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Bible readings: John 15:1-5, 2 Corinthians 9:8-11
As you can see on the screen, the title of my message today is “R.E.M.A.I.N. in Christ”. I have been thinking a lot lately how it is important for us to remain firmly connected to Christ.
In our first passage that we just heard read, John 15:1-5 Jesus talks about our spiritual connection and says it is like vines and branches. It stresses the importance a close connection and staying connected.
This passage has lots of good stuff I could speak about today. It talks about God being the gardener who trims us and prunes us. Jesus talks about us being pruned and purified by His message. It talks about producing much fruit. But the part I want to focus on today is the words of Jesus, “Remain in Me and I will remain in you”.
Today I want to share six keys using the letters of the word remain to help us remember. These are my heart, the things I want to live out.
R- Rest in the finished work of Christ
John 19:28-30 – Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
The Bible tells us that Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross. He died to take our punishment. Just before He died He said, “It is finished”. The work of salvation is done. Now we don’t have to strive or strain any more. We just have to trust Jesus as our Lord and our Saviour.
Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
Church if you have confessed Jesus as your Lord and Saviour it is finished.
Not only can we rest in His work, we can rest that we are safely held in His hands.
Romans 8:38-39 tells us that nothing can separate us from Him. It says, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
To remain in Christ, rest in the finished work of Christ.
E – Evangelise: share your faith with others
Matthew 28:18-20 – Jesus came and told His disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
I call this passage the “All Consuming Call of Jesus”. In this passage it talks about how Jesus has ALL authority, it talks about how Jesus told us to make disciples of ALL nations, it talks about how ALL the Trinity is involved, it talks about how Jesus told us to teach the new disciples to obey ALL His commands and it finishes with Jesus promising to be with us ALL-ways.
Right from the moment I was first saved back in July of 1989 I have had a desire to tell other people about Jesus. I knew what my life was like before I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and I knew how my life changed. I had no real hope, purpose or direction. I bounced from one thing to another. That all changed when Jesus entered my world. I had a new hope for the this life and the next to come, I had a new purpose of sharing my faith with others, I had a new direction to learn and grow in my faith, so I could be a light to those around me.
I believe there is something that happens to us when we share our faith with others. We become more alive and more aligned with God eternal plans of salvation. And nothing is more encouraging than people coming to Jesus, people being baptised, people committing to come to church, people truly deciding to be a lifelong follower of Jesus.
If you want to remain in Christ, evangelise others.
M – Maintain a close walk with the Lord
John 15:4 – Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
In John 15 Jesus stresses the importance of being connected to Him. Our connection to Him is where we get our spiritual life.
Anyone who has ever trimmed trees would have noticed that if the trimmed parts are left in the sun, they quickly wither and die. While the branches still connected, thrive. They can still produce flowers or fruit. They can still do the things they were created to do. We are like those branches, if we stay connected, we can produce the things we were created to produce.
As Christians we know that we keep connected through prayer, worship, serving, Bible reading and church fellowship. Connection via these things are keys to remaining Christ. They keep us strong and our connection strong.
The Greek word used in the text for remain is men’-o. It means to stay. Other words that can be used to describe it are – abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, stand. These all give us a sense of staying steadfast in one place. This is what Christ wants is to do.
One of the best things I ever did to keep connected to Christ was start a prayer journal. This is my prayer journal from the year 2000. I can look back and see what I prayed for on a given day, what Bible passages I read, that I did a devotion from Our Daily Bread and most importantly I can reflect on how God answered my prayers. Having a prayer journal has kept me firmly anchored to Christ no matter how big the storms of life have been.
To remain in Christ, maintain a close walk with the Lord.
A – Aim to be a vehicle of blessing
2 Corinthians 9:8,11 – And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
A great theme of the Bible is God wants to use us to bless others. In our second reading Paul talks about God blessing us, so we can bless others. It talks about God providing enough for us and leftovers to pass on to others.
As Christians we need to see ourselves as vehicles of blessings. We need to think of ways to bless, support, uphold and encourage others. Allow God to move through you each day. Serving God keeps daily keeps us in Christ.
When I was a new Christian a friend of mine had a goal to do one thing a day for others. She had become very self centred and to change her habits she became intentional in her efforts. It might be a nice phone call, a card, helping with gardening, delivering a food parcel. Her goal was to do 7 things in 7 days each week. She would tick it off on the calendar and write down what she did. Before long, her lifestyle changed to one of blessing. After about a year, she no longer had to record it any more as she had changed so much. She became a vehicle of blessing. This story inspired me so much that it has become my goal too.
To remain in Christ, aim to be a vehicle of blessing.
I – Imagine eternity with Christ
John 14:2-3 – My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Jesus said He is preparing a place for us in eternity. He also said He is coming back for us one day. A great truth of the Bible is we will spend way more time in eternity than we will in this life. It makes sense to think about our eternal home. The Bible says we are citizens of heaven in Philippians 3:20 and Colossians 3:1-2 says that we should set our hearts of minds on things above.
When I think of heaven I think of no more death (Isaiah 25:8). When I think of heaven I think of new heavenly bodies that will never wear out (2 Corinthians 5:2). When I think of heaven I think of no more sadness, suffering and pain (Revelations 21:4). When I think of heaven I think of streets paved with gold and gates made of pearl (Revelation 21:21). When I think of heaven I think of a place that needs no sun or moon as God’s glory will be its light (Revelations 21:23). When I think of heaven I think of a place where we will not need a Temple as God will the Temple (Revelation 21:23). When I think of heaven I think of a place where we will be His people and He will be our God (Revelation 21:3).
Focusing on our eternal home helps and inspires us to walk closely with Christ and Remain in Him. When I imagine our eternal home and that Jesus may come back today, it helps me to keep focused.
To remain in Christ, imagine eternity with Christ.
N – Never allow yourself to be overcome by the world
John 16:33 – I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Jesus told us in John 16:33 that in this life we will have many trials and sorrows. Unfortunately, this is part of living in a fallen world that is marred by sin. But Jesus also said in this verse to not lose heart, because He has overcome the world.
Jesus, the author and perfecter of our life and faith, has overcome this world. We are on His team and He is for us. A key to remaining in Christ is to not let the world overcome us.
It can be so easy when we hear bad news in the media to lose heart. But I have learned that when I hear of bad things in the media to use it as a call to prayer, rather than an opportunity to be discouraged.
The Greek word for overcome used in this passage is nik-ah’-o. It means to subdue: – conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory. It gives us a sense of something that is full and complete. Much like when Jesus said, “It is finished”.
Galatians 6:9 reminds us to “not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” The simple fact that Galatians 6:9 tells is not to become weary in doing good, tells us that we can get weary. The world can press in and overcome us. When this happens we need to – Stand firm. Stand strong. Focus on Christ. Keep serving and know that He has overcome.
To remain in Christ, never allow yourself to be overcome by the world.
Today we have looked at a great passage from John 15. It likens our relationship with Jesus and being like vines and branches. Jesus told us that to produce much fruit we ween to be connected to the Vine.
We saw six keys using the letters of remain.
- Rest in the finished work of Christ
- Evangelise others
- Maintain a close walk with the Lord
- Aim to be a vehicle of blessing
- Imagine eternity with Christ
- Never allow yourself to be overcome by the world
The title of my message today is “10 things God says about you in the Bible”. Today I want to use Romans 12:3 as my starting verse and go from there.
Romans 12:3 says, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
This verse reminds of the important of having a right view of ourselves. It says we should think of our self with sober judgement. The Greek word used here for sober is so-fron-eh’-o. It means to think and be in your right mind or to think correctly about ourselves. Some people think too highly of themselves, while others have a too low opinion. The best way to think right about ourselves in by seeing who God we are in the Bible.
As Christians I believe at times we need to be reminded of who God says we are. Sometimes we forget just how loved we are and just how important we are to God. Today I want to look at 10 Scriptures that changed and transformed my life. They helped me to see myself through God’s eyes and are helping me to fulfil the destiny God has before me.
The main focus is to let God’s Word speak to our hearts and minds. I will read each Scripture and make a short comment.
1. You are created in God’s image
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
We are made in God’s image. According to most theologians or Bible scholars, being made in God’s image has three aspects or three schools of thought…
- Structural – Structural in the way we are made. We think, can reason, make choices and love. We are logical cognitive beings. When we do these things we reflect God’s image.
- Vocational – God is vocational. He is creative in the way He works and created this world. When we create and work and use our gifts in the world around us we reflect God’s image.
- Relational – God is in the perfect loving triune relationship – the Trinity. Three persons, but one in love, purpose, mission, unity and relationship. When we love God and relate to each other in loving ways we reflect God outwards to the world around us.
While most theologians or Bible scholars fall into one of those camps, I believe that being made in the image of God is a combination of all three. When we make choices, when we work using God’s gifts and when we related lovingly to each other, we reflect God’s image.
As Christ followers we need to remember that God’s DNA is stamped on us. Yes the fall of man skewed the image when God cast Adam and Eve out of the garden and sin entered the world, but it was restored in Christ’s death and resurrection. We are able to reflect all God wants us to be.
2. You were chosen before the foundation of the world
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— (Ephesians 1:4-5)
God chose us before the creation us the world. What did He choose us for? To be holy and blameless in His sight. Why? Because that would give Him pleasure! It was His will and prior choice to have you in His Kingdom and adopted into His eternal family.
3. You were created for good works
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
We are created by God for good works that He planned for us before He made the world. You were on His mind and He had a job for you to do. Like Queen Esther was chosen for a time such as this, so are you. God made you perfectly to play your part. He used all the right ingredients when moulding you on His potter’s wheel. You are gifted with everything you need to do all He needs you to do. Next week we will look into this in a deeper way when we look at using our gifts well.
4. You were adopted as children of God
Yet to all who received him [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— (John 1:12)
We are God’s children. Adopted into His eternal family because our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. We are co-heirs with Christ. We are all born into this world in to natural families. Some are good and some are not so good. But when we come to Christ we enter the eternal family of God. We here are brothers and sisters. Not just for this life, but for all eternity.
As I shared in my message a few weeks ago – we will spend way more time in eternity than we will on earth. When we have been there 10,000 years we have only just begun. Look around and see your brothers and sisters in Christ. These relationships will last for eternity. We are brothers and sisters in Christ forever and ever and ever. We are adopted into Christ and God’s eternal family.
5. You have the power of the resurrection inside you
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)
Not only are we God’s children and made in God’s image, but we have part of God living inside us. We have resurrection power living in us. The Bible also tells us that we are a Temple of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit resides in you (1 Corinthians 6:19). When we come together we have part of the Creator of the universe resides in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). We don’t have to feel powerless because the same Spirit who hovered over the waters and the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is alive and active in you.
6. You are no longer condemned
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)
Often we feel condemned and unworthy in the face of a Holy God. God tells us in the Bible there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. None at all. The Greek word used here for condemned is kat-ak’-ree-mah. It means an adverse sentence or judgement from a judge. We are condemned and ready to be sentenced to jail. But this verse says there is no condemnation. No sentence against us. Our judgement has been put aside.
As a result we can’t let other people make us feel condemned, or the devil and we can’t even condemn ourselves. We are free. Personally I was the worst offender at condemning myself. If I spoke to you the way I spoke to myself most of the time, then you would not want to be my friend and you would definitely not want me preaching up front! Romans 8:33-34 NLT told me that if God has said we are right with Him, who can condemn us. No-one! Not even ourselves! Now I am free to live in the love of Christ. Free from condemnation.
7. You are alive and seated with Christ
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)
When Jesus returned to heaven He took up the highest place in the universe – seated at the right hand of the Father. These verses tell us that spiritually we are seated right there with Christ. You hold a special place in the heavenly realm. Learning this at Bible college changed my whole perspective on life and how I see myself. I now see my standing as with Christ. I can hold my head up high.
8. God created you in your mother’s womb
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13).
This is David praying/talking to God. David realised the special role God played in creating him. He knit him together in his mother’s womb. The potter moulded and shaped him into a future king. God also knit you together. Making you exactly how He wanted you to be. There are no mistakes. You are what He intended you to be. God said that same thing to Jeremiah. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “before I created you, I knew you.”
9. God loved you and sent His Son for you
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)
God loved you so much that He couldn’t bear for you to miss out on spending eternity with Him. He sent Jesus to die for you. Jesus gave His life for you. For God so loved you as it says in John 3:16. It is the greatest sacrifice and the greatest demonstration of love of all time. He loved you first and planned always for you to be His treasured possession. You are God’s treasured possession. Loved and treasured. God is besotted with you.
When God looks at you He looks at you with the pride and love of a parent holding their new born child, or like when you watch your children play, or like when you see your child ride their bike for the first time, or when you see your child grow up and marry. There is an immense love and pride in you. God loves you. He adores you. He is besotted with you.
10. You are free in Christ
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)
If you are in Christ, you are free. Free of worry about salvation, free of worry about the future, free of the past, free of sin, free of guilt, free of condemnation, free of striving to be accepted, free of the need to know if God loves you or not. He loves you and accepts you. You are His. You are chosen. You are part of His eternal family. You are free of everything that would hold you back from being all God wants you to be.
Today we have looked at 10 passages that tell us who we are and what we have in Christ. And this is only just scratching the surface of the amount of passages in the Bible that tell us how important to and how loved we are by God.
When we fully believe these verses it changes our hearts and minds and it truly changes the way we live. We can stand taller and we can be confident in taking on the world knowing that God loves us, is with us and is on our side.
- You are made in God’s image
- You were chosen before the world was made
- You were created and equipped for good works
- You are adopted into His family
- You have the Holy Spirit living inside you
- You are no longer condemned
- You are seated with Christ
- You were knit together in your mother’s womb
- You are truly loved by God
- You are free in Christ. Free from everything that would hold you back.
It is my hope and prayer that you will take these Scriptures home with you and read them everyday this week. Let them sink deep into your heart and mind. Amen.
Bible Reading: Romans 12:1-21
The title of my message today is “Five ways to be a living sacrifice”. For my devotions this past week or so I have been working my way through Romans 12. As I did this Romans 12:1 has really stuck in my mind.
Romans 12:1 NLT says, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him”.
In this verse Paul urges us as believers to follow Jesus example in being a sacrifice, but rather die for sin, we die to ourselves and offer ourselves to God. Paul encourages us to be living sacrifices. To give our lives for God’s service. He says that this is an acceptable sacrifice to God and the way we truly worship Him. It is a right response to the actions of a loving God.
But how do we go about being a living sacrifice? What are some of the things it entails? If we read through the rest of chapter Romans 12 Paul gives us a few clues. Today I just want to touch on some of the things that jumped out at me as I meditated on this chapter.
1. Renew our mind
Verse 2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Renewing your mind. This is a vital first step if we are wanting to live a life in God’s service and be a living sacrifice. We need to line our hearts and minds up with God’s thinking.
How do we do this? The primary way is by prayerfully reading, reflecting and meditating on the Bible. As we do this we allow God’s Spirit and God’s Word to enter our minds and sink deep into our hearts. The result of this if we do it diligently over a period of time, it changes our hearts to our minds forever. The result of this is “Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
I find that as the years go by and my mind is renewed more and more, the things of God become easier and more natural to do. It is easier to love others, it is easier to serve others and it is easier to live by Kingdom standards.
In many ways our minds are like the gearboxes of our lives. If our minds are renewed, it is easier to put them in D for drive and go forward in Christ and His will for our lives. If they are not renewed we might be in Park, Neutral or even Reverse. Those who drive an automatic will know that if you are in drive, you only have to take your foot off the brake and you start moving forward.
As I said I will unpack renewing our minds in a deeper way in a future sermon. But today I just want to make the first point that a key to being a living sacrifice is to renew our minds.
2. Use our gifts well
Verses 6-8 – “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
Paul tells us to use whatever gift God has given us to the best of our abilities. If it is to prophesy, teach, serve, give, show kindness or encourage we should do the best job we can.
In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Paul also says, “4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”
And in 1 Peter 4:10 Peter reminds us to, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
Using our gifts well is a key part of being a living sacrifice for God. This is sometimes where the sacrifice part comes in. There is work is finding, recognising and developing your gifts. I may be an encourager but we have to work at it. My loner tendencies needed to be overcome so I could be where people were who needed encouragement. I was told I had a gift of teaching, but I had to work to develop my gift with diligent study. I also had to get over my paralysing fear of public speaking. It can be hard and a sacrifice, but there is no greater and more peaceful place to be than being right in the middle God’s will using God’s gifts for the good of others. I wouldn’t be standing here today if I didn’t work hard to develop my gifts.
3. Really love each other
Verses 9-10 – “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves”.
Both the NIV and the NLT say this well, but I love the way the NLT puts it “Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them”. That is straight to the point!
I remember when our girls were young we put this verse on the fridge. We then had a list of ways we could show we really love someone. It said things like…
- Pray for them
- Do nice things for them
- Share things with others
- Listen to them
- Speak nicely to them
- Give them a hug
- Give them a present
- One even said by giving them chocolate!
Kids have a way of putting things simply. I have never forgotten these things. They showed me that we love others in practical ways, by helping when they are in need. This is sometimes a sacrifice. But it is well worth it. Because it means we are living out this life that Jesus calls us to live and being a light unto the world around us.
There are a number of other places in the New Testament that talks about the importance of loving one another.
1 John 4:7 – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:11 – Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
John 13:34-35 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
These verses remind us that we are commanded to love one another, that those who love are born of God, that since God loves us we should love one another and by our love for one another people we know we are Jesus’ disciples. My heart is to be known as a disciple of Jesus, so I need to love others.
4. Live in harmony with each other
Verses 14-18 – “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
In the next section Paul urges us to live at peace with everyone. The NIV says to live at peace with everyone as much as it depends on you.
I remember years ago I worked with a lady who just didn’t like me. No matter what I did or said she just would not warm up to me. She would even go out of her way to make sure I did not receive favourable treatment at work. One day I read these verses and it reminded me that no matter how she treats me I had to live at peace with her. So I prayed and asked God to help me work with her and to ask if there was ways I could bless her. In time I emailed her and apologised if I had offended her without knowing. As a result, we were able to talk and the problem was sorted. We had a good working relationship and were able to talk and we did not a barrier between us.
It really brought home to me that we should try to love and serve others even if they persecute us as Christians. God makes it very clear it is not our place to curse or take revenge. That is a big sacrifice at times and is contrary to a worldly way of thinking.
If you want to be a living sacrifice, you need to live at peace with everyone as much as it depends on you.
5. Conquer evil with good
Verse 21 – “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good”
Paul finally finishes this section with a plea to not let evil overcome us, but we need to press on and overcome evil with good deeds. I remember years ago I was heavily involved in community outreach with our church in Perth. We would go door to door giving away Jesus videos. We were on fire and we wanted to take on the world. Then along came September 11. It is when I let evil overcome me. I was horrified at the evil people could do to each other. It really knocked me and I found it hard to go out every Saturday. I knew there was evil in the world, but somehow it brought it home to me. It took me a few months to get back on tract.
Verse 21 was one of the things that helped me get back on tract. God commands us to conquer evil by doing good.
Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. I think Princess Di used that in one of her famous speeches too.
It can be a sacrifice to have an overcoming attitude. But if we keep moving forward and serving God by serving others the Bible promises we will reap a harvest at the right time. It tells us this is Galatians 6:9.
As we can see from these things being a living sacrifice is about:
- Renewing our minds to line up with Kingdom thinking
- Using our gifts well
- Living at peace with those around us.
- Really loving and serving others.
- Conquer the evil things that take place in this world by doing good.
And while we do these things we are to keep our hope, be patient when things are going wrong and keep praying faithfully.
Bible Readings: Ephesians 2:1-10, Romans 8:31-39
The title of my message today is “Five reminders from the Apostle Paul”. We are going to mainly look at the first 10 verses from Ephesians chapter 2 and briefly touch on our second passage from Romans 8.
In chapter one of Ephesians we see that Paul really set the scene of who they are in Christ. He tells them they are chosen by God, redeemed by Jesus and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Then he gives thanks to God for them and prays a wonderful prayer for them that talks about knowing who they are in Christ and having spiritual insight and wisdom.
In chapter 2:1-10 Paul gives the church five reminders for the Ephesians that I think can encourage us today. They will come up on the screen as we go.
1. Paul reminds us of our old way of life
Verses 1-2 says – Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil–the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.
These two verses tell us of our condition without Christ. We were dead because of our sin and we followed the ways of the world or as some translations put it, the ways of the devil.
Paul wanted to remind the church that now as Christians we are alive in Christ. We have a new life in Christ, and we are a part of a new Kingdom. However, he doesn’t want them to forget where they came from. Remembering where they came from was very important to Paul.
As Christians today we need to remember where we have come from and what Christ has saved us from – eternity without God. Romans 3:23 tells us we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and Romans 6:23 tells us the wages of sin is death. Before Christ we followed the ways of the world, not the ways of the Kingdom.
So, Paul reminds us of our old way of life.
2. Paul reminds us of God’s intervention
Verses 4-5 – But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God\’s grace that you have been saved!)
We were sinners, but God intervened because of His rich mercy and His great love.
I believe two of the greatest words in the Bible are “but God”. I did a search on my Bible software for the phrase ‘but God”. It appeared 64 times. It says things like…
• but God heard their prayer,
• but God did not let them get harmed,
• they meant it for harm, but God meant it for good,
• but God knew what would happen,
• but God formed the earth by His power,
• but God raised Him from the dead (about Christ)
As Christians we can never forget who we are and where we have come from. We can never forget that for salvation to take place there are three things – a need, a provision and a response. We need to be saved because we can’t save ourselves from our sin; we have a provision of Christ’s death on the cross for us; and we need to respond in faith – we need to believe in Jesus and accept what He has done for us.
Paul wanted to remind the Ephesians church and by extension us today, that we were alone and utterly helpless, but God intervened and brought us salvation in Christ. We can never forget this.
3. Paul reminds us of our new seating in Christ
Verse 6 – For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
The Bible tells us that when Jesus returned to heaven He was seated at the right hand of the Father. That is the highest place of honour in the whole universe. There is no greater place than being seated next to the Father.
The good news today is, if you are in Christ Jesus (that means walking in relationship with Him, trusting Him for your salvation, and have received Him as your King) then you are spiritually seated with Christ in the heavenly realms! You are spiritually seated with Him in the highest place in the universe! I will just let you soak that in a bit!
Because of this great news you no longer have to walk around with your face pointing to the ground or your shoulders hunched over. You and I no longer have to feel unworthy. We have high standing and high honour with the King and Creator of the universe! You and I are seated with Christ.
Paul wanted to remind the Ephesians where they were seated. Today I want to remind you.
4. Paul reminds us of God’s grace
Verses 8-9 – God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can\’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
In one of my Bible dictionaries it describes Grace as the unmerited or undeserving favor of God to those who are under condemnation. But one of the best descriptions of grace is the G.R.A.C.E. acronym – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
To dig a little deeper in to the definition of God\’s grace, it helps to understand the original Hebrew and Greek words behind this term. A prominent Old Testament word describing God\’s grace is Chesed. This word speaks of deliverance from enemies, affliction, or adversity. It also denotes enablement, daily guidance, forgiveness, and preservation. The New Testament word is Charis. It focuses on the provision of salvation through God\’s grace and Christ\’s work on the cross.
We know that we were utterly helpless to save ourselves and God intervened. We also saw in my first point about our old way of life. But God’s grace saved us and God’s grace also keeps us in the palm of His hand. In our second reading from Romans we saw things like “If God is for us, who can can be against us?”, that Christ is seated next to the Father interceding for us, and it also tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love. This is both sides of God’s grace in action. By His grace He saved us and by His grace He keeps us in the palm of His hand.
Paul wanted the Ephesians and us to remember God’s grace.
5. Paul reminds us of our new purpose
Verse 10 – For we are God\’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.
In Ephesians 2:10 it tells us two great truths. You are God’s masterpiece. God didn’t just slap you together quickly. You are His masterpiece. Like the world considers the Statue of David and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel a masterpiece, God considers you a masterpiece that He knit together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 119:13). You are a masterpiece!
The second great truth is that God made you with a purpose. Ephesians 2:10 says God made you a masterpiece, He created you anew in Christ Jesus, and He has a wonderful purpose He planned for you long ago.
Imagine with me for a moment, God having you on His mind before the foundation of the world. You are not here by chance. You are here with a good purpose to make an amazing difference in this world. Each one of us here is called, gifted and sent out to make a difference. We do this by our prayers, our encouragement of others, by living faithfully to God and doing what we can do today. Church I want to say to you that you are good, and your purpose is good. Because both you and your purpose were created by God. We are God’s masterpieces for God’s master works.
In chapter 1 of Ephesians Paul talks about God choosing us before the foundation of the world. In chapter 2 it says God chose us before the foundation of the world for good works. We are chosen for salvation and chosen for good works.
Paul wanted to remind us of our new purposes today.
Today we looked at Ephesians 2:1-10. We looked at five things the Apostle Paul wanted them and us to remember. They were…
1. Paul reminds us of our old way of life
2. Paul reminds us of God’s intervention
3. Paul reminds us of our new seating in Christ
4. Paul reminds us of God’s grace
5. Paul reminds us of our new purpose
Let us pray.