Sermon: Ambassadors Sermon Summary: In a sense, all of us are ambassadors for the Lord with all honor that comes with it from God. In order to be God's ambassadors, we need to realize that we are aliens in this life and in the world, and that we have specific purposes to fulfill during our time on this earth which includes spreading the Gospel, serving others, and spiritual growth, and growth in fellowship. All that we are, say, and do i s to be geared toward our overall purpose to love and magnify God. Know: God has very specific purposes in mind for his church, which we need to keep in mind in all our plans and activities Feel: A compelling need to articulate God's purposes for the church on a regular basis Do: Reflect on which of the purposes you have been strong on, and which you have been weak on. Discuss the importance of being able to articulate our God given purpose as a church and how to go about meeting those purposes individually and as a whole. Text: Eph 6:19-20 Scripture Reading: 2 Cor 5:20 Intro: 1. Paul closes out his letter with emphasis on prayer and mission a. Need to keep in mind what Paul's purpose was in writing this letter b. Promote unified, growing, healthy church that fulfills God's purposes c. Will focus on this through the word, "Ambassador" 2. To be an ambassador, need to realize three things I. Remember we have a different kind of honor A. Ambassadors in ancient times received high honors 1. Highly regarded by people 2. A mark of an ambassador was the ornamental chains he wore 3. This distinguished him visibly B. Paul makes a play on words - Ambassador in chains 1. The chains Paul is talking about are the ones that bound him a. They definitely were not the typical ornamental ones b. Many were probably embarrassed c. Imagine if your preacher were thrown into jail d. Some turned away from Paul 2. Paul not ashamed of his chains (today it would be handcuffs) a. Paul did not define honor by what men thought b. His honor came from God c. Like many other Christians, persecution didn't phase him d. Sufferings of this life not worthy to be compared with his glory 3. The eyes of Paul's heart was enlightened a. Didn't matter when people held him in contempt b. Didn't matter if got in trouble with the authorities c. Honor comes from God, not from men 4. Paul's chains were a badge of honor a. Paul did not see it they way secular people did b. The eye's of Paul's heart were enlightened C. ILL: In the days after Christ rose, Peter and Apostles preached 1. Were arrested and warned not to preach anymore a. They were whipped, and thrown into jail b. They said they would obey God rather than men 2. Satan wants to shut you up a. I heard High School Students call Christians who condemned homosexual acts as immoral! b. In MA, law passed to force adoption agencies to adopt to same sex couples, including faith based ones c. Some want to remove all references to God from public life as if God were somehow a cuss word. 3. What will you do? Will you continue to share the Gospel? 4. Willing to suffer dishonor from men to get honor from God a. Lk 6:26 - Woe to you when all men speak well of you, used to treat false prophets the same way b. Jas 4:4 - Friendship with the world is hostility towards God - Can't be a two timer D. Need to realize that unbelievers will scorn you 1. That does NOT necessarily mean you have done wrong a. THEY DID IT TO JESUS! b. Jesus honorable? Yes, but it came from God c. Dishonor from men may mean honor from God 2. Doesn't mean to go out and try to make enemies - It does mean to stand by your commitment 3. DO NOT be concerned about what people will think of you 4. Be concerned about what God will think of you II. We are Foreign Visitors A. By nature, Ambassadors are foreign B. We do not belong here 1. John 18:36 - Kingdom not of this world 2. Phil 3:20 - Citizens of Heaven a. We live by a higher law b. Politicians are not who ultimately determines what is right 3. 2 Cor 5:1 - True permanent home is in Heaven a. This is a "tent" b. Same word used of Christ, he "tented" among us c. Tent is temporary 4. 1 Pet 2:9-11 - Strangers and Aliens a. "Lusts" = Desire. Not just of a sexual nature b. The desire for friends, popularity, image, etc. c. Our one desire should be to honor God C. ILL: Have you ever stayed in a motel? 1. Take short courses at ACU, there for a week 2. Didn't put clothes in dresser, didn't put out pictures, 3. Didn't do anything to the motel. Why? Not home 4. Only there temporarily, so I didn't get too comfortable D. Need to realize that our time here is temporary 1. Don't lose sight of the fact that our real home is elsewhere 2. This is just a stop along the way, don't put down roots here 3. Our roots are in Heaven III. We have a specific purpose and job to do A. Ancient ambassadors different than modern ones 1. Not assigned to an embassy in foreign company 2. Didn't represent their sovereign a. Didn't make decisions on behalf of sovereign b. Authority limited c. Usually delivered communications 3. Words translated ambassador might help a. Hebrew words: - Mal'ak - Messenger or Angel - Melitz - Translator - Tsir - One who performs an errand b. Greek: - Presbeuo - To be an ambassador/envoy - Presbeia - Ambassadorship c. Usually associated with traveling 4. Often delivered messages, or promoted relationships B. This is what Paul has been getting at all along - We have a purpose 1. Merge with each other in Christ a. 4:1 - Preserve unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace b. Uses the analogy of a body to describe us 2. Maturity in Christ a. 2:21-22 - Paul mixes body and building analogies - Idea of growth b. 4:13-14 - No longer to be children, need to grow c. Grow in relationship to Christ and to others 5:1ff 3. Ministry to Others a. 4:12 - God equips us for the work of ministry b. Jesus is the Lord of the towel c. We demonstrate Christ when we take up the towal 4. Mission to the lost a. 3:8 - Paul had mission to the gentiles b. 3:10 - Wisdom of God made known to the world through the church c. Ambassadors to the world 5. Magnify God a. Paul began letter with overflowing praise to God b. Ends it with God as well c. Purpose is to love and please God C. ILL: Ever use a magnifying glass on a piece of paper? 1. If glass is way out, get a blurry image, doesn't do anything 2. If focus the light just right, it can start a fire 3. God wants us to be on fire for him, and for it to catch on 4. In order to do that we need to focus on his purposes D. If you want to know what our mission is, here it is 1. Everything we do should fit into these purposes 2. List each of the purposes and ask these questions a. In what ways can I contribute toward this purpose? b. Reflect on this in our life groups this evening Concl: 1. Are you carrying out God's purposes? 2. Life in Christ begins with conversion (Invitation) 3. God places you in the family of God a. As part of the family of God, we carry out God's purposes b. Let's spend some time reflecting on this tonight =================== Small Group Notes: Ambassadors In a sense, all of us are ambassadors for the Lord with all honor that comes with it from God. In order to be God's ambassadors, we need to realize that we are aliens in this life and in the world, and that we have specific purposes to fulfill during our time on this earth which includes spreading the Gospel, serving others, and spiritual growth, and growth in fellowship. All that we are, say, and do is to be geared toward our overall purpose to love and magnify God. Open (choose one): - Describe a time when you tried to do a project without reading the instructions - What is the most confusing job you have ever had to do? Explore (Eph 6:18-20): 1. Looking back at the Ephesian letter, what are some of the overarching themes you have seen? How is Paul's closing a fitting conclusion to his letter? 2. What was Paul's attitude toward his chains as an Ambassador? Why would a Christian have a different attitude toward chains than an unbeliever? 3. What was Paul's ultimate prayer here? What does this say about Paul? How does this challenge you? Apply: 4. Discuss each of these God given purposes for the church. Rate each one on a scale of 1 to 5, which is strongest in your personal life and which is weakest? 1) Merging (unity and fellowship), 2) Maturity (spiritual growth and discipleship), 3) Ministry (works of service), 4) Mission (sharing the Gospel), 5) Magnification (worshipping, glorifying, and loving God) 5. Why is it important to be able to articulate our God given purposes? 6. If someone were to ask you about what our purpose is, what would be your "statement of purpose" to them that encompasses what you have learned? 7. Identify ways you can contribute towards one or more of these God given purposes. What are some ways you can help others toward meeting these purposes? Prayer: Have a good summer - Don't forget activities coming up this year: VBS, the We Care Training Clinic, the trip to Silver Dollar City, to name a few. Come and join the Summer Teaching Series which will run until the first weekend of September.