In Exchange

ballpoints-tagged

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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Why Was Jesus Rejected?

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For centuries they had been looking for the Messiah, but when He finally came, they killed Him! Why?

Jesus told the truth.

He said, “the world . . . hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil” (John 7:7).

And when Jesus told those of His hometown synagogue about God’s concern for Gentiles, they tried to push Him off a nearby cliff (Luke 4:25-29).

Jesus claimed divinity.

“. . . the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He . . . was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18; see Matthew 26:62-68; John 7:28-30; 8:51-59; 10:30-39).

Jesus violated their Sabbath traditions.

He always observed the Sabbath as prescribed in the Law of Moses, while ignoring the Sabbath traditions of the Pharisees (Mark 3:1-6; Luke 13:10-17; John 5:8-18; 9:13-16).

They were envious of Him.

When Jesus came on the scene, the Jewish leaders no longer had the power and influence over the people they once had. They watched in frustration as the crowds flocked to Jesus instead (Matthew 27:18; John 12:19).

And we?

And there were other reasons they rejected Him. But that was back then. Do people still reject Him? Though maybe not for the same reasons and not in the same ways, but yes, many reject Jesus today.

Many acknowledge Him as a great teacher or mighty prophet, but deny His claims to be the Christ, the Son of God.

One common way we can reject Jesus is to put our agenda ahead of His, keeping busy with the routine of our own day-to-day affairs—in effect shutting Him out. It’s a subtle form of rejection, but it is rejection nonetheless.

“He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born . . . of God” (John 1:11-13; see John 3:3-5; Titus 3:5).

Why reject the One, the only One, who offers us the greatest privilege of becoming God’s own children?

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

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Now Revealed

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Want to know a mystery?

Forget what you know about mystery novels, weird stuff, and all that. This mystery’s not like that.

In his letter to the Ephesians Paul refers to the mystery (secret) which God kept hidden for many centuries but finally made known in the first century A.D. The mystery has to do with the salvation of all people in Christ, Jew and Gentile, on an equal basis (Ephesians 3:3-5, 8-11).

If we put what Paul says here in the form of a flow chart, here’s how it looks:

For ages the mystery of Christ was not known (vv. 5, 9).

God revealed it to Paul and other apostles & prophets (vv. 3, 5).

Paul wrote what had been revealed to him (v. 3).

The reader can then understand Paul’s knowledge (v. 4).

The mystery unveiled

God did not reveal the mystery to a select few so they could take special pride in possessing this inside knowledge unavailable to the masses. No! The apostles and prophets were God’s agents for transferring this wonderful message to all the world.

For some time they preached it orally. Since these men would not live forever, God wisely arranged for them to record for all time the message, resulting in what we now call the New Testament (John 20:30-31; Jude 3).

Now that we have the New Testament, we have access to all we need to be saved. Now we can know what God has planned for us in this life and throughout eternity.

The mystery is no longer a secret—it has been revealed!

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