Ephesians 1-3 (NLT Link)

Discover His heart: He lavishes His unfathomable love on His creation

The Louvre was closing in 30 minutes, and after a full day of exploring this mammoth museum, I was ready to call it a day when suddenly I realized that I had missed the prize of the Louvre!  In all our exploration of unbelievable paintings and artifacts, including ruins from Babylon, we had missed the masterpiece of the Museum, the pièce de résistance, The Mona Lisa!  However, it’s amazing what can happen when adrenaline kicks in.

Energy renewed, we flew through the vast exhibits and galleries and breathlessly arrived to view The Masterpiece, a rather smallish, glass-enclosed painting.  At first glance, I wondered what in this painting took Da Vinci seven years to paint!  But as I studied it, I, too, saw all the things that made it memorable – the eyes that seemed to follow me as I moved across the room, the mystery of the unmatched background, its subtle coloring and that enigmatic smile. What was she smiling about?!  Although many believe it was painted over a self-portrait, a makeover if you please, the end result is indeed a masterpiece. 

@ Ephesians 2
“God saved you by His grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 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.”(8,10)  God took the old canvas of what I was and created a masterpiece.  Talk about the ultimate makeover!

Just as the one who posed for the Mona Lisa, I can’t take credit for His workmanship because it was His gift to me for simply believing in His grace. Unlike the Mona Lisa, we do not hang on a wall to be admired by all.  No, we are living masterpieces, possessing a greater purpose – to do good works. 

@ Ephesians 3
As His living masterpiece, and yes, we are a work in progress, our Creator paints into our lives from His unlimited palette all that is needed to complete us. “I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.  Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust Him.  Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep His love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.  Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (16,18-19)

How wide, how long, how high and how deep His love is!  His love is wide enough to reach around our entire world. His love is long enough to reach from here to eternity.  His love is high enough to reach every mountaintop experience.  And His love is deep enough to reach into the lowest valley we face. Through our relationship with Christ living in us, we come to understand in part this otherwise unfathomable love.  When others look at us and see the smile His love brings to us, His masterpiece, they may wonder what we are smiling about.  And of course, we will feel obliged to tell them. 

Moving Forward: Sometimes hard to believe yet true, I am His masterpiece, the creation of His workmanship.  When others in the traffic of life see my smile today, may it cause them to ask, “Now, just what is she smiling about?” 

Tomorrow @ Leviticus 1-3 (More than meets the eye!)

John 7-9 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart:  He “came to seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10)

There are some really great questions out there that will never make it into a Trivia game mainly because we don’t know the answers.  Why does the Mona Lisa smile?  What does she see or know that we don’t?  Why is there a crack in the Liberty Bell? Or like the question from our reading today, what did Jesus write in the dust in front of the adulterous woman and the Pharisees?  The answers to these and so many other questions remained locked in time, but we certainly have a good time speculating their answers.

@ John 8
“Teacher,’ they said to Jesus, ‘this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?’ They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.” (4-6)  I’ve heard a lot of theories on what Jesus wrote that day.  Some believe that Jesus was writing down all the sins of the religious leaders standing there.  Others believe He was writing the Ten Commandments, and still others believe He was stalling to answer because that was the custom for men of wisdom, pondering the best answer.  After considering all the options, I’ve come to the definite conclusion that I don’t know for certain what Jesus was writing.

More important for us than what He wrote is what He said, “They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, ‘All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!’ Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one.” (7-8)  Of course, the only one qualified to throw any stones that day was Jesus, but He was not there to accuse or condemn the woman.  He was there to save her.

The entire scenario was a set up to trap Jesus into either saying she should be set free which was against the laws of Moses or saying she should be stoned which was against Roman law.  For most of us, this could be a sticky situation, but Jesus had it covered.  If we share our testimony at all, we will encounter those who want to argue about the Bible or excuse their disdain for Christianity because of all the hypocrites in church.  I’ve always said that I’d rather spend a few short years with a hypocrite or two in church than all of eternity with them in hell.  Just as Jesus had the perfect response for the Pharisees, the Holy Spirit will direct us in our response to the questions we face.

This story makes me want to be more like Jesus.  Besides the thrill of having the right answer at the right moment, I want to be the one who desires that a life is saved rather than condemned.  I’ve found it impossible to lead others to Jesus for forgiveness of sin when I’m too busy judging them for their sins.  “Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, ‘Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’ ‘No, Lord,’ she said.  And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I. Go and sin no more.’” (10-11)  What a great story!  What a great message for us!

Moving Forward: No stone throwing, no judging, just the message of a Savior who is willing to forgive our sins. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Timothy 1-2

Ephesians 1-3 (NLT Link)

Discover His heart: He lavishes His unfathomable love on His creation

The Louvre was closing in 30 minutes, and after a full day of exploring this mammoth museum, I was ready to call it a day when suddenly I realized that I had missed the prize of the Louvre!  In all our exploration of unbelievable paintings and artifacts, including ruins from Babylon, we had missed the masterpiece of the Museum, the pièce de résistance, The Mona Lisa!  However, it’s amazing what can happen when adrenaline kicks in.

Energy renewed, we flew through the vast exhibits and galleries and breathlessly arrived to view The Masterpiece, a rather smallish, glass-enclosed painting.  At first glance, I wondered what in this painting took Da Vinci seven years to paint!  But as I studied it, I, too, saw all the things that made it memorable – the eyes that seemed to follow me as I moved across the room, the mystery of the unmatched background, its subtle coloring and that enigmatic smile. What was she smiling about?!  Although many believe it was painted over a self portrait, a makeover if you please, the end result is truly a masterpiece. 

@ Ephesians 2
“God saved you by His grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 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.”(8,10)  God took the old canvas of what I was and created a masterpiece.  Talk about the ultimate makeover!

Just as the one who posed for the Mona Lisa, I can’t take credit for His workmanship because it was His gift to me for simply believing in His grace. Unlike the Mona Lisa, we do not hang on a wall to be admired by all.  No, we are living masterpieces, possessing a greater purpose – to do good works. 

@ Ephesians 3
As His living masterpiece, and yes, we are a work in progress, our Creator paints into our lives from His unlimited palette all that is needed to complete us. “I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.  Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust Him.  Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep His love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.  Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (16,18-19)

How wide, how long, how high and how deep His love is!  His love is wide enough to reach around our entire world. His love is long enough to reach from here to eternity.  His love is high enough to reach every mountaintop experience.  And His love is deep enough to reach into the lowest valley we face. Through our relationship with Christ living in us, we come to understand in part this otherwise unfathomable love.  When others look at us and see the smile His love brings to us, His masterpiece, they may wonder what we are smiling about.  And of course, we will feel obliged to tell them. 

Moving Forward: Sometimes hard to believe yet true, I am His masterpiece, the creation of His workmanship.  When others in the traffic of life see my smile today, may it cause them to ask, “Now just what is she smiling about?” 

Tomorrow @ Leviticus 1-3 (More than meets the eye!)