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Welcome to Good News In the Morning a program of words and music
bringing a Christian message of hope and encouragement to those who are looking
for intelligent meaningful and spirited approach to faith and to life.
This program is sponsored by Good News Christian Ministries PO Box 184
Rideau Ferry, Ontario K0G 1W0. I'm your host today, Brian Wilkie of St.
Andrew's Christian Church in Rockland. As always I want to start by thanking
you, our listeners. We are very grateful for your encouragement and support.
Please remember that you can always visit our website for materials to
encourage and support you in your Christian walk.
If you miss an episode of the show you can go to our website and
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Today our program is sponsored by an anonymous business in Ottawa. We're
very thankful for their support and for the support of all of those who keep us
on the air financially.
God's Abundant Blessings
Today I want to speak to you about some scriptures that have become rich
and meaning to me, as a small group at my church has worked together to study
them and to apply it to our lives. So I'm going to read to you today from the
book of Ephesians, Paul's letter to the Ephesians, and just read to you a few
verses of Paul's description of the blessings we have received in Christ. So
(Eph 1:1–14) (from) Paul, an
apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints in
Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace and peace
to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise be to the
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly
realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before
the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he
predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance
with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has
freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his
blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to
us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in
Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their
fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head,
In him we were
also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out
everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who
were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you
also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of
your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the
promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the
redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
(New International Version.
Well this is a passage filled with meaning and application for our lives
and we're going to look at that in a few minutes, but first I'd like you to
listen, with me, to just a brief version of the great old hymn Holy, Holy, Holy,
which is so in this case being sung by the acapella group This Hope in their
album Acapella Hymns. Would you listen to it with me?
As we begin to look at this wonderful passage of scripture about God's
blessings that he pours into our lives, I've got to say that I'm a little bit
excited about something that's not in the scripture here, something's happening
in my life. As you listen to this broadcast on June 26th I'll be preparing to
leave with a mission team to Cambodia to teach English for 2 weeks. I'm very
much looking forward to the time especially since half of our team are youth
from Redeemer Alliance Church in Orleans. It's going to be great opportunity to
partner with Cambodian Church in giving a blessing to Cambodian students and
also to work with youth from my community and help them to grow in their face
and watch them as they experience God's provision and God's blessing as they
step out in faith to serve him.
God's blessings come in so many different ways, in opportunities to
bless others. To me that's one of the richest things. Paul is his writing to
the Ephesians and he's writing out of the blessing that he's received from God.
He's been sent by God, he's an apostle of Jesus Christ. and he's been sent to
these people in Ephesus. He was the one who told them about the good news of
Salvation. They can be described as Saints in Ephesus because they have
received Jesus Christ. Not that they're perfect, but they have received Christ
and are being made Holy by him. So when Paul writes to these people he's
talking to people who have been greatly changed by the word of God.
When you get into the second chapter of Ephesians he talks about the
state of the Ephesians before they came to know Christ. Paul knows exactly what
that's about because he himself was changed dramatically by Christ. He had been
a person who persecuted the church. He had thought that this word about Jesus
Christ was a heresy of some kind; that it was leading people way from the true
faith. So he tried to bring Christians and put them into prison. He looked on
approvingly when Stephen was stoned for his faith and put to death, but Paul
was grabbed hold of by Jesus Christ. The Risen Lord revealed himself to Paul on
the road to Damascus and Paul was a changed man. So Paul, when he speaks about
the blessings that the Ephesians have received, he can also say, "These
are a blessing that I know, because I've received them through Christ!" He talks about the blessings in these terms:
he says that God in Jesus Christ has blessed us in the Heavenly Realms with
every spiritual blessing in Christ. Now I think it is important that we would
just recognize that Paul hasn't said, "every blessing that you can imagine"
or, "every blessing that you could name or desire," because he speaks
about spiritual blessings.
He wants the Ephesians to recognize that God's first priority is the
well-being of our inner being: of our soul, of our spirit, and that God's
blessings while they sometimes include material blessings and sometimes include
physical blessings, that the most important blessings are spiritual. I think
that's important for us to realize as we go through life and we do experience 'necessities,'
difficulties, trials and tribulations; that we find ourselves sometimes in
material want. Paul can recognize that! He himself was sometimes physically
distressed by what he called his 'thorn in the flesh.' He knew that life wasn't
always a bowl of cherries, but he was able to say that every spiritual blessing
has been given to God's people through Jesus Christ. He names these blessings.
He says, "We were chosen before the creation of the world God to be holy
and blameless in his sight, because in love he predestined us to be adopted as
his sons through Jesus Christ." Paul says that one of the greatest
blessings that can ever be known is to be chosen by God; is to see God reveal
his love for you.
Sometimes you may hear people talk about the election of God or the
predestination of God and sometimes it can seem like a very harsh thing,
depending on how people interpret the scriptures about it, but here Paul is
talking about the very best, the very brightest of the idea: that God has
Now there are many people that may not know that God loves them. But when
God loves somebody it's because he chooses to love them. It's not because it's
some kind of automatic thing that he has
to do! He does it because he is love.
He loves you! He doesn't first of
all check to see whether he's loved the quota of people that he's allowed to
love. No, God is love and when he chooses you it's love choosing you.
He decided that, knowing that the world was going to be fallen, he
decided to give a remedy. He predestined that there would be a way for people
to be returned and restored to God's family. That way is through the sending
his Son, Jesus Christ.
As Heirs of God we become part of the family of God, sharing in the love
that God has for his Son, sharing the relationship which God has with his Son. The
Father and Son are one eternally and Jesus himself prayed that we would be one
God decided that of all the possible or imaginable ways the people could
be reunited and have an eternal life restored it was going to be through his
gift of himself, giving his only begotten Son to die on the cross for our sins.
This, of course, Paul says is God's pleasure. It's not God's duty. It's not
something where God struggles to figure out what he must do and grudgingly goes
ahead with it. Paul says that he has done this in accordance with his pleasure
and his will. God wants to save. God wants to bless. God wants to restore. Of
course, because this is who God is, it's glorious and it's to his praise that
he has given us this grace in Jesus Christ.
Jesus has reached through to these Christians and he's reached through
to them with the message of the gospel. Paul, in this passage, talks about
himself being chosen. "He was chosen in accordance with the plan of the
one who works out everything in accordance with the purpose of his will." He
says that "You too," the Ephesians, "were also chosen because
they hoped in Christ having heard the word of his grace," and his love. That
is, in effect, saying that the Ephesians have the same kind of grace that Paul
the Apostle does.
Now Paul was redeemed dramatically and you sometimes hear testimonies of
Christians who can speak about an amazing experience of God and you may think
that they are a special class of Christians, but Paul who was, literally,
thrown off his high horse on the road to Damascus, who was actually blinded for
a time until God restored his sight -- I can't imagine a more dramatic
conversion than that -- but Paul doesn't describe himself here as a special
class of citizen. He, in fact, tells the Ephesians that they too are included
in Christ, just like him, because they heard the Gospel of Truth, the Gospel of
Salvation; They believed in it and they were marked with the seal, the
wonderful perfect sign that God has indeed redeemed them, and that sign is the
And we are going to take a look at more of what Paul is describing is our
spiritual blessings in Christ and how this applies to our lives, but before we
do that I would like us to listen to another piece of music this is sung by an
older singer -- from Glen Campbell singing a beautiful hymn Sweet Hour of
Prayer. This is from his album The Inspirational Collection .
Paul has been talking about the spiritual blessings that the people of
Ephesus have received in Christ. He is talking about the primary thing, the
main thing: the fact that we have Union with God through Jesus Christ, that we
are being made holy and that we will one day be perfectly Holy, filled with his
love, being able to do all that we do in his love. Now, we await that day end
and we sometimes are impatient for those blessings to be fully realized in our
lives but isn't it good to know that we have Redemption through his blood, we
have forgiveness of sins, we have the promise of hope that is going to be made
known to us as history comes to conclusion, that all things will be brought
together in heaven on Earth under one head Jesus Christ!
We are part of God's will working out. We are included in his grace and
we are here for the glory of his grace. I've been speaking about 'we' because
what applies to the Ephesians also applies to Christians today. It's good to
know a few things about these blessings and about the 'Why?'
Over and over again Paul speaks about how what has happened to us is to
the praise and glory of God. That's an important thing for us to remember. Sometimes
we can be discouraged about our own progress in the faith. Sometimes we might
even wonder whether God is losing patience with us because we hear and read
about all that we all that we could be doing in Christ, the better life we
could be living, but we fall short of that. There may be times when you pray,
just as I sometimes pray, wondering if God has had it! Whether he's finally
lost patience with me, whether you can still forgive me, whether he still wants
to work with me. Paul says God is glorified as he works with people like you
and me! God is glorified as he brings us from darkness into light. God is glorified
as he gives forgiveness too needy sinners. God is glorified when we are brought
back again to repentance. God is glorified!
When John in another letter to the church says, "God is love."
He says something very important there. I know that I'm not love. I know that
when I love somebody it's kind of not natural for me. It takes a bit of work. Now
there are people who are more congenial and people that I get along with more
easily, but you probably find as well that actually making sacrifices for other
people, actually giving up something for somebody else, there's a little bit of
a drain. There's a bit of a cost and that cost eventually wears on us. If we
don't get rest, if we don't get refreshment, if we don't get a little bit of love
back for ourselves we find ourselves coming to the end of our rope. That's
because we are not love. God is love and the more God loves, the more he's
being himself. The more he loves the more he is just naturally expressing his
For us love is a reservoir which we draw from and we receive love from
God and we draw from that Reservoir and sometimes we feel like the reservoir is
almost empty. God doesn't have some limited reservoir of love. Love comes out
of his very being and who he is.
Now for you and me to know that God is glorified in his patience is very
important God is not going to run out of patience for his children. In Jesus
Christ he has lavished Grace upon us.
Now, some of these blessings that we have from God are of a more
temporal nature. The spiritual blessings that we have in Christ are constant
and always with us and never diminish and never fade. Other blessings we experience
as sort of signs or reminders of the Everlasting blessing of God. Moments when
the grace of God is extremely apparent to us. I wonder if you have some of
those moments in your life? Something, perhaps that's happening now or
something that you call back in memory and you remind yourself, when you're
going through difficult times, about the manifest and tangible signs of God's
I think it's fair to say that the tangible blessings that we experience
in Christ the times when we find God providing materially, or with healing, or
physically, or with a word of encouragement that they just lifts our hearts.
These things often accompany stepping out in faith confident of the
Eternal blessings we've already received.
I'm feeling very blessed to be able to go to Cambodia with this team of
adults and youth and stepping out into a new culture, into a new situation to
teach English in a place where English is not a common language. It's a stretch
and I'll be working with the Cambodian Church there and being able to hopefully
be an encouragement to them even as they are an encouragement to me. But
through the process of stepping out, knowing that God wants to use us over
there, we've discovered stories about God's provision. Likewise in my work in
the church I'm just blessed to be part of a church where people are growing in
faith and as I reach out into people's lives what I get back is often the
stories of how in difficult times God is there with them, sometimes rescuing
them from harm and sometimes just keeping them afloat when things are going
very difficult. In all of this we find that God is providing some confirmation
or some symbolic support to the message about those Eternal blessings we've
received in what we experience in daily life.
I want to encourage you to ask
God to help you to experience his temporal blessings as a reflection of the
spiritual blessing you have in him.
Would you pray with me?
O mighty God,
bless us all! Give us the courage to step out in faith in the confidence of
what we have gained eternally in Christ. We pray that as we do so we might have
a testimony to tell about your great provision for us in this life, that others
might be encouraged to trust you and believe in your good work.
In Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
Once again I want to thank you, our listeners, for your encouragement
and support. We do thank you because you keep us on the air week by week with
your prayers with your encouraging words through the website and with your
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donation buttons to enable you to support us in that way.
Be sure to worship in a church where the gospel is soundly proclaimed
and lived out with compassion, integrity and resolve. Now to conclude our
program I would like to have you listen to a song called This is my Father's
Worlds sung by Mark Shultz from his album simply titled Hymns.
I do pray that the Lord will hold your heart and you would know Jesus
personally and profoundly. May the Holy Spirit reside deep within your heart,
may the heavenly Father surround you with his constant and abiding and
Good News In The Morning is produced in the Studios of News Talk Radio 580
Rev. Brian Wilkie
The first half of Ephesians is doctrine, and the
second half is ethics or duty—Paul bridges the two sections with prayer.
WARREN WIERSBE:“This passage [Ephesians 3:14-21] is the second of two prayers recorded
in Ephesians, the first one being Ephesians 1:15-23.In the first prayer, the emphasis is on ENLIGHTENMENT
(last week), but in this prayer the emphasis is on ENABLEMENT (this
1.The Invocation (Ephesians 3:14-15)
Ephe. 3:14 “For this reason I bow my knees before the
Father, (15) from whom every family in heaven and earth takes its name.”
thing that strikes us is Paul’s posture:“I bow my knees.”
Ephesians, there is an emphasis on spiritual posture.As lost sinners, we were buried in the
graveyard (Eph. 2:1).But when we
trusted Christ, He raised us from the dead and seated us with Christ in the
heavenlies (Eph. 2:4-6).
* WARREN WIERSBE: “Because we are __[SEATED]__with
Christ, we can ___[WALK]___so as to please Him (Eph. 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15) and
we can ____[STAND] against the Devil (Eph. 6:10-13).But the posture that links ‘sitting’ with
‘walking’ and ‘standing’ is ‘bowing the knee’.”
*SITTINGà BOWING THE KNEEàSTANDINGàWALKING
*WILLIAM BARCLAY:“kneels”= it means that Paul prostrates
himself.The ordinary Jewish attitude of
prayer was standing, with the hands stretched out and palms upwards.Paul’s prayer for the Chruch is so intense
that he casts himself face down before God in an agony of passionate request.
2. The Petition (Ephesians 3:16-19)
WRIGHT:“Love (last week) and power
(this week), power and love:these are the
two grand themes as Paul moves through His prayer.”
a.strength (Eph. 3:16)
3:16“I pray that, according to the
riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner
being with power through his Spirit”
Ephe. 2:1: the inner man or woman of
those OUTSIDE OF CHRIST is DEAD, but the inner man or woman of those IN CHRIST
*The PRESENCE of the Holy Spirit in the life is
EVIDENCE of salvation (Rom. 8:9), whereas the POWER of the Spirit is ENABLEMENT
for Christian living.
it mean to say that the Holy Spirit enables a person for Christian living?It means that our spiritual faculties are
controlled by God—that we yield to the Spirit and let Him control the inner man
ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious
inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him
Paul pray that we would be “strengthened” with power through the Holy Spirit?Ephesians 6:10-12“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the
strength of His power.Put on the full
armour of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes [“wiles”
in NRSV] of the devil.For our struggle
is not against enemies of flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the
powers, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the
spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
*SITTINGà BOWING THE KNEEàSTANDINGàWALKING
RESEARCH GROUP, 2002:Six out of ten
Americans (59%) reject the existence of Satan, indicating that the devil, or
Satan, is merely a symbol of evil. Catholics are much more likely than
Protestants to hold this view - 75% compared to 55% - although a majority of
both groups concur that Satan is symbolic.
b.depth (Eph. 3:17)
3:17“and that Christ may dwell in your
hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.”
*Paul used 3
pictures here to convey this idea of spiritual depth, and the 3 pictures
are hidden in the 3 verbs:“dwell”,
“rooted,” and “grounded”:
1.The verb “dwell” literally means “to settle
down and feel at home”.
*Christ was already RESIDENT in the hearts of
the Ephesians--or else Paul would not have addressed them as “saints” in Ephe.
*Here Paul is praying that the Holy Spirit
would take up PRESIDENCY
*What Paul was praying for was a deeper
experience between Christ and His people.He yearned for Christ to settle down and feel at home in their
hearts—not a surface relationship, but an ever-deepening fellowship.
2.The verb “rooted” moves us into the plant
world.The tree must get its roots deep
into the soil if it is to have both nourishment and stability, and the
Christian must have his spiritual roots deep into the love of God.
*Psalm 1:1-3 “Happy are those whose…… delight
is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.They are like trees planted by streams of
water, which yield their fruit in its season and their leaves do not
wither.In all that they do, they
3.“Grounded” is an architectural term; it refers to the foundations on
which we build.
c.comprehension (Eph. 3:18-19a)
3:18-19a“I pray that you may have the
power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and
height and depth, (19) and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge”
English word “comprehend” stems from the Latin word prehendere which means “to grasp”.
that a monkey has a “prehensile tail.”That is, its tail is able to grasp a tree limb and hold on.
comprehend carries the idea of mentally grasping something—of laying hold of it
as our own.
*In other words,
it is possible to understand something but not really make it your own.Paul’s concern was that we lay hold of the
vast expanses of the love of God.
paradox here is that Paul gives us dimensions to the love of God, BUT the
dimensions cannot be measured, because verse 19 explains that the love of
Christ “surpasses knowledge”.[This idea
parallels Ephe. 3:8 which describes “the unsearchable riches of Christ”.]
*THE MESSAGE:“And I ask him that
with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all
followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and
experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights!”
*Why is it
important to know the full extent of Christ’s love?
i.Ephesians 5:1“Be imitators of God, as beloved children”—AND GOD IS LOVE!
ii.Ephesians 5:2“and live [‘walk’ NASB] in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up
for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
d.fullness (Eph. 19b)
Ephe. 19b “so that you may be filled with all the
fullness of God”
*It is said
that nature abhors a vacuum.This
explains why air or water will automatically flow into an empty place.
nature abhors a vacuum; God wants us to experience His fullness.
of our fullness is the Holy Spirit (Ephe. 5:18—“do not get drunk with wine…be
filled with the Spirit”);
MEASURE of our fullness is Christ Himself (Ephe. 4:13“the fullness of Christ.”)
*We like to
measure ourselves by the weakest Christians that we know…we boast, “Well, I’m
better than they are…”
WRIGHT:“Paul speaks far more often of
Christians being ____[‘IN CHRIST’]____ than of Christ being __[‘IN CHRISTIANS’]___.”
3.The Benediction (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Ephe. 3:(20)“Now to him who by the power at work within
us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,
(21) to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations,
forever and ever.Amen.”
in the heart of every child, and teenager, and adult the need and longing to
sing a doxology.We may sing it to a
hockey team carrying its captain and Stanley Cup on their shoulders; or we may
sing it during a standing ovation at the N.A.C.; or we may express it through
our waving and cheers as the troops come home from service in Afghanistan.
we were made to worship and sing.We
were made to have a hero to brag about--the hero we were designed to sing about
*JOHN PIPER:“God makes much of us, so that we can make
much of Him!”
WE MAKE MUCH OF HIM?IN THE CHURCH!
* (Ephe. 3:22) “to him be glory in the church and
in Christ Jesus to all generations”
conceives the church as the theater of the glory of God
“through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the
principalities and powers in the heavenly places.”
Our Heavenly Father,
we thank you that all the power we need is available to us through your Son and
His Holy Spirit.
We thank you, Father,
that you have an offer for us, an incomprehensible amount of love, and it’s
from that awareness of love that we can grow strong and grow deep roots,
powerful roots for the days ahead.
My prayer for the
listener, today, is first of all for the listener who is feeling week, and I do
pray they’d know, but elsewhere in the Bible, Paul wrote that when we are weak,
we can truly be strong, for it’s in our weakness that Christ’s power is made
Would you encourage
the weak listener?
I pray that you would
encourage and empower the listener whose up against some enemies, or some
adversaries at work, or maybe at school. I pray that they would comprehend what
is the full extent of your power.
I pray for the
Christian who needs power to overcome sin or temptation. Would they fill up on
your Spirit, today, and have overcoming power?
And we’ll be careful
to give you all the Glory, just like Paul does.
We were made to worship
you, Lord, and we give you the power and you the glory, and you the praise.
In Jesus’ name, AMEN.
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