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Pastor's Blog
Coronavirus Pandemic Update: 5/21/2021

Coronavirus Pandemic Update: 5/21/2021


Good Evening Ephesus Family, 


Due to the NC Mask and Social Distancing Mandates being lifted last week, we are going to modify our Pandemic Practices as follows:


1. We strongly encourage our members to consider continuing to wear their masks for everyone’s safety, but we aren’t going to require mask wearing once you are seated inside our sanctuary. We will continue to require you to wear a mask into our facilities and whenever you aren’t seated in your seat (vaccinated or not) out of respect for others, i.e., upon entering or leaving the building or going to the restroom. Temperature checks will be discontinued, but we do ask that you still use hand sanitizer upon entry and departure.


2. As far as seating is concerned, we will maintain the social distancing protocols that we have in place. In addition, we are going to split the sanctuary down the middle with one side being designated for mask wearers and one side being for those that wish to remove their mask. Upon entry to our sanctuary, the pews to your right (on the same side as the sight and sound booth) will be reserved for those who wish to remove their masks once seated. The left side and the overflow room will continue to be reserved for those that wish to continue wearing their masks. 


3. My visitation practice during the pandemic has been to visit only when absolutely necessary and requested. Beginning June 1st, I will resume my regular pastoral visitation practices with porch or indoor visits to our church family. If you are uncomfortable with a visit at this time, please contact me personally either by phone, text, or email and notify me of your desire to NOT receive pastoral visits at this time. 


4. We will be resuming Sunday School on June 13th from 9am - 9:45am. More information will be provided the first of June. 


We truly hope and pray that this will be a step toward moving into God’s new normal for our church family. These decisions were made in order to continue to keep our church family safe as COVID remains a threat that we must be vigilant against. Currently, only 41.8% of our state are vaccinated, and only 21.8% of our county are vaccinated. Vaccine safety and effectiveness are also still up for debate as testing continues. 


We also ask each of you to guard against a divisive spirit that would be concerned about whether someone else has received their vaccine or not. Getting the vaccine is a personal medical decision. Each of us must decide what is best for ourselves and our families. No one needs to feel shunned or pressured in any way over the vaccine. So let’s fight to maintain the unity of our church family at all costs. If you have any questions or concerns, please email me at:

pastor.ephesusnc@gmail.com.


Joyfully His, 


Pastor Wayne

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Weekly Proverbs for Godly Living!

Pretentious Pride


Proverbs 11:2

2  When pride comes, then comes disgrace,

but with the humble is wisdom.


Proverbs 21:4

4  Haughty eyes and a proud heart,

the lamp of the wicked, are sin.


Proverbs 21:24

24  “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man

who acts with arrogant pride.


The Book of Proverbs contains some important teachings about pride. Sometimes it is difficult to recognize pride. In fact, it is a sin that we allow it to invade our lives; forgetting that God treats us justly. Instead, we begin to credit ourselves for what God has done. This disobedience is not pleasing to God. Excessive pride prevents the growth of other virtues including courage, patience, and charity.


We need to be obedient and follow His command to love Him above all things; then we can love our neighbors rather than tooting our own horns.


The Scriptures tell us that it is okay to encourage each other and take pride in all the good works of God and His creation. We should be proud to be a child of God! When we allow pride to consume us, it becomes sin. 


Let's ask ourselves if we are living a life that is pleasing to God or are we being blinded by pride? Seek God's will as you spend time in prayer and read the Holy Scriptures. Ask the Holy Spirit to move us so that we may remove that stagnant pride from our hearts and pursue God with great zeal for His glory! 


Meditate on this.


Today's Devotional was contributed by: Mrs. Sue Staton

(A member of Ephesus Baptist Church's Benevolence Team)


(If you are associated with Ephesus Baptist Church and would like to contribute a devotional to our blog, then send us a devotional of 350 words or less to pastor.ephesusnc@gmail.com)


Read more of our devotions and other articles at our Pastor's Blog!


If you would like to be added to our informational email list, contact us at office.ephesusnc@gmail.com.



Please let us know what you think about today's devotion, or how it has helped you grow spiritually by leaving us a comment on our Facebook page below this devotion. We look forward to hearing from you soon!


Please consider helping Ephesus Baptist Church advance the Gospel and the Kingdom of Christ by donating to the mission at ebcspringhope.com/give.



 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

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Church History Friday!

Polycarp: Discipled by a Disciple


The early 2nd century was an important time in Christian history. The last of the original twelve apostles had died and a new generation of strong church leaders had to rise, if Christianity was to survive. The early church was vulnerable in many ways during this transition in leadership. If heretical or compromising ministers filled the void left by the apostles, the church would die. 


We can thank God that He used a humble man called Polycarp to bridge the gap as a faithful servant of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Polycarp was born around 70 A.D. in the Roman province which today is the nation of Turkey.


Polycarp became a Christian as a young man, and he was converted by the apostle John. In fact, Polycarp was discipled by John until his death. For the rest of his life, Polycarp loved to remember and talk about all the times the apostle John gave him eye witness accounts of living with Jesus. 


Can you imagine being discipled by the beloved disciple of Jesus himself? It must have been fascinating to hear about living with Jesus while he walked this Earth. Polycarp must have hung on every word, as John described the miracles that he saw Christ perform. The lessons from Jesus that John gave to Polycarp stayed in his mind and heart. 


Polycarp was famous for his passionate life of teaching and living the scriptures before a hostile world. Could later Christians also say the same about you and me? John ordained Polycarp as the pastor of the church in Smyrna, where he faithfully lived until the year 155. Then, at the age of 86, Polycarp was arrested and given the death sentence for refusing to worship the Roman emperor as a god. 


Polycarp was an amazing witness for Christ as he was burned alive. He said, “Eighty and six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior? You threaten me with a fire that burns for a season and after a little while is quenched; but you are ignorant of the fire of everlasting punishment that is prepared for the wicked.” What a mighty testimony!



Today's Devotional was contributed by Mr. Stephen Nobles.

(The Ephesus Baptist Church Pastoral Ministry Intern)


(If you are associated with Ephesus Baptist Church and would like to contribute a devotional to our blog, then send us a devotional of 350 words or less to pastor.ephesusnc@gmail.com)


Read more of our devotions and other articles at our Pastor's Blog!


If you would like to be added to our informational email list, contact us at office.ephesusnc@gmail.com.



Please let us know what you think about today's devotion, or how it has helped you grow spiritually by leaving us a comment on our Facebook page below this devotion. We look forward to hearing from you soon!


Please consider helping Ephesus Baptist Church advance the Gospel and the Kingdom of Christ by donating to the mission at ebcspringhope.com/give.

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Do We Truly Trust Jesus?

Do We Truly Trust Jesus?


Jeremiah 17:7–8

7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,

And whose hope is the Lord.

8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,

Which spreads out its roots by the river,

And will not fear when heat comes;

But its leaf will be green,

And will not be anxious in the year of drought,

Nor will cease from yielding fruit.


Jeremiah, a heartbroken prophet, is writing to the people of Judah the message of God. They are a stiff-necked people who despise Jeremiah, but despite this he preaches to them out of compassion. The only way to escape destruction is to surrender to God’s will. So, what is God’s will for us?


God desires for us to have a personal relationship with Him. Because of our sin nature, the only way for this to take place is for us to trust in Jesus Christ. He tells us that when we are weak or tempted, to rely on Him. 


When we are healthy and feeling good, making a good living, enjoying our friends and family, life is easy and we often take for granted our need for God. But what happens the minute we hear that we have cancer or a heart disease. Maybe we lose a loved one. Immediately, we run to God for help. 


In Jesus’ day, the farmers would pair an older ox with a younger one. The older one was weak but wise, while the younger one was strong. Jesus tells us to rely on His strength in our weakness. 


Matthew 11:29

29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.


Paul also writes in 


1 Thessalonians 5:16–18

            16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.


May we as Christians learn to humble ourselves in all circumstances and simply trust in Jesus Christ! 


Philippians 4:12–13

12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.


Trust Jesus today! 



Today's Devotional was contributed by: Mr. Dennis Staton

(A member of Ephesus Baptist Church's Outreach Team)


(If you are associated with Ephesus Baptist Church and would like to contribute a devotional to our blog, then send us a devotional of 350 words or less to pastor.ephesusnc@gmail.com)


Read more of our devotions and other articles at our Pastor's Blog!


If you would like to be added to our informational email list, contact us at office.ephesusnc@gmail.com.



Please let us know what you think about today's devotion, or how it has helped you grow spiritually by leaving us a comment on our Facebook page below this devotion. We look forward to hearing from you soon!


Please consider helping Ephesus Baptist Church advance the Gospel and the Kingdom of Christ by donating to the mission at ebcspringhope.com/give.




 The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

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Old Testament Wednesday!

Following Our Own Plans


Jeremiah 18:11–12

11 Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the Lord, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’

            12 “But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’


A major lie that the world believes about God, is that He will change to please the world. Many people don’t or won’t believe that God can justifiably cause pain or suffering. Yet scripture tells us that the Lord never changes, He is always perfect, holy, and just. 


In Hebrews 13:8 we are reminded of a phrase many of us learned as a youth, that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! God’s expectations never change, and His slow but sure punishment and discipline also never change. The Lord continued to give a simple but serious warning to Israel during the life of the prophet Jeremiah. God kept warning Israel to repent of her sins and return to faith in the Lord, or face judgment. Israel always had a choice, and so do you and me.


Why would Israel choose idols over the living God? Why would they choose punishment instead of peace? If a doctor gave you a serious diagnosis, you’d more than likely make lifestyle changes, take medication, or even undergo surgery to reverse course. But Israel was confident and comfortable in herself, so she kept following her own plans and her own stubborn heart. 


All of us are like Israel sometimes. We stake our spiritual lives in tradition, ceremony, and ritual. In other words, we like to practice religion for God instead of having a relationship with Him. Think and pray about where you stand with God. Are you practicing religion or pursuing a relationship with the Lord?



Today's Devotional was contributed by Mr. Stephen Nobles.

(The Ephesus Baptist Church Pastoral Ministry Intern)


(If you are associated with Ephesus Baptist Church and would like to contribute a devotional to our blog, then send us a devotional of 350 words or less to pastor.ephesusnc@gmail.com)


Read more of our devotions and other articles at our Pastor's Blog!


If you would like to be added to our informational email list, contact us at office.ephesusnc@gmail.com.



Please let us know what you think about today's devotion, or how it has helped you grow spiritually by leaving us a comment on our Facebook page below this devotion. We look forward to hearing from you soon!


Please consider helping Ephesus Baptist Church advance the Gospel and the Kingdom of Christ by donating to the mission at ebcspringhope.com/give.



 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

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Weekly Proverbs for Godly Living!

Do We Hear Her? Part 1



Proverbs 1:20–21

20  Wisdom cries aloud in the street,

in the markets she raises her voice;

21  at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;

at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:



Our world is full of knowledge and facts, yet it is found wanting for wisdom. Wisdom or “hokmah” in the Hebrew refers to our ability to skillfully use knowledge and understanding. Wisdom is the practical ability to cope with daily problems. When someone falls into trouble or does something wrong, we often blame their ignorance. “Bless their heart! They just didn’t know any better.” Dear friend, that is unbiblical thinking and should be rejected as such. 



Our passage clearly demonstrates that Wisdom is not hiding from us in a big game of Hide and Seek. Wisdom personified an attractive woman crying out in the streets, in the marketplace, and at the city gates. Wisdom wants to be heard. Wisdom wants to be found. Wisdom wants to remove the excuse of ignorance. Wisdom is not a mere pursuit of scholars, but is offered to the simple ones found walking the streets and shopping in the marketplace. Wisdom wants to make our lives better. Do we hear her? Are we listening?



The Holy Spirit of God is crying out to whoever has ears and will turn to listen. He has the power to illuminate God’s Holy Word to our hearts so that we can know right from wrong. Wisdom is open to us all through God’s Word, to all who will hear her cry and read, study, pray over, apply, and follow! Determine today, to remove the excuse of ignorance once and for all. Wisdom is a free gift that is offered to those who will open their heart and minds to listen to her call. 

Consider the promised result of hearing and responding a few verses later in...



Proverbs 1:33

33  but whoever listens to me will dwell secure

and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”



Meditate Upon This Today! 



Today's Devotional was contributed by Pastor Wayne Sullivan.


(If you are associated with Ephesus Baptist Church and would like to contribute a devotional to our blog, then send us a devotional of 350 words or less to pastor.ephesusnc@gmail.com)


Read more of our devotions and other articles at our Pastor's Blog!


If you would like to be added to our informational email list, contact us at office.ephesusnc@gmail.com.



Please let us know what you think about today's devotion, or how it has helped you grow spiritually by leaving us a comment on our Facebook page below this devotion. We look forward to hearing from you soon!


Please consider helping Ephesus Baptist Church advance the Gospel and the Kingdom of Christ by donating to the mission at ebcspringhope.com/give.



 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

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Let There Be Peace

Let There Be Peace


Job 22:21–22

21  “Agree with God, and be at peace;

thereby good will come to you.

22  Receive instruction from his mouth,

and lay up his words in your heart.


Without peace, our lives would be filled with constant unrest and turmoil. Peace is the completeness, harmony, security and fulfillment that we experience when there are no problems in our lives. 


How can we obtain spiritual peace that keeps us strong when we face discord? We must remember that God is our solid rock! When we are overwhelmed with life's storms, we need to ask God to guard our hearts and minds. We need to request that He grant us calmness which provides stability. But most importantly, we should learn to live in reconciliation with God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Then we will experience true peace.


Let us be mindful of what the Apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 3:15


Colossians 3:15

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.


Let's examine our hearts today. Are we experiencing the peace that God promises us? If not, let's make the commitment to bathe ourselves in prayer, seeking that precious gift of peace from our Heavenly Father and our Prince of Peace! 



Today's Devotional was contributed by: Mrs. Sue Staton

(A member of Ephesus Baptist Church's Benevolence Team)


(If you are associated with Ephesus Baptist Church and would like to contribute a devotional to our blog, then send us a devotional of 350 words or less to pastor.ephesusnc@gmail.com)


Read more of our devotions and other articles at our Pastor's Blog!


If you would like to be added to our informational email list, contact us at office.ephesusnc@gmail.com.



Please let us know what you think about today's devotion, or how it has helped you grow spiritually by leaving us a comment on our Facebook page below this devotion. We look forward to hearing from you soon!


Please consider helping Ephesus Baptist Church advance the Gospel and the Kingdom of Christ by donating to the mission at ebcspringhope.com/give.




 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

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Avoid Evil and Greed At All Cost!

Weekly Proverbs for Godly Living!


Avoid Evil and Greed At All Cost! 



Proverbs 1:10–19

10  My son, if sinners entice you,

do not consent.

11  If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;

let us ambush the innocent without reason;

12  like Sheol let us swallow them alive,

and whole, like those who go down to the pit;

13  we shall find all precious goods,

we shall fill our houses with plunder;

14  throw in your lot among us;

we will all have one purse”—

15  my son, do not walk in the way with them;

hold back your foot from their paths,

16  for their feet run to evil,

and they make haste to shed blood.

17  For in vain is a net spread

in the sight of any bird,

18  but these men lie in wait for their own blood;

they set an ambush for their own lives.

19  Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;

it takes away the life of its possessors.1



Many of us go through our daily life seeing the goodness of man everywhere we go. That is indeed a splendid gift, but we must pair with that gift the discernment to realize that sometimes what may seem good can actually be very evil. 


Solomon warns us in this passage to not be enticed by sinful people. Now I suppose most of us would agree that most people can easily avoid falling for the gross sins of theft and murder. The problem we face is that all sin is still sin before God’s watchful gaze. 


We need to learn to hold back our feet from evil paths. One of the evils in our world that can cause even the strongest among us to fail is the sin of Greed. Greed can cause us to malign others, gossip, lust after material possessions, seek after unjust financial gain, justify a lazy walk before God, and the list could go on and on. Solomon is very clear, in Proverbs 1:19, this greedy attitude doesn’t secure anything, to the contrary, it takes away our very lives if we succumb to it. 


Guard your hearts from all forms of sin and evil, especially the sin of Greed. Ask God to show you areas in which you have allowed greed to strip away His life giving grace in your life. Confess and repent of that greed, and walk in the path of righteousness today!


Meditate upon this! 



Today's Devotional was contributed by Pastor Wayne Sullivan.


(If you are associated with Ephesus Baptist Church and would like to contribute a devotional to our blog, then send us a devotional of 350 words or less to pastor.ephesusnc@gmail.com)


Read more of our devotions and other articles at our Pastor's Blog!


If you would like to be added to our informational email list, contact us at office.ephesusnc@gmail.com.



Please let us know what you think about today's devotion, or how it has helped you grow spiritually by leaving us a comment on our Facebook page below this devotion. We look forward to hearing from you soon!


Please consider helping Ephesus Baptist Church advance the Gospel and the Kingdom of Christ by donating to the mission at ebcspringhope.com/give.



The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Proverbs 1:10-19

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Origen: Man of Steel

Church History Friday!


Origen: Man of Steel


His name was Origen, but they called him Adamantius – “The man of steel,” because of His solid faith in Jesus Christ. Born around 185 A.D., in the major Egyptian seaport of Alexandria, Origen was the oldest of seven children. Around the age of 17 his father was beheaded for being a Christian, and this event profoundly shaped Origen for the rest of his life. He became even more devout and determined in his Christian faith; many called him a religious fanatic. Origen fasted twice a week and abstained from eating meat, drinking alcohol, sleeping on beds, and wearing shoes! His intellectual power also shined through his faith; Origen wrote thousands of sermons, commentaries, and philosophical books. He intentionally studied under pagan teachers to better defend Christianity in the terribly lost Roman society around him.

    

Although Origen believed he would die as a martyr for Christ, just like his father had, God had other plans for him. Throughout the third century, Origen wrote, preached, and debated among Christians and pagans. He could draw multiple spiritual lessons from any biblical passage, and the Bible studies Origen wrote were used and admired for hundreds of years after his death. In fact, Origen wrote the first Christian theology textbook, presenting a uniquely Christian worldview for critical Jews and Romans. A century later another church leader asked in frustration: “Has anyone read everything that Origen wrote?”

 

Origen also wrote what many scholars consider to be the greatest defense of Christianity from the ancient Roman world. In his book, Origen argues point for point against a Roman named Celsus, the leading anti-Christian pagan philosopher of the time. Christians were often condemned as bad citizens for refusing military service, but Origen defended Christians by telling the government:


“We who by our prayers destroy all demons which stir up wars, violate oaths, and disturb the peace are of more help to the emperors than those who seem to be doing the fighting.”


In 250, Origen was tortured in prison by the evil emperor Decius, who hoped to see the famous preacher renounce his faith. Origen suffered for years, but he outlived Decius and was released from prison near the end of his amazing life. May we have a faith as solid as steel, just like Origen!



Today's Devotional was contributed by Mr. Stephen Nobles.

(The Ephesus Baptist Church Pastoral Ministry Intern)


(If you are associated with Ephesus Baptist Church and would like to contribute a devotional to our blog, then send us a devotional of 350 words or less to pastor.ephesusnc@gmail.com)


Read more of our devotions and other articles at our Pastor's Blog!


If you would like to be added to our informational email list, contact us at office.ephesusnc@gmail.com.



Please let us know what you think about today's devotion, or how it has helped you grow spiritually by leaving us a comment on our Facebook page below this devotion. We look forward to hearing from you soon!


Please consider helping Ephesus Baptist Church advance the Gospel and the Kingdom of Christ by donating to the mission at ebcspringhope.com/give.

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What has captured the gaze of your heart?

New Testament Thursday!


What has captured

the gaze of your heart?


Acts 1:9–11

9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”1


The Ascension of our Lord into heaven was an incredibly important aspect of His earthly ministry. Think about it like this: We needed the Holy Spirit to empower us to complete the mission Jesus has given us in one accord. Without the ascension, Jesus could not have sent us the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, nor could He operate as the great High Priest who is interceding on our behalf.


The Ascension of Christ is an amazing part of the Gospel that inspires or faith and reminds us of our new missional purpose. It occured 40 days after His resurrection, immediately after He commissioned the disciples for the last time, and only 10 days before the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. 


The Ascension also serves to keep us focused on the window of opportunity that God has given the Church to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation to our world lost in sin. 


Notice that as Jesus ascended into heaven and disappeared from their bewildered gaze, two angels appeared with the message, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”


Jesus will return at some unknown point in the future, maybe even today! What are you currently gazing at? Whatever it is, stop gazing and refocus your attention on the person of Christ and the mission He commissioned you with, if you are a disciple. If you aren’t, know this: Jesus will return. Will you be ready to meet Him? Meditate upon this today! 



Today's Devotional was contributed by Pastor Wayne Sullivan.


(If you are associated with Ephesus Baptist Church and would like to contribute a devotional to our blog, then send us a devotional of 350 words or less to pastor.ephesusnc@gmail.com)


Read more of our devotions and other articles at our Pastor's Blog!


If you would like to be added to our informational email list, contact us at office.ephesusnc@gmail.com.



Please let us know what you think about today's devotion, or how it has helped you grow spiritually by leaving us a comment on our Facebook page below this devotion. We look forward to hearing from you soon!


Please consider helping Ephesus Baptist Church advance the Gospel and the Kingdom of Christ by donating to the mission at ebcspringhope.com/give.


The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Acts 1:9-11

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