Posts Tagged ‘Ephesians 2:10’

Ordained and called: God’s masterpiece

August 11, 2018

Today, August 11, 2018, is a “doubly lovely Good News Day,” meaning I am celebrating two special occasions: my ordination to the Christian ministry, occurring 44 years ago and the second birthday of my grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins. Both of these glorious celebrations occur during August, designated as “What will be your legacy?” Month. A blog entry posted on August 1, discusses the significance of the number 8, representing a new beginning.

Upon further reflection, I realized another aspect of a new beginning for me as a teacher. I taught my first class as an adjunct instructor at a Bible College in Kansas in 1976. Having come full circle, today I serve as an adjunct professor at Carolina College of Biblical Studies in Fayetteville, NC. Oh, the Providence of God.

Even more remarkable, at the beginning of this year, I reconnected with a former student in the second class that I taught at the Bible College in Kansas, Kevin Bell. He recently earned his doctorate and is serving as an online adjunct professor at several Christian colleges. We are now colleagues pursuing some of the same goals as teachers. When we first reconnected, he spoke of the New Testament History class that I taught and made specific reference to my closing illustration of the opening session. I brought a life-size blank canvas and a full-length mirror. I instructed the students to visualize painting a life-size self-portrait which when completed we would display in “The Living Gallery of the New Testament.” I closed the first session of the course with this original poem:

The Living Gallery of the New Testament

In the living gallery of the New Testament is reserved a special space:
An empty canvas awaits each feature of your face.
Each of us paints a self-portrait in minutest detail.
To develop your life’s masterpiece, you can never fail
When you follow Christ’s example, the Master of the Word,
Beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord.
Each day abounds with potential for matchless artistry.
Now is your golden moment—you are making “His Story.”

A recent article posted in Medium.com talks about the life-changing impact a work of art can have on a viewer and asks “Have you ever encountered a work of art that captured your attention and left you speechless?” I go on to describe a personal encounter with a wood carving that moved me to tears. Included in the conversation is a statement from Olafur Eliasson, ‘Icelandic-Danish artist, who explains “Why Art has the Power to change the world”:

“Most of us know the feeling of being moved by a work of art, whether it is a song, a play, a poem, a novel, a painting . . . . When we are touched, we are moved; we are transported to a new place that is, nevertheless, strongly rooted in a physical experience, in our bodies.”

Without question, a work of art has power to touch our lives in unforgettable ways.

These comments serve as a prelude to a poem written today in celebration of my ordination as a teacher. It builds upon the opening poem for the class taught 42 years ago with a similar theme:

Breath-taking Portraits in the Living Gallery

Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him
for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

Isaiah 43:7

Frank, honest, forthright, moving with spiritual insight,
Energized with a desire to serve with all their might.
Called as servants of the Lord, they have been given much;
They extend healing hands with a compassionate touch.
Walking in favor, ever eager, seeking to find
The strength to love God with their whole heart and soul and mind.
They desire to follow the Lord, to walk as the wise,
And just as Noah, they long to find grace in God’s eyes.
In the mirror of the Word we find pictures to paint,
Self-portraits of empowered people who do not faint.
From broad brush strokes, even down to the finest details,
Their whole lives reflect the love of God that never fails.
Masterpieces in the living gallery where we observe
Breath-taking portraits of all those called and ordained to serve.

Sarah Reeves offers “In the Details” to display the masterful skill of the ultimate artisan:

The Church: God’s crowning achievement

July 21, 2018

 

The Church is designed to be the Crowning Achievement of God’s creative wisdom.

Inspired by a new series of teachings entitled “Church Matters” by Bishop Charles Mellette of Christian Provision Ministries of Sanford, NC, I have been thinking about the magnitude of the Church, as God is putting the “finishing touches on His crowning achievement.” God is perfecting the Church, individually and corporately. A blog entry posted last month spoke of the “perfecting work” God is performing:

Hebrews 13:20-21:

20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

When we encounter situations we where we recognize that we are being perfected or brought to a higher level of maturity, we must remember this:

James 1:2-4 (NLT):

2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing

1 Peter 5:10 (NKJV offers these words of comfort

10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

As we find ourselves in transition moving toward the perfection or completion of all that God has planned for us, we must remember:

Philippians 1:6

6 And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

As reflections of God’s love, we are not just a good work, but we are part of God’s masterpiece, a glorious display of His workmanship. The good work that was begun in us when we first accepted Christ as our Savior culminates in the glorious manifestation of all that God designed us to be. God desires that we fulfill His purpose for each believer, individually as well as corporately as members of the Body of Christ.

Another phrase to describe the Church is God’s “crowning achievement” evokes a number of synonyms: crowning accomplishment, crowning glory, masterpiece or masterwork, showpiece, smash hit, work of a master, great work or magnum opus. Ephesians 2:10 declares that “. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

The word “workmanship” is translated from the Greek word poiema, which means “masterpiece, a glorious creation, a centerpiece of attention, as the French would say, le piece de resistance, or showpiece.” Of course, the Greek word poiema is transliterated into our English word poem, which in the minds of many people, present company included, is always a “masterpiece” or glorious creation. Likewise, the Church is always a work in progress—always in transition, as Ephesians 4:13 reminds us of the direction we are moving in:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

The Church has been designed to display the infinitely variegated, wisdom of God, as Ephesians 3:10 in the Amplified Bible reveals:

[The purpose is] that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere.

Though we may not presently see the fullness of that revelation, we are ever moving in that direction. “For we know when that which is perfect is come then that which is in part shall be done away.” The Church is always moving . . . from faith to faith . . . from glory to glory . . . from victory to victory. We are continually getting closer to

The Finish

Jesus said unto them, my meat is to do the will of him that sent me,
and to finish his work.

John 4:34

I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you

will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].

Philippians 1:6

In this present season God is placing a great demand
On those who excel, those seeking to run and win the race.
Though the way seems grueling, we are still guided by His hand.
God exhorts us to run as He sustains us by His grace.
First we cross the finish line, then we mount the victor’s stand.

Awaiting true sons, all creation still groans and travails
Until our full redemption when, at last, Christ shall descend.
Each one who endures to the end is the one who prevails.
With strength to finish our course, we strive to the very end.
First we cross the finish line, then we mount the victor’s stand.

We run with purpose, and we discipline our lives to win,
And we know all things are working together for the good.
Laying aside every weight and every besetting sin,
To do the will of God and to finish: this is our food.
First we cross the finish line, then we mount the victor’s stand.

We now run the race, being conformed into his image,
Assured our God is faithful to provide and to protect,
For each day we see ourselves transformed into Christ’s visage,
Knowing this work He began, He will complete and perfect.
First we cross the finish line, then we mount the victor’s stand.

As we run, we watch and wait, knowing that we shall endure.
As with Timothy, we make full proof our ministry.
We ever seek to make our calling and election sure,
Pressing toward the finish, the mark of full maturity.
First we cross the finish line, then we mount the victor’s stand.

As believers we are members in particular in the Body of Christ, the Church, God’s masterpiece, His “Crowning Achievement.” Philippians 1:6 and other verses reinforce the message that we are part of God’s “Great Work” sung by Brian Courtney Wilson: “Great Work”

Christ in you, the hope of glory

April 25, 2018

The Verse of the Day for April 25, 2018 is like a beautifully wrapped, surprise package offered to believers. This passage reveals the concept of “the mystery” unfolded in Colossians 1:27-28 in the Amplified Bible:

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.

Derived from the Greek word musterion, translated “sacred secret,” the essence of “this mystery” is that Jews and Gentiles would be united in one body, the Body of Christ. This “great mystery” was hidden in Christ before the foundations of the earth. Had Satan known this mystery or great secret, the Scriptures declare that he never would have crucified the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ. The mystery was revealed to the Apostle Paul as the context of the Verse of the Day indicates.

In the Book of Ephesians, Paul also speaks of the magnificence of God’s new creation in Christ and describes the spiritual impact that the Church, the Body of Christ, was designed to demonstrate. Our discussion of the riches of the glory of this mystery of the one body brought to mind to mind to an experience that occurred several years ago when my wife and I visited family and friends in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

During our stay in the City by the Bay, we enjoyed a most enlightening experience at the Asian Museum where we saw a special exhibit from the Ming Dynasty. One of the pieces on display was a stationery box which is similar to the one shown below. Although the final product reveals what the designer had in mind, we do not see how the object looked at the various stages of development. So it is with the Church, the Body of Christ, which is made reference to in the Book of Ephesians, especially in Chapters 2 and 3. The Church, as such, is still a work in progress, but I believe that God is putting “the finishing touches on His crowning achievement.” The poem “Exquisite Exhibit” conveys in part thoughts regarding the Church and our role in this amazing masterpiece of God’s creation.

Exquisite Exhibit

Viewing a Ryoshi-bako (stationery box)
Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty
Asian Museum–San Francisco, California

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:10

God’s purpose was to show his wisdom in all its rich variety
to all the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.
They will see this when Jews and Gentiles
are joined together in his church.                                                         Ephesians 3:10

 

Sublime thoughts never diminish, only increase,
As we marvel at this ancient masterpiece.
The designer sees the end long before he starts
And envisions intricate details of the parts
And fashions a wood box inlaid with jade and gold,
Lacquered vessel for deepest thoughts the mind can hold.
Beyond all that we see, God fashioned you and me
With precise measure of each scroll and filigree.
Displayed by the skillful hands of the Master craftsman,
Beyond the finest design of any artisan,
The Church, exquisite exhibit now on display,
Treasures from the hand of God take our breath away.
With the eyes of our heart now opened, we find
We are the masterpiece Jehovah had in mind.

A number of years ago I also hosted a radio show “Poetry and Praise,” where I would close each show with this reference to Ephesians 2:10:

Every day of our lives we recognize and celebrate the truth that as born-again believers we are all new creations in Christ, and we praise God that He has given us all things richly to enjoy. Indeed, “. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The word “workmanship” is translated from the Greek word poiema, which means “masterpiece, a glorious creation, a centerpiece of attention, as the French would say, le piece de resistance, or showpiece.” Of course, the Greek word poiema is transliterated into our English word poem, which in the minds of many people, certainly present company included, is always a “masterpiece” or glorious creation. So that the people of God represent the real poetry of life, for which we praise God. Yes, each of us is a poem, or God’s handiwork or workmanship, a special work created by God that we should be to the praise of His glory….

We close with “Christ in You!” from Charlie LeBlanc (Hosanna! Music):

Christ in you: the riches of the glory of this mystery

September 7, 2016

colossians-1-27

The Verse of the Day for September 7, 2016 is found in Colossians 1:28 in the Message Bible:

This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it’s out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple. That is the substance of our Message. We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.

Here is how the King James Version puts it:

Colossians 1:27-28

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

 

These verses were the foundation for a previous blog entry which has been modified and re-posted below:

This passage makes reference to “the mystery,” a term derived from the Greek word musterion, translated “sacred secret.” The essence of “this mystery” is that Jews and Gentiles would be united in one body, the Body of Christ. This “great mystery” was hidden in Christ before the foundations of the earth.  Had Satan known this mystery or great secret, the Scriptures declare that he never would have crucified the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ. The mystery was revealed to the Apostle Paul, as the context of the Verse of the Day indicates.

Dr. Mark Hanby refers to this mysterious concept as part of the “progressive revelation of God”—reflected in God’s desire for a dwelling place, displayed in Tabernacle in the Wilderness (first dimension) leading to Solomon’s Temple (second dimension), and culminating in the Temple of the Living God, the body of Christ (third dimension).

In each of the previous dimensions the glory of God was revealed to varying degrees. In the first dimension, Moses glimpsed the backside of the glory of God from the cleft of the rock where he was hidden because he could look upon the overwhelmingly radiant presence of God’s glory and live. That mere glimpse from a hidden place was so resplendent and transforming that Moses had to cover his face in the presence of the people:

Exodus 34:35 (NLT):

and the people of Israel would see the radiant glow of his face. So he would put the veil over his face until he returned to speak with the LORD.

With regard to the second dimension, the Queen of Sheba beheld the glory of Solomon’s Temple that was described as one of the “seven wonders of the world.” As a woman and even more notably as a Gentile, she would have been relegated to the Court of the Gentiles. By no means could she have come near the inner sanctum of the Temple, the most Holy Place. Even so, what she glimpsed was so glorious that she was overwhelmed.

1 Kings 10:4-5 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

When the queen of Sheba observed all of Solomon’s wisdom, the palace he had built, the food at his table, his servants’ residence, his attendants’ service and their attire, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he offered at the Lord’s temple, it took her breath away.

What about believers today? In comparison to Moses and the Queen of Sheba, we can see what they were not privileged to witness. Because Jesus Christ has broken down the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, we can see what the Queen of Sheba didn’t see.  Unlike Moses who had to veil his face in the presence of the people, believers today are able not only to see but to be a reflection of the glory of God:

2 Corinthians 2:18 (Classic Edition—Amplified Bible):

18 And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.

In Chapter 3 of Ephesians, Paul speaks of the spiritual impact that the Church, the Body of Christ, was designed to demonstrate:

Ephesians 3:10 (New Living Translation)

God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

God’s desire is that members of the Body of Christ, both individually and corporately, might know and apprehend more fully the meaning of the mystery of the one body. I express my yearning to understand the riches of the glory of this mystery to a greater degree in this way:

Oh, To See the Mystery

Ephesians 3

 

Enlighten our eyes that we might openly see;

Expand our minds and widen our comprehension

To understand the temple of the mystery.

Teach us to fully comprehend each dimension

And ascertain the magnitude without measure:

Reveal to us the true length,

though it is endless;

Teach us to find the full breadth,

though it is boundless;

Help us to reach the vast height,

though it is measureless;

Teach us to probe the great depth,

though it is fathomless.

Show us your divine design for the inner man.

Make plain the purpose, the pattern, the symmetry

Unfolded in the blueprints of your master plan

For the One Body, temple of awesome beauty.

Share with us the value of this priceless treasure,

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Held in the secret places of your good pleasure.

Take our hand and lead us, as you would guide beloved youths,

Chosen ones who live to explore the depths of your truths.

 

The lyrics to this original song were also inspired by Colossians 1:27-28:

Christ in You, Christ in Me

 

Even before the world began,

God put together His master plan,

Calling Jews and Gentiles into one body,

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

 

Enlighten my eyes, help me to see

All that you have called me to be.

Share with me the secrets that you have for me,

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in me, the hope of glory

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me, the hope of glory.

 

 

Put on God’s Word, renew your mind.

Seek Him with your whole heart, and you will find

He’ll open your eyes; He’ll let you see

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

 

I’m no longer bound; I’ve been set free.

I once was so blind, but now I see.

I’m walking into my destiny:

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in me, the hope of glory

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me the hope of glory.

 

 

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me, the hope of glory.

 

Charlie LeBlanc offers a musical reminder that it’s “Christ in You!” (Hosanna! Music)

 

 

Unity in the One Body

August 29, 2016

Galatians 3--28

The emphasis of Verse of the Day for August 29, 2016 is on the Body of Christ, which is described in Galatians 3:28 in the Message Bible:

[In Christ’s Family] In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.

The verse is rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

There is [now no distinction] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

God is one, and all that He has created expresses oneness or unity, as Acts 17:26 reveals regarding all of humanity:

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

The Church is the ultimate expression of oneness or unity of purpose, of unity within diversity and diversity within unity

Ephesians Chapters 2 and 3 make known God’s intention regarding His Church, the Body of Christ. Ephesians 2:10 in the New Living Translation (NLT) indicates

10 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.

Ephesians 3:10 in the New Living Translation also reveals what God had in mind:

10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

A previous blog post introduced an original poem that related my personal understanding of my role in the Body of Christ. The two verses from Ephesians also reminded me an experience that occurred when my wife and I visited family and friends in San Francisco and Los Angeles a few years ago. During our stay in the City by the Bay, we enjoyed a most enlightening experience at the Asian Museum where we saw a special exhibit from the Ming Dynasty. One of the pieces on display was a stationery box which is similar to the one shown below. Although the final product reveals what the designer had in mind, we do not see how the object looked at the various stages of development. So it is with the Church, the Body of Christ, which is made reference to in the Book of Ephesians, especially in Chapters 2 and 3. The Church, as such, is still a work in progress, but I believe that God is putting “the finishing touches on His crowning achievement.”  The poem “Exquisite Exhibit” conveys in part my thoughts regarding the Church and my role in this amazing masterpiece of God’s creation.

Exquisite Exhibit

Viewing a Ryoshi-bako (stationery box)

Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty

Asian Museum–San Francisco, California

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew

in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things

 he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10

 

God’s purpose was to show his wisdom in all its rich variety

to all the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.

They will see this when Jews and Gentiles

are joined together in his church.  

Ephesians 3:10

Sublime thoughts never diminish, only increase,

As I marvel at this ancient masterpiece.

The designer sees the end long before he starts

And envisions intricate details of the parts

And fashions a wood box inlaid with jade and gold,

Lacquered vessel for deepest thoughts the mind can hold.

Beyond all that I see, God formed and fashioned me

With precise measure of each scroll and filigree.

Displayed by the skillful hands of the Master craftsman,

Beyond the finest design of any artisan,

The Church, exquisite exhibit now on display,

Treasures from the hand of God take one’s breath away.

With the eyes of our heart now opened, we find

We are the masterpiece Jehovah had in mind.

 

ryoshi-bako

This ryoshi-bako or stationery box is similar to the one that inspired the poem that draws a parallel with God’s masterpiece, the Church.

A number of years ago I hosted a radio show “Poetry and Praise,” and I would close each show with this reference to Ephesians 2:10:

Every day of our lives we recognize and celebrate the truth that as born-again believers we are all new creations in Christ, and we praise God that He has given us all things richly to enjoy. Indeed, “. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The word “workmanship” is translated from the Greek word poiema, which means “masterpiece, a glorious creation, a centerpiece of attention, as the French would say, le piece de resistance, or showpiece.” Of course, the Greek word poiema is transliterated into our English word poem, which in the minds of many people, certainly present company included, is always a “masterpiece” or glorious creation. So that the people of God represent the real poetry of life, for which we praise God. Yes, each of us is a poem, or God’s handiwork or workmanship, a special work created by God that we should be to the praise of His glory….

To conclude our discussion on unity within the One Body, Tommy Walker offers this heartfelt request in song: “Make Us One”:

 

 

He who began a good work

July 10, 2016

Philippians-1--6

Revised and re-posted is the Verse of the Day for July 10, 2016, which is taken from Philippians 1:6 in the New Living Translation:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

The Amplified Bible renders the verse this way:

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

God completes the good work begun in us so that as believers we will be complete in every good work to do His will, as Hebrews 13:20-21 offers this magnificent benediction:

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen

As reflections of God’s love, we are not just a good work, but we are part of God’s creative expression that is being transformed into a glorious display of His workmanship. The good work that was begun in us when we first accepted Christ as our Savior culminates in the glorious manifestation of all that God designed us to be. God desires that we fulfill His purpose for each believer, individually as well as corporately as members of the Body of Christ. What began as a “good work” progressively unfolds as a “masterpiece,” a breathtakingly beautiful work of art. Ephesians 2:10 offers this description of the Church, which is the Body of Christ, of which we are members in particular:

Ephesians 2:10

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. (New Living Testament)

The Verse of the Day and its subsequent comments brought to mind a blog entry based on Ephesians 2:10 which has been excerpted and re-posted below:

This verse brings to mind to an experience that occurred seven years ago when my wife and I visited family and friends in San Francisco and Los Angeles. During our stay in the City by the Bay, we enjoyed a most enlightening experience at the Asian Museum where we saw a special exhibit from the Ming Dynasty. One of the pieces on display was a stationery box which is similar to the one shown below. Although the final product reveals what the designer had in mind, we do not see how the object looked at the various stages of development. So it is with the Church, the Body of Christ, which is made reference to in the Book of Ephesians, especially in Chapters 2 and 3. The Church, as such, is still a work in progress, but I believe that God is putting “the finishing touches on His crowning achievement.”  The poem “Exquisite Exhibit” conveys in part my thoughts regarding the Church and my role in this amazing masterpiece of God’s creation.

ryoshi-bako

This ryoshi-bako or stationery box is similar to the one that inspired the poem that draws a parallel with God’s masterpiece, the Church.

 

Exquisite Exhibit

Viewing a Ryoshi-bako (stationery box)

Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty

Asian Museum–San Francisco, California

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew

in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things

 he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10

 

God’s purpose was to show his wisdom in all its rich variety

to all the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.

They will see this when Jews and Gentiles

are joined together in his church.  

Ephesians 3:10

 

Sublime thoughts never diminish, only increase,

As I marvel at this ancient masterpiece.

The designer sees the end long before he starts

And envisions intricate details of the parts

And fashions a wood box inlaid with jade and gold,

Lacquered vessel for deepest thoughts the mind can hold.

Beyond all that I see, God formed and fashioned me

With precise measure of each scroll and filigree.

Displayed by the skillful hands of the Master craftsman,

Beyond the finest design of any artisan,

The Church, exquisite exhibit now on display,

Treasures from the hand of God take one’s breath away.

With the eyes of our heart now opened, we find

We are the masterpiece Jehovah had in mind.

A number of years ago I hosted a radio show “Poetry and Praise,” and I would close each show with this reference to Ephesians 2:10:

Every day of our lives we recognize and celebrate the truth that as born-again believers we are all new creations in Christ, and we praise God that He has given us all things richly to enjoy. Indeed, “. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The word “workmanship” is translated from the Greek word poiema, which means “masterpiece, a glorious creation, a centerpiece of attention, as the French would say, le piece de resistance, or showpiece.” Of course, the Greek word poiema is transliterated into our English word poem, which in the minds of many people, certainly present company included, is always a “masterpiece” or glorious creation. So that the people of God represent the real poetry of life, for which we praise God. Yes, each of us is a poem, or God’s handiwork or workmanship, a special work created by God that we should be to the praise of His glory….

In reflecting upon Philippians 1:6, a song written and performed by Steve Green also comes to mind: “He Who Began a Good Work in You”:

Finishing touches on His crowning achievement

July 10, 2015

Philippians-1-6The Verse of the Day for July 10, 2015 is taken from Philippians 1:6 in the New Living Translation:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

The Amplified Bible renders the verse this way:

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

God completes the good work begun in us so that as believers we will be complete in every good work to do His will, as Hebrews 13:20-21 offers this benediction:

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen

As reflections of God’s love, we are not just a good work, but we are part of God’s creative expression that is being transformed into a glorious display of His workmanship. The good work that was begun in us when we first accepted Christ as our Savior culminates in the glorious manifestation of all that God designed us to be. God desires that we fulfill His purpose for each believer, individually as well as corporately as members of the Body of Christ. What began as a “good work” progressively unfolds as a “masterpiece,” a breathtakingly beautiful work of art. Ephesians 2:10 offers this description of the Church, which is the Body of Christ, of which we are members in particular:

Ephesians 2:10

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. (New Living Testament)

The Verse of the Day and its subsequent comments brought to mind a blog entry based on Ephesians 2:10 which has been excerpted and re-posted below:

This verse brings to mind to an experience that occurred seven years ago when my wife and I visited family and friends in San Francisco and Los Angeles. During our stay in the City by the Bay, we enjoyed a most enlightening experience at the Asian Museum where we saw a special exhibit from the Ming Dynasty. One of the pieces on display was a stationery box which is similar to the one shown below. Although the final product reveals what the designer had in mind, we do not see how the object looked at the various stages of development. So it is with the Church, the Body of Christ, which is made reference to in the Book of Ephesians, especially in Chapters 2 and 3. The Church, as such, is still a work in progress, but I believe that God is putting “the finishing touches on His crowning achievement.” The poem “Exquisite Exhibit” conveys in part my thoughts regarding the Church and my role in this amazing masterpiece of God’s creation.

Exquisite Exhibit

Viewing a Ryoshi-bako (stationery box)

Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty

Asian Museum–San Francisco, California

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew

in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things

he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10

 

God’s purpose was to show his wisdom in all its rich variety

to all the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.

They will see this when Jews and Gentiles

are joined together in his church.  

Ephesians 3:10

Sublime thoughts never diminish, only increase,

As I marvel at this ancient masterpiece.

The designer sees the end long before he starts

And envisions intricate details of the parts

And fashions a wood box inlaid with jade and gold,

Lacquered vessel for deepest thoughts the mind can hold.

Beyond all that I see, God formed and fashioned me

With precise measure of each scroll and filigree.

Displayed by the skillful hands of the Master craftsman,

Beyond the finest design of any artisan,

The Church, exquisite exhibit now on display,

Treasures from the hand of God take one’s breath away.

With the eyes of our heart now opened, we find

We are the masterpiece Jehovah had in mind.

This ryoshi-bako or stationery box is similar to the one that inspired the poem that draws a parallel with God’s masterpiece, the Church.

This ryoshi-bako or stationery box is similar to the one that inspired the poem that draws a parallel with God’s masterpiece, the Church.

A number of years ago I hosted a radio show “Poetry and Praise,” and I would close each show with this reference to Ephesians 2:10:

Every day of our lives we recognize and celebrate the truth that as born-again believers we are all new creations in Christ, and we praise God that He has given us all things richly to enjoy. Indeed, “. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The word “workmanship” is translated from the Greek word poiema, which means “masterpiece, a glorious creation, a centerpiece of attention, as the French would say, le piece de resistance, or showpiece.” Of course, the Greek word poiema is transliterated into our English word poem, which in the minds of many people, certainly present company included, is always a “masterpiece” or glorious creation. So that the people of God represent the real poetry of life, for which we praise God. Yes, each of us is a poem, or God’s handiwork or workmanship, a special work created by God that we should be to the praise of His glory….

Listen to “I am a masterpiece” written and performed by Roger Day:

In reflecting upon Philippians 1:6, a song written and performed by Steve Green also comes to mind: “He Who Began a Good Work in You”:

Responding to “Golden Healing” with “An Exquisite Exhibit”

February 5, 2015

Ephesians 2--10

Recently I encountered the poem “Golden Healing,” on a wonderful blog “Faith Unlocked,” a collection of “Christian Poetry, quotes, and thoughts.” I was so impressed with the poem that I re-blogged it and wrote the following comment:

What an exquisite piece –a work of art crafted to convey the message that everything God does is on purpose. . . as for God, His way is perfect. Your poem brings to mind my favorite verse in the Bible–Romans 8:28:

And we know that all things work together for the good to them that love God to them that are the called according to His purpose.

“Golden Healing” also brought to mind Ephesians 2:10, the inspiration for the following blog entry, which I am also re-posting”:

Ephesians 2:10

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. (New Living Testament)

This verse brings to mind to an experience that occurred seven years ago when my wife and I visited family and friends in San Francisco and Los Angeles. During our stay in the City by the Bay, we enjoyed a most enlightening experience at the Asian Museum where we saw a special exhibit from the Ming Dynasty. One of the pieces on display was a stationery box which is similar to the one shown below. Although the final product reveals what the designer had in mind, we do not see how the object looked at the various stages of development. So it is with the Church, the Body of Christ, which is made reference to in the Book of Ephesians, especially in Chapters 2 and 3. The Church, as such, is still a work in progress, but I believe that God is putting “the finishing touches on His crowning achievement.” The poem “Exquisite Exhibit” conveys in part my thoughts regarding the Church and my role in this amazing masterpiece of God’s creation.

This ryoshi-bako or stationery box is similar to the one that inspired the poem that draws a parallel with God’s masterpiece, the Church.

This ryoshi-bako or stationery box is similar to the one that inspired the poem that draws a parallel with God’s masterpiece, the Church.

Exquisite Exhibit

Viewing a Ryoshi-bako (stationery box)

Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty

Asian Museum–San Francisco, California

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew

in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things

he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10

God’s purpose was to show his wisdom in all its rich variety

to all the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.

They will see this when Jews and Gentiles

are joined together in his church.  

Ephesians 3:10

 

Sublime thoughts never diminish, only increase,

As I marvel at this ancient masterpiece.

The designer sees the end long before he starts

And envisions intricate details of the parts

And fashions a wood box inlaid with jade and gold,

Lacquered vessel for deepest thoughts the mind can hold.

Beyond all that I see, God formed and fashioned me

With precise measure of each scroll and filigree.

Displayed by the skillful hands of the Master craftsman,

Beyond the finest design of any artisan,

The Church, exquisite exhibit now on display,

Treasures from the hand of God take one’s breath away.

With the eyes of our heart now opened, we find

We are the masterpiece Jehovah had in mind.

A number of years ago I hosted a radio show “Poetry and Praise,” and I would close each show with this reference to Ephesians 2:10.

Every day of our lives we recognize and celebrate the truth that as born-again believers we are all new creations in Christ, and we praise God that He has given us all things richly to enjoy. Indeed, “. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The word “workmanship” is translated from the Greek word poiema, which means “masterpiece, a glorious creation, a centerpiece of attention, as the French would say, le piece de resistance, or showpiece.” Of course, the Greek word poiema is transliterated into our English word poem, which in the minds of many people, certainly present company included, is always a “masterpiece” or glorious creation. So that the people of God represent the real poetry of life, for which we praise God. Yes, each of us is a poem, or God’s handiwork or workmanship, a special work created by God that we should be to the praise of His glory….

Listen to “I am a masterpiece” written and performed by Roger Day:

The Church: Exquisite Exhibit

August 13, 2013

 

The Verse of the Day for August 13, 2014 is taken from Ephesians 2:10, the identical verse quoted a year ago when I posted the following blog entry, which I am re-posting with the addition of one of the most beloved hymns of the Christian Church “The Church’s One Foundation”:

Ephesians-2-10 NLT

Ephesians 2:10, the Verse of the Day for August 13, 2013,  brought to mind to an experience that occurred five years ago when my wife and I visited family and friends in San Francisco and Los Angeles. During our stay in the City by the Bay, we enjoyed a most enlightening experience at the Asian Museum where we saw a special exhibit from the Ming Dynasty. One of the pieces on display was a stationery box which is similar to the one shown below. Although the final product reveals what the designer had in mind, we do not see how the object looked at the various stages of development. So it is with the Church, the Body of Christ, which is made reference to in the Book of Ephesians, especially in Chapters 2 and 3. The Church, as such, is still a work in progress, but I believe that God is putting “the finishing touches on His crowning achievement.”  The poem “Exquisite Exhibit” conveys in part my thoughts regarding the Church and my role in this amazing masterpiece of God’s creation.

Exquisite Exhibit

Viewing a Ryoshi-bako (stationery box)

Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty

Asian Museum–San Francisco, California

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew

in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things

 he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10

 

God’s purpose was to show his wisdom in all its rich variety

to all the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.

They will see this when Jews and Gentiles

are joined together in his church.  

Ephesians 3:10

Sublime thoughts never diminish, only increase,

As I marvel at this ancient masterpiece.

The designer sees the end long before he starts

And envisions intricate details of the parts

And fashions a wood box inlaid with jade and gold,

Lacquered vessel for deepest thoughts the mind can hold.

Beyond all that I see, God formed and fashioned me

With precise measure of each scroll and filigree.

Displayed by the skillful hands of the Master craftsman,

Beyond the finest design of any artisan,

The Church, exquisite exhibit now on display,

Treasures from the hand of God take one’s breath away.

With the eyes of our heart now opened, we find

We are the masterpiece Jehovah had in mind.

This ryoshi-bako or stationery box is similar to the one that inspired the poem that draws a parallel with God's masterpiece, the Church.

This ryoshi-bako or stationery box is similar to the one that inspired the poem that draws a parallel with God’s masterpiece, the Church.

A number of years ago I hosted a radio show “Poetry and Praise,” and I would close each show with this reference to Ephesians 2:10

Everyday of our lives we recognize and celebrate the truth that as born-again believers we are all new creations in Christ, and we praise God that He has given us all things richly to enjoy. Indeed, ‘. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.’ The word ‘workmanship’ is translated from the Greek word poiema, which means “masterpiece, a glorious creation, a centerpiece of attention, as the French would say, le piece de resistance, or showpiece.” Of course, the Greek word poiema is transliterated into our English word poem, which in the minds of many people, certainly present company included, is always a ‘masterpiece’ or glorious creation. So that the people of God represent the real poetry of life, for which we praise God. Yes, each of us is a poem, or God’s handiwork or workmanship, a special work created by God that we should be to the praise of His glory….

The accompanying video performed by Jonathan Stockstill, “Let the Church Rise,” displays a specific instance where the Church rose to the occasion and made a significant difference in a disastrous situation. The world continues to be engulfed with endless challenges that at times can be overwhelming. During such times, “Let the Church Rise.”

Another musical selection also comes to mind when thinking about the Church Universal, as the Body of Christ, the hymn “The Church’s One Foundation,” a fitting reminder of God’s intent:

Three for Twelve for 2012: God’s Crowning Achievement

March 12, 2012

Isaiah 62 with its 12 verses comprises the theme for the New Year: "Twelve for Twelve in 2012."

At the beginning of the New Year, I posted a blog in Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe based on my theme and scriptural focal point for 2012. In this case, I had selected Isaiah 62, a passage that most providentially contains twelve verses. In studying the chapter, I decided to write a series of poems, as I personalized each of the twelve verses, calling the collection “Twelve for Twelve for 2012.” Here is the link to the first installment, published in two parts, inspired by Isaiah 62:1: “One for Twelve”:

I continue the series with the third installment “Three for Twelve,” a personalized poetic rendering of Isaiah 62:3, posted on March 12, 2012.  Here is the verse from the New Living Testament:

The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see— 

a splendid crown in the hand of God.

Three for Twelve

Isaiah 62:3

 

Three for Twelve

 Isaiah 62:3

 

The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see—                                                                                                                                                                               Crowning display of power, glory and victory.                                                                                                                                                                                       This one-of-a-kind crown overlaid with pure gold,                                                                                                                                                                                His crowning achievement whose worth cannot be told:                                                                                                                                                                    Beyond all the wealth of riches that crown the wise                                                                                                                                                                                 Is the crown of glory that shines before our eyes:                                                                                                                                                                                  Ever-increasing splendor never fades away;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             A royal diadem shines brighter in the light of day.                                                                                                                                                                               The love that crowns us, not even death can destroy,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For nothing can ever tarnish our crown of joy.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We shall behold the fullness of all that God planned:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           We are the crown of life that He holds in His hand.                                                                                     

 

In reflecting on Isaiah 62:3 and the poem inspired by that verse, I thought of another poem related to the aspect of crowns, as indicated in the phrase “Finishing touch on His crowning achievement” in the following reflective piece:

On My Journey

 May we see clearly where our paths have led

 And be strengthened for the journey ahead.

           Strengthened for the Journey

 

Sometime I feel like I’m on my journey home.

Traditional Folk Song

 

I am steadfast– my soul remains anchored in hope,

Eagerly watching and waiting, looking above.

Feeling during dark times that I can barely cope,

But seasons swiftly change, for I have come to know

Nothing can ever separate me from your love.

Despite appearances, you have the last say so.

Once more I seek to serve, to go where I am sent          

That my life should reflect the praise of your glory,

The finishing touch on your crowning achievement:

The surprise happy ending of this love story

When all creation finally gets back to being one,

Even as with Holy Spirit, Father, and Son.                                                     

The perfect will of God unfolds for all to see,

As I begin this new day on my journey.

                                                                

“I Am on My Journey Home”–this a capella hymn is a recording from the 2009 Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp Singing Convention. Harp singing or shape note singing dates back to the colonial period and continues to enjoy popularity in the rural South and elsewhere.

The phrase “crowning achievement” evokes a number of synonyms: crowning accomplishment, crowning glory, masterpiece or masterwork, showpiece, smash hit, work of a master; crowning achievement, great work or magnum opus. The essence of the verse three in Isaiah 62 is magnified and reinforced in a broader context in the New Testament with reference to the Church or the Body of Christ. As born-again believers, we are all new creations in Christ, and we praise God that He has given us all things richly to enjoy. Indeed, Ephesians 2:10 declares that “. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” 

The word “workmanship” is translated from the Greek word poiema, which means “masterpiece, a glorious creation, a centerpiece of attention, as the French would say, le piece de resistance, or showpiece.” Of course, the Greek word poiema is transliterated into our English word poem, which in the minds of many people, present company included, is always a “masterpiece” or glorious creation. Mike Riley has posted a most enlightening Bible Study Article “Christians Are God’s Workmanship” related to this topic.

The Church is designed to be the Crowning Achievement of God's creative wisdom.

Collectively the Church, the Body of Christ, has been designed to be a glorious masterpiece, God’s crowning achievement.  As with any magnificent work of art, there are various stages of development: Beginning with the preliminary design, we find intermediary stages with various alterations—multiple fittings—final fitting—put on finishing touches. Many times the artist will produce a prototype which is not the finished product but a replica in transition. I know first-hand that a literary work will generate numerous drafts on the way to being a masterpiece. The entire process from the initial concept to the finished product can take years until completion. Likewise, the Church is always a work in progress—always in transition, as Ephesians 4:13 reminds us of the direction we are moving in:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

The Church has been designed to display the infinitely variegated, wisdom of God, as Ephesians 3:10 in the Amplified Bible reveals:

[The purpose is] that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere.

Though we may not presently see the fullness of that revelation, we are ever moving in that direction. For we know that “When that which is perfect is come then that which is in part shall be done away.” The Church is always moving . . . from faith to faith . . . from glory to glory. . . from victory to victory. As we shall see to an even greater degree, the Church is God’s masterpiece, His “Crowning Achievement.”