Monday, June 20, 2016

God's grace no matter how life turns out

“So, no one told you life was gonna be this way?”

It’s a rare case, indeed, where everything you’ve ever dreamed of has fallen perfectly into place. The job you love. The beauty queen wife, or millionaire husband. The immaculate two-story home in the best neighborhood in town. The exotic vacations all over the world. Or whatever else your heart desires.

How’s life turning out for you so far? Yeah, I thought so. I’m guessing the “Friends” theme song opening line probably applies to most of us.

Who could have anticipated how that accident or health issue would take life in a completely different direction? Who would have known the company would downsize like that? Who would have thought your “till death do us part” spouse would have left you with “four hungry children and a crop in the field” (to borrow another lyric, from the legendary Kenny Rogers)?

Friend, maybe you’ve had some bad times, lived through some sad times, but this time the hurtin’s for real. If that’s you, let me lovingly point you to the One who knows your pain, who feels your hurt and is able to heal like nothing or nobody else. His name is Jesus. And He’s able to turn your mourning into dancing, your despair into gladness, your suffering into praise, and your ashes into beauty.

How? In a word: grace. The grace of God truly is amazing. It can save a wretch like me. It can find the lost. It can open the eyes of the blind. It is, as Puritan Pastor Matthew Henry put it, the “free, undeserved goodness and favor of God to mankind,” ultimately and beautifully displayed all that Christ accomplished for us on the cross and in His resurrection victory over the grave.

Do you want healing for your hurting heart? God’s grace is sufficient in your time of weakness, for our God pours out His favor on those who trust in the work of Christ.

Author Jerry Bridges said it this way, “Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.”

Friend, today is the day of God’s favor. In Christ Jesus there is grace upon grace. And it’s available to you now, even in the midst of your hurt.

So, maybe life hasn’t turned out the way you wanted – or maybe it has. Either way, we are all in need of the grace of God. And when we turn in faith to the Lord Jesus, we find life abundant and eternal, and far better than anything we’ve ever dreamed.

Same refrain because we still need Jesus

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let me say it again: This world desperately and urgently needs Jesus. Lives are wrecked with sin. Families are in disarray. Communities are fractured. America is in trouble. The world is a mess. And our only hope is Jesus.

We are in a great spiritual war. The devil knows his time is short. There will soon come a day when the Almighty Judge of the universe will deal swiftly and decisively with him and all his minions forever. But for now he has intensified his efforts to wreak unspeakable havoc upon this world through all kinds of violent and wicked means.

How else do you explain the hatred of the human heart found among those who are bent on murder? The latest mass killing in Orlando reminds us once again that Satan has greatly deceived those who pledge their allegiance to ISIS and other such terrorist groups and ungodly causes. He has filled their minds with lies, blinded their eyes to truth and captured their souls to do his will. And his will has always been to kill, to steal and to destroy (John 10:10).

How else do you explain the depravity of those who buy and sell young girls into the sex trade? How else do you explain the vileness of men who commit shameless acts of impurity with other men? How else do you explain the horrible evil of rape? How else do you explain the utter cruelty of child abuse? How else do you explain the rampant, ruinous addictions to everything from alcohol to heroin to gambling to pornography and so much more? How else do you explain any and every sin that grips the soul?

The Bible tells us that the devil is the enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He is the “father of lies” (John 8:44), and the “deceiver of the whole world” (Revelation 12:8). And judging by the state of world affairs, he’s doing a brutally good job of “blinding the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

But, friend, let me assure you that Satan’s schemes are no match for the matchless power of Jesus Christ. Jesus has already triumphed over him through the cross and the victory of the empty grave. He has already conquered, and will soon crush Satan under his feet forever.

Let me urge you to turn in repentance from sin and put your faith in Jesus today while the mercy and grace of God still beckons you. “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). For apart from salvation in Christ, we all are dead in our sins, held captive by the devil, and bound for eternal destruction. But in Christ Jesus there is freedom and forgiveness and life abundant and eternal.

The world may be a mess, and it’s going to get messier, but Jesus is still the glorious hope for all mankind. And that’s a message worth repeating.