Worthlessness

Are you like me? Does your worth sometimes get a bit tied up in what you do? So you finish a certain project, like making 3 CDs by the time you’re 40, and you start to think what’s the point anymore? Particularly if your health isn’t 100%, you can wonder why you’re still here. Wouldn’t it be less of a drain on resources if you weren’t? And less of a concern for other people? If you voice these feelings to a doctor, they might put you down as being depressed and offer you medication, but this homesickness for heaven is normal for the Christian; at least, I know it’s not unique to me. “I want to leave this life and be with Christ, which is much better,” says Paul to the church at Philippi, “but you need me here in my body.” Perhaps Paul’s worth was tied to his performance too.

Have you ever thought about Jesus coming up out of the water after His baptism, and what God said to Him? “You are My Son, whom I love” – not ‘You are a good carpenter’; ‘You are the One who’ll go on to do miracles and save My people’. God didn’t base Jesus’ value on His next project, or on what He’d done before. It was based on their relationship.

“He came to the world that was His own, but His own people did not accept Him. But to all who did accept Him and believe in Him He gave the right to become children of God (John 1:11-12). When you accept Jesus, you become God’s child. You’re precious in His sight not because of your performance, but because of who you are (cue the song by Casting Crowns).

On World Mental Health Day, I just want to tell you how valuable you are to the God who made you.

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Turn it on its Head

Do you remember in the 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, Wonka would get something wrong and then he’d say: “Strike that! Reverse it”? I’d like to give certain quotes the same treatment. Take this one as an example:
“You’re so heavenly-minded, you’re no earthly use!”
I would argue that those who are heavenly-minded are of far more earthly use. Heavenly-minded people examine their lives. They look at what they do and ask: Does this have eternal value?

When we think of God’s greatest commandments (love the LORD your God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself), we see that anything we do for God or for others has value not only for now, but for eternity. That’s what heavenly-minded people give the majority of their time and their money to.

Here’s another:
“Preach the gospel and where necessary, use words.”
When I was growing up, the philosophy was that there were two things you didn’t talk about at dinner parties: Politics and religion. Your beliefs were to be kept private, but faith in Jesus is more than a religion – it’s a crucial part of my life. If God comes first and my loved ones come second to Him, asking me to keep quiet about my faith is like asking a newlywed not to talk about their spouse; it doesn’t work.

I can understand that people don’t want to make a great speech but leave their hearers still in need, and the Bible supports this: “A brother or sister in Christ might need clothes or food. If you say to that person, ‘God be with you! I hope you stay warm and get plenty to eat,’ but you do not give what that person needs, your words are worth nothing” (James 2:15-16). We don’t want our words to be worth nothing, but meeting people’s needs should never be a substitute for telling the good news of Jesus and His love that invites us into a relationship with God. Remember when that crowd of five thousand-plus stayed with Jesus so long that they were hungry? Why had they stayed? What were they doing? They were listening to Jesus talk to them about God! God’s Word came first and always will. Meet people’s physical needs if you’re able, but don’t neglect the spiritual. “Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have, but answer in a gentle way and with respect. Keep a clear conscience so that those who speak evil of your good life in Christ will be made ashamed” (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Are there any quotes that you’d like to turn upside-down?

Behind the Scenes

“These are more wise sayings of Solomon, copied by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah” (Proverbs 25:1).

 

I like this verse because it reminds me there are no small, insignificant tasks in the kingdom of God.  Solomon may have been the king God made great and wise, but these men got a mention too.  All they were doing was copying the words Solomon said.  They must have had an education to be able to write, but it didn’t require much brainpower.  It did require faithfulness though, to keep turning up for duty.

 

I don’t know whether Solomon’s words would have been so radical, they couldn’t have got bored with them.  Perhaps, or maybe the job of copying was tedious; maybe they sometimes wanted to be the ones with wisdom, instead of minions under his command.  They might have felt privileged if they’d realised their work didn’t go unnoticed, and people would still read about them thousands of years later.

 

What are you doing for God?  Do you feel unrecognised?  Your work and attitude don’t escape God’s notice, and your example might just inspire somebody else.

Mocking the Poor

“Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished” (Proverbs 17:5).

 

I was at a ‘Networking’ event just recently.  I remember feeling so out-of-my depth when I first heard the word networking, but it’s just a fancy word for meeting reps from different organisations and having a chat.  Anyway, someone was telling a housing officer about the council estate she grew up on.  She said it was a rough area, ‘But I was brought up properly’, as if she was a cut above the rest.  As a food bank secretary, I’ve had conversations to try to raise awareness of how a food bank works, but I still get the impression from some that they believe there shouldn’t be a food bank in a middle-class area such as ours.

 

That kind of attitude breaks my heart – that living somewhere which looks affluent from the outside should somehow distinguish us from everyone else, and from this verse I’ve read, I’m sure it breaks God’s heart too.  Please, don’t sneer at someone poorer than you; don’t be ashamed to have them on your doorstep, but give them some support, and remember the same God who created them created you.  They’re as precious as you are.

The Big 3s

Today’s Daily Post asks us to search our hearts for the big 3s:  First, 3 things we believe to be true.  I believe Jesus really did hang on a cross and was crucified for me.  I believe Jesus rose from the dead, and I believe forgiveness is possible.  As Corrie Ten Boom said:  “Jesus died for that man.  Could I ask for anything more?”  Without Jesus’ example, without the forgiveness He showed to us all, it would be impossible for us to really forgive those who wrong us.  I’m glad that because of Jesus, we can live the life He wants us to live.

 

And the other big 3:  Things we believe to be false.  I firmly believe evolution is false.  At best it reduces God, our Creator, to one who doesn’t have the power to create the whole world in 6 days.  At worst, it questions whether He exists at all.  I really encourage you when looking for a church to find a Bible-believing one, which holds to the truth that we didn’t evolve from monkeys; God formed us in our mothers’ wombs.

 

I also believe we can’t find security in any person, or thing, on this earth.  When I look at myself, I know at times I’ve fallen short.  I haven’t lived up to others’ expectations and certainly not my own.  I’ve messed up, as have we all.  Money spends and people fail, but God is eternal and trustworthy.

 

So, one more falsehood, and it would be this:  The devaluing of people.  I overheard a conversation earlier, that didn’t sit well with me.  An elderly person needed a lift and the woman told her husband:  “D is coming with me to collect C, so that he can do it as well eventually, and share the responsibility.”  It made me sad for that poor man – that he doesn’t have a friend who finds it a pleasure to take him places.  I hope and pray that when I get to eighty years old, I’m not just a name on a rota.  I’d really rather stay at home than have someone take me somewhere out of a sense of duty.  It made me want to sing the praises of Community Action, a charity which provides transport for elderly people and treats them with such respect.  Perhaps you’re in your eighties reading this blog; perhaps you just feel you’re a burden, but that is totally false.  God formed you in your mother’s womb, however many years ago that was.  He loves to spend time with you!  Jesus died so that you could be close to God, and He could be close to you.  If you’re still here, it means He’s not finished with you yet!  The world would be a much better place if we all did what Jesus said, and loved one another as He’s loved us.

What a Lovely Man

I’ve been reading this week about the Roman officer in Matthew 8:5-13, and I saw something I’d never noticed before.  Verse 8:  “Lord, I do not deserve to have You come under my roof.”  The officer called Jesus Lord – a huge thing for him to do!  There were certainly some Roman emperors (like Dometian) who wanted to be thought of as a god, but here was this man, calling Jesus his Lord, putting Jesus in authority over him instead of his boss – the emperor.

 

And who did he do it for?  Was it his son, lying at home paralysed and suffering terribly?  You could understand a father being so desperate for his son’s healing that he would rethink his whole belief-system, … but no.  It was this man’s servant – someone with no standing in the household, but obviously very well-loved by the officer.  I read it and I thought:  “What a lovely man!”

 

If you’re an employer, would you do that for one of your employees?  Would you literally think twice about those in authority over you, in order to help them?  Aren’t these events in the Bible still so amazing?

Indispensable

Are you reading The Unquenchable Worshipper with me?  I may not blog about every chapter, but there is something important in chapter 2.

 

Matt talks about a time when he had tendonitis and was unable to play guitar for 7 weeks, despite the busy schedule he had planned.  In all his unanswered questions, he learnt a valuable lesson.  Servants come and go; God could have used any worship-leader for the events on his calendar, but as a son, he was indispensable.  There would never be another Matt Redman.

 

Are you reading this and thinking the same applies to you?  Because if you believe in Jesus, God’s given you the right to become His child.  That means whatever you may be doing for Him, or will do in the future, you’re first of all a son.  God looks at you, and you’re indispensable.  No one can be your replacement.  Someone else may step into your role, but they’ll never be you, and God loves all His children.

I See Jesus

After a week with the kids, today is catch-up day.  I have groceries being delivered, washing to do, E-mails to send … so what do I do first?  See what book came through the post for me yesterday.

 

It’s Matt Redman’s The Unquenchable Worshipper.  What I like about people like Matt Redman and Darlene Czech is that they include Scripture in some of their songs.  If I sense someone’s a Bible-believing Christian and they write a book on worship, I want to read it.

 

I’ve only read the first chapter so far, but it’s really good.  In it he talks about how fire extinguishers work – by removing 3 things:  Heat, oxygen, and fuel.  I won’t go through all his points; I don’t want to spoil it for other readers, but he says the fuel for our worship-fire is the revelation of God.  There are different ways in which God reveals Himself to us, and His Word (the Bible) is one of them.  Psalm 89 was mentioned, so I got out my falling-apart book of Psalms and started to read.  I came to verse 17:  “By Your favour You exalt our Horn”.

 

Who is the Horn of our salvation – the One who saves us?  Jesus.  “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow” – Philippians 2:8-10.  So, because of God’s favour He exalted Jesus?  Yes, it’s true.  If God hadn’t been pleased with us, and wanted us with Him forever, Jesus wouldn’t have died on that cross.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” – John 3:16.

 

Can you see Jesus in your Bible-reading today?

Communion

Communion – that time when churches distribute bread and wine, to remember Jesus’ death.  Instead of trying to hold onto His life, He gave His body over to the soldiers, letting them beat Him and nail Him to a cross, and He allowed His blood to be poured out to make us acceptable to God.  You can read more about the reason for this here.

 

At the church I go to now, we don’t have a set pattern of things we say to remember this, but my parents have been churchgoers since I was a child.  At that church, one of the prayers before communion went something like:  “We do not presume to come to this Your table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness … for we are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under Your table”.

 

First of all, I didn’t understand what righteousness meant, but I sort of got the message that we shouldn’t come close to God trusting in ourselves; we were hardly even good enough to pick up the crumbs under His table.  I got the fact that I really wasn’t worth very much.  What I didn’t realise was that Jesus dying on the cross changed that.  I don’t know how many communion services I sat through, missing the whole point of it.

 

Righteousness is being right with God.  Because Jesus died in our place and He was right with God, when we believe in Him, God puts the Spirit of Jesus into us, so all the things we didn’t have on our own are now ours through Jesus – if we would only live that way!  We have a right standing with God.  God loves Jesus, and He loves us.  Isn’t it time we stopped only saying half the prayer?

 

Father, I wouldn’t be bold enough to come to You trusting in myself.  On my own I’m hardly good enough to pick up the crumbs under Your table, but Jesus has died for me, and trusting in Him I can be bold!  I can approach You – not as if I was a stranger, but as Your child.  I can ask for things, like I would ask my parents.  If I believe You’ve promised me something and it seems slow in coming, I can say:  “Father, You promised …”  Thank You that You want that kind of relationship with us.  Amen.

* * *

If you’re having communion tomorrow at church, will you take time to really think about Jesus’ death and what it means for you?

Identity

I’ve just read the words of a friend-of-a-friend on Facebook.  She was buying a house and she wrote:  “there’s the usual question of whether it’s Miss or Mrs – it’s Dr., thank you! ;-)”  In the comments, she went on to say:  “Why is it that people need to know whether I’m married or not, that doesn’t really define me as a person (where as having a PhD does”.

 

What do you think about her statement?  I read it and thought how sad it was – sad because letters after a person’s name, or their vocation in life, do command respect.  But if you don’t have a PHD, if you’re made redundant, if you become paralysed in an accident and can’t do all that you used to, does that make you less of a person?  I don’t think so.  “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb” – Psalm 139:13 (New Living Translation).  God loves us for who we are, not for what we do, and I say this to myself as much as anyone.  It can be hard to grasp that God loved us before we could do anything.

 

I respect people with a PHD.  It’s a reward for 7 years or so of hard work, but I respect people with strong marriages too.  They have a willingness to spend a lifetime with another person whose feelings they’ve got no control over, to work through problems, to put the other’s needs before their own, and sometimes to miss out on things they could have done, had they stayed single.  I think being married does define you as a person of loyalty, perseverance and great strength.  “Marriage should be honoured by all” – Hebrews 13:4.

 

Nowadays in wedding ceremonies, the congregation promise to support the couple.  Is there a married couple you could show support to today?