Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling—one Lord, one faith, one baptism,one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)
I love these words Paul wrote while he was a prisoner. I picture Paul as the Spirit overcomes him and he writes exhaled words of God as a letter to the Ephesian church. The words found in this letter, though written to people from another time and another place, still strike such heavy meaning thousands of years later in a world seemingly gone mad. Isn’t that the beauty of God’s Word? His words are not bound by space or time. The words He breathed out then are still what we are inhaling today.
I read those words and my mind races just as my heart beats quick. I feel Him. His presence is near. It is not a question or a suggestion, it is eyes locking with mine and He says, “Walk worthy.” Maybe I should feel angst at such a command…but I back up a little and I read through the first three chapters of Ephesians.
This scripture reminds me of my righteousness attained through Christ. I remember his gift of grace and of my new identity in Christ. So I can quickly remove the fear that He is calling me to walk a life of self-sanctification. He is, rather, calling me to walk a life that reflects all that I have received in Him. I can revel in the hope and truth that the first three chapters of Ephesians give. Because He is worthy and my life reflects Him living in me, I can walk worthy. Not a perfect life, but a life that is full of grace and one which strives to bring Him glory. But, what is worthy?
Called to Unity
My eyes travel and these words stand out: humility, gentleness, patience, accepting one another in love. Then this:diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. A call to unity. I cringe.
The struggle is there. A unified body is a great idea and can be found…until you mention your political opinion or until you mention who you voted for last election. Then the beautiful rope of unity begins to unravel and tangle, leaving a mess with knots so tight it has become a useless blob on the floor.
Walk worthy.So there it is again. However, I also see something else: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” Did you catch that? Who [God] is above all and through all and through all in all. Does that cause anyone else to catch a breath of relief? There is no fine print, no ifs, ands, or buts, no political figure, no political party. There is nothing but God. HE IS ALL.
So where does that leave us?
As the political comments, remarks, jabs, and opinions become more prevalent each year, let us not forget what we know to be true. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and above all, He is where our identity is found. We can rejoice with our friends, our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, that our hope and joy is in Him. Our desire is to walk worthy as children called by His name. By this, we will show the world that His Spirit unites us as the body of Christ. Our unity is not through political opinion, party, or affiliation. Don’t hang your hopes on anyone other than the One whose purpose was to come to earth and rescue us through His death and resurrection.
This year, let us seek unity as believers no matter which political box we check. I pray that we will embrace a Christ-like humility, radiate His gentleness, and dwell in His patience. My prayer is that we will accept one another through His love and that we will bediligent to keep the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.
This season, I invite you to embrace weakness. We have been gifted something very precious and glorious in and through weakness. Weakness needs, weakness relies, and weakness depends upon something bigger…something greater. While the thought of our weaknesses may cause you to feel exposed and vulnerable, I invite you to discover the comfort that is found in the knowledge and truth of what is at the core of your weaknesses–HIS STRENGTH.
We have been given the ability, through our weaknesses, to experience a grace that is perfect, a grace that is sufficient. Through the very thing that singles us out and tempts us to feel defeat, is the very thing that calls us out and invites us to experience a power that is perfected by our God and King. Imagine, what was meant to hold back and what was meant to crush, is what has now been redeemed and reclaimed for victory. We are no longer bound by weakness, but rather, we are now vessels experiencing His strength, power, and grace because of it.
Seek out your weaknesses. Instead of hiding from them, find them and surrender them to the One who is seeking to use them. Greater are the things accomplished through Him than anything that could ever be done on our own. Find redemption for what is weak and boast in it.
Prayer Over Our Hearts
Dear Father, thank you for being enough. Thank you for your grace and your strength. Today God, I want my weaknesses that I so often try and hide to find their way to you. I surrender my weaknesses to you, oh Lord. Your strength is perfect and I cling to that today. I rejoice in the very weakness I have been given, so that you can show yourself mighty in and through them. May you be glorified in all things. In the precious name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
Romans 6:4 (ESV)
The Gift of Newness
I love seeing something old and forgotten come to life with a beauty and purpose. My husband has the amazing gift of taking the most unwanted and hideous of items and restoring it into something beautiful and new. He has an eye for lovely. When nobody else sees the underlying beauty, he sees it. He sees past the rubbish formation of the castoff to the beauty and purpose of what it has the potential to be. When he is finished with a project, the transformation always leaves me in awe. He goes beyond mere makeover. Most of the time, he guts the projects, exposing every blemished and warped piece. This allows him to do his work. Usually, he covers or restores flaws. But sometimes, the very thing once seen as flawed is what now makes it the masterpiece it has become.
I can’t help but see the comparison to what God has done. My own life–once deeply flawed, broken, and indiscernible from rubbish–was given to the Master Craftsman. My life received more than a mere makeover, for He was much more attentive to the inward transformation. I experienced a death to my old and wrecked self; I was made new. He took the unsightly and restored, redeemed for a new purpose. He has covered every blemish with grace and mercy, even using some of those blemishes for his glory. God gave this precious gift of newness to me, though I did not deserve it. Friends, this gift is waiting for you, too. He sees you, all of you, and wants to make you new in Him. Trust Him. He restores and redeems faithfully and perfectly.
Prayer Over Our Hearts
Dear Father, thank you for your perfect hand that restores and makes all things new. What a gift it is for your hands of grace to lift me out of the muck of my own fallen existence. You are in the process of making all things new. Thank you for such an undeserved act of love. Thank you for Jesus, for it is through His death and resurrection we can be made new. Amen.
To understand Him is to understand hope. To understand His gift of mercy is to understand His gift of grace. To understand our continued state of rescue is to understand our place of refuge.
Lately, nothing soothes my heart and mind more than the moments where I find myself sitting still and abiding with my Lord. There, I draw comfort and strength. I focus on Him and who He is as Father, Son, and Spirit. In the place of full abiding is where I can breathe Him in, refreshing and perfectly good.
Abide in His refuge.
Who He is completely captures me. Though I should want to recoil in shame, I am nonetheless drawn into His presence fully aware of the grace and mercy covering me. The very essence of my continued rescue is found in those moments when I rest in Him, and the exceptional standard of hope that is found in Him is given during these moments. Words from the Psalmist come to mind as I recall the image of refuge, a refuge found in those moments of abiding.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Abide in His Dwelling Place
The Throne Room of Heaven, the Holy of Holies. It is a place to where I move beyond seeking escape. It is a place where I can come to Him and it is intimate, beautiful, and holy. Holding fast to Jesus, I can enter His presence with reverence and with rest. This combination of feelings produces an attitude which depicts the place of His dwelling. Here grace envelops me all the more, so wherever sin has tempted and tried…sin finds full defeat.
Abide in the Rescuer
Through the God-Son, there is no manner of sin that was not defeated through His perfection, through His death, and through His resurrection. So, in all the ways fleshly desires hound us and in all the way sin’s aroma seeks to draw us in, we can hold fast to the knowledge of a Rescuer who felt the same temptations and conquered them. His accomplishments over–not just the very nature of sin, but as well as its enticing, tempting ways–are a victory we can claim. This continued state of rescue is what heals, strengthens, humbles, and produces an immense sense of awe.
“Therefore, since we have such a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Abide in Jesus
Maybe, like me, you sometimes feel the heaviness of struggle. Perhaps you empathize with Paul when he said, “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” There is hope. For the believer, hold firmly to Him. Approach the throne of grace with the confidence you have as one who has been redeemed by, and through, Jesus Christ. He is our help and our refuge in time of need, in time of temptation and struggle. His grace binds us to Him completely. Hold on to that and find rest in Him. While on this side of heaven we are not free from temptation, but we are free from its chains–through Christ alone. Abide in Him, for in Christ our holiness is found.
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This life question will haunt many at one point in time or another: What is my purpose? The amount of time I have put into this thought alone accounts for over half my life. A haunting feeling always rising to the surface which begs the question of enough. Am I doing enough? Is what I am doing enough? This train of thought can suffocate and eventually destroy the drive that propels one into living out the purpose-filled life.
Over the last couple of years, I have come to a better understanding of what my purpose is and what it isn’t. Purpose has taken on a different meaning and I see life through different lenses. The process has led me away from the draining and approval-seeking path to one that is fulfilling and grace-filled.
Chasing the Wind
But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. – Ecclesiastes 2:11
If I could, I would throw out quite a few verses from the book of Ecclesiastes. I feel like I have a really good grasp on what Solomon was agonizing over in his deep contemplation of life. I too have sat back and taken assessment of my accomplishments, my possessions, and accounted for those gifts that are precious to me. People, things, decisions, awards, positions held–every moment of life–meaningless? Perhaps we search so hard for purpose, because we innately recognize the meaninglessness of everything. We were designed for purpose. Yet when that purpose is not understood–or worse, when it has been distorted–we mar and waste said purpose.
The effort and time we put into things, even good things, can all amount to wind chasing. Our work and our accomplishments are futile and they exhaust, with no hope of rejuvenation. When purpose is left out, all of the good and important things we do wash away like sand. We are left contemplating the thought of meaningless and enough.
An Established Meaning
The first question found in the Westminster Shorter Catechisms asks: What is the chief end of man? The answer then given is: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
If we could let the knowledge of our prime purpose sink deeply, would it change us? We were created to bring Him glory and to enjoy His glory. I don’t know about you, but the knowledge of that is freeing and beautiful to me. This purpose, once known, makes all other decisions in life a little more clear–it is this ultimate purpose which drives.
“A sunset seen from the top of the I.D.S.—that’s glory. Or the I.D.S. itself almost invisible, like crystal against a grey-blue sky—that’s glory. A perfect performance on the balance beam by Nadia Comaneci—that’s glory. A perfectly executed 30-foot jump shot with one second to go—that’s glory, too…The glory of God is the beauty and excellence of his manifold perfections. It is an attempt to put into words what God is like in his magnificence and purity. It refers to his infinite and overflowing fullness of all that is good. The term might focus on his different attributes from time to time—like his power and wisdom and mercy and justice—because each one is indeed awesome and beautiful in its magnitude and quality. But in general God’s glory is the perfect harmony of all his attributes into one infinitely beautiful and personal being.” –John Piper, God Created Us For His Glory
A Covering of Grace
I think of the years I spent looking for purpose, I think of the years I spent hiding from purpose, and now, I think of the years to come with an understood purpose. It is a covering of grace that can take wasted years and use them for His glory. It is a covering of grace that takes the new and untouched years for His glory, too. That is the thing about our purpose…it is not separate from Him. His grace is woven deeply in a tapestry of a life lived for Him and enjoyed through Him.
Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men… – Colossians 3:23
Sometimes, the purposeful life may tempt us to feel “less than.” Often, our perspective of this life is measured by great success in the eyes of man. We might even struggle as we look to the right or to the left and see others living out their purpose-filled life…and we may feel as if ours does not measure up. We might see those who lead thousands to Christ, we might see those who are glorifying Him while the world watches, and we may see those whose lives look so much more important than our own. When this temptation of comparison befalls us, we surrender to Him and press forward, looking straight ahead. We keep our gaze on Him and we complete every task for His glory and we soak in the joy that He offers. It is then and there that we will know we are living a life of purpose, because everything we do is for Him.
“To do even the most humbling tasks to the glory of God takes the Almighty God Incarnate working in us.”