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Priceless

March 21st, 2018

Many things are prized; Christ alone is priceless.

 “Everything is worthless when compared with knowing Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:8 NLT

My thoughts today are about things that are, “priceless.”

Priceless things do not always come with a price tag. Yesterday, I received a few digital copies of old family photographs. The originals from which they were copied were tattered by time, but immeasurably valuable to me. They were glimpses of our family history and heritage, my paternal grandparents, including my sister and I with our New York cousins. And a photo of my uncle Ralph, a proud marine who never returned from WW2. Another was of my parents as a young couple, apparently taken before I was born.  And one of my sister on her first birthday. Those pictures would be noteworthy to no one other than our family and myself. But to me, they are priceless.

Everyone has some things that hold special meaning tucked away safely or secretly somewhere. Such objects are rarely viewed as costly or valuable to anyone else. But to that one to whom they belong they are prized possessions. Usually, our valuable things are tucked securely in safe deposit boxes or may be paraded proudly and publicly before friends and neighbors as signs of our success, such as houses, cars, jewelry, college degrees, awards of recognition, expensive recreational toys, and things like that. None of those are bad on their own; none of them good enough on their own.

The Apostle Paul listed many proud achievements about which he could brag and boast. “I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Read Philippians  3:7-8 NLT.

Paul successfully checked off all the required boxes of religious, social, and political success. Those prized accomplishments identified who he was, how well he had done, and how important he was. But when he added it all up, he saw the inadequacy and emptiness of all that. “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” 2 Corinthians 10:18 NIV.

“Breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples,” Saul asked for and received letters of authority from the High Priest to imprison those troublesome followers of the recently crucified Jesus. Read Acts 9:1-5 NIV. While enroute to Damascus, Saul dramatically encountered the Risen Christ and viewed everything that he once counted as his life’s net worth, as worthless. Many things are prized; Christ alone is priceless. After his traumatic encounter with Christ, Paul’s singular, surpassing purpose became his passion to know Jesus personally and intimately.

Paul wrote, “Everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:8-10 NLT/NKJV. While in college, “That I may know Him and the power of His Resurrection,” became my life-verse; it still remains so today.

What prized possessions do you hold in a tight grip, or those that hold you in an even tighter grip? There are things that money cannot buy. Can anything at all actually compare with the true wealth of knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord? “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, Who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17-18 NIV. Christ alone is priceless.

Today I pray for you to allow nothing and no one to become as important to you as Jesus.

 

Christian Communications 2018-4610

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Feeling Empty

January 16th, 2012

“Owning . . things will not make your life safe. Luke 12:15 Contemporary English Version

“Things are what a person uses to try in vain to fill a life that feels empty.”

My thoughts today are about “feeling empty.”

What are things? That word is a description for all kinds of stuff – some good, some bad, some neither. Things steal much of your schedule each day, fill your closets and garage with stuff you don’t use, occupy your thoughts, and distract much of your focus and energy. Things are what a person uses to try in vain to fill a life that feels empty. Empty is not a good way to feel.

That’s pretty common in many people’s lives. It was true in Jesus’ day, and it’s true in ours. “Do not be so preoccupied with getting, so that you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns (all these things) will be met.” Matthew 6:31-33 The Message.

Things deceive with a promise of being enough. They never are, nor can they be. That’s why one thing always leads to the need for another thing! The more things you have, the more afraid you are of losing them or someone taking them, so the more you watch and worry about things.

I saw a bumper sticker on a very expensive car that read, “At the end, the one with the most toys wins.” Nothing could be further from the truth; don’t be fooled by such shallow nonsense. A man came to Jesus angry over a family dispute with his brother about an inheritance of property and wealth. Jesus’ warning was clear and correct, “Owning a lot of things will not make your life safe.” Luke 12:15 CEV. Then Jesus told a story of a foolish man that had great prosperity and properties, but whose life was empty. Read Luke 12:16-21 NIV. Life is never about how much or little you have.

Things too easily replace relationships. You can love things, but things cannot love you back. When life feels empty, you are driven to fill that void with things you hope might fill that, but never will. Things are a great supplement to an already full life, but a poor substitute for the right things that you truly long for – contentment, connection, fulfillment, and security. With each substitution you make, contentment seems to slip further from your reach. See 1 Timothy 6:6-19 NIV.

Isn’t that what you really want from life – to be safe, and full, and content, and loved? What you most long for in life can only be found in Jesus. Only the heart that is held safely in His hands, and the will that trusts completely in His direction, and the life that rests content in His love can be truly secure.

“Everything of God gets expressed in Christ Jesus, so you can see and hear Him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without Him. When you come to Him, that fullness comes together for you, too.“ Colossians 2:9-10 The Message. The emptiness of the universe without Christ! Any life is ultimately empty without Jesus in one’s heart. “I want you to know all about Christ’s love, although it is too wonderful to be measured. Then your lives will be filled with all that God is.” Ephesians 3:18-19 CEV.

My prayer for you today is that your life is satisfying and content in Christ Jesus.

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Excuses, Excuses!

April 13th, 2010

“They all alike began to make excuses.” Luke 14:18 NIV

“An excuse is easy to find when you are looking for one.”

My thoughts today are about “excuses, excuses!”

People seem to hate excuses when hearing them, but love them when giving one. It seems that people have a different excuse for every occasion. I found websites devoted to offering excuses for every occasion – school, work, police, bosses, spouses, etc. Maybe you have heard this definition of an excuse, “An excuse is a lie wrapped in a reason.” Maybe calling it a lie is a little harsh, but often there does seem an unhealthy mix of truth and untruth in a lot of excuses.

Would it be safe to say that when you make excuses you are trying to persuade someone that you have a good cause for doing something that you probably should not have done, or for not doing something you really did not want to do anyway? Excuses stop your progress. It has been wisely said that “The person who really wants to do something finds a way; the other person finds an excuse.” (Author Unknown). Which of those more often describes you? May it always be the first!

My Dad was very clear about the importance of a man keeping his word. I well remember his saying, A man is only as good as his word; be sure that people can count on what you say.” Here’s what the Bible says about the person who most enjoys access to God. “Lord, who may enter your temple? . . A person who always does what’s right, whose words are true and sincere . . who always does what he promises, no matter how much it may cost.” Psalm 15:1-2/4 TEV. Out of eleven virtues God prizes in this psalm, one of them is about not making excuses. It is clear where this ranks on God’s list of qualities of integrity and Godly character.

Excuses are really not a good thing; excuses keep you from doing and being your best. The fewer of those you find necessary, the better your relationships and the more likely your success. “He that is good at making excuses is rarely good for anything else.” (Benjamin Franklin).

Jesus told a story of three friends invited to a wedding. According to the culture of that time, they had apparently accepted the honor of the gracious invitation given them, but when the date approached each gave excuses because of other matters that now occupied their time and required their attention. Their excuses were different, but the circumstance was the same for all – they now preferred doing something other than what they had said they would do. “They all alike began to make excuses.” Luke 14:18 NIV.

One man asked to be excused because of a possession. Wouldn’t it have been wiser for him to inspect his property before its purchase, rather than after? Another man asked to be excused because of business. That would not be a sound business practice, buying business equipment without knowing how well it would work. Another man asked to be excused because of his recent marriage. In the Jewish culture, even a recent marriage would have been the product of much prior time preparing a home to which he would receive his bride. All were excuses, not reasons.

I think a lot of excuses are born from circumstances similar yet today – things you want to do or have, matters you consider more personally enriching or rewarding, and people whose goodwill you regard more highly. An excuse is easy to find when you are looking for one; sometimes they may cost more than you foresee. Here’s what is eternally important: allow yourself no excuses in your relationship with God. “People have no excuse at all! They know God, but they do not give Him the honor that belongs to Him, nor do they thank Him.” Romans 1:20-21 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you live in a way that requires no excuse to God or man.

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