Sunday, March 15

Ephesians 2:1-10

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

 

When I was a young girl, I wanted to know God. Once an incident occurred during which I felt His presence and love in me in a palpable way: I was in second grade, walking home from school on a spring day. I remember feeling joy as I talked to God in my heart. Another girl, a stranger, sped past me on her bicycle, then crashed on the curb and fell sprawling on the sidewalk. Oh that girl had such fear and pain, she couldn’t even cry at first! Great compassion welled up in my heart, compelling me to race to her and comfort her. The love and care of our heavenly Father flowed through my little-girl heart to supply both her and me with peace, comfort, safety, and joy.

In subsequent years, neglect, family dysfunction, and exploitation wounded my heart and led me to make bad choices to cope with my unmet needs. I did many things that broke my conscience. I did not understand how to come to my Father through Jesus to repent, confess, and be cleansed 1John 1:9. Layer upon layer of guilt and shame created a widening gap between God and me, and between other people and me. What a downward spiral of iniquity, isolation, misery, and deadness of heart!

As a young adult, I knew that someday I would have to get right with God. I longed to be friends with Him again and I knew what a real disciple of Jesus is like. But I felt completely unlovable, unwilling to give up my sins through which I tried to find some happiness, felt too far gone to ever come back. I was hiding and running and enslaved to sin.

Then the Lord sent one of His sons into my life, to reach out to me. How could a nice Christian guy have anything to do with a depraved, potty-mouthed, cynical sinner like me? He befriended me, he talked with me, eventually he challenged me with the gospel—the offer of God’s loving friendship to anyone who would just open up his heart and say, “OK—I quit being my own boss; my sins I am clinging to are no comparison for the love I now see You are offering me, so I yield to You; I cast my whole lot on You, Jesus.”

When I awoke next morning, I was a new person! 2Cor. 5:17 I felt light, and clean! Eph. 5:8,9 Shame had vanished! The sky looked bluer and the trees looked greener. I had been born again by the Spirit of the Lord! My desires were entirely different: I didn’t want the sinful things I used to crave; I wanted to talk with the Lord in my heart; and I couldn’t get enough of reading His Word the Bible. 1 Pet. 2:2.

When I first read Eph. 2:8.9 I knew this is MY story! The Lord came to me, when I was not even looking for Him. When I was His enemy because of sin, He took the initiative toward me. Rom. 5:8 I didn’t have to work or be good enough in order to get to God—the lie I had believed from the ruler of the kingdom of the air—Satan!– which had kept me running from God. Rather, God came to me by grace, and conferred goodness on me by putting His divine nature in me! 2Pet. 1:4 Now good works are simply the natural result of His life living out through the yielded me.

Dear Reader, none of your deeds, nor shame, nor despair, nor self-loathing is too terrible for God’s grace to erase. His kindness in Jesus Christ extends to YOU today! Stop turning away; receive the gift of Faith, from His grace, unto salvation, to become a son or daughter of God.

Dear Brother, Dear Sister– if indeed you are newly created in His nature and dead to your old fleshly nature with its corrupt thoughts and desires—let us do the good works He prepared for us to do. How marvelous that He will work through us to continue to seek the lost and befriend the sinner!

 

Prayer

Thank you, God, for your gifts of love and grace! We have been abundantly blessed through Jesus! Let us praise you and live out the new creation you placed within us through the Holy Spirit. You did so much for us, so today let us live for you. Amen.

 

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