Friday, April 10, 2015

God Changes Lives .............. Parables 259

(March 20, 1991)

What kind of people go to Bible school? The average person might think only holier-than-thou types, or Bible-thumpers, or the exceptionally religious would be interested in full time Bible study. But how about a group of bikers who ride Harleys and wear leathers? Or those who have spent time in prison?

The Bible college I attend, well-known as a good school and one of the largest in North America, has just that among the 700-plus student body.

Before I tell you about one of them, it is important to know what the Bible says about people with a past who have come to faith in Christ. Not only has God forgiven them, He also has changed their very natures: “...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

New life means new interests. The bikers may still like their bikes, but like all sinners they no longer like their sin. Because of changed hearts, actions begin to change. The Bible puts it this way: “... and such were some of you: but now you are washed, and you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (Notice those verbs are in the past tense.)

Grady (not his real name) is one of those people most would not expect to wind up in Bible college. He used to be a high-roller, financially successful but spending it faster than he earned it. He also had a problem with drugs and alcohol. Somehow he began thinking his wife was an obstacle to what he wanted in life. Obsessed with the idea of getting rid of her, he contracted someone to do it for him. The man said he wouldn’t do it, but gave him the name of someone who would. Grady didn’t know the second person was a policeman.

His wife was safe; he was arrested and sentenced to nine years for conspiracy to murder. He began the prison term and within weeks turned to the Bible. Through the assistance of other Christians and the power of the Spirit of God, he saw his need to be forgiven of his sins. He invited Jesus Christ into his heart and new life began.

Grady says out of all prison “conversions” only about 1% make their life count for God when they get out. The Lord had definite plans that Grady be in that small percentage. Through unusual circumstances, he found himself at Briercrest Bible College, remarried, and in his 4th year of a B.A. program, heading into a Master’s in the fall.

All of that is outstanding but there are more things that show the power of God in a person’s life. Grady came through the last semester under a great deal of stress. A baby was born. Finances were tight. His work load in this last semester was difficult with final courses and an internship, but he came through with a 95.75 % average. Besides that, Grady served this past year as Student Body President!

Every time I see Grady in the halls I think of how Jesus Christ is in the business of putting broken lives back together. Actually, looking in the mirror often gives me the same thoughts. Every one of us has a “past.” How much God loves His children; He not only forgives the past but cleanses our hearts and lives. How wonderful His grace for those whose faith is in Him!

It is not only the Gradys of this world who can have hope and permanent change. Life does not need to stay a mess when we mess it up. The Lord is able to make good things out of whatever raw material we give Him. All He wants is a humble admission of our need before Him and a willingness to give Him our trust and our selves so we will let Him have His way with us.

It may be a frightening concept for some to turn their lives over to a Person they cannot see, yet when we think it through, how could God hurt us? In fact, the Bible asks: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

The “all things” may not mean money, fame or power but it does mean a fresh start and the inner resources to live a life that pleases God. Take note, with grace and love, He can even make a prisoner into a president!

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