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Summary: CHRISTMAS 2(A) - Believers are called to praise God by God’s choice and for God’s gifts.

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BELIEVERS DECLARE GOD’S PRAISES

Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18 - January 4, 2004

EPHESIANS 1:3-6, 15-18

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

15For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:

It is a wonder of wonders when we consider the miracle of Jesus’ birth. It is a wonder of wonders that any would gather around the manger in Bethlehem to worship the Savior. It is a wonder; because it means that there were believers and there still are believers today who worship the Christ Child, believers who are born into this world as sinners. They not only begin life as sinners, but also as enemies of God. So it is a wonder of wonders that anyone would worship the Christ Child, including you and I.

That is the wonder of wonders that Paul describes in our text this morning when he reminds us that believers are called, or as he says in our text, are predestined to praise God. It is a wonder of wonders--we who once were enemies are now called believers. Peter writes in his letter as he describes this wonder of wonders. He says: "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light"(1 PETER 2:9). That is what we are going to study on this second Sunday after Christmas that God by His choice has called us as believers to praise Him. He has called BELIEVERS TO DECLARE GOD’S PRAISES

I. Called by God’s choice

II. Praise for God’s gifts

I. CALLED by God’s choice

Ephesians is known as a "prison epistle" because the Apostle Paul is sitting in Rome under lock and key and under guard. He is in prison because of the testimony he gave for the Gospel. Paul pens this letter to the believers who are in the city of Ephesus as he sits in prison. As you read this letter you would not know that Paul is in prison if you listen to his words. Verse 3: 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. This doesn’t sound like anyone sitting in prison. This doesn’t sound like anyone who is separated from his family and friends. Worst of all, Paul is separated from the congregation of believers. He is off by himself. He is not able to enjoy the fellowship of worship. Yet, he still says that God is to be praised, because God has blessed us with every spiritual gift. Paul realized that he was off by himself in Rome in prison, but he was not alone. God was with him. God was with by the grace that had worked faith in Paul’s heart.

Paul further describes this: 4For God chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight Paul writes those words here even though he knows that he is not holy and blameless in God’s sight. We turn to other letters and soon learn that Paul describes himself as an enemy of God. He describes himself as one who would do good but can not do it, and the evil that he would not do that he continues to do. Yet, Paul says out of love God has placed His choice on him, who once was a persecutor of believers. By His love God has placed His choice so that now, rather than seeing Paul’s sins, the Lord sees Paul as forgiven, holy and blameless in his sight. God did this through His Son, Jesus. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- It was God’s pleasure and will to send His Son to be born into this world. It was God’s pleasure and will to save mankind through the sacrifice of His Son. It was God’s pleasure and will to show this great love for sinners.

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