Life Lessons from Hard Times – Part 6 of 12
In our pilgrimage through the New Testament, defining skillful living and wisdom and success, we have seen the following: For God’s people, He tailor makes tests in life designed to grow us up. These trials are to be received with joy and with perseverance, without challenging God’s plan for our lives and recognizing that the wrong decisions we make, even in this crucible of fire, are not the fault of God but lay at our feet! Lessons one through five.
Here we are on planet Earth. Not bad considering the alternative! How are we to understand the ups and downs of life? The Big Blue Marble. The most iconic photograph in human history was taken in 1972 by the Apollo 17 crew with a 70mm Hasselblad camera pointed out the tiny window of the spacecraft. It was the first photograph of the wholly illumined planet Earth.
James 1:16-18 16Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.
Again, James, in our Christian Living 101, in the earliest of the New Testament books written about one year after the death and resurrection of Jesus, notes:
- Good Things in Life Come from God – Without Exception. This same God, who gives wisdom to us when we ask without finding fault, also showers us with the gifts of life, of blessings, of forgiveness, of grace and mercy – of second chances – in abundance. Using our planet as an illustration, James notes that our days open and close with life and darkness, with shadows and seasons but in CONTRAST to what we see with our eyes, God’s gifts are constant and without diminishment. Talk about grace!
- We are Born Again, Given New Birth and Life, through Jesus, and through the Truth of God’s Kingdom. With a primer from Nicodemus (John 3:1-16), we are told that we must be born again, born of the Spirit, in order to have eternal life. And we did not conjure up that faith. Even the faith that reached out to God and brought us into the Kingdom was and is from Him. Ephesians 2:8-9 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- 9not by works, so that no one can boast. So where do we go from this grace-established starting point?
- Turning into a Show Piece for God. From the Jewish festival schedules, James establishes we are to be first fruits, a sheaf of wheat or fruit waved and held up, acknowledging that all that we are becoming is from Him. Ephesians 2:10 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
A Personal Note. Do you know what drives me on a regular basis? It is often the thing I start with in prayer each morning. And it is measured by some whopper sinful failures in my life in the past. Everyone has those closets! Luke 7:36-50. A woman of sordid past was weeping and anointing Jesus’ feet with oil, over the protestations of the Pharisees. After all, this woman is a sinner! So are we all, Jesus noted, with a parable about forgiven debt. He who is forgiven much will love much, like this amazing woman.
The conclusion: Luke 7:47 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” If you believe, like me, that you have been forgiven much – and I have – then you show now love much! Simple and yet so powerful. Loving God and loving others. Join me in this life adventure, on this beautiful planet.
– John Moore