The movie character Forrest Gump became famous for saying, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” In its simplicity, that statement is profound in its accuracy. It is true, like a box of chocolates that we open and try the various fillings and flavors to pick a favorite piece; we don’t know what each day of our lives will hold. But as believers in Jesus Christ, we have an assurance that He is with us, and the knowledge that all that is good comes from Him. The Bible says that He opens His hand and satisfies His children with good things (Psalm 104:28).
John 1:16 drives this home with an unusual phrase: “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” When you read that verse the first time, it sounds as though some words are missing. But the actual Greek phrase is grace “anti” grace. The word anti is a Greek preposition that can have several meanings. The New King James Version translates it for, but most linguists prefer using the word upon. Out of the fullness of His own grace, Jesus gives us grace upon grace, grace on top of grace.
Think of the ocean surf—one wave coming after another in endless succession. In his commentary on John, F. F. Bruce says that the followers of Christ draw from the ocean of divine fullness grace upon grace—one wave of grace being constantly replaced by a fresh one. “There is no limit to the supply of grace which God has placed at His people’s disposal in Christ,” observes Bruce.
It’s like the clouds of Noah’s day that kept pouring out rain; the granaries in Joseph’s days that held endless reserves of grain; the rock in the wilderness that kept pouring out the water; the cruise of oil in Elijah’s time that kept issuing oil; the cup in Psalm 23 that kept overflowing.
Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates can’t compare with that!
The New International Version simply says: “From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.”
Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”
Psalm 68:19 says similarly, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits.”
Shame on us for moping around all day like desolate wanderers in the bleak woods or barren moors. We can’t always be happy, but a rod of joy should run down the backbone of our attitudes. Though life has its share of burdens, God has an endless variety of ways to bless us.
We’re blessed, for example, with friendly people. Yes, there are plenty of grouches around in just about every setting; but someone is smiling right now not far from you. It might be at the corner market, in the softball bleachers, at a church function, or across the counter at Starbucks. But if you’ll look for a smile, you’ll find one pretty easily. And if you’ll smile yourself (it happens when you tell the corners of your mouth to relax and twist upward), you’ll discover a good many more smiling people.
We’re blessed with natural beauty around us. Lift your eyes from this page and glance out a window. See the clouds or sunshine; or if it’s evening, the moon and stars? The wonder of God’s creation is there for us to consider and appreciate. If there’s a houseplant nearby, take a moment to study its leaves—perhaps you will note for the first time how each one is uniquely designed for a specific purpose. Listen for a bird’s song or look for flowers along the walkways as you go about your day. They were created for you to enjoy.
This is my Father’s world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their Maker’s praise.
We also see God’s goodness in His providential alignment of life’s circumstances. How wonderfully He weaves together the good and bad—the sad and glad—into a tapestry of praise. Look back over your life and notice how seemingly bad events have worked for your good.
Let’s savor the moments we are given and thank Him for providing us with all things richly to enjoy.
When the whole human race was terrified by sin, death, judgment, and hell, Jesus left the heights of the heavens to journey to earth for the likes of you and me.
In John’s Gospel, the phrase Jesus used for this journey was to “come down.” He said, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man…. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me… I am the bread which came down from heaven…. I have come down from heaven….” (John 3:13; 6:38, 41, 42, emphasis mine).
This is the greatest mystery of all time, that God is a Trinity, and that the Second Person of the Trinity should “beam” himself to earth on a sacrificial journey from heaven to earth. He was transported through the womb of a virgin as the sinless Redeemer, completely God and a complete man, for the redemption of the world.A Symbol of Love, The Empathetic Cross
Henry Dunant grew up a well-to-do Swiss Calvinist home, where he watched his parents do one good deed after another, driven by Christian empathy for the needy. His father labored tirelessly to assist orphans and ex-prisoners, and his mother had a burden for the sick and poor.
This was a time of spiritual revival in Switzerland, and Henry grew up feeling compelled to do all he could to serve Christ. As a teenager, he helped organize young men in regular Bible studies and in projects for the poor. He helped found a chapter of the YMCA in Geneva. In college, Dunant was so preoccupied with his mercy ministries that he neglected to study. At age 21, he was forced out of school by poor grades. He found a job, worked hard, established his own business, and prospered.Love’s Departure
While the loss of love is a disheartening experience in any area of life, there is one area in which the consequences are most serious: when we lose our spiritual love for the things of God. I have seen this happen to many Christians in my years as a pastor; and, like all Christians, I have even felt the temptations myself. Without diligence, the fire of love that burned brightly when we first met Jesus Christ can begin to fade and provide lesser and lesser amounts of light in this world.
You can accurately refer to them as “learning opportunities” or “wake-up calls,” but that doesn’t make unpleasant surprises any less painful. Dr. David Jeremiah examines how God uses these unplanned intrusions to grow us.All Sermons by Dr. David Jeremiah