Christianity 201

June 3, 2022

What We Were Made For

(For the grammar purists cringing over today’s title, yes, you’re right, one doesn’t end a sentence with a preposition!)

Today we return to a devotional that I personally receive by email each day, “Breakfast of Champions” by Andy and Gina Elmes. To get these sent to you, go to Great Big Life and click on Breakfast of Champions. (Oh, no! There’s that hanging preposition again!) This is two devotionals which were meant to go together.

Created By, Created For

by Gina Elmes

 Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

These verses are fundamental and foundational to understanding real Christianity. They speak of who we are and how we came into existence as new creations, and also what we were created for, our purpose. Within these verses we see two important components; when kept together they produce effective Christian living but if divided can produce spiritual laziness and ineffective living in the life of the believer.

The first and most important thing we discover is that we are the produce of His grace (verse 9-10); we did not bring ourselves into salvation, justification and righteousness, rather it was all God outside of our help or assistance. When we were dead in our sins He saved us (made us alive) by His grace, and we enter into all He has given us and achieved for us by faith alone.

In this we can compare ourselves to Adam, the first man God created. There are many great practical and spiritual parallels to us and him, especially that his first day was God’s last day. When we read the beginnings of Genesis we see God make everything and do everything that was needed for life and existence, then finally He creates man and positions him in His finished, completed work. It’s the same with us in our new-creation standing: God completed everything He needed to do to save us and restore us and then through Christ brought us into being and positioned us in His finished work.

As Adam was so are we; we are God’s workmanship, not finding our origins in our ability but rather in His grace, that which He did of His own potential outside of our assistance. An understanding of grace must leave you looking at God alone without any boasting of things added or achieved by you. We are indeed His workmanship, created naturally by Him (we did not come from monkeys or explosions, rather we all find our ancestry in that first man and woman, Adam and Eve), but also spiritually we have been recreated by Him in Christ.

If this is all Ephesians offered us it would be more than enough – we are left created by God and restored and re-positioned by the perfect work of His Son as a gift of His goodness and mercy. But the truth is it does not end there. The apostle Paul takes a breath and continues with the same storyline as He announces in verse 10 that, “We are God’s workmanship, created for good works, and these having been prepared for us in advance”. Wow! Created by God for a purpose – that’s true destiny. This means that there is a proper response to grace and this response is not laziness or sitting on our ‘blessed assurance’ rather Good works.

He Has Always Been A God of Grace

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” Genesis 6:8 NKJV

God has always been a God of grace. Grace is God doing for us what we could never do for ourselves and giving us blessings that we don’t deserve. This is not a new thing that we see only in the New Testament. God says that His character never changes so the grace-filled God we have come to know through Christ has always been grace-filled. The sacrifice of Jesus did not change God into a ‘nice guy.’ He has always been the gracious God of His people who has been helping them and looking out for them.

The first place in the Bible where the word grace is mentioned is way back in the book of Genesis where Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord in a time when the culture around him was so evil that God was going to destroy them. Noah was by no means a perfect man and still did wrong at times but he was considered righteous by God because he had faith in Him and God saved him and his family.

You can even see God’s grace directly written into the law!! In Deuteronomy 15 all financial debt was to be cancelled in Israel every 7 years. In the same chapter we read that all slaves were to be released every 7 years. Also, farmers were told not to glean all the way to the edges of a field during a harvest but some was to be left for the poor to collect so they would have food for themselves and their families. Foreigners living among the Israelites were commanded by God to be treated with kindness. It’s quite easy to see the kindness, compassion, and grace God had on the vulnerable; those who were struggling and those held in bondage and could not be freed by their own strength or ability.

We all have weaknesses in our lives in some area. Maybe you struggle with health issues, lack of finances, loneliness, addictions, etc, God wants you to trust Him and remember His gracious nature and know He desires to extend grace toward you. He knows you cannot face your problems on your own with success and that you need Him. When we put our trust in Him we don’t consider our weakness but rather His strength that will enable us to succeed.

December 22, 2011

Are You a Builder?

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…Or a wrecker?

I’m not the kind of guy who does heavy construction projects, but a few years back while “wrecking” the premises at a former real estate office and getting ready to “build” a new bookstore, I was reminded of this poem.    As we each try to find our place in the Body of Christ, this poem reminds us all (me included) of the importance of keeping our attitude right.    The comments following the poem itself were on one of the websites where we located this version of it.

I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho, heave, ho and a lusty yell
They swung a beam and a wall fell.

I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled?
Like the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He laughed as he replied, “No, indeed,
Just common labor is all I need.

I can easily wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken years to do.”
I asked myself as I went away
Which of these roles have I tried to play?

Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by rule and square?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?

Oh Lord, let my life and labors be
That which build for eternity.

Why do so many of us find it gratifying to be sideline cynics smothering ideas in a relentless barrage of “what ifs” and warnings? As the poem points out, it’s much easier to be a wrecker than a builder.

Of course it’s wise and necessary to challenge assumptions, test theories and predict problems, but that should be the beginning not an end. We should measure our value by the number of balloons we helped launch, not the number we deflated.

A builder sees problems as challenges and seeks solutions; a dismantler sees problems in every solution. A builder sees flaws and tries to fix them; a dismantler sees flaws in every fix.

This is one of three “think” pieces today at C201