Purpose With Peace
Paul said, “I’m the prisoner of Jesus Christ, not Caesar. I belong to Jesus. And He has me here for His purposes.”
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, my dear radio friend. How in the world are you? You doing alright? I’m fine, thank you. Nice of you to ask. [laughter]
You know, some of you do care how I am because if someday my voice is a little husky or I cough or whatever, somebody is sure to write and say, “Brother Cook, how are you? I hope you’re not sick.” So I know many of you do care and I care about you as well. Bless your heart. Nice to belong to each other, isn’t it? I like that. And it’s all because of the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We’re one in Him, that’s how it comes about.
Well, by way of review, we’re in the book of Ephesians and we were walking around in that second chapter, the last few verses, where Paul says, “Now, you’re no more strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God.” A stranger is a person who doesn’t fit because he doesn’t belong to your family, a foreigner is a person who doesn’t fit because he doesn’t come from your country. Fellow citizens means that God has given us that new country. You read in Philippians, “Our citizenship is in heaven from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change.” The King James version says that, “Our vile body.” And what it means is, this body, in which we’re humiliated, this body of humiliation that it might be fashioned like unto his body of glory. “According to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.” Citizenship in heaven, fellow citizens with the saints. You remember, I looked at the Greek New Testament word for fellow citizens, and it has our idea of politics, living in the same city with politics with another person. And then of course, that’s politics in a good sense. Isn’t it? Fellow citizens, the politics of heaven. [chuckle] Aren’t you glad that you belong to that wonderful group?
Then he says, “Of the household of God,” you’ve been adopted into God’s family. No longer are you a stranger standing out by yourself but you’re one of the family. Now, what happens as a result of this? Well, there is a progression of experiences. It says, “You’re built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” That’s the Word of God. The foundation upon which your life is constructed is the Word of God. The Lord Jesus Himself, as is the chief cornerstone, the Bible is all about Jesus. Every place you look in the Bible, you’ll find something that refers to Him or that describes Him or that is a type of Him, or a word picture of His person and work.
It says, “In Him… ” verse 21, “All the building… ” See, he’s using this figure of speech of building blocks, building stones, building materials. “You are human beings but you’re built upon the foundation. And in Him, all the building, fitly framed together, God has a special place for you.” I remember seeing a structure go up right here in our community, along the Sullivan trail next door to the deli. Right down there about a mile and two or three tenths from where we live and they unloaded all of these huge timbers, every one of which was notched and cut in a certain way and then they began putting that building up. Well, it’s a two-and-a-half story, barn-like structure made entirely of these wooden logs. And they put it right together, every piece fit. They scarcely had to nail anything because it all fit together. Pre-cut, lumber and logs.
It says, “You’re fitly framed together,” God has a place for you where you fit. Somebody says, “Well, I wish he’d sure find it ’cause I don’t fit where I am.” [laughter] I know how you feel. Bless your heart. Well, God never said we’d always be happy. He said, we had to be faithful. And the fitting, the fitting into a place is God’s job. All the building, fitly framed together, groweth. He says, “You are built… ” passive voice, God does the building and God does the fitting, and God does the placing so that God can live in the building that He enjoys. You’re built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. Over in Second Corinthians, God says, “I will dwell in them and walk in them.” God walking in your shoes, that’s what he’s talking about here, a habitation of God. The presence of God so real, how does it come about? Through His Word. How is it mediated to you? Through the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit implements it. And in whose… In whose name is all of this done? The Lord Jesus Christ, He’s the one. It’s a blessed truth.
Now, would you… Would you just look up and thank God that He is building you? You may not feel very much like there’s anything going on but the rent, as we sometimes say, but you’re fitly framed together and God is doing something with your life. And His ultimate goal is that He will, His presence, will fit in your life, be at home in your life of habitation of God through the Spirit. The indwelling Holy Spirit brings the presence of God, real, through you in the ordinary situations of life. You take your laundry to the laundromat and put it in, then put your quarter in the machine, and dump the soap in and sit down, wait for it to wash, and you’re sitting next to somebody else.
Think a minute. God’s presence is going to go from you to that life if you let him. He wants to communicate Himself through you, a habitation of God through the Spirit. The indwelling Holy Spirit wants to speak to other people about Jesus Christ. That’s your job and that’s the atmosphere of your life. Wherever you are. The ordinaries though. See, we’re not always in church and you can’t always be officially religious. I sometimes joke with people who work in shops and offices and factories and I tell them, “Listen, if you’d come to work singing, Holy, Holy, Holy, at the top of your voice and being very religious, you’ll be in personnel office before 10 o’clock and the men in white coats will have you by 11 if you don’t cut it out.” You can’t be officially religious all the time but you can be full of the presence of God all the time. Do you follow that?
Well, then we go on into chapter three of Ephesians. This is one of those long, involved sentences that the apostle Paul is famous for. “For this cause I, Paul, if you heard, how that by revelation, whereby when you read, which in other ages in order that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, wherever I was made a minister.” And I think you have… You have the end of the sentence, at the end of verse 7. That is one long sentence. Rudolf Flesch would probably give it a very high fog index mark. Do you ever read Rudolf Flesch, the “Art of Plain Speech”? It’s a good book for you fellows who… And girls who have to write advertising copy or a newspaper copy. He’d teach you how to have a fog index that’s very low so people can understand. I’d throw that in free. [chuckle]
He says, “I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you.” Now, he’s taking the facts… He’s taking the facts and see, this was written in Rome and he was a prisoner. And the charge against him was treason because the dictum in those days was, “Caesar is Lord of all.” And Paul, the Apostle, was preaching, “Christ is Lord of all.” And that was treason. That’s technically why he was there. So he says, “I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ.” Why listen Paul, you’re the prisoner of Caesar. No, no. I’m the prisoner of Jesus Christ, I belong to Him and He’s allowed this for His own purposes. And I’m doing this because I want the gospel to get out to more people incidentally, for the folk who live at Ephesus. I’m the prisoner of Jesus for you Gentiles.
Do you wanna relate that, beloved? Do you wanna relate that to your own life? No, not many of us are in jail. I have a few people who listen to me in prisons and I’m so grateful for their letters and cards that come now and again. You fellas and girls who are serving your time in prison, don’t despair, don’t quit, keep on trusting God, keep on reading the Word of God and praying day by day. Keep your life pure and God is going to get you out and help you to be a blessing to many other folk, I believe it. But not all that many of us are in prison. So how then do you… How do you relate a verse like this to your own life? Well, prison is something that is involuntary and cannot be controlled by your desire. You’re in, that’s it and there is a finality about it that you can’t change by wishing. But you know, there are many other experiences in life that are the same way. What I’m driving at is, there are experiences in life that are comparable to being put behind bars, in that you don’t like it and it is unpleasant and you can’t do a thing about it. Well, what are you gonna do? These things happen.
My dear wife of 55 years, Coreen, was straightening out some covers on one of the upstairs beds because our kids were coming to stay overnight, or two, with us. And as she smoothed out the blanket with her left hand, she used evidently some little extra angle of force and broke a bone in her hand. So here, we’re planning a series of events, including marrying my grandson, I’m gonna tie the knot. And now, we’ve got a broken bone and a cast, and all sorts of inconveniences and delays. Why? [laughter] “Why should this happen to me when I’m such a nice person?” you’ve often said, right? Well let’s see, the finality of things we don’t like. How are you gonna handle it?
I remember how angry I was one time, many years ago, when I came home to find out that a series of mishaps had occurred with our children, they were very young at the time, and I had been away for about 36 hours in some meetings, not too far away but away. And I came home to find that all of these mishaps had occurred, and I was just angry for a moment. And I said, “God, here I’m trying to serve you and working hard and look what’s happened.” And then I got this verse flashed into my mind, “In everything, give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” And so I remember I bowed my head right there. I was out on the street, walking from one place to another. And I said, “Oh God, I don’t like this but I’ll just say thank you for what you’re doing. Have your way in my life.” And as I did that, a beautiful peace possessed my heart and things looked different because I was different.
Paul said, “I am the prisoner of Jesus Christ, not Caesar, I belong to Jesus and He has me here for his purposes.” We’ll go on with this the next time we get together.
Father dearly, we love you, we worship you, we’re grateful for your mercy and your love and your care. Oh, fit us in to your eternal plans. In Jesus name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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