Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why Didn't I Think Of That?

It happened this past month to me. I was reading an article in a Christian publication and I said to myself, "I should have thought of that". I have previously boasted of my education in economics and in Bible - an unusual combination. But I was reading this article that takes a simple, well-known principle of economics and applies it to the cross of Christ. So at the risk of plagiarizing, I will essentially repeat what I read. I cannot improve on it.

The economic principle is very simple. Things are worth to us what we are willing to pay for them. Sometimes we say that someone "paid too much" for something. We might mean two different things by that. We could mean that they could have gotten it cheaper, or we could mean that in paying the only price they could have paid for the item that they got a bad deal. The latter only means that we do not value it as highly as the person who bought it. It was obviously worth it to them.

Sometimes old paintings go at auctions for millions of dollars. Even if I had that kind of money, I would not pay anywhere near that much. I do not value them that highly, but those who pay apparently think they are worth it. It's the value they personally place on the painting.

So, how does this relate to the cross? Christ's death on the cross was the price that God paid to redeem us. And He would have paid that same price even if were only you. So that is the value that God has put on you. You are worth the price that Jesus paid to get you. That is what you were worth to God.

Think of the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price. The merchant sold all that he had to obtain that pearl. To me, no pearl would be worth that much. The merchant, however, knew what it was really worth. it was worth - everything.

We are created in the image of God, so we are worth the price that Jesus paid to get us. He values His image that much. Our problem is that we do not think that we were worth it, but we were.

Sometimes I watch these car shows where they buy some old junker so that they can fix it up and sell it. I wouldn't pay five dollars for those old rust buckets. They are so marred and corroded that they are just trash to me. They see it differently than I do. They see what it was and what it can be again. They fix it and make it better than new. They restore it.

God is in the restoration business. He is the best at it. If we allow Him, He will make us better than new. But I also want us to remember that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". (Romans 5:8) That means that he valued us so highly before we were even restored. We mean everything to Him. He means everything to us.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Beginnings

I am not one of those people who watches or reads "the year in review" on TV or in articles. First of all, I consider it a lazy sort of journalism. Certainly there are some current news stories (besides jets crashing in the ocean) that are worth covering. Second, do they really think that we have forgotten what happened this year? And what makes them think that I want to be reminded. I do not want to see the Ferguson riots again or be reminded of who died or recall the horrific things that happened to people. As Jesus said, "Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Didn't the apostle Paul say that we should be "forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead"?. If bad things have happened we can perhaps learn something from them, but don't want to dwell on them. We can be thankful for the good in our lives, but we don't even to dwell too much on those things either. We can get complacent with where we are in the Lord and not look forward to what God has for us in the future. We all still have plenty of room to grow spiritually. God still has more great things for us.

Now I do want to remember the good things that God has done for me and those I care about. I always thank God at the end of the year for His faithfulness in the past year. Then I ask God about what He has for me in the new year. He doesn't generally tell me too much, but He always has some little word of encouragement.

Some people make New Year's resolutions. I do not. That does not mean that I do not have things that I want to improve on. I do. But what I want to do the most is improve in the areas where God wants me to improve. And I know that any fleshly effort will end in failure. I need His help and guidance. I need grace. A lot of resolutions fail because they are carried out in the flesh without the Spirit of God in it.

At this point you might be thinking that New Year's is not that important to me and you would generally be right. But there was one New Year's Day that sticks in my mind. It was 31 years ago today. January 1, 1984 was a Sunday and we went to church. I do not remember all the preacher said but I do remember him talking about how a new year can bring 'new beginnings'. I heard those two words, 'new beginnings', over and over in my head for the next week or so. It absolutely was God speaking to me.

At the time we were living in Pennsylvania, going to a good church in Ohio, but we had been barely getting along financially for years and I was cut off from my family. I was making minimum wage in a dead-end job and I had nowhere to teach the Bible as I desired to do. Then God spoke this Word into my heart and everything began to change. Within a month, I was reconciled to my parents. In April, I visited my parents who had moved to Chincoteague and my father offered me a job running his new store. We moved to Chincoteague immediately. Soon after we moved, I was asked to teach about the gifts of the Spirit in one Bible study and was asked to start another in another couple's home. These were definitely new beginnings for us.

I don't know all that God has in store for us in this new year, but I know that He has "plans for good and not for calamity." I believe it will be even better than last year though it may have its challenges. As for the bad stuff that happened in the past, forget it.