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Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is Exodus 20:12-17, where the LORD God says this:   

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged on the land which the Lord your God gives you.13 “You shall not murder.14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.16 “You shall no give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male slave, or his female slave, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”


WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, MARCH 15, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is Ephesians 2:4-10, where the Bible says,   

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the boundless riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 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 so that we would walk in them.

 

GRACE IS NOT A GOVERNMENT PROGRAM!

 

An ad for the U.S. Marines pictures a sword with these words beneath it: “Earned, not given.” If you want to become a Marine, you have to earn the right to be called a Marine through sacrifice, hardship, and training. If you get it, you deserve it. In this world, there are jobs that only Marines can handle. There are even efforts that demand special forces like the Navy Seals. When it comes to maintaining law and order in this world, there have to be people who say, “This far and no farther,” so that we can all live in relative peace. But here’s the problem. There are some issues beyond the best efforts of the Marines, beyond our most advanced technology, beyond the wealth of all billionaires combined, and beyond the combined forces of all of our government agencies. What happens when those issues overwhelm you? What happens when those kind of problems hit all of us? What then?

The season of Lent is a time in the Church year when people come to grips with what it means to be mortal due to the sinful rebellion of our hearts. It’s a time to take an honest look at ourselves, and even our “best” efforts, from God’s point of view. Noted scientist Albert Einstein correctly described the extent of that problem when he said, “It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man.”[1] Our real problems stem from humanity’s sinful heart and rebellious spirit. Today we even feel we have the right to challenge the God who created and redeemed us, as if He answers to us and not we to Him.

That’s why this “grace” thing in Ephesians is so incredible. It’s not that God just says, “Don’t worry; no effort is needed when it comes to our relationship. Just do as you please. I love you.” No, the truth is that your efforts don’t measure up AT ALL. The issue of our separation from God can be solved only by His complete and perfect efforts on our behalf. It’s the message that Jesus Christ literally lived the perfect life that you should have lived. He died the death that you should die before God’s judgment throne, and He gives HIS earned eternal life as a gift to you and to all who trust in Him. God’s grace involves works, just not yours. Grace is His gift to you because Jesus has done all things well for you.

If you’ve ever been rescued by someone who risked everything so that you could live free, that is just a small glimpse of what Jesus Christ did for every human being on the planet. At times we need police, firefighters, military forces, and even a decent piece of government legislation. But for the things that really matter, namely, our relationship with God and with one another, the message of grace does not come from our best efforts or programs. Instead, it comes from God’s work in this sinful world for all. God’s grace is not some government program. It’s not even part of our best efforts in the world. It’s God’s work on our behalf for the eternal issues in life, issues which matter even now.

PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your grace in Jesus Christ. Teach me to put all things in perspective so that I might never neglect what You have so freely given! AMEN.

 

[1] Albert Einstein, Clinical Toxicology, 50(7), pp. 537–538.

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