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Second Chances

January 14th, 2013

In Christ, God extends grace to all.

“Bring [Mark] . . he is profitable to me for the ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:11 KJV

I love the Bible’s true-to-life examples. Mark, a cousin of Barnabas, was a young man traveling with Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journey. For unexplained reasons, Mark left them to return home. Acts 13:13. His departure was not acceptable to Paul, causing a strong disagreement when Barnabas wanted again to bring his younger cousin. Acts 15:36-40 NIV.

Paul’s feelings were strong indeed, Mark being described as having “deserted them and not continued in the work.” Vs. 38. Mark needed a second chance Paul was not willing to give, feeling further investment would be unprofitable. The Bible is silent about how reconciliation happened but later from prison, Paul asked Timothy, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for He is profitable [helpful/useful] to me for the ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:11 KJV.

Any of us may have felt disappointed in someone as Paul did, or felt as lost and alone as Mark might have. Do you need another chance, or is there someone who needs that from you? Paul’s writings are peppered with plentiful references to grace. I wonder if time and his growing discovery of the awesome grace God had shown him opened his heart anew to Mark and others. I love Paul’s endearing letter asking a second chance for Onesimus, Philemon’s run away slave, who met Jesus through Paul’s testimony: “Who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me . . no longer a slave but more . . a beloved brother.” Philemon 1:11/16 NKJV. I want it to be true of me that I was, “profitable for ministry.”

Second chances are not optional; they are necessities. Everyone needs them. Why? Because everyone has a flawed history. Of all the things common to us, imperfection is a certainty. Try as you will, sooner or later and usually sooner, you will make mistakes and when you do you will need a second chance, or a third or fourth. “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man.” James 3:2 NIV. Who would dare claim to be perfect?

The Bible is clear about our common history. “If we claim we have not sinned, we make [Jesus] to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives . . For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 1 John 1:10 NIV/Romans 3:23 NKJV. In Christ, God extends grace to all. To the Christ-followers in wicked Rome, Paul marveled at God’s grace: “. . being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus . . in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:24-26 NKJV. Those words necessitate careful reading and thoughtful reflection.

Maybe you think you don’t deserve grace; well, you don’t and never could. Grace is freely given, not earned or deserved. Maybe you’re afraid to ask others to forgive you; or you can’t forgive yourself; or you won’t believe God would forgive you. Nothing you have done should disqualify you from a second chance, except refusing to accept it. It’s never the perfection of the clay on the potter’s wheel that guarantees success; it’s the wisdom and determined skill of the potter’s hands. Read Jeremiah 18:1-4 NLT.

Paul wrote of sinful and shameful behavior in Corinth that would make the average person blush, “. . [who] will not inherit the Kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11 NKJV. There’s a reason grace is amazing! In Jesus, you are not what you were! Romans 5:1-2/Ephesians 2:1-10 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that your life is profitable to God and others.

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