Recently a relative of mine died, after surrendering his heart to the Lord the previous day. It really was a last minute conversion. As a direct result of this event, I gained a new revelation of God’s grace and was overwhelmed by His goodness. Even now I sit back in wide-eyed amazement. I realised afresh that not only did God give Jesus to die for our sins and reconcile us to Himself, He also pursues men and women to their dying breath, because He can’t bear the thought of being separated from them for eternity. Our God is indeed the ‘Hound of Heaven’, and will go to excruciating lengths to bring each of His children safely home.
Jesus Christ so clearly illustrated this to us from the cross. Severely dehydrated, torn, bleeding and in agony, Jesus converses with one of the thieves crucified alongside Him. The thief cries out and asks Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom, and Jesus assures him that He will. He pronounces over the thief’s life, ‘Today you will be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:42-43).
This story astounds me. All this thief had to do was acknowledge he was a sinner (Luke 23:41), and turn his face towards His Saviour, and he was forgiven and accepted. There was no time for the thief to make restitution to those he’d wronged, or even to serve God with his new life.
Not long after his heartfelt utterance, Roman soldiers broke his legs and his earthly suffering soon ended. He deserved death and eternal punishment, but God held out to him ‘sonship’ and a place in His Kingdom. Grace, grace, amazing, earth shaking, unbelievable, jaw –dropping grace! How can we not joyfully serve a God a like this! A God who takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked and rejoices in the salvation of every repentant sinner. (Ezekiel 18, and Luke 15). If more people truly understood the heart of their Heavenly Father, they would willingly surrender their lives to Him and begin a new life.
God is like the landowner in Matthew 20, who paid the same wage to those he’d hired in the eleventh hour as those who bore the heat of the day. It doesn’t sound fair by human standards, and it’s not! But that’s the beauty of God’s mercy. We receive what we don’t deserve, and we’re released from the punishment that we do. It’s by grace we’re saved. That causes my heart to overflow with thanksgiving. All glory, honour and praise be to our God!
My family member received that grace, in his eleventh hour, and I’m comforted by the fact that I will see him again in glory. ‘Where, O death, is your sting?’ (1 Corinthians 15:55). Though I still grieve the one I have temporarily lost, I don’t grieve as one who has no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). My family member is reconciled to his Heavenly Father, and, together, we’ll spend eternity in God’s presence.
Our God sent His son. Jesus came, and we’ve been entrusted with this wonderful ministry of reconciliation (See 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). ‘We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us…Be reconciled to God.’ (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Are you available to be used by God in this way today? How can we keep something as wonderful as this to ourselves! Open your mouth wide and share about God’s amazing grace.
Prayer: God, thank You, thank You, thank You for Your amazing grace. It blows me away. It astounds me. I don’t just want to be a receiver of that wonderful grace, but also one who points others to You, the God of all grace (1 Peter 5:10). Help me to do this, I pray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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