Faithlife Sermons


Casting a Vision  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Over the last few weeks, we have been talking about casting a vision. Hopefully this has been helpful to you individually and to our church as we have looked intently in how to glorify God in all that we do. So far, we have looked at worship both corporately and personally and how our worship glorifies God. We have looked at what it means to fellowship together to build up the body of our faith. We have looked at what it means to be disciples and walking closer to Jesus. All of these are building blocks in our vision and seemingly all are built on each other. The building block we are focusing on today is ministry. It is the sum of worship, fellowship and discipleship thus far.
I shared in the newsletter this week that when I was ten years old, I felt I was called into ministry. In some form or fashion, I have been in ministry vocationally since I was 18.  I have walked with both believers and non-believers in their greatest joys and most difficult tragedies.  I have done some things that have been fantastic and I have done some things I regret.  As an ordained minister now for over 34 years, I have married many couples and buried many saints.  I have served as a youth minister, a family minister, a minister of education, a pastoral counselor and as a pastor.  In my studies this week I have been reminded that ministry is more than a vocation.  In fact, if we call ourselves a Christian, we are called to minister. Perhaps not to be ordained or to choose ministry as a vocation, but we are all called to be ministers.
The word ministry is from the Latin word ministerium which means service.  It stems from minister which means servant.  No matter what vocation we are called to, we are called to be servants. We are to serve our Lord by serving others.
So what does it mean for us to be in ministry.
Ephesians 4:1–13 NIV84
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” 9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Connected to His Presence (vs. 1)

You and I as Christians are connected to His presence. This one verse shows how we are connected.
We are connected to God through Christ
Paul says he is a prisoner for the Lord. This is an interesting metaphor that he is using. Paul is actually writing these words while being held a prisoner in Rome. He was not saying I am in jail for the Lord. Rather, he was saying that he made a decision and gave up his freedom in order to follow Christ and Paul is calling us to the same. As a prisoner for the Lord, you and I care connect to God through Jesus Christ. Notice what this means. Paul says, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling.”
We are connected to God to live a worthy life
The word “urge” tells me that we are instructed, taught, and exhorted to be called to one’s side. The metaphoric thought continues with this picture. As a prisoner, Paul was often chained to a Roman guard. If you have ever been chained or tied to another person, you know that your movement is very limited. When we are connected to God, we can’t help but live a worthy life because our every movement will be intentional and one that glorifies God!
Ephesians 1:18 NIV84
18 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,
We are connected to His presence.
We are connected to God to take that which we have received
Notice this: Romans 6:23
Romans 6:23 NIV84
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God gives us this gift and hammers it down our throats. No, it is a gift. Yet a gift cannot be a gift until it is received. The word for “received” in our text is the Greek word, kaleo. It means to call aloud, to name by name, or to invite. God calls us by name and given us an invitation to be children of God. In fact, we have been given an engraved invitation.
Isaiah 49:16 NIV84
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

Called to His Perspective (vs. 2)

Look at the perspective to which He has called us.
We are called to be humble
Being completely humble means to see yourself as God sees you. Do you know how He sees you? He sees you with infinite and inherent value, but with no more value than anyone else. You accept God as the ultimate authority. Humility always points to serving others because you are no better than anyone else.
Philippians 2:6–7 NIV84
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
We are called to be gentle
To be gentle means to have mildness of disposition. Gentleness is power under control. I loved having the privilege of seeing gentleness exemplified in my Dad’s life. I remember being with him visiting my grandmother, his mother, in the nursing home just a few months before she passed away. Dad was helping her eat her lunch. This big burley man was very gently taking the spoon and making sure his mother got the nutrition she needed. He carefully helped her and encouraged her with each bite. He did this even when she did not care to eat and gave him opposition.
2 Timothy 2:25 NIV84
25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,
This reminds me of another truth about the perspective of God.
We are called to be patient
We love this one don’t we? As I have gotten older, I have gotten more patient about some things but less patient about others. However, I read the most convicting definition of being patient I have ever seen. Patience is believing God’s time table is good, no matter what it is. I am reminded that patience is a sign of maturity.
Hebrews 6:15 NIV84
15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
We are called to forbearance
How are you doing with forbearance? The NIV says, “be patient, bearing with one another in love.” We are to be willing to put up with something or someone in the spirit of agape, unconditional love. Isn’t that how God loves us, or as Romans 2:4 says:
Romans 2:4 NIV84
4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
Being connected to His presence and called to His perspective, we are commanded to His peace.

Commanded to His Peace (vs. 3-10)

Let’s see what that means. The very first phrase of verse 3 says, “make every effort.” This means:
We are commanded to diligence
We are to be intentional about what comes next. We are to do whatever it takes. We are to go above and beyond.
We are commanded to unity
Unity means to be in agreement. The characteristics of verse 2 humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance all build unity.
When we are in relational unity, we are in spiritual unity. Our memory verse for August is Galatians 3:28
Galatians 3:28 NIV84
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
We are all one in Christ Jesus. Why is that?
Paul goes into great length in verses 4-10 to explain oneness.
We are commanded to oneness
One body. One Spirit. One Lord. One faith. One baptism. “One God and Father of us all, who is over all and through all and in all.” You might ask, “Why then are there so many different churches and denominations?” The truth of the matter is that mankind messed it up. I guarantee you there won’t be different denominations in heaven. I am not here to bash denominations. I am here to make the point that we are commanded to His peace by promoting oneness. Oneness always leads to peace. This command to peace will also help us to continue in His purpose.

Continuing in His Purpose (vs. 11-13)

We continue in His purpose by using our gifts
Through the Holy Spirit, God has gifted us in a way that helps us do that! Verse 11 points back to verse 7. It connects the call to unity and the spiritual gifts that God has given us. It is imperative that you understand your spiritual giftedness so that you can continue His purpose. Then, we can continue in His purpose to prepare others for works of service.
We continue in His purpose to prepare others
Do you know that this means? It means we as a church strive to train others in the foundational truths of this passage and many others. The preparation of God’s people needs to take place to bring the world into what God desires. People need to be repaired, restored, and perfected. All this takes place when
We continue in His purpose through maturity
You and I were not meant to remain spiritual infants! We are meant to grow. We are meant to reach the world! We are called, each of us, to be ministers! The way we continue our Lord’s purpose is by doing and being ministers of the gospel.
We continue in His purpose doing ministry
What is your ministry? I assure you it will be closely related to your spiritual gifts. Everyone is a minister and all of us should be involved in ministry. Look what happens when we do: we attain “the whole measure of the fulness of Christ!”
I think that is what was meant by our Lord in the Upper Room the night of His betrayal. To be effective ministers, we must remember the sacrifice of our Lord. Please join me in prayer as we make preparations for Lord’s Supper.
1 Corinthians 11:23–24 NIV84
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
1 Corinthians 11:25 NIV84
25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
1 Corinthians 11:26 NIV84
26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
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