A Fruitful people – 13th June 2021 – Malcolm

We’re looking at a fruitful people, spirit, led and wise. So let’s read the Word of God. imitate God. Therefore in everything you do, because you are his dear children, live a life filled with love. Following the example of Christ, He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us a pleasing aroma to God. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. obscene stories, foolish talk, and course jokes, these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure or greedy person will inherit the kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is my daughter worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse the sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey Him. don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness. But no, you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light. For this light within you, produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness. Instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them. For the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said awake or sleeper, rise up from the dead. And Christ will give you light. So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools. But like those who are wise, making the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly. But understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, man. So let’s start by giving ourselves a quick reminder of where we’ve come from, in our studies in Ephesians. And just like the children’s talk, we can ask the questions, who fought when, where and why, to understand the context. So and who? Well, the letter is authored by the Apostle Paul, and he’s writing to members of the church. And what? Well, this letter is just a beautiful statement of the overwhelming goodness of God, in his amazing plan to unite Gentiles, with Jews in the community of the church. When Well, the letter is probably written around 62 ad. Paul had lived in the city of FSS around 52 ad for a couple of years. So that was his connection with the city and this is possibly 10 years later. And we are well, Paul is in prison and is traditionally thought to be in Rome. While some think, well, he may actually have been an emphasis so there’s some debate there. The church he is writing to is in Ephesus, no part of Turkey. However, again, something that he may have written this as a general letter that was going to be circulated to all the churches in the Roman province of Asia. Ephesus was famous for the nearby Temple of the Greek goddess, Artemis, which was completed in 550 bc and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. You can see that in the top. I’m not sure how impressive it is. No. But Artemis or Diana, which is a Roman name. She was a fertility goddess and sex. Lord Jesus were regularly associated with her worship.

In addition, the wild drunken practices connected with the worship of Dionysus or Bacchus, the God of wine also form part of the general cultural background for Paul’s letter. And why did you write the letter? Well, in the first three chapters, Paul sets out the theology of how we should think about God, and what he has done. And then in the second three chapters of the book, he talks more about how we should behave in the light of it. The theme of these chapters is the integration of Christian experience, who we are Christian theology, what we believe, and Christian ethics, how we behave. Okay? So God wants us to be a fruitful people. And he wants us to live in close relationship with him, and be purposeful and productive in sharing the good news of Jesus in our community. So we’re going to look at the passage under a few headings under a few instructions, walk in love, walk in the light, walk in wisdom, walk in spirit, and walk with thanksgiving. Last week, I was supposed to be walking, or climbing. And I was supposed to be climbing the most remote men role in Scotland. I love being outdoors. But the inspiration for this came from my father in law, who’s 88. And he wanted to claim a virgin, the maiden in the northwest of Scotland, with some of his grandkids, I was just going along as the as the Sherpa. The plan for Day One was to walk into a nearby law and camp, day two, we’re climbing the mountain and you can see the kind of mountain in the distance there. And on day three, we would kind of walk back out. He recently did a reconnaissance trip with his with his dog. And this picture was taken on that that trip. And during that day, he kind of walked 30,000 steps. So I’m kind of thinking it’s going to be quite a long way. But unfortunately, or fortunately, maybe for last week, he had to pull out, he had to postpone the trip, due to a problem with his fruit. So we’re rescheduled for a couple of weeks time. But it did get me thinking about this theme of walking, and how apt is as we look at this passage, why? Well, walking isn’t just standing, still walking is progressing, and we need to progress in our Christian walk. Walking in company is great. Sharing the joys and having help on hand. Walking is also easier in the daylight. If you’re walking in the dark, you’ve probably taken a wrong turn. Walking with a map is wise, choosing a good route, and avoiding the pitfalls. Walking with a compass or a guide will ensure you don’t get lost. So let’s go on and start looking at the first of our walks, walking in love. The first thing Paul does at the beginning of chapter five is to set the bar for our behavior. And he sets it pretty high. Who is who is our model, Goddess? And what are we supposed to do? Well, we’re supposed to walk in the way of love. And as Christians, we are to grow in the likeness to our Heavenly Father. There’s to be a family resemblance, as we follow our Heavenly Father. We follow his example. And we also follow the example of Christ. Self giving, self sacrificial love. We’ve all seen children who not only look like their parents, but also act like their parents and sound like them. And that’s what we’re being asked to do here. What is the way of love? Well, we can look at john 316 What does it say for this is how God loved the world.

He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. Or maybe we can go to First Corinthians 13 in verses four to seven. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. So after Paul sets out the standard for walking in love, he then contrast this with behaviors that instead of focusing on self sacrifice, demonstrate self indulgence. Verses three and four, start with sexual immorality, and move to foolish talk and vulgarity. And Paul states that instead of these things, there should be Thanksgiving. Well, that that contrast is quite striking. Even maybe a bit odd. Thanksgiving isn’t an obvious substitute for vulgarity. But Thanksgiving is God centered, while the others are self centered. And we are to move from being self centered to being holy, or God centered. JOHN Stuart writes, holiness is not a condition into which we drift. We are not spectators of a sanctification God works in us. On the contrary, we have purposefully to put away from us all conduct that is incompatible with our new life in Christ, and to put on a lifestyle compatible with it. Let’s move on to walking in the light. This section starts with a warning of the certainty of judgment. Paul is telling the Ephesians This is serious stuff. There’s a lot at stake. And there are consequences for our behavior. He’s asking them to take heed of the warning, and hoping that this will provide motivation to walk in the light. In verse eight, Paul could have said that once we were in darkness, but now we are in the light, but he doesn’t. He effectively says once you word darkness, or we’re full of darkness, but no, you have light from the Lord or we can translate it slightly different. No, you are light in the Lord. He’s saying something striking Paul is saying that when we are in Christ, we become the light in the darkness. Our lives are not just our environment have been changed from darkness to light. What does this mean in practice? Well, it means that our lives and verse nine will produce only what is good, and right and true. The light makes things visible. And this is always good. Darkness hides the ugly realities of evil. It’s the light that makes them visible. But Paul also appears to be saying that people exposed to the light, also have the opportunity to become light. And in verse 14, he says, awake or slipper and Christ will give you light. Let’s move on to wisdom walking in wisdom. Earlier this year, and you should recall that from January to March, we did a series in Proverbs

called wisdom for the way there’s plenty to say on walking in wisdom. And if you want to catch up on any of that, you can go online and listen to the series again. But let me read some 14 and verse one. Which says Only fools They say in their hearts, there is no God. The fool is the person who lives without factoring God into the equation. Such a person believes that either God doesn’t exist, or that God can’t see what they’re doing, or that God doesn’t care. In other words, the fool leaves God out of the picture. By contrast, the wise person recognizes that God is alive and real, and is actively at work. The wise person keeps God in the picture. In fact, at the center of the picture, and their reverence for God informs all their decisions. The 18th century revivalist preacher, Jonathan Edwards, while in his late teens and early 20s, he wrote down a series of 70, resolutions to keep himself focused on living his life with God at the center. I don’t know how you are with new year’s resolutions, but I’ll bet you’ve never got to 70 and his 70 revenue resolutions, he wrote, aware that I am unable to do anything without God’s help. I do pray that by His grace, he will enable me to keep these resolutions so far as they are in line with his will, and that they will honor Christ. Resolution Number 20 says resolved to maintain the wisest and healthiest practices in my eating and drinking. We’ll come on to that a little bit later about why he might have written written that, but it’s well worth a look at the resolutions. If you’ve got some some time on Google. Let’s move on to walking in the Spirit and we’re going to focus most of our time. This morning on on on this. Paul introduces the subject in the of life in the spirit with a comparison with alcohol. Alcohol causes one to lose control. Galatians five verse 23, says that one of the results of their spirit to the Holy Spirit’s influence in one’s life is self control. So you can see the contrast. Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones there, the doctor turned preacher at Westminster chapel in London wrote that wine or alcohol, pharmacologically speaking is not a stimulant. It’s a depressant. If you take up any book on pharmacology and you look up alcohol, you will find always that is classified among the depressants. It’s not a stimulant, it depresses first and foremost, the highest centers of all the brain. They control everything that gives a person self control, wisdom, understanding discrimination, judgment, balance, the power to assess everything. In other words, everything that makes a person behave at their very best and highest. If it were possible to put the Holy Spirit into a textbook of pharmacology, by Jordan says, I would put him under the stimulants. For that is where he belongs. He really does stimulate. He stimulates our every faculty, the mind, and the intellect, the heart and the


So if being filled with the Spirit, means that our heart mind and will will come under the control of the Holy Spirit. How are we to understand this passage? Let’s look a little bit more closely at the language Paul uses. Firstly, being filled with the Spirit is an imperative. It’s a command. It’s a command of the New Testament, and commands are there to be obeyed. Secondly, it’s in the present tense. Well, why is that significant? Because he’s not describing our once and for all event. He’s describing an ongoing reality. We need to be filled. It’s also passive. So what’s happening here is we don’t fill ourselves. We’re commanded to receive God’s fullness So how can you be active in something that is actually passive? That’s a challenge. What do we need to do? Do we meditate? Do we levitate? Do we go into the woods? What do we do? It could be all of these things. But really, what we need to be doing is we need to be going into the word Colossians. Chapter Three, is a parallel passage that helps us to understand how to be filled with the Holy Spirit in an ongoing, consistent basis. The Holy Spirit brings us under his control in Colossians three, verse 16, says, as we let the Word of God, dwell richly. So it’s talking about the word dwelling in us. And as we do that the Holy Spirit will fill us and we will discover the fullness. In other words, Holy Spirit doesn’t divert us from Scripture. It’s directly in accordance with the Scriptures, that we discover the Spirit’s fullness, God’s work, does God’s God’s word, does God’s work by God’s Spirit. And so how does that work in us? Well, firstly, our minds will be transformed by the truth of God’s Word. Our hearts will be stirred by the teaching of God’s Word. And our worlds will be subdued by the consistent explanation of God’s Word. As we come to Scripture, each day, we’ll discover that the Spirit of God is at work to fulfill the purposes of God, in and through us. So reading the Word of God is a pretty important subject. Back in the year 2000, I attended a conference, international conference, organized by scripture, Union, scripture Union’s objective is to get people reading the Word of God. And in a lot of the Scripture union, reading notes, they will tell us how to read the Word of God. When we read the Word of God, we want to be really intentional about that, we want to make sure that we get something out of it. So here’s just some pointers to how we can read the Word of God, and make sure it dwells richly within us. First of all, ask, What am I learning about God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit. Also, when you’re looking at the passage, make sure that you ask, Is there an example to follow? Is that a warning to heat?

Is there a promise to accept? Is there a command to obey? This will transform the reading of the Bible. And we need to submit to the Word of God.

So what is the result of us being filled with the Spirit? Well, it says, addressing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. So what we’re being told is that being filled with the Spirit will result us in US public, publicly worshipping God. I don’t know whether you’ve come across Charles Spurgeon before, but he had quite a few things to say, and quite a few things to say, on worship in particular. What he wanted to focus on was that worship needs to be from the whole congregation, with or without masks. He says, one of your great objects should be to induce all the congregation to join in the singing. He also had some quite strong opinions on church choirs, which are not terribly positive. This is what he said. The institution of singers, as a separate order is an evil, a growing evil, and ought to be abated and abolished. And the instruction of the entire congregation is the radius to surest and scriptural mode of curing it. So his point that he doesn’t want worship to become something that we spectating, it has to be something we participate in. He goes on a little bit more as well. A band of godless men and women will often install themselves in a conspicuous part of the chapel, and monopolize Is the singing to the grief of the pastor, the injury of the church and the scandal of public worship. So, tell us what you really think Charles. So as we open our life, to the Word of God, the Holy Spirit will fill us and results in hearts that are bursting to worship. I don’t know about you, but after spending several months, without being able to open our mouths in public worship, I hope we are more than ready to worship and praise Him and make up for for last time, and it’s been wonderful to be able to sing today. Let’s just finish up with them walking with thanksgiving. Who is your thankfulness? Do you find it easy to find things to give thanks for? Or is your life more dominated by the challenges, which make it hard to be thankful? Back in the 1980s, a 14 year old boy wrote this poem. It’s called present tense. It was spring. But it was summer I wanted the warm days. And the great outdoors. It was summer, but it was autumn I wanted the colorful leaves in the cold dry air. It was autumn. But it was winter I wanted the beautiful snow and the joy of the holiday season. It was winter. But it was spring I wanted the warmth and the blossoming of nature. I was a child. But it was added adulthood. I wanted the freedom and respect. I was 20. But it was 30 I wanted to be mature and sophisticated. I was middle aged. But it was 20 I wanted the youth and the free spirit. I was retired. But it was middle age I wanted the presence of mind without limitations. My life was over. And I never got what I wanted. Let’s not live like this poem in constant dissatisfaction. But let’s learn to be thankful. So how was your walk this morning? Is there anything that God is prompting you to put into your rucksack as you walk into this week? Love, light, wisdom, Thanksgiving or is there anything that you’re currently carrying? That is weighing you down?

And you need to discard it. You need to throw it away. Let’s close by just praying. Thank you, God for your example to follow. Thank you, Jesus, that you have been there before and made a way for us. Thank you Holy Spirit, for your presence, each step of the way. Amen.

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