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Thoughtful Thanksgiving

December 24, 2017

Fourth Sunday of Advent:  Thanks

Ephesians 1:3-14

Go to the last page and fill your name in the blanks before you read the sermon!

 

This is God’s gift to you.  How do you want to respond?  “Thanks”

 

When the angels appeared to the shepherds and told them what had been given to them, they responded immediately by going to find the Christ child and worship him.  Then, Luke 2:20 tells us what they did when they left.  They worshiped God, they praised God, they thanked God and they lived differently because they had encountered the living God.

 

In order to be thankful, you need to understand what you’ve been given.  Too many of us do not grasp the vast gift we have been given in Jesus Christ.

 

You’ve been given the same gift that the shepherds went to see.  But we know more about the gift than the shepherds did.  Because we know that Jesus grew up, lived life, taught about a relationship with God, called others to follow him, died for our sins, was resurrected from the dead, brought about the church to be his body, and is one day returning to reign.  And because you are part of Christ’s church you have received the gifts he gives to all believers.

 

Let’s look a little more closely at the gifts given to us.  They are not what you might expect to see wrapped under your tree, and the gifts we will look at are not a full list of what Jesus has given to us, but these gifts last forever and as we get used to them and live with them they become richer and impact our lives more deeply.  Feel free to underline, circle  or otherwise mark any words that seem to have special meaning for you today. 

 

Now mind that verses 3-14 are one long sentence in the Greek.  It was not written as a theological treaty by the Apostle Paul, but more like a hymn of praise for all that God has done for us.  Let’s read it that way now.  These are God’s gifts to YOU! Be thankful!

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed YOU in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  

EVERY - nothing is missing, nothing is lacking.  Every spiritual blessing God can bestow is yours.  Not because you earned it but because God wanted to give it to you.

 

For he chose YOU in him before the creation of the world 

CHOSEN - YOU were chosen, by God, before the creation of the world.  You are wanted.  You are treasured.  You have purpose.  The next words tell us what you have been chosen for.

to be holy and blameless in his sight. Now here’s the kicker.  You are a sinner.  How are you going to be holy and blameless in the sight of God?  Not by anything you do! We are made holy and blameless in God’s sight because Jesus became God in the flesh and died for our sins.

 

In love he predestined YOU, 

PREDESTINED - You know that saying some folks use to reference time that goes, “Before you were a gleam in your father’s eye . . .”  Well get this.  You have always been a gleam in God’s eye.  He has always thought of you.  Always wanted you.  Always loved you.

 

to be adopted as His child through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will

ADOPTED - God has gone beyond wanting you and has officially adopted you and made you his own.  You are an heir of God’s grace.  You are the family of Jesus.

All this is for the following purpose as we continue:

 

 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given YOU, in the One he loves.  God delights to call you His child.  Even though we do nothing to deserve it, when we turn to Christ and accept the gifts he offers us, God is praised and glorified!

 

In him YOU, have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on YOU. 

REDEMPTION AND FORGIVENESS - Yours not because you earned them but because God is so rich in them that he gives them to all.  And he doesn’t give us each a small portion.  He lavishes us with his grace.  It is poured out all over us.  God is so good!

 

With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to YOU, the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING - You have been given the gift of knowing that God is at work and up to something.  He is up to reconciling all things to himself.  He has reconciled you.  His desire is that all people will come to a right relationship with him through Jesus Christ.  Christians understand this.  The rest of the world does not and they can’t see with hope and faith - you have that gift.

 

In him YOU, 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 put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory. 

And YOU, also were included in Christ when YOU, heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. 

INCLUDED - Once we respond to the message of the Gospel by saying “yes” to a relationship with Jesus, we are included in all of his promises.  Be assured that everything we have read this morning is YOURS if you are in Christ.  If this is not connecting with you then it could be that you don’t know Jesus!  But he is inviting you in. How will you respond?

 

When YOU, believed, YOU, were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing YOUR inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.

SEALED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT - When we baptize infants we symbolize the marking of the seal of the Holy Spirit trusting that the child will come to believe and receive all the promises we just read.  When we baptize adults, or confirm our youth, we are pronouncing that the promised Holy Spirit has been realized in that person’s life when they believed.

 

Concl.  While we wait for Christ’s return, we practice gratitude and thanksgiving for all that he has done for us.  Ephesians 1 gives us a glimpse.  There is always more.  More that you can each specifically testify to.  But for today, let’s go with these things and give thanks to God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed YOU ___________________ in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  

For he chose YOU ______________________ in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined YOU, _______________________ to be adopted as His child 

through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will

— to the praise of his glorious grace, 

which he has freely given YOU, ______________________ in the One he loves.  In him YOU, _______________________ have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on YOU, _______________. 

With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to YOU, ____________________ the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

In him YOU, ________________________ 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 put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory. 

And YOU, _______________________ also were included in Christ when YOU, ____________________________ heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When YOU, ________________ believed, YOU, ______________________ were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing YOUR inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:3-14