Sunday School: We Are God's Handiwork
We're so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns. Take some time to consider the past week, and any prayer requests you might have. You can share these in the comments. Today is also the last Sunday before Thanksgiving and before Advent starts. What are you thankful for at this time? We would love for you to also share something you are thankful for. When you are ready to start the lesson, use this prayer written by Samuel F. Pugh to get started.
O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.
Today's lesson is on Ephesians 2:1-10.
Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians while he was a prisoner of the Roman Empire. If he wrote during his imprisonment in Rome mentioned in Acts 28:30-31, then he was living in his own rented house and could receive visitors. These visitors could be both his fellow Christian workers and those interested in hearing more about Jesus. He was not in a dark dungeon, as we might imagine a prisoner to be.
Paul's prison letters do not suggest that the misery of his condition dictated his outlook. After all, he could not move about as he pleased. He faced the threat of a judgment against him that could mean his execution. Paul repeatedly emphasized that Christians have an exalted place in God's plan.
Paul's readers were also in a difficult position. Their new faith put them at odds with the world around them. Many of their familiar relationships had been cut off. Those with Jewish backgrounds were sometimes no longer welcome in the synagogue. Those of Gentile background were no longer to participate in the worship rites of paganism. Christians were suspected of wanting to undermine the foundations of their communities.
Paul's message to the Ephesians emphasizes the perspective of God. From God's throne, Christians are not downtrodden but victorious. They are not rebels against the community but God's agents of renewal for the world. Then and now, Christians are the grateful recipients of everything God has done. We live together as God's temple. But this status is not something we have deserved or earned. The work was all God's.
1. Dead in Sin (verses 1-3)
Paul's opening moves from God's display of power in Christ to the results for humanity. Spiritual death is a consequence of our transgressions and sin. Being guilty of rebellion against God makes us deserving of death. Death is the consequence of sin. To die in one's sins is to be eternally separated from the Lord, with no hope of life following death.
Paul talks about "the ruler of the kingdom of the air." Our book says Paul and his readers were acutely aware of evil influences that attacked them. The leader of evil spiritual forces is unnamed here but corresponds to the devil later (Ephesians 6:11-12). It also says that "of the air" refers to the spiritual nature of the influences.
Before they came to love and submit to Christ, Paul's readers may have believed themselves to be free. But that was not always the case. First, they had followed the ways of this world. Second, they were serving the ruler of the kingdom of the air. Third, all people have been driven by personal cravings of our flesh, and its desires and thoughts.
Because of this, everyone deserved the wrath of God. Anyone outside of Christ deserves this fate. Our book notes that Paul says "by nature," indicating that we have an inherent tendency to sin. This means that no one can live a perfect life. We cannot earn salvation.
2. Alive in Christ (verses 4-10)
The only reason we do not face God's wrath is because of his love and mercy. Without that, we would have no hope.
Life before Christ was one of being dead in transgressions. But as Christ has been raised from death to resurrected life, so too are we made alive. We are already transferred from death to life. But it also promises a resurrection to come.
Even more, just as we are resurrected from the death of sin with Christ, we ascend with Christ to the heavenly realms. By God's grace, we share Christ's victory. We will serve as a demonstration of God's marvelous grace forever.
But this salvation is by grace. The salvation God offers is of no effect unless accepted through faith on the part of the one who is dead in sins.
Our book explores a little bit of the original Greek in verse 8. Our translation reads:
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--" Greek nouns and pronouns have genders (male, female, neuter) that must match. Both the Greek words for grace and faith are feminine. There are two pronouns in bold in the verse as written above. The word translated this is neuter, which matches neither grace nor faith. The word it has been added to help reading in English. So our book says that the gift of God being referred to is actually God's system of salvation.
There are no works we can do to be saved. There are no actions we can take to make us worthy. At times, everyone will have failures, yielding to self-centeredness and gratification. We have no room for boasting, only humility.
While works will not save us, we should have purpose. We are instruments of good works. I think this is best summarized in James 2:18b, "Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds."
If we are new to faith, we may feel overmatched by our calling. If we have followed Christ for a long time, we may fall into a habit of thinking we deserve any good things or benefits we have. Paul reminds us to focus on Christ's abundance. Though our best is never good enough, we stand with Christ by his action. Whatever is good in our lives is now the result of freely receiving God's gift.
O God, your mercy is everlasting, and your truth endures through the ages. May we receive your gracious gift afresh. And may we, as your handiwork, live lives that fit the richness of your grace. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Questions for Discussion
Today's benediction is from the New International Version.
Next week's lesson will be on Ephesians 6:10-18.
Sunday School: God Picked You!
We're so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns. Take some time to think about your past week. If you have any prayer requests, please feel free to share them as a comment on this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
Father God, we gather here today under your care and protection. Thank you for your lovingkindness that never fails us. We thank you for those with us, that you would guide our thoughts and actions to bring you glory. Strengthen us and fill us with your peace. May we love and serve each other as Jesus has shown us. Fill us with the Holy Spirit to do your good work on earth. Amen.
This week's lesson is on Ephesians 1:1-14.
Ephesians includes challenging language and ideas. Our scriptures text mentions many concepts that long have been debated.
On the road to Damascus, Jesus claimed Paul as his own messenger. His zeal previously misdirected toward murderous ends was used for the making of disciples for Christ. All this happened according to the will of God.
Paul seems intent to explain his doctrine. Looking to what it means to those who are faithful in Jesus Christ. Holy people affirms that these believers were set apart from others because they belonged to God. This phrase had referred only to Israel until Jesus' time. Paul used this phrasing to emphasize that Gentiles were welcomed into faith in Jesus, on equal standing with their Jewish brothers and sisters who had to also accept Christ. It was not enough or even necessary to claim heritage in Abraham, because faith was and is the primary condition for determining whether one is part of the faithful. The lives of believers are different, even out of place in the world, because our identity is found in Christ, not in human families, clans or nation.
Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Peace was a typical greeting in Hebrew, a prayer for God’s blessing to fall on his people . Grace acknowledges that asking for peace is totally based on God’s good desires, not on anything a person or people have done to earn his favor. Together Grace and Peace turned an otherwise unremarkable greeting into an expectant expression of God’s blessings. Naming God our Father in Parallel with the Lord Jesus Christ highlights the Christian revelation of the Son’s equality with the Father. Unbelieving Jews considered this new Christian belief a sin against the command to love Lord alone. However, naming Jesus Christ as Lord makes clear that Paul and other Christians understood that Jesus was well worthy of love and praise, just as God the Father is.
Because we are already part of God’s family, we experience blessing in his presence now, though we still suffer because of the fallen world around us.
Before the creation of the world focuses on God’s everlasting plan. Though God’s choosing us may seem like a statement of predestination, it is actually a much broader statement of God’s loving intent for all people. We were all meant to be holy and blameless in his sight. The fall threw all people into a tailspin outside of God’s good plan.
But God was unwilling to let sin take its natural course and condemn all people to death. So God set in motion the plan that would call us back to him in love. Jesus was that plan. And through his death he conquered both sin and death, doing what we could not accomplish for ourselves. Our status changes as a result. We are counted as being holy (set apart in a godly way) and without blame (having our sins forgiven). We gain these attributes because of God’s efforts through Christ.
Predestined echoes God’s pre-creation choice for people. Some scholars believe this means that everyone’s eternal status was decided by God before anyone was born. However, we should not fall into fatalism - the belief that free will does not exist, that we can make no choices that influence the outcome. God has chosen us by grace; we must choose him through our faith.
The emphasis here is not on predestination but on adoption. God’s plan to adopt humans as his children in his holiness was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Nothing that happened around Christ’s coming or in his ministry or his death and resurrection was haphazard, a fluke or a mistake. This act of loving mercy is described as coming from his pleasure and will. God’s desire is for us to be reconciled to him, to be included among his people. Inclusion into God’s family is a marvelous demonstration of God’s love. Our adoption results in full acceptance as children of God, with all the rights of an heir.
Redemption and forgiveness are both terms used to speak of the liberation of slaves. Through the blood of Jesus, we have the means to be delivered from wrong choices and be put back on the path of God’s choosing.
In the Bible there are various ways that God makes his will known to humans. One is that of a mystery being revealed, something initially hidden from human understanding but now being shown. We understand God as a self-revealing God, for we cannot unravel the deep things of God by our own deep thinking.
The barrier between Jews and Gentiles is broken down through Christ: these groups can be brought together in Christ according to God’s will and purpose. Bringing everything together in Jesus will not be fully realized until he returns but let us not miss how Christ is already accomplishing this promised future. Whenever by God’s mercy a sinner becomes a saint, whenever through the gospel the estranged are reconciled, whenever through their lives of loving service Christians bring a greater measure of justice to the world, we see God’s plan already being fulfilled.
After we accept the message of truth , the gospel, we are in line for a marvelous inheritance. We do not wait to begin to enjoy the blessing of this inheritance, for we are sealed by God through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Believers experience God’s presence and power now, a taste of what we will experience in full when Christ returns. The future holds not only the final defeat of sin and its effects but also spiritual fulfillment and completion.
The ability to praise and worship God freely and properly is indeed a part of our inheritance and a manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our lives. While all his works offer opportunities to worship, our adoption into God’s own family is an especially joyful reason for praise. May we, who have brought into the Father’s family through his loving Son and his trustworthy Spirit, erupt in praise for our salvation.
Glorious Father, we are in awe of your grace. Remind us always of our standing before you, even as we wait for your Son to return in glory, In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen
This week's benediction is from the Good News Translation.
Next week's lesson picks up where we left off with Ephesians 1:15-23.
The Holy Spirit
Today’s guest speaker is Rev. Dave Mason.
All of the information normally found in our bulletin is below the video. Simply click on "Read More" to load the rest of the bulletin. You can use this to follow the service, as well as to pray our unison prayers. Birthdays, anniversaries, the prayer list and announcements can be found at the bottom of this service.
Gathering Around the Word
Prelude Bob Senay
CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: Gathered here are the people of God who come to sing,
praise and seek guidance for the lives we live.
People: Gathered here are the people of God who come in
joy and sorrow, in peace and despair.
Leader: Gathered here are the people of God who come in
People: We are the people of God! We give gratitude for
this day which will not dawn again.
Leader: Let us lift our voices in praise! AMEN
INVOCATION Rev. Mason
HYMN Be Thou My Vision 450
PRAYER OF CONFESSION (UNISON)
Lord, settle us down as we come to you in this time of prayer. We confess that we are so prone to plan our responses that we don't really listen –– to you or to each other. We acknowledge that we are quick to speak, and slow to seek forgiveness for what we have said. We admit we are hasty in our actions, and reluctant to confess the error of our ways. We confess that we are quick to judge and lack the courage to hear the whole story when we have judged wrongly. Turn us around, O God. Grant us the grace to listen with love, to think with compassion, to pause and consider, to be a person others turn toinstead of away from. May the Holy Spirit be our guide in all we do and say, AMEN
Assurance of Pardon
*Time of silent prayer
In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Thanks be to God!
* Response – Gloria Patri
*Passing the Peace
L: The peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
P: And also, with you.
The Word of God
Prayer for Illumination
Scripture reading Ephesians 1: 15-23
Thanksgiving and Prayer
L: The Word of the Lord
P: Thanks be to God!
Sermon “THE HOLY SPIRIT”
Responding to the Word
HYMN Come Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove 279
Presentation of our tithes and offering
Offertory Bob Senay
Doxology (Hymnal page 606)
Prayer of dedication
Concerns and Celebrations
Prayers of the People Rev. Mason
The Lord’s Prayer
HYMN Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart 688
Postlude Bob Senay
Birthdays Jerrod Shumaker, Marilyn Ward, Don Hanes, Molly Goodman, Jordan Chappel
Anniversaries Tim and Janet Schivley; John and Debbie Marton
Joys and Concerns
Prayers for all our soldiers here and abroad
Sympathy for the family of Ken Jackson
Sympathy for the family of Matthew Boice
Sympathy for the family of Chad Beattie
Sympathy for the family of Rose Churray
Fair collection was $1,250.23 which will go to The Washington County Food Bank, which is now called Food Helpers.
Please pray for Betty and Bob Fisher's granddaughter, Haley. She has been having seizures. Update as of 8/17 Haley is back in hospital with more seizures. The doctors do not know what causes them. Prayers are needed.
Added to our prayer list this week is the family of Officer Chad Beattie who passed away in the line of duty on August 10th. He was from Claysville.
Prayers for Greg Duntz (Lu's boyfriend) has ben diagnosed with acute leukemia. He has received chemo treatments while in Hillman Cancer Center and will be receiving chemo for a long time. He did get to come home Monday. Please keep Greg and Lu in your prayers.
Marlene McFeely fell and broke a bone in her back and is also on oxygen. She was in the hospital but has since returned home. Prayers for you Marlene.
Added to the prayer list is Debbie Durila's sister, Carolyn Knabenshue who has COVID.
Christine Welling is asking for prayers for her Uncle Larry Fox. Doctors found large solid mass on right side of brain. We will keep him in our prayers.
Remember our food collection. And Jesus said, "You give them something to eat." Mark 6:37. Please let Betty Fisher know if you are aware of anyone within the community that may be in need at this time.
Don't forget out second annual church picnic August 28th, located at the Cross Creek Park, West Middletown. Church service will be held there are 11:00 am. Wear something with watermelons on it!!!
Continuing Prayer List
Melissa Pedigo, Aaron Blake, Chuck Dicks, June & Keith McGill, Tim Knabenshue, Frank Huffman, Tom Westfall, Elaine Belcascro, Sandy Stone, Matt Petrola, Laura Davis, Nancy Hepinger, Betsy Martin, Ed Horne, Sarah Wilson, Bill Poland, Amy Ward, The Warlow Family, Pat Haggerty, Carl Weber, Jimmy Svetz, Betty Fisher, Fred Wilkinson, Wendy Liggett, Brandon Bell, Frank Riggle, Sarah Racco, Marilyn and Doug Ward, Nelson Huffman, Ed Caffrey, Mary Tarnic, Brenda Megyesy, Polly Blackhurst, Michael Durila Jr., Lisa Perrone, Evelyn Wood, Rosalee and Wayne Diedier, Cindy Ward, Tom Novak, Jean Westfall, James Ohara, Betty Anderson, Chuck Warlow, Valorie Shumaker, Maryann Durila, Frank Baker, Ricci Amos, Donna & John West, Greg (Lu’s Boyfriend), Hayley Diedier, Nancy Diaz, Marlene McFeely, Carolyn Knabenshue, Larry Fox, and the family of Chad Beattie
The Power at Work Within Us
Today’s guest speaker is Jim Agnew.
All of the information normally found in our bulletin is below the video. Simply click on "Read More" to load the rest of the bulletin. You can use this to follow the service, as well as to pray our unison prayers. All joys and concerns that we know, as well as our continuing prayer list is within the Joys and Concerns. Announcements can be found at the bottom of this service.
Following the Joys and Concerns, there was a Service of Healing and Wholeness, during which people in person were able to be prayed over. The video stops during this time.
BIRTHDAYS Betty Fisher, Colston Phillips, Bill Stough, Scooter Liggett, Victoria Bershok, Ken Jackson
Added to our prayer chain this past week was John Durila.
To the family of Eileen Yerace
To the family of Evan Pfeifer
Continued prayers for Susan Schively, Melissa Pedigo, Aaron Blake, Lisa Phillips, Dixie Avoila, Chuck Dicks, Karen Eisiminger, Ed Horne, June and Keith McGill, Glenn Miles, Roger Riggs, Doug Ward, Deron Wood, Marge McWreath, Tim Knabenshue, Bill Stewart, Adam Moore, Frank Huffman, Nellie and Frank Baker, Michael Durila, Jr., Michael Durila Sr., Justin Hagon, Marlene Huffman, Betty Matthews, Cory Patrick, Tom Westfall, Mary Ann Durila, Donald Potts, Marlene McFeely, Suzy Smith, Elaine Belcascro, and Lisa Marshall
REMEMBER OUR FOOD COLLECTION: And Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.” Mark 6:37. July’s collection is boxed potatoes, pancake mix and syrup, and baked beans. Please remember our food pantry is available to anyone in need. Replenish with your hands and listen for the need with your ears. Contact Becky Phillips with any need in the community or to donate.
Coping with Life
All of the information normally found in our bulletin is below the video. Simply click on "Read More" to load the rest of the bulletin. You can use this to follow the service, as well as to pray our unison prayers. All joys and concerns that we know, as well as our continuing prayer list is within the Joys and Concerns. Announcements can be found at the bottom of this service
Hymn: No, Not One
Call to Worship
Our God will supply every need of ours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God be glory forever and ever. Come, let us bring God our needs this day. To our God be glory forever and ever.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.