Past. Present. Future. Jesus changes the script.

 

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1This letter is from Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, appointed by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus, who gives us hope.

12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, 13even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. 14Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.

15This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.  1 Timothy 1:1, 12-17
The Apostle Paul reminds Timothy of his testimony and celebrates Jesus’ extraordinary grace. How gracious Jesus has been! Paul in no way deserved Jesus’ love; in fact Paul was a persecutor of the church. Paul rejected Jesus as the Messiah and turned to violence in order to rid Jerusalem and the region of anyone who confessed Jesus as the Lord.

But that all changed after the intersection of Jesus and Paul on the Damascus Road. Jesus has become the source of Paul’s faith, hope, and love. That’s true of you and me. We in no way deserved Jesus’ mercy. But somewhere in our history the Risen Lord Jesus intercepted us and brought us into his Kingdom. He is now filling us with faith, hope and love. We have been changed! He is changing us!

Faith from Jesus changes our view of our past:  forgiven.

Hope from Jesus changes our view of our future: secure.

Love from Jesus changes our view of our today: full of possibilities.

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Graced by God’s kindness.

 

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5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast.   Ephesians 2:5-9

Incomparable, immeasurable, riches of His grace.

This is what God is showing to you. Together with all those who have received Jesus as Lord, we have become evidence of God’s grace. He is a gracious God. He is a kind God too! He intends to show kindness shown to us over and over from now through eternity with Him. This is what He has accomplished through Jesus the Messiah.

God is kind.

Its possible that each of us wrapped “god” up in a distorted idea of who God is. Each one of us has a view that left to itself is inadequate and not quite true. For you, we might call it, “god-according-to-(name).” But the Gospel of Jesus is always seeking to reframe our view of God because everything changes for us when we see Him as He intends—even our understanding of ourselves.

Paul is writing to the Ephesians and he reminds them: now and in the future,  God, is going to show you the “immeasurable riches of His grace;” He is going to show it to you with kindness! Kindness — now that’s a different view of power in action! God’s power is shown to us in undeserved, unmerited, unwarranted kindness all derived from the elevation of Jesus the Crucified to the throne of God as Lord of Heaven and Earth!

Take a seat… with Jesus.

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4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4-7

Here is an aspect of our identity in Christ that may seem far out! But, this is what is being pictured here: God treating you with the greatest honour available to us—to be seated with Jesus!

The typical image of a servant is that a servant is “waiting tables.” The servant serves at a banquet. The servant may not even open his or her mouth if they are approaching the throne.  So the picture here is of immense honour and care being taken by God towards all of us who are in Christ.  At baptism we use the phrase, “buried with Jesus in baptism and raised to walk in new life.”  But here the picture is that we have been raised not just to new life, but also to a new status with the King Jesus who has been raised. Now, because of God’s mercy toward us In Christ, we have the honour of being seated with Him in heaven. Mercy is not merited. God has graced us with more than we can imagine!

Why? Because, God loves you! Because, God is rich in mercy. Because, God desires to show “the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward” you!

What an awesome God we serve!

We were also chosen.

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11Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.  Ephesians 1:11

God has included you in His plans. That’s incredible isn’t it? One of the words used here is “predestined.” It means that God has been been working something out that He had in mind a long time ago. God has been working out how to include you in the fellowship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He has been working out how to include you in the knowledge of His grace, truth, and love. Now that you have received Jesus, you are not just coasting along in life according to fate. Nor are you simply the master of your own destiny. Now in Christ you are free to live with the incredible knowledge of your worth to Him. You are His! So go ahead, make a decision, risk to reach out, risk to let the reality of Jesus in your life be known to others!

God chose you in advance… of anything you have done, said, dreamt, thought, or wished for. God chose you in advance… of anything that has happened to you to that challenges the truth in this world. God chose you in advance to be with Him through the work of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord!

We become God’s children.

 

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23Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.  Galatians 3:23-26
Knowing the rules of God could never turn you into a child of God. Committing yourself to doing all the good things commended and commanded by the Law could not turn you into a child of God. Avoiding breaking one of the commands of God’s Law could not make you a child of God.

No. Only faith jn Jesus makes you a child of God. Now the Law makes us aware of how much we desperately need a Saviour! Yes, the Law makes us wise for salvation. But its your faith in Jesus Christ that gives you the status of being a child of God. As His child you have full access to Him. Trying to be good, trying not to break the Law will never be enough. So God has gotten rid of that category of “good enough” for us. He sent Jesus to fulfill the Law completely!

Putting our faith in Jesus is an incredibly dynamic and powerful act! You will always be God’s child through faith in Jesus.