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Dec 15 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

December 14, 2014 – Ephesians 3:8-13

 Another Kind of Person

To me,
the very least of all saints,
this grace was given,
to preach the unfathomable riches of Christ,
and to bring to light
what is the administration of the mystery
which for ages has been hidden in God
who created all things;
Ephesians 3:8-9

Intro: We saw that Paul has taken a long detour

In verse 13 it will become clear why he went off-topic
- in referring to himself as a prisoner, Paul realized the reminder could disturb them
• so trailing off from verses 2-12 was meant to reassure them — there was no need to worry

Paul repeats themes that we went over last week
- for a third time he refers to:
the grace given to him (for his ministry)
Gentiles (to whom the doors of salvation were opened)
• made known
- and, for a second time, he refers to his stewardship (translated administration in v. 9)

When themes recur like this, we look for what is added or expanded in the repetitions

Vv. 8-9, Catching his own reflection (in v. 7), Paul backtracks

“To me . . .” of all people!
Paul refers to himself as “the very least of all saints”
- as if he suddenly feels really small
• and in light of the message he carries, he is small
• he works this huge contrast between the messenger and the message
- Paul makes three additions to what he’s said already:

  1. “unfathomable riches of Christ” – unfathomable is a metaphor that means “unable to track”
    - the greatness of Jesus’ wealth is so vast that its limits cannot be explored
    - there’s a spiritual wealth for us in Jesus — there is no reason to live at a low level of spiritual development
    . . . in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge . . . . For in Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete . . .  (Col. 2:3 & 9-10)• the spiritual journey is a continual sinking ever deeper into Jesus Christ
  2. “for ages had been hidden in God”
    - Paul said this in verse 5, but in different language — “in other generations was not made known”
    - here we learn, the mystery existed, but it was hidden in God
  3. “who created all things”
    - God working out what was hidden within him
    - he engineered space and time to achieve a goal; namely, to bring humankind to himself

As small as Paul was, the truth he handled was infinite

read more…

Dec 12 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

December 7, 2014 – Ephesians 3:1-7

 An Open Window to Mystery

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles–if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you . . . Ephesians 3:1 & 2

Intro: Right off the bat we can see that there is something wrong with these two verses

Paul begins a sentence, but does not finish
- he’s about to tell them something he was doing
• but before he gets to the what, he trails off into another thought
• we have to wait until verse 14 for Paul to return and explain, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father . . .”

Nevertheless, already Paul has given us something to chew on
- “prisoner” – defined his situation; he was living in a Roman jail cell
• but in spite of that, it was not Rome that determined the meaning of his life
• wherever he was, whatever he was, he belonged to Christ Jesus
- there are two ways to read everything, whether a book, a person, an event, a period of history, and so on
• one way is to read the outside – the bare words, the obvious, the surface appearance
• the other way is read the inside – underlying meanings, motives, and motions
◦ a truth not visible on the surface – this is having “eyes to see” and “ears to hear”
◦ it’s possible that none of the Roman soldiers who guarded Paul could see that he was the Lord’s prisoner
- the section of scripture we are going over today is based on Paul’s inside reading of God’s word and revelation

It was “for the sake of you Gentiles” that Paul was in prison
- it is his reference to them that gets Paul side-tracked
• from the time of his conversion, Paul had a special connection with Gentiles, forged by Jesus (Acts 26:16-18)
• Paul describes his ministry to the Gentiles as a stewardship
◦ in v. 9 the same word is translated administration
◦ a steward was a trusted servant that a wealthy person would put over all of his household affairs

Who then is the faithful and sensible steward whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? (Lk. 12:42)

- what is it that Paul “rationed” to the Ephesians? “Grace”
• in 1 Corinthians 4:1 it was “the mysteries of God” over which he was a “steward” (as here in v. 9)
• we expend a lot of energy defining grace
◦ for Paul it wasn’t a word to define, but a gift to experience
◦ it is through God’s daily gifts of grace that he puts us where we’re supposed to be

Vv. 3-7, The key thought in this passage is “the mystery of Christ”

The key words in verse 3 are revelation, made known and mystery
- they are repeated in verses 4 and 5, but in reverse order

read more…

Dec 5 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 30, 22014 – Ephesians 2:11-22

A Bridge Where Once A Barrier

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who were called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands–remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:11-12

Intro: Everywhere Paul went in Greece and Asia Minor he planted churches

And every church he planted was racially mixed — Jews and Gentiles
- at that time, there was strong racial prejudice on both sides
• this produced an uncomfortable tension in churches
◦ a tension that was ethnic, cultural and religious
• in some churches it was a more serious problem than in others
- Paul had to teach the members of these early churches a new way of seeing the “other”
• fortunately, Christian spirituality already had a resolve
• one that trains believers to discern appearance from reality

In this section of Ephesians, Paul presents his spiritual in three movements:
v. 11, Remember (where and who you were)
v. 13, But now (consider what Christ has done)
v. 19, So then (realize where and who you are)

Vv. 11-12, “Remember” who you were

Paul immediately locates the source of their tension, identifying it with three words: “in the flesh”
- to define people this way is to follow lines of natural or physical distinctions — by DNA, so to speak
• the reference to Gentiles as “Uncircumcision” was to see them from the Jewish point of view
• as when David described Goliath as, “this uncircumcised Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:26)
- but Paul implies this is a superficial difference because it is made by “human hands”
• circumcision doesn’t get to heart of the real differences between people (cf. Ro. 2:28-29)

What did it mean for us, back in the past (“formerly”) that we were not Jewish?
- God had chosen one people to whom he revealed himself
• he gave them rituals for atonement and also the explanation of the reasons, purposes and functions of those rituals
◦ he taught them how to approach him in worship, how to live with each other, and so on
• and God continued to speak to Israel through his prophets
- there are spiritual ramifications to being born outside of all of that and of not belonging to Israel
• I’ve broken Paul’s list down to six items, although I know the last three should be combined:

  1. Separate from Christ – Jesus came for the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Mt. 15:24)
  2. Excluded from the commonwealth of Israel
    • we would say, “We were foreigners and not citizens”
    • imagine visiting a country where you had no rights
    ◦ no legal representation, no insurance, no voice
    ◦ that is where we, as Gentiles, were in regard to Israel’s life in God
  3. Strangers to the covenant of promise
    • God made several covenants (with Noah, Abraham, etc.)
    • but the wonderful promise of God’s covenant with Israel was, “I will be your God and you will be My people”

    read more…

Nov 24 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 23, 2014 – 1 Corinthians 10:14-18

Communion: A Thanksgiving Meal

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a share in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar.” 1 Corinthians 10:14-18

The warning, “Flee from idolatry” does not speak to our situation as it did to the believers in Corinth
- their everyday world was cluttered with images of Greek and Roman deities
- so they looked to the apostle for insight  in dealing with these sorts of issues

Now concerning the things about which you wrote . . . (1 Cor. 7:1)
Now concerning things sacrificed to idols . . . (1 Cor. 8:1)

We are fortunate that Paul responded to these concerns
- in answering their questions we learn what taking Communion meant to him
- the different ways Christian traditions refer to this ritual draw on different dimensions of its meaning

The following labels highlight various aspects of the ritual and will, I think , give us a greater appreciation for it


The cup is a sharing in Jesus’ blood and the bread a sharing in his body
- for sharing, the King James Version has communion, which translates the Greek word koinonia
- its root is koinos, “common,” “to share in common”
(scholars use “Koine Greek” to designate the “common Greek”–language–in use when the New Testament was written)
- this is how we came to refer to the ritual of the cup and bread as Communion
St. Augustine understood the Latin term to mean “union with”

Earlier, Paul said we are joined to Jesus (“one spirit”) as husband and wives are joined (“one flesh” — 1 Cor. 6:16-17)
- our union with him is renewed every time we eat his bread and drink from his cup

Paul uses of one of Israel’s regulations regarding worship to illustrate this union
- the “peace offering” was a celebration of shalom, offered “by way of thanksgiving” (Lev. 7:11-15)
Part of the sacrifice was consumed on the altar (God’s portion)
- another portion was eaten by the priest and another by the worshiper
- the peace offering restored or renewed the bond between God, his servants, and his people

The Lord’s Table

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Nov 18 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 16, 2014 – Ephesians 2:8-10

The Invitation Of Grace

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

Intro: In our Sunday night meeting we recently discussed a quote by David Steindl-Rast

“. . . we never start to be grateful unless we wake up. Wake up to what? To surprise. As long as nothing surprises us, we walk through life in a daze.”

- this week we began watching the Romuald conversations, which he began with the statement, “Worship is awe”
• he listed ways that we usually experience awe:

“For example, in nature, in something that takes us by surprise . . . in something that takes our breath away.”

Because these three verses in Ephesians chapter 2  are familiar to us, they do not surprise us
- we read them and do not feel grateful, we read them and do not experience awe
• besides their familiarity, they are the condensed version of some very big themes
• Paul glides through these themes in a couple sentences that in Romans takes two or three chapters to explain
- our goal today is not to try to make ourselves feel grateful
• but maybe we can let these verses surprise us again

I’m going to begin by jumping into the heart of this

The three words, “in Christ Jesus”
- we have already observed how many times “in Christ” (or “in Him”) appeared in chapter 1
• now, glancing back to the previous two verses, we see the phrase there too (vv. 6 & 7)


Albert Schweitzer argued that “Being-in-Christ” was the most common “expression for union with Christ” and that this
“concept of being-in-Christ dominates Paul’s thought in a way that he not only sees in it the source of everything connected with redemption, but describes all the experience, feeling, thought and will of the baptized as taking place in Christ.”

- Jesus entered our flesh and blood existence to forge a spiritual bond with us
• he shared our life with us so we could share his life with him

Christian spirituality entails an increasing awareness of our union with Jesus
- it is to experience the many ways that being in him affects our everyday lives

V. 8, A huge theme is packed into one sentence

The simplest way to think of grace, is gift
- it is a gift that opens doors of opportunity and fits us to meet the challenges that opportunity brings
• grace is a gift that makes impossibilities realities
• grace in the Old Testament was also “favor” (e.g., Gen. 39:4, 21; Est. 2:9, 15, 17)
- did you ever get hired for a job even though you lacked the qualifications for it?
• that is the kind of thing grace does for us

read more…

Nov 10 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 9, 2014 – Ephesians 2:1-7

How We Got From There to Here

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Ephesians 2:1-2

Intro: Our first challenge will be to unravel this impossibly long sentence (vv. 1-10)

E. K. Simpson, “We have here another of Paul’s broken sentences; so that a verb made alive has to be supplied from v. 5 for the initial pronoun you.” (For example, as in the King James Version)

William Barclay, “In this passage Paul’s thought flows on regardless of the rules of grammar; he begins sentences and never finishes them . . . . That is so because this is far more a lyric of the love of God than a careful theological exposition.”

- the theme transcends the constraints of human language – it doesn’t fit any of our familiar categories
• the freedom Paul needed to give passionate expression to his message is better supplied by poetry than prose

Last week we read about the dynamic energy of Jesus’ resurrection that is at work in us
- I introduced Albert Schweitzer’s phrase, “resurrection mode of existence”
• this may have been news to Paul’s readers — “Hey, all I remember is that I decided I would be  a Christian”
• it could certainly surprise anyone who signed-up to become a Christian at a big evangelism event
- let’s imagine that someone has asked ,“Tell us more about this resurrection mode of existence”
• Paul’s answer would be what follows as he revisits our past to show how we got from there to here
• and what he lays out may be different from the way we remember it

Vv. 1-2, “Once upon a time, we were dead”

Paul turns from his depiction of the splendor of Jesus to us, “And you”
- to be dead, in this sense, is to be unconscious – unresponsive – inactive
• we may have known about God, but we had no vital link to him
◦ we were unconscious of his presence, unresponsive to his calling, and inactive regarding his will for our lives
• this is a different kin of spiritual death than Paul describes in Romans 6:11
◦ in our new life with Jesus we are dead to sin, but prior to that we were dead in sin
- “trespasses and sins” are two parts of our death-state
• the first part is our trespasses–that is our slip ups and lapses in thought, word and deed
• the second part is our sins, which means our failures to reach a potential goal
◦ ultimately it is a failure to become the person God designed and desires me to be
- sometimes I get nervous when reading Mt. 25:14-29

Jesus tells a parable about a man preparing to take a journey, but first entrusting a portion of his income to three of his slaves. Two of them were able to put the money they were given to work and both of them doubled the original amount they were given. But when their master returned and interviewed the third slave, he was only able to return the few dollars he had been given and that he had hidden in the ground so as not to lose it. His punishment was that he was no longer allowed to handle or be in charge of anything that belonged to his master. The point of the story: For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.”

• I have to ask myself, “Have I developed my gifts and potential as far as possible?”
◦ In entered the ministry way too young — I started my first church when I was twenty years old
◦ I had not been a good student in jr. high or high school
◦ but in the early, apocalyptic days of the Jesus Movement, an “establishment education” was not required

read more…

Nov 5 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 2, 2014 – Ephesians 1:19b-23

A Resurrection Mode of Existence

These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which he brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:19b-23

Intro: Two weeks ago we meditated on HIP spirituality

‘H’ stood for hope, ‘I’ for inheritance and ‘P’ for power, which Paul described as surpassing or excessive
- the religious tradition of my youth stressed my responsibility in spiritual transformation
• it was up to me to force myself into a lifestyle that was contrary to my nature
• we were led to believe that the “good Christian” was someone with the will-power to make all the right choices
- Paul, however, does not appeal to our will-power
• rather, our salvation comes when we are “helpless,” “without strength” (Ro. 5:6)
◦ we are not our own saviors
• God gives us a new nature that he then empowers by his Spirit (Ro.8:5-15)

It is to that power that Paul takes us next
- it is a power according to “the working of the strength of His might”

Vv. 19a-21, How does Paul explore God’s “power toward us”?

First, he tries to fill out its dimensions

Skevington Wood, “Paul proceeds to collect all the synonyms he can lay hands on as he describes how the power (dynamis) of God functions according to the operation (energeia) of the strength (kratos) of his might (ischys).” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

- these words carry the sense of capability, (effective) energy, strength to resist or control, and (raw) strength respectively
• we should include the Greek word the NASB translates “brought about” (energesen), also translated “exerted”
• any way that force can be applied to an object or objective

Secondly, the power at work in our spiritual lives is derived from Jesus’ resurrection

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Nov 4 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 26, 2014 – Guest Speaker: Nancy Lopez

Meditation For Silent Prayer

Chuck asked us to pray this week—actually for two weeks–and “ask God to enlighten the eyes of our hearts.” It’s a way of seeing that he was inviting us to practice.

With our usual way of Quiet Sitting in prayer, our intention is to quiet our minds from distracting stimuli and find that attentiveness to God increases. We want to pay attention to the REAL Present, the Presence of God Who loves us and is with us.

Today, I’d like to invite you into a more guided imagery meditation, with the same purpose, to be intentionally present to the Presence of God. Join us if you feel that’s what you want or be present to God any way that you choose.

While the music is playing:

  1. Become comfortable in your physical space. Close your eyes and ask God to let the eyes of your heart see what is present and life-giving for you.
  2. As you look from that perspective—really imagine looking from the eyes of your heart—see what the atmosphere, the environment in your inner world looks and feels like.
  3. Notice whatever emerges, without judging or evaluating, just picture it all from that perspective of God opening the eyes of your heart and keep looking, seeing and sensing from a heart perspective.

When the music stops and we are sitting here in silence, the inner place from which you are seeing now:

  1. Look up and observe the icon depicting the three angels who visited Abraham, sometimes referred to as the Holy Trinity icon. Look at it from the peaceful inner space where you have been present to God.
  2. How do the figures in the painting appear to you? Are they close or at a distance?
  3. Notice that they seem to be having a conversation, doing some kind of planning or project together.
  4. Allow your awareness to move in closer to observe what they’re doing and hear what they may be saying. Looking from the eyes of your heart, enjoy another minute with them looking and listening.


I. Chuck asked if I would consider speaking while he and Barbara were in Hawaii, and asked that I give it prayerful consideration. At first I was excited at the possibilities. Then reality set in….I started thinking of all of you, knowing that many of you are my older brothers and sisters in the faith, spiritually mature, godly….and of course temptations to compare…but then, I started thinking about God’s Vision for me, and for us. I started SEEING differently, from a different perspective.

A. Remember when Chuck recently had cataract surgery, and he said the doctor told him that one eye now had the vision of a 10-yr old. I started that “holy envisioning/seeing” that we just practiced in our meditation time. I began to wonder what it felt like as a 10-yr old. When I saw older brothers and sisters doing things I wanted to do, I didn’t say, “Oh, I can never do that.” Right? We always said, “When I grow up I want to stay up late, drive a car, go on a date, or wear makeup….” We were enjoying being 10, but at the same time, we knew that in our physical bodies, something alive was at work to lead us to what we would become and we kept asking, “Can I do that yet?”

It’s the same in the spiritual realm, I think. We have OBTAINED life and an inheritance; we are growing in REAL, albeit invisible life of The Spirit. New Covenant Theology tells us that we now have the indwelling Holy Spirit…something has changed. We “know” it in our heads, perhaps, but do we KNOW it by lived experience? Do we anticipate our own spiritual growth? When we hear Chuck teach on Paul’s words in Ephesians, does it stir up a desire in us to know that truth for ourselves?

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Oct 21 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 19, 2014 – Ephesians 1:18-19a

HIP Spirituality

 I pray that the eyes of your hearts may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. Ephesians 1:18-19a

Intro: This is the second part of Paul’s prayer for his readers

There are several “eye-opening” stories in the Scriptures (from Baalam in Numbers 22:31 to Paul in Acts 9:17-18)
- there is one in particular that has some resemblance to Paul’s prayer
• the prophet Elisha was staying in a small village (2 Kings 6)
◦ upset that Elisha kept spoiling his plans, the king of Aram sent troops to capture him
• one morning, Elisha’s attendant rose early and seeing a massive army surrounding the village, he panicked
◦ reassuring him, Elisha said, “Don’t worry, there are more on our side than on theirs”
◦ then he prayed “O LORD, open his eyes that he may see” — suddenly the attendant saw a much greater army “of fire”
- that is what Paul does for us
• if our eyes were opened, we would be amazed to see what we have going for us

Paul is praying them into something deeper
- last week he prayed that they would be equipped to know God – epignosei
gnosis is “to know,” acquired, personal knowledge — the prefix epi enlarges knowing
• what we knew from distance we now know up close — it is an intimate knowing
- this week Paul prays that we would perceive what God has for us 
• in essence his prayer is that we would know God and then through him come to know ourselves
• or what is ours in God

Paul uses an unusual phrase – “the eyes of your heart”

Even if we never heard it, we immediately understand what he means
- the “heart” represents a persons inner life
• our devotions and commitments (Mt. 6:21)
• our belief system – what we take for “reality”
• our passions and aspirations
- the heart determines the direction a person’s outer life moves
• words and actions – (Pr. 4:23)

read more…

Oct 14 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 12, 2014 – Ephesians 1:15-17

A Spiritual Person Who Knows God

For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. Ephesians 1:15-17

Intro: If people tell you, “I’m praying for you,” is it important to you to know the content of their prayers?

I once spoke with a monk about a mutual friend who lived for awhile in his monastery
- the brother said, “We’re praying for him, that God will bring him pain”
• he noticed my shocked expression, smiled and explained:
◦ “He’s been running from it, but sometimes going through pain is the only way forward”
- so if someone says, “I’m praying for you,” you might ask, “And what is your prayer?”

Two times in this letter, Paul shares with his readers the content of his prayers for them
- in essence, he prayed that they would experience the fullness of Christian spirituality
• that is, all that life with God can be to a person
- in the prayer we look at today, Paul makes two requests but then shifts from prayer to theology
• it is as if he cannot talk about Jesus without getting carried away
• but it’s precisely what he knows about Jesus that justifies the richness of his requests

Verses 15-16 form an introduction to his prayer

He begins his prayer the same way in chapter 3, but gets carried away again (for twelve verses!)
- “For this reason” – Paul heard about these believers
• he wanted to contribute something to their faith — this was his calling

For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established (Ro. 1:11)

- prayer is one way we can promote God’s work in the lives of other people

Paul had heard about their faith “in the Lord Jesus”
- faith in Jesus is how a person becomes a Christian and the essence of being a Christian
• we go through life with Jesus, trusting him
• he will have more to say about Jesus a few verses down
- Paul had also heard about their “love for all the saints”
• faith is not our only Christian trait and commitment
◦ when it comes to other people, faith is not the most import trait or commitment

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13:3)

• a person can have and believe all the right doctrines yet not be a Christian

read more…

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