Tag Archives: Ephesians 2:8-10

But what have you done for me lately?


John, a teenager at the time, was listening to the exasperations of his mother. I suppose her frustrations we’re fueled by his not helping around the house, or perhaps a disrespectful attitude. She pleaded with him, reminding him the story that leads all teenagers to roll their eyes: “I carried you in my belly for nine months. I gave birth to you and nurtured you. I changed your diapers and taught you to read.” John, looked at his mother and said,

“But what have you done for me lately?!”

I chuckle when I think of this because I know John and his mom. They were actually quite close and both her pleading and his response were said in jest. But I wonder if you’ve asked that same question in the midst of real conflict and sorrow. Maybe your hard efforts go unnoticed, or worse yet, criticized. Maybe you’ve been on the giving end of a one-way relationship that seems to suck the life out of you for lack of a mutual demonstration of love and concern. Maybe you once knelt before the cross and asked Jesus to save you from your sins and to show you the abundant life he promised. Only now, you look at the difficulties in your life and wonder “God you once filled me with joy, but what have you done for me lately? Where did you go and why did you leave me in this life of woe?”

It’s not that God is a magic genie, subject to our every wish and command. He is not the Great Santa whose job is to fulfill our request list. And still, God promises to be with his people always. His promises of abundant life, filled with love, joy, and peace are true promises. They are ours for the asking. And yet, with our eyes focused on our troubles, we forget the promise, thinking, “It must not be true for me.” The reality of life on earth is that we often focus on our circumstances rather than on God.

I wonder how we might respond if God asked us the same question: “What have you done for me lately? What have you done in my name?” The wonderful news is “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-9

We couldn’t earn forgiveness or favor from God. He offers it to us freely. We access his gioodness and power through faith, which itself is a gift from God. Why? So we could be who we were meant to be, a new creation created in Jesus in order to do good in the world. There’s nothing wrong with random acts of kindness, but you and I were created for more than that. We were create to participate in the work that God himself has prepared us to do. We were made for the very purpose of helping others in practical ways and with the expressed intent of showing them the love of Jesus. We were made to experience and express love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Are these not the blessings he has offered to us recently, even in the day before us?

This leads me to measure my ambitions and personal interests against God’s better plan for me. Indeed, what have I really done for God lately? How have I shown his compassion? How has his power to overcome  my circumstances been evident in my conversations? Is there anything noticeable about my life because Jesus is doing something magnificent for me and in me, not just years ago or even recently, but right now? Is the light of Jesus hidden in my life, or is it able to shine brightly upon the lives of those around me?

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. – Psalm 51:10-12




Is faith enough?


I was visiting with one of my nurses who (in her words) serves Jesus “in the Catholic tradition.” We discussed the amazing truth of Ephesians 2:8-10:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.We are saved by grace.”


We’re saved by grace, through faith – not works. Yet, our faith leads us to good works. It is why we were created.


Life is tough. Sometimes we feel so beat up by the messiness of ministry and the tediousness of the daily grind, we might want to escape to a secluded place and just focus on growing our faith and prayer life – or just get away from it all! But that’s not why we were created. We were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works” that come though faith. We’re not exempted because of pain or sorrow, regret or self pity. Jesus says “I am the way.” So following him by bonding with others in his name is the way out of our own despair.  It is the healing balm for our wounds.


Faith is the most important thing, if it expresses itself through love. (Galatians 5:6) But faith does not stand alone. Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:5-9 –

“… make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”


When our faith is alive and active, it adds goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love. And our lives change from being “ineffective and unproductive” to being fruitful. You might say, “Well, this is how God made me so get over it!” God loves us too much to leave us where we are. We should expect God to change us to reflect more of these godly qualities in our daily life. These disciplines of living don’t come naturally, rather through faith that his is the better way.


Is faith enough? Yes, because if it is real it will mark your life with all kinds of goodness, self-control, perseverance, and selfless love. Isn’t this the legacy you want to leave? Your new legacy of faith, expressing itself through love, starts today.


Finding the grace of God…in holiness



Grace, an undeserved gift, the exercise of love, kindness, compassion, mercy, favor; the disposition to benefit or serve another. We all want grace.


Some try to secure the grace of God by doing good works. Ephesians 2:8-10 says that we are indeed created for His workmanship to do good, but it is only by grace that we are saved, the grace that comes as a free gift of God through His son Jesus.  We access this amazing grace by believing who Jesus is, the Son of God, by asking Jesus to forgive our sins, to turn away from sinful ways, and to invite Him to be Lord and Savior of our life.  If you have made this sincere commitment you know the natural response of a truly repentant and thankful heart receiving this amazing grace is to love others and extend grace to them.


Hebrews 12 offers both a warning and encouragement to us:

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless…” (v 14-16)


In this day and age holiness may seem a bit archaic and might even bring to mind certain legalistic and ‘goody two shoes’ attitudes. It may also bring a feeling of overwhelming frustration: “How can I be holy?!”  Holiness is our utmost calling, and He who calls you to it will equip you.  You see, holiness is not just the end goal of a maturing Christian’s life; it is at the beginning of our walk with God and essential to discovering the fullness of His grace and extending it to others in our daily lives. It is much more than seeking to live by moral standards. To be holy is to discover the Living God in us. (“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27)


Take some time today, maybe right now… ask God to reveal to you what stands in the way of you and holiness. Be it secret behaviors or secret thoughts, selfish ambitions to control your own life or that of others, or a bitter root separating you from others, the answer is also what keeps you distant from Him. Not only that but distant from experiencing the fullness of His amazing grace in your life.   Holiness is found by disciplining yourself to maintaining the presence of God throughout your day, constantly seeking the one who loves you most. It is as much a desire as a product of our lives.  It is revealed in discovering God living in you throughout all your activities.  Holiness is not some pious behavior. It is the outpouring of a thankful and grace-filled heart.


Want to experience real grace? Be holy…because He (in you) is holy.

(1 Peter 1:16)