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.
I spent the last few weeks thinking about this. The picture that God brings to mind about how He prepares good works for us is like a cooking show. The ones where everything has already been prepared for the host. All the ingredients are chopped, portioned and beautifully laid out on the table and the camera pans over then while the host tells us what they are.
When they start cooking, they don’t reach for the pantry, grab the salt, measure out “a teaspoon of salt”. They just pour it out from a little bowl, already portioned out.
At the end, the host puts the dish in the oven and says, “here’s one I prepared earlier”.
That’s what our God does when we participate in His good work. He has done all the preparation, all the tedious laborious work, all the heavy lifting. And in the end, only His work will stand, he will say, “here’s the work of my Son prepared earlier”.
“Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.” Matthew 8:34
An entire town totally missed the point: 2 people were finally freed and now have a new life. A path that was previously blocked is now open again. The miracle working “Son of God” was in their town. But none of that mattered against the weight of financial threat.
It was hard to see above their daily grind of work, pay the bills and feed the family… it’s just as hard now.
After the inception of the church, Acts 3-4 brings us to the first challenge of the early church – direct opposition. 2 verses
So they seized them and put them in jail until the next day (for it was already evening). But many of those who had listened to the message believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and discovered that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized these men had been with Jesus. And because they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say against this… For the man, on whom this miraculous sign of healing had been performed, was over forty years old.
Acts 4:13-14, 22