Given on May 16 2021
Were going to continue our study through Ephesians, by looking at
 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.  To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,  and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things,  so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (ESV)
(the Church as a whole is what Ephesians is about)
Analogy of other businesses hurt by the pandemic
pig farms - Millions of pigs being euthanized
potato farm - 1 farm threw away 700 tons of potatoes
All institutions in this world are built, run, established, by us and are dependant on the things of this world to maintain themselves
Dependent on weather
Dependent on markets and prices and inflation and people and peoples tastes
The Church of Jesus Christ, is not like that at all.
How it was founded
Who founded it it
How it was built
Who built it
How it exists
How it continues
Why is it here
What is its purpose
So when we look at these verses we can see that when God established His church, He didn't leave it alone or ignore it.
He didn't give it a jump start and then walk away
He is intimately involved with every aspect of how it was formed and starte, and He is intimately involved in how it operates and is sustained.
He does this, by giving gifts to His children.
And here in our verses this morning, we can see that Paul is acknowledging that he is a recipient of one of these gifts.
“I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace…”
#1) So…...how was Paul made a minister?
Was it because he was extra holy?
Was it because ………..
We have these gifts given to us by God, we didn't earn them….
We didn't make ourselves suitable recipients of the gifts of God
That doesn't mean that we go out and live our lives as selfish sinners, but that we understand that we can’t earn the gifts that God gives to us.
Will living a life of sinful rebellion omit us from receiving God’s gifts?
No, just look at how Paul used to live-----
But if you are already a Christian…..
If you have already repented and believed in Jesus Christ….
If the Holy Spirit already lives intertwined within your soul….
And you use the grace of God as an excuse to go out and live however you want…. Then you need to repent of your sin
Our past doesn't control or influence God in any way when it comes to the gifts that He gives His children.
He does so based on Him and Him alone.
So when we move forward, we need to understand that because we didn't earn our gifts from God ------ we cant use them to define and identify us
God made us intentionally…..with differing strengths and weaknesses, so that when He gives us our gifts, we will use them how He wants us to--------
Paul talks about this in:
1 Corinthians 12:7-9
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
God gave Paul a weakness, that He refused to take away, no matter how many times Paul prayed to have it taken away------ to keep him humble.
Its not that Paul was saying the wrong prayers
Its not like he forgot to tithe that week
He didn't have some secret sin that he was hiding from his church
He didn't have an ancestor with some dark secret, and because of that, God said “no”
God gave Paul a weakness ------- and said “no” when Paul asked him to take it away.
You see----humans have this tendency, to make everything about them
Look at what we can do
Look what I can do, of my own power
We even blow that thinking up to the extreme and say that we saved ourselves of our own will power and intellect.
“I myself, thought through all the things that needed to be thought through, my parents raised me the right way, so that I myself could make the right choice and believe in God all on my own.”
We divide ourselves based on ability
We divided ourselves based on intellect and belief and race and ethnicity
And then we use our self defined groups and then assign abilities and gifts to those groups----
We say “those people are good at this”
“People who have those experiences are good at this kind of stuff and people with these experiences are good at this kind of stuff”
Look at the lines we humans draw and then fill in with whoever we ourselves think will fit there.
And then God comes along, not only saves a God hating, Christian killing, pharisee------- he gives him one of the greatest gifts any human has ever received, and speaks directly to him to write ⅓ of the New Testament!
If thats not proof that God doesn't act in ways that we claim He should act, then I don't know what is.
God doesn't give gifts to humans based on how suitable they made themselves for receiving the gift.
Remember, though, thats not an excuse to go out and live however we want, its a reality that should cause us to worship and glorify God all the more.
In fact, we could say that He gives gifts to His children in such a way, that when they exercise them------ and even in order to exercise them--------they need to rely on Him even more.
If my gifting is to stand in front of people and talk about God, then I need to understand that He made me in such a way, so that the only way I can fulfill that gifting, is by relying on Him.
Because if I relied on myself to stand up here every week and talk to you guys------I would fail.
God gives gifts to His children in such a way, that they grow and change and are transformed into the image of His Son, in order to use them…...and because they use them…….
For that is what HE is doing------- molding and shaping us
Building and changing us
And He uses the gifts He gives to do that.
Paul uses a phrase here, in verse 8 “the very least of all the Saints” that he uses in his other letters as well.
Here is a man, chosen directly by God to be saved
Chosen by God to write a 3rd of the NEw Testament
Chosen by God to write down the very words that come from Him
And he still considers himself to be the least of the saints.
Its like that, because he understands that God is the gift giver
God made him ------ he didn't make himself
God saved him ------- he didn't save himself
God gave him a gift ------- he didn't give it to himself
So we should ask ---------
Do we consider ourselves to be somehow better or higher up than any other Christians?
Do we think that because God gave me THIS gift im somehow more important to the kingdom of God than someone else who has a different gift?
I pray that isn't true.
In fact, we can look at Paul saying he is the least of all saints------ as evidence that the God-designed weakness that we talked about in 1st Corinthians 12-------- is working.
God said “No” to Saint Paul’s prayer, to keep him humble------ and it’s working
God gives His gifts according to His own will and purposes------- and has very specific reasons for doing so.
#2) Why was he made a minister?
When we keep reading we can see that He also gives His gifts for another reason.
For Paul, we can see that he was given his gift to do 2 things:
V.8 - to preach to the gentiles
V.9 - to bring to light FOR EVERYONE the reality that salvation is open for all who believe
That is what preaching does. It “brings to light”
We read the words of Scripture, and we can grasp some of them.
They make sense
They're orderly and uncomplicated
But other times, we read the words and we go “what?”
“What the heck does that mean?”
“Why is that there?”
“I don't understand it.”
God knew this would happen, so He gave the gift of preaching to people.
Preaching “brings to light” the things of Scripture that aren't easily digestible.
It unfolds and enlightens and helps us understand
With this, we can see that our gifts are meant to be used for other people.
They are to be used to build and undergird His body, the Church.
To strengthen the Church ------- To spread the Gospel
To feed the hungry ----------- To clothe the naked
To lift up the hurt and downtrodden ---------- To protect the weak and innocent
To shine the light of Jesus Christ into the dark corners of this evil world
All of us will one day stand before the Judge of the universe and give an account for how we used the gifts that He gave us.
Jesus talks about this in Matthew 25:14-30 ------ the parable of the ten talents
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
God didn't leave us to grope and crawl in the dark about how the Church is supposed to act and operate and run and do things
He didn't just start the Church (((((like I said earlier))))) and then walk away
He gave gifts to people so that they will use them towards other people.
#3) Angels and Demons are watching us
And then we have our last 2 verses this morning.
They seem to come a little bit out of left field for us
 “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”
“Rulers and authorities in the heavenly places”
This phrase “the heavenly places” is used 5 times in the book of Ephesians.
Weve talked about it every time its popped up, and we know that he is talking about the spiritual realm.
The unseen realm of this world
Where angels and demons wage war against one another
Where the dark forces of this present darkness seek to fell the children of God
We were given these gifts to not only conform us-----
To not only help others-----
But because the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places are watching us--------
There are demons, that prowl the dark recess of your life-----
Watching how you fall
Watching what you fall too
Observing your weaknesses
You see, one of the best lies the devil has ever told, is that he knows what were thinking.
He knows what tempts us
What stretches our faith
Him and his dark forces only know our weaknesses when we show them to him
If in my heart im lusting after someone, only God and I know that
Its only when that lust takes action, does the devil know
He only knows the weaknesses that we act upon--------and the more we press after God
The more we pray
The more we worship
The more we read our Bibles
The more we arrange our lives around Jesus Christ------
The more the devil is going to pay attention to us
The more the demons that have haunted you fro years------will attack you
They want to watch you fall
They want you to fail
For your family to fail
They want your Church to fail
so ----they take advantage of the weaknesses that we have shown them.
Have you fallen to lust numerous times before?
Then the demons know your weakness
Have you fallen to anger numerous times before?
Then the demons know your weakness
Has your Church fallen to complacency before?
Then the demons know your weakness
Has you family fallen to division?
Then the demons know your weakness
When we get to Ephesians 6 ----- we’ll talk more about this
But we need to fight the demons that come against us
That raise their disgusting red claws against our family
That laugh at our sins and pain
That dance in glee whenever we fall
Our Churches need to rise up and face the demonic forces that sweep this nation
Our families need to rise up, and raise their Children in the ways of God if we ever want to see them win the fight against the demons specifically dispatched to bring them down.
In closing----- there are demons watching us
The devil himself,
1 peter 5:8 says:
Goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour
You see, like we talked about at the beginning, the Church is an institution that was started by God.
And its reach goes beyond the town he has it planted in---------
It has a COSMIC purpose
Encompassing not only this physical world that we live in….but the spiritual world as well
The unseen realm of existence, populated by angels and demons that flow through this world-------- will give glory to God when His children live for him and no others.