Ephesians 1:1-23 From Paul, who by God's will is an apostle of Christ Jesus—To God's people in Ephesus, who are faithful in their life in union with Christ Jesus: (2) May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. (3) Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! For in our union with Christ he has blessed us by giving us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world. (4) Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him. Because of his love (5) God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children—this was his pleasure and purpose. (6) Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son! (7) For by the blood of Christ we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God, (8) which he gave to us in such large measure! In all his wisdom and insight (9) God did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ. (10) This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head. (11) All things are done according to God's plan and decision; and God chose us to be his own people in union with Christ because of his own purpose, based on what he had decided from the very beginning. (12) Let us, then, who were the first to hope in Christ, praise God's glory! (13) And you also became God's people when you heard the true message, the Good News that brought you salvation. You believed in Christ, and God put his stamp of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit he had promised. (14) The Spirit is the guarantee that we shall receive what God has promised his people, and this assures us that God will give complete freedom to those who are his. Let us praise his glory!
May the Words of my mouth and thoughts of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen
(4) Before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him. Because of his love (5) God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children—this was his pleasure and purpose.
My prayer this morning is that we surrender to the truth in Jesus
so that there may awaken within us
an understanding of life
that is beyond
And in surrendering know that behind this ever growing cosmos is a love that won’t let
you go. Enlarge your mind!
And that’s what the apostle Paul discovered.
That it was no longer just an exclusive group of people
that were loved of God
but all people.
And tis is not something that we can work out
Paul says that it’s actually foolishness
it’s not reasonable
nor is it something we can calculate.
But once we get it
a whole new picture of life emerges.
And I have to come back to the picture
the theme of falling in love
it is unscientific
it is illogical
it defies wisdom
but when it happens we know that it is more real
than anything else.
It envelopes us
it explodes within
and everything changes
and that is what the apostle Paul found in the message of Jesus.
Prior to his encounter with Jesus
his God was exclusively for his people!
Then Jesus takes hold of him
and his whole world collapses so much
that he takes we think about two years off
while the vastness of God
that he has discovered in Jesus, takes hold
and blows his mind.
God is not just for his group
God is Lord of all the earth, of all peoples.
It’s this immense picture
far beyond the little group who feel they have the market on God.
So a couple of observations
I’m not sure we come to that as men, until middle age
women I think the penny drops for you much earlier
but the consensus seem to be
that as men it takes us a while.
One suggestion is – men are supposedly doers.
We have to do something.
In my previous church we had a women’s weekend once a year
always over subscribed.
I suggested something for the men
and they said
we can’t just go
and have a speaker
and discuss our faith
We have to do something:
fish, go surfing, whatever. Anything but be still!
And maybe men we have to do that for the first half of life
but then there must be an inward journey
where we discover who we are in God,
where we have to stop the doing
and walk in the dust of the master.
If we don’t as men, we tend to drop out of church
because it’s irrelevant to our doing gene.
But when as men we stop and surrender
then our vision enlarges
God becomes bigger that you can ever imagine
and we begin to realize we are nothing
and then we become everything.
And we are game changers.
It’s what is called, falling, upwards.
It’s a paradox – to become something we must lose everything!
I don’t think that as men and women
it is easy to let go and become nothing
we have spent so many years building up our ego
a sense of who we are without God
and then we find we have to let go.
Maybe that’s why Jesus said
it’s like taking up your cross.
Or what good is it to gain the world but lose your soul!
I remember years ago
in thought of God – it’s called meditating!
and I saw myself in a cardboard box.
I was comfortable and safe
and then I imagined myself pushing against the sides and the top
and the walls of the box pushed out
and I found myself in a much bigger cardboard box
safe and comfortable again.
But then I found I could touch the walls
and they gave way
and on and on
each time larger than before
and always more to discover.
And I began to realize that God was like that
Who God was at 7 or 10, or as a teen,
was so limiting
and at 20 and 30,
discovering still more,
until now at this age I know less
because God is so much more.
The apostle Paul prayed that we might discover the dimensions of God’s love
that we can never ever say, God’s love, God’s nature ends here.
It appears that this is what happened with Paul
and he had this glorious vision that the time would come
when God would bring all creation back together
overcoming all divisions
over coming bigotry
jealousy – all the things that destroy.
That in the end God would win
Love would prevail against every evil
every shred of darkness.
One Bible writer put it this way:
I Jesus God is saying – I will make all things new!
And for Paul the church was the group of people who understood this.
Understood the power of love
and what love could do
if we surrendered to God’s love.
If we would be ravaged by His love
so that all darkness would flee from us.
Then says Paul, everything changes.
Discover the greatness of God
discover that God will have the last word in your life
and the lives of all we know
and everything changes.
The way we look at people, the way we speak of them.
Our leaving judgments of others to God.
And then we discover this reality
that if we strip away human achievement
and what we think is important
we realize that there is no one more important than anyone else
in the eyes of God
based on what they
or their reputation.
No child is born
who is not less or more important than any other.
When Jesus taught the good news about God
children were a disposable item in the Roman world.
Girl babies were often unwanted
and so left in the elements to die
as were anyone less than perfect.
Jesus raised the status of children
simply by saying
let them come to me
for of such is the Kingdom of heaven
And so the early Christians began to safe children left to die.
Some say that’s where the term God parents came into being.
They considered all life sacred
and refused to allow children to be committed to the garbage dump.
Why? Because in Jesus, they saw a bigger picture of humanity.
There is no child
less important than another
and because all are different
the church needs be that people that embraces and cares for all.
All bear the image of God
all have the DNA of the Divine.
And I guess we realize this when we surrender to One
who holds all of life
who works through all and is in all.
So my prayer this morning
may we all let go
admit that our thoughts of God
are tiny, tiny, tiny,
in comparison to the depth and purpose and love of God.
Surrender our little God
that the God we know in Jesus
might fill our hearts and minds.
In Jesus Name. Amen.
Now unto God the Father, God the Son and God, the holy Spirit, be all the honour and
glory, world without end. Amen
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