Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, Pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. There is real struggle that comes with following Christ. We have an adversary bent on undermining our faith, but God doesn't leave us to struggle in our own strength. He gives us tools to thrive in the struggle, and He gives us Himself. God equips us to advance productively and meaningfully in God's good purpose, not just in the times that matter today, but in the times that matter for eternity. Let's listen in as Pastor Rich unpacks Ephesians 6, 17-20. This is the third and final part of the message titled, Walk Worthy of Your Calling in the World, Part 2, first preached January 28, 2017.
We're all Christians. We're all in ministry, and ministry is, if nothing else, two things. Ministry is investment, and where there is investment, there is risk.
And if you're not willing to make investment because of the risk, it means your comfortable life is your highest priority, and your faith is serving you. Those are not the kinds of requests that God delights to answer, because that doesn't require His strength. We are with our prayers to support those who are on the front lines. Look what Paul says in verse 19, And also for me, that words may be given me in the opening of my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel. Pray for me, Paul says.
Here he is on the front lines of the gospel ministry. What should we ask for in our prayers? Listen to this.
Note this down, please. As you pray, ask for things that God wants for His people, power and equipping for His purpose and our joy. We are to be praying in the Spirit, Paul says here. What does that mean? It means this.
Know this. The content of your prayers ought to be shaped by God's self-disclosure. That is the base fundamental meaning of praying in the Spirit, that my prayers are informed by God's self-disclosure.
What are those prayers? Look back at Ephesians 1, verses 15 to 23, how Paul prayed for the church. Look at chapter 3, verses 14 to 20, how Paul continued to pray for the church. Look at Colossians chapter 1, verses 9 through 12, how Paul prayed for the church. That's how we ought to pray. Prayers shaped by the Word of God, asking for things that God wants for His people. Prayer is a powerful tool that we have. Prayer invokes the arm of omnipotence.
Who are we to think that we can get along without it? So the tools that God has given you, the first two tools are His Word, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, the power of God to transform lives. And secondly, our prayers, which communicate our desire to be in step with the commander. It is our connection with the commander who loves to give and lavish his gifts upon us, to thrive in the good purpose that he has for us.
This could very easily be missed in a superficial reading of this text. Let's read verse 19 again, because Paul is asking for prayer. Do you remember where Paul is as he writes this letter?
He's in prison, he's in chains, he says. Verse 19, and also for me, he says, pray for me that words may be given me in the opening of, opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly as I ought to speak. Paul's circumstances, he's confined, he's in prison, and what is his request?
Boldness. He wants clarity and courage in the things that he communicates. He wants effective ministry. You know what's important to note here is what Paul did not ask for. You would very much expect that as Paul is writing this, and you come to verse 19 and he says, and pray for me also that God would get me out of here. He was not praying for his own circumstances to improve.
He was not praying for a comfortable, normal life. He was praying for the things that God wants for his people. And what does God want for Paul?
God wants boldness. Paul, open your mouth and speak the powerful word of God. That's what God wants, so Paul's praying for it.
Simon Austin says it well, he describes it well. He says, Paul, he wants to have the right words to explain this gospel, and he wants to do it boldly and without fear. Despite being in prison, he does not ask the Ephesians to pray for his release, his health, his personal needs. He simply asks that his life-giving, this life-giving and life-changing gospel would go out from him clearly, faithfully and fearlessly. Could it be that you are missing out on the riches of God's grace and his blessing because your prayers are more concerned and more focused on God, fix these circumstances of my life, when God is more concerned about our character than he is about our comfort. He's more concerned about his holiness than he is about our temporal happiness. This is what it also means to pray in the Spirit as he said earlier, to pray in the Spirit. When God's purposes become more important to us than our comforts, then we will advance joyfully in the things God wants to do in and through us despite our circumstances. Praying in the Spirit is praying with the mind of Christ, meaning others more important. Now that does not mean to think less of yourself, but it does mean to think of yourself less.
Praying with the disposition of self-forgetfulness because there are greater and higher things to think and pray about than your normal comfortable life. Put first things first and you get second things thrown in. Put second things first and you'll get neither.
C.S. Lewis rewrote that a different way. He says, put heaven first and you get earth thrown in.
Put earth first and you get neither. Let that sink in, Christians. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul is communicating. This is exactly how he prayed.
Notice what he prayed for, notice what he did not pray for. Here's the fourth tool that God has given us. The fourth tool that God has given us to advance joyfully meaningfully in His good purpose. Tool number four, our words.
Our words. Pray that I may open my mouth boldly to proclaim the gospel, that I may declare it boldly as I ought to speak. And the word boldly is a word that means courage and confidence. It means fearless, confident, freedom in speaking. That's the essence of that word, boldness. Freedom in speaking. That I will sense the freedom to speak. What inhibits that freedom?
Our inhibitions, our fears, the unknown. Boldness is not arrogance. In fact, if there is any hint of arrogance in one's tone, it is often an outflow of weakness and a lack of confidence. It's the idea of leaning forward.
If you feel threatened, you lean in to counter the attack. That's what arrogance does. You see, that's not the grace of God.
The real lion doesn't have to roar. Your words are powerful tools. Paul recognized his ambassadorship. He was a man with a message even in chains.
And listen to this, get this. Circumstances didn't change his calling. Circumstances did not change his calling. And God's ability is not limited by your circumstances. So walk worthy of your calling in whatever circumstances you find yourself. Knowing this, that your words are powerful tools. So put them to good, thoughtful use.
Put them to good, thoughtful use. Consider once again Ephesians 4 29. Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion that it may give grace to those who hear. Every Christian should know that. That ought to be committed to memory so that this truth, as it informs our attitudes and our desires, will rescue us from judgment, from condemnation of others.
Colossians 4 6. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Your speech always gracious, seasoned with salt. What does salt do?
Brings out flavor and it creates thirst. When you interact with others, you create a thirst for things eternal, for the riches of God's goodness and grace. Your words are powerful tools. Inform your words with God's self-disclosure and empower them by prayer in the Spirit.
Praying in the Spirit, your prayers being informed by God's self-disclosure. You see, this is our calling, church. These are the tools, some of the tools that God has given us. He defends us against the tactics of the adversary in this struggle that we find ourselves. And it is a struggle, there's no denying it. But it's not just survival. We are called to thrive even in the struggle. That's why some of Jesus' last words to his followers. He says, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.
And you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth. You see, it's not our fight. We're in the struggle, but it's not our fight. It's God's.
Are you using his tools or are you missing out and just barely surviving? Walk worthy of your calling, Christians. Walk worthy. Father, we are humbled by the presentation of your word as we look at it, as we unpack it, Father. So many powerful truths there. Father, I pray that you would challenge our hearts as you have spoken to us by your word. Move in us with your Spirit, Father, to empower us, to transform us, to recognize the tools that you have given us, to advance, to persevere, even in the struggle that we find ourselves. Father, thank you for your grace that you've given us, which includes these tools. Father, I pray that you would take our focus off of the temporal things. Teach us what is important, Father. Thank you for what you have done and for what you will do. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen. Seven words that can change your life is available wherever books are sold. As always, tune in to Delight and Grace, weekdays at 10 a.m.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-21 14:06:49 / 2023-02-21 14:11:27 / 5