Good News: Encouragement for a World in Crisis

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamenations 3:22-23 NIV

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Matthew 26:69-75 NIV

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these [others do—with total commitment and devotion]?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My lambs.” Again He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with total commitment and devotion]?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with a deep, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend]?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you [really] love Me [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend]?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.
I assure you and most solemnly say to you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and walked wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and arms, and someone else will dress you, and carry you where you do not wish to go.” Now He said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And after saying this, He said to him, “Follow Me [walk the same path of life that I have walked]!”

John 21:15-19 AMP

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
And Saul approved of their killing him.
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.

Acts 7:59-8:3 NIV

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Acts 9:1-19 NIV

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 NIV

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8 NIV

God Forgives Us

Do you ever get so frustrated with yourself for saying or doing something you know you shouldn’t have? What about the thoughts you let go through your mind about other people? Every single day—and often many times a day—we act in ways we know aren’t honoring God. Our humanity is just so human, isn’t it?

Whether we understand what we’re doing or not, God gives grace to us! His perfect, unmerited favor covers a multitude of sins and is available to us 24 hours a day, every day of every week. The Bible is full of people who understood the powerful grace of God in their lives. Let’s hear two stories:

According to himself, Saul was a Pharisee of all Pharisees. If anyone had the right resume with numerous accolades, it was him. He stood for what was “right” and even stood by watching Christians be murdered. He was determined to rid the world of Christianity. But then he met Jesus, literally, and he was radically changed. Saul, renamed Paul, became the most influential leader in the early church and authored 13 of the 27 New Testament books. 

When referring to the 12 disciples of Jesus, Peter is almost always mentioned first. His leadership was evident, and he’s known for being outspoken. So much so that when Jesus told the group that they would all desert him, Peter was adamant that he would never do that. Yet, after Jesus was arrested, Peter was confronted and denied that he knew Jesus, not once, but three times. When Jesus came back from the dead, He forgave Peter and restored him to ministry. Peter went on to be one of the most influential leaders in the early Church.

Paul didn’t know what he was doing until he knew what he was doing. He genuinely didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah and felt justified in his Jewish faith by attempting to rid the world of a supposed con artist. Peter, on the other hand, had been with Jesus, and many would say “he knew better.” He even proclaimed that he’d be the last person to ever leave Jesus. Two very different scenarios covered by the same grace and forgiveness of God.

We all sin and do the unthinkable. But, God’s grace lavishes us with forgiveness. So, no matter how far you’ve strayed, how corrupt you’ve been, or who you’ve hurt, God’s forgiveness is just a simple prayer away. 

And in addition to having our sins forgiven, God won’t waste our pain or experiences! We get to see those hard situations we walked through become stories for God’s glory. He uses the most unlikely people to be His vessels of hope on this earth. Are you willing to be an avenue of hope to someone who needs Jesus? 

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