A word from the author.
This has been adapted from a preach, my heart is that you would read it as a bible study. That you allow the truth of God's word to surround you and strengthen you for the task for which you are called.
The definition of community is a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
As Women of Reverence what do we all have in common?
Jesus and His redemptive work on the cross.
The cross breaks down barriers, breaks down separations. He unites us for a common good.
A book is made up of individual stories, placed back to back. Jesus is the spine linking us all together. The gospel weaved through the stories of our lives.
Community is God’s heart, it’s His idea.
It started with Him.
We see in heaven Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In a perfect oneness together.
No barriers, no separations, no distinctions, the flow of perfect love between them.
But God’s heart, God’s passion was to bring that community to earth.
When God first formed Adam from the dust, he was the only human on the planet. But that didn’t last long. God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone (Gen 2:18) and created Eve.
We see community and stories of community weaved throughout the Old and New Testament.
Jesus’ purpose on earth was not just for an individual but was also for His bride, His community, His church - God’s beautiful community.
THE STORY OF EPHESIANS
When we read the bible we can forget that this is a real story about real people. Ephesians is a letter written by Paul to the church in the city of Ephesus.
A little bit about Ephesus:
It was a large city - capital of Roman province of Asia.
4th largest city in the roman empire.
Centre of travel and commerce.
Religious centre - Diana/Artemis Mother Goddess magic and astrology was worshipped.
In Paul’s time it was one of the seven wonders of the world and supported a large tourist industry.
Great architecture and culture.
It’s into this city that:
Paul plants church (Acts 18:18).
He spends a few years there then leaves it in the care of Pricilla and Aquilla. Husband and wife team of business people.
Ephesians is a letter Paul writes to the church in Ephesus about 5 years later. (Acts 19:19)
So many get saved that the artisans (idol makers bought in the temple of Diana) led by Demetrius (Acts 19:24) feel that their livelihood is threatened and caused riots and persecute the Christians and church.
The church thrives to such an extent that an entire city is changed.
It’s in this context that Paul reminds the church in Ephesus how the gospel has reshapes us.
Ephesians can be divided into 3 parts.
THE GOSPEL STORY - WE HAVE BEEN CHOSEN.
Who we are in Christ.
Every believer has been chosen.
Unity of believers.
The members of this community have been chosen by God through the work of Christ, adopted as sons and daughters of God, and brought near to the Father through faith in His Son.
SNAPSHOTS OF THE CHURCH FROM EPHESIANS - ALL COMMUNITY
People/nation Eph 2:11-13, 19 TPT
You were foreigners to Israel’s incredible heritage; you were without the covenants and prophetic promises of the Messiah, the promised hope, and without hope, and without God. Yet look at you now! Everything is new! Although you were once distant and far away from God, now you have been brought delightfully close to him through the sacred blood of Jesus - you have actually been united to Christ!
Family/household Eph 2:19 TPT
So, you are not foreigners or guests, but rather you are the children of the city of the holy ones, with all the rights as family members of the household of God.
God takes strangers and makes them family!
Building/temple. Eph 2:20-21 TPT
You are rising like the perfectly fitted stones of the temple; and your lives are being built up together upon the ideal foundation laid by the apostles and prophets, and best of all, you are connected to the Head Cornerstone of the building, the Anointed One, Jesus Christ himself!
Priesthood. Eph 2:21 TPT
Body. Eph 4:4-6 TPT
Be faithful to guard the sweet harmony of the Holy Spirit among you in the bonds of peace, being one body and one spirit, as you were called into the same glorious hope of divine destiny.
Bride. Eph 5:22-32 TPT
Army. Eph 6:10-18 TPT
Community is the picture of God to those around us.
His light in dark places.
2. OUR STORY - WE HAVE BEEN CALLED.
Walk in a manner worth of the calling.
Eph 4:1 “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
Eph 4:14 - Not tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
Stand strong. Stand firm.
Recommended Bible Study:
The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer. Check it out!
God takes off the heavy coat of
and puts on us His robes of righteousness - that with His Spirit we can live lives of light in
OPEN YOUR EYES!
To be confident and victorious, you’ve got to be able to see it. Both the battle and how God has equipped you to fight that battle.
Victory starts with vision.
We’ve got to open our eyes!
“Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
We are in a fight. Fighting takes action.
Highlighted the verbs (doing words).
It’s a decision a choice. A resolve not to let the devil win.
FIGHT FOR UNITY
Our fight is not what we see with our eyes. Not against flesh and blood.
Whatever or whoever your struggle or wrestle is, they are not your real enemy.
Ryan Leak says this about his book UnOffendable - “The strategy of the enemy is to put distance between us and the people we love the most, one offence at at time. Being unoffendable isn’t about never getting offended. It’s about not staying offended.”
See the right enemy!
FIGHT FOR TRUTH
What is truth? Not necessarily your experiences or what people have said about you or to you. Truth is the Word of God, what He says about you!
The devil is a liar, a deceiver. His aim is to distract us, discourage us, divide us, disable us.
How did Satan deceive Eve? "Did God really say..." Gen 3:21
He manipulates truth about God and yourself. He is specific to you and your unique weaknesses whether they come from your upbringing, your inborn personality, or vulnerabilities.
He’ll come against your passion, your focus, your identity, your family, your confidence, against your calling, your purity, your rest and contentment, against your heart and against your relationships.
We ALREADY have victory through Jesus Christ and His resurrection!
He’ll make you think you are all alone. Isolated. Insignificant.
No, when we are weak our brothers hold our arms and keep us strong!
God’s incredible plan and community at work!
FIGHT FOR COURAGE
Fear can stop us playing our part in advancing the Kingdom of God.
We already have victory
Eph 1:3 Blessed with every Spiritual blessing
Eph 1:20 Christ is seated in heavenly places at the right hand of the Father.
Eph 1:21 Far above all rule and authority, power and dominion… not only in this present age but in the age to come.
Eph 2:6 We are already seated in heavenly realms with Christ.
God has already given us all power!
“The devil’s goal is to make your time on earth futile and unproductive, to suffocate you with sin, insecurity, fear and discouragement until you are unable to live freely and fully. He can’t ‘unseat’ you, but he can intimidate you and render you ineffective and paralysed.” Priscilla Shirer
You are chosen, you are called, you are equipped.
You are part of a beautiful community to show the glory of God.
Don’t give up!
The church, a beautiful community, is not insignificant, you are not insignificant.
Let’s be like that church in Ephesus, who changed the city.
Let’s be that beautiful community on display, that works out our differences and honours God in a way that is remarkable to the people around us.
Let’s truly encounter Him and empower the world for eternity.
Colette Meyer is a partner at Women of Reverence, read her bio here: