Sunday, December 24, 2017

One Church: All Things In Christ

EPHESIANS 3:16-20 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being. 17. So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18. May have power, TOGETHER, with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19. And to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to HIM be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
Paul was praying for the church at Ephesus that they would have power together in love through Christ. And that through the power that works in them, God could do more than we can ask or think.
Brother Holt spoke to us last week on moving from the sanctuary to the harvest, about following the spirit and staying under the fountain. I am excited about that! I believe it is possible! I also believe it is our purpose as a church.
The book of Ephesians talks about God's intentions for his people and insight into the nature of the church. Paul stresses the unity of believers and gives us practical ways to live in unity with God and one another.
I have been reading The Purpose Driven Life as a daily devotion and studying Ephesians for this message. I knew the Lord wanted me to preach Ephesians but I was struggling with exactly what he wanted me to say. In the mean time in my devotion time, I was reading about how God views my life. I was so blessed and humbled by what it had to say that I felt impressed to share it with you.
1. Life on earth is a test. God tests our character, faithfulness, love, obedience and loyalty.
2. Life on earth is a trust. Everything belongs to Him and he has placed things in our trust.
As I began to ponder these things and realize how it could change my life the Lord asked me how these revelations could change the church. More specifically, how these truths could change the church and help us move with the spirit.
Tonight I want to explore these truths in the context of the church and compare them to the Word of God and the Apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesians.
I. Life on earth is a Test: character, faith, love, obedience and loyalty
A. The bible is full of proof that God tests his people
1. He tested Abraham's faith when he asked him to sacrifice his son (he passed)
2. He tested Noah's faith and obedience when he asked him to build an ark (he passed)
3. He tested Joseph in many ways
4. He tested David and on many occasions he failed. Yet he was a man after God's own heart. God loved him. Even when David failed tests, his faith in God was strengthened because he repented and it served as a time of purging and David learned to rely more on God.
5. It is these tests, passed or failed, that strengthen our faith and our character if we let them.
B. As a church we are tested. Many times we have passed and many times we have failed.
1. AS a church we are tested in faithfulness, loyalty, obedience, integrity and love.
2. As a church we are tested as a whole and a whole is defined as the sum of it's parts.
3. Half of this church cannot pass the tests and move forward with the spirit. We must be as a whole faithful, loyal, obedient and most importantly, we must love one another. A divided church cannot follow the spirit. The church at Ephesus was tested. Jesus told them they were doing well with persevering and enduring hardships but He had this against them.... They had forsaken their first love. He told them they needed to repent or He would remove their lamp stand.
4. Ephesians 4:1-6 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle: be patient, bearing one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to one hope when you were called- one Lord, one faith, one baptism one God and one Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
5. As individuals in this church, we must all realize that we are tested everyday. By what we say, what we do, how we lead, if we follow. When I look at things that way, I want everything I say and do involving this church to edify and benefit the body. I want to pass the tests before me to build my character and make me more useful to the church and to the Lord.
II. Life on earth is a trust: everything belongs to God.
A. We are the body and Christ is the head of the body. The body receives life from the head. Let's look at what Paul said to the Ephesians.
1. Ephesians 1:18-23 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, 19. and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, 20. which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, 21.far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over EVERYTHING for the church, 23. which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.
B. This church has been entrusted to us.
1. Whatever part you play in this body has been entrusted to you. No power belongs to us. This building doesn't belong to us. It doesn't matter how much tithes you pay. The ministries, even if you are a leader, do not belong to us. Our pastor, no matter how much we pay him, does not belong to us. They have been entrusted to us. If we understand that simple truth, we will understand how important it is to seek God in everything we say, do and decide. When we talk about our sisters and brothers, we are not being good stewards with what God entrusted us with.
2. The scripture says according to HIS power that works in us. Paul is telling the Ephesians that in order to have their eyes enlightened, to see their calling, they must operate under His power. Church, if we are going to follow the spirit into the harvest we must first line every part of this body under the Head, who is Christ.
3. Then, and only then, will we be filled as a church to the measure with all the fullness of God.
a. That is when we are going to see miracles happen.
b. Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us.
If we want to see immeasurably more than we can ask for or imagine, we have to unite and line ourselves under the one who has all power and authority! We have to be one church from one end to the other. If we surrender all things to Christ we will be found faithful when we are tested. We will be found trustworthy with the church that was entrusted to us.
I don't know about you, but I've asked for God to do some things in this church. HE CAN DO MORE! I can imagine souls being saved in this alter every time the doors are open. I can imagine this church growing so much we have to build a bigger sanctuary. HE CAN DO MORE! I can imagine laying hands on every sick person and them being healed. I can imagine, just through our food pantry alone, souls being ministered to and lives being changed. HE CAN DO MORE THAN I CAN IMAGINE OR ASK! I can imagine our youth so on fire for God they are winning souls outside these four walls. I can imagine that they begin to recognize their callings and use them for God in this church. Church, HE CAN DO MORE THAN WE CAN ASK FOR OR IMAGINE! According to the power that works in us...

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