Ephesians 1:1-2 - The gospel of God’s grace revealed, forever changes one’s life.
Ephesians 1:1-2 The gospel of God’s grace revealed, forever changes one’s life. INTRO First it was COVID-19 that kept us in lock down. Inside, only go out for essentials. Then recently the far reaching smoke that quickly closed the doors on safely spending time outside. For your health it was best to stay indoors, run the central air if you have it and avoid the smoke. Both scenario’s had similarity in being somewhat confined to your home. Not able to exhibit the typical freedom we were so accustomed to. During those times…What predominantly occupied your thoughts? “I can’t wait for this to pass” ..pandemic or the smoke. OR maybe… “This stinks..This is lousy…I’m bored,…not getting outside to do what is considered my norm is NOT healthy for me. Both Physical and Psyche. My mental well being and my physical well being is in great jeopardy under these restraints.” I imagine they OR similar thoughts circulated in your mind during those closed in times. What if you were under house arrest. Not in a prison cell but literally not permitted to leave your home at all…and not just for 2 weeks as those who have been quarantined experienced. Not 2 weeks which would be hard enough but months..YEARS. Where would your thoughts take you? TODAY we get a peak into the heart and mind of one forever changed by Jesus Christ as to what weighed heavily upon his THOUGHTS. The opening verse makes clear who is writing this letter and who it is addressed to. (verse 1) “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus.” PAUL, who wrote this epistle while under house arrest in Rome, has three things on his heart and mind steadily occupying his ongoing train of thought. The three things are: God, the Gospel and the Church. In this case, there is not an issue in the church that Paul needs to address, not a false teaching to refute…as it was with other letters Paul wrote to churches…NO, nothing of that nature. Paul, with God, the Gospel and the Church heavily upon his heart and mind is compelled to write a letter to these believers in Ephesus to build them up in the love of Christ. A CHURCH, made up of a body of believers, he planted some years back (Acts 19) and spent over two years with in Ephesus teaching and preaching…establishing the church to be firmly grounded in Christ. What we will see in Paul’s letter, he is compelled to write to these believers in Ephesus for their upbuilding in the love of Christ, is that he starts at the highest point. Paul starts with God. Paul gives full attention to GOD with immediate link to all that saints, all that christians, the CHURCH, those in Christ Jesus…all they have because of ‘Him’ through the GOSPEL. It’s all His doing through Jesus, not theirs. It’s all a gift of God “to the praise of His glory” It’s the Gospel. He works out His theology by starting - not with man….but with the Pinnacle. With the most highest possible mark to start with. He starts with God. As we all should when considering the Gospel when working out our theology…studying what we believe about God as revealed to us in scripture. Always start with God and then, from there, work out the implications thereof. That is why Paul, multiple times in the letter as you will see, takes us to the next connected thought by saying “For this reason…” that is stated three times… “For this reason…” of what Truth of God was just stated…this is the right response…You’ll see that in other epistles as well by other authors….OR, another familiar implication intro you’ll hear is… “Therefore.…” NOW with this wonderful reality about God and the Gospel of His Son Jesus Christ made known to US “… we Therefore.…”… “Therefore”…the intro to the implications of now having that revealed. NOW that we know this of the Gospel of the grace of God and how it relates to us through Jesus Christ by the powerful working of His Spirit we now ‘Therefore’ draw these conclusions, these clear irrefutable outcomes. This epistle is split right down the middle on this hinge point. The first 3 chapters….share.. focused thought progression on the Gospel of the grace of God and the second 3 chapters…the thought progressions for the ‘implications’ thereof. A 6 chapter book. The start of chapter 4 (verse 1) “I therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,…” From there, the next 3 chapters… 4,5 & 6…proceed working through the various aspects of living out this New Life in light of the realities revealed to us of the Gospel of God’s grace. As demonstrate by Paul, that is the sequence we are to follow in our theology,…in our seeking to know God through the study of His Word. Start with God, End with your response to what is revealed of Him for which,….mind you…FOR WHICH you are accountable to Him for. His letter is also heavily weaved throughout with the TRINITY. Our Triune God, working through each person in the God Head. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “By the will of God…according to the purposes of God” or similitude phrases of it are repeated, as is the phrasing ‘in and through’ JESUS…that will be abundantly clear (in Him, in the Beloved, in whom, from whom….we’ll see this repeated as we course through this entire epistle)…..great emphasis is placed on everything being in Christ…..and by - here is the 3rd person in the God Head, and BY the Powerful working of His Spirit. You see - The GOSPEL. It’s the Father’s plan, fulfilled in and through Jesus Christ by the Power of the Holy Spirit. PAUL, with angelic form, threads the mystery of God’s will revealed to him through the gospel and the workings of it out among the Trinity on behalf of the CHURCH to the praise of His glory…Which is another phrase you’ll hear repeated. “to the praise of His glory” It’s all for glory of God… And it is… For this reason ——- as Paul states…For this very reason, that those in Christ Jesus, life will never be the same. The opening of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus and also us…provides three testifiers of that. That the gospel of God’s grace revealed forever changes one’s life. The first testimony of that is a radically changed life. BODY 1) FIRST POINT - (Ephesians 1:1). A Radically Changed Life What do we know of this man Paul who penned this letter to the church at Ephesus? As already stated, we know that Paul started the church in Ephesus, that he spent over two years there teaching and preaching…so much has been vested into these believers by Paul who is now, under house arrest in Rome. Essentially in prison which he makes mention of later in this epistle (Ephesians 3:1, 4:1). BUT, before he was an apostle, before he was planting churches, what do we know of him? For starters, from another one of Paul’s letters written we learn that he would be considered weak in physical stature and voice, (2 Corinthians 10:10) “For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”….YET…yet he was a force to be reckoned with nonetheless….due to his ZEAL for what - he - believed. PAUL was strategic, an intellectual powerhouse, and had an inner fire that was seemingly unpersuadable. Consider, he at one point (Acts 20:22-23) “…being constrained by the Spirit to go up to Jerusalem,…..not knowing what will happen to him there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to Paul that in every city imprisonment and aﬄictions await him.” Consider that while having that burden upon him….which is heavy enough…It is then further exacerbated by the added measure of loving brethren begging him not to go because of what awaited him. Aaagh!…Talk about being powerfully pulled in heart two diﬀerent directions to the brink of being torn apart. (Acts 21:13). “Then Paul answered them…those begging him not to go, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” LIKE….Aaagh!…you guys!…“Your tearing my heart out.” Honest and open is PAUL about how much angst he had over their hurt…NOT over what was awaiting him but their heartache expressed towards him out of their love for him who were fearful for his life. He broke down over that BUT….but was still not persuaded…..he was still not persuaded from the convictions firmly held that he was to go to Jerusalem knowing great persecution awaited him. We see this faithfully demonstrated in the life of Paul. Steadfast and boldly courageous for Jesus. Paul started strong…He faithfully endured suﬀering through the years of ministry for the sake of Christ ..countless beatings, sleepless nights, shipwreck, hunger, exposure, stoning…and more he faithfully endured sharing in the suﬀerings of Christ for the sake of the Church and He …..finished well…he finished His course, His orders received from His commander in chief. He fought the good fight firm to the end. He was a force to be reckoned with. PAUL was also…..he was also a force to be reckoned with - before his conversion to Christianity. (Acts 9:1-2) “But Saul (which was Paul’s name before His conversion..Saul who became Paul). But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” He attested to this himself in (Galatians 1:13) “For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.” And this was legit. After his conversion (Acts 9:21) “….all who heard him speaking of salvation through Jesus Christ - they were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name?…the very name he is preaching…And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them (that’d be christians) to bring them bound before the chief priests?” The people couldn’t believe what their eyes were seeing. NOR did the disciples of Jesus. (Acts 9:26) “And when he (Paul) had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. ‘attempted’…And they were all… YES all…afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.” LIKE ‘No way Jose’. You’re trying to pull oﬀ a conversion just to get in the ranks amongst us..amongst the disciples and take us all bound oﬀ to prison. Um..mm. No no, I don’t think so Saul. Not gonna happen. The disciples of Jesus Christ didn’t buying it from the start either and were fearful of him and for good - cause. It required Barnabas (son of encouragement) to take them aside and assure them… “no, this is for real. This is for real. He is no longer the same man. His life has been forever changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason, they welcome him in as a brother. Paul’s life was radically changed. He testifies to it himself this way (Galatians 1:14-16) “And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles,….” And PAUL immediately obeyed…and all the faculties of his person once set to destroy the church of Christ - was now set to build it up. And it’s important to note church…the fact that Paul had a lot of virtuous qualities about his character, that at one time were just directed in an unrighteous manner…until his life was forever changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this reason, these virtues of Paul, these qualities geared toward destroying the church are now leveraged to build it up. Let’s take encouragement from this church. I mean,….IS there anyone in or outside your family whom you are desirous to see come to faith and steadfastly follow the Lord? One who has a lot of strengths and abilities but sadly you see them all directed in unrighteous pursuits. LISTEN, and be encouraged to know that God delights in taking that which was once harnessed for evil purposes to turn it and use it for good. And it doesn’t have to be explicitly evil, vile things….it simply could be vain, empty, meaningless things that have no value, no beneficial contribution to society things to which receive all the individuals attention and ability. The GOSPEL, like the flip of a switch, can harness all the strengths and God given abilities once used for unrighteous purposes,…to be set on a new course. ALL because of the gospel. For this reason, in Christ Jesus,….Life will never be the same. Saul was one who was so zealous for the traditions of His fathers under the Law and persecuted the church to point of death because of it. NOW as Paul “Considered his life not of any value nor as precious to himself if only he may finish his course and the ministry he received from the Lord Jesus Christ, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24) Encouragement to us who are desirous to see a friend, coworker, relative, family member come to faith and follow JESUS. Train your eye to see the unique qualities the person has and pray that God’s will to the praise of His glorious grace… would be to harness them for His righteous purposes in Christ Jesus. IF opportunity presents itself, aﬃrm those qualities so long as it doesn’t, in the same breath, approve unrighteous behavior. So long as it doesn’t condone sin… Because of the gospel of the grace of God, life was never the same for Paul,… same as for all who are in Christ Jesus. A radically changed life testifies to it. As does also our place in regards to AUTHORITY. As ones both under authority and entrusted with it on behalf of Jesus Christ. PAUL, by the will of God, was an apostle of Jesus Christ…as his opening address to the church in Ephesus states. Paul, under the authority of Jesus was called by God to be an apostle. (Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1) And this is a Capital ‘A’ Apostle. The word Apostle could be used in broader terms to describe one who is simply sent…which literally is what the word means. Sent or to send away. A person commissioned by God as His representative or messenger. Sent on a mission to found and establish churches. A disciple of Christ commissioned by God to preach the gospel. The word apostle could be used to describe such examples. There is however, a distinguished Apostleship that stands far apart from the broader context. FIRST of all, Scripture applies the word ‘apostle’ to Jesus Christ himself. (Hebrews 3:1) “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and high priest of our confession..” JESUS was certainly one who was ‘sent’. SENT by God the Father to accomplish His mission plan of salvation. JESUS was sent from Heaven to earth and completed his mission. He was an apostle in that sense. Capital ‘A’ apostle. AND then there were those apostles who wrote scripture as Paul, one of them, states in chapter 2 of this letter (Ephesians 2:20) when speaking of us all, Jew and Gentile alike being all members of the household of God… the house being “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,”. Those apostles could also be noted as being capital ‘A’ apostles for no other one who is sent by God is writing scripture. Ben was sent to the Hood River Valley to plant Pillar Bible Fellowship. His word in my life bears much weight in my life but it’s not gospel…unless he is rightly teaching the gospel which he does. But his words are not being recorded and added to the Cannon of Scripture. Okay, those Apostles, who along with the Prophets and the cornerstone Jesus Christ who’s Holy Spirit inspired Words laid the foundation of what we believe and so we recognize them as such. (verse 1) “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus.” Paul, under the authority of JESUS, IS an authority over the CHURCH on behalf of JESUS. Paul had a proper holding on authority. Our 2nd Testifier for the reason the gospel of the grace of God revealed forever changes one’s life. Paul knew his place in regards to authority both under it and bearing it. 2) SECOND POINT (Ephesians 1:1) - A Proper holding on Authority PAUL, who once tried to use his position of authority to destroy the church was now under the authority of Jesus giving his life in the position of authority to serve the church. His life was always at the command of Jesus and it was always for the benefit of the church. That’s Christ like authority. Other’s seeking, NOT self seeking. He labored selflessly… (Acts 20:33-35) “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” PAUL did that to full measure while all along (Acts 20:27) “……not shrinking from declaring to those under his authority declaring to them the whole counsel of God.” And to the praise of God, that includes us for he is uncontested to be the most prolific contributor to the New Testament writings. Of the 27 books in the New Testament, PAUL is credited with 13 or 14 of them. That’s a master bulk of insight into the mystery of the gospel provided to us, to the church throughout the centuries thanks to Paul’s proper holding of Authority as being commissioned by God to do so and not hesitating in carrying it out to the fullest. He gave his life to it. We ought to be forever thankful for God’s gift of Paul the apostle who had a proper holding on authority. How is our holding of authority? FIRST of all, we are all “Entrusted with the Gospel.” (Galatians 2:7, 1 Thessalonians 2:4, 1 Timothy 1:11). “Entrusted with the Gospel.” That carries weight dear friend. WE, as christians all carry with us a measure of authority on behalf of Jesus Christ….(2 Corinthians 5:20) “…we (every christian) are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” That is you and me sharing the gospel we have been entrusted with…God has made that deposit in us…it’s His glorious gospel of the grace of God changing us that we appeal to others about. To joyfully come under the authority of Jesus Christ. To gladly Welcome Him in to rule and reign over your heart. Christian, when you are given a place and opportunity to share the gospel with someone, you come with authority on behalf of Jesus Christ. That is why we can be humbly bold as His ambassadors. It’s not a totalitarian authority, it’s not harsh and loud and aggressive….nothing of that sort. NO, it bears a confidence made up of grace and peace because you know in whom you believe. That is the proper holding of authority on behalf of Jesus Christ. By one who’s life has been forever changed by the gospel of the grace of God. We all carry this authority as ones commissioned by him to make disciples of every nation. CHURCH… - There is power in the name of Jesus…Resurrection power. Do you remember when JESUS, on the night of His betrayal asked the band soldiers who came to seize him, (John 18:4-6) “Whom do you seek?…..and..“They answered him “Jesus of Nazareth” and when Jesus responded with I believe a regular volume and tone…He responded “I am he”… it floored them all…Over 600 men..ALL…floored them all to the ground…leveled them flat. Their is power in the name of Jesus. We don't’ have to hammer it in but we speak it..with humble confidence that we come with the authority of our commander in chief. Jesus Christ the risen Lord. When we come in Christ..in His name and bear the testimony of his name; we come with power…we come with the authority on High when we share from the Word of God the gospel of the grace of God. That is proper holding of authority. And just as we bear proper holding of authority as ones entrusted with the gospel SO we also understand proper honor and respect of authority over us. Whether that’s the bliss of loving authority over us given and to which we receive in glad, welcoming submission resulting in beautiful harmony OR,.. Honoring authority that does not reflect or even acknowledge God and is unjust and unrighteous. Even there, one who’s life has been forever changed by the gospel of the grace of God maintains a proper honoring of authority so long as it does not result in coming outside of honoring God’s authority over us. You follow? A proper holding of authority both under it and bearing it,…is a key testifier of one who’s life has been forever changed by the gospel of the grace of God. Now Parents, staying tuned in…don’t lose me while I adjust the frequency to sharpen the signal sent out specifically to our youth here. Children, those here who still live at home and are a dependent on your parents tax returns. From late teens to the early single digit aged here. Do I have your ear? OKAY… I have a question for you. If you do not honor, respect and obey your parents now whom you see, how are you to honor, respect and obey your heavenly Father whom you do not see? Your parents, from your first breath of air on this planet have supported your existence in continuous daily ways. Multiple years it was required for your to wear a diaper. YOU simply lacked the ability to properly expose of your bodily waste which included,..the bliss of wiping your nether regions, unless of course - you had what we would CALL a blow out… in which your funkdafide, frothy fecal matter was so massive and explosive that it shot up out of your diaper, typically up your backside, soiling all your clothing and body.…which usually took place at the most inconvenient of times and locations. MIDDLE of church service for instance. That’s a classic. YEAH, that was dad or mom..OR BOTH…working together who dealt with that mess while you cried your eyes out and fought against us. This Pattern of parenting continues beyond diaper phase - funkdafide fecal matters of life continue throughout your upbringing. Self produced life blowouts. Toxic Circumstances you place yourselves in….soiling your backside..all over your body and garments and life around you which dad and mom, in love, do their best to help….attempting to work with you in cleaning things up proper…directing…to get you on the right track,…BUT so often it’s like bathing a cat. It’s met with resistance. Like giving a cat a bath. Combating the help being extended…attempting to escape the care being shown at any opportune moment…inflicting scratches/harm to the hands caring for you. When all is said and done…NO thank you’s are given….just gnarly glares expressing “I can’t believe you just did this to me.” I’m sorry..I’m saying it like it is…No parent here is shaking their heads no. This so often…not all the time but so often is what it feels like for us as parents. All through the years of your upbringing your parents daily pour out time, energy and resources to keep you alive and to help prepare you for … independence one day. My guess is that bed you woke up in this morning and the breakfast you ate and the clothes you are wearing now were not purchased by you. And YES, I hear perhaps a teenager silently object… “I bought these shoes and these clothes with my own money”. “WhoopideeDooo!” …that is just evidence of progress credited to your parents on you making steps towards independence…baby steps mind you.…pun intended… I’m confident you did not pay last months mortgage for the house you live in, or grocery shop for the entire household or cover the utility bills, insurance bills, phone bills…all the things required to keep a household operational. You didn’t….your objection, if you had one…is grossly overruled. YOU owe your parents everything. NOW LISTEN. How do you honor, respect and obey your heavenly Father whom right now you do not see if you do not honor, respect and obey your parents now whom you do see? Jot down (Romans 1:29-31) for later reference. Please keep the dial tuned in loud and clear children as I read these following verses from that passage where Paul gives a clear description of practices by those who WILL NOT…I say again - WILL NOT inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. To put it another way….practices of those who are going to Hell. “They are filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents (Whoa, that must be a misprint. How did that get in there. What am I reading out of? Oh, the Holy Bible, God’s Word. I guess it does belong)…haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, dis-o-be-di-ent to parents,…..foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” Its right in the mix….It’s right in the mix of some of the most deplorable practices of those who are going to Hell. How do you honor, respect and obey your heavenly Father whom right now you do not see if you do not honor, respect and obey your parents now whom you do see? If you are thinking those don’t go together…You are believing a lie… And for the one who sadly does not have parents OR who had parents that were abuse in any shape or form. FIRSTLY, I’m sorry. That is a horrible thing for any child to experience. I’m sorry. The question however still applies. THINK on a caring, trustworthy, authoritative…or you could say..parental figure in your life right now. There has got to be at least one. An adoptive parent, a guardian, a grandparent, a pastor, a teacher, a next door neighbor….one in your life who is trustworthy and clearly vested in your life for your good. Apply this to question them. Honor them. Show them great respect. I plead with every youth who has a listening ear to heed God’s word….to Honor your father and your mother. Respect and obey them. It is right and pleasing to the Lord and comes with a promise that it will set your life on a fruitful path accompanied by peace and strength all your days through every adversity life brings. Honor, Respect and Obey God’s commandment to Honor, Respect and Obey your parents. (Ephesians 6:1-3) This is life in Jesus Christ to which God has saved you to. —- Knowing your place in regards to authority both under it and bearing it…having both united in one purpose….and that is to serve His people…to serve the Church,…for the one who’s life has been forever changed by the gospel of God’s grace revealed to them are ones with proper holding of authority as placed by Christ Jesus who are - Servants of Jesus our 3rd point and “For this reason” servants to His blood bought people, the CHURCH. PAUL, in prison, is thinking about and writing to the CHURCH….as a servant of Jesus PAUL is serving the church. 3) THIRD POINT (Ephesians 1:1-2) - A Servant of Jesus And what is the heart motive behind his service to them? (Verse 2) “Grace to you and Peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Grace and Peace. Nearly every epistle has this in the introductory. Grace and Peace…to you,….to the church…to the believers…and from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. What is behind this intro,…that clearly is a unified heart motive behind serving Jesus and therefore serving His body the church? What’s behind this? It’s the gospel of the grace of God. PAUL invests half the letter, 3 chapters worth, of exploring the wonders of the unmerited favor from God to us through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Half this epistle. TODAY we have set foot together on this embark through the book of Ephesians. I am anxious in a sense…anxious with hopeful excitement for what awaits with each step made venturing into the depths of this glorious gospel of the grace of God and for the grace of what it will produce in our lives as a result of it. For reason of it …our lives to never be the same. That to greater measure GOD would grant us favor with the strength to comprehend the realities of it….resulting - in direct and lasting impact on our lives. That by the grace of GOD’S presence, power, favor and enablement we would catapult forward to greater exaltation of Christ and mutual promotion of holiness in our lives that abide in perfect peace. (Isaiah 26:3) “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” That’s the aim is it not…for each of us? That is the desired outcome of serving one another…serving the church…right? That we, reconciled to God, no longer under His wrath but now having peace with Him, brought about by the Prince of Peace - JESUS CHRIST (Ephesians 2:14-15) “…who is himself our peace…….by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances..” that were against us by shedding His blood on the cross on Calvary for undeserved sinners as you and I. THAT WE, with that GRACE revealed and rightly responded to….serve one another to stay our minds on this gospel of the GRACE of God…..to be kept at perfect peace by Him- trusting Him whole heartily for His grace in what He has done for us through Jesus by the Power of His Spirit. Has done..past tense..has done.. “It is finished!” Redemption is complete. The work of salvation is accomplished. ALL the privileges we have in Christ are ours assuredly…we just haven’t yet acquired possession of them yet…but that makes them no less ours. “Grace and Peace to you from the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” As ones who’s lives are forever changed by the gospel of God’s grace revealed to them - as servants of Jesus; we serve each other to that end. CONCLUSION In closing, and bear with me…I know this has gone the distance…but man it’s so worth it. In closing, one last exhortation we may receive from Paul’s intro in his letter to the Ephesian church to which we can apply to all these testifiers of a life forever changed by the gospel of the grace of God’s revealed. And that is FAITHFULNESS. Notice how Paul addresses the church. “To the Saints who are in Ephesus and are….Faithful in Christ Jesus.” That’s an important tag on virtue to add. Wouldn’t you agree? For you can be a Saint…a born again Christian and sadly not necessarily be known as Faithful…. PAUL uses the same word when instructing Timothy about training up other leaders within the CHURCH. (2 Timothy 2:2) ….“and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” That is how leadership in the church is to multiply and I believe the chief attribute, though many needful ones exist, but the chief one is being faithful. And this is not exclusively applied to Pastor’s, though it is weighted most heavily towards THEM…BUT it includes all christians, all servants of Christ. PAUL writes in (1 Corinthians 3:9, 4:1-2) “This is how one should regard us….As God’s fellow workers…….. servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God…which every christian to a measure is who has been ‘entrusted with the gospel’ (1 Timothy 6:20, 2 Timothy 1:14) we are stewards of that deposit from God… Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” Faithfulness, Trustworthiness. Are you known to be; Are you regarded as one who is faithful? Trustworthy in that which you are entrusted with the responsibility for and have committed yourself to. When your hand is to the plow onto what God has called to you to be committed to…Are you GRANITE? Are you Rock Solid Granite dependable in the areas of responsibilities and commitments you have made? This is a question we need to ask ourselves and examine. I fear men and women of such virtue are scarce these days. LET US purpose with all our hearts to be faithful and chiefly that is to CHRIST… To what you are able, structure your life that you have the capacity to be faithful. If need be, learn to say no. You can say no. Though perhaps you would like to and know you are of ability to, if it results in you neglecting another area of responsibility and commitment already made….learn to say no. As hard as it may be, to preserve faithfulness in our lives…sometimes it requires us to say no. That is not a sin to do so. Neglecting other responsibilities and commitments made is. To the praise of His glorious grace be faithful to Christ Jesus in your life that is forever changed by the gospel of the grace of God revealed to you. - PRAY The gospel of the grace of God revealed forever changes one’s life Testifiers Radically changed life; Proper holding of Authority; A Servant of Jesus Faithful to Christ to that end. COMMUNION Benediction (?)