Ephesians 1:11-12

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 18, 2005


Have you figured out all the things you need to buy for Christmas presents yet?

I read about one lady who figured a way out of the Christmas panic:

After her 90th Birthday, Marie found that shopping for Christmas gifts had become too difficult, so she decided to send checks to everyone instead. On each card she wrote, “Buy your own present,” and she mailed them early. Marie enjoyed the usual flurry of family festivities. Only after Christmas did she get around to clearing off her cluttered desk. Under a stack of papers, she was horrified to find the gift checks which she had forgotten to enclose.

We’ll be talking about gifts today, but not the kind you’ve been looking for at the mall…

:11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance,

obtained an inheritancekleroo – The word has kind of an interesting background. It’s basic idea is “to cast lots”, something like tossing dice. It could be used to mean to “determine by lot”, as in making a decision by casting lots. When Joshua conquered the Promised Land, they decided which tribe got which parcel of land by casting lots and those parcels of land were known as “lots” (like putting your car in a parking lot). Those “lots” were also what was passed down from generation to generation within a family and so the word became used to describe an inheritance.

The two basic ideas of the word are about “inheritance” and “determination” or “purpose”. Both ideas have meaning for us as Christians.

1. We have an inheritance in Him.

An inheritance is the treasure that is passed on from your parents.

Some people don’t expect to get much from their parents, so they hope the treasures will come from somewhere else:


Columnist L.M. Boyd recently described the amazing good fortune of a man named Jack Wurm. In 1949, Mr. Wurm was broke and out of a job. One day he was walking along a San Francisco beach when he came across a bottle with a piece of paper in it. As he read the note, he discovered that it was the last will and testament of Daisy Singer Alexander, heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune. The note read, “To avoid confusion, I leave my entire estate to the lucky person who finds this bottle and to my attorney, Barry Cohen, share and share alike.” According to Boyd, the courts accepted the theory that the heiress had written the note 12 years earlier, and had thrown the bottle into the Thames River in London, from where it had drifted across the oceans to the feet of a penniless and jobless Jack Wurm. His chance discovery netted him over 6 million dollars in cash and Singer stock.  Woohoo!!!

In our society, we are pretty obsessed with treasures.  Some of us have been combing the beaches looking for another lucky bottle.

During Christmas time, we can get to the point where all we can think about are toys, trinkets, and shopping sprees.
For those of us that are innately selfish, all we can think about is the stuff we want for Christmas.
For those of us that are more mature and feel like we actually think about others, we get caught up in trying to spend enough to make our loved ones happy.

In 1900, a father gave a pencil box for Christmas, and the kid was all smiles. Today, a father spends $800 at Toys ‘R’ Us, and the kid screams: “but I wanted X-Box!”

I wonder if we aren’t obsessed with the wrong treasures. There’s a pattern in the Bible that could be important for us.

When the children of Israel were dividing up the Promised Land among the tribes, one tribe got left out.
(Josh 13:33 NKJV) But to the tribe of Levi Moses had given no inheritance; the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as He had said to them.

God was their inheritance. He was their treasure.

I think God wants us to be a bit like those Levites. He wants us to make sure that HE is our treasure.

Where are your assets?

Jesus said,
(Mat 6:19-21 NKJV) "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; {20} "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. {21} "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Our team that just came back from Mississippi could tell us some stories of what it’s like for people to lose all their earthly treasures. They could tell us stories of people who lost everything with Hurricane Katrina.
I have a friend whose parents live in Louisiana. They were retired and doing well. And now they’ve lost everything. Insurance won’t pay. They don’t qualify for a grant. They qualified for a small business loan, but they’re retired and would have no way to pay it back. It’s all gone.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the majority of your investments were in a place where hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, or stock market crashes couldn’t get to? And what if these treasures didn’t just last for ten or twenty years, but were good enough to last you for ETERNITY?
(1 Pet 1:3-4 NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, {4} to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

How do we get a piece of these heavenly assets?

You have to be a part of the family to get a piece of the inheritance. And to get a part of the “God-inheritance”, you must be a part of God’s family.
(John 1:12 KJV) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

When we receive Jesus into our hearts, we become part of God’s family and we are now qualified for this inheritance.

For some of us, we aren’t real thrilled with the things we’ve inherited from our parents.

For some of you, the worse thing that anyone could say was that they saw the family resemblance in you.


Whose Boy Are You?
An old preacher named Fred Craddock used to tell a story about vacationing with his wife one summer in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. One night they found a quiet little restaurant, where they looked forward to a private meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. Craddock leaned over and whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here.” He didn’t want anyone intruding on their privacy. But sure enough, the man did come over to their table. “Where you folks from?” he asked in a friendly voice. “Oklahoma,” Craddock answered. “Splendid state, I hear, although I’ve never been there,” the stranger said. “What do you do for a living?” “I teach homiletics at the graduate seminary of Phillips University,” Craddock replied. “Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I’ve got a story to tell you.” And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with Craddock and his wife. Dr. Craddock said he groaned inwardly and thought to himself, “Oh, no! Here comes another preacher story! It seems like everybody has at least one.”
The man stuck out his hand. “I’m Ben Hooper,” he said. “I was born not far from here across the mountains. My mother wasn’t married when I was born, so I had a pretty hard time. When I started to school, my classmates had a name for me, and it wasn’t a very nice name. I used to go off by myself at recess and lunch time because the things they said to me cut me so deep. What wash worse was going to town on Saturday afternoons and feeling like every eye was burning a hole through me, wondering just who my father was. “When I was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to our church. I would always go in late and slip out early. But one day the preacher said the benediction so fast I got caught and to walk out with the crowd. I could feel every eye in the church on me. Just about the time I got to the door I felt a big hand on my shoulder. I looked up and the preacher was looking right at me. ‘Who are you, son? Whose boy are you?’ he asked. I felt this big weight coming down on me. It was like a big black cloud. Even the preacher was putting me down. But as he looked down at me, studying my face, he began to smile a big smile of recognition. ‘Wait a minute!’ he said. ‘I know who you are. I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.’ With that he slapped me across the rump and said, ‘Boy, you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.’
The old man looked across the table at Fred Craddock and said, “Those were the most important words anybody ever said to me, and I’ve never forgotten them.” With that, he smiled shook hands with Craddock and his wife, and moved on to another table to greet old friends. And as he walked away, Craddock – a native Tennessean himself – remembered from his studies of Tennessee history that on two occasions the people of Tennessee had elected to the office of governor men who had been born out of wedlock. One of them was a man named Ben Hooper.

Where are your treasures? Do you look like your Father?

2. We have a purpose in life in Him

This word can not only carry the idea of an inheritance, but also of something that has been “determined”, something that has been “appointed”, something that has a “purpose”.

I think there’s something in each of us that wants to know that we have a purpose in life.

It’s the thing that has made Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life” a best-seller.
Years ago there was a line in a Christian tract that said, “God loves you and has a purpose for your life”. Many people came to Christ when they heard that God not only loved them, but God had a reason for their existence as well.

Back in 1998 George Gallup, Jr., after decades of research, listed the top spiritual needs of people:

5. To feel they are growing in faith.
4. To be listened to.
3. To be appreciated and respected.
2. To have a sense of community and deeper relationships.
1. To believe that life is meaningful and has a purpose.

Paul goes on to describe some of this purpose for us:

:11 being predestined according to the purpose of Him

being predestinedproorizo (“before” + “horizon”) – to predetermine, decide beforehand

Sometimes people get all out of whack over predestination. Some people revolt at the idea that we have been predestined for anything. They struggle with the concept because they think that they no longer have choices in their lives.

I like to think of it more as a matter of design.

A train locomotive was designed to run on railroad tracks. It can make all sorts of choices when it comes to a railway switch. It can even get off the tracks, but it won’t run the way it’s supposed to. When a locomotive is on the tracks, is it a bad thing? No, it is just doing what it was designed for.

Today, one of the best arguments against evolution is the theory of Intelligent Design. Some scientists will dismiss is immediately and say there’s nothing to it, but that’s because they don’t want you looking into it to find out how much sense it makes.

The idea is that when you look at nature and see how detailed and intricate each animal is, how each plant works, how each part of your body functions - it’s not hard to realize that there must have been a designer. The human eye alone is made up of such interrelated, complex systems that if one system doesn’t work, the entire eye doesn’t work. How could such detailed design be a function of evolution’s “chance, random mutation”?

You too have a design. God has designed you for functioning in certain ways, running on certain train tracks.

God doesn’t just put a stamp on us that says “predestined” and that’s all there is to it. He has things that He has predestined us for.

Keep in mind that we already know a few of these things from the passage we’ve been studying.

(Eph 1:4 NKJV) just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
Part of our destiny is to be holy and blameless. That’s part of how God designed us. That’s what He desires for us. He doesn’t want us living a life filled with filth and sickness. He wants us living in purity and health.
(Eph 1:5 NKJV) having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
Your destiny includes being a part of God’s family.

Destiny – You have a destiny. You have a purpose. God has designed you with a purpose.

God’s purpose for our lives is a good one.

(Jer 29:11 NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Part of life’s adventure is learning to discover the design that God has for your life.

:11 who works all things according to the counsel of His will,

(Isa 46:9-10 NKJV) Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, {10} Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,'

The point is that God is in control. God listens to His own advice.

If God were evil, then we’d have a problem. But God is not evil. God is good.

His advice includes a purpose for our lives. He has “predestined” us for something…

:12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

This is our “appointment”, what we have been “predestined” to do.


The Purpose of Praise

Part of God’s purpose is that our lives would result in bringing praise to God.
I’m not sure this just means that we sing praise songs to God, but that our lives would cause others to give God praise.
Some people in the world have some pretty strange ideas about God.
For the Islamic extremist, they think God tells them to kill Americans and they will go to paradise.
Others see all the weird things Christians do in the name of God – from the days of the “holy laughter” and people barking like dogs, to the circus-like atmosphere in some demonic-deliverance meetings, to some Christians giving people the impression that being a Christian means that there is no more happiness or fun in life.
Part of this idea of bringing praise to God is simply giving people a better idea about the gracious, merciful, and loving God that created them.
a. People will give God praise when they see what He has done in our lives.
(Mat 15:30-31 NKJV) Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus' feet, and He healed them. {31} So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
After Jesus had cast all the demons out of the man known as Legion,

(Mark 5:20 NKJV)  And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.

In other words, people will give God praise when they see how much He’s changed your life.

And God isn’t even finished with you yet. He has lots more He wants to do in your life, doing things that will bring glory to Him.

(Phil 1:6 NKJV) being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

b. People should give God praise when they see what we do for God.
(Mat 5:14-16 NKJV) "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. {15} "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. {16} "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
It’s not just what God has done for us, but the things that we learn to do for Him as a response to His love for us.

I’ve heard a little about what happened in Mississippi last week. There are more than a few Mississippians who are giving God praise for what you on the team accomplished last week.

A few weeks ago some folks were giving praise to God for the Thanksgiving baskets that were assembled and handed out, just as some folks will be doing when the Christmas baskets will be put together and delivered.

Some of you have made hospital visits that bring God praise. Others have prayed for people and seen God work, bringing praise to God.

(John 15:7-8 NKJV) "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. {8} "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Some of you have been bold in sharing your faith in Jesus with people you meet.

I can think of no greater praise given to God than the praise that happens when a person comes to trust in Jesus.