January 5, 2020

With All Wisdom and Insight

Passage: Ephesians 1:3-14, John 1:1-5, John 1:10-18

Last week we spoke of how easy it is to forget about the really important things in life.

This week we are going to talk about a similar sort of habit.

But we aren’t going to talk about forgetting, not exactly.

We are going to talk about our habit of taking really important things for granted.

What is the difference, you might ask, between forgetting important things and taking important things for granted?

The difference may seem slight.

But I believe it deserves some attention.

So, let’s reflect for a moment on the difference between forgetting and taking for granted.

Forgetting something, means letting it go from your mind completely.

Hence the expression, “I completely forgot…”.

Fill in the blanks like:

I completely forgot to buy a gift for my daughter on her birthday.

I completely forgot to insure my car.

I completely forgot that Jesus died for my sin.

From these examples of forgetting we see the word, (which is a verb, verbs describe actions) has two meanings; or you could say two applications.

Forgetting your daughter’s birthday or forgetting to insure your car, those are acts of inadvertently failing to do something.

Forgetting that Jesus died for my sin is not forgetting to perform a physical act.

Forgetting that Jesus died for my sin is the mental or spiritual process of ceasing to think of, or consider, the sacrifice that our saviour performed for our salvation.

So that pretty much covers forgetting.

What about taking for granted?

When you take something for granted, you are aware of it, you know about it.

You haven’t forgotten about it.

But you don’t act as though you are mindful of it.

So, forgetting is all about letting (or having) something pass from your mindfulness completely.

While taking something for granted means you remain aware of that something, but you don’t act as though you are.

A good example of taking for granted, might be your relationship with your spouse.

You don’t often forget your spouse exists.

You know that your spouse loves you.

But you may take her love for granted.

You do this when you neglect to act in ways that show you cherish her and her love for you.

Every time I read the first chapter of Ephesians, I feel like I take God and what God has done for me in and through Jesus Christ, completely for granted.

As a theologically trained minister of the Gospel, I know the amazing promises of God to his people.

But as a human being, as a flesh bound soul, I find it impossible to fathom the depth; the extent of God’s loving acts of kindness toward we his people.

And so I am often left feeling as though I take our God for granted.

Listen again to the first few verses of our reading from Ephesians.

Listen and then reflect on how astounding are the acts of our God, performed on our behalf.

Reflect on God’s love and mercy as shown in these verses.

Reflect and then consider if you might, at times, live in ways that take God’s miraculous saving acts, performed on your behalf, completely for granted.

Hear the words of God:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

Now reflect on these words of promise, considering whether or not you take God’s gracious love for you for granted.

This sermon is not meant to make us feel guilty about the way we respond to God’s love for us.

This sermon is meant only to remind us of all that God has done for us so that we can at least attempt to respond to that love by not taking it for granted.

We spoke last week about prayerfully reading scripture as a way of building up our faith-muscles so we can remember the story of God’s work of redemption.

And then use that enlivened memory to empower us to live in ways that show our faith is alive and well.

When we remember the awesome truth that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.

When we respond to that memory by faith expressing itself through love.

When we cherish that memory by deeply reflecting upon it.

Then we cannot help but live in ways that do not take God and God’s work on our behalf for granted.

And just in case you are thinking, “Surely these amazing promises don’t apply to me. Surely the author of this bit in the Bible is talking only about the 12 Apostles.”

Remember the last few verses of our reading.

13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

So, by the infilling of the Holy Spirit at your baptism you become heir to God’s pledge of your redemption.

Which means that the promise of being chosen in Christ before the foundations of the world applies to you.

You are a child of God through faith in Jesus.

7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.

Let us then, with all wisdom and insight, given to us by the Holy Spirit live intentionally for the praise of the Father’s glory.

Not taking for granted our salvation, purchased for us with the Son’s very life.

But rather demonstrating that we cherish God’s gift to us, by the way that we live.

Living expressing our faith through love, so that others may see the glory of our God reflected in our lives.

And in that seeing, believe and be saved.