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Posts Tagged ‘Ephesians 1:7’

Late summer abounds with color. Produce bins overflow with jewel-toned peppers, butter yellow corn, curly green lettuce, and deep purple eggplant.

 

 

Flowerpots and planters proffer cascades of royal plum petunias, lemon drop begonias, hot coral geraniums, and more.

 

 

Even our clothing this time of year can dazzle the eyes with such hues as sunflower yellow, Caribbean blue, and Calypso orange.

 

 

We are surrounded by color in the physical realm.

In the spiritual realm, we are also surrounded—by the shades of God’s grace. Every moment, his love for us inclines him to bestow a plethora of benefits, even though we’re completely undeserving.

Those shades of grace include the following:

 

Red for Jesus’ Blood

 

 

In the alchemy of God’s grace, our sin-blackened hearts become as white as snow (1).

And from the day we each invite Jesus to perform that transformation, we become the sons and daughters of the Ruler of the universe, with all the privileges of his kingdom, including his comfort, security, and peace.

 

Orange for God’s Countless Blessings

Every day begins with the sun’s fiery appearance and ends with its glowing departure. All day long everything on earth benefits from its light.

 

 

Similarly, all day long we benefit from God’s countless blessings—especially if we’re attentive and grateful.

 

“Let the thankful heart sweep through the day and,

as the magnet finds the iron,

so it will find, in every hour,

some heavenly blessings.”

–Henry Ward Beecher

 

On Monday I worked in our foliage/flower beds and tried to be a magnet, finding heavenly blessings while on my hands and knees in the dirt.

I collected the following gifts:

  • cooler temps and less humidity
  • only a few weeds to dig up
  • a cute little worm doing aerobic wiggles
  • refreshing sips of ice water
  • the undulating, soft strum of cicadas (Is there a more quintessential sound of summer?)
  • a few birds in a serenading mood

 

 

Even working in the dirt offers transcendent moments of awe.

 

Gold for God’s Word

 

 

What other book offers such a treasure trove of instruction and inspiration, encouragement and comfort, strength and hope—as well as a place to become acquainted with God himself?

 

“The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.”

–Saint Augustine

 

Green for Growth

 

 “God loves us just the way we are,

but he refuses to leave us that way.

He wants us to be just like Jesus.”

–Max Lucado (2)

 

 

Growth happens slowly, however. We sometimes wonder if progress is happening at all. Perhaps the four stages of spiritual growth described long ago by Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) will provide a useful measuring tool:

  1. Loving ourselves for our own sakes
  2. Loving God for our own sake, for what God does for us
  3. Loving God for God’s sake, unselfishly, and
  4. Loving ourselves for God’s sake, in awareness of God’s great love for us

Phillip Yancey added a fifth state: Loving others for God’s sake (3).

 

 

Wherever we find ourselves on the continuum, our God who started this great work in us will “keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears” (4).

(And just in that one verse alone, we have an example of the inspiration, encouragement, comfort, and hope we find in scripture!)

 

Blue for God’s Character and Heaven

 

 

The color blue symbolizes loyalty, wisdom, intelligence, truth, and heaven (5).

Interesting that the first four qualities describe God. Out of his grace, he is: loyal to us, wise in his dealings with us, intelligent in his governance over the universe, and the source of absolute truth for us.

As for heaven:

 

“If heaven were a beautiful place only,

it would not be enough.

But heaven is also a blessed place—

a place that receives the fullness of God’s favor.”

Anne Graham Lotz (6)

 

Think about that: the fullness of all God is, all the glorious shades of God’s grace, exist in heaven and will one day surround us there—forever.

 

Notes:

(1) Psalm 51:7; Hebrews 10:22

(2) Just Like Jesus, Thomas Nelson, 2012.

(3) Reaching for the Invisible God, Zondervan, 2001.

(4) Philippians 1:6 MSG, emphasis added

(5) http://www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaninig.html

(6) The Vision of His Glory, Word Publishing, 1996.

 

(Photo credits:  http://www.wikimedia.com (2); http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.canva.com; http://www.pixnio.com; http://www.flickr.com (Kenneth Konica); http://www.flickr.com (Jim Killock); http://www.wikimedia.com’ http://www.flickr.com (Jose Luis Pelaez);  http://www.pixabay.com.)

 

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Crucifixion IV

Crucifixion IV (Photo credit: Remara Photography)

Seems like a cruel oxymoron, doesn’t it—to put the words glory and cross together. Glory carries positive connotations of splendor, radiance, and goodness. The cross is a symbol of horrific pain and suffering.

But the cross is also “an exhibition of the nature of God” (Oswald Chambers). You see, God’s glory is the fullness of who God is, his nature, and includes all his attributes and characters traits. Many of those attributes were at work when God provided the way of salvation for us. The glory of the cross includes:

1. Love

God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Such love is incomprehensible. How could he possibly desire to be in relationship with us? How could he delight in us, frail and self-centered as we are? It makes no sense.

Yet, he sent his Son, Jesus, to take the punishment we deserved and to offer us eternal life. When we invite Jesus into our lives, God takes us from the gutter of depravity and elevates us to the status of beloved children. We are adopted into the family of God (Ephesians 1:5). Incredible!

2. Grace

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

What is grace? All the facets of God’s love—his forgiveness, benevolence, presence, peace, provision, and more—made available to us, who don’t deserve it. Grace prompted God to provide a way for us to experience his love—through the sacrifice of his only Son.

Did you notice? God is the one who provided the way to him; we do not have to figure it out for ourselves, and then hope for the best. By God’s grace, he has made salvation (rescue from death) a sure thing. We can know our place in heaven is secure!

God’s grace, put on display at Calvary, sets Christianity apart from any other belief system in the world.

3. Power

I pray that…you may know…his incomparably great power for us who believe…, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:18-21).

No one can raise someone from the dead except God. When Jesus was resurrected, he demonstrated his power over death, and proved the validity of eternal life, not only for himself, but for all those who believe in him.

But Jesus’ resurrection was not the end of his mission. Read the next couple of verses (22-23) to discover that, after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended back to heaven, God seated His Son at his right hand (the seat of honor). Now Jesus’ power and authority is above all other rule and authority in the universe.

And someday, Jesus will share that power with us. Those of us who have accepted Jesus into our lives will reign with him in heaven (2 Timothy 2:12). My heart is filled with wonder and awe at such a privilege.

4. Faithfulness

God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord is faithful” (1 Corinthians 1:7).

Faithful to forgive. Faithful to see us through the journey of this life. Faithful to win the battle over evil in the end. Faithful to keep his promise of eternal life, because of the sacrifice of his Son on the cross.

Our faithful God made salvation so simple for us, but it cost him so much.

5. Justice

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus…He did this to demonstrate his justice” (Romans 3:23-26).

We all deserve punishment, and our guilty consciences confirm that truth. But God made it possible for us to be forgiven and ushered into relationship with him. He declared us “not guilty” because Jesus paid the penalty..

I love the way Eugene Peterson explains it in his paraphrase, The Message: “Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:23-24).

A pure, precious gift; paid for at Calvary. The glory of the cross.

For you. For me.

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