How about those Lions?! What a great and exciting victory over Matthew Stafford (I’m still a fan) and the LA Rams. And now they are six-point favorites to win again … and if the Packers can pull another upset … Oh, the possibilities. I hear that standing room only tickets for this Sunday’s game are commanding well over $400 – can you imagine what they will be if Green Bay is in town to determine who goes to the Super Bowl? Life is good.
On the same radio station that provided all of this NFL information they went on to discuss the weather … and then inflation … and then immigration … The temperature on my dashboard read 1 degree – the windchill they said was well below that. The warming centers will be very busy until next week when we might hit 40 degrees. The price of groceries has risen over 30% in the past three years … but the price of eggs is down now that the avian flu epidemic is past. Everyone seems to agree that immigration is a major issue in our country, but no one seems to have a solution. And then, of course, there is Hamas and Israel …racism … the list goes on and on. Is life really good?
And, for that matter, who is in charge – or is anyone? The Gospel of Mark has Jesus introducing (and summarizing) his ministry by saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news” (Mark 1.15). That same Gospel concludes (in its longer ending) by stating “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.” (Mark 16.19-20) The message is clear: Christ established his kingdom on earth through his death and resurrection, therein defeating the devil and all his hordes. However, if Christ is in charge, why all the chaos? And is life really good?
Yes it is for the people of God in Christ Jesus … for one simple reason: “By grace we have been saved through faith, and this is not our own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Ephesians 2.8-10) Just as important are the verses preceding these familiar ones: “God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace we have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2.4-7). Life is good because our God is neither poor nor stingy. The only question is whether we spend our life listening to him (his powerful Word) or Satan’s deceptive suggestions (you know how that turned out for Adam and Eve … and, inevitably, us).
Life is good “By G” … You may be acquainted with the old acronym G.R.A.C.E – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. I recently heard someone give a great explanation to the phrase “she has received double for all her sins” (Isaiah 40.2) that connects God’s mercy with his grace. The “first portion” is God’s mercy wherein he removes the debt created by our sin. The “second portion” is his grace poured into our lives after the debt has been removed. Putting it simply, if we owe God a trillion dollars because of our sin, he first pays off our debt (mercy) and then gives us a second trillion to live on. And, of course, our debt – and the second portion – is in reality much greater.
“By G Thru F” … in “Chicken and Egg” terms, faith comes first. Faith then produces belief/trust. And remember ”faith is not our own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” In other words, God gives us faith (the faith that saves us) and then uses his means of grace through the rest of our life to increase our trust (belief) in him. And the more we trust in him, the more our eyes are opened to see how good life is … even when the Lions are losing!
This is what “By G Thru F” is all about … first being given the eternal security of ALL of our sins being washed away in baptism while simultaneously the righteousness of Jesus is sealed upon us forever. And then, as that faith in him is nurtured during a lifetime of walking with him, our trust grows to believe that he is graciously in charge of all things and at all times … even though this truth is a total mystery to us.
How did Jesus put it? “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news” (Mark 1.15). He, today and every day, rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness and wonders of his love. Life is good because God is good … all the time.
Now, just imagine how things will be when the Red Wings and then the Tigers make the playoffs this year!
Life IS good … By G Thru F