This morning my study was in Ephesians 2:1-10, an amazingly packed portion of scripture. Ephesians 2:8-10 is a recognizable passage to most Christians, and one I memorized in grade school, and I am glad I did. In the NIV, it goes, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Such a clear and simple laying out of the plan of salvation, in just three short verses.
It is by grace we are saved — it is not something I have earned or ever could earn — it is only available to me as a gift. For that reason, I can never boast in my salvation. And good works are not necessary for salvation, but rather good works are proof of God’s grace in my life. God saved me so that I could do good works for the benefit of his Kingdom. In the words of my bible commentary, “While it is true that we are not saved by good works, it is equally true that we are saved for good works. We do not work in order to be saved, but because we are saved.”
“But the question arises: What kind of good works am I expected to do? Paul answers, Good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. In other words, God has a blueprint for [my] life. Before [my] conversion, He mapped out a spiritual career for [me]. [My] responsibility is to find His will for [me] and then obey it. [I] do not have to work out a plan for [my] [life], but only accept the plan which He has drawn up for [me]. This delivers [me] from fret and frenzy, and insures that [my life] will be of maximum glory to Him, of most blessing to others, and of greatest reward to [myself].”
“In order to find out the good works He has planned for [my life, I] should: (1) confess and forsake sin as soon as [I am] conscious of it in [my life]; (2) be continually and unconditionally yielded to Him; (3) study the word of God to discern His will, and then do whatever He tells [me] to do; (4) spend time in prayer each day; (5) seize opportunities of service as they arise; (6) cultivate the fellowship and counsel of other Christians. God prepares [me] for good works. He prepares good works for [me] to perform. Then He rewards [me] when [I] perform them. Such is His grace!” Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald, Edited by Art Farstad, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995.
How convicting! And yet how inspiring! I have been thinking through my current situation, and I am convinced that we are within God’s will in leaving the active-duty Air Force. I believe that God led us to the land that we found in Nebraska, and that He has allowed us to acquire all of the property. I believe that it will please Him for us to set up on the land and spend more time with family. I also believe that (here I am going out on a limb a bit) He would be pleased to have me have the part-time job at Offutt AFB that I have applied for. I believe that with this job, God would be providing for our family while also allowing me to have more flexibility and spend more time at home, leading the family. I could be wrong on the last point (or even all points, I suppose), but I nevertheless believe these things. Since I feel that we are squarely within God’s will, I KNOW that I have nothing to fear or worry over. God will reward me for following Him.
Lately I have been concerned about the health and growth of our baby in utero. This afternoon I was thinking about how God rewards us when we are within His will. I was thinking that we have placed ourselves back within His will when we stopped trying to control our reproduction and we got the vasectomy reversal last October. In February, we conceived, and today we are at 16 weeks and 2 days. This afternoon, we met with a doctor and heard the baby’s heartbeat for a second time. What a relief it was to hear that baby’s heartbeat. It reassured me that we were within God’s will and that our baby was still alive. In the next few weeks, Gina should start to feel the baby move! Anyway, this is part of our pursuit of the quiver-full life, something we think brings glory to God.
The final part of this long post is my thoughts on church. It is my dream to start or join a home fellowship of Christians when we get to Nebraska (Sterling Christian Fellowship?). The idea would be a Bible-believing collection of Christians who meet together weekly and are primarily characterized by our love, for Christ, for each other, and for others. Perhaps this is part of the ‘spiritual career’ that God has planned for me? I must confess that I often feel I would be an inadequate member of such an assembly, but perhaps that leadership of the assembly is not what God is calling me to.