Summary: Part 2 of a 4 part mini-series on blessings we have in Christ from Ephesians 1, focusing on election. I purposefully avoid the controversy and state the significance of this blessing for our lives.
I want to begin my message with a hate speech – about the Yankees. (elaborate on how they are the Sox nemesis; you admire them because they get the best players; but the responsibility after they have an all-star at every position is for them to play. They have everything they need to win, but they have to play the games.)
Last week, I challenged you - “God has done all He needs to do in order for you to live the victorious life in Christ. Now you have to assume responsibility.” (The Bondage Breaker, Neil Anderson, p. 27). Today, in the same way, I am challenging you again to hear the word and then to take responsibility for it. You have everything you need to live victoriously, now you have to go and do it. Continue growing “in Christ,” which is the theme of Ephesians, and focusing on the truth. May you continue to walk in the truth you hear.
So today we continue in Ephesians 1. Let the truths of each week spread into your life. Walk in these things – last week on your outlines I gave you steps to walk in the truth. And we’ll do that again today. But keep these outlines for your notes and review them. God will continue to speak through His Word to you.
Let’s stand and read Ephesians 1:1-4. PRAY
Now go forward to Eph. 6:20 (DON’T read it yet - on screen). The beginning of Ephesians is a mixture of praise and declaration and blessing. Because of this, some people don’t realize what was happening in Paul’s life when he wrote this book. As we just read, Paul is pretty positive in the opening of Ephesians. He talks about how are blessed – and he spreads the love, spreads the good news. He is Mr. Sweetness - “Good news! We’re blessed!” Ephesians 1 has a feeling of being sweet like candy – almost too sweet if it weren’t so true – and the unsuspecting reader might think that Paul must have been at a high point in his life, his ministry, and in his personal relationships. His writing is almost sappy, definitely syrupy.
Have you ever known someone who made you sick with their sweetness, who never had a bad day, or a bad attitude? Illustration: Tell about traveling with Lori Miranda – bubbly in the morning – makes you sick! She was one of those people who had just a little too much sunshine to spread around?! We grumpy, bitter Christians don’t like super-sugary Christians, and so we are skeptical of this “Be happy, God loves you” message of Ephesians 1 because it sounds so sugary. Throw in some “damnation and condemnation” wording in there somewhere! Imitate Dana Carvey, Grumpy Old Man - “In my day, we didn’t talk about blessing! God said we was all going to hell, and we liked it!”
We don’t admit it out loud, but inwardly we conclude that these blessings are not for us because they just are too good, too unrealistic, and they don’t reflect REALITY! Obviously, Paul was a hyper, happy, easy-living, always victorious Christian who had no worries, never failed, never got depressed, and never had anything to be upset about. Paul must’ve been out of touch with reality to write all that blessing stuff! Even now, some of you are thinking, “There is no way that I can be as blessed by God as Paul says – look at my circumstances.”
Do you know where Paul was when he wrote this letter? In Ephesians 6:20 (read-on screen), Paul reveals, “I am in chains now for preaching this message as God’s ambassador…” This letter is written from prison. Paul is chained to a gruff, smelly security guard. He is under house arrest, waiting to appear before Caesar, and his days are numbered. And why was he in chains? Because he was obeying God, God decided to “bless him” with prison. And his life is drastically affected - he can’t do his life’s work effectively, he is confined, he has lost many friends, and his life is being wasted away. If ANYONE should be mad at God, Paul should be.
Are you mad at God this morning? Do you have a “prison” that you are “bound” in? Are you chained to something you don’t like? Does your living situation stink? Are you frustrated with your lack of success at work? If so, Ephesians is right up your ally – Paul is right there with you – but yet what is Paul doing in verse 3? “How we praise God…” Repeatedly in chapter 1, Paul calls for God to be praised.
• Verse 3 – “How we praise God who has blessed us…”
• Verse 6 – “So we praise God for His wonderful kindness…”