Sermon Sunday September 13, 2020 – Walking in Wisdom

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Ephesians 5:15-17

Walking in Wisdom

If we are all honest, we want to make our lives count. We would like our time on earth to make a positive impact on those around us, and we want to leave a mark. This desire does not mean we have a problem with pride, rather it is the direct result of the fact that we were created in the image of God and designed for a purpose (See Psalm 139:16-17).

In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul wrote two sentences that give us three keys to living a life that will make a difference.

Paul encourages his readers to walk carefully. The Greek phrase means to walk with precision and accuracy. The cry of the previous verse is to wake up! Paul is encouraging his readers not to drift through life as sleepwalkers. Sadly, many professing Christians are drifting aimlessly through life as if sleepwalking.

There is a vast difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is available to anyone; it is knowing facts that are available to anyone who is willing to learn about a particular subject.

However, wisdom is the ability to make sound judgments based on the knowledge you have. Wisdom is a gift of God and something that God encourages us to ask for (James 1:5, Proverbs 2:6).

Walking in wisdom, is not simply knowing where to go or what to do in a particular situation. Walking in wisdom is taking the knowledge we have and then asking the Lord to direct our path, to lead us.

The ultimate mark of walking in wisdom is to walk with an eternal perspective, knowing that we are living for so much more than the temporal goals and rewards of this world.

Every moment we have is a gift from God, and the older we get, the more we realize that life is short. Another translation of this verse is, “redeeming the time”. The Greek word is the same word that is used to pay the price to free a slave. As the Apostle notes, these days are evil and under the control of Satan. We must make every effort to redeem every moment from the grip of the enemy of our souls. Satan loves for us to waste time playing games and watching TV, all the while we are missing out on the purpose and calling on our lives.

Do not miss this, we are in a war and Satan and his demons are constantly working to distract us with temporal things, even good things. As followers of Jesus, those who have been bought by the blood of Jesus, we should constantly war against those things that fritter away our limited time.

Our calling is to shine as light in the dark world, so that when the King of Kings comes, we will not regret the way we spent our time.

Verse 17 begins with the statement, “therefore do not be foolish…”. Foolishness is the opposite of wisdom. Foolishness is acting or speaking without thinking. Foolishness is not employing our understanding with wisdom. God has blessed us with the ability to think and to reason.

But that is not the complete verse, the rest of verse 17 states, “…but understand what the will of the Lord is.” I have heard it said many times in Christian circles, “God expects us to use our brains”, however, if we rely solely on our own intellect, many times we will miss the will of God for our lives.

Many times, we will miss God’s best for our lives, because to live by faith as a follower of Jesus will often require us to do things or go places that go against common sense. In the eyes of those around us, we are throwing out common sense and being reckless. But the safest and most rewarding way to live is to trust in the Lord and to pray daily for His leadership and guidance in our lives. Proverbs 3:5-6 could not be a more direct instruction in this regard:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

How do we discern the will of God for our lives? The will of God is not a mystery to be discovered, it is a lifestyle to be walked. As we walk with God, we grow in our knowledge of Him and we are transformed in our minds.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I have always prayed that God would direct my path along the lines of Galatians 2:20, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…”.

There is active participation on our part. We must be walking. Discerning the will of God requires us to step forward in prayerful faith and allow God to direct us as we move.

Ephesians 2:10 shows us that God has a plan for our lives. We were saved for a purpose. God reveals His will to us as we read His word (Psalm 119:105), as we spend time in prayer and as we seek the counsel of wise brothers and sisters in Christ. Frequently God uses circumstances to direct our path (See Romans 8:28).

We can move forward without fear and anxiety knowing that our Father in Heaven is the source of wisdom and the one who saved us for His perfect purposes.

Are you walking in wisdom?

Sermon, Sunday May 17, 2020 – You are Being Watched.

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Ephesians 3:1-13  

Do you know that you are being watched?

In 1984, there was a hit song, “I always feel like, somebodies watching me” by Rockwell, and as the church, this is true of us today. We as the church are being watched all the time.

In our society, we have a consumer mindset when it come to the church. The church is there for us, right? We view the church as a place where we gather to encourage, challenge, disciple and mobilize people for missions. These are all good purposes for the church, but they are not the most important function of the church.

Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus, lets them know that he has been entrusted to bring them the Gospel message by the grace of God (Ephesians 3:2).

Grace is a gift of God, and an essential key for being a follower of Jesus. We are all called to fulltime ministry in whatever role in society God has given us. But we must remember that we cannot serve the Lord in our own strength. Our very best is never good enough, we need to operate In Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Serving God in your own strength will lead to burnout and disappointment.

Paul was given grace from God to proclaim the mystery that gentiles are now adopted into the family of God to share in the promises of God that were previously only for the Israelites (Ephesians 3:6). Gentiles are all people groups around the world who are not Jews (Romans 9:24-25). Aren’t you glad for the mystery?

In verse 7, Paul writes that he is a minister of the Gospel, but the Greek word also means servant. He doesn’t see being a servant as a negative thing. He sees it as an incredible privilege. Paul was humble and knew that he was not operating in his own strength (Ephesians 3:8).

To be a servant of the Lord, we cannot do what God calls us to do in our own strength. This is not just for pastors and missionaries. We all need God’s grace, because we are all called to serve the Lord in the role He has placed us in life.

If you are able to do what God calls you to do in your own strength, it might not be the call of God on your life.

The call of god on your life will always stretch you beyond your own abilities.

Verses 10 and 11 of Ephesians 3 take the mystery of the church and the call of God to a completely different level. God’s intent, from before the creation of the universe, was that the church would be used to teach the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

Theologians agree that these “rulers and authorities”, are all spiritual beings outside of our visible realm: angels, demons, good and bad heavenly beings. The angels look on and marvel at the grace and wisdom of God (1 Peter 1:12).  Demons look at the church and know that their rule on the earth is coming to an end once and for all.

We know God knows all things and that He is all wise. Wisdom is found in God. God is teaching the universe by taking people from all nations, all ethnic people groups from all backgrounds and bringing them together into one body, the church, the body of Christ.

The church is preaching a cosmic sermon to the universe.

Kent Hughes writes, “the inescapable conclusion is that the angels watch us because we are part of the mystery!… We have a far bigger and more observant audience than any of us realize!”

Never underestimate the glory of God in the church!

The church is not the teacher. God is the revealer of His wisdom, God is the teacher and we are the whiteboard. God uses the church to reveal his wisdom and glory.

The global church is so much more essential than we could ever imagine. there are cosmic realities that we know nothing about.

The church is so much more than meeting together and enjoying each-other’s company.

Getting back to the initial question; do you know that you are being watched?

Does the fact of knowing that you are being watched, change the way you think about being part of the church?

Before you decide not to be a part of a community outreach, remember, you are being watched.

Before you think about gossiping, saying some negative word about a fellow member of the church, remember you are being watched.

Before you dismiss the value of gathering-together, sleeping in rather than preparing your heart to receive from the Lord in worship and hearing His word, remember you are being watched.

This is all said as part of the mystery.

I don’t want to make you feel manipulated or guilted into coming to church rather I want to impress on you the privilege, the absolute honor we have to be used by God to declare His wisdom to the watching universe.

In these uncertain times, God’s mystery is being revealed through the church. You are part of God revealing His wisdom to the universe of heavenly powers.

Be encouraged. Lift your eyes and see the glory of God being revealed as the church gathers to worship.

Philippians – Paul’s letter of Joy – Philippians 3:7-11 – Sermon February 10, 2019

Philippians 3:7-11

THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF A CHRISTIAN

What is the ultimate goal of Christianity? Getting to heaven? Getting saved?

The Apostle Paul writing to the church in Philippi taught that knowing Christ was the most excellent pursuit of his life. Having an intimate relationship with Jesus the creator God.

Paul wrote that for the sake of Christ, he had suffered the loss of all things. After becoming a Christian, he had lost his prestige, his paycheck as a Pharisee, his status in the community and power in the community. He viewed all these things as rubbish compared to knowing Christ.

To gain Christ was his life’s pursuit. When we become a Christian, we begin the journey of sanctification, the process of becoming more like Christ. We are not instantly holy and perfect, we are still in need of continual spiritual housecleaning. But as God deals with the sin in our lives, He reveals more areas of our lives that are not fully committed to Him. As we pursue Christ, the “little” sins, become more and more obnoxious as we see them for what they really are. Sin is sin, and my sin is what drove Jesus to the cross so that I can become pure and holy. Why would I hold on to anything when Jesus did so much for me?

In verse 9 Paul continues, “not having a righteousness that comes from the law…”

Righteousness is defined as the quality of being morally right or justifiable. However, being morally right will not save you, being morally justifiable does not mean that you are in right standing with God. Paul said in this verse that the righteousness he was pursuing was from the law, his own works and good deeds, but the righteousness that God looks for is faith in Jesus Christ. When you place your faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life, you are in right standing with God and justified before him (see 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Paul continues in verses 10-11, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

Many Christians, think that when they have placed their faith in Jesus, there is nothing more to pursue. The thinking is that I just have to live my life trying not to sin and get by until I die, or Jesus comes back. This is infant Christianity, when you are born again, you are a baby, and it is essential to grow and develop into full maturity. We were saved by God to grow and mature as followers of Jesus. By God’s grace, as we pray and read God’s word, He graciously gives us the desire for more of him and we begin to get that appetite and we grow.

Paul’s primary desire that shaped his life, was to know Christ. Philippians chapter 3 describes Paul’s satisfaction in knowing Christ, but also his dissatisfaction in that he was a longing to know him better. I pray that we will become dissatisfied Christians, longing to know Christ more.

To know something is to acquire knowledge, but there is a huge difference between intellectual knowledge and experiential knowledge. When you go to college or attend a class, you gain intellectual knowledge, that hopefully you can retain and use at some point. But experiential knowledge comes from experiencing something personally.

We can know Christ by experiencing his presence through the Holy Spirit, by reading His word, by spending time with Him in prayer. We come to know Christ when we step out in faith and see how He provides. Knowing Christ takes discipline, it takes hard work, but it should be our deepest longing as believers.

Paul writes in verse 10, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection…”

The power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in every believer, this is something that we aren’t capable of fully grasping (see Galatians 2:20). Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus to gain this understanding (see Ephesians 1:18-20). We need a revelation from God to begin to grasp the power of God that is for us, in us, and operates through us as believers.

The resurrection power of God is the only power that can defeat the power and hold of sin in your life. If you are struggling with persistent and ongoing sin in your life, you need to grasp and hold on to the power of the resurrection.

We like this part of Philippians 3:10, but Paul continues and writes, “…, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,”

This does not mean that we have to go back to the cross and physically suffer the way Jesus did,  but rather, as we display the power of the resurrected Lord in our lives, as we so identify with Christ, that when we face abuse and persecution for being a follower of Jesus we react the way Jesus did and in so doing we are drawn closer to him (see 1 peter 4:12-13).

As believers in Jesus, we like to hear about the resurrection power, but there can be no resurrection without crucifixion. Dying to ourselves, our desires and our will, is the requirement of becoming like Christ and knowing his power at work in our lives. Dying to self is not a one-time event, it is the daily process of choosing death to sin’s hold on our lives, as we are being conformed to the image of Christ.

Paul ends verse 11 by writing, “that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

At first glance it seems that Paul is trying to attain eternal life, it seems Paul was uncertain of his salvation! But, the word resurrection used here means to stand up, to come alive spiritually while still here on the earth. I might paraphrase the Apostle, “I want to know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his suffering that I may give the spiritually dead a preview of eternal life in action as I am standing up among those who are spiritually dead”

Does your life display the resurrection power of Jesus to those around you? Do you know Jesus experientially?