Scripture Reading Psalm 139:1-16

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1 September 11, 2011 Scripture Reading Psalm 139: You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Page 1 of 12

2 Ephesians 2:4-10 NLT 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 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. THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois All rights reserved. Message Masterpiece How does God view you? For some people the question is irrelevant. For if indeed they even believe in a God, many will say that God is indifferent to us, or that God is not concerned with humanity; God is a life-force outside our understanding, and certainly not relational in nature. The problem with such human wisdom is that it directly contradicts what we learn about God through the Bible, and what millions of people have experienced, and we experience when we open ourselves up to living in a relationship with God. From the beginning of the Bible to the end, God is intimately involved with His creation. Page 2 of 12

3 - He walked with Adam & Eve - He spoke to Abraham, Moses, Elijah and Paul - He wrestled with Jacob - He responds to the prayers of His children - In Christ He came to earth as a baby to teach us and show us how we are to love Him and love one another. God is not indifferent or distant or unapproachable. The Creator of all things loves His creation, and is actively working to redeem that creation so damaged by human sin. So, how does God view you? The answer may surprise you if, like me, you tend to view yourself more in the negative than the positive. When someone asks you, How was your day?, do you first think of your accomplishments, or the things you didn t get done? When someone offers you a compliment, do you accept it and rejoice in the goodness they ve noticed, or do you downplay their kind words with thoughts of your imperfections? Many of us living in a culture where airbrushed images warp our reality, and sinful behavior makes us feel unacceptable do not like ourselves. But, did you hear how God views you when we was reading in Ephesians? 10 we are God s masterpiece. Page 3 of 12

4 Now I suppose we can joke a bit about how good an artist God must be if we are His masterpiece. Or, we can celebrate that truth this hour/fall, and seek to understand what that means for us, and how that truth affects the life we have to offer to the world. What does it mean to you that God views you as a masterpiece? 1. It means that you are more precious to God and important to this world than you think you are. It is so easy for us to forget, especially on such a tragic anniversary as today, that when God created humanity, we were created in His image. Genesis 1:27, God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. And then after God described our dominion over all He had created; all those things He had called good over the previous five days, God now looks upon creation with humanity and says something notably different:. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Do you know how precious you are to God? It is true, as simple as it sounds; God doesn t make junk. Page 4 of 12

5 We just heard the Psalmist phrase it this way: Psalm 139: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Do you know that? You were created in God s image. And God has given dominion over all creation to human beings. What does that say about the capability God sees in us? Do you see how special you are to God? Have you ever gazed into the beauty of a star-filled night sky, or marveled at Hubble Telescope pictures of distant galaxies, and then come back to the truth that in God s eyes you are his masterpiece? A Psalmist once meditated upon this truth: Psalm 8:3-9 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Page 5 of 12

6 5 You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. 6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, 8 the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. When we look at the term used in Ephesians 2:10 we find that different translations use different words. - the NIV calls us God s handiwork, - the ASV (American Standard Versions) and KJV calls us God s workmanship, - the ESV calls us God s accomplishment, - the NLT calls us God s masterpiece ; and I love this translation because the Greek word behind all these translations is poiema which literally means work of art. It is from the Greek word poiema that we get the word poem. You are God s phenomenal work of art: a poem that leaves you speechless in its meaning and meter; you are God s masterpiece. But, it s hard to see, isn t it? It s hard to see it amid the dust of 9/11, the body count of war, parental abuse of children, and family abuse of elderly. It s hard to see this truth when we wake to hear of a new drive-by shooting, or when we fall back into our own pattern of sin we thought was long-gone. Page 6 of 12

7 While the Bible proclaims the truth that we are God s masterpiece, it also proclaims the truth that we are masterpieces stained by sin. But the Good News amid this reality, is that God who creates masterpieces also restores His masterpieces. What does it mean to you that God views you as a masterpiece? 2. It means that as stained as you may have become, through Christ and God s Spirit you are being restored. As the world offers a lot of hopeful solutions to the problems it defines, only God; through Christ s death and the working of His Spirit, can address our real problem; the stain of sin which hides the masterpiece we are. If you remember your history lessons you may recall that from 1508 to 1512 a human masterpiece took shape on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City. But even before Michelangelo s work was finished it started to fade due to an unending layering of soot. A 20 th century painter described it as if he were forced to look at Michelangelo through smoked glass. It wasn t until 1981 that a scaffold was erected to clean one corner of the frescoes. With a special solution, two dedicated art restorers gently washed the painting. Soon they invited art experts to examine the work. The result was stunning. No one had imagined that beneath centuries of grime lay such vibrant colors. This was not the Michelangelo known by art critics. That artist was the master of form, his paintings resembling sculpture more than painting. But now this "new" artist, revealed as stains Page 7 of 12

8 washed away, was also found to be the master of colors of amazing nuance. Our modern world had been blind to a gift of Michelangelo. So much excitement was generated by their restoration that immediately these restorers were commissioned to clean the entire ceiling. And though it took twice as long to restore this masterpiece than it took for Michelangelo to paint it, the results have been called breathtaking. Al Janssen, The Marriage Masterpiece (Tyndale, 2001); submitted by Kevin Miller, vice president, Christianity Today International (modified) You are God s masterpiece; albeit soiled by personal sin and the sin of this world. But God is restoring you; Christ s blood shed on the cross washes you, and the Holy Spirit is transforming all who trust in God. So great is the change initiated by Christ that the Apostle Paul wrote: 2 Corinthians 5: So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: [a] The old has gone, the new is here! Footnotes: a. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Or Christ, that person is a new creation. And though you may not see it as clearly today as you will one day, a promise we are given in the scriptures from a God who keeps all His promises, is that Philippians 1:6b he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Page 8 of 12

9 One day that masterpiece which is you will be fully revealed, But, the good news for today, is that you don t have to wait until Christ s return to enjoy who God created you to be. What does it mean to you that God views you as a masterpiece? 3. It means that as you allow God to work on you today, you can discover your unique beauty and ordained purpose for serving God here on earth. One author skillfully challenged a worldly perspective toward life by taking about a Christian perspective. He wrote You were not created to conform. You were not created to compare. You were not created to compete. You were not created to compromise. You were created to contribute to God s Kingdom and make a significant difference with your life. You were created to just be you! Rees, Erik, S.H.A.P.E.; Finding & Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life, Zondervan, 2006, p. 26 You are God s masterpiece, designed by your Creator for a specific purpose. It is my goal this fall that you begin to not only understand just how special you are, but that you allow God to uncover something new and wonderful about yourself something created by Him in you. It is also my goal that you will begin to offer that new and wonderful something to the world in Jesus name. It may be something new you Page 9 of 12

10 begin doing within our family of faith, or something good you share with the world. Remember again what we read in Ephesians 2:10 NLT 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. God created you with purpose, and because you are here today breathing, alive, you have purpose to impact this world in His name, as one created in IN HIS IMAGE. And so, in the weeks ahead we, as followers of Jesus, are going to get ourselves into SHAPE. The five letters of the word SHAPE will help us to explore what God has created in each one of us, and how we can use that self-awareness to discover good things God planned for us to do so long ago. S Spiritual Gifts Next week we will remind ourselves that when God s Spirit fills those who put their faith in Jesus, special gifts are given to serve one another in the Church; Body of Christ. Spiritual gifts define our purpose within the church family. H Heart The special passions God has given you so that you can glorify him on earth. Page 10 of 12

11 A Abilities The set of talents God gave you when you were born, which he also wants you to use to make an impact for him. P Personality The special way God wired you to navigate life and fulfill you unique Kingdom purpose. E - Experiences Those parts of your past, both positive and painful, which God intends to use in great ways. Rees, Erik, S.H.A.P.E.; Finding & Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life, Zondervan, 2006, The spiritual journey we are taking together this fall will take us to some interesting areas, but it begins with the acceptance of this truth proclaimed throughout the Bible. We are God s masterpieces being restored to accomplish His purposes. Can you accept that truth; that you are God s masterpiece created anew in Christ Jesus, so you can do the good things he planned for you long ago? What happens when a person begins to live in this truth? What happens in a church family when collectively we begin to see how special, gifted and equipped we are to minister where God has placed us? Join with me in excitement and anticipation. Join with me in the hard work of introspection; to look deeply in the mirror, past all that we don t like, so that we can begin to see what God sees and what God will increasingly reveal to us as we give Page 11 of 12

12 ourselves to His work of redemption and restoration. Before we enter into a longer season of prayer, let us bow with a quick prayer asking for God s blessing upon our fall journey THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois All rights reserved. Page 12 of 12

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