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. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT)
2 But who will be able to stand up to that coming? Who can survive his appearance? He’ll be like white-hot fire from the smelter’s furnace. He’ll be like the strongest lye soap at the laundry. 3 He’ll take his place as a refiner of silver, as a cleanser of dirty clothes. He’ll scrub the Levite priests clean, refine them like gold and silver, until they’re fit for GOD, fit to present offerings of righteousness. Malachi 3:2-3 (MSG)
7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you. 13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 2 Corinthians 4:7-15 (NLT)
It usually sits up on my bookshelf at home – close at hand, but above the reach of little hands.
When I look at it, I cannot help remember what it was, think of its journey, admire what it has become, and the skill of the craftsman (Jim Adams of JDA Knives) that forged it.
You see, it may be an unusual hobby for a pastor, but I collect knives. (and a sword or two) And my JDA knives are quite special.
You see, that knife has had a lot of pressure over the years… it started out as a railroad spike, keeping a a railroad tie and the track joined together. An important job, but one with the pressure of the trains passing over it, the weather and heat and cold trying to dislodge it from what it was set in place to accomplish – keeping people and things heading toward their destination.
When it was time to be taken up, when it’s role was complete, it was tossed aside…useless perhaps…. or at least in minds other than Jim’s.
He took it, saw something, thought of a conversation and a need, and with heat, and pressure and force, took this old rusty knife and changed it into something.. beautiful, useful, practical (it’s wicked sharp). He has a craft that few do, and this knife is a masterpiece. He gave it to me one day… just walked in and wanted me to have it… I am still a little in shock. But very grateful.
The Eph. 2 passage above is one of my favorites, not just because of verses 8-9 – but because of 10. Many people focus on the first two… and quote them without completing the thought. But they just talk of the need for refining – for repurposing and the fact that God does it. But 10, ahh, that speaks of the finished product, a beautifully crafted instrument that our lives become..with all the sin and dross taken care of, with the rust and pitting rubbed out (like in the second passage). God’s masterpiece, His poiema ( we get poetiy from that) His Opus Dei – the work of God. He takes what is washed up, used, abused and turns it into something wonderful, something that He uses for a purpose.
We have a new purpose, a new mission, a new message to communicate. God uses every bit of us to do so,
The pressures we’ve dealt with, the storms we’ve endured, the sufferings we have wondered if we would survive…
And through all the heat, the pressure, God is at work forging someone who will be used for the greatest work..that of revealing Christ to others… of giving the hope that knowing God can bring, the awe that the Master Craftsman of life does care, does love, does know us, and will turn our lives into something beyond our ability to comprehend… He will make us a blessing to others…
So my question to all that are enduring heat – wondering why? even wondering if He is there…
Will you lean upon Him? depend upon Him? Let Him forrge you masterpeice….
And what is He forging you for????
- A Second Call to Biblical Teaching/Preaching… appeal to Christ and His word… (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Like Clay in the Potter’s Hands (markatstpauls.wordpress.com)
- The Refiner’s Fire (unveilinghope.com)
Devotional Thought of the Day.
It’s amazing the difference a word makes, or just a few letters ending words starting with “comm”. TO be precise “and” versus “ission”.
As I prepared my studies for this weeks sermon, the difference glares out to me. The word in Greek has, very definitely, the nature of commission. Yet over and over we translate it command. With that translation, we create a load of issues that are not really there.
If you commission something, a piece of art, a building, a musical piece ( I think of Mozart’s Requiem) any project, you give the scope of the work, what your expectations are when it is completed. It draws the boundaries of the work and brings definition to it. It is a project something that takes on beauty over time. And if the work is fulfilled, the one who commissioned it has caused a masterpiece to be created. It is about the end product, and the formation of it – a masterpiece.
A command is something with even harder definitions – I always think of an execute order in computer program. Print X, the sum of 3+4. Or the directive that is specific and immediate. Don’t do this, do that, go here, and that which is commanded must do what is to be done. The command executed, the project finished, then what?
When it comes to God, and what He would have us do, He is commissioning something, He is describing the parameters and vision for a project that is underdevelopment all our lives. His goal is a masterpiece, without flaw, something that will endure, and br praiseworthy and glorious. It’s far more than a moment by moment execution in blind obedience, its being formed and shaped and there is a goal. The goal is simply defined by one word – a relationship. The relationship we recognize when we see that He is our God, and when we also recognize that by His work, we are His people.
Indeed a masterpiece!
Yet how many times would we get in the way of that – would we decide to ignore that which He commissioned – to draw outside the lines, the parameters that a common to the commissioning. (SOme refer to this as disobedience – but its more – the is is that it is an attempt to destroy the masterpiece God commissioned – to ignore or mar His plan with what we want. It is like spraying grafitti over the artwork in the St Peter’s Basilica, it is like having someone “sit in” and overdub “Dust in the Wind” with a Kazoo.
Using commission brings a whole different understanding to why God draws the parameters for our lives the way He does. It reflects on that great verse of Paul in Eph 2:10. “2:10 We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life.” Ephesians 2:10 (NJB)
So to does commission create a more vivid picture of sin, as we destroy a masterpiece in the making, as we ignore the beauty that God would see in us…so that we create the havoc we think is …
Luckily we aren’t the one who holds the commission – that responsibility is belong’s to the Artist – to the One Isaiah calls the Potter, the One in Whom we are created. And in Christ, somehow, miraculously, that artwork we once thought was destroyed, is restored, brought back to life and beauty, healed and made whole. That was His commission – and the giftedness it took, literally was an investment of His life.
Thank God for that mercy, shown to us.
His people, His work.
May as we cry out Lord have mercy, respond with our lives, lived within that which He has commissioned.