Welcome to First United Methodist Church! We are excited to embark on a 30-day spiritual adventure together. Join us as we dive into the book of Ephesians, exploring how Jesus Christ profoundly impacts every aspect of our lives. Prepare to be inspired and challenged as we uncover God’s transformative power. This Sunday, we will delve into the impact of the Gospel on the community of Ephesus, drawing wisdom from the Book of Acts. Let this message ignite your faith, encouraging you to pray big prayers and expect great things from our limitless God. Blessings await you on this incredible journey of faith.

September 3, 2023 -Week 1: Ask and Imagine

This week I have found myself growing with excitement over all that will be happening in our church for the next few weeks. I am so proud of our church for taking a step of faith by participating in 30 days of prayer and fasting. My prayer is this will be a breakthrough season of spiritual growth for all of us.

During our 30 day spiritual adventure, we will begin a new sermon series on the book of Ephesians. This letter from Paul gives us clear teaching on how Jesus Christ impacts our individual lives, our church life, our marriage, our family, parenting, social justice, etc. The underlying message of Ephesians is this: God’s power is unlimited!

I want to encourage you into a deeper walk with Christ and increase your faith in what God can do in you and through you. On Sunday, we will learn about the impact of the Gospel on the community of Ephesus by looking at a story from the Book of Acts that highlights Paul’s transforming ministry in this place. I hope this message and this season disrupts the status quo of our lives and challenges us to pray big prayers and expect big things from the One “who is able to do immeasurably more than than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

Blessings,
Jimmy

Ephesians 3:20

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,

September 10, 2023 – Ask and Imagine – Week 2

When I pause for a moment to think about it, my wife and I spend a significant amount of our time together going over our calendars and discussing our upcoming plans. This usually revolves around three things: kids’ activities, church activities, and my bike riding. We want to make sure we are we we need to be when we need to be there. Another factor that is effected by all these activities is our meal plan. What are we going to eat tonight? Who will be here to eat it? And now that we are fasting- who won’t be eating because they are fasting! 
Plans. We have our plans, and God has his plan. Think about that for a minute. The world seems to always be spinning in a constant state of motion. We make our plans, but even the best plans don’t always work out the way we want them to work out. There is a constant truth that holds everything in place – God’s plan and purpose for creation and our lives. It is a sure foundation. Paul talks about this glorious “plan” in Ephesians 1. See you Sunday as we take a look at God’s plan and purpose for our lives revealed through Jesus Christ. 
Blessings,

 

Ephesians 1:3-23

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition
Spiritual Blessings in Christ

3 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,[a] 4 just as he chose us in Christ[b] before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us[c] for adoption as his children[d] through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance,[e] having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this[f] is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

Paul’s Prayer

15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[g] toward all the saints, and for this reason 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may perceive what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20 God[h] put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,[i] 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

September 17, 2023 – Ask and Imagine – Week 3  –   “Gospel Fluency”   

The gospel story is the foundational meta-narrative of a Christian’s life. The Oxford Dictionary defines a meta-narrative as “an overarching account or interpretation of events and circumstances that provides a pattern or structure for people’s beliefs and gives meaning to their experiences.” The Biblical meta-narrative of creation, fall, and redemption enables us to interpret our own story in light of God’s story.  

Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-10“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Saved by grace through faith. This is my story; this is my song. We are God’s workmanship. My life is an example of God’s redemptive work in the world. Guess what? Yours is too! Want to know something else? God isn’t finished with us yet. I read something during my devotional time this week that struck a nerve. “There is an ever-present gap between who we aspire to become and who we actually are right now.” Y’all, that gap ___ is a constant reminder that there is room for grace to keep working on me. It seems that Paul wanted the Ephesian believers and the modern believers to never forget that who we are and who we are becoming is a journey of grace taken with each step of faith. Lets keep walking the pathway toward becoming more like Christ until He comes in final victory! See you Sunday as we continue our series in Ephesians. 

Jimmy

Ephesians 2:1-10

Ephesians 2:1-10
 New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

From Death to Life
2 You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world,[a] following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.[b] 3 All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, doing the will of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else,4 but God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ[c]—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places[d] in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we may walk in them.

September 17, 2023 – Ask and Imagine –  Week 4: “What if He doesn’t?”

Ephesians 3:  

MESSAGE FROM KATIE

Well hello church! This week, I am headed to Houston for a week of continuing education at New Room Conference. Some of you have attended before, and you know the holy work that God does at these gatherings. If you haven’t ever gone, I would encourage each of you to consider going next year. It isn’t just for pastors to attend; in fact, laity from across the country attend and lead in various areas each and every year. At New Room, God shows up and shows out. So consider going next year! I can promise that you will worship the Lord and encounter the Holy Spirit, all while learning a thing or two about a thing or two!

This Sunday, we’ll continue in our Ask and Imagine series. Now, I won’t give much away but I’m excited to see where God is leading us. As we prepared for this series, one specific question kept coming to mind. But I won’t give that away; you’ll have to show up on Sunday to find out what God has been stirring up in my head and heart over the last several weeks.

See you Sunday!
Katie

Ephesians 3

Paul’s Ministry to the Gentiles
3 This is the reason that I, Paul, am a prisoner for[a] Christ Jesus[b] for the sake of you gentiles, 2 for surely[c] you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you 3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,[d] 4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5 In former generations this mystery[e] was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6 that is, the gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. 8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ 9 and to make everyone see[f] what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in[g] God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.[h] 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have access in boldness and confidence through faith in him.[i] 13 I pray, therefore, that you[j] may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.

Prayer for the Readers
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,[k] 15 from whom every family[l] in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16 I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21 to him be glory in the church and[m] in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

October 1, 2023 – Ask and Imagine –  Week 5: “Unity of Christians?”

 

 

Ephesians 2:11-22; 4:1-6

 

Ephesians 2:11-22
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

One in Christ

11 So then, remember that at one time you gentiles by birth,[a] called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us, 15 abolishing the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16 and might reconcile both to God in one body[b] through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.[c] 17 So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, 18 for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone;[d] 21 in him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually[e] into a dwelling place for God.

Ephesians 4:1-6
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition
Unity in the Body of Christ

4 I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace: 4 there is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.[a]

October 8, 2023 – Ask and Imagine –  Week 6: “Gospel Transforms Daily Life”

 

Ephesians 4:17-5:2

 

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

The Old Life and the New
17 Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer walk as the[a] gentiles walk, in the futility of their minds; 18 they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. 19 They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 That is not the way you learned Christ! 21 For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, 22 to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Rules for the New Life
25 So then, putting away falsehood, let each of you speak the truth with your neighbor, for we are members of one another.26 Be angry but do not sin;[b] do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. 28 Those who steal must give up stealing; rather, let them labor, doing good work with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths but only what is good for building up,[c] as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice.32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.[d] 5 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and walk in love, as Christ loved us[e] and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

October 15, 2023 – Ask and Imagine –  Week 7 “The Armor Of God”

This week in worship we will wrap up our Ephesian series, “Ask and Imagine,” by taking a look at chapter six. There is one clear theme that stands out here: the armor of God. Paul’s imagery of a Roman soldier arrayed in full battle regalia is a classic visual in Sunday School literature and Study Bibles. His message is that we are equipped to take a stand against every form of evil in our world that would threaten to undermine our faith in Christ.

 

Ephesians 6: 10-20

The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power; 11 put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, 12 for our[e] struggle is not against blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present[f] darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.[g] 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on the evil day and, having prevailed against everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand, therefore, and belt your waist with truth and put on the breastplate of righteousness 15 and lace up your sandals in preparation for the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these,[h] take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,[i] 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.