Sunday, March 25, 2012

Good News: God's Mercy (1 Timothy 1:15-17)

The best-known prayer 20 years ago was the Lord's prayer, but the best-known prayer today is the Serenity Prayer. It speaks to letting go of the things we can't control because so many find themselves in a situation they can't handle. It is the prayer adopted by many of the 12-step programs.

Paul understood God's mercy. He knew that the things he had done made him the worst of sinners, and yet God saved him. This is the chief characteristic of mercy - giving kindness and help to someone who doesn't deserve it.

Mercy is not something that God possesses, it's something that He is. His personal response to the worst sinner is mercy. Our first reaction is to desire punishment and revenge on those who wrong us. God's desire is to forgive and save us, He has unlimited patience...this is good news for us! Of this Paul says, "Here is a trustworthy saying..."

Mercy is God's redemptive patience in action. He is not willing that any of us should perish, but that we would each be redeemed. Mercy triumphs over judgement.

God's mercy changes how we live our lives. We can have hope for the future in spite of the past, and we can have hope for others in spite of the past. We can forgive and be forgiven.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Good News: God's Grace (Acts 20:22-24)

We are assaulted every day in the media we consume with the bad news from our world. It's easy to conclude that "bad" is how things really are for us. If we accept this view, we will not make good decisions about how we should live...not simply because negative thinking is harmful, but because this view does not match reality. In fact, things are "good" for us.

That was Paul's mission... 'testifying to the gospel of God's grace.'

'Gospel' means 'good news' and 'grace' is a special gift, something we did not earn and do not deserve. This good news makes all the difference in the world. We do not face a future filled with the bad things we deserve, but have been given all the good things we could never have earned.

Surely this should change everything about how we live our lives. Carpe diem... life is good for us!