God’s Word Shines

This devotion is a monthly ministry of the Pee Dee Baptist Association, comprised of 31 Southern Baptist churches in Dillon and Marlboro Counties.  For more information call 774-8062. Featured this month is Rev. Austin Wynn, the pastor of Piney Grove Baptist Church, Lake View.

“Heaven doesn’t want me and hell is afraid I am going to take over.” Deep words for a Monday morning at McDonald’s over sweet tea, yet these are the very words one man recently told me have been a logical explanation for all the problems he’s had in life.
Although most people wouldn’t articulate it in quite the same terms, I think many have a hard time understanding why life has turned out for them the way it has. ”Why did that parent die unexpectedly?” “Why did my spouse leave me?” “Why was my child born with a disability?” “Why does everyone else seem to have it easy, except me?” “Why can’t I find a job after all this time?”
When we allow questions like these to consume our lives, they can lead us to question whether or not God is good at all. But the Christmas season always brings a fresh reminder of God’s goodness to mankind. If God did not care about us or had no control over the circumstances of our lives, why would He send His only Son into this cruel world to be born of the virgin Mary and, ultimately, die on a cross, condemned as an enemy of the state?
The Baby in the manger is God’s megaphone to mankind saying, “You don’t deserve this, but I am here to live the life you couldn’t live, and die the death you deserve for your sins, and rise again so that you may have life, purpose, and hope.” As I told this gentleman at McDonald’s that day, “Heaven does want you. In fact, heaven went through hell for sinners just like you.”
The problems we face in life don’t prove God is apathetic or weak. In fact, sometimes they prove just the opposite. God may allow problems and pain into our lives to bring us to our knees and turn in faith to His Son. The Bible is full of people whose problems were part of God’s perfect plan. Joseph was sold into slavery, falsely accused, and imprisoned for years. Job lost all ten of his children, all his source of income, all his savings, all his farmland and animals, was covered in painful sores, misunderstood by friends, and berated by his wife. Daniel was targeted by his enemies and thrown into a den of hungry lions. Jeremiah was left for dead at the bottom of a dry well, sinking in quicksand. The three Hebrew children were thrown into a fiery furnace. And the list goes on.
The difference between them and us is that most of us don’t have the sort of character these godly individuals had before and during their trials. If anything, our many sins against God each day mean that we deserve bad things to happen to us. The Bible says that we deserve much worse than a few trials for perhaps eighty or so years. Because of our sin against such a good and holy God, we deserve hell forever.
The good news of Christmas is that the Baby in the manger came to endure that very horrible fate we deserved on Himself. Jesus says that He came to die on a cross for sinners and, on that cross, He bore the sins of the world on His shoulders so that He could give eternal life to all who trust in Him. The wonder of Christmas is not the beautiful lights on the houses or the stockings hung near the chimney or the presents under the tree. The true wonder of Christmas is the Baby who came to die for a bunch of sinners on a bloody cross.
The hell you may think you’re going through in life right now is nothing to what Jesus endured on the cross. And I don’t mean the nails piercing His hands or the bruises covering His body or the shame of being hung to die as a criminal before a watching world.
The hell Jesus endured was summed up perfectly when He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Since your sin and my sin had to be punished, Jesus took that punishment [you should be picking your jaw up off the ground now]. If there was any good person who didn’t deserve something bad to happen to them, it was Jesus. Yet Jesus chose to endure the agony of the cross because it was God’s perfect plan for all eternity to save people who could never save themselves.
So, next time you question the circumstances of your life, just remember:  heaven went through hell on a hill outside Jerusalem so that sinners like you could be forgiven and freed for all eternity.
Do you personally know Jesus like this? Is He everything to you? If not, will you turn in faith to this amazing Savior who came as a baby 2,000 years ago? If you do so, then you’ll know that every trial you face in life first comes through His hands and can only be tools to make you a better fit for heaven. Then, hell will know that Jesus has taken over in your life.

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