27 November 2019

Hello and welcome to Wednesday’s podcast. This week our theme is hope – the hope we have in Christ.


Our reading today is Ephesians 3:1-7. Let’s look today at verse 7 (taken from the Message version):

This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details.

As we start chapter three Paul, the writer of this letter, breaks off from his previous line of thought in chapter two in which he reveals some of the foundational truths of who we are in Christ as both an individual and as church and begins to offers us some of his personal reflections on his ministry and what he’s learned as a result of that.

Today we are reminded that we have hope…because God has a plan for our lives.

As we heard in yesterday’s reading we, the church, are the ones God wants to use to point others to Jesus. In today’s passage, Paul talks about this as being his ‘life’s work’. And whilst this was, for him, a personal mission– to reveal God’s grace to the Gentiles (as we heard on Monday) through the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost it has now also become ours. Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…

The moment we discover Jesus and commit our lives to him God reveals to each of us the grand plan for our lives. We are given our new job description: making Jesus known. We become an employee in the kingdom of God. It is a high calling indeed. And we think that sounds exciting, that sounds great – let’s get cracking! We start talking about Jesus with our school mates, colleagues and our family members. We invite them to church events. We pray for them. We go out of our way to bless them. It’s great. And then over time, we find ourselves slowing down. Stuff gets in the way. We hit speed bumps – health problems, struggles at university or work, a relationship break down, money worries. Life happens. We get tangled up. We get stuck. And that loud and clear call to go and make disciples we heard once before can seem more distant and faded. The worries of this world begin to overwhelm us us and with it something of the hope which Jesus has given us.

I look at Paul – writer to the Ephesians – and think it would be have so easy for this guy to give up. I mean he more than had his fair share of challenges during his ministry – he was abused, beaten, shipwrecked and imprisoned. And yet, here is, writing this letter under house arrest, maybe even knowing that will soon be executed saying – this is my life’s work: making God known. He kept at! He knew he had a message of hope to deliver and nothing was going to get in the way of that. It’s both inspiring and deeply challenging. Because this was a man who understood and knew something of God’s grace which I for one would love to know more of in my life.

How did he keep going? The message version puts it like this –  ‘God handling all the details’. In the face of immense challenge what Paul articulates here demonstrates that he had a deep sense of trust in God for his protection and his provision. Paul, in a worldly sense, seemingly had no idea how this would all turn out. Would he have enough money to live on? Would people listen to him? Would he find favour in a particular place? Would he make it through the day alive? I mean Paul certainly could have justified being a little worried. Maybe avoiding a particular place hoping to be safer? Doing other work – getting paid better? Diluting down the message – avoiding getting arrested? And yet he didn’t – he pressed on in order to fulfil the plan that God had for his life.

The writer of Hebrews says this: Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

The fact that we are human and live in a broken and imperfect world mean we can find ourselves easily tangled up with the stuff of life that pulls us away from God. We find ourselves encumbered and burdened by worry and we just slow down.

But God has a plan for each of our lives, a race marked out for us to run. Where and how we run this race for him can change during our lives but his desire that we keep doing so does not. Our life’s work is to make him known. His grace enables us to stand so that even with the challenges we each face we, fixing our eyes on Him, can know ultimately where we are headed. And by his Spirit and in his strength we can run that race, we can continue to be about his business, of bringing his hope to the places and people that God has put in our path today.


Father, thank you that you love us and have a plan for our lives. Where we find ourselves weighed down or held back today we ask that you would help us to look to you, to trust in you for our protection and provision – knowing that you handle all the details so that we can run freely for you into the places where you are seeking to be made known. In Jesus name. Amen.

BIBLE READING: Ephesians 3:1-7 (MSG)

This is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so-called. I take it that you’re familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody. I got the inside story on this from God himself, as I just wrote you in brief.

As you read over what I have written to you, you’ll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ. None of our ancestors understood this. Only in our time has it been made clear by God’s Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order. The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.

This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details.