Ordination: The Sermon

My dad baptized me when I was 11 years old. And a couple of weeks ago, while I was 31 years old, my dad preached my ordination service.

It was about as special a day as one can have. Here is a copy of his sermon notes.

Let God Work in You

Ephesians 3

To Know: Every believer must stay rooted in Christ for strength to minister.

To Do: Look for ways God is at work in you and other believers.

Alternative Titles:

Let God Work in You

Call to Ministry

Fulfill Your Ministry

Reflect Christ

Setting: Ministry ordination message. Sara Robb 2015-02-08, Scott Boulevard, Decatur Georgia

Summary: Stay rooted in Christ for the power to minister to others.

Key Text: Ephesians 3


What would I like for someone to have said at my ordination?

Actually, I’ve had two ordinations, both rather simple – one to be recognized as a minister in Brazil, another to be recognized as a minister in the United States. Whether in the context of ordination, or daily Christian living, I would like someone to help me think bigger – to help me see how to serve best, and to remind me to keep growing.

What is ordination?

An ordination is a recognition of continuity of ministry that already has started. It is a way to recognize that the person reflects what we understand to be the essence of the gospel message and calling.

Ordination is a prayer for the future of that person’s ministry. It is as if a large group of believers has created a cheerleading squad and are cheering boldly for the person being ordained.

Ordination is a challenge to serve. The purpose of ordination is to recognize people who are equipped to help the church fulfill its mission; to help all of us make the good news known!

With that thought, I want to look at Paul’s prayer for the people in the Ephesian church (Ephesians 3). His prayer was not only for officially-recognized leaders or ministers. Actually, the prayer speaks powerfully to how a person fulfills any role of ministry. The prayer is my prayer for Sara as she continues her ministry.


First, recognize that the prayer of Ephesians 3 is in the context of a mystery passage.

Ephesians 3:2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.

Who likes a mystery?

The passage states clearly that the mystery had to do with bringing unexpected people together.

The gospel does present a mysterious theme – unity of different people. How fascinating that unity is one of the greatest challenges of humankind.

Who would have thought we would come together from such different backgrounds. If you are surprised, welcome. You’re not alone. Since the first sermon Peter preached, people have been surprised, and even shocked, at how Christ brings people together.

I suppose the mystery starts with how Sara and I are were brought together. Every baby is a miracle. When Nancy and I prayed for a baby, Sara’s adoption was God’s answer to our prayer. As her dad, she helped me see the world from a new perspective. She eagerly embraced faith. Even as a child (2-3 years old), she would hold pretend church with her dolls and live pets, offering them communion and baptizing them in the tiny swimming pool set up in our back yard.

Sara was great at building bridges to unify people when she was very young. She translated for me when she was two and I was still trying to learn Portuguese. Then she later translated for missionaries in Mexico and Guatemala, building bridges from mission teams to the people they were serving.

Sara has challenged my faith. She is one of the most generous and compassionate people I have ever met. And so it is also a mystery how God can teach me so much from one of my own children.

Another mystery of unity is that I am from a church that does not ordain women. So Sara’s experience and ministry has challenged me to recognize alternative perspectives about roles in God’s kingdom.

What a mystery that we are here together. God at Work in You 2015 Glenn Robb, 2

Here’s Paul’s prayer…

  1. Serve from God’s Power, Not Your Own (3:14-17)

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

Our prayer is that every believer, especially those recognized as leaders, will serve from an inner strength that comes only from God. Ministry can be overwhelming, bewildering and frustrating – whether paid or not. When properly seen, our task to serve is always greater than our resources. The scope of our mission is beyond imagination. So, what keeps a person from giving up of exhaustion, or giving in to self-centered temptation? It is Christ who dwells within your heart. And so, we always must serve from God’s power, not our own!

  1. Understand Christ’s Love (3:17-19)

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesains 3:17-19)

You need to have your roots planted firmly in knowledge of the love of Christ. That is how to have power. Some stop there, just wanting power. But notice that the power he gives is to understand how much Christ loves you. Notice that an understanding of his love is better than knowing all the facts about all the religions.

Christ is crazy about you. He is seeking you now! When your heart strays from him, your behavior will stray from what is good. So pursue that relationship… spend the time, put him in your schedule, talk, plan, build trust … like people do naturally to build relationships!

I know that the only way your spiritual bucket is going to get filled up is to understand the love of Christ. That’s what it means to be overflowing with the fullness of God as Paul desired for us. He also said the love of Christ is wide, long, high and deep. I don’t know how wide you can think, or how long you can imagine, or how high you can see, or how deep you can picture, but it is not enough. You simply cannot fully grasp how much Christ loves you, which is why I want you to think bigger. I want you to understand Christ’s love so you can think bigger about Christ, then bigger about what he can do in you!

  1. Let God Work (3:20-21)

When you recognize that Jesus is all you need, that he is everything, then God will do more in your weakness than you are capable of imagining. Your life has purpose and meaning. Your life counts.

Listen to the end of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

How much can God do? More than I can imagine.

You are not able to imagine the ways God can work in and through you.

According to this verse, God be glorified in us (as a part of the church) and in Christ.

I’m Sara’s adopted dad, but we all are adopted by God into his family. He loves you in the same way as he loves Jesus as his “natural” first born son. Your adopted dad owns it all! And he loves you more than anything! He’s crazy about you!

And he can use you to bring others together with Christ, together with one another, and together against Satan’s attacks on our world. How much bigger or better can it get?

So… What would I have wanted someone to say at my ordination? The same thing that Scripture says to you now…

Don’t hold back. Live your life in Christ.

And think bigger about how he can work in you!


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