December 9, 2018
It’s week 14 of Ephesians and the second week of Advent. Advent (which includes the four Sundays leading up to Christmas) is a season of waiting and longing, designed to help us cultivate awareness of God’s actions—past, present, and future. While we hear the Messianic prophecies of old and reflect on how we have seen them fulfilled in Christ’s first coming, we also hear the prophecies of His second coming and cry out from our hearts for His return! Read more about Advent here and visit The Christian Year for our creative accompaniment to the season.
In regards to Ephesians, this week is our final week in the book. As our society continues a trend toward self-centered and superficial worldviews, many have adopted a watered-down view of God that that leads them away from the glory they were made to enjoy. Paul’s letter shatters this diluted view of God by putting the weight of His glory in our faces in a way that is overwhelming and life-transforming. Here’s how you can prepare for this Sunday:
1. Read through our text, Ephesians 6:10–14.
Before Paul closes his letter, he calls the Ephesians’ attention to the reality that there is real opposition to their faith in Christ. The opposition is not ultimately coming from other people, but from the devil and other evil spiritual beings that are constantly scheming to oppose and destroy the people of God. Paul says that in order to stand against this spiritual attack, the Church needs strength and resources that only God can provide. He uses the image of a soldier suiting up with armor in preparation for battle, understanding that the spiritual lives of his friends and the Church as a whole are on the line—It is vital that they be aware, prepared, and vigilant. They must know God’s truth and righteousness, be ready with His Gospel, have faith in His promises, be secure in His salvation, be sharp with His word, and be constantly communing with and relying on His Spirit. This call for prayerful vigilance is not merely for the individual Christian, the call is to be prayerfully engaged in the battle with all God’s children so that we might wage the war and overcome together.
2. Read, pray, and sing through the service:
CALL TO WORSHIP: From Psalm 130; The Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate;
was crucified, dead and buried;
He descended into hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
I believe in the holy Catholic church;
the communion of saints;
The forgiveness of sins;
The resurrection of the body;
And the life everlasting.
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (Robert J. Hughes, Charles Wesley, arr. Red Mountain Church)
Joy To The World (Isaac Watts)
CONFESSION OF SIN: From Every Season Prayers by Scotty Smith:
Almighty and most merciful Father,
we begin the season of Advent with the brokenness of the world in our eyes,
the cries of our neighbors in our ears,
and the reality of our sin in our hearts.
Thus, we look to Jesus—the author and perfecter of our faith;
sacrifice and priest of our salvation;
Lord and restorer of all things.
By Your grace, and for Your glory, forgive our sins and renew our hearts.
Help us to move through a worldly holiday of excess
unto a worshipful Advent and Christmas.
Help us to love as You love us, forgive as we’ve been forgiven,
and freely give as we have freely received.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
Cornerstone (Bradbury, Liljero, Morgan, Mote, Myrin)
Break Every Chain (Will Reagan)
ASSURANCE OF PARDON: Romans 8:31–39
GREETING, SERMON, & COMMUNION
RESPONSE: Song & Prayer
Guard My Heart (Aaron Strumpel)
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (Martin Luther)