Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | July 28, 2015

July 28, 2015 “Right Here In River City”

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”   (Ephesians 2: 8-10)

Good Morning Fellow Life Travelers!!

On more than one occasion, I am sure, I have mentioned in these postings and other places that, while a high school student, I had opportunity to play the lead role of Harold Hill in Merideth Willson’s musical, “The Music Man.” As I read this passage from Ephesians this morning, (a passage quite familiar to me), it struck me that others, hearing me talk about the lead role I performed in that musical so many years ago, might come to the conclusion that I, and I alone, was responsible for the show’s success! I realize that most everyone would know this not to be the case, but to hear me tell it might lead others to believe that I felt that way! Reading this verse humbles me…as well it should…and not merely in regards to my role in a little-remembered high school production from 1967. Yes, I played the lead role on stage back then, but only because the director of the musical chose me from dozens of other equally-qualified and talented young men for that particular role. I didn’t play the major role in that decision…the director did. But to hear me talk about it, it was if it were all me and my admittedly limited talent!

In the great scheme of things, this is a rather isolated and insignificant event, but on the spiritual stage, such an attitude carries far more significance. Here in his epistle to the Church of Ephesus, Paul addresses the subject of God’s amazing grace with the new Christians of that city. He speaks of their salvation in Christ and credits Christ’s mercy…not their merit. He reminds them, as he reminds us, that salvation is not something earned. It is not a wage paid for services rendered or awarded because they, or we, are more deserving than others. Salvation is all God’s doing, from start to finish. The verse that really strikes me is,it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Boasting is more akin to what I did when it came to playing Harold Hill!  And, just as that character I played told the folks of River City, “Ya got trouble, my friend, right here in River City” when you end up believing that salvation is something earned or deserved or that God is obligated to provide. Such an attitude leads one to an erroneous conclusion of entitlement and superiority. The fact is, as Paul notes, God does both the making and the saving. Our proper response, rather than being one of pride, should be to do those good works for which God has prepared us. Our proper response is a faith response…faith in His amazing grace. Reformer Martin Luther wrote,

“Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.”

Any boasting we do should be boasting in Christ and what he and He alone, has accomplished. God is the director. We perform at his pleasure and for his purposes, and in doing so, receive His unmerited favor…His amazing grace. Let’s pray!

God of Grace and Glory; You alone are worthy of praise, and I do praise You this day for choosing me to be a recipient of Your unmerited favor. I thank you, O Lord, for the salvation that is mine in Christ Jesus, my Lord and my God. Amen!

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