18 Mar. 2012 Sunday
Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace and peace, thank you for loving us so much that you sacrificed the One and your Only Son Jesus Christ to save us. Lord, thank you for making us one community of Christians from many nations, so we are one body united in Christ. Jesus, thank you for dying for us, thank you for washing away all our sins. Lord, please open the eyes of our hearts, so we may see you and know you more. I pray for the worship team, host team, song team and all the other volunteers who are serving in this service. May you strengthen them and bless their hearts. Holy Spirit come upon us, please lead us into God’s presence. Lord, I lift up today's preacher before you, please speak to us through her sermon. May your name be glorified. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:15-23
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,
16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit f of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,
20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,
23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
My dear brothers and sisters, I'm so happy that we can get together to worship our God. We can hear from Him and our eyes can be opened by Him. Let's pray altogether.
Dear Lord, thank you so much for the great blessing which you have already promised us and also given us. Lord Jesus Christ, we just want to ask you, please be with us, not only when we get together praising you and worshipping you, but also be with us when we are alone. Lord Jesus, please open our eyes and let us see your glory; please open our eyes when we cannot see your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, I want to lift up all of our brothers and sisters here in your hands, you know our heart and you know our situations. God today I just ask you please send the Holy Spirit upon us and work in our hearts; open our eyes so that we can see, open our mind so that we will know you better; and we will know the hope of your calling, we will know the glory, inheritance and incomparable power in Jesus Christ. We ask you to let us feel your presence, we pray In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Dear brothers and sisters, I just feel so powerful when all people get together singing praise to our Lord, I feel it’s such a wonderful thing that we can get together to worship Him and praise Him. But we cannot get together all day, all night; we cannot get together at anytime we want. You know after this service, we will go back to our own places, and we will be facing our own problems.
One day, one of my sisters came to me and she shared her bad situation with me: Her dad died when he was about 40-year old. She was crying and she told me that she did want to trust in God; she did want to trust that God’s the powerful and Almighty God, but she couldn’t understand why this thing happened to him; she couldn’t understand why the powerful God couldn’t save her father; she was wondering if the merciful God loved her, why He allowed this to happen in her life?
I was sitting in front of her and I know that words were so weak, I couldn’t comfort her. What I could do was just keeping in silence and listening, and also I prayed from my heart for her and for myself: Lord, please open our eyes so that we can see. Now please open our eyes so that we can understand, please encourage us and strengthen us even though we cannot understand or see, and help us trust in you. That’s why today I am going to focus on:” Open my eyes", Ephesians1:17-23.
Dear brothers and sisters, we know since last Sunday we have started another new series of sermons focusing on Ephesians. Our purpose is to encourage all of us to live as children of light. Last Sunday, Stephen shared with us about chapter 1:1-8 entitled “God of all blessing”. But when we continue to read chapter 1, we find out that at end of chapter1, there is a very important prayer from Paul for the people in
That’s why Paul said: I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your hearts may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope and other different things.
Sometimes in our daily life, we couldn’t see the blessing; we couldn’t experience the power, and we think when we do God’s will, when we do the right thing, we can’t get reward. That’s why Paul prayed that “open our eyes so that we will know Him better. We will see the hope, we will know the inheritance, and we will experience the incomparable power”.
Dear brothers and sisters, if our eyes are not opened, we will walk in darkness, we cannot understand the power and preciousness of God’s salvation plan through Jesus Christ; if our eyes are opened by the Holy Spirit, we will know the hope; we will experience His power and we will know the eternal inheritance of our Lord Jesus Christ. I will share with you one by one about the three things we will see.
The first is the hope of His calling. Hope is very important to everyone who lives on this earth, if we don’t have any hope, we will be unhappy, we can’t live anymore. As Bernard Shaw had said that “there are two major causes for unhappiness: you cannot get what you hope to get, or you have gotten what you hoped to get”. This is very interesting, first thing is that “you cannot get what you hope to get”.We will agree on that because if we couldn’t get what we hope or dream to get, we will feel it like a disaster and we feel unhappy, but he said that “you have already gotten what you hoped, you also feel unhappy”. Why? Because the hope from this earth can't give us satisfaction. Like the earthly things. But dear brothers and sisters, God walks through in Jesus Christ by Holy Spirit and the hope He gives us is eternal hope, and this hope is different from the earthly hope, this hope is higher than all other hopes. That's why in Romans, Paul said that “be rejoicing always not only when you are happy but also rejoice in sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Romans5:3-5). This is the experience of the eternal hope, when we have the eternal hope, we will rejoice when we are in good situation; we will rejoice when we encounter bad situations. That's why Paul encouraged all the believers “not only so but also rejoice in sufferings, because it can produce persevere, character and hope, this hope will not disappoint us”. This is the eternal hope.
Dear brothers and sisters, when you are called by our Lord, and you will have this eternal hope, I know even myself sometimes feel hopeless, today as we are reading this part of this Scripture, I find that my eyes need to be opened by the Holy Spirit. Because when my eyes were blinded, I couldn't see the hope. So today if anyone here, no matter you are a Christian or not, feels hopeless; if you worry about a lot of things, today this hope is for you, because this hope is eternal hope, and this hope will not let you be disappointed.
Second is God’s glorious inheritance in the Son, this is also very important and this is what Paul prayed for the people who believe in Jesus Christ, when our eyes are opened, we will see the riches of God’s glorious inheritance in the Son who God called for those who believe in Jesus Christ. Sometimes I saw people like this, even myself, when we do God's will, we will be treated unfairly, and then at this time, we will feel bad and we will be discouraged. So we think that maybe next time I will not do God's will, I will follow others.
But dear brothers and sisters, from this Scripture, we know that's wrong because all the people who are in front of the Lord Jesus Christ; who believe in Jesus Christ; who do His Will, God will give them His glorious inheritance, not only in eternal time but also in the present age.
When I read the Bible I found one message in Mark 10, once Peter said to the Lord Jesus Christ:” we have left everything to follow you." that means: what are you going to give to me back? Then Jesus replied:” I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields--and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. "(Mark 10:28-30)
This is what Jesus told us, anyone who works for Jesus; who does God's will, God will give him a hundred time as much he has left and also eternal life, that means our Lord Jesus Christ not only take care of our eternal life, but also take care of our present life on the earth.
Third: Load’s incomparable great power
Through verses 19-23, it is talking about God’s incomparable great power.
Sometimes when we face the difficulties we feel so weak. I share with you that sometimes when I was facing people who were encountering trouble or trial, I didn’t know how I could help them.
This morning, there was a mom coming to the pastor’s office. She shared about her burden. She was crying. She has a son who is just 30 years old. Last year they found that he had leukemia. He’s in the hospital near here. It has costed all they have, but still seems hopeless and could not stop the disease. When I was facing the crying mom, I felt I was so weak.
Brothers and sisters, you may have the same experience. Today, we read the Scripture that God Lord Jesus Christ told us through the Bible that the Almighty God has incomparable power. Verses 19 – 23 are talking about this incomparable power.
The explanation about the power:
1) This incomparable great power is working in Jesus Christ. So Jesus Christ can rise from dead. This is resurrection from dead. (1:
2) Exaltation to God’s right hand and above every ruler or force: not only Lord rose from dead, but also our Lord Jesus Christ exalted Him to our Father’s right hand and above every ruler and force.
3) Scripture proof of the submission of al things to Christ (1:
4) Christ as head of all things for the church--His body (1:22b
5) The fullness filling all things (1:23b)
This part of the Scripture explains what the incomparable power looks like. This is far beyond what we can imagine. If our eyes can be opened by the Holy Spirit, we will know the eternal hope and the inheritance in Lord Jesus Christ. We’ll experience and know the power of Lord Jesus Christ. This power is incomparable power.
When I read this, I was very excited, but I was still confused. Sometimes the Bible seems to us is just knowledge. I know God is power, the Almighty God. But how about my situation? How can I experience this power in my own life? What I need is that my Lord Jesus Christ can help me. Maybe this is also your question? When I prepared this sermon, I did pray a lot. I don’t know how I can explain it so that people not only know, but also experience the inheritance and the incomparable power. So here I have some suggestions and maybe you have more.
How can this apply in our daily life? How can our eyes be opened? From the Scripture, we know that opening eyes is not what we can do, but what the Holy Spirit can do. Paul said that “I ask our Lord Jesus Christ the glorious Father may give you spirit of wisdom and the revelation. And I also pray that the eyes of your hearts may be enlightened”. From this part of Scripture, we know that we cannot open our eyes when we are in the darkness. But the Lord Jesus Christ can. Today I pray for all of us that our Heavenly Father will give us wisdom and revelation. I pray to our Lord Jesus Christ, Trinity God will open your eyes, and enlighten the eyes of your heart. So the first thing I want to share with you is the Trinity God will continuously work in our hearts.
Second, what should I do in my daily life to relate the truth to our life? Most of our brothers and sisters know the power of our God and seem to understand God is powerful and merciful, but sometimes they do not relate that to their daily life. I did the same thing too. Recently I feel very weak because there are lots of things going on in the church and also in my daily life and there are many decisions I need to make and many things I need to worry about, not only for my own things, but also many brothers and sisters always sharing with me the bad news. So if you have good news, please do share with me too. So I feel so frustrated and one night, I read a spiritual book talking about the Lord Jesus as the way. I thought to myself, oh, I know that. I can memorize these words even when I was very young. I know Lord is the way and truth and light. But when I continued reading, I found that it guided me to realize that I was wrong. Even though I knew this, I did not take these words personally; I did not relate God’s truth to my own life because in some situations, it seemed to me I had no way. In the end, I found out in this book that Load Jesus is the way. Lord Jesus is my way. When I found out this, I realized that I was wrong even though I knew these words. But when I was in trouble, I still worried about tomorrow; I did not regard Jesus Christ as my way. That night I repeated these words in my heart and I read them again and again: Jesus Christ is the way and Lord Jesus is my way. I don’t need to worry about tomorrow. I don’t need the map of the way because Jesus is my way. What I need to do is just to follow Him.
Confess our doubts to God frankly. When you cannot see the hope or the power of God, a wise way is to pray to God frankly and confess your doubt directly to God. There is another story about myself. Today I will show my weakness to all of you and you will know who I am. Before I went to the seminary, I had one thing to worry about, do you know what? Money! If I quitted my job, I would have no salary. But I needed money to study in the seminary. So giving up my job meant that I had to give my whole life to Jesus. Who would provide me money then? I really worried about this and I was also very proud. I didn’t want to ask money from others like from donation because I didn’t want to be a poor guy if I became a servant of God. That’s why I prayed to God like this: Lord Jesus Christ I know you are Almighty God; I know you can heal people. I know you can do miracles in different ways, but one thing I cannot believe is the money. I don’t want you to give me money through others’ hands. What I want is for you to give me money directly. But I know this is impossible! You cannot give me money from Heaven and say to me, hi Jessica here is the money. You cannot give me a credit card directly with my name on it. After this prayer, do you know what happened? At that time I was a teacher in a junior high school. I rode my bike to the school to work but I had already gotten the letter from the seminary, saying that they accepted me but I needed to pay the tuition, about 2,000 RMB. Perhaps it is not a big deal for you but, for me at that time, it’s a lot. On the way to the school, there’s a song singing in my heart, maybe most of you know this song: I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. This is a song I could sing when I was very young. At that moment I questioned God: What? You can make a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland? But why I don’t have money? Why I don’t get money from your hand directly? Do you know what happened when I arrived the school?
Maybe you have many different answers, but I will tell you soon. After I got to school, I got a letter from Nanjing Union Theological Seminary and it was a one-hundred percent tuition scholarship. I didn’t ask for that, but I was lucky and blessed. And also it proved that I was wrong, because I thought God couldn’t give me money directly, but He did. So dear brothers and sisters, if you want to know more, maybe I will share with you after the service, because time is limited.
From this story of my own experience, I want to tell you that when you have doubt about God, you have to come to Him, and confess your sins. For example, if you worry about money, you shouldn’t say that God, give me money directly; you should say that God, please forgive me, I confess that I thought you are not able to provide what I need.
So dear brothers and sisters, the third is to practice in your daily life. When you trust in Jesus Christ, you know every Word which God speaks to you in the Bible just for you. Like today we read the words about the hope of His calling, the riches of the glorious inheritance, and the incomparable powerThese words are not just for me, not just for Paul, and not just for any other people. There words are just for you yourself today who hear these and who read these. Our Lord wants you to follow Him one day at a time. Our Lord wants to go with you through every trial and trouble. If you do trust in Him, if you do follow Him one day at a time, you will experience that, and your eyes will be opened, and your faith will be built stronger and stronger. I will invite Sophia to share her experience.
Thank you, Jessica, for the opportunity to share my story. Days ago, Jessica and I were studying material together and in the material. It talks about following Jesus one day at a time. I started to worry about a lot of things altogether and worry about future. When we studied that I got so excited; Yes I experienced that and it works perfectly, really my eyes were opened because I could see He’s will better for me, and I could see how He directed me through each difficulty I had. So Jessica asked me why you didn’t share the story with the congregation. I was like: OK, I would be nervous to tell it to everyone but OK, I appreciate the opportunity, so here I am. And hopefully the story would be helpful to you.
During my last semester at my
But one day God revealed to me, He said “Sophia, why do you get so frustrated and so overwhelmed, why do you worry about all this stuff altogether? Your deadlines are not on the same day, your deadlines are not today, you have all the time to do it, you just have to take a step at a time, you just follow me one step at a time, and I will show you what to do today. And He just wants to focus on what’s happening today and do it faithfully for Him.” And I was like: Yes, that is right, my deadlines are not today, and why I am worried about it now? Why I am worried about all this stuff at one time? So then I confessed to God: Yes it’s OK, I would like to divide all my work into different days, and just to deal with one portion of that day at that time. I don’t have to worry about tomorrow; I don’t have to worry about the day after tomorrow. I don’t have to worry when the deadline come. I just have to focus on the portion of that day and to do my best on that day. So after that every day I woke up, the first thing I did was to get to know that OK, this is the thing you want to do, OK, now show me how to do it? Show me your will on it, show me how are you going to get me through that? And my eyes were really opened; you know how He just directed me step by step, how He taught me to do each of the things; different situations to overcome all the difficulties, and I was like, yes that was true, that was how God led me to through that. It was not I do it, my eyes were no longer blind by that time.
So when the next day came, I told myself: “well, you don’t have to worry about what’s happening yesterday, don’t have to worry about whether you have done a good job yesterday, because you have already given that to the Lord. And you don’t have to worry about what is going to happen tomorrow, because that’s in God’s hands. You just focus on today, to see what God wants you to do today and do it faithfully for Him”. So then, it’s really amazing that God worked through all the difficulties, and taught me step by step. You know what’s the result? What’s happening in the end? It’s really amazing that the issue at my editorial team was successfully resolved and the new online publication was successfully launched on time, and won a lot of praises from my fellow classmates. And also before I thought I could not do well on my projects because of all these stress I had, but then in the end, surprisingly, I got straight As and graduated as one of the very top students at my school. I was like that was totally God’s glory there; that was totally how He got me through that. By following Him step by step one day at a time, He told me how to do it. You know that all this pressure got me very overwhelmed, too much ahead I had just to worry about things altogether. I did it just by following Jesus step by step one day at a time.
So that is the practical thing for you to do. Do not worry about tomorrow, because when you do that, you blind your eyes, you just get overwhelmed and so stressed, you can’t see God’s will for you today. You don’t know what you are going to do today and how His power will get through that. But if you just focus on today, and pray after His will, take His will for you today, you’ll see the amazing results; you’ll see His hand leading you. You are not on your own, and get everything through peacefully and joyfully. And that’s the amazing thing for you to take. So I hope this story can encourage you in your daily life if you just give it to God and follow Him one day at a time. Thank you for the opportunity to share, so now let Jessica come back to the stage just for the rest of the sermon.
Dear brothers and sisters, God is God of all blessing, our Lord Jesus Christ, not only loves me and Sophia, but also you. Jesus Christ comes to save you, and He wants to build an intimate relationship with you. So dear brothers and sisters, today I want to invite all of you to stand and pray. According to today’s sermon, you can give your worry and fear and things you have concerns to God.Maybe you should confess your sins, to say that God this is my worry, why I am worried about that, because I don’t believe and don’t trust that you can work in these and through these. God is powerful God, and He has incomparable power, and God is the God who is going to give us eternal hope. So dear brothers and sisters, I will invite you and take this time maybe one minute to pray for yourself.
Dear Lord, thank you so much today for your giving us wisdom and revolution, and for your opening our eyes so that we can see. Lord, Jesus Christ, today I myself come in front of you, I want to confess my sins., While dealing with the difficult situation, I don’t have faith, I don’t trust in you, I don’t think you can deal with that. Lord, Jesus Christ, today I come in front of you; I want to confess that when I hear the bad news from brothers and sisters, I don’t know how I can help them. I don’t know how can I help them experience your power, I even don’t think you can help them. Lord, please forgive my doubts. Lord, today I will pray that open my eyes and open the eyes of my brothers’ and sisters’ hearts, reveal to us who God is, teach us how we can follow you. Let us experience your incomparable power so we will show your glory to this world, we will live as your children of Light. We pray in Jesus’ name.
|Sermon: Open my eyes||video||doc||ppt|
|Worship song: Before the Throne Of God Above||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: You are my Anchor||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: We Know That All Things||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Strength will rise (Everlasting God)||video||audio||lyric|