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INTENT, 27-07-2000 version

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God's Plan For You

Ephesians 3:1-21


The Standard Oil Company was making preparations to establish itself in Indonesia. Company executives were seeking a manager for their Indonesian operations. They were informed that the man best qualified for the place was a certain missionary. The company approached the missionary in reference to his availability for the position. Their offer was large: $30,000 yearly. The missionary declined. Those seeking his service raised the offer. Still he declined. Finally they said, “Just name your salary. We’ll pay it if the salary we have named isn’t large enough.”

 “Oh,” replied he, “the salary is big enough, but the job isn’t big enough!”

Tan, Paul Lee, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations, (Garland, Texas: Bible Communications, Inc.) 1996.

Matthew Culbertson gave up his commission in the United States Army to become a missionary. At Shanghai he did valiant service during the Taiping riots. A minister said to him, “Culbertson, if you were at home, you might be a major general.” The missionary replied: “Doubtless I might; men whom I taught at West Point are major generals today.” And then he added these words with deep earnestness: “But I would not change places with one of them. I consider there is no post of influence on earth equal to that of a man who is permitted to preach the Gospel.” He had chosen “the better part,” and had no yearning after secular honors.

Tan, Paul Lee, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations, (Garland, Texas: Bible Communications, Inc.) 1996.

At the age of 16 C. T. Studd was already an expert cricket player and at 19 was made captain of his team at Eton, England. Soon he became a world-famous sports personality. But the Lord had different plans for him, for while attending Cambridge University he heard Moody preach and was wondrously converted. He soon dedicated his life and his inherited wealth to Christ and spent hours seeking to convert his teammates. Sensing God’s leading to full-time service, he offered himself to Hudson Taylor for missionary work in China.

 While in that foreign country, he inherited a sum of money equivalent today to half a million dollars. In 24 hours he gave the entire inheritance away, investing it in the things of the Lord. Later he was forced to go back to England, for his health was failing and his wife was an invalid. But God called him again—this time to the heart of Africa. He was informed that if he went, he would not live long. His only answer was that he had been looking for a chance to die for Jesus. “Faithful unto death,” he accepted God’s call and labored until the Savior took him Home.

Tan, Paul Lee, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations, (Garland, Texas: Bible Communications, Inc.) 1996.

What are you living for? Is it worth living for?

I. God’s Cosmic Plan 3:10a

      Sooner or later, you are going to have to figure out what you will live for. People live for all kinds of things. What are some of the values that people live for? Such a purpose, or mission drives what we do and we make decisions about many things on the basis of such a statement. For example, an athlete who has his or her eyes set on the Olympics, makes athletic training their life priority and even relationships and marriage are often put on hold in order to reach that goal.

      Do you know that God has a purpose? God's mission statement is given in Ephesians 3:10a. “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known.”

      Read text.

A. Through The Church

      Several things which are important to us are revealed in this mission statement of God.

      First of all, we notice that what he wants to accomplish, he wants to do "through the church." As soon as we read this, we had better sit up and take notice. God's intention is to be accomplished through us. This is terribly important stuff. God could use cherubim, seraphim, angels or high powered political figures, but he has chosen us to accomplish his eternal purposes. This puts us in an exalted position, and also places a great responsibility on us.

B. Proclamation

      What is it that he wants to accomplish through the church? His purpose is that his wisdom is to be made known.

      What God wants to be made known is the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What are the essentials of that message?

      1. All have sinned.

      2. Jesus died to save us

      3. By faith in Him we are forgiven and given life.

What a tremendous revelation we have here. We know God's business plan. We are aware of the cosmic intent of the eternal God. More than that, we as the church, are integrally involved in that plan. What a great challenge for us. Are we fulfilling His intention for us?

II. Your Part In His Plan 3:8,9

      The question is, “Are you involved in fulfilling God’s purpose?

The apostle Paul knew his part in God’s plan. He says, “Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.”

      Last time, we looked at the wonderful truth that Jesus is our peace having made peace between us and God and between Jew and Gentile. Paul takes off from that discussion to remind these Gentile readers of God's call to him to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles. What he is trying to communicate by placing this statement of God's intention in the midst of this discussion is to say to them that his specific call to ministry fits into God's mission statement. Paul is clearly aware of his part in the accomplishment of God's business plan. Paul had received a call from God to do one specific task in the context of the larger task. He talks here about the gift of God's grace given to him. It is wonderful to see him talk about accomplishing God's task not as a burden or a heavy duty as some of us do, but as a gift of God's grace. In his eyes, working for God was a privilege. Folks, it is a privilege.

      Paul is amazed that he should have this privilege. He was a persecutor of the church and because of this background, he always saw himself as undeserving. There was a devotional in Our Daily Bread about a young fellow who after a rather sinful lifestyle had come to God. After a few weeks of living the Christian lifestyle, he came to his pastor and said, "Why me?" The pastor thought he had another person complaining on his hands, but as he listened, he realized that this young man was amazed that God should have saved him. Paul has this perspective. Why should God save me and call me to be his servant? He was amazed that he, a persecutor, had become a proclaimer. He saw his call to this ministry as a gift of God's grace, given by the power of God.

The Bible tells us that all of us have a part in fulfilling God's intentions. We read in I Corinthians. 12:7, "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." Do you know what your part in fulfilling God’s plan is?

Many young people are living in preparation for the future, but God has a place for you now already.

A Scottish boy, lying on the heather beside a brook, fell asleep and had a wonderful dream. The sky became glorious with a dazzling golden light. Out of this light came a chariot drawn by horses of fire. Faster and faster it came down from the sky, and when it came near the boy he heard a voice as sweet as the mountain brook, saying, “Come up hither, I have work for thee to do.” When he got up to obey, he awoke, and found it was a dream.

The impression did not leave him, and one day the boy went to his room, knelt down beside the bed, and prayed, “O Lord, Thou knowest that silver and gold I have none. What I have I give to Thee. I offer myself. Wilt Thou accept the gift?” God did accept the gift, and that boy became one of the truly great missionaries. His name was Alexander Duff, missionary to India.

Tan, Paul Lee, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations, (Garland, Texas: Bible Communications, Inc.) 1996.

What about you? What can you do to accomplish God’s purposes?

III. Power To Do It

      You may say, “But we are just teenagers!” How can we do anything in accomplishing God’s purposes? Paul had these same feelings and asks, "who is equal to such a task?" in II Corinthians 2:16.  This is a good question. The answer is, no one. We are not adequate to this task, so how can we accomplish it?

A. Pray  Ephesians 3:12

      Do you remember the episode on Home Improvements where Tim and Jill are going to a wedding and Tim refuses to ask for directions. He drives around until they are thoroughly lost before he asks for help. We do the same thing in our work for God. We know we can't do it, but we stumble along and do it ourselves and prove we can't do it.

Ephesians 3:12 says, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

God invites us to pray. The wisdom and strength to accomplish God’s work is given to us when we pray. Do you know what God wants you to do? If not, pray. Do you know how to connect the good news about Jesus to a certain person? If not, pray.

B. God Is Able Ephesians 3:20,21

Did you know that all of us can lift a car? In our own strength, we cannot do it, but with a jack all of us can do it. When we pray, we tap into the storehouse of God’s great power. Ephesians 3:20,21 says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

      So it is in the building of God's kingdom. In our own strength, we cannot do it, but with the power of God, we can all do it.

      The promise of God, found in Ephesians 3:20, is that we have available to us God's great power. Notice the explosive way in which this promise is stated..."Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..."  This is saying:

God is able to do all we ask.

         "         all we dare not ask, but imagine.

         "         more than this.

        "         much more.

         "         very much more.

      What a tremendous promise and the wonderful thing is that that power is already at work within us. God's great power is available to us, not, however, for our personal purposes, but in order that God will be glorified.


      I think it is the greatest thing that we know what God wants to accomplish in the world. We know His secret plans. Wow! But it is even better than that, we have a part in it. And…as we pray, His power helps us accomplish it.

      The question is, are we willing? Do we want to be God’s servants? I invite you to examine your heart and decide to make yourself available to God.

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