¡°WHO IS READY FOR BLESSINGS?¡± By Pastor Yau
Text: Ephesians 1:3-14 February 16, 2014.
1) The misconception: Almost every week, I will write email, send out letters or make phone calls to those who were absent from the church for more than 2 weeks. The purpose is to remind them we don't forget them, and to see if anything had happened to them we need to know and pray for. In doing this for many years, it sometimes strikes me to be curious on how those people might think of me doing this. Will they think that it is my job to get people to church, or some may think if they do, they are doing the pastor or the church a favor and therefore we may receive some benefit or blessing from this.
2) The true conception: One of the champions of the Lord in bring people to God's church is the Apostle Paul. He stated clearly the reason why did he do that: ¡°I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share its blessing (with others.) (1 Cor. 9:23) Too many Christians don't understand the truth of being faithful to God in knowing Christ, serving Christ and worshiping Christ. Pastors and many dedicated Christians care so much about the spiritual well being of those who miss the blessing of being faithful. Paul in writing to the early church in Ephesus explained to them in details why and how their being faithful is the way to receive blessings (benefits) from God.
THE SUPERIORITY OF GOD'S BLESSING: (1:3)
1) The ultimate recipient of blessing: ¡°Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.¡± (1:3) ¡°Blessed¡± is from Greek, eulogeo, to praise, to give honor. If there is any praise or honor from your being faithful in attending church, worshiping God, increase the number and the atmosphere in worship service because of your faithful participation, all will go to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand, if there is any loss of honor or glory in a church because of your being unfaithful, it is God and the Lord who suffer the loss. Your being faithful or not has a direct relationship with God and his glory and honor in the face of the world. You are the one to face God to give him the answer why did you make God look bad to others.
2) The ultimate giver of blessing: ¡°Who has blessed us.¡± (1:3b) Many people look for blessings or honor or praise, from the world and in some cases they are rightly so. We receive praise and honor for doing good job in school, at work or in the society. We all enjoy receiving symbols of honor from other in the world. But how much any of those honors may bring us anything to the quality of our life after only a short time? Paul wants us to know the best honor and blessing we need to look for is that from God. No one may bring any worldly honor or blessing into heaven. We need to do the best God wants to us to do here and now for the glory of God. But we need to prepare honor and blessing we know to be in store in heaven.
3) The nature of God's blessing: ¡°Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing..¡± (1:3c) Many Christians don't know the importance of spiritual blessing of God. In fact, they don't value or treasure spiritual blessing at all. Most Christians will invest efforts and time in pursuit of worldly blessing instead of spiritual blessings. But look at this: Spiritual blessings last longer, more important in eternity and superior than any and all worldly blessings. Tyndale says: it transcends and includes all blessings God has for his people. What can any of worldly blessing compare with the blessing of ¡°grace and peace¡± from the Lord? (1:2) No amount of money or power, or honor may buy an ounce of God's grace and peace in the life of His people.
4) The lasting blessing of God: ¡°Who has blessed us.¡± (1:3b) The verb ¡°blessed¡± here is an aorist participle, ¡°having blessed¡±, it is in a ¡°continuous¡± action that will never stop. God's blessing on his children, us, begins at the moment when we receive his grace and salvation until we meet him that day. This everlasting nature of God's blessing should be the most reason we can't miss to pursue. All the honors, praises, love, glory, friendship, acts of good will, money, material possessions, are always short-lived and will fade and changed. What can you do to earn any worldly blessing that may last?
5) The guarantor of God's blessing: ¡°In the heavenly places in Christ.¡± (1:3d) Security of our possessions is of primary concern for all. We buy insurance to cover the potential loss of things we treasure. But no worldly insurance anyone may buy can guarantee the blessing of God on us, except Christ. ¡°In Christ¡± is the ultimate protection of all the blessing of God on us. That is why Jesus asked that we ¡°stay in him and he in us.¡± (John 15:5) A close relationship with Jesus is the key to guarantee all God's blessing. If you want God to bestow all his spiritual blessings on you, keep yourself ¡°in Christ¡± all the time because ¡°apart from Jesus, you can do nothing.¡±
SUPERIOR VARIETIES OF GOD'S BLESSING: (Eph. 1:4-14) No one may know all the blessings God may bestow on all of us because each person's needs are different, situation is different and God's purpose on each of us is different. But there are some common blessings God will bestow on all of us. In 1:4-14, Paul listed 8 kinds of common blessing of God in us. For the purpose of a sermon not too complicated and easy to remember, I summed them up in five categories, like your five fingers as following:
1) God chose us with a purpose: ¡°For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.¡± (1:4) ¡°Chose¡±, ek-lego, to choose and pick the most suitable among many, like when you choose and pick the most suitable piece to build a Lego toy. God didn't choose us with his eyes closed, he chose with a purpose in mind. ¡°In him¡± means in his mind, his purpose instead of a random pick. The first purpose is to make us holy and blameless. He will use all kinds of means to purify us, shape us and make us the best as his master piece of creation. ¡°If anyone who is in Christ, he is a new creation.¡± (2 Corinthians 5:17) Do you know God has a purpose in your life and if you are fulfilling His purpose in you? Are you a new creation since you were saved, or you still live without any purpose for God?
2) God adopted us as his children: ¡°In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his children 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.¡± (1:5-6) We were adopted to be God's children because of Jesus Christ. No one may become a child of God by his own effort or any qualification but by believing in Jesus, the Son of God. To be adopted by a noble family is the most glorious experience of life in the Roman Empire, how much more is to be adopted by the almighty God who created and owns everything in this world? This adoption is purposed to bring praise to God for his glorious grace. So, we must live our lives that will bring God honor and glory. Do you live your life God may feel honored, and you are bringing glory to his name, his work and his purpose? Is God proud of you since you became one of his children?
3) God redeemed us with his blood: ¡°In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sin, in accordance with the riches of God's grace.¡± (1:7) ¡°Redemption¡± means to pay a price to redeem. God paid a high price in the blood of Jesus Christ to redeem us from the death penalty of our sins. He paid a life to save our lives. Salvation is free to us, but not free to God. How can anyone not feeling that we ¡°owe¡± God our lives for what he has given to save us? Redemption is the beginning of new life in us. The blood of Jesus has paid the debts of our sins so we are forgiven of all of our sins. We are no longer bound by the power of sin, and we should not continue to live in sin. The basis of redemption is from the riches of God's grace not from any good in us. So, Paul asks, ¡°Shall we keep on sinning so that God's grace may increase? God forbid! We died to sin; how can we live in sin any longer?¡± (Romans 6:1-2) Are we abusing the grace of God by continue to live in sin? Can we crucify Jesus again and again by continue to live in sin? God forbid!
4) God lavished us spiritual wisdom: ¡°Then he lavished on us all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his pleasure which he purposed in Christ.¡± (1:8-9) The ability to understand God's mystery and purpose of his will is a superior gift of God. No human being may understand, much less comprehend the will of God. People in the world don't understand why and how we Christians do what we do in our life because they never have those wisdom to understand God's purpose and will. Worldly wisdom helps us to achieve things of this world. Spiritual wisdom helps us to achieve things of heaven. It is God's wisdom in Paul that he could say: ¡°So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.¡± (2 Cor. 4:18) If we have spiritual wisdom, we see things others can't see; and decision we made others don't understand. Some Christians don't understand God's will in their lives because they lack the spiritual wisdom from God.
5) God guaranteed us his inheritance: ¡°Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession¡ªto the praise of his glory.¡± (1:13-14) In order to receive the inheritance, one must first believes in Jesus as Lord and savior. Then he will receive the Holy Spirit as a seal of God's child to receive inheritance. Then he becomes possession of God, belongs to God. In doing all these, God receives praise of his glory. The word inheritance, klepow, to assign a lot or a share. All Christians will receive their share of God's inheritance in heaven according to God's purpose. Many people, including some Christians, try so hard to buy or get some inheritance in this world like money, stock, property, building, houses. But none of these he may bring to heaven once he is done in this worldly life. God promised us his inheritance in heaven, prepared for you. Have you received that deposit of God, the Holy Spirit in your life? Do you have that seal to become family of God? Is your life bringing praise of his glory? Don't be fooled by the devil to spend your life for things temporary. Live your life for things eternal.
APPLICATION OF TRUTH:
1) Are you ready for the blessings? Back to my introduction that some people may think if he believes in Jesus, if he comes to church more often and if he become more dedicated to serve God, it is all to benefit the pastor and the church. Now you know it is never that way. If you do all the above, you are the one to receive all the blessings God prepares for you. We are here to tell you what God has said in the Bible so you may know the truth and choose the right way to believe, to come, to serve and to grow, so, you may one day to receive all the inheritance God promised to give to all of us. All your choices and how you live your life here and now have direct effect on your future in heaven. Salvation is free because God has paid the price with the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. But heavenly inheritance and blessing are reserved only to those who live their lives according to God's guidelines. Be smart to prepare yourself to receive all the blessing God has in stored for you.
2) What are you waiting for: You may think it is too late for you to get in line to receive the blessing God promised to all his children, but that is not true. If you think you are not good enough to receive anything from God, that is not true either. But you must make a decision here and now to start the process by first believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, willing to follow his word to live your life. Obey his words in the Bible to live your life. Get baptized and join a church. Become part of the family of God as his children with others to learn, to grow, to worship, to study, to serve and to give. Don't stay outside of the door and hesitate to take that step to come in. Billions had taken that first step and received all the blessing of the Lord, and never has anyone regret what they have chosen. Why wait for another day which you may or may not have.