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You're a Masterpiece in the Making, Part 1

From the series Your Divine Design

If you could ask God for an extreme makeover in your life, what would you want it to look like? Join Chip as he begins this series with the encouragement that God has specifically designed you as a unique masterpiece.

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As we get started, I want to make a confession. In fact, I’m going to make three really small confessions, so brace yourself. And if you don’t know me very well, I don’t want to be too vulnerable too early, but my first confession is, I do not watch a lot of primetime TV, and I do not like it. Okay? I don’t like TV a whole lot. There are not a lot of good things to watch. It’s just a confession.

My second confession is, of all the things on primetime TV that I hate, that I loathe, are reality shows. Have you noticed, in the last few years – I mean, reality this, reality that? I just hate reality shows.

So, here’s a guy who doesn’t like TV a whole lot, and, he loathes reality shows. So, are you ready for this – my third confession? I watched a reality show recently. Yes, I did, and I loved it. It was called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

And I had taught that night – it was a Sunday night – and I came home and wanted to relax, and I turned it on. I had no idea what was going on. But before I knew it, here is this guy, and he had, like, six kids, or five kids, and four of them were teenagers. And they began to unfold the story.

His wife had died about a year and a half or two years ago, and you could tell, from the little snippets they gave, that he was a believer in Christ. And I mean, he was now working two jobs, trying to be a dad, and any time the thought of his wife was brought up, he would begin to tear up. It was a really close-knit family. And your heart just began to break.

And, apparently, the theme of this program, Extreme Makeover, is, they find people in very difficult situations, and then they have a team of construction people and designers, and then they go into the neighborhood and to the relational network – in this case they went to this guy’s church – and they went to his neighbors, and they asked them to donate their skills, and they brought in a group of pros.

And then, they take the family away – I don’t know if it’s for a week, or ten days, or how they do it; I didn’t get that much into it. But then, they totally revamp the house. Now, it looks a little bit like it used to look on the outside, but they knocked out walls. They increased the square footage. They put in an upper floor. They redid a room for every one of the kids. And each one of them was designed according to the needs of the people.

The dad was working two jobs just to make it now, and so they created this unbelievable office, so he could do his second job at home. The four teenagers – no hope of going to college; they were financially strapped. And so, one was kind of a strong guy, and he was working out. They created an indoor gym, with a spiral staircase, and they had every piece of equipment you could imagine.

And then, one of the girls had this artistic flair, and she had this dream of maybe being a designer, or an artist. And her room, the bed, they could pull out the bed, and she could do drawings.

One of the other kids had this dream about working with animals. And so, everything in the room – there was an aquarium, and the bedspreads, and the pillows, and everything was about animals.

Every room was designed around the desires and the gifts, to help their life and their family function in a way that would be extremely different, and extremely more wonderful than before.

And then, they bring the family back in, and they look at the house from the street. And all the neighbors who helped are there, and they’re all cheering. It’s going crazy. And they pull this big truck, and then the truck goes away, and they look at their house. And then, they walk in and open the door.

And then, this is what happens: The tears start going down their eyes. “Dad!” And then, they just walk them from room to room to room, and they tell them why they created this room for them, and how to help their family.

And the people, you can tell, I don’t think the people who run the show are necessarily Christians, at all, but when they love someone that much, they start crying, the neighbors start crying, the people who get loved start crying, and I’m on my couch going, “I hate reality shows . . . but I just love this one!” I’m crying in my living room! And I thought to myself, Ingram, this is ridiculous.

And so, I did a little research. And I found out that there’s not one reality show. It is a movement. I actually did a little research. Not only do they do Extreme Makeover for houses, they do Extreme Makeover for cars. They take old cars, and then they turn them into spiffy cars. They do Extreme Makeovers for motorcycles. In fact, I’ve found there’s a channel that, I think, the only thing they show is the Chop Shop, and they keep redoing these motorcycles. And I thought to myself, Man, we are into this Extreme Makeover stuff. And then, I asked myself, Okay, what is an extreme makeover, and why are we so fascinated by it?

Let me give you a definition of what I think an extreme makeover is. It is the process of taking something that is old, broken, imperfect, damaged, or not useful, and recreating it into something that is whole, useful, beautiful, attractive, and new.

And then, I asked, Well, what is it about something that’s old, that’s made new, something that’s broken and made whole, something that isn’t right, and then is made beautiful and useful – what is it about that, that really attracts us? And there may be a lot of reasons, but let me give you my top three.

The first is, I think we all inwardly love to see positive change. In my human heart, I love to see positive change. Remember, even as a kid, when I was a kid, when I found a penny, I thought it was really cool. And we had this stuff where you could rub stuff on an old, yicky penny, and it would become a bright, shiny penny, and it’d be like, “Woo!” I mean, what is that? There’s something about seeing positive change that is so exciting for all of us, as human beings.

The second reason is, I think our curiosity is riveted by the skill and creativity involved in making the old, new; and the broken, whole; and taking that which was unbeautiful and then making it beautiful. The curiosity, I looked at this Extreme Makeover thing, and I was asking myself, How do they knock out a whole wall? That house doesn’t look big enough to have two stories now.

The third reason, I think, that we’re fascinated by extreme makeovers is this: I think all of us secretly long for an extreme makeover in some area of our lives or relationships. See, I’m just like you. And I think, down deep in my heart, and down deep in your heart, is, I long for, Boy, I’d like to be different. I’d like to take something old in me and make it new. I’d like to take a broken relationship and see it whole. I want to see positive change.

And, you know what? Rather than feeling bad about that, I think it’s God-given. I think it’s rooted in the spiritual DNA of your Creator, in your heart, in your life, that you want an extreme makeover. Because I’m going to suggest that the ultimate extreme makeover is Jesus Christ working in a human heart, and taking that which was old, and making it new; Jesus Christ working in a human heart, and taking that which is broken, and fixing it; taking that which is unuseful and dysfunctional, and making it useful, and functional, and winsome, and beautiful.

In fact, I believe our fascination with makeovers is rooted in the Author of extreme makeovers Himself. The ultimate extreme makeover: 2 Corinthians 5:17. It says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, the new has come!” God’s desire – listen to this: God’s desire, the One who created all that there is, the One that created you – His desire is to do an extreme makeover for every single person on this planet. An extreme makeover.

God wants to do a relational, spiritual, emotional, internal, forever transformation in every man, every woman, every child. He wants to do a recreation.

He wants to take the old and put it away. He wants something new to come in. He wants an open door in your heart and life, and a relationship with Christ that gives you new desires, and a new future, and a new purpose, and a new life, and a new peace. And He wants to take the old, and forgive, and He wants to take the old, and He wants to cleanse, and He wants to put your past behind you. God wants to do an extreme makeover in your life, and mine, and the way He does it is through His Son, Jesus.

Now, what I’d like to do – are you ready for a little analysis? I’d like you to open your Bibles to the book of Ephesians, and I want to spend a little time and ask ourselves, How does it work? Okay? If we were doing Extreme Makeover with God, we’d say, “How’d He do that? How’d He do that?” And in the Book of Ephesians, we’re going to learn exactly how He did that.

Let’s begin in chapter 2 and notice who you used to be. Over here is the “before” picture. In a minute, we’ll see the “after” picture. The first three verses of Ephesians 2 are going to give you the “before”: before they came in and knocked out the drywall, and put in the second floor.

Notice what it says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, and the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us” – no exceptions – “also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”

Now, we could spend a lot of time studying this, but I can give you three quick observations about how you used to be before Christ, or where you are at if you don’t know Him personally.

Number one, it says we were dead in our transgressions. Theologically, that just means we are separated from a life with God. We are separated from God. There is a wall; there’s a barrier. We are separated from a relationship with the God who made us.

Second, you’ll notice, we’re prisoners of the world’s system – the ruler of the power of the air. We’re prisoners to addictions. We’re prisoners to dysfunctional relationships. We’re prisoners to being addicted to pleasing people.

And then, finally, notice, it says that we’re objects of wrath. There is just judgement for living in a way that hurts people – the stealing, and the lying, and the manipulation, and the image casting, and the things that we all have done.

And God says, “This is who you used to be. You used to be dead. You used to be a prisoner. You used to be an object of wrath.”

But notice, it gets really good. Notice, who are you now? For those who have a personal relationship with God, by faith in Jesus Christ – picking it up at verse 4, what does it say? “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions – it is by grace that you have been saved.” And then, notice what He did, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

And if you had a lot of time to study that, you would realize some major changes occurred. You used to be dead; now, you are alive. You used to be a prisoner; now, you’re delivered from sin’s power, Satan’s grip, and past mistakes. You used to be an object of wrath, and now you have a new standing with God. You are righteous. You’re cleansed. You have a new identity. You have new power. You have a new future, a new purpose, a new family, new privileges. And then, very excitingly, you have a new inheritance. “Before” and “after.”

And then, you ask yourself, Well, why? Why did God do that? Look at verses 7 through 9. In verse 7, notice the purpose clause here: “In order that in the coming ages He” – God – “might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in the kindness to us in Jesus Christ.” And then, we get a very familiar passage, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and that’s not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – it’s not by your works” – not by your effort, extreme makeovers are done by God, not by you – “lest any man should boast.”

God wants to do an extreme makeover in your life, and mine, and the reason He wants to do it is so that we could see the riches of the kindness of His grace demonstrated in Christ. We could see – here’s a person’s life. Instead of a physical body going from a size 38 dress to a size 12, instead of a shabby house going into a beautiful palace, He’s saying: here’s an old life in Adam, in an old family with sinful patterns that brought destruction to you, and alienation from God, because of what Christ has done.

He wants to do an extreme makeover, beginning in your heart, and change the way you think, change the way you act, change your standing with God, change your relationships with people. And the reason He wants to do it – did you notice this? It says so that in successive ages – that’s the idea, in time of history – God would exhibit that which He’s really like, to men, and women, and angels.

When those people walked into the house, and they saw that bedroom, instead of the old one, when they saw the living room, and the kitchen, “And we can eat together as a family!” The kids had tears in their eyes, “Is this our house?”

And what’s behind that? It’s a sense of awe. It’s a jaw dropping, “That was so bad, and this is so good.” And what do they do? Then they turn to the people who recreated the house, with a sense of, “Thank you so much.”

And see, what God is about, for everyone that will let Him – He is about doing something in you that takes who you were, and changes it, through the power of Christ, into this new creature and this new person, that if you would meet someone ten years later who maybe you went to school with, or maybe you used to do drugs with, or maybe you used to run with, or maybe you did some stuff back in junior high with – if they could see you, and your life, and your relationships, they would go, “Ohhh, Bobby? Is that you?”
I actually had this experience.

And, uh, there was a fellow that I played basketball with in high school. And he went on to play in one college, and I went on to play at another, and he was a couple years behind me. And we were a couple of high school guys, both non-Christians, both living the high school life in the ‘70s. And I came to Christ, lost track of him for twenty-five years. He later went through some hard times, came to Christ. And he got on the Internet, and looked at our website, found out what we were doing, emailed somebody.

So, I’m, it’s a new members thing, and we’re saying, “Hi, it’s good to have you.” And I look at the first row, and I’m going, I literally stopped, “Phil, is that you?” “Yeah. Chip, is that you?” “Yeah.” And it was kind of like we knew our history: “What are you doing here?” And he looked at me, and I looked at him, “God did an extreme makeover on you, didn’t He? And God did an extreme makeover on me.”

Here’s what I want you to see: You are a masterpiece in the making. Look at Verse 10: “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” You are His masterpiece. Jim isn’t some special guy. Every person on the earth – what’s it say? “If any man” – if any woman – “is in Christ” – what’s it say? “The old, the old things pass away, all things” – notice, it’s a process – “become new.”

Now, here’s what I want you to do. Do you have a pen? Pull out your pen. I want you to circle the word: workmanship. Then, I want you to put a little squiggly line under: created in Christ Jesus. And then, I want you to put a box around: to do good works. “For you are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” – for a purpose – “to do good works” – then, notice – “which God has prepared in advance for you to do.” God wants to give us an extreme makeover. He wants to give you a second chance.

Have you ever been shooting foul shots, or shooting darts with someone, and you make a little bet? I’m sure you’ve probably never done this, but in your former days or something. And you’re not quite warmed up, and you shoot one, and you miss it, and you say, “Redo. Redo.” Right? “I mean, if you want to have good competition – I mean, I wasn’t loose. I’ve got to get loose.” Right? “I want a second chance. I want a redo. I want to start over.”

Don’t we all want a redo? You know what God’s saying, through this passage? He wants to give you a redo. He wants to give you a second chance. He wants to give you a new life. This little phrase, “You are His workmanship” – the Greek word here – literally, it’s the picture of a masterpiece in the making, that’s in progress.

You could picture a beautiful piece of art, and you’re the canvas, and God is painting, and reworking, and recreating. And you’re on His easel, and you are a masterpiece, you’re His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.

Or you could see Him as a sculptor, and He’s resculpting your life. And He’s taking the clay of who you are, and He’s forming the different parts, and He is making you – you are His workmanship.

Or you could be a literary work. This word was used of a poem, or a literary work that was in progress. You are the workmanship of God. He’s recreating you – how? – through your relationship in Christ. Why? For the purpose of good works, doing good. God has a purpose for your life.

Don’t we know that now? I mean, if twenty-three million people buy a book, if twenty-three million people buy a book to discover what their purpose is, don’t you think there’s something, down deep in the heart of men and women, that says, “I want to have purpose”?