In Exchange

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One day I accidentally dropped a large paper clip into the crack between the seat cushion and the back of the couch in our den. In trying to retrieve it I pulled out a ballpoint pen, then another, and then another. I never did find my paper clip.

Not a bad trade-off—three pens for one paper clip! Maybe I should drop another paper clip down the crack.

Loss is bearable if we get something better in return. In everyday life we are perfectly willing to exchange our hard-earned dollars for something we really need or want, especially if it’s a real bargain.

Jesus’ offer

Jesus said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). He had just said that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (verse 24; see Galatians 2:20; 5:24; 6:14).

We must give up ourselves (our own desires and comfortable, familiar ways of thinking and living) and instead let Christ determine our values and goals.

We let Him own us completely instead of our trying to direct our own little world.

In exchange, He promises us life that is life indeed (John 10:10). But if we’re not willing to let go of ourselves, then we’re the ultimate losers.

Our response?

If we should trust Jesus enough to do as He directs, will we be disappointed in the long run? Does Jesus offer what He can’t deliver? Can He be trusted?

The Rich Young Ruler was unwilling to make the trade—and he was sad (Matthew 19:16-22). Paul was willing—and he was glad (Philippians 3:4-14).

Are we willing to stake everything we’ve got on the conviction that His way is best for us—and that someday we will be glad we took Him up on it?

Ever so glad!

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Something’s Gotta Give!

“What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?”

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This is, of course, a contradiction in terms.

My will vs. His will

But what happens when our will contradicts God’s will?

God gives us freedom to yield to His will or resist His will.

Jesus prayed to be spared the cross, but obeyed His Father’s will instead (Matthew 26:36-46).

What I think vs. what God says

And what if God’s command runs counter to common sense?

God promised Abraham many descendants through his son Isaac (Genesis 21:12).

But then He commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22).

Abraham so trusted God’s promise that he believed God could raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19).

Instead, God stopped Abraham at the last moment.

What a severe test of faith! Yet Abraham obeyed.

Will we?

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The Choice

The choice he made

What would he say that could make a difference?

What Joshua told Israel was this: “. . . choose for yourselves today whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

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The choice we make

Joshua remembered walking on dry ground as God held back the Red Sea for Israel to pass safely through, and then brought those waters crashing down on the pursuing Egyptians.

For forty years in the wilderness, God had provided.

He had promised to give them the land of Canaan, and now here they were!

“Choose whom you will serve,” Joshua pleaded. Based on long experience with the ever-faithful God, Joshua made his choice, and Israel would make theirs.

And so will we.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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God’s Will and Our Will

Do we have a choice?

I will not!” the son said when his father told him to go work in the vineyard. But later he changed his mind and went (Matthew 21:28-29).

When did he exercise his own free will? Both times: in choosing to rebel and in choosing to comply.

God has given us a free will. He pleads with us to do His will  but never forces the issue. It’s always our choice.

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Have we chosen what Jesus chose?

Jesus willingly submitted His own will to His Father’s will (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38)—even when it meant the cross (Matthew 26:36-46).

No wonder Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven . . .” (Matthew 7:21).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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