Genesis 3:21; has been called the first gospel sermon. Preached not by preachers but by God himself. Not with words, but with symbol and action.

“The LORD God made clothes from animal skins for the man and his wife and dressed them” (Genesis 3:21).

God covers them. He protects them.

Love always protects.

Hasn’t he done the same for us? We eat our share of forbidden fruit. We say what we shouldn’t say. Go where we shouldn’t go. Pluck fruit from trees we shouldn’t touch.

So what does God do? Exactly what he did for our parents in the garden. He sheds innocent blood. He offers the life of his Son. And from the scene of the sacrifice the Father takes a robe not the skin of an animal but the robe of righteousness. And does he throw it in our direction and tell us to shape up? No, he dresses us himself. He dresses us with himself.

You were all baptized into Christ, and so you were all clothed with Christ” Galatians 3:26a-27.

God has clothed us. He protects us with a cloak of love. Can you look back over your life and see instances of God’s protection? I can too. My junior year in college I was fascinated by a movement of Christians several thousand miles from my campus. Some of my friends decided to spend the summer at the movement’s largest church and be discipled. When I tried to do the same, every door closed. Problem after problem with finances, logistics, and travel.

A second opportunity surfaced: spending a summer in Brazil. In this case, every door I knocked on swung open. Two and one half decades later I see how God protected me. The movement has become a cult, dangerous and oppressive. Time in Brazil introduced me to grace, freeing and joyful. Did God protect me? Does God protect us?

And you? Did he keep you from a bad relationship? Protect you from the wrong job? Insulate you from _______________ (you fill in the blank)?

Like hovering birds, so will [the LORD Almighty] protect Jerusalem Isaiah 31:5 (JB).

He will strengthen and protect you” 2 Thessalonians 3:3 ( NIV).

He will command his angels to guard you Psalms 91:11 (NIV).

God protects you with a cloak of love.

“in Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us”. Ephesians 1:7-8a

Lavished! With God’s grace! What an amazing word picture! You and I, right where we walk today, are being showered with the loving kindness of our great God. He is pouring out His unconditional love over us. He is heaping tremendous, overwhelming favor on us.

Do we feel it on a Monday morning as sandpaper relationships rub us the wrong way?

Do we envision it as circumstances press in on us with worry through our day?

This short verse in Ephesians reminds us that, because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we walk differently than the world around us. We are redeemed. We are rescued from the guilt of our own lack of grace to others. We are bought back from the despair that we see and feel in the world around us.

God’s great kindness, His mercy to do more for us than we can imagine, to honor us and recover us from our own despondency, is His gift to us on a Monday morning where we walk in the midst of challenges. He renovates our own attitudes and actions and words. He changes our responses to our worries. He brings the healing oil of the Holy Spirit instead of our own sandpaper reactions.

And when our supply of grace feels depleted in the face of those challenges, we can pause and take a breath, and go back to be refilled by this loving God who lavishly pours a never ending supply of loving kindness into our hearts.

Today, when we feel the pull of problems that can overwhelm, may we pause, and breathe in an extra measure of His grace so that we can, in turn, pour that kindness and peace out.

Oh Father God,  Your word reminds me that “Your loving kindness is better than life”. (Psalm 63:3)   Today, when I feel the sandpaper edges in relationships around me, or worries try to overwhelm me, please nudge me, by Your Spirit, to access Your never ending supply of grace and to be filled with the fruit of patience, peace, gentleness, humility and self-control. I praise You for Your lavish grace poured over me. May I be conscious in receiving it and generous in passing it out today. I pray this in the strong name of Jesus, with thanksgiving, amen.