Back in the days of medieval kings, art was the property of those kings and queens – monarchs only. The common man was so concerned with earning his daily bread that he had little time for beauty. The king commissioned the musicians, and he bought the sculptures. He even controlled the literary arts for the most part. But eventually society started to grow and mature until art began to move into the public domain. Since then, people throughout the world have produced their own painters, musicians, writers and poets. But clearly, some are artists are better in their fields than others. And when it comes to poetry, at least in English, the cream of the crop became known as “poet laureates.”

According to my dictionary, there are the three definitions of “poet laureate.” A “laureate” was someone who had been given an laurel or wreath of flowers to wear as a crown. It was a symbol of honor, but, of course, it was far below that of a king with his golden crown. The Lord Jesus was mocked as a “laureate” when He was forced to wear the crown of thorns. The Poet Laureate was originally: “A poet appointed for life by a British monarch as a member of the royal household and was expected to write poetry celebrating occasions of national importance and honoring the royal family. Or he was a poet appointed to a similar honorary position or honored for artistic excellence. Or he or she was a poet acclaimed as the most excellent or most representative of a locality or group.”

As you know, Ephesians 2:8-9 are a couple of very valuable verses. They dogmatically restate, in clear language, some major doctrines. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” These verses teach some important truths about the “HOW” of salvation. But verse 10 is just as important as verses 8-9 because it teaches us about the “WHY” of salvation. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, Which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” You have not been delivered from sin and given eternal life just to make you feel good. You have not been saved just to rescue you from hell, or to fill Heaven’s immigration quota. You have been saved in order to serve and glorify your Creator.

The Greek word for “workmanship” in verse 10 is interesting, especially as it is found only twice in the Bible. The other scripture is Romans 1:20: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, Being understood by the things that are MADE, even his eternal power and Godhead; So that they are without excuse.” Both passages speak of the creative handiwork of God – once in creation and once in salvation. That is interesting enough, but that is not the thing which gives us our message this evening. The word “workmanship” is the Greek word “poiema” (poy’-ay-mah). And that is the great, great grandfather of the English words “poem” and “poetry.” A poem is a piece of verbal workmanship; the creation of the poet. And applying that idea back to verse 10, we learn that we are to think ourselves as the poetry of the Lord.

Those are the facts about this verse, but rest of this message is basically my own personal opinion. I want to apply some of the principles about my favorite kinds of poetry to the saint of God. Not everyone agrees as to what constitutes good poetry. The other day, in my reading, a preacher said, “You’ll like the following poem.” But it didn’t even come close to my kind of poetry. Everyone’s opinion about poetry is different.

Our scripture declares that we are the poetry of God.

That means, in my way of thinking, we should have a THEME. In a lot of modern poetry, theme is the only thing that you might find. In a lot of modern poetry there isn’t any rhyme or rhythm, grammar or even spelling. And still the poet writes what he feels. But if the author doesn’t have anything to say, then he needs to put his pencil down. Joyce Kilmer (a man) wrote a poem called “Trees” and it was about – trees. Robert Frost wrote a poem about “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening,” and as you read it you can feel the chill and the anxiety about getting to grandma’s house during a snowy trip. Poetry is thematic; it has a purpose and a message. And if it doesn’t, then like preaching, it has no reason to exist.

Now, as a poem of the Lord, YOU are suppose to have a theme. But what is your theme? Judas had a theme, and it didn’t glorify the Lord. Jezebel, the wicked wife of Ahab, had a theme, and it wasn’t good. As you look at some Christians, it appears that their theme is their job, or their favorite hobby. Is that what the Lord intended when He wrote them? Sam, the ball player; George, the politician; Fred, the bookworm; and Clarence, the fisherman. Are these the reasons that we have been poemed by God? Clarence should be known as the angel, or messenger, from God. The basic theme of all of us ought to be Christ, after all, we are “Christians” – people of Christ.

The Carters were still with us last week, when a piece of classical music began to fill the living room. It was “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Modest Moussorgsky. Moussorgsky had a friend who had been an artist, but he died. Acquaintances put together an exhibition of his work, and Moussourgsky composed a series of tone-poems describing about a dozen of the dead-man’s pieces of art. And between each piece there was the repetition of a special tune which represented the composer walking through the exhibition looking at the paintings, sculptures and other works. Toward the end of the work that thematic tune made a climatic crescendo. Like that exhibition, our lives have lots of different duties and pleasures, but there should be a single theme that links them all together. And that theme should be the Lord Jesus.

I personally think that as the poetry of God, we should have the right RHYTHM and SYMMETRY.

We are not yet living in the Millennial Kingdom, nor is Post Falls, Heaven on Earth. We have a hundred non-sinful, earthly responsibilities which occupy our attentions throughout the day. Parents have responsibilities towards their children. Spouses have responsibilities toward their mates. Most of us live in communities, and we have things required of us as neighbors in that community. As Americans we have responsibilities. And we all have responsibilities to ourselves. All of these things demand time and sometimes money. Many of them are very diverse from each other, and yet they are brought together in a single life – yours. In “Pictures at an Exhibition” there is a musical picture of a nutcracker, a castle, and an ox-drawn cart. Moussorgsky’s friend had made bird costumes for an opera, and the listener can hear chickens. He had a painting of a couple of old Jews arguing. But his best work was a painting was of the great Gate of Kiev. All were very different musically. But through the use of the musical theme all the parts were kept in proper rhythm and symmetry.

There is nothing wrong with gardening, fishing, hunting, quilting and other hobbies. And our duties and jobs are important, helping to put food on the table and shoes on our feet. But they all need to be properly tied together with the things of the Lord. When I was still collecting stamps, I tried to use my hobby to witness for Christ. Our jobs should be used for the same purpose.

Sometimes those things in lives cause discord; our lives become cacophonous, because they are misused. For example, there are the wives of Solomon. How many wives did he have? Worse than the number, was the fact that he let them get between himself and the Lord. His life was out of sync with God. At times there was no harmony between them. When anything comes between you and the Lord, it is idolatry. When something supercedes Christ then the symmetry of our lives is gone.

Taking another illustration from music: One of the hardest orchestral pieces I ever played was part of a Wagnerian opera called “Tannhauser.” Part of what made it so difficult was that the composer had some of the instruments playing in one rhythm and the rest of the orchestra in another – at the same time. I don’t remember the detail, but it was as if some were playing in 3/4 time and some were 4/4 time. Needless to say, I have never been a Wagner fan. And if I may say so, I don’t think that the Lord likes that very much either. The Lord wants all of us to be step with Himself and His word.

We are the poetry of God, and therefore we need RHYME and HARMONY.

“Harmony” is defined as agreement, concord and peace. Rhyme, of course, is a different kind of agreement; an agreement of sounds and words. When the poet begins to write, or the composer sits at the piano, she must decide on the kind of agreement the sounds and words in his composition are going to have. Is our harmony to be in thirds, and with which kind of key should we begin – a major or a minor cord? Should the rhyme be ABAB-CC or a simple AABBCC? In rhyme, many of the songs in our hymnal are a simple ABAB: “Encamped along the hill of LIGHT, ye Christian soldier RISE. And press the battle e’er the NIGHT shall vale the glowing SKIES.” “Amazing grace, how sweet the SOUND that saved a wretch like ME. I once was lost, but now I’m FOUND, t’was blind but now I SEE.”

Sadly, many professing saints live in harmony with the wrong things, rhyming with sinful things. James and John condemned harmony with the world, which means enmity with God. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” II Corinthians condemns harmony with the lost: “Be ye not unequally yoke together with unbelievers.” Romans condemns harmony with error. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”

Proper Christian rhyme and harmony takes us back to God and His will. Generally speaking the desires of the flesh are contrary to the Lord. “The will of the flesh is enmity against God.” Only when we accept God’s will, making it our own, will we have harmony with the Lord. In fact, only then will we have harmony within ourselves. True harmony means agreement with the Saviour, rhyming with the Holy Spirit, concord with the saints, and peace in our own hearts.

I suppose that many people would say that I’m unlearned in the ways of poetry. Some might call me backwards. But modern poetry doesn’t impress me because, among other things, it lacks rhyme. Experts may say that I’m in error, but to me, rhyme helps to make prone poetry; poetry poetry. Whether that is true in literature or not, I know that it is part of the story that creates an effective Christian. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

There is one more thing: We are the poetry of the Lord and therefore can look to a GREAT CONCLUSION.

That is another thing that I look for in poetry – the ending. The greater the poetry, the greater the conclusion. When I was in junior high school, I memorized one of the poems of Robert Service for a competition. It’s a silly poem about a man’s friendship with a Tennessean named Sam McGee who was in the Yukon prospecting for gold. Sam made his friend promise that if he died, that he would cremate him. Well, to make a long poem short, he did die and the friend put him in his cabin and set it on fire. But as the heat of the fire rose, his dead friend revived and rejoiced in the warmth. “And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar; And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said, “Please close that door. It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm – Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.” Couldn’t we allegorize that stanza and talk about the Christians’ resurrection? Maybe we shouldn’t.

But then there is the final stanza: “There are strange things done in the midnight sun By the men who moil for gold; The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold; The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, But the queerest they ever did see Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge – I cremated Sam McGee.” I like a good conclusion.

For the Christian, our conclusion will be in glory – changed, crowned, and costumed in the righteousness of Christ. That conclusion is guaranteed by the Lord Himself. Nothing can derail the Lord’s purpose.

But does our life today match that great conclusion? Ephesians 2:8 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Its not enough to die in them. The Lord want’s us to walk in those good works, as the perfect verse of the great “poet laureate.”

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”