Castoffs

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

In my parents’ backyard was a small white frame building my dad called his tool house. It was equipped with a workbench about 8 feet long, with scrap lumber stored underneath. Plenty of shelving held old cans of paint and miscellaneous hardware collected through the years, along with nails, screws, etc. stored in coffee cans.

I recall my dad saying, “I like to take junk and turn it into something useful.”

What Jesus loved to do

During Jesus’ ministry He was denounced for spending time with people the Pharisees had no use for. He earned a reputation as “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 7:34). This was meant as a criticism, but aren’t we thankful He is?

Many consider the story of the Prodigal Son His greatest parable. He told it in response to the complaint, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).

On another occasion Jesus explained why He spent so much time with people like this: “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).

When He went to the home of Zacchaeus the tax collector, again His critics grumbled, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

Jesus replied, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

The Master Carpenter

Jesus delighted in taking castoffs and transforming them into something beautiful, as well as useful.

He did it then.

He’s still doing it.

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

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Over Our Heads?

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They just didn’t get it!

It’s remarkable how often what Jesus said went right over the heads of His hearers.

When Jesus was talking with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, He offered her “living water” that would deeply and permanently satisfy, unlike the H2O she drew from the well.

Her response? “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw” (John 4:13-15). By “living water” Jesus meant the Holy Spirit imparted to believers (John 7:37-39).

When Jesus’ disciples returned from buying bread, they urged Him to eat. Jesus replied, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” The disciples assumed He meant literal bread, but then Jesus explained, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:31-34).

So often Jesus and His listeners were operating on different wavelengths. Since His words were so frequently misunderstood, was He then an ineffective communicator?  As the Master Teacher, He was aiming to elevate the sights of His listeners from the mundane to the spiritual, from the earthly to the heavenly.

He refused to dumb down His message. He was trying to make people think—something many of us would rather not do.

Note this interchange: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Those who heard Him say this thought He meant the Jerusalem temple, but as John explains, “He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken” (John 2:19-22). It finally clicked!

When we finally get it!

Jesus’ statements are all the richer as we understand them in the context of the Big Picture of the great plan of God. Our faith in Him can be strengthened as we think through His words until a light comes on in our minds, and our faith grows. Those “Aha!” moments are priceless!

I once heard a highly-educated and accomplished man say that in all the various fields of study he had pursued, he has found none more challenging than the study of the Scriptures. How true! There’s more than enough there to keep us occupied for a lifetime.

This is but another evidence that the Bible is what it claims to be: the inspired and living and powerful word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 1:23-25; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

As a result of its divine origin, for nearly 2,000 years it has been transforming millions of hopeless sinners into the likeness of God’s Son.

Can you think of any other book that could do that?

 

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

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Amazingly Saved and Radically Changed by the Cross

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Why did Jesus die on the cross? To save our souls? Indeed He did, but that’s not all.

For Him

First, His death means the end of self-centered living and the beginning of Christ-centered living: “. . . He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Second, because we’ve been purchased by His blood, our bodies, which now belong to Him, must be used for God’s glory, not for immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

Like Him

Third, His death sets us an example of humility and obedience. “Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus . . . . He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).

Fourth, His refusal to retaliate (1 Peter 2:21-23) and His endurance in the face of opposition (Hebrews 12:1-3) should lead us to do the same.

For others

Fifth, His death  prompts us to love others as we have been loved. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us . . .” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

Sixth, His death calls us to love sacrificially: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

Seventh, now that we belong to Him, we are to put evil deeds behind us and now engage in good deeds (Titus 2:14).

Eighth, His death means we forgive as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32).

But that’s not all—and yet these eight passages should be sufficient to show that God means for the death of His Son to open up for us wonderful new vistas of thinking and living.

And what a life it is!

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

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Seeing Potential

Useless?

When I told an older friend of ours that we were looking for a toy box, she offered us an old wooden chest she kept in her basement.

Seeing its sad condition—holding water and split in two all the way around—I was not too impressed and didn’t take it with me.

But when I told Sara, she wanted to see for herself. After an inspection, she decided we could use it after all.

Dried out, glued, and braced, it became a dandy toy box, and some years later, a rustic blanket keeper. Over four decades later we still have it.

First impressions can be so wrong. I saw water and a broken box. Sara saw potential.

Hopeless?

God sees potential too. He sees not only sinners, but the future inhabitants of heaven they can become.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

“. . . for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” (Ephesians 5:8).

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you were not a people, but now you are the people of God . . .” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

What Christ can do

Jesus could take Simon the impulsive fisherman and mold him into Peter—apostle, elder, and leading spokesman for Christ.

He could transform Matthew, the despised tax collector, into the author of the Gospel that bears his name.

He could turn Saul, the violent persecutor of churches, into Paul, the leading planter of churches and author of one-fourth of the New Testament.

Having done all this and so much more, what might He do with you and me?

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

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What I Love to See

Powerful effect

I love to see a well-used Bible—worn cover, key passages marked, and with lots of hand-written notes in the margins.

Even more so, I love to see believers whose lives are shaped by the Scriptures. They not only know the Bible, but far more important, they live it.

This is exactly what God intends (James 1:21-25).

God’s word is a guiding light (Psalm 119:105), nourishing food (Matthew 4:4; 1 Peter 2:2), and a sharp-two edged sword that pierces to the very core of our being (Hebrews 4:12).

Powerful Cause

When applied, the Scriptures can transform vile sinners of all stripes into those whose lives reflect the Christ they now serve (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

How can the Bible’s transforming power be explained in any other way than by its divine origin?

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Our Great Creator God

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Wonder upon wonder

Visiting a large aquarium we marveled at the sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, eels, seahorses, carp, etc.—so different from one another!

“God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind . . .” (Genesis 1:21).

And just think of all the varieties of plants, birds, and animals. The wonder of it all should fill us with reverence and awe.

And to top all that . . . .

Far more amazing is God’s re-creative power. He can turn the vilest sinners into holy people of God whose lives reflect Christ.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

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

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Beyond Repair?

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Can’t be done?

A computer problem stumped the experts. “Can’t be fixed!” they said.

But one of them thought it could.

So he tried.

He fixed it.

Can’t be helped?

Many people in this old world are broken beyond repair—or so it seems.

How easy to write them off!

Jesus spent much of His time with lots of messed-up people.

His enemies criticized Him for hanging around folks like that.

He explained, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).

Broken people cannot fix themselves, but Jesus can.

Is anything more beautiful than someone in recovery under the care of the Great Physician?

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

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