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What Brings the Greatest Pleasure? A Concordia sermon on Ephesians 1:3-14

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What Brings the Greatest Pleasure?
Ephesians 1:3-14


† In Jesus Name †

May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ bring you as much pleasure as you receive it and share it with others as it brings God!

 The Pleasure of a Job Well Done

This week I had to drop off nine cases of books at Concordia University. Mark Siegert, one of the professors in the Cross-cultural Ministry Center and I used dollies to bring them from the car to the building, a distance of about 100 feet up a gradual hill.

As we finished, we both laughed.  For we both managed bookstores before we got into ministry, he ran Concordia’s and I ran Pepperdine’s.  Back in the day, we would unload with our crew, shipments of 200 plus cases. And barely be tired.  That day, we were both exhausted after three simple trips! On the way back, I thought of those days, I remember the feeling after a long day shuttling cases of books, and watching the sun go down over the ocean, drinking a coke with my employees.

There is something special about doing a good job, and the sense of pleasure from accomplishing it with people you call your friends.

If that is so, how much more pleasure would God have, from accomplishing His greatest work, and celebrating it with those he loves?

The Job He Has Done

In Paul’s epistle to the church in Ephesus, we heard this morning about the work of God and the pleasure it gives Him.   In fact, Paul was so impressed, he told us about this work of God in 12 ways, which I want to go over again.

1.  He blessed us with every spiritual blessing as we are united to Jesus

2. He chose us to be in Christ to be holy and without fault, any fault, as He looks at us!

That I think is a bit of work!  At least in my case!

3.  He adopted us into His own family! He did this, again, by uniting us to Jesus, to His death and resurrection!  This wasn’t just down to make us happy, to give us joy, but this is what said gave God the greatest pleasure!  Making us His kids in every sense of the Word.

4.  He poured out His glorious grace on us, for we belong to Jesus

5. He is so rich in Kindness He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son

We need to pause here, and stop and think that Jesus’s blood paid for that sin you committed on Wednesday, yes, that one sin you thought you could hide, that no one would know about.  He paid for that sin, with the blood poured out, there on the cross.

We need to understand this, not just the thousands of sins that we commit over a lifetime, but that sin that haunts us, that we fear if it became known, it would ruin us. That sin, as well as all the others, paid for so that we could be adopted.

6.  He will bring everything together as one, at the right time!

What a day that will be, no more division, nor more struggle!

7.  Because we are united to Jesus, we have an inheritance waiting for us, we have a place!

8. Because He chose us, everything in life will work out according to His plan!

now there are days I don’t understand how everything works out into His plan, and I have to be honest with that.  There are those times I don’t see it, yet, what gets me through those times is refocusing on His plan, on His desire that all would be with Him!  When I refocus on that, the suffering is still there, but somehow its grip on me diminishes in strength. For the more we look to Him, the surer we are of His love, and therefore His promises

9.  Even though others were saved first, God made sure that because we have heard His word, He has saved us as well!

Number 10 in this recounting of God’s work is amazing, and I wish we had hours to go into it.

10.  He identified us as HIS! He picked us out of the lineup and said, you are mine, and He did this by giving us the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, just as He promised long ago!

11. The Holy Spirit, given to us in baptism is the guarantee of the promises He gave us.

This wonderful comforter counted here as the guarantee of our salvation is just eh beginning of it.  Again, another sermon series could be on each of these points that Paul is sharing with the church in Ephesus!

and the final one, something that expands on an earlier point.

12.  He purchased us to be His people.

We are His people, and this is the work, the thing God has labored at, and suffered to see happen.

We are His, identified as His, adopted as His, united in Christ’s death where He paid for all our sins and freed us from them so we could have this wondrous relationship with Him!.

And someday, the sun will set for a final time, and all of us will arrive home.

This is what brings Him pleasure, not the

And find God rejoicing, with the largest of smiles, pleased at the work He has done, making us all His own.

Christianity is not just about getting us to heaven or avoiding hell, it isn’t just about doing good and not doing evil.  It is about being in a relationship with God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ whose blood was shed so that relationship would become possible.

Not just for you and me, but for every broken person that Christ died for, for every person He would save, for every person that God would adopt, for we know the pleasure it brings Him.

May he work through each one of us, helping us to see many more come to hear His of His work in their life!  AMEN!

 

The Limits of Pleasure and Happiness

Devotion/Discussion Thought of the Day:

 2  Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. 3  And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life. 4  Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!  Philippians 4:2-4 (NLT)

228    “Have a good time,” they said as usual. And the comment of a soul very close to God was, “What a limited wish!”  (1)

As Paul begins the 4th chapter of Philippians, he deals with conflict in the church, and assuming it is dealt with encourages joy – deep joy.  The reason is that reconciliation is always joyous – always worth the sacrifice, even though it is never quite a “good time”.  It is so far more than than just a good time, this joy that comes from doing that which is uncomfortable.

Yet many of us would prefer the good time, than invest the time in what would bring a far great joy.

We see a small example of this truth of investment when in the following.  Doing what is not a “good time” is like going to the doctor’s office – or to the gym – the investment of time and money always results in something more beneficial that sitting in a movie theater, or sitting in front of the television.  But we would rather not subject ourselves to the examination, to the questions, we would rather not hear the bad news – or spend the exertion in getting ourselves in shape. Blood, sweat and tears ( in both places) are lost, as well as time that could have been spent, “having a good time”  But having a good time often means dangerous things to our health, as we don’t take care of what needs to be taken care of.  Happiness and pleasure, short term things often result in more time suffering, more time in poor condition, more time in brokenness.  It is, as Josemaria points out – a very limited wish – a very limited blessing.  One which fades – quickly and devastatingly.

It is even more true spiritually though, this way in which we spend our time.

Being those who desire to see that which is broken healed means what we do isn’t often a “good time” .  It can often be painful, uncomfortable, awkward.  It means sacrificing both pleasure and happiness, looking to the joy- that in which the healing and reconciliation results.  But sacrificing it, even as Christ did (see Hebrews 12:2) for the joy set before us.  Helping people see they would rather have the joy than the very limited “good time”…. that is our call as well!

 

 

 

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 629-630). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Contentment….and the Father’s Day

“We are full of confidence, then, and long instead to be exiled from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9 And so whether at home or exiled, we make it our ambition to please him.
2 Corinthians 5:8-9 (NJB)

To please someone, to bring them contentment, to see them with the peace and joy that comes from seeing life in its completeness.

It’s reading an update from a deacon I serve with, who this weekend celebrates Father’s Day, by seeing his daughter graduate from High School, and his son from Junior High.  They have accomplished the task, they have finished a stage of life, and all is good.  For a moment – a weekend, a summer, it is all good.
I don’t think we get that this same kind of contentment joyous feeling of contentment, of pleasure is experienced by God – when His children are living in His grace, in His peace, as we go through those stages when we “get it” a little more…

When we are baptized (if an adult) and our body reacts to the weight of the sin removed from us, or the look on so many dad’s faces as their children are baptized… and they know the peace that God has poured out on their child, and on them.

When we realize that when we take and eat, and take and drink the Body and Blood of Christ – that it isn’t some act of our obedience that makes it special, but that it is the incredible love of God, spread before us, strengthening our trust in Him, rejoicing in the relationship He has brought us into….

When we love those around us, and show the imprint of the Holy Spirit on our lives.  When we show the mercy and peace and love of God …. in a way that seems natural to us, we may not even realize we are reflecting the love of Christ.  And in that moment, it is not natural – but supernatural.  God working through us, in us… and like a child working at his toy tool bench while his dad is really building something, we too bring a smile to God’s face.. we please Him.

Or when we come crying, broken and beaten up by our sin, and then find the comfort and peace that comes as He cleans us up again… and we allow Him to be our Dad….

It’s not hosting the crusade with 10’s of 1000’s hearing about Christ that is what we can do, to please God, to bring Him contentment….

It’s letting Him be our Father, it’s sharing in His work, it’s in spending time with Him, enjoying His love…

Have a great Father’s Day tomorrow….with your Heavenly Father (today as well!)

 

 

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