Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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The Unsearchable Riches in Christ Jesus! 1.24.2016
May the riches of God's grace be renewed in us today, both in knowledge and experience!

On any given Sunday morning when we gather in the name of Jesus Christ to worship our God and to have fellowship with Him and His Son in our places of worship, we come together in thankfulness, in expectation and in hope. In thankfulness because we have received the grace of God which makes us appreciative of the fellowship we are privileged to be a participant in; in expectation because we anticipate our meeting with our God as He comes to us in Word and Spirit/ and in hope because we know that through the hearing of His Voice we are going to be assured, encouraged and inspired to continue to trust in Him as we together move towards forever together with Him. We are going to be reminded Who we are in Jesus Christ.

We could say that the above occurs in our lives during the times when things are going along fairly well and it is certainly the ideal that we would like to have happen regularly. But in reality, through experience, we know that there are times when we gather together that we are so weighed down by the struggles, the concerns, the worries of ourselves/other, that we find it difficult to do anymore than come in the door, find a seating place and wait on Him. We just need to hear a word from Him.

The circumstances of life can and do at times mess with our mind and heart so that we tend to be moved away from remembering and standing firm on "Who we are in Jesus Christ," making it needful to be reminded and refreshed in the truth of the matter. It is for this reason that we continue to listen to the Voice of the scriptures as spoken by the Holy Spirit in the letter to the Ephesians (to all Christians of all time).

In this letter that God is speaking to us through, He has told us that He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. He did this by choosing us before the foundation of the world in Christ, by adopting us in Christ, by redeeming us in Christ, by granting us grace to trust in Christ, by sealing and promising our eternal inheritance in the Spirit, by making us a new creation in Christ, by uniting us with all humanity into one Man, Jesus Christ, and by making us fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.....in Whom we are being built together for a dwelling place of God by the Spirit.

The Apostle Paul, after laying out the doctrinal basis of what God has done through His abundant grace so that all might be recipients of this same grace,(chapters 1-2) now speaks personally of his experience of being offered, receiving and responding to this great abundant grace. It seems like the Spirit recognized the need to personalize all that had been written in the first two chapters, so that all hearers (including us) would "see" the abundant grace of God that is a mystery to the natural mind/man, but which is a grace that is referred to as "the unsearchable riches of Christ." This has everything to do with our identity in Him, in Jesus Christ.

What does it mean that our identity is in Jesus Christ? How does God view us in Him? What does He see as His desire/purpose for us How do we see ourselves? What is our purpose in life?

As Paul writes this letter, we remember that he has been a prisoner in a Roman prison for at least three years for preaching the Gospel which has now been revealed to the all people, both Jew and Gentile. Just as in last week's message there was a historical background and application for that day, it is the same this week, but there also is a message for us today in our time in the Body of Christ, the church. We heard these words at the end of last week's text, words which pointed to Universal Church as being the Body of Christ, and of how it is the abode of God through the Spirit.

2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

And now we read from Ephesians 3:13 and we do so in the name of Jesus Christ. I am only going to address the 3 verses which I highlight below: 1, 8, and 13.

KJV Ephesians 3:1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

Over 30 years ago, my brother in law shared with me an illustration that has stuck quite well with me. He spoke of a brook running down through a valley, which is slowed into pools by small dams of rocks and debris, which cause the water to enter into a pool before it continues its journey down the valley. He applied it to the preaching of the Word and of the importance of making sure that what was being spoken was being absorbed by the hearers. He said that it is important to at times illustrate what has been said so far either in a sermon or in a series of sermons. It seems like that is what the Holy Spirit directed the Apostle Paul to do, as he takes what has been said in the first two chapters and compresses them into these 13 verses.

KJV Ephesians 3:1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory

On the humorous side, we might say that today's message is a sandwich message, because verses 1 and 13 are like the bread and verse 8 in the middle of those two is the meat of the message.

The first verse and the last verse come from a point of view of assuring the Ephesian congregation that, yes,even if he is in prison for preaching Jesus Christ and the inclusion of the Gentiles into the church, the body of Christ, the dwelling place of God, he is quite okay with it, because they are his joy. The purpose of his life was to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.
1 Thessalonians 2:19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?

As I stated earlier, I am going to only look at Paul and his life in relation to this message to the Ephesian church, and so we will look at his purpose early in life, his meeting with Jesus and his changed purpose.

Paul's Testimony (He had a purpose in his life, but it got changed when he met Jesus)

ESV Acts 26:1 So Agrippa said to Paul, "You have permission to speak for yourself." Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense:
2 "I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews,
3 especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.
4 "My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews.
5 They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee.
6 And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers,
7 to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king!
8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?

Paul's earlier purpose.
9 "I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them.
11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

Jesus steps into his life and changes his purpose.
12 "In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests.
13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.
14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
15 And I said, 'Who are you, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,
17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles- to whom I am sending you
18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'

Paul's new purpose and commission.
19 "Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,
20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.
21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.
22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass:
23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles."

For application today, we will look at the "meat" of our message...

3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

What is God's desire/purpose for your/my life? 3:8 That we would receive by faith the grace that He has poured out upon us.

How are we comprehending/responding to/have I received that which He has given you/me in Christ? David's testimony in Psalm 32, John 3:1-8

How might we demonstrate this in our life? How might we have God's purpose?
Mark 8:34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.
36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
2 "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise),
3 "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."
4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,
6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,

What does this look like in everyday life? Applies to any relationship...
Romans 12:9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited.
17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."
20 To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head."

May we read, think about, meditate upon and take into our minds and hearts that which God longs that we possess by faith: The indescribable riches of His grace given us through His Son. Remember: GRACE: God's Riches At Christ's Expense.

In Christ,

Pastor Orval
Posted on 24 Jan 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Cross of Christ 2.25.2018
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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*Wendy and Dan Salo: Strength & courage to trust Him w/her health concerns