I am God's Workmanship

Skilled to do His Work

pen and scroll

“He has filled them with skill to do all manner of work of the engraver and the designer and the tapestry maker, in blue, purple, and scarlet [thread], and fine linen, and of the weaver–those who do every work and those who design artistic works.” Exodus 35:35, NKJV

Thinking about God’s workmanship, my mind went back to a Beth Moore study I’d gone through several years ago. A study in wisdom, she taught mostly from the Proverbs, but I distinctly recall going to this passage during her teaching—because what she pointed out stuck.

Earlier, in chapter 31, God had shown Moses a man who He had “filled with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all [manner of] workmanship . . .” Workmanship, as in artisan skills. God continued to tell Moses that He’d equipped others with skills to do the work He’d appointed to the people of Israel—they were master-craftsman, skilled to create the tabernacle God was instructing Moses to build.

Beth Moore proposed this question: How did that happen? Recall that these people had been enslaved, and now were wandering the desert, following a cloud. Wow. God had given them skills beyond their natural capacity to do the work He’d appointed. That’s amazing.

You know what I love even more, though? The skills weren’t reserved for the teachers–for the pastors, missionaries, the theologians and biblical scholars. These craftsman brought glory to God with the work of their creative gifts—their artistry. I find my heart burgeoning at that, because I’m not Paul, the great missionary. I’m not Luther, the theologian who changed the world. I’m not gifted as a speaker, and I’m not (as much as I wish I could be) Mrs. Beth Moore.

But I can write. I can tell a story, and weave a plot—not because I’m so extraordinary all by myself. God lovingly endowed me with that gift, that artistry. And I can use it to point to His glory. It is the skill He has granted to me to do His work.

What is yours?

I am God's Workmanship

Working and Worked Upon

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? I Corinthians 9:1 ESV

I am God’s workmanship, but He used many craftsmen to mold me.  He shaped me under the hands of my godly parents and Sunday School teachers.  He used my youth minister at First Baptist Church Orlando to teach me how to share my faith, and the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ at the University of Florida to develop in me maturity and a heart for the world. He has influenced me under the tutelage of my husband and numerous amazing friends.

This part of being God’s workmanship makes me quiver, because he expects me to turn around and mold others.  In I Corinthians 9:1, Paul is reminding his readers that they are his workmanship – Paul’s.  Those Christians were the result of Paul’s labor in the Lord. 

Certainly, the master craftsman is God Himself.  But, Paul was the tool God used to shape those believers.  Paul, too, was responsible for the way they turned out.

So, God expects me to join Him as He produces His workmanship in the people who populate my world.  He expects, even commands me to disciple my children and younger women.  He expects me to teach them what I’ve learned, to point them to Him, to humbly correct them when they stray from the path of faith, just as I myself have been corrected by those who came before me.

Who is in your realm of influence?  Who has God given you to mold?  The way they turn out may just depend on how well you do the job God gives you. 

Let’s join Him in creating masterpieces around us.

guest posts, I am God's Workmanship

Working with the Master Carpenter, A Guest Post

By Tim Shaffer

I’m not a carpenter. I’m a musician. I have no illusions about my skills with a hammer, drill, or—hit the deck—a nail gun! But I just spent four days last week working on a building project at my parents’ house. My brothers and brothers-in-law hatched a plan to add a garage to our parents’ home. They want our folks to have an easier time using the car in bad weather. While I knew I wouldn’t be much help with the skills needed to draw up plans, order materials, or measure and cut lumber, I could offer my back and arms—the most basic manual labor—and then only with clear instructions and close supervision.

carpenter's handsMy brother-in-law, Greg, is a master carpenter. He decided each day what I could do to help, and then showed me how to do it. Like I said, I have no illusions about my skills at a building site. I only do what I’m told. I check with the “boss” several times while I’m working to make sure I’m still doing it right, and I never move on to a new job without waiting for further instructions. I often am embarrassed and apologetic about my lack of carpentry skills when I’m working with Greg. I hate that I have to ask so many questions, and that it takes me twice as long to get things done. But Greg has told me that he’d rather have help from someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing and admits it than deal with a guy who really doesn’t know, but won’t admit it. A guy like that keeps going when he should stop and often ends up making more work by doing things without asking. Some jobs have to be redone or completely undone. He ends up wasting time, material, and even his own sweat!

I also serve another Master Carpenter. He grew up in Nazareth and learned the trade from his dad. After working for my brother-in-law, I’ve been wondering why I have a hard time admitting to the Master Carpenter from Nazareth that I have no carpentry skills. I really need his guidance and instruction to build anything worthwhile with my life. But for some reason, I find that very tough to admit. It’s difficult to wait for the Master Carpenter’s direction. And sometimes, I just don’t like his job assignments for the day or I think I know better how it should be done.

What is it that makes it so simple for me to submit to my brother-in-law’s authority on a construction site—even when the job he gives me is nothing more than moving a stack of two-by-fours from this corner to that? And why is it so difficult for me to submit to the Carpenter from Nazareth—even when the job is simple and straightforward?

I can think of several reasons for my attitude when I’m working for Greg:

I respect his knowledge and ability as a carpenter and construction foreman.

I know he drew up the plans for this project and he sees the big picture.

I know that on my own, I couldn’t begin to get that garage built with straight walls and a sturdy roof.

I don’t want to hurt others or myself by using tools I don’t know how to handle—like the nail gun!

Finally, and probably most important, I enjoy hanging out with my brother-in-law. I don’t want to annoy him or disappoint him by not following orders on the job site.

I see a progression in my attitude working for Greg—a breaking down of my pride. First, I recognized his knowledge and authority. Then I acknowledged my ignorance and need for help to do things right. And finally, I admitted my need for a friend who appreciates me and accepts me for who I am. I progressed from the brain to the heart. From a pretty obvious acceptance of the facts: Greg knows much more than I do about building a garage and I don’t want to mess it up; to the point where I finally admitted: I just want to hang out, be a part, have a buddy, have value.

Can you accept that the Master Carpenter from Nazareth has a good reason for His work in your life? Do you realize he drew up his plans for you before you were born? Are you willing to admit you just don’t have the know-how to build a life on your own that won’t bend and twist and collapse in the next storm? Do you want a friend, the best friend you’ll ever have, to teach you how to build your life His way? The Master Carpenter tells us: “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:14-15.

Is there a wall to be knocked down in your life, or a new foundation to be laid? Let the Master Carpenter show you how to do it right. He’s your best friend, and His work in you will be the masterpiece He is delighted to present to His Father.

Tim Shaffer is a professional bassist and teacher in the Chicago area. He and his wife, Lynn, are celebrating 25 years of marriage this year. They both enjoy reading, gardening, traveling, and mentoring young people. For many years Tim has also led a group in his church for men struggling with addictions. 

 

I am God's Workmanship

Workmanship that Works

Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are different ministries, but the same Lord.  And there are different activities, but the same God is active in everyone and everything.  A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial … And God has placed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next, miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, managing, various kinds of languages. I Cor. 12:4-7, 27-28

I awoke to the sweet smell of Swiffer mop solution.  Stumbling out of bed, I found my 12-year-old son hard at work in the quiet house, scrubbing my floors.  I know, it’s crazy, but God has given me a boy with the spiritual gift of service.  That child loves to help out.  And when he’s done?  He’s satisfied, filled, like a cat with cream. 

My daughter, on the other hand, would choose a trip to the dentist over cleaning her own room, much less the rest of the house.  But if one of her friends is down, she is the first to call her, make her a card, give her a hug, even pray with her.  She’s 10 – with the gift of encouragement (most certainly not service!)

My mom is filled with mercy, my dad with wise teaching.  My husband is a gifted pastor, and evangelism comes easily to me. My sister is both a helper and an encourager.  One of my friends is a great manager – details and flow charts and motivating others are his natural languages.

All of us are radically different, but each of us is God’s workmanship.  He created us, masterpieces all, with jobs to do.  He considered our personalities, our natural inclinations, and he empowered us with his Holy Spirit to do tasks that he appointed for us.  Each of those tasks has a common goal – to advance His Kingdom on earth.

We are not just paintings to be hung on the wall and admired by God.  We are not simply statues that awe the admiring crowds.  We are workers.  And Ephesians 1:10 tells us that God made us “for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”

That just amazes me – that God would prepare stuff for me to do ahead of time so that when I get “there” on my life’s path, those tasks are waiting for me, tasks that satisfy and fulfill me, tasks which I am suited to perform.

I didn’t list all the spiritual gifts in today’s post. There are so many more than I’ve even touched on here. What’s yours?  And what tasks has God given you to use it doing?  How are those tasks advancing God’s Kingdom?  How do you fit in to the plan?

I am God's Workmanship

I am God’s Workmanship: A Joint Post

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not 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, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10,ESV

From Susan:

In Greek, “workmanship” is poiema, the same word from which we get our English word “poem.”  Poiema is also translated as “creation, handiwork,” and … this is my favorite … “masterpiece.”

Think of humanity’s masterpieces: Bethovan’s Ninth Symphony. Handel’s Messiah.  Michelangelo’s “David.”  Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”, and J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.   All of these works have two things in common – they are amazing, and they did not create themselves.  Bethovan composed his Ninth Symphony while deaf.  Michelangelo spent three years chipping away at the marble block to create “David.”  Leonardo da Vinci had to dip brush into paint and apply paint to canvas to give us the “Mona Lisa.”  And every novel has an author behind it, writing, editing, rewriting and second guessing plot structure and word choice.

A masterpiece is what is produced when the master works.  I was no masterpiece to start with.  I was just a wayward girl, intent upon her own desires, sinful and lost.  But, Jesus died for me, and rose again to give me new life.  He re-created me into His masterpiece, his piece of work.

But He didn’t do it just to hang me on the wall and enjoy me.  That’s where the metaphor of artwork breaks down. Jesus has a greater purpose.  He has a job for me to do, “good works,” and he’s formed me to do them. 

From Jen:

Ahhh… what would the world be without Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, or Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, or the whole spectrum of Jane Austen? Or what about Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, or the works of Monet? Or even our modern brushes with technological genius—Bill Gates’ Microsoft, Steve Jobs’ Apple, and that Zucker-kid’s Facebook.

Masterpieces all. But none of them just spontaneously happened. They had a creator, and that creator had a plan. An idea on the outset of what they were working on, and an intended purpose for that masterpiece on the back end.

And to think, we are called God’s masterpiece. Created with purpose, designed for His pleasure. And better, He not only had a plan for the creation itself, but a plan for that creation’s meaningful work. Sometimes I lose sight of that. Sometimes I feel abandoned in the chaos and get lost by the unexpected bends in life. But He never does. He has made me with love and given my life purpose by design. His masterpiece—amazing! I wonder, what will that look like this week?