Summary: Fourth in a series from Ephesians. This message focuses on our responsibility for evangelism as it relates to the doctrine of election.
At the beginning of this month we embarked on our spiritual basic training, which is taking us through our training manual, Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. One of the things that I’m encouraging us to do as part of our spiritual basic training is to work on memorizing the entire Book of Ephesians. So we’ve approached that challenging goal the same way one eats an elephant – one bite at a time. So far we’ve bitten off four bite-sized pieces of that goal. Let’s see how well we’ve done with the first three bites and see if we can recite together the first ten verses:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise 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. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
Ephesians 1:1-10 (NIV)
When I challenged all of us to work on memorizing the Book of Ephesians, I knew that not all of us would even make an attempt to do that. But I think that it’s important to set some goals that challenge us. Even if we don’t reach those goals, our efforts will get us to a place we would have never reached if we hadn’t at least given the effort. I really like what Michelangelo wrote about aiming high:
The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.
Or perhaps more of us can relate to the words of that great philosopher, Yogi Berra:
You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.
I’m convinced that Scripture memory is one of the most important spiritual disciplines that we can make a part of our life. And I’m not alone in that opinion. Here’s what Chuck Swindoll wrote about that practice:
“I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified”
(Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994], p. 61).
So even if you haven’t started memorizing Ephesians yet, I want to encourage you to start now. I know that there may be a lot of reasons why many of you haven’t even made the effort. Maybe a whole book is just more that you can bite off. It may very well be that will be the case with many of us, including me, before we get to the end of the book. But I do know this – I know have memorized 12 new verses that I didn’t know at the beginning of the year. So why not start and just see how far you can get. Or if you know you can’t memorize the whole book, at least pick out a key passage or two in each chapter and memorize those. At a minimum, at least try to memorize one sentence – Ephesians 1:3-14. That one sentence contains a ton of spiritual riches, including almost every key doctrine in the Bible.
On the back of your prayer sheet in your bulletin, I’ve given you some suggestions that might help you in your efforts to memorize Scripture. Maybe you can find a few things there that will help you.
So now that we’ve spent a few minutes talking about Scripture memory, let’s see how well we remember our verses fro this week before Dave puts them up on the screen.