July 12, 2009
?Proper 10
Ephesians 1:3-14

What do you do when problems keep you awake at night? Toss and turn? Take a pill? From that grand old hymn by Johnson Oatman to the ballad popularized by Bing Crosby, the best advice I’ve found is to count your many blessings, naming them one by one. Paul did exactly that when he wrote to the church at Ephesus. Consider with him all the ways God has blessed believers.

I. Consider the source of our blessings (Ephesians 1:3).
A. Blessings come through a relationship.
God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we believe that Jesus is God’s Son Who died on the cross for our sins and rose again and then we receive Him as our Lord, we enter a wonderful relationship with God as our Father.
B. Blessings are abundant. Because Almighty God does the blessing, we are blessed with all blessings. Our God does not skimp. He gives “exceedingly abundantly above all we could think or ask.”
C. Blessings are spiritual in nature. The health/wealth/prosperity gospel pales in comparison to the true blessings we have in Christ. Even the material blessings God gives us ultimately are designed to bless us spiritually more than physically.
D. Blessings are found in Christ. We don’t deserve God’s blessings. Every blessing we receive is found only in Jesus.

II. Consider the ways God blesses us (Ephesians 1:4-14).
A. He chose us (v. 4). Every day I am grateful that a farmer’s daughter named Glenda chose me to be her husband. Similarly, we all should be overwhelmed with gratitude that God wants us to be His children. He wants us to be like His only begotten Son-holy and blameless, living our lives before Him in love.
B. He adopted us (v. 5). Paul reminded the believers that God’s eternal plan of salvation involved adopting us as His children through Jesus Christ. Especially wonderful is the fact that saving us pleased God. It was not onerous for Him to bring us into His family; it was His great delight!
C. He accepted us (v. 6). Often I counsel people whose emotions have been injured by rejection. Acceptance on human terms often requires meeting some condition, but God accepts believers unconditionally because we are in the Beloved.
D. He redeemed us (v. 7). Like slaves in the marketplace, we were under the domination of Satan and sin, unable to do anything about our situation. God cannot forgive us our sins simply because we want forgiveness. He could be the Just Judge only if the ultimate penalty were paid through Jesus’ blood. Salvation became possible in Christ.
E. He abounded grace to us (vv. 7c-8). Paul described the “glory of His grace” and the “riches of His grace.” God did not offer us a sample of grace to see if we would like it. In His wisdom and mercy, He poured out His grace in overwhelming, limitless abundance.
F. He included us in His inheritance (v. 11). God brought us into His family in every sense of the word. God gives us a full inheritance in Christ. He worked according to His will to make us His children with all the blessings of King’s kids.
G. He sealed us with His Spirit (vv. 13-14). At times we may not feel particularly blessed. God’s Spirit indwells believers to confirm that we are God’s children. We will not see the inheritance until heaven, but the Holy Spirit is like a down payment on glory.
While we enjoy and benefit from God’s blessings, ultimately God purposes all things to glorify His Son. Paul understood that God worked in everything to bring all things together in Christ. Christ is the source and the object of every blessing we experience, that He might be praised and glorified.

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