We appreciate leaders with foresight and vision, whether politicians or church leaders. But we forget the value of hindsight. Some want to forget the past because it is painful or embarrassing. Some people think the past has no value at all. But God gave us a memory for good reasons, and it involves hindsight. If we gain some wisdom from the past, it’s going to help us with the future.

The bewildering stories of the Old Testament kings of Israel reveal radical flip-flops of policy and religion from father to son. After all of king Hezekiah’s positive reforms, his son Manasseh took the throne and did the complete opposite, rebuilding the idolatrous shrines his father had destroyed (2 Kings 21). His grandson Josiah took his turn and destroyed the idols and led the country back to God. Manasseh forgot the national blessings of faithfulness and Josiah remembered the past consequences of idolatry.

When Stephen addressed the Jewish council in Acts 7:51-53, he pointed out their failure to remember what happened to their forebearers. “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.” The apostle Paul had hindsight, never forgetting the harm he once did to the church and God’s graciousness to forgive him. It taught the world the power of the gospel in a man’s life, that even the worst can be saved.

We need hindsight because our past mistakes teach us what won’t work in the future, and what will. It helps us steer our lives with more wisdom. Humility is maintained when we remember our humble beginnings, granting us compassion for others. Like Paul, remembering the grace of God in saving our ruined souls helps us to never forget our work today – reaching out to the lost. Strive to develop foresight, but know the value of hindsight.

What is it you need to remember? What is it you need to forget?

– Tim Johnson

The Marvel of Grace

Often, before a meal-time prayer, we hear someone announce, “Let us say grace.” I’m not sure when such prayers began to be called grace, but it is a commonly-accepted practice today. In prayer we ask for God to give us His grace, so the prayer itself likely adopted the name. But there’s more to grace than human prayers.

God’s nature is that of grace. He is a gracious God. He is a grace-giving God. God is love. His grace brings salvation to all men and women of the world, hoping they will consider it.

Grace is a wonderful word. It means the free, unmerited favor of God. Grace is free but not cheap. It is the costliest gift ever offered.

Grace cost the Son of God his life. He, the friend of sinners, came into the world to make an infinite sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. Potentially, His grace extends from the first human being to the last one that will ever live.

Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He was born to be crucified. He suffered our death that we might receive His life. He bore our sins that we might become righteous. He became poor that we might have His riches.

D.L. Moody said about the grace of God, “Grace isn’t a little prayer that you chant before receiving a meal. It is a way to live. The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along and straightens me out.”

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18

– Tim and David Johnson

In the Hospital Food Court

From time to time I have to wait in the hospital food court. It is a place where a full range of human conditions can be seen. Boisterous nurses crowd around a table, indifferent officials punch away on their phones, patients in gowns seek some space away from their rooms, anxious families huddle in corners, and worried people sit alone with coffee. Other than a few noisy conversations, it’s a sombre place full of difficult needs.

Jesus often walked into places like that. In John 5 He entered an area around a pool protected from the weather by roofed-over columns. “In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered.” (v3) While He only healed one man, word spread quickly that the Master of healing was at hand. Mobs of needy cases soon sought Him out, and He gladly made them well. Mark records, “ …for He had healed many with the result was that all those who had afflictions pressed about Him in order to touch Him.” (Mk.3:10)

Jesus brought to Palestine a marvelous sense of hope. People came from everywhere to find His help and hear His words. Sadly, it only lasted a few years before He went back to heaven. His miraculous abilities didn’t have to continue for long, for the message was complete: Here is One who always stands by to help us. The Hebrew writer said, “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (2:18) And, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.” (4:16)

Jesus may not heal a man from disease or injury now, but He arranges mercy and grace to help us with anything that weighs life down. Even in a hospital food court.

– Tim Johnson