Thursday, August 22, 2019

“He’s got the whole wide world in His hands”

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In Him, Ephesians chapter 1 verses 3-6

Sermon by Duurt Sikkens
 
  
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, even as he chose us IN Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he freely bestowed on us IN the Beloved.
 
I want to start with some thoughts on these verses.
 
Have you ever seen one of those three dimensional wooden puzzles? On the outside it looks like a cube, but it is in fact made up of several small pieces of wood of various shapes and sizes. If you fit them together in a special way they form a perfect cube. But you have to know which piece goes where.
 
A few years ago I asked God about the secrets of His Kingdom.
I asked Him if we were worthy of them. The answer was: “As long as you cherish them you are worthy of them. Do you remember? And, I must say, after that we DID receive a lot, because if you take the wooden cube apart and lay all the pieces down next to each other, then you will see that although they no longer form a cube, they ARE all separate pieces of the cube, and in our case all individual pieces of  “God is good”.
 
We talked about STILLNESS, and how important it is that you experience this stillness within you, about the PAROUSSIA, the WORKING of the SPIRIT, HUMILITYand TRUST. ALL aspects of how God’s people should be in their attitude towards others.
My wife expressed this once by saying that God asks us: “Will YOU help me to show My people that I am GOOD for them?” And then you look at all these pieces lying next to each other and you think “How?” And then suddenly you see how it can all fit together.
 
And I don’t mean by forming great long sermons, but simply by letting God’s thoughts develop in you, so that Gods thoughts become flesh in you, and take on form in your life. I mean, you can talk endlessly about GOD, but what about YOU, do you actually have His stillness withIN you? Are you TRUSTworthy? Because that’s what’s important, that His word becomes flesh. That God’s qualities grow in you, and materialise in your life.
Are you discreet in what you do, like God, or do you like those around you to notice what you’re doing? Do you see what I mean? Do you see the difference?
Or if you ARE humble, is that REAL or is it all just SHOW?
You know, “Look at me, do you see how humble I am”. If that’s your attitude well then this particular quality of God, humbleness, has certainly not yet taken on any form in your life.
 
Fortunately it is a process. John speaks all the time of things “becoming” and I think that’s a wonderful thought.  It’s all about Gods nature beCOMING IN you. And when that happens, well then you WILL have become something!
 
I like the example of the cube. Do you want to know why? When all these qualities begin to take shape in your life, then you will see how they all fit together to become a perfect form.
In Ephesians chapter 4 verse 16 it says, “The whole body is joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied and when each part is working properly it makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love”.
These Godly thoughts, which become flesh in your human life, become a perfect form. From the outside you see only a small part but on the inside there is much more. On the outside I have the length and the breadth and the height but what I can’t see is the best part and that is the depth. The depth is “that Christ will dwell in your heart rooted and grounded in love” so that, and this is what is so important, so that “you may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ”. (Ephesians 3 verse 18 and 19).
 
So ONE piece on its own has no function if it is not joined with the others. And I think THAT is the stage we have reached today. We are being fitted together, so that when you look into each other’s eyes you recognise someone who shares this secret that you are to cherish together. And when I thought about it like this, then all the sermons, or rather all the thoughts I had had, fell into place.
 
Why did I use the example of a cube? Well, because I think that is a lovely illustration. Why? Because it reminds me of the Holy of Holies in the Old Testament. This too had the form of a cube. And you couldn’t see on the OUTside what was INside. Inside was the beautiful ark. A golden box with two angels on the lid, to keep the secret, to protect it, the secret that is God Himself.
And the wood that the Holy of Holies was made of? Well, the OUTside was made of Acacia wood, simply brought from the desert. But the INside was coated with GOLD. And that is an image, an illustration of what INNER man is like.  Pure Gold, a man of true faith.
 
And God feels at home there. And if you pushed aside the curtain to the Holy of Holies, what could you see there? Not much, because it was dark in there. Isn’t that another wonderful illustration? For strangers, for those who don’t know God, it’s DARK because they don’t SEE that God is light. HE is the light.
That really moves me, because some people think that love is just one of the qualities of God. Not true. God IS love. His whole being is love. He is all love and nothing else. He wouldn’t hurt a fly, because it just wouldn’t occur to him. He’s not like that.
 
Now Ephesians chapter 1. I have underlined all the words IN. I’m not going to read it again because grammatically Paul is not very correct. When a thought occurs to him he writes it down. A bit like me, ….sorry I should say I’m a bit like him. And the three sentences are not grammatically correct. The translators had trouble with them too, but they have done their best. In the first thirteen verses the word IN appears nine times: chosen IN Him, IN Christ Jesus, IN Him, IN the beloved, the mystery of God’s will IN Him, unite all things IN Him, and so it continues. The most important part that I want to mention is Ephesians 1 verse 3: Here we read:
“Blessed be the God and Father (so you can bless God) of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us IN Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us IN HIM before the foundation of the world. He destined us IN LOVE.”
e deH
 
Let that sink in. Before He made anything else, billions of years ago, no one knows just how many, his first thought was ‘I want to create Someone like Me’. And I will call Him CHRIST. Someone who has the same Spirit as Me. Just think about it, THAT was God’s first thought, and He gave form to this thought when He created the earth. It was the last part of His creation. First of all He created all the conditions, and when everything was ready He executed the first part of the plan, his first thought: let us make man in our image. So the first thought that appeared in the form of Jesus was also the ultimate thought. That’s why Jesus calls himself the first and the last. He says “I am the first thought, the alpha, and I also became that thought bodily. It is manifested in me.
And He thanks His Father for this. Father He says, glorify me with the glory that I had before the world was. (John 17 verse 5). JESUS didn’t exist then, but the Christ-thought did. Christ is more that Jesus alone. Christ is Jesus as head, and also all the people that are anointed and baptised with the Spirit and in whom the Spirit can manifest itself. Jesus, AND the church, THAT is the Christ. 
 
You can compare the Christ to a wife, whose husband is God; then the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place. In the end He marries her, becomes one with her. That is what is referred to as the marriage of the Lamb. The Lamb himself is already married to us, has become one with us, His church.
It is an image that we find in the letter to the Ephesians where Paul talks about husband and wife. I always thought it strange that Paul says that the body of the husband is actually the wife. He also says that this is a great mystery. And I could never understand why he said that. Why does he call it a mystery? What is the mystery then?
 
Well, if you don’t read these verses properly then this will always remain a mystery, until you gradually come to understand these things. And that can only happen if you are rooted and grounded in love, so that you can try to understand it, together with all the saints. You can’t really understand it otherwise. Sitting behind your desk, together with the Lord, you’ll never discover what it means. Because it’s all about being with other saints. It is meant for brothers and sisters together. That’s why I think is so wonderful.
 
And THEN you can come to understand this mystery and can cherish this secret that God has entrusted to you. Because that is the paroussia. It grows in you and will eventually be manifested in your life.
 
And what is prophesied about the CHRIST in the Old Testament doesn’t just refer to JESUS. The prophecy concerns the CHRIST. And, as we have just seen, that includes those who belong with Jesus. Everything that is said about the HEAD (Jesus) is also said about the BODY (the church). Jesus has done most of the work. Because without a head there is no body. And Jesus suffered most too. Because at a birth first the head becomes visible and then the body. He has suffered so much pain. And the head has to begin. All the pain that he had to go through…. But he did that because of the love, deep inside Him. That is God’s love. That is the Agape, not human love. That is merely a shadow of God’s love. But the Agape, that is the love of God.
 
So everything that is prophesied about the CHRIST is ALSO meant for US.
"Did you not read" He says to his disciples, “that the Christ must suffer?”
They didn’t like that at all. Obviously they didn’t “read” it properly, because as we have seen, what is said about the LORD, is ALSO meant for his SERVANTS. For a slave shall not stand above his Lord, we read somewhere.
But there are always SOME pious souls who proclaim ”If the Lord is with us then everything will be all right: no suffering, Hallelujah, Victory!”
 
I want to go off on another track now. God is light, we said earlier. So however you look at God, you see only light. Nothing but goodness can come out of God. Light is an image of life. And life is living together, otherwise I have no life. So whether you put pressure on God or not, there will always be light and life coming from Him. And of course THAT made me wonder ‘what comes out of ME if I am under pressure?’ Well, what do you think? Well ask yourself the same question: what comes out of you if you are under pressure. If you are treated unjustly, what thoughts materialise then? Anger? Fear? Thoughts of revenge?
Yes, those are the thoughts that arose in me. BEFORE I had learned otherwise, that is. These reactions are often caused by deep wounds, and you can’t always control your reactions.
When I went to bed last night I read a passage from Isaiah. And it was about the God of REVENGE. And this God of revenge, how could you recognise him? He opened the eyes of the blind, and the dumb were made to speak and the crippled walked again. THAT’s what I call revenge! Yes, unbelievable. That is the God of revenge. Yes, I thought, THAT is my Father. THAT’s what He’s like.  Isaiah, brother, you got it right.
 
But you also prophesied about people, and that wasn’t so good. You said a lot of negative things about them. Yes, you did Isaiah. But you were right. You told the truth.
 
So, however much they pressed JESUS, what came out? Grace!
Good isn’t it, to be able to keep your calm when under pressure. You can be under so much pressure, and still keep your dignity. Do you know who said that? “You don’t have to lose your dignity when you are under pressure”?
Pope John Paul the second, in Toronto. When he said that I thought, ‘Man, you probably don’t realise just how true that is’
 
Well I have discovered what that secret IS from before the foundation of the world. Then you are busy with spiritual things, the unearthly things. And for a lot of people these heavenly, spiritual regions are far away, but YOU are right in the middle. It is all around you. God is forming a secret, and He DOES that in secret, just as he did with Jesus. Jesus never proclaimed out loud: “All of creation is waiting for ME, the son of God.” He never told his disciples outright who He really was. He was able to cherish the secret.
And all the things that are sold and traded in the religious supermarkets these days are from a different spirit. I have no other explanation for it. The precious gospel is not a fairground. It’s terrible, that sort of Disney Land gospel. THAT’s not a gospel, I don’t recognise any of it. Does God feel at home there? What can he do there? God works quietly and inconspicuously and unseen. Just as at a birth, life is formed unseen in the womb. You do not have to be a person with a lot of will power, or with ambitions to do great things yourSELF. God can’t relate to you if you are like that. He simply asks: Will you trust me? Yes? Then I will make you as I had envisaged you would be. Let it grow in you. Cherish it. It’s something just between US.
 
And all the books and sermons about mighty heroes belong on the bonfire.
The Kingdom of God does not consist of people who want to achieve a lot through their OWN works. Paul would say, Then you are outside grace, because you want to do it all in your own strength.
 
Dear people, just let it happen. And for THAT you need faith, not for the other.
It is not a competition. Paul once used a competition as an illustration, and I wish he’d never done it. Have you ever watched “the marathon”? Ever seen how they pass the finishing line? Is THAT what the life of a Christian is like? To see who comes first. I thought the first were going to be the last….The gospel is not a competition. That won’t make you happy.
Nor will living to the letter of the law. There ARE Christians who are forever talking about the LAW: “You’ve GOT to do this and you’ve GOT to do that, otherwise the Lord can’t use you. So you go to one deliverance meeting after the other. And you can be sure, these preachers will base their sermons on guilt, YOUR guilt.
First they make you feel guilty, by comparing you to some sort of ideological picture which you could NEVER live up to. Your feeling of guilt then increases, so that’s often a pretty good time for a collection!!
Or they preach endlessly about biblical values and standards. What ARE these biblical standards then? JESUS would say: “You have heard an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say differently. THEY were the OLD standards and values, and I give you NEW ones.”
 
And what about your enemies then, how do you treat them?
Well, the PROPHETS say: Beat them up.
 DAVID says; Beat their head in.
But before you can do that, you first have to know WHO your enemies are. Because sometimes you THINK someone is an enemy, but he’s not at all.
If for example someone says something to you, and they make you really mad. Then anger comes from you doesn’t it, often expressed in angry words. And then YOU see this person as an enemy. But you should be GRATEFUL to this person. He’s shown you something about yourself that’s not as it should be, something you need to work on.
 
It would be a good thing to examine the word ‘enemy’ critically.
Maybe the person said what he did rather CRUDELY and without FEELING, but it was YOU who said something nasty. You can LOVE your enemies, Jesus says. But for humans that’s impossible. BUT what is NOT possible for humans is possible with God. So trust in God, and then you will begin to love people and will start blessing your enemies. He says: “if you can do that, if you can love your enemies, THEN you are a child of God”. For My Father is good too, good for the GOOD, but also for the BAD.
 
When I read (you pronounce that RED) about this in Matthew chapter 5 verse 44 I said to myself: “I could never do that”. And I was right, because it’s not in our nature to be like that. But NOW we have received the Holy Spirit and so we have ALSO received GOD’S love, Paul says in Romans chapter 10 verse 10. And that’s the light we were talking about. So then I thought: “If I am a child of God, then I am a child of the light, and of the first light that God ever named. The light he called day. So I am part of that light, the image for life, I have a share in this life of God, because whoever is in God,……hey, that’s ME. God shone his true light on me, and put me in the light, and people who don’t like that light, go away and don’t want to come into that light. THEY are your enemies.
 
But I wanted so much to come into the light, but then the light showed up all the things that were wrong with me, and how soiled I was, but it didn’t matter, because that light was SO merciful. I wasn’t in a harsh spotlight. No, the sun came slowly up, and more and more light came over my life. And when I saw that I thought: I wish I were part of THAT light. And I did become part of that light, when His spirit was poured out in me, and so now I myself am light and can bring the light to others.
It moved me deeply when I realised that I am now part of that light, part of the deepest being of the Father. And THAT light is ETERNAL light. So I’m not tied to time any more. I am eternal. I am an eternal being.
 
I was also in His thoughts before the foundation of the world. Because God wanted to have people with whom He could share His life. And thus we were chosen in Christ. And that WE is everybody who accepts the son. THAT is you and I. All of us.
 
 
So, I belong to eternity, and these thoughts can continue to grow and blossom and get more and more light. So why should I worry about time? Why should I worry about death? I’m eternal. What a relief! No longer tied to time. That is incredible. And THAT is the Christ.
 
IN Him. In Ephesians chapter one we also read: “IN the beloved”. Wonderful isn’t it. It’s not OUR work, but God’s work. Let it happen to you. Start believing it. And HOW it happens we read in Psalm 139. Will you turn to it? This really set me thinking. Above it is the heading, “the Christ in us”.
 
We have some friends living here in Holland. Real friends. The woman has had many operations because she has Non Hodgkin’s disease. That’s a sort of cancer. Many parts of her body have been removed, but her SOUL is intact.
What do you think of this: In an interview she once said: I HAVE cancer, but I AM Eveline. And I thought how profound this simple statement was. Because she still has her dignity. Much was taken from her, from her body, humiliating her as a woman. But now she is able to help many people who have the same disease. She’s a wonderful person. This is her favourite psalm, psalm 139.
And when you read it, with her in mind, then you read it in a whole new light.
And this bit I like best, verse 13, :
 
For thou didst form my inward parts,
Thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful
Wonderful are thy works
Thou knowest me right well
My frame was not hidden from thee,
When I was being made in secret,
Intricately wrought in the depths of the earth,
Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance (think of the foetus, the embryo)
In thy book were written every one of them
The days that were formed for me
When as yet there was none of them. “
 
This describes the day, the precious day, when we were formed in the womb (the Hebrew word for womb means ‘tender love’), formed within the secrecy of motherhood, God’s secret, until we are given form in the womb, where we grow until we are ready to come out into the world. And that happens under incredible pressure and great tribulation. And that is YOUR suffering for Christ’s sake. That is the pain, the labour pains.  See Revelation 12 verse 2.
It is referred to as the Great Tribulation, but it is the child of God growing and developing in you, in your human existence, that is suffering trials and tribulations and being oppressed. And if that comes under a lot of pressure then God’s strength is your strength and you become one. And THAT is what the devil doesn’t want to happen. He doesn’t want a child of God to be born. The pious don’t matter, nor do people who just talk about the Bible a lot or about God. People have been doing that for centuries. But a human being like God, THAT must be prevented at all costs.
 
Revelation 12 verse 5 tells of the birth of a child under enormous pressure. YOU didn’t ASK for it to be like that. GOD doesn’t WANT it to be like that. It comes from the adversary, because two genes are going to fuse together, your gene and Gods’ gene so that we can be part of his divine nature. And satan will try everything to prevent this. Because what will happen if the two genes fuse together, what happens then? What is the title of the book about creation? Exactly, Genesis, becoming, coming into being. The history of the birth of God’s people. Wonderful isn’t’ it?
 
Now take time to think all this over. And read Ephesians chapter 1 verses 1 to 14 again when you get home, and also Psalm 139, about how you came into being in the womb.
 
 
Let’s pray.
 
Thank you Father that we may partake of your Word. Your Word was with you and You are that Word yourself. And that THAT is said of us, of those who are in His Son, that is a precious secret. I pray Father that we may cherish this secret. You conceived us through your eternal Word and enabled us to be born. You welcomed us into this world. You wanted us and we have a right to be here. We are children of Your light, children of the Day.
Amen