The Masterpiece

I enjoy painting during any free time I might have. I don’t necessarily consider myself an artist though. I paint just to relax and my paintings stay in the privacy of my bedroom. My niece once introduced me as her aunt, the artist. That seemed odd to me as she and her siblings are extremely talented artists, you know, those people who actually sell their artwork! I laughed and explained that I wasn’t really an artist. She asked if I enjoyed painting? I told her I did. Then she said, “If you enjoy painting and are expressing yourself through an artistic medium — you are an artist.” That stayed with me. I guess it is like my enjoyment of writing. I may not always be a paid author, but I enjoy writing.

Last night was one of those nights that I had an urge to paint. But unfortunately I didn’t have a new canvas on hand. So I looked at my wall and took down one of the paintings that I considered less desirable. I had tried to paint something on it before and didn’t like it so painted something else over it which was not much of an improvement. This time I thought I would simply paint it white so I could start with a fresh background. After I was done I hung it back up on the wall to dry. As I viewed it hanging on the wall I noticed some of the dark color bleeding through and the different textures that were visible from previous acrylic paint. Then the word, “whitewashed” came to my mind. Didn’t the Bible mention something about being whitewashed?

Matthew 23:27-28 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (NIV)

I could visibly see the mistakes that were under the coat of thin white paint. It made me think how we sometimes try to cover our sins by acting righteous, but the Lord sees through the coat of paint where we try to hide our sins . He sees into our hearts. Yet since he is so full of love and grace, he desires to completely blot out our transgressions. We just need to ask.

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“Come now lets discuss this.” say the Lord. “Though your sins are bright red, they will become as white as snow. Though they are dark red, they will become as white as wool.” Isaiah 1:18 (GWT)

I sometimes struggle with the concept of truly being forgiven of past mistakes in my life, as I am sure so many people do at times. But what about….? Can God truly forgive? I want to be pure, but past sins sometimes knock at the door of my mind and haunt my soul like green mold on cheese. You think the entire chunk of cheese is no longer good to eat because of mold. But once you cut off the moldy part of the cheese – the rest is fine. If God has taken away that darkness from my life, why couldn’t I trust him with the rest of my life?

Once when I was struggling with this concept and was calling out to the Lord he revealed his truth to me while in prayer. I saw him standing in front of me as I was trying to explain to him the reason why I wasn’t able to be used and each time I would try to explain, he would put his finger to my lips to stop me from speaking about my faults. I’d try again and again he’d put his finger on my lips and whispered “Shhh”. He ignored my whining because he already was in my future and knew my past. He knows the plans he has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

The blood he shed doesn’t just cover our sins so they are not seen anymore, it literally erases our sins. He throws them into the sea.( Micah 7:19) I don’t understand how that is possible. I don’t understand his grace. I don’t understand his forgiveness. I don’t understand why he loves us so much. But HE DOES!

We become as clean as a new canvas that has never been painted as soon as we ask him into our lives. (2 Corinthians 5:17) He can then paint a beautiful picture about our lives. He can use the darkness of our past, the brokenness of our hearts, the foolish of our choices, the hopelessness of our souls and mix it with his blood and by his Spirit a masterpiece is created. How? Because he is the master of our lives and we are his artwork.

His masterpiece is YOU!

His masterpiece is ME!

How awesome are his masterpieces. We have been created by the hand of the Lord.

HEADLINES

“A tower is consumed in fire, leaving 79 people missing and presumed dead.” 

“A car plows over protestors, one killed, 19 injured.”

” A 3 year-old is missing; parents are being questioned.”

“Stores are laying off thousands of employees as their doors close for good.”

Nuclear weapons are pointed in our direction.”

Terrorist…bombs…death…suicide…gender confusion….political unrest…and so on and so on…

Do you get tired of the depressing news that flows through the flat screen, into your living room or over your car radio, or pops up on-line? Let’s not forget the social media or internet craze where you can slide through article after article of information. Some may be interesting but other can be quite disturbing and it isn’t even a political season.

Our own mind can play our personal thoughts and cares on an endless loop tape…over and over. What do you constantly think about? What plays over and over in your mind?

All these words of gloom or distress plus the anger and fear that seemingly reside in our atmosphere can become overwhelming.

The other night as I was drifting off to sleep the heaviness of the world’s news, the sadness of those going through dark seasons, the cares that the next day may bring kept filling my thoughts. Suddenly Philippians 4:8 came to my mind.

“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.  Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Instead of filling my mind with the news of the land I should be filling it with the hope of Christ. So I began to consider this verse. What does it mean?

So what is TRUE?
The truth is that God loves us. He sent his son to this dying planet to save us from darkness. He IS returning some day. Life does not have to end in defeat. The truth is that no matter what is seen with our eyes there is hope beyond measure in this life and beyond.

What is NOBLE?
Being noble is being virtuous and honorable in a world of self-satisfaction. A noble person thinks of others first, such as giving up a seat on a bus for an elderly person or returning a wallet found on a park bench to the rightful owner– with the money still intact. Or perhaps dying for a world full of lost souls so they can spend eternity with their creator.

What is RIGHT?
It seems the world we live in has lost the definition of right and wrong?  But God is truth and though we have people trying to change that fact and people trying to make a twisted choice as right, it doesn’t matter. God is still right. It is still right to give innocent babies life. It is still right to spread the gospel of hope. It is still right to help those in need.

What is PURE?
Purity is undiluted. It isn’t mixed with properties that would taint it. Purity makes me think of a newborn baby who has not tasted sin. Or perhaps purity is the spilled blood from Christ’s body as he stretched out his arms to die.

What is LOVELY?
It could be your dream home on the ocean front or a field of flowers. I see a tender touch of a mother’s hand on her sleeping child or an elderly couple still holding hands after decades of love, even when faced with trials.

What is ADMIRABLE?
It is when a person risks his own life to save another life by forging into raging waters where a car has overturned. It is when a teacher does not give up on a child who may need extra help.  It is when a doctor flies into a third world country to help those less fortunate; or when parents adopt a special needs child because they long to share the compassion and love that fill their hearts.

What is EXCELLENT or PRAISEWORTHY?
I look around me and see the people I rub shoulders with and know that I live amongst people who are excellent. I see people who have gone through incredible heartache yet whose hearts are still soft because they have allowed the Creator to walk with them through fires of life.  Now they are giving a helping hand to those who experience the same thing.

I look beyond the chaos of this life and I see a purpose. I see a God who is slow to anger and full of grace.  He is waiting for those who will turn to him. He is waiting for you and for me to quiet our hearts and give him our cares.

He is excellent. He is praiseworthy.

So I choose to think about and meditate on the things that bring life and hope. And I thank the Lord that no matter what the news may report, no matter what the movies may portray and no matter what people may say, God is STILL in control.

The events of the day do not change the fact that he is God. It does not throw him off guard or trip him up. He is aware of our future.

His word even states:
” Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:5-7 (NIV)

I pray that you find peace today. Whatever you may be facing or whatever you are listening to that may strike fear in you, I hope you can give it to God! Be careful what you pour into your mind and dwell on. And especially be careful whom you may choose to spend time with.

As you keep your mind on the things that bring hope I pray you find rest in HIS peace.

May the headlines that flow through your mind be true, noble, right, pure, admirable, and worthy of excellence and praise.

God bless.