The Broken Fence

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An American missionary friend, in Lodwar, Kenya, East Africa, came home to an infuriating sight. Two teenage boys were crawling through a hole they had made in his fence. He was livid with anger.

He wrote, “They ran into the house across the street from me. I went to the door but the girl that answered said their mother was not home. I told her to tell her mama to come see me as soon as she got home.”

When the mother got home, the missionary went to her gate and told her what he saw. “She calls for the boys to come outside. They admitted they cut open my fence to get their ball they had kicked inside. She has them pull down their pants and lay on the ground. She calls for one of the girls to bring her a stick. By this time the rest of my neighbors are all gathered around us.

“Part of me wants these boys beaten for tearing a hole in my fence and coming inside like thieves. But there is the other part of me…the part that I hope controls my life. God has forgiven me greater trespasses than cutting a fence to get a ball…how can I not forgive them? So I do. I do not wait for them to ask. I simply told them I forgive the offense. I ask the mama not to beat the boys this time.

“However, she insists on beating them. She tells story after story where those two boys have done wrong and she is a single mama. She needs them beaten!

“I do not know why I did it, but right then, I laid down next to the boys and told her to beat me first. If they were going to be beaten for this, then beat me too.

“She started to cry….the boys were crying….and so was I. Mama told us all to get up. We hugged and I told her and the boys I forgive them and asked that we be friends.

“Grace does that—enemies become friends. We are called to be vessels of grace. Period!” – Eddie Williams

God’s grace affects life beautifully, in many ways—It is God’s grace that enables Him to forgive and save sinners—It is God’s grace that, like Eddie did, extends forgiveness and pardon to people who sin against us—And it is God’s grace that is the message we share with people around us.

God’s grace is amazing! It interacts with us in three ways:

  1. We are to be Recipients of Grace. Grace is the spontaneous, unmerited gift of God’s favor, forgiving sin and granting salvation, to people who do not deserve it, and who could never earn it.

But grace—though free to the receiver—is costly to the giver: “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).

The only way sinners can ever be saved is by trusting Christ alone to save them. Paul summed it up: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Salvation by Grace is an undeserved gift from God. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

  1. We are to be Dispensers of Grace. This is what the missionary did. He was a recipient of grace—who chose to extend grace, pardon and forgiveness—in place of punishment—even if it cost him.

Jesus taught His followers to extend grace and forgiveness in Matthew 18 where He told of a slave who was forgiven a great debt, but then refused to forgive another indebted to him. The slave owner said, “I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I have mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:33).

Believers in Christ are to dispense grace and forgiveness in all they do. Paul commanded: “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6).

  1. We are to be Messengers of Grace. Because God has “reconciled us to Himself through Christ,” He has given to followers, “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). Believers in Christ—reconciled to God by the death of His Son—are then to become messengers of God’s grace to others—“He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (verse 19).

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Knowing Christ means you are to share Christ with others who need Him. We, and churches like Corinth, are to be devoted to communicating the message that through Jesus Christ, people everywhere can be forgiven of sins and become reconciled to God.

This message of grace is possible because “He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (verse 21). The message of grace is that sinners can become righteous because the righteous One became sin for them!

God’s message of grace is to be received, emulated and proclaimed! Let us never forget, “that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Perpetual Praise

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Is it just me, or did you ever think—Somewhere there must be a limit to the number of books and songs that can be written and sung? Creative writing and singing by people in billions of combinations of words and notes are mind-boggling. Every piece of music ever written, played or sung is based on only 7 notes with 12 tones and about 120 pitches. Every single song since creation has been bound by these parameters—from Beethoven to Bill Gaither—from the Beatles to Brandon Heath—all their music is based on the same 7 notes!

Not only that, but, every word spoken and every book written is based on different combinations of the same words. Words are the product of the alphabet, which, in English, totals 26 letters. Think about it—every book or article that has ever been written or translated into English—is the product of combinations of only 26 letters of the alphabet. Whether Homer’s “Odyssey,” Melville’s “Moby Dick,” Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” or the current Best Seller on the New York Times’ list—they all come down to various combinations of familiar words made of only 26 letters. There is a best seller on your keyboard—and all you have to do is figure out how to put them together! The King James Bible alone contains 783,137 words made of over 3 million letters. And every verse, statement, promise, command and hope, is unique!

This kind of amazing creativity reaches its zenith when words or music are employed to express, sing or speak God’s praise and His message. David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, was on such an exalted plane when he, by inspiration, penned Psalm 108:1-5. Listen to the majesty of these words: “My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul. Awake, harp and lyre; I will awaken the dawn! I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the peoples, and I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your lovingkindness is great above the heavens, and Your truth reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your glory above all the earth.”

Perpetual praise to God was so important that one of the constant duties of Levites and priests was to, “stand every morning to thank and to praise the LORD, and likewise at evening” (1 Chronicles 23:30). So, “the priests stood at their posts, and the Levites also, with the instruments of music to the LORD, which King David had made for giving praise to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (2 Chron. 7:6). God’s praise from His children is also meant to be perpetual, as the psalmist wrote, “My soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever” (Psalm 30:12). We are to “declare Your righteousness and Your praise all day long” (Psalm 35:28), and “In God we have boasted all day long. And we will give praise to Your name forever” (Psalm 44:8). We are to praise Him forever—because His love is forever.

This praise worship of God must have been glorious to hear, for Ezra recorded that “when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD” (Ezra 3:10). The book of Psalms fittingly closes with a magnificent praise hymn to God. Following the admonition to “Praise the LORD” (Psalm 150:1), the psalmist encourages praise music “with trumpet sound…with harp and lyre…with timbrel and dancing…with stringed instruments and pipe…with loud cymbals” and “with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD, Praise the LORD!” (verses 3-6).

Why is praising God so important? Because, “He who offers praise honors Me” (Psalm 50:23). God longs to hear His redeemed people thank and praise Him. We can understand this because we never tire of people who say “Thank you,” for what we have done.

Only our perfect God could design the crown of His creation with limitless ability to create repeatedly changing combinations of words and music. Though based on the same musical notes and simple words, they are continually re-combined to uniquely speak to people’s hearts. In 2012, Christian musician, Phil Wickam, wrote these lyrics of his powerful song, “This is Amazing Grace’”

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness

Whose love is mighty and so much stronger

The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder

And leaves us breathless in awe and wonder

The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Who brings our chaos back into order

Who makes the orphan a son and daughter

The King of Glory, the King of Glory

Who rules the nations with truth and justice

Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance

The King of Glory, the King above all kings

[Chorus:]

This is amazing grace, This is unfailing love

That You would take my place, That You would bear my cross

You lay down Your life, That I would be set free

Oh, Jesus, I sing for All that You’ve done for me

Phil Wickam ends his song by reminding hearers of the One who is worthy of our highest worship and deepest devotion—the Lord Jesus Christ. God made people in such a way that they can creatively praise and exalt Him—or as the song goes: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain…Worthy is the King who conquered the grave…Worthy, worthy, worthy.” Amen! Let us keep on with perpetual praise for only He is worthy!

 

 

 

Sunday’s Coming!

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Pastor S. M. Lockridge (1913-2000), who pastored Calvary Baptist Church, a prominent African-American congregation in San Diego, California, is credited with originating the phrase, “It’s Friday—but Sunday’s Coming!” These words are the perfect answer for Passion Week. During that week Jesus was abandoned, rejected, tortured and mercilessly crucified. His body was laid in a borrowed tomb, but was gloriously raised from the grave on Easter Sunday.

The true meaning of Easter and the resurrection of Christ is a problem for some people. But for me, believing in the actual, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was never difficult. I cannot recall ever not believing it. The human impossibility of it; the uniqueness of it; and the implications of it, were not always comprehended. But I just figured, if God could make a living man from a pile of dirt, how hard would it be to restore life to someone who had died? Child-like faith is a wonderful thing!

From the strictly human viewpoint, however, death has a cold finality about it. As far as can be seen from the physical side, death is the end. It is a period, not a comma. When we stand helplessly on the sideline as death snuffs out life, it reminds us that giving and restoring life is far beyond any human power. Those obvious facts make the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave all the more important.

When that Sunday finally came, initial reactions to the news of Christ’s resurrection revealed not many were expecting it. The women who first came to the empty tomb, “found the stone rolled away” but were “perplexed” about it, until an angel told them, “He is not here, but He has risen” (Luke 24:2-6). The empty tomb surprised this sweet ladies auxiliary.

When Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James told the apostles they had seen the risen Christ, “these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them” (Luke 24:11). It was not pagan unbelievers who thought the news of the empty tomb “nonsense,” but the apostles of Christ.

Later in the day on Easter Sunday, when two disciples on the road to Emmaus encountered an unrecognized Jesus, they admitted their disappointment at the crucifixion of Christ. They acknowledged that some had seen the empty tomb, but they were puzzled by it all. You can feel the pain and sadness in their words: “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). Their confidence had been shattered by His death on the cross. Now they were at a complete loss. The Lord’s words of rebuke must have stung when He said, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:25, 26).

Despite the doubting disciples, the Lord Jesus made five appearances to a great number of followers on Easter Sunday, which convinced them He was alive. Later, Jesus appeared to hundreds of followers, as Luke noted, “He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).

From that day until this, the good news of the gospel always includes the news of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). As evangelists and missionaries carried the message to people in the first century, the resurrection of Christ from the dead was always an essential part. Without the resurrection of Jesus, the gospel is not good news. As the gospel spread from Asia to Europe, the reaction of people to the resurrection continued to be mixed. It was gladly received by Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:38-43), as well as by many Gentiles in Antioch of Pisidia (Acts 13:28-33, 38, 39), but was ridiculed by some Athenians on Mars’ Hill (Acts 17:18, 30-34). There, the inclusion of the resurrection in the gospel, got mixed reviews: “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, ‘We shall hear you again concerning this’” (Acts 17:32). Thankfully, despite the ridicule, some believed and were saved (verse 34).

What are the implications of Christ’s resurrection?

If Christ was not raised from the dead:

“If there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised” (1 Cor. 15:13).

“If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain” (verse 14).

“And your faith also is vain” (verse 14).

“Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God” (verse 15).

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless” (verse 17).

“And you are still in your sins” (verse 17).

“Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (verse 18).

If Christ was raised from the dead:

The resurrection of Christ declared Jesus to be God’s Son with power (Romans 1:4).

Christ’s resurrection guarantees the resurrection of all believers (Romans 8:11).

His resurrection gives His followers living hope! Believers have been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3, 4).

“It’s Friday—but Sunday’s Coming” reminds us that, no matter how gloomy things appear to be right now—Sunday’s coming! For Jesus, the agony of Passion Week ended in ultimate victory. His victory over death and the grave means that every believer in Christ will also share His triumph through eternal life He gives.

As we remember and celebrate His resurrection, let us rejoice that, “He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:6). Thank God—Sunday’s coming!

Active Listening

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“Do you hear me?” My mother asked me that question a thousand times. Looking back, I am sure it was rhetorical. She really didn’t expect an answer—what she wanted was obedience. My problem was not poor hearing, but neglectful listening. I needed to be an active hearer.

I find it is easy to hear, but hard to listen. It is effortless to talk, but difficult to act. It is painless to dream, but costly to perform. James summed it up best: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was” (James 1:22-24).

In truth, many people who claim Christ are hearing, but not doing, the will of God—they are discussing, but not performing the work of God—and are quoting but not obeying the Word of God. If this is true, they face the worst kind of deception—self-deception! One who deceives himself thinks he is something he is not. He is deluding himself, or as the King James Version renders it, you are “deceiving your own selves.”

To be a “doer” of the word means you will do what it says, and not merely hear. If we hear without doing—listen without obeying—we will not be pleasing to God. Instead, we will be fooling ourselves into believing that we are pleasing Him.

Putting it another way, some may think they are Christians, when they have never actually trusted Christ as their Savior. That is the worst kind of self-deception, because it will impact their eternity. Others may think they are serving God by showing up, but are actually doing nothing for Him. John wrote, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). When people do what Jesus commands, they show that they know Him.

Some people talk a good game, but never get on the field. “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23). Someone described a football game as twenty-two people on the field badly needing rest being watched by seventy thousand people in the stands badly needing exercise. For most of us football is a spectator sport, but Christian service should never be like that. We must get into the game and get involved in the action, doing our part and willingly paying the price.

The fact is, we are saved to serve. In Ephesians 2:10, Paul wrote that the Ephesians were “His workmanship” – God’s masterpiece – “created in Christ Jesus” – born again by grace through faith in Christ Jesus – “for good works” – deeds and actions of service – “which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” – following His plan for our lives of ministry for Him. We are saved apart from works of any kind—unto works of every kind—for His glory.

On one occasion, the Lord challenged His disciples: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). It is one thing to call Jesus your Lord, but quite another to live with Him as Lord of your life, your decisions, your habits, your words and actions. If we call Jesus, Lord, we need to know Him and obey Him.

In January, 1933, during the midst of the Great Depression, a lady found this poem pasted to the wall of an old farm house. She was so impressed by its truth she copied it for each of her seven children. This powerful principle of life is still true today.

Someday!

There’s a loving letter I mean to send,

There’s a visit I mean to pay;

There’s a careless habit I hope to mend,

When I get the time, someday.

 

I will carry flowers to the sick and sad;

I will seek for those who stray;

You may trace my steps by the hearts made glad,

When I get the time, someday.

 

There’s a dusty Bible I mean to read;

There’s an hour I’ll keep to pray;

And I’ll turn each dream to a golden deed,

When I get the time, someday.

 

So we have thought and so we have said,

Yet, how sad it is to relate—

That, busy with less important things;

We waited until too late—

 

We never will get the time, dear friend,

To be kind along life’s way,

Unless thoughtfully and prayerfully,

We make the most of today!

To become a Christian, we must actually repent of our sins and trust Christ, inviting Him into our lives. To do God’s will, we must actually do something! It is never enough to hear; not enough to wish; nor merely to talk or think—we must do His will and work! To actually do God’s will calls for faith, trust, prayer, commitment, action, diligence, endurance and faithfulness.

Why not make it your goal to hear and do the will of God in your life? Begin by receiving Jesus as your Savior. Follow up by joining a church where you can learn what God’s Word says and can surround yourself with like-minded believers. Then put your faith into practice by serving God where you live and work.

I wonder if God is not raising His voice to us, as my mom did years ago when she asked, “Do you hear me?” I hope you will be an active listener by receiving Him and doing His will, while you have opportunity, today!

 

 

 

Porch Lessons

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You can learn a lot about life sitting on a porch. Before the invention of television, radio and air-conditioning, people spent a lot of time on the porch. The porch was the place for family get-togethers, quiet conversation, observation, shelling peas, and whittling.

Last year, I had a medical procedure that required me to basically sit and do nothing, lift nothing, strain at nothing—mainly vegetate—while recuperating, for a whole week. It was doctor-ordered and wife-enforced. So, I planted myself on my favorite porch, with a beautiful view of Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and counted the days before I could return to life.

As I looked on from the porch, sometimes the skies dropped lovely, steady, needed rain. Other times I watched the sun come up, race across the sky, then sink in the west with golden orange rays reflecting off the water. Some days seemed three days long. But, my wife Pat, sat with me enjoying the sights and sounds of God’s creation at work, as I tried not to ruin it for her with my complaints.

So, what can you learn about life sitting on a porch?

One, you learn that life goes on, even without you. No one is irreplaceable or indispensable and most of us may not even be that essential. Though your life is unique and valuable to God, and you are the only one of you He ever made, not everything you do is that important. The universe does not revolve around you. The sun will rise tomorrow and no matter what happens today, life will go on. Some day, after you make your final exit from this life, the world won’t stop.

Two, on the porch you learn that the people who really matter in your life are those who come closest when you are in need—your spouse, your children, your church family and close friends. The first institution God made was marriage and the home, followed immediately by children and the family.

With good reason, Paul wrote that if a man is not a good husband and father; he is not qualified to be a pastor, deacon, or church leader (1 Timothy 3:1-13). Howard Hendricks used to say that means if a man cannot lead in a limited sphere, don’t enlarge it! On the porch you learn that no people are as important as your family. For most of us, the greatest joys in life are connected with family. Nothing comes close to that, and no amount of fame, fortune or success can ever replace that.

Another institution God planned for your wellbeing was the church. When you are in need of comfort, encouragement or care, that group of people you meet weekly will come to your aid. Years ago, a pastor sarcastically wrote: “You better get to know Pastor What’s-His-Name, because Billy Graham will not preach your funeral!”

Paul compared the church to a body with many functioning parts, of which, if you belong, you are one. Church members care for one another, and “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:26-27). A true church is a group of sympathetic, empathetic people, who serves Jesus and ministers to people.

Three, you also learn that you should focus your life more on things that are eternal, and less on things that are temporal. Most highly desired things in this life that people strain and strive for are just fluff, pith and chaff. Much of what we think we want is fleeting fantasy. It does not satisfy and quickly disappears.

However, a life focused on things of eternal value is a life full, pleasing and well lived. So, what is eternal that should become your focus? Only two things you can see with your eyes are eternal: the Word of God and people. Learning and living by God’s Word as you love, interact with and minister to people, results in a life of eternal value.

Four, on the porch, you realize that the really wonderful and memorable times in life always gravitate around needs. With all that time to think, I was reminded that through four decades of pastoral ministry people did not remember the sermons I preached, but never forgot the love, concern and care I showed in their hour of need. One of the greatest joys in life has been those times ministering to the hurting, weeping with the broken, while praying and loving them through tragedies.

What a great privilege we have to share our lives and love with people. Mark Hall of Casting Crowns wrote and sang this chorus in the song “Love them Like Jesus:”

“You don’t need the answers

To all of life’s questions

Just know that He loves them

Stay by their side

And love them like Jesus,

Love them like Jesus”

The good news is that you do not need an excuse to spend quality time on your porch. Occasional porch time may be the most productive time you spend. In fact, you really don’t even need a porch. Stop and consider your life. Settle down to the real values in life and toss aside vain pursuits. Spend time in His Word then share its truths with others. Porch time is not wasted time!

So I encourage you to make time this summer to just sit on your porch. Be open to the surprises of God and the goodness of life that comes to bless you. Surround yourself with loved ones and see what God does in your heart on your porch.

Precious Collectibles

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Folks collect the strangest things. People treasure antique furniture, fine art, books, depression glass, china, comic books, toys, vinyl records, classic cars, VHS tapes, crystal, jewelry, ceramics, thimbles, trading cards, balls, coins, stamps and coffee mugs. Others accumulate stranger things like rocks, driftwood, bottles, marbles, matchbooks and seashells. I knew a man in Sheridan, Arkansas, who kept his toenail clippings in a container by the fireplace—strange things indeed.

There are two reasons people hold onto collectible items—they are either valuable, or they are memorable. Some things have financial worth—others have emotional connections. In truth, a collectible item is any object that has intrinsic value or interest to a collector.

One year, my aunt, Lucille Franklin, from Malvern, Arkansas, gave us five or six old plastic toy cars to place around our tree at Christmas time. Considering our children and grandchildren, Pat and I thought they would enjoy playing with them. There was a Railway Express truck, like my Uncle Roy used to drive, a red 1957 Chevrolet like they used to own, a 50’s model pickup truck, a vintage sports car and others. For several years we enjoyed displaying them at Christmas. My grandsons loved to run them, and crash them, up and down our hallway when our family got together. That fun lasted—until I learned how valuable those old toys were! One old plastic toy car was valued at $800, and all the rest were worth between $400 and $500 dollars each. So, our two-person family leadership council went into executive session and unanimously decided to leave the antiques in the attic, and replace them with newer, neater and cheaper playthings. It was perfect, the old toys were preserved, and my grandsons never knew the difference.

Many things people collect have no monetary value. In every room of our house Pat and I display valuable items, collected over 50 years of marriage, 5 children, 12 grandchildren and thousands of miles traveled. Most of it is worthless to anyone but us. We have rocks from Mount Sinai, Golgotha, the Sea of Galilee, as well as volcanic rocks from Arizona, and precious (to us) stones our children picked up at the Russian River, Jamestown, Pike’s Peak and Gatlinburg. We treasure seashells from the Tasman and Coral Seas, Talikud Island, Vanuatu, Guadalcanal, San Gregorio, Fort Morgan and Camp Lejeune Marine Base. We are the proud owners of a Maasai fly swatter from Kenya that is actually a cow’s tail. Another prized possession is a badly worn trace chain from a storm cellar door that my grandfather held during rough storms in Lipan, Texas. These are all precious collectibles.

So, what transforms worthless objects into precious collectibles? The answer is—memories! Tied to each rock, shell, card, or stick is a unique memory. What makes them special are the precious people and events connected with these objects. The person who held the trace chain, the child who found the precious rock, the people who walked the beach with you searching for beautiful shells—these memories make precious collectibles. The valuable object triggers the precious memory.

This is a great reminder of what we are to God. Our intrinsic value is that we were made in God’s image and were redeemed by Christ’s blood. Peter reminds us that, “He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). God places such high value on people that, “He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Because of our sin, we deserve death, but because of God’s love, He offers the gift of life—“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

We are somewhat worthless to most people except our Savior and those who love us. But He made us and redeemed us to glorify and serve Him forever. In that, we find our true value. When we come to Christ, trusting Him to save us, He makes us brand new! “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). When God looks at one of His redeemed people, He sees a masterpiece in the making. “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

In Christ, we are loved, saved, redeemed and made precious. Someone said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that is true. When God looks at us, he sees our true worth, our importance and our future—because He sees His Son in us.

About His people, God said, “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels” (Malachi 3:17). As Peter wrote, you are a person “for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Our Savior, Jesus Christ, “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14).

So, don’t waste your life or settle for less than God’s best. Accept Christ as your Savior, then begin to live the life He has planned for you. You are a valuable jewel and a precious collectible to God!