When we wish to know the worth of a diamond we take it to a jeweler who takes his magnifying glass and looks at the color, counts the facets and so forth. If we need to sell a property we first call an appraiser who comes and looks carefully at it inside and out to ascertain its market value.While our practice is to value a thing according to its appearance God sees entirely differently.
Consider the story of the widow who gave her two mites. The disciples were quite surprised when Jesus told them that she had given more than all the others. They had clearly seen with their own eyes the two tiny copper coins fall from her hand into the offering box. But what they had seen was nothing in comparison to what Jesus saw of the inner beauty of her love, sacrifice and faith.
In a different circumstance Jesus sat down for dinner with a well dressed wealthy Pharisee named Simon. During their meal the pleasantness of the scene was harshly interrupted by a weeping woman who burst into the room and began kissing the feet of Jesus and wiping them clean with her hair. Simon was shocked! It was well known in his community what flagrant sins this woman had committed. How dare she enter his house, and furthermore how could Jesus (If He really were a prophet) allow himself to be touched by someone like her?
Yet Jesus saw the circumstances quite differently than Simon or you or I. Jesus neither saw the fine tableware nor savored the delicate cuisine. Jesus hadn’t at all been impressed by the beautiful columns or the handcrafted door at the entry of Simon’s home. Instead Jesus saw the cold lack of Simon’s heart. Jesus had noticed that Simon had not given him the customary kiss on the cheek, or offered water for his feet to be washed. Jesus saw quite clearly instead the depth of repentance and gratitude of this woman and treasured that.
God does not see things as we see them and as we enter this new year my prayer is for God to give me His own 20/20 heavenly vision. I earnestly beg and plead to see the value that He sees in others and the worthlessness of so many things to which I cling so tightly. The challenges that we face this year can only be met when seeing and valuing the invisible things of God’s eternal worth.
As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30
Of the four gospel writers only John records these words. This last intimate communication which John overhears is the final prayer from Jesus to His Father. From the first cry of Jesus in Bethlehem’s manger to His final pain filled words on the cross Jesus had been on a mission. His mission was to seek and save what had been lost (You and Me). Now the healing, the praying, the fasting, the temptations, the teachings, the conflicts and the miracles of Jesus’ earthly ministry are finished. Every disciple who Jesus had called had been commissioned, every earthly relationship fulfilled, every suffering endured and He is ready to return to the place which He left at the right hand of God.
And it is most amazing to me that at that last moment, and with those final words, “It is finished,” that our own new life begins. Jesus has finished his race. Jesus has run carrying the torch of the light of heaven. As Jesus breathed out his last He passed to John, to His mother Mary and even to all of us who hear His words today that same torch to us to begin to run our own race. Some of us will run for miles and some only one short lap. Each of us has a different race marked out for us in this new year ahead, but we must start at the cross where Jesus finished His course and where we begin ours!
Genesis 8:15-17 Then God spoke to Noah, saying, Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you…
Try to imagine that first day out of the ark. Depending on how you count the days loading, raining, waiting and leaving we know for certain that Noah and his family with all those creatures were at least a year shut in the walls of the boat. Try to imagine the day when God said, “It’s time!”
Can you see in your mind’s eye Noah and the grandchildren rushing down the ramp with dogs, cats cows and thousands of other animals not far behind? It was a day of new beginnings. Noah began with worship and God gave him the sign in the clouds which we can still see on days when rain mixes with the sunshine.
In that same manner we are starting together a new year. 2015 may have been a year that we felt tossed and turned. 2015 may have been twelve months of floods, confusion and a loss of freedom, but that was then and this is now.
Today we can take our first steps into the new year. What better way to begin than how Noah began…with worship.
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar Genesis 8:20
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” Mark 4:35
God has plans for another chapter in our lives in 2015. He is not content to leave us where we are and He challenges us to trust Him to begin something new. It seems so nice and peaceful just resting here on this side of what we know, but Jesus says ,”Let’s go to the other side!”
Every year about this time my wife and I pack our bags and prepare for travel. In the weeks leading up to our trip we buy a few things, begin to pack our bags and make arrangements for everything we can think of. The excitement builds as we imagine the weeks of unfettered schedules and new experiences. Jesus is inviting each of us to prepare, and to be ready for new things. But wrapped up in His challenge is a word we may have missed. Jesus said “Let’s!” That single word makes all the difference when we launch out to points unknown. We can set sail with the certainty that Jesus will be in the boat with us. There’s a song we sing at our Brazilian church in Portuguese that loosely translated goes something like this:
Raise the anchor of the boat, take the oars in your hands and sail away with faith in Jesus
Because this is the way you will see what beautiful things He will do
Because with Him you will be secure
So if looking over the endless horizon of 2015 you feel overwhelmed by the smallness of your boat and by the vastness of the sea, remember that in your little boat travels the King on kings and the Captain of all ships’ captains. No matter the distance, no matter the storms, our Lord will never abandon ship, nor will He allow the waves to keep us back from the safe harbor of His arms!
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’ Revelation 2:7
In few short days we will be at the edge of 2015. The New Year will beckon us, bless us, challenge us and put us at times in the middle of struggles we can never imagine now. Jesus has promised to always be with us yet the promises of God for this coming year are for those who are willing to stick out their necks, leap into the fray.
Jesus has not promised we wouldn’t have battles, but that when it seems that the strong towers of our life are ready to fall He will fight for us. He will be with us even to the ends of our world. So if you are fearfully facing the unknown this year think about the promises of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When you don’t know which way to turn, He is the Wonderful Counselor
When you feel abandoned and betrayed, He has told us that He is our friend
When you are struggling under demands of life, He said to come and He would give us rest
If you suffer the loss of those dearest, He has promised comfort
If even death comes to stand at the doorway, He has said:
… “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. John 11:25
So let the New Year come with its wind and waves, with its promises and challenges. Let’s prepare for the great adventure of faith. Take hold of God’s promises and see what He will do when we will trust in Him with all our heart!
Happy New Year to All…Only the Love of Jesus can hold us in 2014
Going to be trying this tonight at church. Love the song for special times together!