For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
You see God created you for salvation, He made you for good works, to do good things, to make a difference in this world. If He prepared these things ahead of time and He made you specifically for them, don’t you imagine you will be able to do them by His grace? I know it is often uncomfortable to step outside ourselves, look at the needs around us, and do something but God created you for that purpose! He gave you the gifts you will need to them, the desires to want to impact people in some specific way, and the opportunities to obey Him.
I am happiest, most satisfied, and at peace when I am doing one of the things God has gifted me with doing. I am naturally very shy, unsure of myself, and solitary. But in Christ, I flourish when I am praying with a hurting person, speaking prophecy into their lives (if God gives me a word for them), or even just encouraging them and listening. When I was a nurse and I traveled to the Amazon Jungle with a missions group I sat alone and silent most of the time, but when I was in the clinic giving health care to the Satare people, I was alive and I knew I was exactly in the right place.
What is it you care about? Is it people in poverty, the homeless, people addicted to substances, lost people, motivating people to reach their potential? Whatever it is, it is likely your good works, your ministry lies there. I care about homeless people. I joked with a friend the other night that they seemed to hone in on me, they knew I would give them money somehow. But it is because God is leading them to me, I will not only give them money if I happen to have any, I will touch them, talk to them and give them a word from God. He gives me opportunities to impact their lives. The Lord knows how I love prophesy. He gives me messages for people often and allows me to speak to whomever He chooses. Why? Because He knows, I will obey Him.
My friend Richie is gifted in evangelism. So, God gives him many chances to evangelize. My friend Jim has a talent for planting doubt in the most stalwart atheists’ arguments, you wouldn’t believe how many atheists he meets. My friend Anna has a gift for leading people into a worshipful state and making the environment one in which we are all aware of the presence of God. She does this beautifully and often. She has brought her guitar into my room, sat on my bed, and because of her gifts of prayer and worship has led me from darkness to light again. They were all chosen before the foundation of the world and created for those good works and more.
You too were chosen. You are not the kid nobody wants, you are wanted and chosen and gifted by God. Okay? Sovereign Holy Mighty God chose you before He spoke one iota of the world into being. That is a big deal! He loves you regardless of whether you’re warming a pew or greeting people at the door. He cares deeply for you whether you sit alone at home or lead a 1000 people a month to Christ. We do not do good works because we want Him to love us. He already loves us. We do these things because in response to that intense love, we obey, we love Him back. He doesn’t set you about something, tell you to do good and then abandon you. He stays with you, He dwells in you and works His love for the world through you. 1 John 4:13-21 reads,
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Your transformation to the image of Christ is about Christ’s love being perfected in you. Love is not a squishy warm feeling, that is a wet washrag; love is a functional tangible motive and action. It makes us fearless to obey, it moves us to affect our brother, our neighbor, the stranger in a positive manner. To take off our coat and give it to a shivering person is love, to wish them well is lip service. To give a sandwich to a hungry person or give them a way to make money is love but to tell them you hope they eat well is hypocrisy. James said that if you didn’t actionably love your brother, your faith is meaningless. James 2:14-17 says it this way,
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
This blog did not begin and is not meant as a judgement against people who have not used the gifts the Lord gave them, it is meant to encourage you that as you conform to Christ’s image you can do things you didn’t imagine you could. God chose you! You’re His child! This is important for you to understand. God is not disappointed that you are His, He asked you, He invited you, He picked you. He made you individually. He decided where every piece of protein that would make up your DNA would go, He put you together just as He wanted, strong will, passion, sense of humor, and all. Psalm 139:13-16 says this,
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
That was true about King David and it is true about you too! God not only chose you, He chose you to be who you are. You are not who the world has told you are. Sin nature has corrupted all of us. That bad temper, when given to God becomes passion for righteousness or a desire for justice. That stubbornness becomes a strong will, a perseverance through adversity. That oversensitivity becomes compassion for the broken. You see God will change you but the new person He makes you into is the person you were created to be. Whatever faults you have, whatever shortcomings you’ve been told you have, God perfects them in His love to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, to be love.
Sure, people have let you down, they rejected you, they tore you apart, they blindly left a ravaged and hurting soul behind them. But most of us never truly understand that we do not have to let people tear us down, hurt us, or wound us. We do not have let those things injure us, because God chose us and is with us. If He chose you, who can reject you? If God loves you, what can any person’s hate do to you? Read Romans 8:29-39. Yes, I know you’ve read it a hundred times, read it again and understand it in the depths of your heart and soul.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Read it again this time from The Message.
29-30 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.
31-39 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
Brothers and Sisters, Neighbors, Strangers, I want you to understand who you are to God so that you can live that abundant life He wants you to live. Yesterday, you read that you are a son or daughter of God, today understand that He chose you, He wants you, and He made you for a reason! Be blessed, Beloved.