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Posts Tagged ‘Ephesians 2:8-9’

 

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Nicolas Flamel (ca. 1310-1418, pictured above) looks like he could be St. Nicholas, with that full beard and impish face. In fact he lived long after and far away from the well-known saint. Flamel was a French scribe and manuscript seller. He also dabbled in alchemy.

Alchemists were those who, especially during the Middle Ages, experimented with various materials and procedures to turn ordinary metals like lead into gold.

Another dream of theirs was to discover an elixir of life—a potion that would provide eternal life.

 

Sir William Fettes Douglas The Alchemist 19th cent.

“The Alchemist,” by Sir William Fettes Douglas, 1855

 

By the seventeenth century, legends had developed around Nicolas Flamel. Some claimed that he had discovered the Philosopher’s Stone, the alchemical substance that would turn lead into gold and produce the elixir of life.

But the only immortality he achieved is in print. Victor Hugo mentioned him in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and R. K Rowling in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Nicolas Flamel is buried in Paris at the Musée de Cluny.

By the 1600s, alchemy was, for the most part, abandoned.

Alchemy simply did not work in the physical realm.

However! In the spiritual realm, with God exercising his supernatural power, the alchemy of grace (1) performs great wonders:

 

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The lost become found (Luke 19:10)

Darkness becomes light (John 8:12)

Death becomes life (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Mourning becomes joy (Jeremiah 31:13)

Ashes become beauty (Isaiah 61:3)

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Hatred becomes love (Acts 9:1-2; Philippians 4:1)

Discouragement becomes hope (Romans 5:1-2)

Fear becomes peace (John 14:27)

Striving becomes resting (Exodus 33:14)

Weakness becomes strength (2 Corinthians 12:9)

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No doubt we could mention many more magnificent facets of transformation that occur because of God’s alchemy of grace—a transformation even more miraculous than turning lead into gold.

To appreciate just how miraculous, consider what happens when we’re left to our own devices:

 

Darkness begets depression

Hatred begets ulcers

Fear begets paranoia

Striving begets stress

Discouragement begets self-pity

 

Would it be disrespectful to say that Jesus is our Philosopher’s Stone? He is the one and only Way to experience the alchemy (and grandeur and wonder!) of God’s grace (2).

 

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Do you find your heart swelling with gratitude and praise?

“Trace the roots of grace, or charis in the Greek, and you will find a verb that means ‘I rejoice, I am glad” – Phillip Yancey (3).

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Holy Father, how astounding to consider that we are being transformed into the likeness of your Son with ever-increasing glory. Thank you for the alchemy of your grace that transforms our leaden lives into lustrous, 24-carat gold! 

(2 Corinthians 3:18; Job 23:10)

* The “alchemy of grace” is a phrase borrowed from Charles Spurgeon.

(1) Grace is undeserved love, manifested in unmerited favor.

(2) John 14:6, Acts 4:12, 1 Timothy 2:5-6

(3) Phillip Yancey, What’s So Amazing about Grace?, Zondervan, 1997, p. 13.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.wikipedia.org (2), http://www.theodysseyonline.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.biblehub.net; http://www.pinterest.com.)

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On my right hand I wear a ring–just a small ruby solitaire, set in a narrow gold band with a bit of delicate embellishment on either side.

I’ve owned the ring since I was a young teen—a long time ago! Yet the ring is even older than I am, passing its one hundredth birthday back in 2004.

The original owner was my grandmother. Great Grandpa and Grandma gave her the ring in 1904, on her fourteenth birthday. On my fourteenth birthday, she surprised me by passing the ring on to me.

All these decades since, the presence of that little band continually reminds me of her—a kind, soft-spoken woman of deep strength and enduring faith. (I wrote about her a couple of years ago. You can access that post–“The God of Rachel, Clara, and Henry, Part 1”– here.)

Perhaps you, too, own a cherished possession that may not appear significant to others, but is highly valuable to you. In fact, you treasure it.

On a much grander scale, God treasures you. You are dearly beloved and precious to him.

Oh, no, some will say. Not me. I’m not good enough, smart enough, or talented enough to be highly valued.

That’s not what scripture says:

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(“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors.  And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ,the sinless, spotless Lamb of God” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

God paid a very high price with the precious blood of his own Son, in order to make you his treasured possession. Evidently goodness, smarts, and talent have nothing to with it (Ephesians 2:8-9)!

And God doesn’t view you as ordinary, anymore than I consider my ruby ring ordinary.

Here are several indicators of the high value he places on you:

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  • You are precious and honored in God’s sight simply because he loves you (Isaiah 43:4). Just as God went to great lengths to bring his precious children of Israel out of captivity, so he has gone to great lengths to bring you into his family.
  • He is constantly thinking about you (Psalm 139:17)–preparing for your welfare, providing for your needs, guiding and guarding until it is time for your final journey to heaven.
  • He blesses you with all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). It is not the material stuff of the outer life that satisfies; it is the wealth of spiritual blessings of the inner life. God offers: forgiveness of sin, freedom from guilt, peace of mind, joy of heart, wisdom, comfort and strength—to name a few.
  • God has prepared for you an eternity of absolute bliss (1 Corinthians 2:9).

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Think of it. God Almighty sees and appreciates your value, your beauty.

He speaks affirmation and restoration to your soul through his Word (Psalm 19:7).

He listens with wrapt attention when you call to him (Psalm 145:18).

He enfolds you in his wings of protection and comfort (Psalm 36:7).

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He is with you, for you, and in you.

Accept it, embrace it. Send your roots down deep into the truth:

You. Are. Highly. Cherished.

(Photo and art credits:  Nancy Ruegg; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.winterpastfinally.blogspot.com; http://www.faithgateway.com; http://www.thelovelyscribe.com.

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