Finding Your Place In God's Plan

Ephesians: Fitting in to God's Plan  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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This sermon series is entitled “Ephesians: Fitting into God’s Plan”
Last time, I spoke on “The KEY to absolutely everything”
The KEY to absolutely everything is Jesus:
The KEY to absolutely everything is Jesus:
Knowing the mystery of His will.
Entering into his purpose
Yielding to Jesus’ Lordship.
God has a plan to bring everything under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Let’s begin with finding your place - where to you fit in this great plan of God?
Each one of us has a part to play and God has equipped each of us to play our part.
You need to know who you are - find your identity.
You need to know what your goal is - find your purpose.
And you need to know what you are able to do - find your power.

Finding your Identity

Ephesians 1:3–10 ESV
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Ephesians 1:3–10 ESV
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
I sometimes do an exercise in which I have a person divide a paper in half creating two columns. They are to spend some time in silent meditation and prayer where they simply ask one question: “who am I?” Everything that comes to mind then gets written in one of the two columns. Either it is a lie (as often the first things that come to mind are) or it is the voice of God speaking the truth. Spend enough time to have writing in both columns.
What does God say about you? - Blessing!
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
We often skip over the “blessing” passages as if they were just a greeting or a formality.
Repetition in the Bible is emphasis - Blessing is the most repeated word in this passage.
Blessing is a really important part of scripture. It sets the very tone of the nature of God, man and creation.
(NIV)
Genesis 1:4 ESV
And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
Blessing is simply speaking well of someone or something, in other words, calling it good.
Blessing is not just nice words, but it carries real power for divine impartation of good.
God blessed creation. Everything was good from the beginning because God made it and God is good!

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Genesis 1:31 NIV
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Everything that God made was good, but of mankind He said it was very good!
When Paul says that we were chosen before the foundation of the world to be blameless, he is talking about our original state before the fall, before sin entered the picture.
God made us to be good. That is Gods’ plan, God’s destiny for us!
But what now? What is to undo the damage that the fall has done?
Jesus Christ reversed the curse for us. We are now “in Christ.”
Being “in Christ” changes everything! It is a new creation - new humanity.
While there is a lot more that could be said about our position “in Christ” let’s look at a few words that Paul chose to use here.
To say that we are predestined means that God had a plan from the beginning to get us back.
The Greek word prooridzo (foreordain) has the root word horidzo which means “to set a limit.”
It is not so much about God knowing and deciding who will go to heaven or hell.
It is about God deciding before the fall that there will be an end to the fall.
The word that is translated as redemption comes from the word that means “to unbind or loose.”
It carries the connotation of a ransom being paid. (“Through His blood” the text says)
Jesus paid the ransom, his death and resurrection loose the bondage of sin. (“The forgiveness of sin”)
We are seeing the unraveling of the work of the enemy and the releasing of the Kingdom of God
We are described as being adopted by God. Not just as a son or a daughter, but as an heir!
Adoption means that we have all of the rights and privileges of a son or daughter.
Adoption means that we are chosen out of love and affection. We have our position by grace and not by right.
Adoption was an important business in ancient times to insure that a suitable heir would carry on the family business.
Adoption is not only an indication of God’s great love for us, but it also carries the importance of our responsibility toward Him.

Finding your purpose

(ESV)
Ephesians 1:11–14 ESV
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
In the Downton Abbey series, the Crawley family have an inherited estate and a title. While the different lifestyles of the family and the villagers are notable. So is the responsibility that comes with the inheritance. As the middle class is growing and threatening the very existence of the aristocracy, it becomes apparent that the more they can help the common people improve their lot, the greater chance of survival for all and the wellbeing of the estate becomes a benefit to the community.
We have an inheritance in Christ and it comes with a responsibility.
God is entrusting us with his plan to save the world!
Every person who turns to God is part of reversing the curse.
If we only focus on how Jesus makes our lives better, we miss the point.
This is supposed to change not only our lives, but generations to come!
Our purpose is to bring applause that is to draw attention to the goodness and glory of God!
When Paul says, “we who were the first to hope in Christ” he is speaking of the Jewish believers.
God revealed himself first to the Jews and their job was to convey that message to the rest of the world.
God wants His glory to be known in all the earth. He wants the blessings to multiply and fill the earth.
Your salvation is not just for you. God saved you for a purpose - to increase his glory through you!
Human nature is to keep the glory to ourselves. We want the blessing for ourselves. But, it’s to the praise of his glory!
When you believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit as a “down payment” of what is to come.
We do not yet live in a perfect world with Christ at the center of everything.
But the Holy Spirit in you is a first installment on what God has promised.
The KEY is to yield to the Holy Spirit, he will help you keep Christ at the center.
You have a measure of almighty God living inside of you! That ought to change you and the world around you!

Finding your power

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 1:15–23 ESV
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Once every three months I take a half-day for prayer. I begin my time by reading . Why? Because I want spiritual wisdom and revelation. I want the eyes of my heart to be opened. I want to remember who I am and what I am called to do. But mostly, I want to be empowered.
Let me recap:
Let me recap:
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
God’s made you for blessing!
Through Jesus, God made a way to get you and I back on track.
Now he wants to bless the world through us!
What
No wonder Paul is both thankful and prayerful. This has really huge potential, but it’s not all there yet.
What do we still need?
We need spiritual awakening!
Current slang calls people who have been exposed to the reality of racism and racial inequality as being “woke”. Unless you have lived with it, you probably don’t see it. But once you have seen it, you begin to see it everywhere. It’s the same with spiritual reality. Once you know God, you see his plan at work everywhere.
To see with your heart is to see with compassion.
It’s a broken world that we live in.
The truth of the gospel exposes the darkness.
We don’t turn away from brokenness, we engage it.
To see with your heart is to see beyond the natural realm.
Karie recently had cataract surgery in both eyes. She was able to see colors and textures that she could not see before. But it also invited a curiosity to be able to see in the spirit realm. There are angels all around us and demons too. We are engaged in a struggle that we can’t always see. If we could see what is going on in the spirit would we be more intentional about what we believe?
To see with your heart is to see hope.
We need to look not only at the present battles but at God’s plan and how it all ends.
God is going to accomplish his plan. Everyone and everything is going to bow to Jesus.
The only question is how you wish to participate. Voluntarily or involuntarily?
To see with your heart is to be moved to respond.
Empowerment means doing something rather than just letting life happen all around you.
God gives us meaningful choices. Knowing God and his plan means that we can partner with Him.
Bill Johnson, in a recent article by Fox News said there are two phases to revival.
"The first is the church — the people of God get revived," the pastor explained. "It really is demonstrated by the Holy Spirit’s presence and the ability for him to do what he wants."
"The second phase is the impact on the world around us," he continued. "People coming to Christ measured by the impact of culture and society. It hasn’t reached its purpose until society itself is impacted positively."
We need to learn how to walk in power and authority.
Jesus is raised from the dead and seated in heavenly places and you are “in Christ.”
(ESV)
Romans 8:11 ESV
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
What would happen if we as believers began to realize the power of Christ in each of us?
Authority is another kind of power. If you know who you are in Christ you can confront evil.
If the evil forces of this world (“all things”) are under jesus’ feet and you are “in Christ” then where does that put “all things” in relation to you?
We need to learn to function as one body of Christ.
More on this in a later sermon (chapter 4) but unity is really important!
Our power and authority in Christ should not mean that we become arrogant.
Rather we seek to seek to become all that God made us to be together with everyone else.
Remember that everything must come under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
If all of this seems too good to be true… it’s not!
You have superpowers as a child of God in Christ!
But as anyone with superpowers soon learns, there are obstacles to overcome.
Next week we will talk about overcoming the obstacles to God’s plan.
Questions for reflection:
Who are you in Christ? What good can you already see coming through your life? How does what God says about you change the way you see yourself?
Do you have a calling in life? Have you been blessed with skills, education, the means to make a living? What responsibility comes with what you have received from God? How has the Holy Spirit enhanced your life?
Are you Spiritually awakened? How do you know? Are you walking in the power and the authority that you have in Christ? Does your spiritual life draw you closer to other believers as one in Christ?
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