I am not good with directions, hence the reason I love my GPS. Even so, I had to learn some shortcuts for my recent driving. I did this all without the GPS. I stepped out and left the old, familiar traveled roads. It was all about time management. Remember Psalm 90:12. If I spent too much time driving, other things would get neglected, plus my kids would not be happy if I was late.
Taking an adventure on these new paths has been a blessing. I did not feel rushed and I had extra time for much needed things. I was so glad that I did not settle for the old way. This reminded me of the direction of God. Often we like to return to the same old paths, but God doesn’t want us to return to the past. We aren’t meant to return to the old paths. He is doing a new thing. We need to continue along with Him forward, not turning back to where we once were.
Remember, God is pruning you and growing you. The place you were at, you needed to get through. But that doesn’t mean you are to return. Things are different. You have changed. God has a new path for you to travel. After you travel that path, there will be another season, followed by another. God will continue to do a new thing in your life so you can be made into the image of Jesus Christ. Staying on the same old roads will never get you there. Being comfortable does not happen in a life with Jesus. We do not stay in the familiar; we walk into the unknown. Continue to press forward where God leads, moving forward in faith.
Read Ephesians 4:17-24.
Every few weeks I have the task of cutting Marci’s hair. She is never too excited to get groomed. At times she will try to run away because she knows after her hair clipping comes the bath. During the whole ordeal of getting Marci clean, she manages to get me all dirty. When all is said and done, my clothing is all wet and covered with hair so I end up needing a shower.
We all need a cleaning, but a different kind of cleaning. But when Jesus takes off our dirty rags, He does not then become dirty. He is righteous. He is holy. When we encounter Jesus, when we put our trust in Him, when we allow Him to move in our lives, the Bible says that we become “white as snow.” We become righteous.
Today, praise the Lord for reaching out and removing those dirty rags you were carrying around. Thank Him for cleaning you up so that you are free to live a life with His righteousness. If you are still carrying around those dirty rags, understand you don’t have to carry them any longer: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV).
“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” – Isaiah 64:6 [NLT]
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18 [ESV]
All you do is STRANGE and WONDERFUL (Psalm 139:14)
We are clay. You are the Potter. We are all the work of Your hand (Isaiah 64:8)
God is Rich in Mercy
- By Grace saved through faith
- Gift of God – not works – not fulfillment of Law’s demands least man boast
Because of Great Love for Us
Even Loved us when Dead in Sin – He made us Alive with Christ
- In fellowship with Christ – sit down together with Him in heaven
- In union with Christ – raised together with Him
- He gave us the very life of Christ Himself
We are His Workmanship
- In Jesus Christ – recreated in Christ / born anew
- For good works – fruit of faith / done for God’s glory
- Prepared beforehand/ predestined / prearranged / made ready
GOD DOES THE MAKING AND THE SAVING – It is FINISHED!
|I am accepted||I am secure||I am significant|
|I am God’s child (John 1:12)||I am free from condemnation (Romans 8:1-2)||I am salt & light of earth (Matthew 5:13-14)|
|I have been justified through Christ (Romans 5:1)||I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor. 1:21-22)||I am chosen & appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)|
|I am united with the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17)||I am citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20)||I am a personal witness of Christ (Act 1:8)|
|I am a member of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:27)||I can find grace & mercy in time of need (Hebrews 4:16)||I am God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16)|
|I am a saint (Ephesians 1:1)||I am born of God; evil one cannot touch me (1 Jn. 5:18)||I am God’s co-worker (1 Corinthians 3:9)|
|I have been redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:14)||I can’t be separated from the love of God (Rom. 8:35-39)||I am seated with Christ in heavenly realm (Eph. 2:6)|
|I have access to God thru the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18)||I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love & a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7)||I am God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)|
Bible Study Questions:
- What was our condition before Christ?
- What motivated God to save us? What does it mean to be saved?
- What did God do even though we were dead in trespasses? How?
- In verse 2:9, Paul speaks about salvation not being a reward for good things we have done. Why was this necessary? What is our part of the salvation process?
- The passage speaks about good works that were prepared in advance. What does this mean? What does this mean for you? How is this different from what the world thinks of good works?
- In Ephesians 2:10, Paul says that we are “God’s workmanship.” What does this mean to you? Why is it sometimes difficult to see yourself as such?
This is one part of a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on Ephesians. The 12 weeks include:
As you look through old clothing, you might find a pair of old shorts that are not even able to be donated. They are beyond salvageable. They are discolored. They are frayed. They have holes. The fabric is worn hard and perhaps stained. They are worthless.
God had Jeremiah take a linen belt, or for us to better understand, some linen shorts, and wear them without any washing. Then he was directed to take them off and hide them. When they were retrieved, they were worthless because they did not receive the proper care.
The people of God, which includes us today, are to cling to God. But like the people of this time, the people that went from clinging to God and His Law to burying themselves in idolatry and sin, we have a great problem with corruption that can take away our worth to the Kingdom. Thankfully, Jesus Christ can wash us and we become as white as snow. When we come to know Christ, we do not have to be a pair of old shorts. We are made new. We are forgiven. We are redeemed. We are restored.
God told me, “Go and buy yourself some linen shorts. Put them on and keep them on. Don’t even take them off to wash them.” So I bought the shorts as God directed and put them on. Then God told me, “Take the shorts that you bought and go straight to Perath and hide them there in a crack in the rock.” So I did what God told me and hid them at Perath. Next, after quite a long time, God told me, “Go back to Perath and get the linen shorts I told you to hide there.” So I went back to Perath and dug them out of the place where I had hidden them. The shorts by then had rotted and were worthless.
-Jeremiah 13:1-7 [MSG]
During the hot summer months, chocolate, gum, and lip balm do no fair too well. The heat does a good job to melt the items. Being a Hershey girl, I love chocolate. When you purchase chocolate at a store, by the time you carry it from the store to your car, the chocolate is already melting from the high temperatures. I always advise my kids to not open it, but instead to put it in the refrigerator so it can harden again. When the chocolate is eventually opened, it is interesting to see the new form of the chocolate.
Heat is often affiliated with changing the shapes of items so it’s no surprise to read about heat in the Bible. We read and the refiner’s fire and the furnace of affliction. We also read about taking a new form. When we accept Christ, we start to become a new creation.
There are times when we can feel the heat of the furnace of affliction. We are being pruned and built up. We are being challenged. We are being tested like gold. We find ourselves in these situations because we are called to be a holy people and little by little God gets us to where He created us to be as His child with a purpose. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV)
“I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'” – Zechariah 13:9 [NLT]
I have a problem with clothing. It seems no matter how hard I try, I am always staining my shirts. As a result, I typically do not purchase clothing that is white. Who wants to have a shirt that so easily shows every mistake? Nonetheless, I wanted this one shirt and it only came in the color white.
It only took a few wears and the incident occurred. I was out in the rain and my red hooded sweatshirt bled into the collar of my white shirt. I did not even realize it was happening until it was too late. Now though I was not wanting to purchase a white shirt in the first place, I was now trying my hardest to make this shirt white again. I scrubbed it with bleach. I got out my stain removal stick. I used peroxide. I tried every trick I could think of and I even resorted to searching online for other options.
In the end, I could not repair the damage done to my shirt. The only thing I could do was to change the color of the shirt to adapt to this new color that was found on the collar. There was no other option for me, and so I made the change and my shirt is as good as new.
This incident reminded me of sin and how it invades our life, even at times when we don’t realize it. It reminded me of how only through Christ and His blood are we able to be clean. We can try every stain remover, but nothing will remove the damage of our sins but Christ who cleanses us so that we are as white as snow.
This episode also got me thinking about how we are so stubborn to change. There are times when God is moving us in one direction, but we dig our feet into the ground and stand firm in our position. We think we know best. As I worked so hard to have my shirt stay white (which I never wanted in the first place), the shirt ended up being pink. Perhaps pink is the better color.
It took so long for me to fight the color change. I thought I knew best. God knows best. God’s plan for my life and for your life is the best plan. We can avoid the white shirt because we don’t wish to go down that path, but He can make that the only option. We can try to work for our salvation or sidestep through each and every sin, but only Christ can cleanse us and bring us true salvation. We can fight every twist and turn, but in the end, if God wants the shirt to be pink, it’s going to be pink.
When we accept God and His grace into our lives, and when we stop fighting and reach out our hands and say, “Here I am,” it is then that we can achieve true peace. Today I rejoice that I have a pink shirt– a shirt made new– because I know that God is making me new.
“Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” – Ephesians 4:24 [NASB]