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Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(7/11) Introduction - A little over 6 months ago, we began a study of the book of Ephesians. This is one of 4 letters that Paul, the great Apostle of Jesus Christ wrote while sitting in a prison cell in Rome. It was intended to be a circular letter. That is, it was not just for one church but was intended to be given to all the churches in Asia Minor (Turkey). It was to be circulated along with the letter to the Colossians, and the Philippians. Each church would hear the words of the letter and then make their own handwritten copy of the letter addressed to them as well as the letters addressed to the other churches.

Paul was told from the beginning of his life as a Christ Follower that he would suffer a lot for following Jesus and proclaiming Him as the Messiah. Look at Acts 9:10-16. Now, look at Paul’s own account of his ministry to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 11:22-29. Paul met with the leadership of the Ephesian church in Acts 20 and told them that the Holy Spirit had told him that chains and bondage awaited him in every city. The Elders wept and grieved when Paul said that it was likely the last time they would ever see each other this side of heaven.

In the next chapter (Acts 21), Philip the evangelist told Paul that he would be arrested and bound soon. And, indeed, he was arrested when some Jewish leaders assumed that Paul had taken an Ephesian Gentile convert named Trophimus into the temple. Paul as a Roman Citizen appealed his case to Caesar and was taken to Rome and spent several years in various prisons on the way. A speedy trial was not a right in those days.

Paul knew something that most Christians did not know then, and many today don’t know, at least they don’t know by experience, and that is that God is Sovereign and has a plan even when we don’t understand. This is an important truth we will return to in few minutes.

Remember, Christians and churches then did not have Bibles and the only access they had to God’s word would be copies of the O.T. scriptures that were kept in the synagogues. There was a synagogue in Ephesus. Paul’s letters and the first 3 gospels were just being written. They did not have the New Testament or not much of it. They had the Old Testament and the verbal teachings of the Apostles. Then the Holy Spirit began to move men like Paul, Peter, James, Jude, Matthew, Mark and Luke to write a history and theology of Christianity for the churches. John would write most of stuff near the end of the first century.

Lead by the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote this letter called Ephesians along with Colossians and Philippians, and a personal letter to a friend name Philemon, a resident of Colossae. Since there was no post office system, no email, or texting, social media, telephone, telegraph, twitter, Instagram, or quick system, letters were delivered by couriers or friends.

Paul had such a friend. He had a go-to guy named Tychicus. Tychicus may have also been an Ephesian or resident of Asia Minor (Turkey). When Paul needed something done, Tychicus was his go to guy. He would be sent to Crete to relieve Titus as an interim pastor so, Titus could attend a conference (Titus 3:12). 2 Tim. 4:9-12, implies he pinched hit for Timothy so Timothy could visit Paul in Prison before Paul would die. Tychicus may have been the actual writer of these epistles as Paul dictated them. Tychicus stayed by Paul while Paul was in prison. He would be the one to escort Onesimus, a runaway slave, that had become a Christian, back to Philemon and would intercede on his behalf for Paul. Tychicus was the Darien O’Day, Chris Davis or Ryan Flaherty of Paul’s team (go-to guys on the Orioles baseball team). The one guy you call on with confidence to do whatever needed to be done. Paul calls Him a beloved brother, a faithful minister and in Colossians he adds, a fellow servant. He was a man of integrity, a man everyone loved and respected, and a humble man with a heart of a servant.

Tychicus was the man who first spoke the words of this letter as he read them to this church. There are at least 7 things Paul wanted to accomplish with this letter and with Tychicus. Let’ s review them.

1. He wanted to encourage people to Praise God (1:3)

2. He wanted to teach positional truth about the Grace of God (chs. 1-3) – This is basic theology.

3. He wanted to promote peace between Jew and Gentile believers. (2:11ff; 4:1ff) One or the other group may have felt superior to the other. Jews bore the mark of the Covenant, The Scriptures they had were Jewish, The Savior was a Jew. Gentiles were dogs, and pigs, heathen’s. Paul wanted the entire Church to be unified. This is God’s plan. The same peace each individual receives and has from God and with God, He wants us to have with each other. Some sage once said, "To dwell above with saints we love, Oh that will be glory, but to dwell below with saints we know, well that’s a different story." Jesus our Lord prayed for unity in John 17 and Paul pleads for it in Ephesians.

4. He wanted teach practical truth about how to live out the positional truth; that is, how to live as a Christ Follower (chs. 4-6). Imitate your Father in Heaven, and your Lord. You have the Holy Spirit to enable you to obey the Word of God. Be humble, submissive people in your home, at work, and in your world.

5. He wanted them to be prepared for conflict with the enemy (6:10-18). Look at our country. We are a nation divided. We are divided by ideologies and we are divided by race. Where is that coming from? There is a well-organized army of spiritual beings that wants to destroy you and all that is good. You need to stand firm in the truth. You need to always do what is right, not what you feel, or what everyone else would do, but what is right. You should be aware that the same peace you have with God is the peace you should extend. You need to trust and obey God no matter what if you expect to fend off the arrows of the enemy. You should always remember that your salvation is secure. This world is not your home. You are just passing through. And you need to constantly commune with your Father in Heaven. Pray the Lord’s prayer. There are days when I don’t know what to pray, so I pray the Lord’s prayer. Each phrase of that prayer seems to pull me to pray what I need to pray at that time.

6. He wanted to ask for prayer for himself to be a bold witness for Jesus no matter what his circumstances were (#4 cp. 3:1; 13; 4:1; 6:20). Paul did not see his circumstances as a misfortune. He did not ask to be released from jail. Paul knew that God is Sovereign and had a plan. Paul saw himself as the prisoner of Jesus, the bond-servant of Jesus, and an Ambassador of Jesus. He knew that God has a bigger plan than just what happens to Paul. This is where God wants me for now. It may even cost my life, but this is fitting in to the bigger plan. Remember the jigsaw puzzle piece. What Paul wanted is to able to choose his words carefully and with the right tone to speak the truth about the mystery of the Gospel. He wanted to reveal what people could not see or know about the truth of Jesus’s person, life, death, and resurrection for the salvation of lost people.

Every week when our pastor prayer group meets to pray, we will pray for the right words to teach, in the right attitude and tone, so that people will hear truth and will follow Jesus.

Sadly, we don’t always see ourselves as part of a bigger picture. We see our pain and our problems and we want to be rid of it for our own pleasure and peace instead of seeing how we can grow, or how we can use this for God’s glory to reveal the truth of the Gospel to people who don’t know or who need to grow.

7. He wanted to encourage the Church (6:22). The word comfort (NKJV) really means to encourage, to give strength and power to, to come beside to help. Some of your translations have the word encourage there. It is the same word that is used as a name of the Holy Spirit in John’s gospel (Chs. 14-16). Jesus refers to Him as the Comforter, or the Helper. It is the same word that is used in Hebrews 10:24-25, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." The word exhorting is the same word, parakaleo, meaning to encourage or to come beside to help or to strengthen. This letter and the letter’s courier, Paul’s go-to guy-Tychicus, was intended to encourage the churches. Yes, Paul is in jail but he is touching the world with his letters, and with his witness to the Roman soldiers, and all who come to talk to him. He knows that it would be great to be vindicated and to be free to travel and preach, but God has him there for a bigger purpose and he gets it and wants you to get it too.

Its easy to get discouraged. Nationally we are discouraged with the state of our country. Protests that remind some of us of the 1960’s. The craziness of gay marriages and transgender bathrooms and presidential candidates.

Locally we are discouraged with the state of the church both nationally and locally. You are and I am. We all thought that we would be in a different place after 5 years.

• We look at our size and wonder why we seem to be shrinking in numbers rather than growing. And we start trying to find blame.

• We look at this place and wonder why we don’t have a building. Someone recently told me. "I can’t concentrate when it’s so cold." I personally believe that if we had our own building we could do so much more, but everything form sharing other churches to seeking our own place has fallen through.

• It is discouraging when people leave without saying good-bye, or without trying to work out what ever problem seems to exist. It seems easier to walk out then to work through. That is true in marriages, and anywhere there seems to be a problem. I’ll just quit and go somewhere else. I will get another job, another partner, another church. We all feel it and we wonder what to do or what is God doing. I’d like to tell you.

• I and others have prayed to find people with a passion for children, and teens, and to reach the college students and even the auction place each week.

But, you are touching the world for Jesus. Several weeks ago, we put a display up and showed on power-point how and where we have and are touching the world.

• We are Christian Cole and Justin Hanneken’s primary supporters.

• We support the Bob Kimmel in C.C.D.C. and John and Melissa Miller with CIM.

• We support the Blue Ridge Baptist Association, and the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network.

• We supported Jeremy and Kat Willet, Lara Wible,

• Each of the last 3 years we have been able to give $5000 dollars to community charities.

• We as a church have been able to touch lives in Mexico, Paw Paw, W.Va., Haiti, and in two weeks, the Navajo of New Mexico. And because of you, we have been able to touch the lives of many pastors who have wanted to quit because of the pressures of ministry.

Turn over to Hebrews 6:10-12, 10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Debbie and I are personally grateful for you all. You have sustained us through a time of terrible adversity that some of you walked through with us. You sustained us through the death of my parents and the education of our daughter.

One of my many faults is that I don’t publically say "Thank you," enough. For that I sincerely apologize. Public thanks always has the possibility of forgetting someone. But I want to try for a few minutes. Thank You.

• To all of you that have supported and prayed for Debbie and me and ECBC

• To all of you who prayer walked, and passed out fliers in the community

• To all of you who worked as a team when we did the two fall parties in the park

• To all of you who have given which such generosity that is mind-blowing, but has enabled us to touch the world

• To all who have purchased shoe boxes for Samaritan’s purse or stockings for the Salvation Army.

• To Steve and Hope for the use of their building for an office and for meetings

• To Steve and Garret for setting up and tearing down every week and making sure we had sound.

• To Lara and George and at times Jessie for leading us in worship

• To Dan for his quiet faithfulness in running the power point. Dan is one of our go-to guys. Along with Cindy they cook, bake, and make the coffee.

• To Connie for organizing the show boxes ministry, Christmas Cards, and for making the front of the church pleasant looking with flowers each week

• To Donna for making sure that someone is available each week for the nursery

• To Mike and Donna for the use of the farm for picnics and other gatherings

• To Larry for leading a group and for his prayers for us when we go on mission trips

• To Bill for the signs, hats, shirts, pens, billboard, and faithfulness. Bill is a go-to guy.

• For Alan and Faye for the use of their home

• For Alan. I have never worked with treasurer of such faith

• To my wife for teaching the children for the first two or three years faithfully each week and being my number one cheer-leader.

• To Sharon for teaching the women’s class for a while, designing fliers and more. Sharon is a go-to person.

• To Marvin and Bill, for faithfully assisting Alan

• To Sally for organizing several Valentine’s dinners, using their home for meetings, organizing the fall parties and other events.

• To Dick, Bill, Brett, Dan, Steve, Marvin, Bernie, Alan, Larry, for providing leadership for us.

• To John Mayer and others who go into the jail in Carroll County every quarter as our ambassadors and for our Lord Jesus.

• This week I sent a letters to Ann and to Pat to thank them for using their homes and preparing the bulletins and serving the children and more. I greatly regret their absence.

• To Wayne and Belinda for serving the children, small groups, and for planning Heritage days.

• To Susan and Larry for the use of their home and for being a go-to person when something needed to be done.

• To George and Wayne, and others who have taken care of putting our stuff on-line.

• Help me, who have I forgotten?

• You see, the church is not one person. It is a body of people working together for the glory of God. Years ago during the NFL games, United Way would do a commercial that said, "Thanks to you, it works for all of us." Let’s give these people a round of applause.

Hebrews 6:10-12, 10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Look at Paul’s Benediction. "Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen." The word sincerity is translated in other versions as incorruptible, or imperishable. This is the real deal. I love Jesus with all my heart mind, soul and strength. And therefore I love His church as He loves it.

Let’s close by spending some time praying for each other and for our mission team and for yourself.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman