Friday, March 16: Ephesians 2:1-10
My biological birthday is March 17, 1956, but my “Salvation Birthday” is February 7, 2006. You might find that a strange or odd piece of information for the beginning of a Lenten devotion, but it makes perfect sense to me. For me, on February 7th of 2006, my Christian life really began. You see, for me, on that day these verses in Ephesians took on real meaning: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live when you followed the ways of the world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient… For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God—not by works, so that no one can brag.” WOW, what a revelation for me.
On that day in 2006 I decided I would give my life to God, I decided that what I had been doing for the last 50 years just wasn’t working for me anymore. Within a year I was on my way to becoming a chaplain, and as the saying goes, the rest is history.
For me, this reading says it all. We are saved by grace through faith, and good works will not buy our way into heaven. What became obvious to me was that what separated Catholics (my former faith) and Lutherans (what was to become my present faith) is all tied up in the message of those ten verses in this reading. This became one of my favorite scripture readings, and at the same time this reading gave me biblical proof of what I had for a long time believed: that I could not “buy” my way into heaven. I had always felt that this tenet of Catholicism was baffling. Was God really an accountant, keeping credit and debit ledgers in heaven? I was pretty sure that wasn’t true, but until that day in 2006, I did not have any reasonable facts to back it up. Now I did. I felt these verses were speaking directly to me. I had been dead in my spirit, and at about that time in 2006, dead in the flesh too. I had been living too much according to MY desires and not God’s. That was about to change. No longer was I going to be separated from God, no longer was I going to be living MY life; I was going to be living the life God wanted me to live.
What came through so clearly to me in this reading was God’s fervent love for me, his child, someone He had created. I saw more clearly than ever that God had created a way for me to be restored to Him through the death of His Son, Jesus. When I saw this reading for Lent I was elated, because I now had a chance to share what this reading did for me, and what it could possibly do for all of you.
What a great reading for a Lenten devotion. For me, this reading speaks to what Lent is all about: being restored in Jesus Christ. This reading shows us a way to work on our relationship with God through his Son, Jesus Christ. You see, we Christians accept Christ and are made alive or reborn in Him. We are delivered from judgement and raised up to heavenly places. Though our bodies and souls are here on earth, we are no longer functioning just in the natural realm. We are now bound to Christ; we are in Him and He is in us. We are recreated and restored to everything that is us, that God planned us to be. This is through no effort of our own, because we are recipients of God’s amazing grace. We are unlimited, unsurpassed, and rich and free in Christ. We are blessed, we are reborn, we are thankful to our God.
For me there is no better assurance from God than His message in this reading. This reading is my spiritual birthday card from God, and my Lenten wish for all of you is that during this Lenten season it becomes yours too. Have a great Lenten season, and I wish you a Happy Easter too.