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Summary: God is the initiator of mercy and grace in our lives, and so much so that all we can do is respond with heartfelt gratitude and praise.

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Title: What Has God Done For You Lately?

Text: Ephesians 1:3-14

The Big Idea: God is the initiator of mercy and grace in our lives and so much so that all we can do is respond with heartfelt praise.

Introduction:

My son and son-in-law and I watched the Bronco game against San Diego on Sunday… it was admittedly a sorry end to a hopeful season, despite the injuries that dogged the team all year. In fact, I thought Mike Shanahan had pretty much proven his ability as a coach given the youthfulness of his team and the growing promise of a good season this year. So, I have to admit that when I read the paper on Tuesday morning I was surprised to see that Pat Bowlen had fired Mike Shanahan “for the good of the team and everyone concerned.”

Sport writer Susan Davies stated, “Initial reaction by fans was one of shock, A few expressed sadness but the majority supported the decision to fire Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. Season ticket holder Cris Mabon explained it this way, ‘If a guy doesn’t get the job done – you cut him loose.” (Susan Davies, Fans reaction to Shanahan firing, KOAA.com, 1/1/2009)

Over the last couple of days I have collected a few fan reactions to Shanahan’s firing but the one that intrigued me most was one by a fan named Jon Hawkins. He was quoted in the Denver Post on December 31, 2008. He said, “It is time to move on. History doesn’t repeat itself. What have you done for me lately?”

I can’t say that I think it is necessarily a coherent statement, but who among us can reel off a great spontaneous quote with a newscaster’s mic in one’s face while the cameras are rolling? However I was taken by the question he was apparently posing to Mike Shanahan, “What have you done for me lately?” It just so happened that a few weeks ago, I posed that same question in a proposed sermon title for today.

We live in what some describe as a disposable culture where we feel little loyalty to anyone or anything. People change churches, switch insurance companies, lay-off long time employees, and fire coaches at the slightest hint of dissatisfaction or the hope of a better deal or something bigger and better. If we want a change, we make it. We live in a culture where we dispose of one person and acquire the services of another based on what is in it for “me.”

The fan posed that question to Mike Shanahan and rhetorically anticipating either “nothing” or “not nearly enough” determined that Mike Shanahan was history. What if we were to pose that same question to God? What has God done for you lately? Nothing? Not nearly enough? Are you ready to give God the boot? Are you poised to sack God? Has God disappointed you to the point that for the good of all concerned, you are going to can God? Are you planning to put a pink-slip in God’s mailbox this year?

Before you do, I would like for us to look at what God has done and is doing for us keeping in mind the fact that, “God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 This morning what God has done for us in heavenly places is now what God has done for us in the concrete world.

The first spiritual blessing is this:

1. God loved us and chose us.

“Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:4-6

Before there ever was a world as we know it, God loved us and chose us… his unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family. And this gave him great pleasure. Before Genesis 1:1… God loved us and chose us to be his in and through Christ.

One of the wonders I have experienced and observed over the years is the way we love our children and our grandchildren, before they are. A little girl may dream of one day having a real baby. In time she meets and marries a man who loves her dearly and wants to spend the rest of his life with her. They decide to have a child and she becomes pregnant. The couple loves and longs for that baby long before the baby is and when the baby is born the tenderness and love they feel for that little one is inexpressible.

Annie was an adventurous orphan girl at New York City’s Hudson Street Home for Girls during the Great Depression. Miss Hannigan was the proprietor and generally set about to make life miserable for the girls. She forced them to scrub floors in the middle of the night, sew piecework strips of fabric, peel potatoes, and wash mildewed walls. The children dreamed of being adopted.

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