Sermon series: Christ the Center
Scriptures: Ephesians 1:15-23
Paul's Four Keys for "Getting Wisdom"
I. Begin by thanking God (1:15-16)
A. Paul thanked God for their faith (1:15)B. Paul thanked God for their love for one another (1:15)C. Paul thanked God for them continuously (1:16)D. We can thank God for His generous blessings.
II. Ask God to help you understand His calling (1:17, 18)
A. Paul prayed that the believers might come to a genuine understanding of divine truth through the spirit of wisdom and revelation (1:17).B. Paul prayed that their understanding would include comprehending the hope of God's calling - the consummation of God's purpose in their lives (1:18).C. We can pray to understand the hope of God's calling in our lives.
III. Ask God to help you comprehend the riches of His glorious inheritance (1:18)
A. Paul prayed that their understanding would include comprehending the riches of God's glorious inheritance - God's inheritance in them as saints (1:18).B. We can pray to comprehend the riches of God's inheritance.
IV. Ask God to help you experience His great power (1:18-23)
A. Paul used a number of words to express the reality of God's great power (1:19).
B. Paul prayed that believers might experience God's great power (1:18).
This power is the same power at work in the resurrection of Jesus (1:20).
This power is the same power at work in exaltation of Jesus (1:20-23).
C. We can pray to experience God's power at work in our lives.
Paul's prayer for wisdom for the believers in Ephesus was not a small prayer. Not that little prayers are unimportant, but sometimes the scope of what we ask is small and the focus of what we ask is self-centered. We pray something like this: "Bless me and mine and we'll all be fine." This prayer of Paul is a large prayer. It calls upon the resources of heaven to fill our needy lives. God has an abundance of wisdom that we need desperately.
All too often we hear the stories of people who have died with substantial wealth, but have lived the last years of their lives like paupers because they were afraid to tap into their resources. One woman died leaving an estate of $350,000 to her relatives while she had been living in a rundown house, rummaging through trash bins, and dressing in ragged clothes. She had grown up poor and worked 39 years at a low-paying job. However, during those years she had amassed an estate of several hundred thousand dollars. Yet, she died malnourished, refusing to spend money on food. [The Sun Herald (Biloxi, MS). "Alabama woman lives like pauper, leaves $350,000 estate to relatives," November 15, 1989.]
Don't live like a spiritual pauper when your Heavenly Father's storehouse of wisdom is available to you.
Sometimes we do not ask God for wisdom because we may not want to hear what he has to say. We may want to just go ahead and take our chances with our own wisdom. In his book, You Can Experience a Purposeful Life, James Emery White tells of a school teacher who lost her savings to a complicated business swindle. After she lost her investment she contacted the Better Business Bureau to tell them of the scam. When they heard her story they asked her why she didn't come to them before she invested and lost her savings. She replied, "I was afraid you'd tell me not to do it." [Found in James Emery White, You Can Experience a Purposeful Life, (Waco: Word Publishing, 2000), 160. See also Craig Bryan Larson, ed., Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 148]
Additional sermon starters
1. The theme of the sermon is "What to do when you have a shortage." The purpose of the sermon is to instruct believers concerning how to seek God's wisdom when they have a shortage in their lives. The sermon, based on James 1:5-8, would be developed using the following outline:
I. Our shortage of wisdom (1:5a)
A. Life's circumstances will surface our shortage of wisdom.B. When we realize our need for wisdom we can begin to seek it from God.
II. Our source of wisdom (1:5b)
A. God is our source of wisdom.B. God is generous in giving wisdom.C. God does not criticize us for our failure to use wisdom He has given previously.
III. Our supply of wisdom (1:6-8).
A. Clearly believers are encouraged to ask for wisdom.B. Believers must ask in faith if we are to receive wisdom.
2. The theme of the sermon is "Wisdom - How to know the real deal when you see it." The focus of the sermon is to contrast true and false wisdom. The text for the sermon is James 3:13-18.
The sermon could be developed using the following outline:
I. The demonstration of true wisdom (3:13)
A. True wisdom is shown in works that are good (3:13).B. True wisdom is shown in wisdom that is gentle (3:13).
II. The disclosure of earthly wisdom (3:14-16)
A. Some evidence of earthly wisdom at work (3:14)
The evidence of bitter envy (3:14)
The evidence of selfish ambition (3:14)
B. Some qualities of earthly wisdom demonstrated (3:15)
Earthly - not beyond the bounds of the earth (3:15)
Sensual - the natural or animal world, in contrast to the spiritual (3:15)
Demonic - partakes of the characteristics of the demonic (3:15)
C. Some lamentable results of living by earthly wisdom (3:16)
III. The description of true wisdom (3:17-18)
A. The source of true wisdom - from above (3:17)B. The qualities of true wisdom (3:17)
Pure - no evil intentions or motives (3:17)
Peace-loving - creating peace rather than producing division (3:17)
Gentle - yields to others (3:17)
Compliant - easily approached and willing to serve (3:17)
Full of mercy - full of sympathy (3:17)
Full of good fruits - produces good works (3:17)
Without favoritism - fair to all, without partiality (3:17)
Without hypocrisy - genuine, not pretending (3:17)
C. The positive benefit of living by true wisdom (3:18)
3. The theme of this sermon is "What a king would request from God–wisdom." The sermon is based on the story of Solomon's request for wisdom as recorded in 1 Kgs. 3:3-28; 4:29-34. It could be developed using the following outline:
I. The petition for wisdom is generated (1 Kgs. 3:6-9).
A. Solomon responded to God's offer by asking for wisdom.B. Believers still can petition God for wisdom today.
II. The promise of wisdom is granted (1 Kgs. 3:10-12).
A. God promised Solomon that he would give him the wisdom he requested.B. God still promises wisdom to those who genuinely request it today.
III. The provision of wisdom is given (1 Kgs. 4:29-34).
A. God provided Solomon with the wisdom he needed to rule Israel.B. God still provides us with the wisdom we need to face our challenges today.