Ephesians 3:14-21

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy
announced before a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and
ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end
of the decade. A number of political factors affected Kennedy’s
decision and the timing of it. In general, Kennedy felt great
pressure to have the United States “catch up to and overtake” the
Soviet Union in the “space race.”

Four years after the Sputnik shock of 1957, the
cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had become the first human in space on April
12, 1961, greatly embarrassing the U.S. While Alan Shepard became the
first American in space on May 5, he only flew on a short suborbital
flight instead of orbiting the Earth, as Gagarin had done. In addition,
the Bay of Pigs fiasco in mid-April put unquantifiable pressure on

He wanted to announce a program that the U.S.
had a strong chance at achieving before the Soviet Union. After
consulting with Vice President Johnson, NASA Administrator James Webb,
and other officials, he concluded that landing an American on the
Moon would be a very challenging technological feat, but an area of
space exploration in which the U.S. actually had a potential lead.
Thus the cold war is the primary contextual lens through which many
historians now view Kennedy’s speech.

The decision involved much consideration before
making it public, as well as enormous human efforts and expenditures
to make what became Project Apollo a reality by 1969. Only the
construction of the Panama Canal in modern peacetime and the
Manhattan Project in war were comparable in scope. NASA’s overall
human spaceflight efforts were guided by Kennedy’s speech; Projects
Mercury (at least in its latter stages), Gemini, and Apollo were
designed to execute Kennedy’s goal. His goal was achieved on July 20,
1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped off the Lunar
Module’s ladder and onto the Moon’s surface.

JFK’s vision and mandate to put a man on the moon
by the end of the decade, and bring him back alive focused the very
best of our nation’s energies, efforts, and capabilities. The
commitment to such a challenging mission required sacrifice and
selflessness from thousands of people.

What is our mandate as the people of God? What
challenge have we been entrusted by God that requires the very best
of our efforts and capabilities? What does God intend to be the focus
of our sacrifice and selflessness? What is the divine, eternal
mission to which we have been invited to cooperate?

I. The Mandate Explained (vv. 1-13).

A. The Nature of our Mandate (vv. 2-7, 13)

i. It is a call to Stewardship (vv. 2-6).

1. Of God’s grace (v. 2a)

2. To other people (v. 2b)

3. Involves the mystery of redemption (vv. 3-6)

ii. It is a call to Service (vv. 7-12).

1. Of divine favor (v. 7)

2. By divine power (v. 7)

iii. It is a call to Suffering (v. 13).

B. The Purpose of our Mandate (vv. 8-13).

i. An Evangelistic purpose (v. 8)

ii. A Teaching purpose (v. 9)

iii. An Eternal purpose (vv. 10-13)

II. The Mandate Empowered (vv. 1, 14-21)

A. The Scope of the Empowerment (vv. 14-15)

B. The Boldness of the Empowerment (v. 16a)

C. The Substance of the Empowerment (vv. 16b-18)

i. A Request for Inner Power (vv. 16-17a)

ii. A Request for Comprehension (3 conditions; vv. 17b-19a)

1. Rooted and grounded with God’s love (v. 17b)

2. Endowed by God’s power (v. 18)

3. In love with God’s people (v. 18a)

iii. A Request for the Fullness of God (v. 19b)

D. The Hope of the Empowerment (vv. 20-21)

We have been given a divine, eternal mandate. It
is clear, simple, and challenging. We are a people of God on mission
with God. This mission calls for our very best efforts and focus. It
is a call to stewardship, service, & suffering. It involves an
evangelistic, teaching, & eternal purpose. It requires an
empowerment that is far-reaching, bold, and substantive. We must have
God’s inner power by living in His love, walking in His presence, and
caring for one another. We must have no less than the fullness of
God. The hope of this empowerment is the glory of Jesus Christ to all
generations for all eternity.

Sermon brief provided
by: Dennis Phelps, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Cabot,

Share This On: