God’s grace is radical. It is so radical that we often have a problem accepting it and extending it to others. We often view life through the lenses of justice and people getting what they deserve. However, grace has a radically different vantage point. Grace does not give people what they deserve. It gives them what they don’t deserve. Ephesians 2:1-10 reveals some life giving facts about God’s saving grace.
Before coming to Christ we were dead in trespasses and sins. We were cut off from God. There was no hope of fellowship with God because we were cut off from the life of God. We lived according to the ways of the world. We adopted the thinking of the world. Our behavior was determined by the powerful influences of society’s attitudes, habits, and preferences, which stand in opposition to God’s standards. Our mindset or way of thinking was also according to Satan. Satan is described here as the prince or ruler of the power of the air. Even the best among us was bad.
We were dead in trespasses and sins, but God is rich in mercy. The nature of God will not allow Him to sit idle and do nothing. He is rich in mercy. God didn’t do what could have been done. He didn’t do what deserved to be done. He withheld His judgment and provided a way for salvation. While we were being driven by lust, God was operating in love. He loved us enough to make us alive with Christ. This newness of life is granted through our identification with Christ when we are buried with Him in baptism (Romans 6:1-4).
Because of God’s grace, you have been saved, and you are still saved right now. In Christ, we experienced a resurrection. We were dead, but now are alive and raised. God did not just do the bear minimum. He went above and beyond. He didn’t just make us alive, and raise us up, but He elevated us by seating us with Christ in the heavenly places in Christ. By allowing us to sit in heavenly places, God raises us up above the polluted air of Satan’s kingdom and places us where we can breathe of God’s life giving Spirit.
God has shown us the depth of grace that is unmatched. He has shown that the place of grace is in Christ. God has done all of the heavy lifting in salvation. We are saved by grace through faith. We cannot save ourselves. We don’t have bragging rights. Works for salvation glorify man, but grace glorifies God. However, we have a role in receiving God’s saving grace. The gift of salvation is available to all. But faith, belief in the gift and its giver, allows you to grab hold of the gift.
Thank God for His amazing grace!
Imagine that you are cleaning out your grandparent’s attic and you come across a map. There is an “X” marked on the map. You notice that there is a note on the map that says “Gold is buried here.” As you take a closer look at the map, you see that the markings and landmarks on the map look familiar. It is a map of your grandparent’s property.
You start digging and as you dig, your shovel strikes something hard. You dig further and faster. Something begins to take shape. It’s a box. You reach down to grab the treasure. You are excited about what you are going to find. You open the box and find bones. You then begin to think back to your childhood spending summers with your grandparents and it hits you: Your grandparents had a dog named Gold. You have just found where Gold was buried. All of that work was for nothing. You tore up the yard, messed up the grass, dirtied up your clothes, put strain on your back and ache in your muscles only to dig up some dog bones.
Many of us are hunting for treasure and digging for the wrong kind of gold. We are pursuing the American dream at the expense of our divine destiny.
In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus teaches how His followers should view material possessions. Jesus challenges us to hunt for the right type of treasure. True treasure is found when we value most what is most valuable.
Jesus says, don’t store up treasures on earth. He is teaching His followers not to love things so much that we accumulate and hoard them. Beware of focusing on the accumulation of stuff. Insects and the elements destroy them. People steal them. Usage breaks them. Jesus is teaching against materialism and the accumulation of massive amounts of treasure as your life goal.
What is your life goal? Everything from our relationships to our financial decisions will be determined by our ultimate goal. Remember that we are blessed to be a blessing. Holding, hoarding, and hiding earthly riches blesses no one. We cannot expect any material goods on earth to “buy us” anything in heaven. They have no purchasing power in eternity’s economy.
Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven. Where your treasure is there your heart will be also. You live life differently when your treasure is stored up in heaven. You measure your life by the true riches of the kingdom of God and not by the false riches of this world. We should use earthly resources for heavenly purposes. The location of your treasures will determine the inclination of your heart. So value most what is most valuable.
Guest Reflections by Johnson and Jandel Crutchfield - The MACC Touch: Testimony from Former Visitors Turned Members (Part 1)
When we moved our family of four from Mississippi to Arlington, TX in the summer of 2018 we were on a mission. The most important goal for our family was to find a long term home within a local congregation of the church. Well, it was glaringly obvious to us, that this was going to be a daunting process, because unlike the 6 congregations in Tupelo, MS, there are nearly 100 congregations of the church in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex!
As a couple, we consider it a blessing to have come to know Christ during our childhoods with the support of our local congregations. And we believe it’s equally important for our children to be able to do the same within a local congregation. But where do you begin, in a Metroplex of 7 million people?
You begin with God! And so, our first course of action was praying for God’s Spirit of discernment in this decision. As we decided where to visit, we felt led to pose several big picture questions that we like to call, “the touch”:
Excellent work requires an excellent work ethic. It requires a motivation that is bigger than salary and benefits. We have been called to the most excellent work that there is. There is no greater work than the work of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Paul writes in Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (NASB). Excellent work requires us to keep forever in the forefront of our minds that ministry is about people, not places, programs, and projects.
God wants to do a good work in us so that His good works can be done through us. The good work of God takes place in you. You should not expect God to work for you and through you if you are resisting His sanctifying work in you.
As we are doing the work of the Lord and working for the Lord, we must remember that we ourselves are works in progress. We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Ephesians 2:10).
Don’t resist that work that God wants to do in you. Sanctification is a process and not an event. (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8). In sanctification, God is working to get the evil out of us and put His good in us so that eventually all that comes out of us is the good He has put in us. God doesn’t just want to work for you and through you, He wants to work in you. That’s why the Holy Spirit dwells in us and not just around us. God does not want to work around you, He wants to work in you. So God the Spirit goes where the work needs to be done. He dwells in us. And in us, God is working to sanctify us.
God puts in us what He wants to get out of us. The Spirit is in us to pour the love of God into our hearts (Romans 5:5). Why does the Spirit pour love into our hearts? Because God puts in us what He wants to get out of us. God wants righteousness to come out of us. Therefore He put His Spirit in us to fill us with the fruit of righteousness.
God wants to work through you. But He must first work in you. Otherwise when something comes out of you, it will not look like it is Him that is working through you. And if you allow God to work in you, I am “confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.