Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


17 Mess or Masterpiece? – Part 5

Ephesians 2:7-10

7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

After seeing that we are, timeless, priceless, part of a greater picture and we are an original we now come to the fifth declaration:

  1. I am lovable

I met my wife Angel in college and after dating for several months we came to our first time apart when at Christmas break I headed back home to Africa. Knowing that we would be apart for many weeks and without any way to communicate, it was way back before e-mail, I decided to write her a letter for every day that we were apart. Each day we were apart she got to open up an envelope and read a new letter filled with my love for her. She still has that stack of love letters. That’s what God’s word is to us a colossal collection of love letters from the Creator to His children. Have you read His letter of love to you? Can you imagine if Angel had never opened my letters and never read about my love for her? That is how many of us are living, we have the greatest love letter of all time and we have never opened it up to hear about God’s lavish love. You need to read it, because if you don’t you will never realize how much you matter to God, and how much you are loved by Him? One of the most famous verses in the Bible tells us about this truth, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world (who’s in the world?), that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish but have eternal life.” You are loved by God, but when was the last time you dwelt on this truth and when was the last time you shared this truth with those around you. This week I want to challenge you to tell ten people that they are loved. Isaiah 54:10 reminds us: “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken.” The grace of God assures us that there is nothing we can do that will cause God to love us any more or any less. His love is unfailing, which means that when we wake in the morning, we don’t have to wonder if God loves us. Many times we don’t feel very lovable and so we hold back from the Lord’s love. But let me encourage you that no matter where you are or what you have done God longs to love you, the great question is will you let Him love you? Not only are we loveable but the next declaration is this:

  1. I am a work in progress.

This is probably the most challenging declaration first because we are impatience. We tend to forget that we are a work in progress and so we expect and demand perfection from ourselves. We get impatient with our personal progress especially during those times when we find ourselves overtaken by sin. But there is a balance in the Christian life that we need to not only recognize but accept, and that is, we are sinners in the process of sanctification. While we are positionally holy, set free from every sin by the blood of Christ we know that we still sin, as 1 John 1:10 states. That’s why the Bible also refers to sanctification as a practical experience of our separation unto God. Progressive sanctification is the effect of obedience to the Word of God in one’s life. The truth is that we are sinning saints who someday will leave this world of sin behind. Paul pointed to the truth that we are a work in progress in Philippians 3:12-14 12 “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Coming to grips with this truth helps us to deal with our failure and our tendency to letting our impatience push God’s work. We need to remember that God is working at His pace, not ours. The second challenge is found in the area of criticism. Not only do we become impatient with our progress but we tend to forget that other people are works in progress. As a result, we are often critical when it comes to others. We are quick to say “Be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” But do we apply this same truth to others? The same work that God needed to do, or may still need to do in you is the same work that He needs to do in others. Often we are way too quick to criticize others, and when we do we are actually being critical of God’s work in their lives. We are like Peter who just two minutes after affirming that Jesus was God went on to be critical of Christ’s plan to die on the cross. Jesus’ response to this criticism was to say “Get behind me, Satan!” We need to start replacing our critical spirit with a Christian one. When we find that critical spirit creeping up we need to say, “Get behind me, Satan!” Many of us get frustrated with others yet how long did it take for us to get it, and why did it take so long? What if others had given up on you and criticized you. One of the reasons it has taken a while for me to get it and grow in a particular area in my Christian walk is because I was thick headed and stubborn. But God in His mercy and grace didn’t give up on me. Instead of criticizing and looking down on others we can come alongside and encourage them. What areas are you growing in, where do you need to make progress? Who do you need to come alongside and champion instead of criticizing?

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16 Mess or Masterpiece? – Part 4

Ephesians 2:7-10

7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

The Bible points to God as the Artist, Creator, and Master Craftsman, which is clearly reflected in the first 5 words of the Bible, “In the beginning, God created!” From the beginning of Genesis, we see that He produces boundless beauty, of which man is the crowning jewel of His creation. As David stated in Psalm 139:14, as he writes about God’s workmanship and attention to detail “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–and how well I know it.” Paul also brings home this idea in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Scripture shouts to the world about our worth, we are living, breathing pieces of art, created by God to live productive, meaning-filled lives. God wants to paint on the canvas of our lives and produce a painting of exquisite beauty. We hold the brushes but if we give them to Him, if we give Him control of our lives, He has the power to transform us into masterpieces. In His hands, we can become priceless pieces of art. Even if your life is a major mess in the hand of the Almighty Artist, common, everyday materials become masterpieces, because God has the power to transform us from common to cherished. One of the things that has always fascinated me about America is a common occurrence, garage or yard sales. One of the things that amazes me is not only what people will sell but the fact that people will buy anything. There are things I see that make me wonder, “Who would buy that?” But the thing that really intrigues me is that regardless of what people say an object is worth it is actually only worth as much as someone is will to pay for it. Throughout my life, there have been times when I have felt like an item in a garage sale. Maybe there have been seasons in your life where you felt like you didn’t really matter, or that you were not very insignificant. Times where you questioned your worth, but regardless of what other people say you are not insignificant to God and throughout His word He goes to great lengths to prove that. You are priceless you are His masterpiece. So let me ask you how much are you worth? If an item is worth the amount someone is willing to pay for it, then take a look at how much God was willing to paid for you, Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us…” The sad reality is that some of you are thinking well there is no way that He could have died for me because I have too much sin in my life. But look at the last part of the verse, it says “…while we were still sinners.” The price God paid was for all of us, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Even in our sin, He valued us. Not only are we a priceless, timeless, work of God but the fourth declaration is:

  1. I am an original.

You are a one of a kind, a unique original.  An original is not some cookie cutter photocopy or mass produced print of the original. Lately, there have been several fakes show up in the art world, paintings that looked like an original priceless painting but turned out to be a fake. You are an original masterpiece, the real deal. Someday we will stand before our Creator and He is not going to look at you and say, “I sure wish that you would have been more like Charles Spurgeon or Billy Graham. Instead, God is going to say, “I wish you had lived out who I created you to be.” In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul writes about us being “original.” He wrote that we make a mockery of God’s brilliance and His creativity when we don’t understand how original we are, by comparing and contrasting ourselves with others. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says, “I wouldn’t dare say that I am as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, and measuring themselves by themselves. What foolishness!” We are immersed in a culture that is not only driven but comparisons but thrives on them. We compare everything, paychecks, physiques, bank accounts, houses, cars, clothes, sadly we even compare kids. We may pretend that we don’t, but we do, and we do it to try and gain a sense of worth based on being better than others. Not only is it a false sense of worth but it comes at a high price. Part of that price we pay as we have to constantly work to feel worth, because it’s steeped in human effort instead of His effort. The other part of the price is paid by those we put down, who are made to feel worthless so we can feel worth. Instead of creating worth we rob worth. When we compare ourselves with others we end up cheapening God’s masterpiece. It’s unfair to compare because we are originals. It’s time to stop comparing yourself to others, you are an original created by God Himself, His signature is all over you. Not only did He create you but you are made in His image, Genesis 1:27 “So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them.” We are original pieces of work, with the fingerprints of our creator all over us. We have not been called to copycat and duplicate each other, but rather to live as original pieces of art that give glory to God. Sadly there are many who instead of living out who God created them to be are trying to copy others and be like them. We see actors or famous sports stars or we watch others at church or at work and wish we lived their lives or had their successes. But the truth is you were not made to be someone else, you were made to be you. You are an original and its time you started living as one. Are you living out who God created and called you to be?