Text: Ephesians 1; Isaiah 28:15-19
If I could have a white board or one of the English camp boards with white paper, that would be great. If we have the board with paper, then I would also like some strong tape for hanging the paper up.
What do they need to know?
They need to know who they are in Christ.
Why do they need to know it?
The truth of who God made them sets them free from slavery to lies producing freedom expressed through joy and worship and obedience (a result of love).
What do they need to do?
They need to believe the truth about who God has made them and says they are instead of the lies told them by the world, people around them, and themselves.
Why do they need to do it?
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32 ESV).
Where is the gospel?
The Christian's identity is purchased by Christ's obedience to the point of death on the cross and His resurrection and ascension in victory over Satan, sin, and death.
How can I help them remember?
Interactive study of Ephesians 1.
Me: I always tried to make changes by being sorry and working really hard to do the right thing. Why? I felt bad for sinning. I knew I wasn't doing what I ought, and I felt guilty, and I felt like I constantly disappointed God. He saved me, but He would rather me get everything right. "I have to forgive him again? Ugh, fine, here's more grace." That's what I thought God said. I didn't know who God very well, and I didn't know who I was. I was a Christian, but I didn't know what that meant. I thought I could lose God's love, and I thought He didn't want to continue giving me His love for this life. I was wrong.
We: We all need to know who we are, who God says we are. That is what really matters. Satan and our flesh would have us believe anything but that, and they are all lies, and they will enslave each and every one of us if we believe them, but God has the last word. So, tonight we are going to find out the truth of who God is and who we are, and Jesus said to those who believe in Him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32 emphasis mine).
God: Tonight the word we will be studying is Ephesians 1. Now, the the book of Ephesians is in the New Testament, and it is a letter the apostle Paul wrote to the church in the city of Ephesus, which is in modern day Turkey, while he was a prisoner in Rome, and Ephesus loved false gods. They had some of the most stunning temples in the entire Roman Empire, and Paul is writing to the Christians, the church, in that city. And this is the word of God, which was written not only for their sake, but for yours and every other Christian around the world, for your instruction, to give you examples of rejecting God and following God, to teach you and reprove you and correct you and train you, so that you could praise God. So, David is going to read Ephesians 1. Listen in. You got to turn off those mental mp3 players and cell phones we all have. This is FOR YOU. Translator reads Ephesians 1. Amen.
Alright, I am going to split you into groups and give each group a set of verses to look at. Each person will need a pen and a piece of paper. We are going to do a lot with this chapter, and I'm really excited for God to show you His love and truth tonight, and give you freedom.
Split youth group into groups of 3-5 students.
Alright, fold your paper in half hamburger style (across the middle horizontally). For three groups: Now, Group 1 has verses 1-8; group 2 has verses 9-16; and group 3 has verses 17-23. So, keep your paper folded and look at the top half of your paper. Write on it across the top, "Who is God? What does He do?" So, each group will look at their group's verses and write down your answers. Then each group will share with everyone else what they found. This is where we have to start on our journey into truth and freedom. Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly... Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 10:10; 14:6). We need to know who God is first.
Time to study and write.
Alright, let's start sharing what God has taught us. During the sharing time, the translator or another volunteer who knows Czech will write down their answers via whiteboard or typed up on a projector.
This is awesome. God is showing Himself to you. Loot at who God is and what He does, and He has revealed Himself to us, to you, so that you could know Him! That is amazing. Do you believe all this? Not just here (point to head) but here (point to heart)? Pause.
Maybe right now you are realizing that some of these are hard for you to believe and accept; maybe some of these you do not believe and accept at all. This is where those lies in our life are fighting, and it's easy to believe them. We are used to them; they are normal and safe and comfortable for us, and they enslave us and steal our joy and hope and love and seek to destroy us. What are some of those lies you believe about who God is? These can from Satan - he is the accuser and father of lies - if you are hearing second person statements in your mind: "You're not worthy. You're not loved. You are disgusting," those are ACCUSATIONS. God does not speak to you that way; those are the words of the accuser; the world - messages from books, movies, songs, advertisements and more; and relationships - friends, parents, teachers, siblings, enemies, and more. For example, maybe your father or mother left and has pretty much abandoned the family, abandoned you, and his or her actions communicate, "I don't care. I won't take care of you. I don't love you," and many other statements, and the lie Satan, the world, and your flesh want you to believe is that God is the same way: He does not care. He won't take care of you. He doesn't love you. He will abandon you. And those statements are ALL LIES. Maybe you believe other lies. Maybe your teacher says that you are stupid and not worth anything, and you think that God says or feels or believes that you're stupid and not worth anything. Again, LIES. Maybe a guy or girl has rejected you and told you you're not acceptable because of your outward appearance, and you think God sees you the same way. LIES. Or maybe a guy or girl has accepted you because of your outward actions and appearance, and you think God accepts you the same way. LIES!
So, what do you think and feel about God that does not line up with what you just wrote down and shared, with who God is? Unfold your papers. On the back side on the half where you wrote down, "Who is God?" I want you to write, "Lies I am tempted to believe about God." Now, take some time individually to think and pray and ask God to show you what lies you are tempted to believe and do believe. Write those down, and if you know the reason why you are tempted to believe that lie and perhaps do believe it, you can write that down to.
Time to think, pray, and write.
Alright, now I am going to have you back in your groups. I would like you each to share one lie you wrote down with your group, and if you see a truth about God that confronts that lie, share that too. If you do not want to, we will not make you share, but I encourage you to take a step of faith with God and your brothers and sisters in Christ and be vulnerable: "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working" (James 5:16); and when you are listening, listen as Christ would. Christ receive the confession of sin and responds with love and forgiveness, and you are standing as His ambassador to be a vessel of His love and forgiveness in word and deed.
Time to share.
Okay, we're going forward. We are now going to look at ourselves. What? Yes, we are going to look at ourselves, but through a different set of eyes. Each group will have verses 1 and 2. Group 1 vv. 3-6; Group 2 vv. 7-11; and Group 3 vv. 12-14. On the bottom half of the truth side of your paper make three columns. At the top of the first column write, "Who does God say I am? = Who am I?" At the top of the second column write, "What does God say I have? = What I have?" And at the top of the third column write, "Why did God do this?" Each group will look at their sections verses and write down their answers. Then each group will share with the rest what they found.
Time to study and write.
Alright, let's start sharing what God has taught us. During the sharing time, the translator or another volunteer who knows Czech will write down their answers. I will also do some short explanations/fleshing outs of what the students share.
Wow, this is great stuff. Look at who God says we are, which is who we really are if we follow His Son. Look at what God says we have, which we really have if we follow His Son. Look at the reasons why God did all this! It's amazing. Do you believe all this? Not just here (point to head) but here (point to heart)?
What are some of those lies you believe about yourself? Again, these can from Satan, the world, and relationships. For example, maybe your father left, and in his actions he has told you, "You're not wanted, or you're not worth it, or you're on your own;" and the Satan and the world and your flesh want you to believe these are true, and all those statements are FALSE; THEY'RE LIES. Maybe a different lie you believe is, "I'm hopeless," because you keep sinning when you know you're not supposed to, and feel like you can't stop. That's a lie too! Other lies could be: I'm unloveable. I'm a lost cause. I need to protect myself.
So, what do you think and feel about yourself that does not line up with what you just wrote down and shared, with what God says about you and for you? Unfold your papers. On the back side on the bottom half I want you to write, "Lies I am tempted to believe about myself." Now, take some time individually to think and pray and ask God to show you what lies you are tempted to believe and do believe. Write those down, and if you know the reason why you are tempted to believe that lie and perhaps do believe it, you can write that down to.
Time to think, pray, and write.
Alright, now I am going to have you back in your groups. I would like you each to share one lie you wrote down with your group, and if you see a truth about God that confronts that lie, share that too. If you do not want to, we will not make you share, but I encourage you to take a step of faith with God and your brothers and sisters in Christ and be vulnerable. Remember, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working" (James 5:16); and when you are listening, listen as Christ would. Christ receive the confession of sin and responds with love and forgiveness, and you are standing as His ambassador to be a vessel of His love and forgiveness in word and deed.
Time to share.
Alright, let's bring it back up here. So, now what? God through Paul has just told us all these awesome, incredible, true things about God and us. What now? Paul knows that without God these words will never come on the page and make their home in our heads and hearts. He knows God has to press these deep onto our souls. So, what does he do? He prays. In verses 16-23 he is praying God would work in His children to know and believe all these things God has revealed about Himself and who we are in Him, and He finishes His prayer by reminding his readers of God's "immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe," the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is applied to making you remember and believe God's truth about Himself and you. David reads verses 16-23. So, what are we going to do? We are going to do exactly what Paul does after sharing these truths. We are going to pray. So, I want you to get back in your groups and pray verses 16-23 over one another, and after that David will close with prayer, and then we will get to respond with worship. Amen? Amen. Let's pray.
You: So, you may be wondering where we go from here, when the night's over and tomorrow comes or next week comes or next month or next year, what's next? Fight to remember and believe these truths - Who God is and who you are and what you have and why He did it.
So, here are some ideas to help you fight to remember and believe:
- Take your truth page home and hang it where you will see it regularly - bedroom, bathroom mirror, by your computer. Notice how we put the truths on the front and lies on the back. This way you have a visual reminder not only of the truth but also that the truth - Jesus - conquers the lies.
- Read God's word, seriously, read it, by yourself and with other brothers and sisters. If you want to look especially at this topic, read Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians; and ask these same questions. And the next question after all these is, "How then am I called to live?" Remember, it is always who God IS and who you ARE before it's what you get to do :)
- Confess and repent to Jesus and one another and love and forgive and pray for each other.
- Journal: Journal out (write down) lies that you are believing, and it will help you see, "Okay, that’s a lie," and then write a Scripture or a truth. Ask yourself and say, “This is a lie. What’s a truth? What’s a counter response to this?” Journal those out, so that you can actually look and see, “Okay, I’m believing this lie again. What’s the truth?” And you may need to this for a while - there's nothing wrong with that - until God renews your mind in certain areas, because we are all prone to believing certain lies. So, I think it’s good to see it on paper and see that we actually are believing in certain lies.
- Go see Les Miserables together and ask, "What's true in this film? What's not true? What character(s) do I identify with most? Why? Where is God in my life?"
- Visit the websites www.kosteljinak.cz and www.biblickaknihova.cz. Watch and listen to sermons. Read good, true articles and books that will point you to Christ and encourage your soul.
I thank God I got to be here and teach and walk through God's word with you all tonight. May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ multiply His grace and peace to you this year and all the years to come until He returns, and may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
 Romans 4:23-24; 15:4; 1 Corinthians 9:10; 10:6, 11; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 102:18
 Cf. Prov. 28:13-14; Gal. 6:1-5; Matt. 18:15-35; 1 John 1:8-10
 Grace Driscoll: http://marshill.com/media/real-marriage/friend-with-benefits#transcript