you ever experienced a time in your life where you were bombarded with doubt, fear, or feelings of inadequacy?  What impacts did that have on your life?  How did you respond?  What Scriptural truths do you think you could apply to a situation like that?
  2. Why do you think it is so hard for us to believe God’s promises?  In what ways do we try to place conditions on them or water them down?
  3. What is that thing that God is calling you to right now that you need to step out in faith to actively answer that call?  How are you going to take that first step?

Ephesians 6:10-15; John 14:15-28 “Gospel Shoes”

The world around us swirls with chaos. Whether you experience this through your home life, your place of employment, or the constant barrage of updates coming from your smartphone, it seems like peace is something we no longer expect to experience in our day to day living.

Jesus, however, offers peace to His followers, one that transcends even the most uncertain of circumstances. In Him, we have peace with God, peace the assures us of our salvation, the forgiveness of our sins, then the promise that nothing can ever take that from us. This peace gives us a firm footing on which we walk in newness of life even when storms rage around us.

Questions to take home:
Are there places in your life where you are experiencing a lack of peace? How have these things crippled or caused you not to be able to move forward in life?

How would you define peace after hearing from God’s Word today? How does that definition impact the situations in your life in which you aren’t feeling at peace?

What are some Truths in Scripture that give you peace in the midst of difficulty? What would it look like to apply these truths to the situation in question one?

Ephesians 6:10-15; Romans 3:21-26; 6:15-18 “The Breastplate of Righteousness”

Having put on the Belt of Truth, affirming God’s standards and opinions as they are revealed through Scripture, we now seek to align our lives with that Truth. This is the meaning of the breastplate of righteousness. For us, it isn’t enough to simply know the Truth, we are called to put it into action in our lives.

Discussions about righteousness, however, can quickly lead to legalism. For those in Christ, however, righteousness is not an outer change that leads to inner salvation. The Truth of this righteousness is that is comes from Christ’s sacrifice, imputed to us by grace through faith, and begins the transformation with in our hearts that leads to a transformed life.

Questions to take home:
Do you think that “right living” can act as a guard against the enemy’s attacks? Have you seen wrong choices and behavior become an invitation for the enemy’s work in your own life or in the life of someone you love? How?

Righteousness often times gets confused with perfectionism, our own attempts at making ourselves right with God. What do our Scripture passages on Sunday say to this? How can you use this Truth to combat the lie of perfectionism?

In Christ, we are made righteous. This transformation occurs from the inside out and is led by the Holy Spirit’s work, with our cooperation. How does knowing that the Holy Spirit is the One doing much of the work encourage you to cooperate with Him?

Where is one place in your life that you know you are making wrong decisions that you will start cooperating with the Holy Spirit’s work? How will you do this?

Ephesians 6:10-20; James 5:13-16 – “Prayer Warrior”

Though Paul lays out each piece of spiritual armor, the whole topic of spiritual warfare as well as our call to “stand firm” is linked to prayer. Throughout Scripture, in fact, prayer is connected to spiritual strengthening and spiritual support; it is our connection with our general, our commander, and our Conquering King. Prayer is one of the main ways that we learn the voice of the Shepherd.

This morning in worship, we will spend an extended time in prayer both bringing our requests before God and also listening for His voice. While this will happen in a formal way during our normal congregational prayer, we believe the Holy Spirit is active both speaking to us and transforming us through all the elements of worship. Scripture urges us to “be alert,” reminding us to be attentive to how and what God is showing us through His Spirit.

Questions to take home:
What are the six ways that Ephesians 6:18-20 encourages us to pray? Does my prayer life reflect these six ways? Does the prayer life of HCC reflect this?

Scripture urges us to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). What does this look like practically in our 21st century lives? How can we foster a deeper connection with God through prayer?

Prayer can be both intercessory (praying for others) and conversational (back and forth). What’s the difference? How often do we set aside our lists of needs and wants and take time to listen in prayer? If you are interested in learning more about listening prayer, please contact pastor Jon.

Ephesians 6:10-20 “Becoming Battle Ready”

  • The idea of a “spiritual realm” and angels and demons fighting is very foreign to us in our culture. What do you think gets in the way of us thinking about this or believing it exists?
  • Chip Ingram expands Ephesians 6:10 to say this: “allow yourself to be continually strengthened by the power already made available to you in your new position and relationship with Christ.” What power is Paul referring to here? How does this relate to your identity in Christ?
  • How does the fact that we are fighting from victory, not for victory change our perspective on life and the spiritual (and perhaps, physical) battles that we find ourselves fighting?

Philippians 3 “Citizens of…”

Christians in the early church faced a problem: how to live as earthly citizens of the Roman Empire, one the required pagan worship and had few morals, while living out their true, and higher calling as Disciples of Christ. For them, the two were not compatible and a choice had to be made, a choice that often put their earthly life in danger for the sake of the Cross. We can thank God that things are not necessarily that way here as we gather for worship.

Americans are granted the extraordinary blessing of religious freedom, one of many things we celebrate on Independence Day. There can be a danger here, though, as well. Christians have been lulled into a false sense of security, valuing our comfort over any sacrifice we are called to make. In some cases, we may even be guilty of putting our hope in a government to protect us rather than transforming power and hope of the Gospel.

This independence day, let us pray for our nation and our leaders, but remember that our salvation, our hope, and ultimately our freedom comes from Christ alone!

Questions to take home:
1. Paul talks about putting confidence in the flesh in verses 4-6. Are there places in my life where I put more confidence in myself or even my nation/government over the message of the Gospel or the cross of Christ?
2. Do you think Christians in the United States tend to value things like comfort and security over the call to make disciples or the cost of being a disciple? How is being comfortable potentially dangerous? What can we do to fight against that?
3. How is God calling me to be a faithful witness for Him amidst the celebrations of this Independence Day?