These spiritual blessings that God gives His people can be summed up in one phrase that appears over and over in this passage: in him! Our position is not based on what we do but on what Christ accomplished on our behalf. In him!
Let me ask you a question: how much does Christ affect your Christianity? Even though the root word of Christianity is “Christ,” more and more we have to ask ourselves if Christianity is really about Christ or if it’s tethered to other matters in our lives. When you come to these times together, read the Word, pray, serve, give, go—and all of the other aspects of practicing our Christian walk, we do so because we are in Him! (A helpful exercise is to go through this passage when you go home and underline every instance of “in him” or “in Christ.”)
God outlines five blessings in this passage. This passage is a prayer of praise that begins with the phrase, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ….” Paul puts this paragraph in prayer mode. Ligon Duncan reminds us that almost half of the book of Ephesians is prayer. We cannot understand the church’s position or practices without a supernatural understanding that comes through prayer
This past week, I had to take a couple of days to rest–for whatever reason, I was absolutely zapped. Over the years, I’ve heard people say, “Listen to your body!” In this case, it was good advice, but is it always? Let’s talk about that! Good morning, everyone!
Over the last three days, I have felt a significant fatigue. And while I did go for a COVID-19 test today (which came back negative) I also recognize that whenever I come upon a stressful situation (like an international mission trip, turning in my dissertation, or other matters that involve a bit of uncertainty when it comes to suggesting change), my body reacts by demanding me to stop and rest.
And this is a gift, I believe.
Every night we sleep. At various times in our lives, we find ourselves sick, either physically, emotionally, relationally, mentally, or spiritually.
And on every occasion, these remind us that we are not God. The Psalmist reminds us that God never sleeps so to provide unceasing care over His beloved.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep (Psalm 121:3-4).
But also that God gives us rest.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep (Psalm 127:1-2).
Yes, He gives His beloved sleep. We believe often that we should forego rest in order to accomplish more. In reality, God reminds us that sleep will help you accomplish more in the long run–for God builds the house.
There is only so much one can do during a day, a week, a month. Rest for the long haul. God is God and you are not.
Rest in Him.
Whenever we start a sermon series here at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church, a number of factors go into choosing a series. For me, it’s a desire to acquaint each of you (church family, church friends, and anyone who comes along watching via live-stream) with what Paul identified as to the Ephesian elders one last time as “the whole counsel of God.” For every four sermon series, three of them are usually straight from a book of the Bible, while one is usually a topical series. I usually toggle back and forth between OT and NT. Yet, there is a conviction here that all of the Bible is God’s Word and is a Christian book.
But why Ephesians? As I read through Ephesians, I agree with R. Kent Hughes, longtime pastor at Moody Church in Chicago, notes, “Ephesians reveals the position and job description of the church.” Paul had a great passion for the church of Jesus Christ, even to the point of 2 Corinthians 11:28, “And apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” Paul’s passion was, to borrow a phrase from last week and from our vision talks, to have a NT church where Jesus has His way.
This sermon series is about the position and practice of the church and can be summed up in one word: grace. Paul is a model recipient of God’s grace. The church’s makeup displays to the world the unifying work of grace. This is the foundation of the New Testament church. Is it the foundation of you? Of our church?
Jesus told the disciples that He himself would build His church. Yes, others have their ideas about who Jesus is, but the Spirit revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. On this confession that Peter shared, Jesus said that it was on this rock, this foundation, that He would build His church.
You may recall at our Vision Talks that I remind you of a question that Jeff Christopherson posed at an associational event two years ago: “What would the church look like if Jesus had His way?” If Jesus is building His church, what is he building it into and how. In the next paragraph, Jesus reminded His disciples that he would be crucified and raised again. Peter disputed this, saying he would never allow something so tragic to happen. What did Jesus say? “Get behind me Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men.” These two paragraphs, side by side to each other, show the problem. Jesus would leave but would build His church through His church, His people. Yet, like Peter, we spend our time thinking “on the things of man” rather than “setting your mind on the things of God.” How do we do this?
Through the Word and by the Spirit. I remind you of a conversation I had with my search team back in the Fall of 2011. They asked, “When you come to ARBC, what is your priority?” “Preach the Word and love the people at first and get a lay of the land.” When it comes to the Word, we tend to believe that it’s the “preached” Word on Sunday morning behind this pulpit or during our small groups (SS/CGs). Yet, the Word must permeate and marinate in every last area of the church! Jesus tells us how to have His way and how to build His church.
We all have them–blindspots! When we’re driving and someone is in our blindspot, that does not remove the reality of their presence. Worship gatherings help Christians identify and remove those blind spots.
Hey, everyone! Just thought we could hang out for a bit over lunch. Let me know if you have any questions about something coming up or something that’s on your mind!