The beauty of John 3:16 is that it is so simple it can be understood even by a child; and yet, as a believer’s knowledge of God and His Word grows, he or she will come to discover that there is a wealth of spiritually-satisfying treasure to be mined! In its simplest form, Jesus died so that all those who turn to Him in trust will go to heaven after leaving this life. Dig a little deeper though, and you also discover that the eternal life on offer is not merely about a location (‘heaven’) or a duration of time—but a quality of life and status of existence that elevates the believer into a glorified state with God Himself (Rom. 8:17; 1John 3:2). Our lives are now the training ground for our status as co-regents and co-rulers with Christ over all of His redeemed creation (1Cor. 6:2-3)!
When the Evil One entered the Garden of Eden, he did not try to directly corrupt the man. He went straight to the one upon whom the entire divine plan for mankind depended – the woman. But God immediately instigated His plan of redemption and put women right in the centre of it! As you read through Scripture you will see this pattern – Satan attacks key women, God redeems these women and uses the attack against them as an opportunity to further His plan of redemption despite Satan’s attack against them! When Satan attacked Eve with his insidious deception, God redeemed this attack by announcing that He would send the Redeemer as “seed of the woman” (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 16:20). God ordained that a young woman named Tamar would be one of the women through whom the family line of the coming Redeemer would come. When Satan had orchestrated Tamar’s husband, Er, to be sexually deviant so that this would not happen (Gen. 38:7), God orchestrated for His plan of redemption to be furthered through Tamar and her link to the tribe of Judah anyway (Matt. 1:3). When a young chosen girl, Rahab, was chosen by God to be in the family-line of the Messiah-Redeemer, she too was attacked by Satan at a very young age. She was robbed of her of dignity and purity and against all hope doomed to be childless. But God chose to rescue her out of these wicked schemes of Satan and the men Satan had manipulated to abuse her. God orchestrated a dramatic military rescue plan and brought her into the family of God as the wife of a godly Hebrew man, Boaz, and she was able to become the Great-Grandmother of King David and thereby continue the family-line of the coming Redeemer (Matt. 1:5a). Her only child, Boaz, her son, reached his senior years and had not yet married. Satan had made life difficult for Boaz and his countrymen by orchestrating a drought and a famine. Satan’s scheme looked like it would bring God’s plan of redemption to a halt. But God once again used Satan’s attack and sovereignly orchestrated it as a means to redeem both Boaz and a young Moabite girl, Ruth (Matt. 1:5b) through whom He ensured that the family-line of the Redeemer remained unbroken. And when David corrupted the heart of the LORD’s favourite servants with lust for an already married woman, God eventually orchestrated for her who had been the wife of Uriah to be the chosen woman in the line of the coming Redeemer (Matt. 1:7).
Ambition can be good. Striving for continual improvement can be good. Wanting to be the best can also be good. But these all come at a cost—and often a too high cost. We can, however, strive to be the best that God has potentialled us to be. And if, along that journey we are kind to others, humble, caring, dependable and reliable, we may run the risk of having others think of us as ‘ordinary’ — a high compliment indeed — but in reality we will not just be ordinary, we will have attained the elusive honour of being ordinary and noble.
A brush with death will sometimes have a dramatic effect upon a person. It can (and has) cause(d) people to re-evaluate their priorities and reset their life on a completely different course. This phenomena has been the basis for several Hollywood blockbusters including, Big Fish (starring Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor, Danny DeVito), and Meet Joe Black (starring Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt) are two great examples. But it’s not just the stuff of movies. Throughout history there have people who have had a brush with death which has shaped them to live a life without fear and accomplish extraordinary things. Examples include Martin Luther, who nearly died in a storm and cried out to God to save him (he is now the second most written about person of all time), and Winston Churchill who nearly drowned as a child. How differently would you live if you knew when you were going to die?