Daily Archives: January 19, 2023

Mess or Masterpiece

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Mess or Masterpiece

From: Crosswalk.com

By Ashley Moore

“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 2:10, NLT

I read recently, “a piece of art doesn’t have to be perfect or finished to be a masterpiece.” The author further observed that what makes art valuable is the story behind the piece. While the book was secular, there are some spiritual truths to these words.

First, whether we acknowledge the message of the Bible or not, God has set eternity in the hearts of man and written His Word on our hearts and in our minds (Ecclesiastes 3:11Hebrews 10:16). Secondly, because we are made in His image, everything we create tells a story of God to those around us (Genesis 1:27). Our lives tell a story whether we have surrendered to Christ or rejected God.

What kind of story is your life telling? Does it point to the gospel message? The Bible calls those of us in Christ Jesus, His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). A masterpiece is an artist’s creation displaying his or her mastery and skill level to onlookers. A masterpiece is an outstanding creation that proves an artist’s abilities and qualifications.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually feel like a work of art. I relate more to a messy finger painting made by a toddler than an artistic masterpiece. But then, I recall the author’s comments from the book laced with art jargon, and I remember, we don’t have to be perfect or finished to be an artist’s masterpiece. So, here are two ways we display His workmanship to the world around us, even if our lives aren’t perfectly packaged with neat little bows.

Our Stories of Redemption

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT

A transformation from death to life is an abrupt change. Whether you grew up in the church your whole life and finally repented from knowing about God to knowing God, or you left a prodigal lifestyle to follow Jesus, your life tells a story to the world around you.

For me, this looked like leaving a life of numbing my pain with alcohol and relationships to looking to God’s Word for healing and placing Him at the center of my relationships. While my outward actions took a while to change, the drastic shift in my desire to satisfy worldly cravings changing to wanting to please God was enough to tell a story. What about you? What has God redeemed you from?

Our Impact on Others

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5, ESV

Even if no one ever acknowledges the changes in you, those closest to us will be impacted by our transformation. As humans, we were created with mirror neurons that cause us to mimic the people around us. The longer a person is around us, the more we pick up their mannerisms and little sayings. And vice versa. As we flow with living water, the people around us will begin to flourish.

And while you won’t be perfect or quite finished yet, you will be His masterpiece because just like a marvelous painting tells the story of its artist, your life transformation will point to the One who knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). Our lives tell a story, may the redeemed say so (Psalm 107:2).

People are God’s work of art. Our lives either tell the story of what happens when we disregard His call to truth, or they tell the story of His redemption and its power to transform us. I love that no matter the current stage of becoming we are in, we display the workmanship, the qualifications, and the worthiness of our worship of our creator God. Just like a painting at every stage, the beautiful brush strokes are telling a story of the artist holding the brush.

Streams in the Desert – January 19

  • 202319 Jan

Men ought always to pray and not to faint (Luke 18:1).

“Go to the ant.” Tammerlane used to relate to his friends an anecdote of his early life. “I once,” he said, “was forced to take shelter from my enemies in a ruined building, where I sat alone many hours. Desiring to divert my mind from my hopeless condition, I fixed my eyes on an ant that was carrying a grain of corn larger than itself up a high wall. I numbered the efforts it made to accomplish this object. The grain fell sixty-nine times to the ground; but the insect persevered, and the seventieth time it reached the top. This sight gave me courage at the moment, and I never forgot the lesson.
–The King’s Business

Prayer which takes the fact that past prayers have not been answered as a reason for languor, has already ceased to be the prayer of faith. To the prayer of faith the fact that prayers remain unanswered is only evidence that the moment of the answer is so much nearer. From first to last, the lessons and examples of our Lord all tell us that prayer which cannot persevere and urge its plea importunately, and renew, and renew itself again, and gather strength from every past petition, is not the prayer that will prevail.
–William Arthur

Rubenstein, the great musician, once said, “If I omit practice one day, I notice it; if two days, my friends notice it; if three days, the public notice it.” It is the old doctrine, “Practice makes perfect.” We must continue believing, continue praying, continue doing His will. Suppose along any line of art, one should cease practicing, we know what the result would be. If we would only use the same quality of common sense in our religion that we use in our everyday life, we should go on to perfection.

The motto of David Livingstone was in these words, “I determined never to stop until I had come to the end and achieved my purpose.” By unfaltering persistence and faith in God he conquered.

Today’s Devotions

By: Charles Spurgeon

Morning

January 19

Genesis 19:12-14 12The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here–sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.” 14So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

Angels had come to deliver Lot from the city of Sodom before it was destroyed. The angels were willing to deliver all those related to Lot. I wonder if the outcry to the LORD against its people was from the citizens of Sodom. Sin has a way of torturing those it has mastered. The people refused to be freed from the sin by forsaking it. To stop the misery that sin caused, the people had to have their lives cut short.

Lot warned his sons-in-law of the impending doom, but they seemed to think he was joking. Why wouldn’t they take him seriously? Was it because Lot’s life was so compromised that they couldn’t imagine he would be the special recipient of an angelic mercy mission? After all, he sat in the gate as an official of Sodom, and he probably joked around with the best of them. He probably fit right in since he had become a judge. I believe his compromised life caused his message to sound like a joke.

There is a no less serious judgment coming on all the earth (2Peter 3:7). We have been given a message and a chance to go out and warn others too. When they see our lives, do they consider our message a joke? Or do our lives add credence to our message? The way we live will add power to, or detract from, the message. Let us live in such a way as to add conviction to the words we speak so that others may be spared from the impending wrath of God.

Consider: Does my life show that I believe my message?

Grace exalted—boasting excluded

‘Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.’ Romans 3:27

Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 3:1–14

There are two ways by which man might have been for ever blessed. The one was by works: ‘This do and thou shalt live; be obedient and receive the reward.’ The other plan was: ‘Receive grace and blessedness as the free gift of God; stand as a guilty sinner having no merit, and as a rebellious sinner deserving the very reverse of goodness, but stand there and receive all thy good things, simply, wholly, and alone of the free love and sovereign mercy of God.’ Now, the Lord has not chosen the system of works. The word ‘law’, as used twice in the text, is employed, it is believed by many commentators, out of compliment to the Jews, who were so fond of the word, that their antagonism might not be aroused; but it means here, as elsewhere in Scripture, plan, system, method. There were two plans, two systems, two methods, two spirits,—the plan of works and the plan of grace. God has once for all utterly refused the plan of merit and of works, and has chosen to bless men only, and entirely through the plan, or method, or law of faith. This indeed is the bottom of theology, and he who can understand this clearly, it seems to me, can never be very heterodox; orthodoxy must surely follow, and the right teaching of God must be understood when we once for all are able to discriminate with accuracy between that which is of man—works, and that which is of God—faith, and grace received by faith. Now the plan of salvation by works is impossible for us.

For meditation: There are still two basic ideas of salvation—God’s way of sending the Lord Jesus Christ down to earth to lift to heaven all who trust in his death on the cross (John 3:16); and man’s way of trying to climb heavenwards by some other route, even though the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way back to God (John 14:6). Which path are you on—the one called ‘God’s way’ or the one called ‘My way’? They lead to different places (Matthew 7:13–14).