15 May 2020
Paying it forward

Paying it Forward

Paying it forwardWe discussed a logical and useful follow up to our study of the book of Hebrews. Of course, each book in the Bible has tremendous value and provides glimpses of God’s grace in this world. In light of the physical, emotional, and financial hardships people are enduring due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we wanted to focus on more obvious Scripture that we will grow from. These scriptural passages provide reassurances from God that He is in control, that He will protect us, and that ultimately all of this will come together for His good.

“The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior…”
2 Samuel 22:3

As of the writing of this post, the Coronavirus has claimed the lives of 307,000 people worldwide. Add to that horrific number, more than 90,000 new cases, closed businesses, laid off workers, financial stress, suicide, and depression. We have a worldwide crisis and a perceived time for panic. Panic or looking for hope? Believers of Jesus Christ have hope. We have hope that He is watching us, hope that He is present in our lives, hope that we can endure this crisis, and hope that this will not be the end of our story.

“Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”
2 Timothy 1:9

So why does God make these things happen? God doesn’t make these tragedies happen. God allows them to happen. God crafted His plan for this world and His plan for us, “before the ages began.” We may never know God’s purpose for anything in our lives, but we do know the victory we’ll receive from His grace. Grace is unmerited mercy or favor. We did nothing to earn it. God understands clearly what pain is all about. He watched His innocent Son suffer and die a painful death that He didn’t deserve. Christ’s humiliating death on the cross paid our way to salvation. The next time someone extends some amazing gesture or act of kindness, realize that as awesome it is, it pales in comparison to God’s gift of grace. Nothing can compare to the fullness of this love. Nothing.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
Ephesians 1:7

There are many people who can’t see the light of day through their current hardships. They may have lost a family member or friend. They may have lost their job or their business and have no idea how they can keep their home or pay for their next meal. These are real life tragedies. How do these conflicts stand up in light of God’s grace? God’s grace gives us redemption. It saves us not just while we live, but also in our eternal home. So, while we’re enduring unspeakable hardships, just consider how much worse would it be, if there was no hope in something greater than us? Something that can absorb our pain. How much worse would it be if despite these horrible times, there was no hope for a brighter future? Christ’s sacrifice on the cross gave us that grace.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”
Acts 20:24

What can we do about our situation? What can we do to help our neighbor? Now is the time to offer support to those who can’t support themselves. We need to look outward not inward. Focus on being our best for someone else. God made us in His image. He made us with gifts and talents to make this world a better place. That’s our race that we should aim to finish.

“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.”
Nahum 1:7

If you were in deep water and were getting too tired to tread water, what would you do if someone offered you something to grab ahold of? Something solid to use to climb out of the water? That’s what God’s grace is for us. It is bigger and stronger than anything we can receive here on earth. It is a gift that has been paid for and is now free. When we’re struggling, when we’re having trouble breathing, we need to trust and accept Him and grab ahold of God’s grace.

Highlights:

  • Are you hopeful for your near future? Are you hopeful for your distant future? Picture yourself looking down on your life from a balcony. Do you see hope or despair?
  • How are you coping with the inconvenient aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic? Or worse, how are you dealing with the pain and anguish that has come from this disease?
  • What are you turning to feel better? What is your behavior telling you about your solutions?

Applications:

  1. No one can tell you to smile when things stink. People can’t really relate when your world is turned upside down. If good things in your life appear behind you and adversity is in front of you, you need true hope. Faith in Christ can put a light in front of you. The offer of God’s grace is in front of you. Pray and pray incessantly. God listens.
  2. How are you dealing with your fear? Is the news and social media making you feel more unstable? Of course it does. It’s earthly stuff and it can’t fix your problems. Are you constantly focusing inward on your own problems? Try to lend a hand to someone who needs your help. We all need support. Offer it to someone else. This outward focus will help you feel better. It is a sign of God’s grace in action. Embrace it and use it!
  3. Share the good news of Christ with someone who appears desperate and struggling. It is an eternal medicine that can heal all and offers an invite to God’s kingdom.

Where else in your life can you live out the teachings of Christ? Look for next week’s Devotion.