This weekend the Aggies beat South Carolina 52-28 and Norte Dame beat Rice 48-17.
Can you imagine what it takes to build a winning team at that level? This is not Pop Warner or even high school ball at this point.
And trying to keep those superb athletes down to earth while they are playing on a big national stage takes clear vision, simple goals and great coaching.
You know the story of legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi, the greatest coach in the history of the NFL.
When the Green Bay Packers hired him as its new coach, he was intrigued with the challenge of turning the franchise around. He began leading practices, but at one point, he got so frustrated with what was going on, he blew the whistle and gathered everyone around. He knelt down, picked up the football, and said, “Let’s start at the beginning. This is a football. These are the yard markers. I am the coach. You are the players.” He went on, in the most elementary of ways, to explain the basics of football.
But this is not football. It’s not a 15 week schedule that declares a winner or winners and then starts over.
This is the church of Jesus Christ commissioned and dedicated to eternal goals. But our focus is the same and that is the importance of the basics.
We have begun a study in the book of Ephesians. This little letter is considered by the greatest theologians in history as the crown jewel of Paul’s theology.
One writer describes it this way:
“It is the distilled essence of the Christian religion, the most
authoritative and most consummate compendium of our holy
– It was John Calvin’s favorite letter.
– John MacKay, former President of Princeton Theological Seminary, said, “To this book I owe my life.”
– William Barclay said that it is “the Queen of the epistles.”
– Another called it, “pure music…what we read here is truth that sings doctrine set to music.”
Is it any wonder that Paul introduces his letter very quickly with a prayer, and so should we!
Ephesians 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.
Last week, we talked about the mounting storm of fraudulent Christianity that is brewing on the horizon. Is it any surprise that this past week, another well known ministry has been soiled by controversy?
But instead of focusing on the counterfeit, we will focus on the picture of the true church that the Holy Spirit outlines for us in Ephesians!
Paul begins his letter with the greatest run-on sentence ever written.
Read Ephesians 1:3-12
– I am an unashamed fan of the Church of Jesus Christ.
– I love the church!
– I love the people and the diversity.
– I love the success stories as well as walking with those who fail.
– I love the fellowship and the laughter.
– I am grateful when tears turn to shouts of joy.
– I want you to know that I am for you and not against you!
Discussion: Which part of this resonates with you? Which part is a struggle for you?
So this sermon is directed to those who feel that they are less than best. Those who, no matter how many years in the church, are not maturing.
What would be the definition of “not maturing?”
Ephesians 4:13 Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
…that is our destiny, Friends! Don’t loses sight of it!
I want you to see the basics. I want your eyes to be opened, again, to when true maturity begins.
The message that begins and sustains the life of maturity and transformation doesn’t begin with a view of mistakes, sins, and disfunction, but with a view of the perfect and complete love of the Father.
vs. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
vs. 4 …just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.
The message of Ephesians is this…
Since God has done it all, “before the foundations were laid,” then we can “do it well” and prove God’s call by our transformed behavior, unity, maturity, character and behavior.
He has “done it all” so I can “do it well.”
Titus 3:3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.
The problem that the church has today is that we need to get over ourselves and get on with knowing the Father and His great work.
– Knowing all you would become
– Knowing all the hateful, stupid, sinful, selfish, and regretful things you would do
– Knowing in the grand scheme of things that you would never be a Mozart or da Vinci, or Lincoln, or Moses, or Martin Luther King
– Knowing that you, at your best, would live what others might consider a mundane and simple life
– Knowing that you would struggle with jobs, growing up, being lazy, marriage, self image, weight, – reading your Bible, morality, paying attention in church
– Knowing that you would make wrong decisions and even stupid mistakes
vs. 4 He chose us that we would be holy and blameless.
vs. 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons and daughters.
vs. 7 He redeemed us through His blood.
vs. 9 He made us to know His will.
And the reason?
vs 12 That our very lives, as humble, insignificant, unexciting others might see it, would be “to the praise of His glory.”
In other words…
– lives so attached to His great love
– so touched by His personal and abundant grace
– so obviously at peace in the storm, joyful in the trails, faith-filled when all else fails, and grace-filled for all to see
That others would see the glory of God when they observed how we live.
When was the first time you truly felt God’s love?
What are some obstacles or even lying voices that keep you from hearing and receiving God’s truth about who H made you to be? How can we overcome these?
Isn’t that what you saw in Patti, Chris, and Tanner’s stories from India and Nepal?
Jeremiah 32:38-39 They shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39 and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them.
Zephaniah 3:9 For then I will give to the peoples purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder.
Zechariah 14:9 And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one.
John 17:21 That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
Acts 4:32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.
He chose us!
Ephesians 4:1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
But this is not a “try harder”…
The “walk worthy” has nothing to do with “try harder.”
It has to do with the great love of the Father.
Can you respond to His love?
His choosing you?
His calling you?
His adoption of you?
His redeeming of you?
His lavishing His love, favor, and every blessing on you?
And “walk worthy” in His love!
This week, how can you “walk worthy” in your life in Christ?
Do you ever feel you spend more time “trying harder” than “walking worthy?”
What are some basic steps that we can take to keep our life focused on God?
How can you avoid/overcome “…spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another,” and strive towards the unity of the church? (Possible answer: get over ourselves and get on with knowing the Father and His great work)