Summary: Many of us pursue riches but we do not pursue the riches of God’s grace. Why? Is it because we do not understand the value of it?
Have you ever dreamt of what it would be like to be rich? I don’t mean just well off, I mean rich? I think everyone has at one time or another in their lives…I think that is why we like to watch “Lifestyles of the rich and famous” and to gawk at the Cleveland Auto Show at cars we would never be able to afford. I think we all kind of envy Bill and Melinda Gates with their uncountable billions and their 40,000 square foot home in Washington State. (Show Photos on Screen)
(Read slowly) In light of all the wealth that this world has to offer, you and I have something that it can never have. You and I have riches so great that they cannot be counted, riches that can not even be estimated and riches that will never be taxed or taken away.
Join me in Ephesians chapter 1, verses 2 through 8:
Eph 1:2-8 “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.’
We have been talking about “Embracing Grace” – which is becoming a more and more fascinating subject the more I dig deeper and ponder its depths.
Over the last two weeks, we have looked at the definition of grace (undeserved blessings and favor from God) as well as the difference between simply being the recipient of grace and actually embracing grace. If you recall, we talked last week about the 10 lepers, all of whom were healed of their leprosy…thereby all possessing faith and receiving God’s grace, but only one embraced the grace he was given and found more than mere physical healing.
Our passage for today is about embracing the riches of God’s grace.
If someone was standing outside our church handing out $1,000 bills, wouldn’t you be quick to get in line? Of course! You would quickly embrace the opportunity to possess your fair share of that wealth! Why?
I believe that the reason we are quick to embrace worldly riches is that they are both tangible and recognizable. We understand their value, that is, we understand what benefits they will translate into for us.
It isn’t so easy to understand and embrace spiritual riches, because they are less tangible, they can rarely be seen, and we don’t understand what benefits they possess for us.
Yet when it comes to grace, God has gone to great lengths to help us understand its value and to help us see it.
In verse 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul opens his letter to the Ephesians with a wish, a prayer if you would for the Christians at Ephesus. In case you think that this is strange, I found something even more remarkable.
In EVERY single one of Paul’s letters, he begins them (in the first several verses) with the same prayer and expression of desire for the recipients of that letter, AND he closes every letter with a similar expression “Grace be with you.”
[depending upon time available, ask folks to read passages]
What could possibly be so important about grace that Paul would open and close every letter with this prayerful expression of his heart?
If these expressions could be viewed as a prayer, then when was the last time you heard someone in church pray for the things Paul prayed for?
When was the last time you heard someone pray for grace and peace to be with the church or upon someone?
The typical prayer request is for somebody’s relative’s sickness, someone’s friend’s bereavement, someone’s safety in traveling...etc. I do not want to minimize the need to pray for all our concerns, but why don’t we pray for what the Spirit of God considered important?
I believe the reason we do not pray for God’s grace to be revealed or showered upon people and upon the church is because we are ignorant of who we are in Christ, and the riches we have in Him. (WHOA!)
v3: 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.