Aug 27, 2017
Ephesians 6:10-20; Matthew 4:1-11 “The Sword of the Spirit”
Series: Under Armor
The final weapon that Paul describes in the armor of God is the Sword of the Spirit. Unlike the rest of the weapons, he describes this weapon clearly in this passage: the Word of God. This sword has both offensive and defensive properties to it, however the important thing is that knowing how to wield it.
 
Too often, Christians take the Bible and swing it wildly, hacking and slashing with their sword. However, thinking that possessing a Bible or knowing a few verses allows us to swing it. It is not the words on the page that give us power, but the authority from which they come. The words of Scripture are given authority through the Holy Spirit who illumines it in our hearts and minds. For us to wield it well, we much practice and be intimately acquainted with its message.
 
Questions to take home:
For a Roman soldier, skill with the sword was the difference between life and death. More important than even food and water. Do we treat Scripture this way in our lives?
 
Have you ever experienced an event in your life that you knew the enemy was involved in? How did you respond? How did the enemy respond?
 
What steps can you take to sharpen your skills with your sword? Write down your answer, form a plan, and stick to it!
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  • Aug 27, 2017Ephesians 6:10-20; Matthew 4:1-11 “The Sword of the Spirit”
    Aug 27, 2017
    Ephesians 6:10-20; Matthew 4:1-11 “The Sword of the Spirit”
    Series: Under Armor
    The final weapon that Paul describes in the armor of God is the Sword of the Spirit. Unlike the rest of the weapons, he describes this weapon clearly in this passage: the Word of God. This sword has both offensive and defensive properties to it, however the important thing is that knowing how to wield it.
     
    Too often, Christians take the Bible and swing it wildly, hacking and slashing with their sword. However, thinking that possessing a Bible or knowing a few verses allows us to swing it. It is not the words on the page that give us power, but the authority from which they come. The words of Scripture are given authority through the Holy Spirit who illumines it in our hearts and minds. For us to wield it well, we much practice and be intimately acquainted with its message.
     
    Questions to take home:
    For a Roman soldier, skill with the sword was the difference between life and death. More important than even food and water. Do we treat Scripture this way in our lives?
     
    Have you ever experienced an event in your life that you knew the enemy was involved in? How did you respond? How did the enemy respond?
     
    What steps can you take to sharpen your skills with your sword? Write down your answer, form a plan, and stick to it!
  • Aug 20, 2017Ephesians 6:10-16; Romans 8:1-14 “The Helmet of Salvation”
    Aug 20, 2017
    Ephesians 6:10-16; Romans 8:1-14 “The Helmet of Salvation”
    Series: Under Armor
    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
  • Aug 13, 2017Luke 5:1-11; Ephesians 6:10-16 “The Shield of Faith”
    Aug 13, 2017
    Luke 5:1-11; Ephesians 6:10-16 “The Shield of Faith”
    Series: Under Armor
    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:
    Have you ever experienced a time in your life where you have 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?
     
    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?
     
    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?
  • Aug 6, 2017Ephesians 6:10-15; John 14:15-28 “Gospel Shoes”
    Aug 6, 2017
    Ephesians 6:10-15; John 14:15-28 “Gospel Shoes”
    Series: Under Armor
    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?
  • Jul 30, 2017Ephesians 6:10-15; Romans 3:21-26; 6:15-18 “The Breastplate of Righteousness”
    Jul 30, 2017
    Ephesians 6:10-15; Romans 3:21-26; 6:15-18 “The Breastplate of Righteousness”
    Series: Under Armor
    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 it comes from Christ’s sacrifice, imputed to us by grace through faith, and begins the transformation within 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?
  • Jul 23, 2017Ephesians 6:10-14; John 17:6-19 “The Belt of Truth”
    Jul 23, 2017
    Ephesians 6:10-14; John 17:6-19 “The Belt of Truth”
    Series: Under Armor
    Scripture says that “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” Paul also warns us that “his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness.” As we begin to look at the specific elements of the armor of God, we come to our first and, arguably, most important defense against the father of lies: the Belt of Truth.
     
    Despite what culture says, Truth is not relative. God’s Truth, His opinion on everything does not change based on our feelings, thoughts, rationalizations, or any cultural influence. God’s Word is the revelation of His Truth, both living and active as well as unchanging and timeless. Jesus says, “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”
     
    Questions to take home:
    God’s Word is the ultimate Truth; all things are revealed when they are exposed to the light. Do we take time in our lives to run our decisions, thoughts, or the suggestions that come our way against God’s Word? What would that change?
     
    What lies are you experiencing in your own life? How have they colored the way that you view yourself, those around you, and/or God? What Truth is present in Scripture that reminds you of the Truth to combat that lie?
     
    Read Psalm 139:23-24; How do you think your would your relationship with God change if you prayed this Psalm each morning.
  • Jul 16, 2017Ephesians 6:10-20; James 5:13-16 “Prayer Warrior”
    Jul 16, 2017
    Ephesians 6:10-20; James 5:13-16 “Prayer Warrior”
    Series: Under Armor
    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.
  • Jul 9, 2017Ephesians 6:10-20 “Becoming Battle Ready”
    Jul 9, 2017
    Ephesians 6:10-20 “Becoming Battle Ready”
    Series: Under Armor
    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?