Giving Up To Gain

Mark 8:35
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

A paradox is a statement that seems contradictory or opposed to common sense, but is true. The statement Jesus reveals is one of life’s greatest paradoxes. Man was created to know God. Jesus said that He came to “give us life and that more abundantly” (John 10:10). When our lives are lived in complete obedience to the Lord, we experience the height of living. When we hold back, unwilling to give ourselves, our time, or some sinful activity, we think we are gaining, we think we are better off. However, that very thing we are holding onto, is the very thing keeping us from the abundant life Jesus created for us.

Knowing this, Jesus asks two questions; first, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

If true life is found in surrender to Christ, then what would be the benefit of holding onto all the world offers? Imagine if your phone was to ring this morning, and on the other end of the call were all the world leaders. They had decided the best thing for mankind was to make you king of the world. You get the title, the robe, the crown, the chair, and all the world’s goods are now yours. You possess all the wealth and all the power of the whole world. There is nothing you cannot have. The catch… you must deny Jesus. You can have this life but not eternal life. That my friends is a losing proposition. The right response is to hang up the phone.

Knowing that will not happen; knowing that no man has ever gained the whole world, Jesus asks a second question,

“What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

You cannot have everything, so is there anything you are holding onto that is robbing you from the life Jesus has for you?Perhaps a relationship you thought would satisfy you, so you began to compromise your walk with the Lord; only to find that it is robbing you of the life found in Christ. Whatever it may be, anything you are holding onto, lay it all down and follow Christ.

Pastor Jim

Game Over 

Jeremiah 41:15
“But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men and went to the Ammonites.”

After conquering Judah and Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah governor over the people. He allowed many of the Jews to remain in the land, and gave them certain freedoms regarding their worship. Soon, those who had fled from Jerusalem, when the Babylonians forces first arrived, began to make their way back to the city. Many of them were faithful to a man named Ishmael, who secretly wanted to overthrow Gedaliah and Babylon.  He soon took action by going on a killing spree, putting to death all those he saw as faithful to the governor. His actions not only caused the death of many innocent men, but also turned Babylon against Jerusalem, and finally forced Ishmael to flee from Israel to the Ammonites.

This passage reminds me of the question Jesus asked His disciples. Recognizing that no man will ever gain the whole world, He inquired “What will a man give in exchange for His soul?” (Matthew 16:26 ) Ishmael was willing to murder to pursue his drive for power. He valued a position as more important than obedience to God. When his murderous tirade finally came to an end, he reigned for only a few short days, before he fled as a fugitive to a foreign land where he died in obscurity never to be heard from again.

The height of folly is to give up what will last forever in pursuit of what is only temporary. Like Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of soup, Ishmael gave up eternity for a few days upon the throne. The missionary Jim Elliot once wrote “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”

Pastor Jim

 

Exercise 

1 Timothy 4:7-8

“But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”

If you are like me, you have probably seen a great number of motivational quotes posted on your Facebook wall. Things like “Pain is only weakness leaving the body” – “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – “It’s never too late to become what you might have been” – or “just do it”. While many of us might benefit from a little more exercise, ALL of us will benefit from a little more godliness. Paul is not suggesting that getting in better physical shape is a bad thing, but is contrasting it with the benefits of being in better spiritual shape. He speaks of the profitability of godliness.

Godliness is a term which means to be living in a way that is well pleasing to the Lord. The godly man is one who is not considering his personal happiness, comfort, or his own wishes, as the determining factor in his decision-making. Instead, he is making decisions based upon what God has revealed in His Word. Often, when faced with a conflict, an impasse, or a fork in the road, we are tempted to make our decisions solely based upon our own desires. That will often lead us away from what God has for us. The godly man will look into the Word to determine what God has to say on the subject and ultimately make decisions that will be well-pleasing in the Lord’s eyes. Paul speaks of the great benefits of living such a life.

First, he says godliness benefits us in this life. Many of the trials, pains, and scars we endure, are self-inflicted. They have been caused by getting off track and doing things our way, instead of God’s way. If we trace some of our difficulties back to their source, we will find they started with a decision to do what we wanted, instead of submitting to God’s Word. It is wonderful to know, God can always pick up the pieces of a broken life and do great things with it. We need only think of Legion, the naked, demon-possessed man who lived in the tombs, to see that God can always repair a shattered life that is surrendered to Him (Mark 5:2-15). However, it is also important to remember, much of the hardships of life can be avoided by surrendering all to Christ, and determining to live in line with His Word.

Second, he says godliness has great benefits in the life to come. While much of what heaven will be like is still shrouded in darkness, we do know that entrance into heaven is reserved for those who have trusted Christ for salvation. Jesus said He alone was the way and that no one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). We also know, while entrance into heaven is a free gift received by faith, treasures are stored in heaven for those who live committed to Christ. Paul spoke of crowns that were awaiting the righteous. I do not pretend to know all the mysteries of heaven, but I do trust the words of Christ, who exhorted us to live this life in a way to be rewarded in the next.

Let’s be sure to commit ourselves to a daily exercise program that includes reading the Word, doing what it says, prayer, fellowship with other believers, and looking for ways to serve the Lord.

Pastor Jim

What’s It Worth

1 Kings 21:20
“I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord”

This is certainly not the only record of Ahab’s sin. He was a man who long ago had given up on any desire to live a life that honors the Lord. This passage does however illustrate, quite strongly, the question asked by Jesus, when He said, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24)

We all know we will never gain the whole world. A few have tried, but none have succeeded. Many, however, have traded eternity for some temporal pleasure or possession. Like Esau, who gave his birth right for a bowl of soup, many give up eternity for something that lasts only a moment. For Ahab, it was a field. He wanted a garden he could enjoy from his palace window. There was however, a problem; the land was owned by another man. Instead of letting it go, he plotted to take the field by force. For a plot of ground, he took a life. In doing so, he revealed how cheaply he valued his own life.

The Bible tells us redemption of the soul is costly; our actual value is infinite. Peter explains we were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19), because no amount of silver or gold would do. Instead of sitting on the sale rack, selling yourself off to participate in a passing sinful experience, remember you are worth much more than that, and are a blood-bought child of the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

Giving Up To Gain

Mark 8:35
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

IMG_1430A paradox is a statement that seems contradictory or opposed to common sense, but is true. The statement Jesus reveals is one of life’s greatest paradoxes. Man was created to know God. Jesus said that He came to “give us life and that more abundantly.” When our lives are lived in complete obedience to the Lord, we experience the height of living. When we hold back, unwilling to give ourselves, our time, or some sinful activity; we think we are gaining, we think we are better off. That very thing we are holding onto, is the very thing keeping us from the abundant life Jesus created for us.

Knowing this, Jesus asks two questions. First, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

If true life is found in surrender to Christ, then what would be the benefit of holding onto all the world offers? Imagine if your phone were to ring this morning, and on the other end of the call were all the world leaders. They had decided that the best thing for mankind was to make you king of the world. You get the title, the robe, the crown, the chair and all the world’s goods are now yours. You possess all the wealth and all the power of the whole world. There is nothing you cannot have. The catch… you must deny Jesus. You can have this life but not eternal life. That my friends is a losing proposition. The right response is to hang up the phone.

Knowing that will not happen; knowing that no man has ever gained the whole world, Jesus asks a second question,

“What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

You cannot have everything, so is there anything you are holding onto that is robbing you from the life Jesus has for you?Perhaps a relationship you thought would satisfy you, so you began to compromise your walk with the Lord; only to find that it is robbing you of the life found in Christ. Whatever it may be, anything you are holding onto, lay it all down and follow Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

For Me Or Against Me

Genesis 42:36
“And Jacob their father said to them, ‘You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.’”

2015/01/img_1356.jpgSometimes perspective is reality. How we see things will determine how we act. Jacob had experienced a series of very difficult trials. He lost his sons, Joseph and Simeon, and now he was in danger of losing his youngest son, Benjamin. As these things built up around him, he cried out in despair, “All these things are against me.” What Jacob failed to realize is, the things that seemed to be working against him, were the very things God was using to work out the salvation of his family. All he could see was loss, but God was at work, behind the scenes, preparing a much greater reward than he could ever imagine.

Life is like that. We see things through the lens of our limited experience and knowledge. When something goes against what we perceive as “the plan”, we become discouraged, upset, heartbroken or even angry. Sometimes, like Jacob, we will forget God’s promises, and raise our voice to accuse Him of wrong-doing. If only Jacob could look beyond the walls of his limited vantage point, and see what God was actually accomplishing, then instead of despair, his voice would be filled with praise. God has a different way, He wants us to look beyond our experiences, and into His promises. He wants us to believe Him when He said, “ALL things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Regardless of what difficulties you are facing today, keep in mind that you cannot see the whole story. You are somewhere in the middle of what God is doing, and He promises not to leave you, but to work things out for His ultimate purposes.

Pastor Jim