Paul’s Stewardship

Introduction:

There was a little girl walking beside her mother in a pouring rain and loud thunderstorm. Every time the lightning flashed, her mother noticed she turned and smiled. They’d walk a little further, then lightning, and she’d turn and smile. The mother finally said, “Sweetheart, what’s going on? Why do you always turn and smile after the flash of lightning?”

“Well,” she said, “Since God is taking my picture, I want to be sure and smile for Him.”

Think with me about unity in diversity, are we very good at it?

Can a football team win if they are not united?

Can society be united with different cultures blended together?

I don’t think our society has been too successful at this lately. It seems like people naturally segregate themselves, but that is not how it needs to be. I don’t know that it is always wrong as long as it is not done with hate. If we can still come together in love for a common purpose then that is wonderful. That is exactly what happens in family. When a family is successful there is unity in diversity. Actually, in marriage there is unity in diversity. Male and female come together and they are now a family. There can be, and should be, mutual submission in family. There should be self-sacrifice in family. Marriages fail for many reasons, but a major reason is that there is diversity, but the unity does not last.

 

So, with society we can have unity in diversity. I have one example now and another at the end of the sermon. Chuck Swindoll writes the following:

The first is WWII:

I was the youngest of three children born to parents whose lives had been shaped mainly by work. Hard, honest labor. They met and married during a difficult time in the United States, on the heels of the Great Depression. As giant walls of dust rolled over Texas, blown east from the Dust Bowl, fear of unemployment haunted every hardworking person in America. In 1934, one out of every four people couldn’t find work, crops withered, banks failed, and families in every neighborhood risked foreclosure and homelessness. That’s when I came along. Actually, I was a “mistake.” I know this because my parents told me. My father escaped unemployment, and, as the nation recovered, he thrived in the insurance business—business— in no small way due to his strong work ethic and positive mental attitude. Then, while he was driving to enjoy a few pre-Christmas days of vacation at my grandfather’s bay cottage near Palacios, Texas, a startling announcement came over the radio in our new 1941 Ford. The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor; the United States had declared war on Japan; and on top of all that, it was announced that we would also enter the fight against Hitler in the carnage of Europe. My father immediately turned the car around and headed for home. “This is no time for a vacation,” he said quietly as my mother began to weep. A short time afterward, he resigned his job selling insurance, and we moved from my sleepy little hometown of El Campo to Houston, where he began work in a defense factory in support of the war effort. Too old for military service, this was my dad’s way of serving his country. He said it was the least he could do. He supplemented the lost income by working double shifts.[1]

 

I was not alive during World War II, I don’t know if you know that. I know I look much older than I am. What I have learned and been taught is that America came together. We were diverse, but we were united. Everybody came together for the common cause of defeating the axis powers.

Can the people of God be united? As we continue through Ephesians we see the idea of the unity of God’s people. I am speaking mainly of the unity of Jews and Gentiles. God has called us together as one. Paul called that a mystery that was hidden in the past.

 

Let’s talk about God bringing unity to His people. This is not merely about fellowship. This is bigger than fellowship. This is the phenomenal idea of God bringing all human races together into Judaism. This is God bringing gentiles into His covenant.

 

My theme:

Paul is given stewardship of the mystery of the Gospel to take the Gospel to the Gentiles

My application:

Search yourself to make sure you are helping with the unity of the church.

 

  1. Paul writes that he has a stewardship. Let’s read verses 1-7.
    1. Ephesians 3:1-7: For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.
    2. Notice that Paul begins with “For this reason…” This means that he is making an inference based off of the previous material. Paul had been writing about salvation in Christ which we receive freely, not by works, but by grace. Paul wrote extensively about the unity between the gentiles and the Jews. Paul is about to review.
    3. Paul says that he is in prison. Paul was under house arrest in Rome for preaching about Christ.
    4. I don’t think Paul means to blame the Gentiles when he writes that he is in prison, “For the sake of ‘you’ Gentiles.” He comes back to them in verse 14.
    5. Verses 2-13 are like a parenthesis. Paul reviews his stewardship and calling to reach them with the Gospel. You can see that verse 14 begins “for this reason” just like verse 1.
    6. In verses 2 and 3 he writes about the stewardship given to him. Paul was called as a missionary to the Gentiles, we can read this in Acts 22:21 among other passages.
    7. Verse 3 Paul writes about revelation making known to him the mystery. Ephesians writes about Revelation a lot. God was revealing things of Heaven to him. What is the mystery?
    8. There is debate with this but it seems that the mystery has to do with gentiles and Jews being united together. Though if you do cross reference there are many places where Paul talks of the Gospel being a mystery.
    9. In verse 4 Paul writes about the mystery of Christ.
    10. Verse 5 is wonderful: in the past, this mystery has not been made known to the “sons of men” or we could just say to humanity.
      1. Do you realize that God has made known to us things that in human history He had not revealed before?
      2. God does not have to share anything with us, but He chooses to.
  • Deut. 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
  1. Notice verse 6: The Gentiles are:
    1. Fellow heirs
    2. Fellow members
  • and
  1. Fellow partakers
  2. In Christ Jesus through the Gospel.
  1. All tribes and tongues are now God’s people.
  2. This is why Billy Graham could take the Gospel all over the world. This is why Thomas, the Apostle, could go to India. This is why Hudson Taylor could go to China. This is why we can be here right now. But even though God opened the door to Gentiles, we can still be divided within, can’t we?
  3. God’s people can have and should have unity.
  4. Quaker theologian Elton Trueblood once spoke “of consciously inadequate persons who gather because they are weak, and scatter to serve because their unity with one another and with Christ has made them bold.”
  5. I suspect John Baillie was thinking in that direction when he wrote: “It is impossible for men to meet with God and love him without at the same time meeting with and loving one another.” That sounds like community.
  6. Elton Trueblood reflects on the power of community: “Simple people can be amazingly powerful when they are members one of another. As everyone knows, it is almost impossible to create a fire with one log, even if it is a sound one, while several poor logs may make an excellent fire if they stay together as they burn.”
  1. Let’s look at verses 8-13.
    1. Ephesians 3:8-13: To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This wasin accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.
    2. Notice how Paul writes about preaching the “Unfathomable” riches in Christ?
    3. Here we go again, Paul is writing about how rich we are in Christ.
    4. Notice Paul’s modifiers. Hidden in God, “who created all things.”
    5. Verse 10, Paul references rulers and authorities in the “heavenly places.” This would be referring to demons and angels. This is really cool, the angels, even the demons are made known to the wisdom of God through the church. The church is all tongues and tribes and people groups.
    6. There is so much more here: verse 12: we have boldness and confident access through faith in Jesus.
    7. Verse 13: I like what one person shared: Just as a mother endures the pain of childbirth in order to bring new life into the world, Paul endured the pain of persecution in order to bring new believers to Christ. Obeying Christ is never easy. He calls you to take up your cross and follow him (Matthew 16: 24)— that is, to be willing to endure pain so that God’s message of salvation can reach the entire world. We should feel honored that others have suffered and sacrificed for us so that we might reap the benefit.

 

Close:

We have unity. I love Revelation 7:9-11:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches werein their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,

“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God…

 

Isn’t that awesome? God brought people together again. At the tower of Babel in the Old Testament (Genesis 11) He separated the people groups, but He has brought us together again.

 

My theme:

Paul is given stewardship of the mystery of the Gospel to take the Gospel to the Gentiles

My application:

Search yourself to make sure you are helping with the unity of the church.

 

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1] Swindoll, Charles R. (2012-02-02). Saying It Well: Touching Others with Your Words (p. 143). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

Eph. 2:11-22

Ephesians 2:11-22: Unity and Peace in Christ

Prepared and preached by Rev. Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Introduction:

God’s view of Christ is the only accurate standard by which to measure Christ’s worth.

I once read about a conversation in the Louvre Museum in Paris. One of the curators of the museum, a man with great appreciation for art, overheard two men discussing a masterpiece. One man said to the other, “I don’t think much of that painting.” The curator, feeling obliged to reply to the man’s statement, said to him, “Dear sir, if I may interrupt, that painting is not on trial; you are. The quality of that painting has already been established. Your disapproval simply demonstrates the frailty of your measuring capability.”

Similarly, Jesus is not on trial before men; men are on trial before Him. He has already been approved by the Father. Those who arrogantly dismiss Him as unworthy of their devotion simply demonstrate their inability to recognize the most precious treasure of all.

Let’s begin to look into what Jesus has to share with us today from His Word.

Remember the Berlin Wall? Remember President Reagan saying, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” I am amazed by the separation created by the Berlin wall. Families could be separated for life. A society that was once the same country was now separate. I have thought about that because my family is in western, Ohio. If we were invaded and the other country set up a wall in Columbus, I would likely not see them again. Unless… I make a hot air balloon. True story. In 1978 the Strelzyk and Wetzel families began sewing and creating their own hot air balloon to escape. After a few failed attempts and almost being arrested on September 16, 1979, attempted escape from East Germany to West Germany in a homemade hot air balloon and they succeed. They wanted to get out of the dividing line created by the Berlin Wall.

 

Today, I wish to talk about the unity amongst Christ’s people.

My theme is that we have unity and peace in Christ.

My application: Let us act like we are one people group. Bring down our Berlin Walls.

 

Let’s read Ephesians 2:11-22:

 

11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

 

There are three subsections:

 

  1. Unity of Christ’s People 11–13
    1. I love how Paul begins this section writing with some sarcasm.
    2. Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which isperformed in the flesh by human hands—
    3. MacArthur Shares: Gentiles (the “uncircumcision”) experienced two types of alienation.
      1. The first was social, resulting from the animosity that had existed between Jews and Gentiles for thousands of years. Jews considered Gentiles to be outcasts, objects of derision, and reproach.
      2. The second and more significant type of alienation was spiritual, because Gentiles as a people were cut off from God in five different ways: 1) they were “separated from Christ,” the Messiah, having no Savior and Deliverer and without divine purpose or destiny. 2) They were “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.” God’s chosen people, the Jews, were a nation whose supreme King and Lord was God himself, and from whose unique blessing and protection they benefited. 3) Gentiles were “strangers to the covenants of promise,” not able to partake of God’s divine covenants in which he promised to give his people a land, a priesthood, a people, a nation, a kingdom, and a King—and to those who believe in him, eternal life and heaven. 4) They had “no hope” because they had been given no divine promise. 5) They were “without God in the world.” While Gentiles had many gods, they did not “they did not recognize the true God because they did not want him (see notes on Rom. 1:18–26).
    4. But notice the contrast in verse 13:
      1. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
    5. We see the idea of unity as a common theme in Paul’s letters.
    6. 2:11-12 is good: and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
    7. Ro 9:4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,
    8. 1 Co 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
    9. Ga 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
    10. Col 3:11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
  2. Christ Our Peace (14-18)
    1. Read with me these verses again: 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups intoone and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
    2. There was an inscription on the wall of the outer courtyard of the Jerusalem temple warning Gentiles that they would only have themselves to blame for their death if they passed beyond it into the inner courts. Paul may or may not be alluding to this wall, but it well illustrates Christ’s reconciliation of all people into a new humanity (see v. 15
    3. Barclay: “The Jew had an immense contempt for the Gentile. The Gentiles, said the Jews, were created by God to be fuel for the fires of hell. God, they said, loves only Israel of all the nations that he had made. The best of the serpents crush, they said, the best of the Gentiles kill. It was not even lawful to render help to a Gentile mother in her hour of sorest need, for that would simply be to bring another Gentile into the world. Until Christ came, the Gentiles were an object of contempt to the Jews. The barrier between them was absolute. If a Jewish boy married a Gentile girl, or if a Jewish girl married a Gentile boy, the funeral of that Jewish boy or girl was carried out. Such contact with a Gentile was the equivalent of death.”
    4. Chrysostom’s illustration of the two becoming one: “‘Let us imagine that there are two statues, one of silver and the other of lead, and then that both shall be melted down, and the two shall come out gold. So thus He has made the two one.'”
    5. Jesus brought us unity.
    6. Jesus brought us together. The more I studied this the more awesome this became in my head.
    7. Remember the show Get Smart? They had this “Cone of Silence.” If Maxwell Smart was talking to the chief they had the bubble that would come over their head to block any sound from escaping. The problem was usually they could not even hear themselves. It created a division, a barrier between them and the outside world. Likewise, we had a barrier between us and God. Then there was an added barrier between the gentiles and the Jews, but Jesus took care of it.
      1. Jesus made both groups, Jews and Gentiles into one.
      2. He abolished in His flesh the enmity.
  • Through the cross He reconciled us.
  1. He made us into one body.
  2. We both have our access in One Spirit to the Father.
  1. IVP Bible Backgrounds Commentary: 2:14–16. Paul writes this letter from prison because he has been falsely charged with taking a non-Jew inside the temple in Jerusalem (Acts 21:28). Taking a non-Jew beyond a particular dividing point in the temple was such an important breach of Jewish law that the Romans even permitted Jewish leaders to execute violators of this law. Paul’s readers in Ephesus and Asia undoubtedly know why Paul is in prison (Acts 21:27, 29); thus for them, as well as for Paul, there can be no greater symbol of the barrier between Jew and non-Jew than “the dividing wall” of verse 14. But Paul says that this dividing wall is shattered in Christ. “He is our peace” might (but need not) reflect the Hebrew of Micah 5:5.
  2. “Access” translates a Greek word that only appears three times in the New Testament. In ancient Times a related word described the court official who introduced strangers to the king, thus providing access to the Monarch. Before Christ, only Jews had limited access to God through the sacrificial system, which offered gentiles none at all. But Christ’s sacrifice on the cross gives believing Jews and gentiles free access to the Father forever (John 10:9; 14:6; Romans 5:2; Hebrews 4:16) (David Jeremiah Study Notes).
  3. We are united in Christ.
  4. This is an awesome Theological Truth.
  • Christ Our Cornerstone 19–22
    1. Paul uses three metaphors to illustrate the unity of the body of Christ.
      1. As fellow citizens Jews and Gentiles have become part of the same Kingdom.
      2. As members of God’s household, all believers become part of one spiritual family.
      3. And as a holy temple, all believers together become a habitation for God (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17).

Conclusion:

So, think with me about the value of unity.

Christians, Jews and Gentiles, every tribe, tongue and nation are united in Christ. “In Christ” is a powerful term in Ephesians and in the New Testament. We are one because of Christ. All this happened in Christ.

If we are In Christ, we are one and we have direct access to God the Father. We are part of His family.

I think we need to act more united. We need to love more, we need to share more, we need to be more united. Christ makes us united.

The Bible says a cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecc. 4:12) and you know that I knew someone who had a rope making machine. The irony, it takes multiple people working together to make rope.

Let’s be encouraged as we are united and let’s act like it.

 

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

Ephesians 2:1-10 Saved by God’s Grace

Salvation by grace (Ephesians 2:1-10)

Prepared and preached by Rev. Steve Rhodes for Bethel Evangelical Friends Church on Sunday, July 23, 2017

Crazy story, a woman is searching for a doctor who believes all treatments are the same. Listen to this:

OAK PARK, IL—According to sources, local Universalist Paula Wilson is searching for a physician who shares her belief that all treatments will eventually lead to the same cure.

Wilson, who was recently diagnosed with pneumonia, told sources it is very important that her doctor share her values of openness and acceptance that all medical paths will bring her to wellness. She hopes to find a physician who is not so arrogant as to insist there is only one way to cure her illness.

“This audacious doctor told me I ‘need’ some antibiotics,” Wilson told reporters. “These doctors just blindly follow people like Alexander Fleming, who was a great medical teacher, but just because his discovery of penicillin has saved millions of lives doesn’t mean his way is the only way.”

“Who are they to tell me there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to solve my problem? How dare they try to force their beliefs on me!” she declared, in between fits of coughing.

Now, that story is satire, but shows how ludicrous we can become in our thinking.

Do you think that all roads lead to God? Do you believe that all religions are the same and there is no such thing as absolute truth?

You see truth in its very definition is exclusive. The Truth is we need Jesus. We are dead without Jesus.

My theme today is that we are saved by God’s Grace. We need God’s grace.

My application: Trust in Him, surrender to Him. Pray for others to trust in Him.

Today, I will not read the whole passage to start. Instead I will reference the text within the sermon. The text is Ephesians 2:1-10: I am using the New American Standard Bible today

  1. Verses 1-3 are about our state of spiritual death. This is our spiritual separation from God. Let’s briefly talk about this as this part shows us why we need God’s grace; why we need God’s favor.
    1. Look at verse 1: You were dead in your trespasses and sins. This verse uses two nouns to define the wrong things we do. They are basically synonyms and so they are repetitious. Many times we use, and the Scriptures use, repetition to add emphasis.
      1. But a key point in this verse is the word “dead.” This is an adjective describing our state spiritually before and without Christ. This is not literally death. This is spiritual death.
      2. That is quite an image, isn’t it? Dead. It is as if we are walking around dead. It is as if many people are walking around dead. But, it is true. All without Jesus are living dead. All without Jesus are living physically, but dead spiritually.
  • You know what it is like when the power is out in your house? A few years ago a hurricane came through Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus and probably up here as well. This was September 2008 and the hurricane was the remnants of a hurricane that hit New Orleans, but not Katrina, this was hurricane Ike. There were people without electric for weeks. Our power was only out for just  over two days. You know how good it was when the power came back on? I heard the freezer kick on, the refrigerator kick on, the ceiling fans kicked on, the lights came back on.
    1. Without Christ the power is out spiritually. Why is the power out? This is because of trespasses and sins. But people don’t realize the power is out because they have never had this power on. Some of us don’t realize the power is on because it has been on so long.

Look at verse 2:  in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 

  1. Verse 2 gives more detail about how we live. Without Christ people are disconnected from God. Technically, sin is anti-God, so sin separates us from God and without Christ we cannot come back to God.
    1. Paul says they formerly lived in these sins and trespasses and in this spiritual death.
    2. I notice that word: formerly. Remember that; remember that because to often we give license for Christians living in sin, living in the world.
      1. No, those are former ways, former ways not to be condoned.
  • If you are dead spiritually because you don’t have Christ, that means you are living for the world and the Bible calls that the devil’s domain.
    1. Paul says, “The Prince of the power of the air.” That is the devil.
    2. Listen: I have preached on spiritual warfare and will again; there is more out there than you, and than we, regularly imagine. The devil is influencing us towards sin. There is nothing the devil wants more than for you and me to live anti God.

Verse 3:

 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

  1. In verse 3, Paul emphasizes that we also once lived in this way. But again, the key word is “formerly.” Now, what happened? Grace is what happened.
  2. Now, why is God’s grace; God’s favor unmerited? This is because we couldn’t earn God’s favor. We needed help. We were spiritually dead. When the electric is out can the electric turn itself back on? No. When we are dead to sin God must take the first action. If we could earn salvation Jesus wouldn’t have had to die on the cross.
  3. We try to sanitize our sin too much. We need Jesus because we sin. We cannot help ourselves. An article made light of the way we try to sanitize our sin, it reads: NAPLES, FL—According to multiple sources within Revival Church, Pastor Kent Snider utilized 78 different euphemisms for the biblical concept of sin in one 18-minute sermon this past Sunday, obliterating his own previous record of just 28 substitutes for the term. Snider’s message, titled “Breathing Life Into Our Brokenness,” opened with a short video clip from Rocky III. But as Sylvester Stallone’s powerful voice faded out, Snider was out of the blocks at a lightning-quick pace and well on his way to a world record. “Jesus died for your hurts, habits, and hangups. For your failures and foibles. For your oops-a-daisies and your boo-boos,” he reportedly declared before refreshing himself with a sip of his beverage stationed at the foot of his lectern. “And you know, the Hebrew Scriptures suggest to us that we all might have had moral oversights, bounced spiritual checks, and bashful blunders. So we sometimes don’t quite live up to our God-given potential. That’s right in the book of Romans.” Gayle Clarke, spokesperson for Guinness World Records, spoke to reporters Wednesday about the feat. “It’s really quite remarkable. That’s well over four SEPM—sin euphemisms per minute—an unthinkable rate just fifty years ago. The strides we have made in doing language-defying backflips in order to sugar-coat the concept of transgressing against a holy God in recent years are a real testament to the human spirit.” Sources close to Snider are also confirming that he will attempt yet another astounding feat this Sunday—this time attempting to preach on Romans 1 without mentioning God’s wrath by name a single time.
  4. We need Jesus because we are dead in our sin.
  1. Verses 4-10 are about God’s great grace bringing us back to life.

Look with me at verses 4-6:

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

  1. Verse 4 has two amazing words; they are: “But God.” God took action. Our salvation is all about God and that is grace because God gifts us with salvation without a cost.
    1. Verse 4 emphasizes God’s great love for us. You know what? Verse 2 was about the devil and how sin is serving him. You know what? There are actual religions of devil worship. The devil doesn’t love you. How does sin love? In Galatians 5 we have the fruits of the world and the fruits of the spirit listed. Paul writes that there is no law against the fruit of the spirit. This is because what we do by God’s Spirit is good. But the wrong things we do, called sin, hurt other people.
    2. God loves us and so He stepped in.
  • Grace is a free gift from God’s love. God stepped in; Good took action. You don’t have to earn it. You can’t earn it.
  1. We may have to earn a relationship with an employer
  2. We have to earn a relationship with subordinates, even family but not God
  3. God’s love is grace. God’s love for you is a free gift. You can’t earn it.
  • God loves us and we don’t have to earn it. Not at all.
    1. Some of you know this, but you are living as if you must earn God’s approval. We don’t. God loves you and nothing can separate you from God’s love:

Romans 8:39: neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (from New International Version)

Being a parent is about grace. Many times, hopefully, all the time, we love our children, so we freely take care of their needs. They don’t pay us back and many times can’t pay us back.

  1. Verse 5 sums it up nicely: we were dead in our sins, but God made us alive in Christ. The power was turned off, but God turned it back on.
  2. Then there is this amazing parenthesis: “By grace you have been saved.”
    1. Again, what does saved mean? It means to be saved from something. You are saved from the eternal and temporal consequences of sin. Our sins have an eternal consequence called hell.
      1. By grace, this means unmerited, unearned favor, we are saved from hell.
      2. Do you ever try to pay someone for a gift? Maybe, but then it wouldn’t be a gift. Grace is a gift. Our salvation is a gift from God.

Randy Alcorn’s book The Grace and Truth Paradox says this:

“During a British conference on comparative religions, scholars debated what belief, if any was totally unique to the Christian faith.

Incarnation? The gods of other religions appeared in human form. Resurrection? Other religions tell of those returning from the dead. The debate went on until C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. The scholars posed the question to him.

‘That’s easy,’ Lewis replied. ‘It’s grace.’

Our Babel-building pride insists that we must work our way to God. Only the Christian faith presents God’s grace as unconditional.” (page 68 more explained on page 69: Christianity offers forgiveness and Divine intervention. In Judaism and Islam, men earn righteous status before God through doing good works. In Christianity, men gain righteousness only by confessing their unrighteousness and being covered by Christ’s merit. Every other religion is a man working his way to God. Christianity is God working His way to man.”)

 

Now, let’s get back to the passage at hand:

  1. Look at verse 6: God not only made you alive in Christ, He has seated you in the Heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
    1. Now, this is deep. This is hard to understand. But I believe this is the idea that when we are saved, when we believe, accept and commit to Christ, Jesus joins our life and spiritually we are in Heaven with Jesus.
      1. This is the picture of eternity. As a follower of Christ our eternity is in Heaven with Christ. This is a free gift from God. You can’t earn it; otherwise this wouldn’t be by grace.
      2. Also, if salvation is about God and God is the one who saves you, you need not worry about losing salvation.
        1. Christians will joke about karma. In Eastern religions, Karma is the eternal weight for good or bad of what you do on earth. What you do on earth affects your next life by reincarnation. But you know what? You can’t affect your eternal destination. Only God can, and He does this by His grace. There is no such thing as karma.

Verses 7-9: 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

  1. Verses 7-9 show us that this is about God. Our salvation is all about God and we can’t boast about it, we can’t brag about it. This is a gift from God.
  2. Then verse 10 wraps this up quite nicely: We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
    1. Our good works are a result of our salvation. Good works flow from what God does in us.

What is the take home for each person?

  1. We all must realize that salvation is about God. God gifts us with salvation. Grace means it is a free gift.
    1. Since salvation is about God, what are you afraid of? There is no reason to fear the spiritual forces of evil. You must not worry about bad Karma, no such thing.
    2. Since salvation is about God, be encouraged. Be encouraged that God chose to give us salvation. God chose to save you. God chose you.
    3. Since salvation is about God, worship God. Wow! You are saved, even though you rebelled against God. God didn’t rebel against you. God rescued you. He rescued all of us. You are loved by the creator of the world. You were created by the creator of the world. Read Psalm 139 and see the detail which God created you with. I emphasize this because many people need love; many need love that they don’t need to earn. God loves you and He has gifted you with His love.
  2. God saved you for good works. Notice that from verse 10. God has prepared good works for us.
  3. God is in control, again, don’t fear

Let’s go further with applications:

Applications:

  1. We must worship the Lord recognizing what we are is because of Him.
  2. We must give all the credit to God.
  3. We must recognize the spiritual war as Paul did in verse 2.
  4. We must recognize our ways without Christ are dead.
  5. We must recognize our ways with Christ are full of life.
  6. We must recognize our state with Christ is raised with Him in the Heavenly places (verse 6); therefore, we will not live in fear.
  7. We will recognize that our salvation shows God’s great love for us.
  8. We must do good works recognizing that God planned these before creation.
    1. We must submit and surrender to God’s sovereignty (verse 10)
  9. We must not even begin to brag about salvation.

Close:

When I was in kindergarten I was passing the baseball with my older brother. It was about 7:30 PM in the spring and I was facing the sun. Through the sun blinding, or some other circumstance, I missed the ball and it hit me in the eye. I don’t remember much pain besides feeling as if I was poked in the eye. I do remember my dad telling my mom to call the ambulance. I remember repeating, “I don’t want to go on the ambulance! I don’t want to go on the ambulance.” Neighbors later said they heard me scream when the ball hit me in the head. As we got on the ambulance, my dad told me he would rather that was him instead of me. Things turned out okay in the end, but I will never forget those words from my dad. My dad couldn’t switch places with me. That was impossible. But God did take our place. Jesus took your place when He died for your sins. Jesus took my place when He died for my sins.

Do you know Jesus as your savior? Jesus died for your sins. He died on the cross for the wrong things you and I have done. He died on the cross and rose again. The wrong things we do have a penalty and that is hell. Jesus paid that penalty for us when He died on the cross.

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

Eph. 1:15-23: Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians

Ephesians 1:15-23: Paul’s prayer of Thanksgiving

Prepared and preached for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, July 16, 2017

Introduction:

Do you know those light switches that control the lighting from soft and dim to full strength. They are called rheostat because they control the energy level. I was reading for this sermon and John MacArthur made the illustration that many Christians are like those switches. They barely get past the “on” part in terms of output. And they have no idea the remaining power that can bring such tremendous light. It seems like most of the church today has the rheostat at the lowest position possible, doesn’t even understand what yet is available to them.

We have so much in Christ. We have so many spiritual benefits. I like what Barclay wrote:

The Christian life could be described as getting to know God better every day. A friendship which does not grow closer with the years tends to vanish with the years. And it is so with us and God.” [Barclay]

It is necessary that we let our friendship with Jesus grow closer. We must grow in our relationship with Jesus. In Ephesians 1:15-23 Paul shares a prayer with the church at Ephesus or the churches in that area. In this prayer we hear the richness of who we are in Christ. Paul desires that they understand their great salvation.

Theme: My theme today is that I will explain Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus.

My application for you: Pray for others and pray like Paul. Pray with great worship. Be Amazed by Jesus.

Let’s read Ephesians 1:15-23:

For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

  1. Paul prays that they will grow (look at verses 16-17).
    1. Notice in verse 15 Paul says “for this reason.” Some translations translate that as “therefore.” This goes back to the previous section. Paul had been writing about their salvation in Christ.
    2. Paul now writes that he has heard of their faith in Christ.
    3. He has heard of their love for all the saints.
      1. We could have some interesting thoughts on saints. I read a lot of articles, usually they are called blogs and I subscribe to more scholarly blogs because I want to know the source. I read Dr. Tennant’s blogs, he is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary. I read Dr. Witherington’s blog he is a professor at Asbury. I read John Piper and John MacArthur and Dr. Albert Mohler, he is the President of Southern Seminary. Most of these are emailed to me and I will read them on my iPad or iphone. Often times these articles are Theologically, or about leadership, or book reviews. Many times I save them in my application called Evernote. Then for about four years I have received articles from Churchleaders.com. I receive several a day and read them digitally. Anyways, on the churchleaders.com articles one can comment. I very rarely comment. But one time an article really bothered me. I forget what it was but I think they were dealing with sin lightly. I don’t like dealing with sin lightly. People commented back to my comment in disagreement. But one commented in agreement and said, “We are never called sinners in the New Testament once we are saved.” We are always called “Saints.”
      2. Think about the power of that. We are not saints based off of what we have done. We are saints based off of what Christ has done and our trust in Him.
  • Based off of sanctification and justification you are declared righteous in God’s sight. You are made holy. You are set apart for Him.
  1. 1 Cor. 6:11 says it all: Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
  1. Now, verse 16: Paul continues to pray for them.
    1. How much are we praying for our brothers and sisters in the church?
    2. How do we pray?
  • Pray like Paul. Pray spiritual prayers.
  1. Verse 17: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
  2. Paul prays for them and us to have knowledge of Him.
  3. Paul prays that they would have a spirit of wisdom. This is likely not meaning the Holy Spirit. They have the Holy Spirit already. This is likely a spirit meaning an inner attitude of wisdom, or quality of wisdom, or demeanor of wisdom.
  4. Paul prays that God would “reveal” the knowledge of Him.
  5. The idea of “revelation” has the idea of “pulling back a curtain and showing what is behind it.” You know it is like the Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls back the curtain and reveals the wizard. Paul is praying that we have the revelation from God and this shows us the awesome knowledge of Him.
  6. Notice the powerful words in this verse: “Father of ‘glory.’” God is the God of all glory. He is awesome!
  7. There is more that could be talked about here. I could talk about each of the words, but I must move on.
  1. In verse 18, Paul goes into what knowledge he prays for them: I pray thatthe eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…
    1. Paul wants them to know the “riches” of their calling. The calling is from God.
    2. What are the riches of the glory of the inheritance?
    3. Whose inheritance?
    4. We have an inheritance in Christ.
    5. But this says that we are God’s inheritance. The church is God’s inheritance. The church is Jesus’ inheritance. The church is the bride of Christ.
    6. Paul thinks this is a big deal and he launches into worship and doxology.
  • In verses 19-23 Paul worships: “and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These arein accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
    1. The strength of God’s might.
    2. God brought about our salvation in Christ.
    3. He raised Him from the dead.
    4. Seated Him at the right hand in the Heavenly places.
    5. He is above all rule and authority, power and dominion and every name.
    6. All things are in subjection under His feet.
    7. He is the Head of the church.
    8. There is a lot of cross reference with this which I can give to you in writing. You can get them on my blog but here they are: Christ’s position of authority is described four ways (v. 21): (1) above all other thrones or powers (evil forces; cf. Col 1:16); (2) over every other name (cf. Php 2:9-11); (3) all things are under His feet (see Ps 8:6; 1Co 15:27; Heb 2:6-9); (4) He is head, that is, ruling authority, over all things for the benefit of the Church (HCSB), His body (v. 22; cf. 1Co 12:12-27). The second part of v. 23, which says the Church is Christ’s fullness, probably refers to divine power and glory (see Col 1:19; 2:9) and here is passive. That is, the Church is what He fills with His glory and power.
  1. Let me be more specific with application. These are in the first person as I apply them to myself.
  2. I must pray for other people and churches.
  3. I must pray spiritually.
  4. I must pray for spiritual needs and not merely physical needs.
  5. I must pray giving thanks for others (verse 16).
  6. I must pray that God gives wisdom (verse 17).
  7. I must pray that God reveals Himself (verse 17).
  8. I must pray that we know Jesus better and deeper (verse 17).
  9. I must pray for enlightenment, that God enlightens us so that we may know His riches and glorious inheritance in us (verse 18).
  10. I must pray that we know His power and strength (verse 19).
  • I must praise the Lord (verses 20-23)
    1. He raised Jesus and sat Him at His rights side.
    2. Jesus is far above all rule and authority.
    3. God placed all things under His feet.
    4. Jesus is the head of the church and the Church is His body.

Close:

We have full power in Christ. We have a full salvation in Christ. Are we following Him? Are we pursuing Him?

Talking about pursuing Christ John MacArthur shares:

A noble Puritan pastor certainly had this in his heart, a man by the name of Thomas Vincent who lived in the mid 1600’s. And he wrote a wonderful little book. The title of it is The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ. What a magnificent thought. The true Christian’s love to the unseen Christ. And he built it on Peter’s statement in 1 Peter 1:8, “Whom having not seen you love.”

Listen to some of the things he said. “The life of Christianity consists very much in our love to Christ. Without love to Christ we are as much without spiritual life as a carcass when the soul is fled from it is without natural life. Faith without love to Christ is a dead faith. And a Christian without love to Christ is a dead Christian, dead in sins and trespasses. Without love to Christ we may have the name of Christians but we are holy without the nature. We may have the form of godliness but are holy without the power.”

Then he went on to say this. “If Christ has their love, their desires will be chiefly after Him. Their delights will be chiefly in Him. Their hopes and expectations will be chiefly from Him. Their hatred, fear, grief, anger will be carried forth chiefly unto sin as it is offensive unto Him. He knows that love will engage and employ for him all the powers and faculties of their souls. Their thoughts will be brought into captivity and obedience unto Him. Their understandings will be employed in seeking and finding out His truths. Their memories will be receptacles to retain them. Their consciences will be ready to accuse and excuse as His faithful deputies. Their wills will choose and refuse according to His direction and revealed pleasure. All their senses and the members of their bodies will be His servants. Their eyes will see for Him, their ears will hear for Him. Their tongues will speak for Him. Their hands will work for Him. Their feet will walk for Him. All their gifts and talents will be at His devotion and service. If He has their love, they will be ready to do for Him what He requires. They will suffer for Him whatever He calls them to. If they have much love to Him, they will not think much of denying themselves taking up his cross and following Him wherever He leads them,” end quote.

I hope we are all encouraged by our faith and trust in Christ. I hope we can pray spiritually like Paul. I hope we are so amazed by God that we cannot help but follow Him and share Him.

 

Ephesians 1:3-14, Praise God for Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Praise God for His spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

During WWI German U-boats were sinking as many as 50 ships a week. So, something had to be done. You could not camouflage a ship because the background is always changing. So instead, they tried to make the ship stand out in a confusing way. They would make it so you could not tell which side was the bow vs the stern. They call this Dazzle Camouflage. This is the Zebra idea. The torpedoes took as long as 3 minutes to get to their target and this messed up their aim as much as 60 degrees.

The point is sometimes you just have to think creatively out of a problem. God had a plan for our salvation. God had a creative plan and the devil could not figure it out or thwart it.

As we look at the next eleven verses in Ephesians we see Paul praising God for our awesome salvation.

My theme today is: In Ephesians 1:3-14 we see Paul praising the Lord for our great and awesome salvation.

My application is: Pray like Paul and Jesus, Pray with praise, Praise God!

Let’s open our Bibles and read: Ephesians 1:3-14:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insightHe made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

  1. Paul starts with blessings we have from the Father (3-6)
    1. As I look at this passage it is difficult to think of what not to explain. Explaining this text could take weeks and weeks. So, I will focus more on applying.
    2. I would explain that verse 3 says it all. That is the summary. Verse 3 says Blessed bethe God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. The rest is explanation and detail.
    3. I would explain that this is all one sentence in the Greek.
    4. I would explain that this is a doxology and a Psalm.
    5. I would explain that chapters 1-3 may all be a prayer.
    6. It is as if Paul cannot contain Himself.
    7. These are often called a doxology
    8. This is Paul reciting what God has done and is an expression of worship and honor to Him
    9. Starts with blessings we have from the Father (3-6) then that come through the Son (7-12) then the Holy Spirit (13-14)
    10. Jewish people used the word bless to express God’s kindness to us and our thanks and praise to Him
    11. Heavenly realms 5x’s in Ephesians: things that are happening are in those realms
    12. Christians have already been made beneficiaries of every Spiritual blessing that belongs to and comes from the Heavenly realms
    13. Verse 4: chose: divine election a constant theme in Paul’s letters
      1. He chose us
      2. He predestined us to adoption. We are part of the family of God.
  • We were also chosen
  1. Having been predestined before the creation of the world: holy and blameless
  2. Holiness the result not the requirement
  1. We could go deeper into predestination, God’s choosing and election. Scholars have debated how this works for centuries. What is clear is that we have a great and awesome and sovereign God who is in charge. He is so great that He can give us some element of freewill, yet still be in control. Some say that this is referring to God’s corporate election, that election is not about individuals but about the church. Another view is that God has elected certain people to witness to others. This is like Israel was elected, chosen and predestined but they were expected to evangelize. That is what Jonah is about.
  1. In verses 7-12 Paul praises God for the blessings through the Son (7-12)
    1. I would love to particularize these and I will more in the application part of this message.
    2. I will say that we have redemption.
    3. The redemption comes through His blood.
    4. When they thought of redemption they would think of buying back a slave. There was a price in redemption.
    5. There was a price in our redemption. Our redemption came at a high cost which was from Jesus.
    6. We have forgiveness.
    7. This is all from grace.
    8. Praise God.
    9. He made known to us the mystery of His will.
    10. That is amazing in itself.
    11. We have an inheritance in Christ. This goes along with adoption.
  • Then Paul praises God for the Holy Spirit (13-14)
    1. I was with Baptist churches and there are unfortunate Jokes about Baptist Churches and their lack of focus on the Holy Spirit. One such joke came out recently: the Holy Spirit is asked to leave.

CEDAR HILL, AL—The Holy Spirit arrived in power at Hope Baptist Church Sunday morning, but was asked to sit in the overflow room as He was making many church members milling about before the service uncomfortable, sources confirmed.

The church immediately activated its contingency plan, designed to cover unexpected appearances of the Holy Spirit.

As the third Person of the Trinity arrived in the foyer, ushers took a strong defensive formation, redirecting Him from the main service into the side overflow room, where He was handed a program and welcomed to watch the service on the wall-mounted TV.

“We have nothing against the Holy Spirit, as long as His arrival is submitted to the church secretary for inclusion on the bulletin by Wednesday at 3 p.m.,” head usher Gary Wall told reporters during the after-service coffee fellowship. “But He can’t just waltz on in here and expect to be given a prime spot in the back row or something. That would be chaos!”

After confining the Spirit in the room, the Baptist church reportedly posted ushers on either side to ensure He didn’t try any “funny business” at any point during the service (http://babylonbee.com/news/holy-spirit-appears-baptist-service-asked-sit-overflow-room/).

That is meant in humor, but there is a sad reality of a tacit way of denying the Holy Spirit. Francis Chan’s book Forgotten God addresses this.

  1. What we see in this passage is that the Holy Spirit secures our salvation.
  2. The Holy Spirit is given to us as a pledge of our salvation. The Holy Spirit is like earnest money in buying a house.
  3. When I asked Meagan to marry me we went to a park and I pulled out a ring and asked her to marry me. I gave her the ring as a promise of my faithfulness.
  4. The Holy Spirit given to us is like an engagement ring.
  1. Some applications under the overall application of praising God.
    1. This is a prayer. We must pray like Paul.
    2. We must pray with praise. Our Father who is in Heaven, holy is His Name. His will be done, His Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.
    3. We must praise God for He chose us before the foundation of the world that we would be holy and blameless (verse 4).
    4. We must praise God that He included us (verse 4).
    5. We must praise God that He predestined us for adoption (verse 5 and 1 John 3:1).
    6. We must praise God for His love (verse 4).
    7. We must praise God for His sovereign will (verse 5).
    8. We must praise God for His grace (verse 6).
    9. We must praise God for His forgiveness and redemption in grace (verse 7).
  • We must praise God for grace as His forgiveness, redemption, adoption, love, predestination, election, choosing are all free. We are not given a bill.
  • We must praise God for making known to us the mystery of His will (verse 9).
  • We must praise God for the inheritance (verse 11).
  • We must praise God for the sealing of the Holy Spirit (verse 13-14).
  • We must trust Jesus as Savior and Lord.
  • We must trust that Jesus has given us an embarrassment of riches in Christ.

The German U-boats missed these camouflaged boats and Germany eventually lost the war. The devil will also miss us. The God of the universe is so much more awesome and great and wise and powerful than the devil. God created the devil. God cast the devil to earth like lightning (Luke 10:18). The devil could not figure God’s plan. God loves us and saves us. Worship Him.

Do you know how much God loves you? Do you realize how awesome His love is for you? Do you realize because of His love for you how rich you are in the Spiritual realm? Do you realize that because of God’s great love for you, you are saved or can be saved for absolutely free? You are all eligible for this free gift of salvation. Saved from what? The Bible doesn’t beat around the bush, we are saved from the eternal damnation in hell. Hell is a punishment for our sins. Beyond that God has abundantly blessed us with spiritual blessings. We have spiritual blessings such as adoption, prayer, knowledge, and many others.

My theme today is: In Ephesians 1:3-14 we see Paul praising the Lord for our great and awesome salvation.

My application is: Pray like Paul and Jesus, Pray with praise, Praise God!

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray