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Too Good Not To Be True

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our wrongdoings, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He set forth in Him, 10 regarding His plan of the fullness of the times, to bring all things together in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. 11 In Him we also have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things in accordance with the plan of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in the Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise, 14 who is a first installment of our inheritance, in regard to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory."

Good Morning Beloved,

Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
We're glad you're here with us today

When you come to God through Jesus, you discover that you are already accepted. God has no second-class children. He does not just tolerate you. He deeply and dearly loves you. He is interested in you. He cares for you.

God’s purpose from the start of eternity was to make us His children, which we are by the death of Jesus for us on the cross. The only thing you need to do is believe that God wants you to be His child. When you come to God through Jesus, He has already accepted you.

Forgiveness, on the other hand, is a choice. It is not an emotion, it is a decision. You may say you can’t forgive someone for what they've done, but the truth is you have decided that you won’t. Your fleshly nature may not be able to forgive, however, you can choose to let the Holy Spirit work God’s forgiveness into you and through you.
Forgiving those who have hurt you or caused you harm is not an easy thing to do. In fact, you are incapable of doing so, if you’re left to yourself. You are not left to yourself, however: As you come to this moment, the Holy Spirit is right there with you. And if you will yield to Him, He will give you the supernatural grace you need.
II Corinthians 12:9 teaches a powerful truth, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." 
If there is bitterness, resentment, hatred, anger, or rebellion, which rejection has produced in your life, you must make a conscious decision to get rid of the bad fruit these have produced in your life. Trust me, these things are toxic poison. And if you nourish them in your heart, they will poison your whole life. They will cause you deep emotional problems and, quite likely, physical problems as well. 
However, with a decision to finally say, "Today, I choose to lay down bitterness, resentment, hatred, anger and rebellion. I refuse to allow this toxicity to poison my life one more day!" and your willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through your life, you will find the ability to extend the forgiveness, you once thought to be impossible. And with that, will come a peace, like you have never known!

Jesus told His disciples in John 14:27, "Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you."
And the apostle Paul teaches us in Philippians 4:7, "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
One of the most difficult steps, is to forgive yourself, to learn to love yourself. Never criticize or hate yourself. You did not make yourself. God made you and is remaking you in His image. Don’t criticize the work of God in you! Though you can still not like certain behaviors or this or that are unpleasing to God. However, be assured, amazingly enough, God has everything needed to make something wonderful from all of it! You may be looking back over a year or possibly a lifetime, a record failures and false starts. Maybe its a over a broken marriage, over children who took a wrong turn in life, it might be over a financial disaster. Or even all of these things, over time, you may label yourself a failure. 
But today, I want to remind you that God calls you, "My son, My daughter," "A beloved child." You can learn to accept yourself because God has accepted you. And you can learn to forgive others, and yourself, because God has forgiven you. When you come to God in Jesus, you become a new creation. Old things have passed away!
Let us bow our heads in prayer.
Heavenly Father,
Thank You for the truth, richness and the depth of the treasure of Your Word. As much as we try to comprehend the depths of Your grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness, it is beyond our greatest ability. We are humbled to be content with what we can understand. It is a mystery to us why You would want us, who are so unworthy of the riches You so graciously bestow upon us. We are so grateful that You would call us Your own. May it motivate us to serve You with a thankful heart, the utmost gratitude, and with overwhelming joy.

We are so thankful the great future that we have promised and prepared for us. One that has nothing to do with what happens in our culture, the political structure of our society, its not affected by the declining morality, or increasing materialism. It is completely unaffected by the depravity of our current world. It depends on one thing, Your Word. Lord, help us to remain faithful, obedient to Your commands. For Christ's sake and all for Your glory.
In Jesus' name

Today's Message: Too Good Not To Be True

There are few affirmations that are more important to the overall well-being of a child than the loving affirmation of parents. As parents, we sometimes forget the importance of our words and the affect that they can have on the self-worth of our children.

Sometime ago, I read the book "A Child Called It." It is a book that was written by David J. Pelzer, in which he tells of his life’s story being raised by his mother who was a devoted den mother to the Cub Scouts in her care, and somewhat nurturing to her children. However, not to David, whom she referred to as "an It." 

This book is David’s horrifying account of the bizarre tortures she inflicted on him. As a young boy he was starved, stabbed, smashed face first into mirrors, forced to eat the contents of his sibling’s diapers and a spoonful of ammonia, and burned over a gas stove by his maniacal, sadistic, alcoholic mom. I realize it is difficult to comprehend, even harder to imagine, but even his father didn’t protect him! It is only by an alert schoolteacher, that he was saved. 

You don’t need to read this book, to be quite honest, I found it hard to stomach. However, though, I do want you to know as a parent, the importance and significant impact of our words and actions. Our words can and often do determine the direction our children's lives will take. 
In the same manner, God’s words for us are even more important and will determine and change our direction if we will allow.
Before we begin our study today, I'd like you to think about something.  How do you see yourself right now? Do you ever feel like an "it", rather than who God says you are? If you are a Christian, what direction is your life going in? 
And, if you are not a Christian, would you like to know what God would do for you today, if you would only let Him?
Ephesians 1 is all about how God views us, us being in His eyes, before Him. Have you ever wondered what someone really thinks of you? I’ve talked about the blessings and will continue to do so today, but as I do, I want to give you some instructions for enjoying the blessings of God. Ephesians reveals several blessings and titles that God has given to us as Christians. We are blessed with every spiritual blessing. We are blessed in the heavenly realms. We are God’s chosen and loved ones. We are holy and without fault. 

I'd like you to notice, that the last phrase in verse 4 that rounds off these descriptions: "before Him." Some of your versions say "in His eyes, "or "in His sight."

Ephesians 1, is about us living "before Him." It shows you that God already sees you in certain ways. And there are ways that God can see us right now that we cannot yet see ourselves. Ephesians gives us a glimpse of ourselves through the eyes of God. So when God says to you, "This is who you are," you actually have the option of saying, "This is who I am" even though in this moment you can’t see it. But you say it anyway. And even if you see inconsistencies, dissonance or contradictions to what God has said, you say it anyway. Why? Because we are to trust God's perspective. I believe that Ephesians will have a great impact on us when we decide to say what God says about us.
Turn to someone and say, it's "Too Good Not To Be True!"

I have had some say, "I don't see it, I can't see what you say that God sees. I don't feel that way about myself. It doesn't feel like I'm being truthful." Well, first of all, that's stating the obvious, no we cannot see what God sees. Secondly, when the truthful God, the God who cannot lie tells you something about yourself, then you can say with confidence what God says. God says we are blessed with every blessing in the heavenly realms. God says that He chose you before the foundation of the world. God said that.
Romans 8:37 says, "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us."
Though you might not feel like victory is yours, however, I encourage you to not focus on how you feel. God didn’t say that you are going to feel like you an overwhelming conqueror, however, that doesn't change the fact is that you are. I'd also like to point out, that this also applies to any passage you read in the Bible where God is speaking about you.
If we want to advance in our Christian walk, we have to learn to believe and repeat what God says about us. Be assured, Satan will have plenty to say about you, and you need to know and trust God's perspective. Do you know what that’s called? It's called "faith." And what is faith? Let's look to Scripture for the answer.

Hebrews 11:1 teaches us the answer. "Now faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen."
Faith is always rooted in what God says. Faith is always rooted in what God says. The blessings of God are "Too Good Not To Be True."
The first blessing Paul writes about is in verse 5. "He predestined us to adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will."
God with great excitement chose us in the past with the purpose of making us His children. This is the second blessing Paul writes about. God makes us family in the present. He chose us, and now He adopts us, and that was God’s plan all along. Spiritual adoption is a process that began at the cross of Jesus Christ.
Paul explains and elaborates our adoption, in verses 6 and 7. "to the praise of the glory of His grace, with which He favored us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our wrongdoings, according to the riches of His grace." 

In the Garden of Eden, God created all of the world, including mankind, and the first two humans were placed in the Garden, Adam and Eve. However, after they were placed in the Garden, what happened to Adam and Eve? They fell into sin. They fell into sin. 
I have had some ask, "Why create a world that would ultimately fall into sin? This second blessing of adoption answers this question, and brings our relationship with God to a brand new level. We realize that God in eternity past chose us, and we were chosen so that He could adopt us into His family. In our human existence, there is no greater honor than to be a child of God. And therein lies the reason that God went ahead with creation anyway. You see, being a creation of God is honorable. Wow! We are fearfully and wonderfully made!" however, being a child of God is the highest honor God could give anyone. And, if it weren’t for adoption, perhaps God would've scrapped His plan of creation. But He didn't! He went ahead with creation, because He wanted us to experience the blessing of His adoption!
What an prodigious honor and blessing!
That's why James wrote in James 1:18, "In the exercise of His will He gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures." Let's be honest, being a created being is great, but being a child of God, a member of His family, is infinitely even greater, isn't that true? That's the reason God created you, to be a child of God! Paul further explains that at the beginning of verse 7, "In Him we have redemption through His blood." It was very pleasing to God to adopt us, and He went to great lengths to bring about our adoption.
Therefore, we must live as a son or daughter, and not as a slave! A slave from what? Sin! Until the blood of Christ purchased us, redeemed us, we were living as a slave to sin. Before we became Christians, we did anything and everything that we thought we could get away with! Drugs, alcohol, sex, partying, rebelling and so on. 
Paul says in Romans 6:20-22, "For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in relation to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life."
We were slaves to sin. We live in a world where everyone wants to write their own rules, be their own boss, live under their own authority and be the master of their own destiny.. Rebellion and defiance became something that was cool in the late 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. This same defiance led to the decadence of the 80’s and 90’s, and today, we are witnessing the results of this kind of unrighteous living, and the response to authority. Baby Boomers want to control authority, Busters ignore authority, Gen X-ers don’t recognize authority because they have not seen it modeled, and the Millennials are told to be their own authority! Then comes Generation Y and Z, want to defy authority! Those who don't want to identify with one gender over another, creating a culture of "more openness and not just tolerance," with the embracing of a more gender-fluid society.
I submit to you, that it is God’s plan, that at the right time, will bring everything under the authority of Christ. So, what is authority? It’s actually quite simple. Authority is power assigned to reign or rule or lead. Who is the authority? Again, let's look to the Scripture.
Matthew 28:18 gives us the answer. "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me."
However, Ephesians tells us that God purchased our freedom from that sin through Jesus Christs' blood on the cross. Before I became a Christian, I used to be a slave, but now I am a child of God! Beloved, that's the whole reason you are a son or daughter of God, because God chose you and adopted you because of His grace. Now your sins are forgiven. Be a son, or daughter, and not a slave. The apostle Paul realizes the wonder of God’s grace and he wants us to do the same! 
I believe that when Paul wrote the book of Ephesians, being aware of Roman law, that provided for adopted children to share the same rights as natural children, he was telling us we are children of God, therefore, we have an inheritance and blessing and riches that are ours in Christ. However, it is up to us to claim our inheritance! God has adopted us and given us the right of sonship so that we might immediately begin to claim our inheritance and enjoy our spiritual wealth!
I'd to point out, however, another truth about authority. And whether you like it or not, you are under that authority.

Authority, on this earth, can be given away, delegated, usurped, surrendered, or left behind because it is a commodity. And to understand authority is to understand that if you don’t like the authority you are under, you can take yourself out from underneath that authority. 

I have to laugh at all these movie stars, celebrities and those that celeberate our country and our president, our conservative values. I have a little advice for you: if you don’t like the authority you live under, whether in this nation or any other, then go find another government to give your authority to! No one is exempt from living under authority. No, not one!

There are a number of people in our nation today, that want to be anti-establishment, but you are living under an authority whether you like it or not. No matter if the authority is the government, your spouse, the church, God, or yourself. The great news is that we can choose many of the authorities we live under. We each choose to delegate authority or power to something in our lives that leads us and that guides us. The Preamble to the Constitution records how "we the people" establish our government to guide us. When you refuse to choose an authority, you are simply crowning yourself as the authority of your life. The point here is, we all live under an authority.

However, allow me to share a passage in Scripture, about what God thinks of those who choose to live independent of Him in Luke 12:16-21.

"And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began thinking to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and I will store all my grain and my goods there. And I will say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years to come; relax, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is demanded of you; and as for all that you have prepared, who will own it now?’ Such is the one who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich in relation to God."

Here's another truth about authority: The direction of your life is determined by the authority you choose to obey.

Your authority determines your direction. One day, according to Ephesians 1:9-10, which says, "He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He set forth in Him, regarding His plan of the fullness of the times, to bring all things together in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth."

God will bring everything under the authority of Jesus Christ, everything in heaven and earth. You see, right now, people don’t give God the authority. It’s not that God isn’t worthy or capable; it’s just that they refuse to live under His authority. This is why we invite His authority when we come together – because I recognize that not everyone willingly gives Him the authority. You can give your authority to God today, or not, however one day, as Paul writes, "at the right time," all things will be brought under the authority of Christ.

The authorities in our lives are God-given. This does not always mean that they will act properly, but it does mean that God has placed them in our lives, whether it is the political leaders of our day, law enforcement, our supervisor or boss, parents, whatever. How we respond to authority that is ungodly, is a whole other issue, so for now, let’s just recognize the fact that there are God-given authorities in our lives.

However, there is this natural tendency to still be independent of the authority that has been placed over us. We ignore the Bible. We break the law. We don’t obey our parents. We refuse to listen to our pastors. We don’t submit to our husbands or honor our wives. But I want you to understand that when we do these things, we foolishly set ourselves up as the authority, and in doing so, set ourselves up diametrically opposed to God. You can keep your life going in your own direction, but ultimately, come under the authority of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:10-11 teaches us "so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

However, until that time, God has placed authorities here on earth for us to place ourselves under.

I encourage you as we worship, to prepare for that day right now by bowing our knee to Him, making Him our authority, and respecting and submitting to the authorities that God places in our lives. There is another truth that you need to grasp: There are places God wants to take you that He will not unless you surrender to Him and submit to His authority.

That brings us to another blessing, when we place ourselves under the authority of God, we will experience life the way that God intended for us, living in His favor under His authority with His blessing.

Don't buy it? Christianity is for the weak minded? Then, I would like to invite as we approach the winter season, when the temperatures begin to fall, the winds begin to howl and the snow falls, walk outside, stand there for several hours, without the protection of your shelter. Because that's what God is to those who submit to His authority, He is a shelter, a refuge, a protector!

Ephesians is a book of declarations, it declares the truth to us repeatedly. However, may I be so bold to say, that the truth will either set you free, or it will get you thrown in prison!

Paul says in verses 11 and 12, "In Him we also have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things in accordance with the plan of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in the Christ would be to the praise of His glory."

"In accordance with the plan of His will," do you ever worry that if you ask God about His plan for your life that He will ask you to do something you don’t want to do? God wants you to let go of your grip on your plans and trust His plan. What are you holding onto that keeps you from getting involved in His plan for your life? For most of us, it’s fear. We are afraid! We are afraid that if we ask God what He wants us to do, that it will make us unhappy. Believe me when I say, God knows your heart better than anyone. As you grow in your relationship with God, He will guide you to a place of service that will fulfill your hearts desires and is also "in accordance with the plan of His will."

Do you trust God? He chose you! And, He also chose the plan for your life. In these 14 verses of Ephesians 1, Paul encourages us to praise God. He also tells us that one of life purposes is that we should praise our glorious God. Worship and praise is one of the purposes of our life. In fact, the sooner realize that fact is, when we realize that we are blessed, we need to take time regularly, willingly and wholeheartedly worship and praise God with everything we have.

That brings us to verses 13 and 14, "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise, who is a first installment of our inheritance, in regard to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory."

God has given us an identification mark, we were sealed in Him! From the instant that you first believed in Jesus Christ, you immediately received the promised Holy Spirit. And, people wonder why the Holy Spirit is significant? 

Well, allow me to offer to you just a few reasons: First, He is the Third Person of the Trinity. In other words, because you have believed in Jesus Christ, you have the presence and power of God in your life at all times because the Holy Spirit lives inside you.

Second, He carries on the ministry of Jesus Christ, just as Christ guided, comforted, helped, encouraged, taught, enlightened, and revealed many things to the disciples, the Holy Spirit does the same for us.

Thirdly, He is the identifying mark for believers. Romans 8:16 says, "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God." The Holy Spirit is the mark of a believer, but it is also something so much more. The Holy Spirit first installment of our inheritance! It is the promise of more to come!
The Spirit is God’s first installment of what God has promised to give us, what He has promised to do, what we have in store for us in heaven, the Holy Spirit is only the beginning of these promises! So, the 
Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee to us that He will keep us, that we cannot be taken away. Because of God’s blessings, I can rest in the fact that God loves me and His Spirit keeps me. There is rest to be found in the fact that my salvation is guaranteed and sealed because of the Holy Spirit.
There is an epidemic of exclusivism in Christianity, where Christians act as if they belong to some special club and that they are better than everyone else. This kind of behavior is seen in many religious circles. However, we are often shamefully exclusive towards those who aren’t yet believers or Christians. We look down at them because they don’t have our morals, and we judge them, and we want to keep away from them. We isolate ourselves from them.

I tend to believe that as Paul wrote verse 14, he had Genesis 12:1-3 in the back of his mind. I'm sure you'll remember the verses, but allow me to refresh your minds a bit.

Abraham was blessed by God to become the father of the nation of Israel. But God states twice in blessing him that Abraham would be a "blessing to others" and that "all the nations of the earth would be blessed through you." These phrases remind us of the reason that God blessed Abraham and the reason God blesses us as His people, giving us the third thing we can do with our blessing:

Beloved, we must live as an instrument, not only as a recipient of God's blessings! You are not called to just be a recipient, but you are called to bless others. 

We can quickly turn our blessing into something abominable by failing to take our role as instruments of blessing into account, and acting as if we act as though we are only recipients, we choose to believe that we are only to be blessed, and forget that we are to be blessings, we therefore, distort our identity as God’s people and we drift away from who we are supposed to be in Christ.

As I look at my own life, I’ll be very honest with you, I don't know where my life ends and Christ begins, in terms of serving the Lord. Obviously, when I commit sin, I know who that is. I just live my life, and I see God at work, its not me, its Christ. It's like Paul said in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

It is my prayer that you have been not only blessed by this message, that it will guide you in becoming a blessing to others. And in doing so, become an instrument of that blessing, truly living in the blessing of being God's chosen people.

May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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