Filled Week 4. Growing Up
Key text: Ephesians 4:1-16
I have the best job in the whole world; I get to literally spend my life connecting in with what God is doing in the world; I get to spend my energy and time building up people to discover the joy of connecting with what God is doing in the world!
My greatest joy is seeing people get stuck into what God is doing and discovering that wonder that is being a part of what God is doing.
You have the greatest calling the world though. You are called to build up one another so that we can all grow to full maturity so that we can be an instrument in God’s hand to call people to repentance.
The wonder of being a part of that cannot be understated.
I say this because we are in week four of our series on the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer; tonight we will see just why we have the Spirit. What is the point of having Holy Spirit in us?
We will be reading from Ephesians 4:1-15 this evening; and the point of the Holy Spirit in us you will discover is not for us. As I discover more and more your faith is not about you; it is about what God can do through you!
So with that in mind let’s read Ephesians 4:1-16
1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”
9(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
The call of this passage is clear; be humble, loving, connected to each other and committed to the call that God has placed on your life! Why? Because this has nothing to do with you; it is about Him who called you; we build the body of Christ because it is His body and He is moulding it!
We commit ourselves to each other because Christ is calling us!
So why do we have the Spirit in us? Well…
It’s not about you
It’s about Him and the church and what He is doing through the church! I want to make this absolutely clear this evening; the call of Christ on your life has nothing to do with your well-being; or personal happiness nor with getting what you want, and at a push I would say it’s not even so much about you being freed from your sins.
Now I must admit; these are by products of the work done; in Him because of what He has done; we find freedom from sin we find fulfilment and peace; and He does supply all our needs according to His riches in glory. But this is not the point!
I am discovering more and more as I journey in life and with God that all that I just stated are secondary’s to that which really matter! The primary is God and His glory then us living in real love with each other because of God and because of that we find freedom, peace, fulfilment etc.
Jesus states when asked what are the greatest commands; answered; Love God and because of that love people! This is everything!
And I believe it is all we are taking into eternity; the connection we have with God and the connections we have with people; everything else will pass away.
Yet we live in a world that emphasises things; experiences; your own happiness; getting what you want; finding yourself; etc.
These pursuits drive us in the opposite direction of the true eternal reality of life which is making others more important than yourself; building up other; connecting with others etc.
This is the point of the church! We are to be together for each other!
Why does God gift you and give you talents; so that others can benefit from that.
Why does God minister to us; so that we can pour that out as a ministry to others?
Why are we saved? So that we can be ambassadors of that salvation for the glory of God and the blessings of others!
Again this doesn’t mean that we don’t get anything out of it; it just means that we come second; and you know what; that seems to be a healthier and more balanced way to live life. We should be committing ourselves to each other and to God because He has given us the Spirit in order to do that!
So you have the Spirit of God in you to glorify God and to build up the church! Each of us have gifts so that the whole church may be built up into maturity! We are all here for the sake of each other! We are all equipped so that we can all be dependent upon each other!
Church is not about getting it is about giving. It always has and always will be like that. Once we get that we get what we are supposed to out of church.
I remember last year when I took my sabbatical; after years and years of being intensely involved in serving church I was forced to simply stop. I couldn't stay away from church completely so I visited other churches in the area and just observed. And I must admit it was a somewhat disconnected experience.
I have never felt so disconnected! I felt spare! At the end of the 2 months I needed to get back into serving the church. The idea of simply visiting church just wasn’t working because I have tasted the significance of being involved; of committing my life to the causes of God and the extension of His kingdom. To go from that to just listening to sermons was a serious disconnect for me!
You see church is and always will be about what you are doing over what you are getting out! You are called to serve; you are called to give because the one who called you served others and gave His life! We are called to have that same attitude!
So it’s not about you it’s about serving others. Also its not about accolades or power…
It’s about giving of yourself
We often fall into the trap of thinking that we are not gifted enough or talented enough to be used by God. But this is the thinking of the world; where the powerful and talented are celebrated; in God’s kingdom it is the available and the willing who are celebrated.
We often fall into the trap of thinking unless I can do something special I am not special; but the Kingdom of God is about those who are willing to serve. The greatest positions are those of service rather than those of position.
The Story of Stephen is a great example of this
In Acts 2:8 it states;
8Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.
Now we think wow a man full of God’s grace and able to perform great wonders and signs, he must be doing something incredible in the kingdom, like leading the church or preaching or teaching or leading worship; you know something up front.
But Stephen was called to something very different. He was called and set aside to wait tables; to serve the widows of the early church with food.
The early church got this and this is why when the called these men to serve they prayed and called me who were filled with the Spirit of God!
He was filled with power and grace to serve. And the lesson applies to us today; we are called, filled and empowered to serve!
That has always been the call of Christ in your life; to serve the church! Service is not special, it is not full of accolades and rewards, service is difficult and messy, and you get tired and wary. But this is the call of God on our lives. And in fact when we get this; when we get that our lives are for Him first then others second we find significance.
I often think of all the people who do the thankless jobs around the church. Who serve in small insignificant way week in and week out thankless, hard service, and without them the church would not be what it is.
You see you have the Spirit of God in you to be used by God to serve His church so that we can all be built up to full maturity in Christ!
It’s not about how you feel, or the reward, it’s about being used by God for the extension of His kingdom!
I have found that service to the church is a weird blend of goodness and pain.
I love worship and leading it, however there are some mornings (in the middle of winter) that waking up at 5:15 am to get to the church at 6:30 am to lead worship is hard. And there are mornings that I lead and it is just plain tough to get through the set. And people complain that the electric guitar is too loud and we don’t sing the songs that they want etc. But it is not about me. God has gifted me to serve His church and not matter how I feel I am committed to serve His church!
This is the call that God has on your life, and that is why God has given you His Spirit that empowers you to serve His church so that we can all grow up into maturity because God is calling us to be a church that reaches out to the world with the gospel of grace!
And so church I want to change the way you feel and think about church.
The church is not about you; it is about Him and His call to use all of us to reach out to the world we find ourselves in. if we are going to do this properly we will have to
Be Expectant to Serve
Stop coming to church expectant to receive and start coming with an expectation to be used. This will open us up to all make this place a place of ministry.
This means that we will have to walk through those doors asking the question; “Lord, what are we doing tonight, and what do you want me to do tonight?”
Be Ready to Give
You are the church, and so the ministry of the church reflects you; if you come expectant to be used; be ready to give; of your time, talent and treasure.
God uses us with what we have but we must be willing to lay it in His hand!
So walk through those doors with an expectation of giving.
Be Aware of Others
This experience is not about what you can get out of it; but what you can pour into other. This will mean you need to be aware of others.
I can’t tell you how many times just having the awareness of others opens up opportunities for ministry.
Walk in here with an awareness that you are here to be used by God in the lives of others; to do that you must be aware of them.
In all this if we commit ourselves to the Spirit’s power in our lives; to His leading and the call of service; this church can and will change our world! For we go in His power to do His work!