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Trash or Treasure?

Nearly 25 years ago, when my wife and I were living in Greenville, SC, yard sale shopping was a much-anticipated Saturday activity. We had been married for just over a year and had very little furniture and equally little money. Finding a yard sale bargain was fun and exciting for us.

On one Saturday morning, we must have really needed a kitchen table and chairs because we bought two of them! At separate yard sales, of course. We actually took the chairs from one table and swapped them with the chairs of the other table, recovered the chairs we kept, and then sold the other “mix-matched” table chairs. We kept that “blended set of table and chairs for over 20 years. Money well spent!

Yard sale shopping affords a great opportunity for “one man’s trash to become another man’s treasure.” In other words, what may be useless to one person may be incredibly valuable to another.

This reminds me of how Jesus was treated when He lived on this earth as the one and only God-Man. It reminds me of how the same Jesus, now ascended and sitting on the right hand of the Father, is treated today.

Jesus Trashed

He was misidentified

He was viewed as a threat to the religious establishment. The Pharisees and other religious leaders thought Him to be a rebel, someone who seemingly disagreed with Moses and the Torah. They totally missed the fact that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah, the Son of God, who wanted to be their Savior!

He was misunderstood

He didn’t come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). He didn’t come to overthrow the Romans, who were enemies of the Jews, but to overthrow the Devil, who is the archenemy of all humanity (Heb. 2:14-15). He didn’t come to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). He didn’t initially come to reign, but to redeem .

He was murdered

He wasn’t merely threatened to shut His mouth. He wasn’t merely beaten to teach Him a lesson. He wasn’t merely given a life sentence to be served in a cold, damp Roman prison. HE WAS MURDERED! He was suspended between Heaven and earth on a cruel rugged cross and crucified like a common criminal (Mt. 27:27-54). Jesus was trashed.

Jesus Treasured

Read Luke 7:36-50. There you will find Jesus accepting a dinner invitation extended to Him by a curious Pharisee named Simon. At some banquets uninvited guests could come in and stand around the walls, listening to the conversations and, on a good night, enjoy some leftovers.

One woman found her a spot and waited anxiously for the guest of honor to arrive…the Man she loved more than life itself…Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus positioned Himself in front of this “sinful woman” and reclined for dinner. Immediately she began to weep, to rain tears on Jesus’ feet. Having no towel to dry them, she used her own hair. Oh, and she covered those precious feet with tons of kisses, not unlike the father did when his prodigal son returned home from a life of sin and rebellion (cf. Luke 15:20).

Then, having brought an alabaster flask of ointment, she began to anoint those feet, the same feet that would soon be pierced with a spike driven by a muscular Roman soldier. So, what made this woman treat Jesus like such a treasure?

Because He forgives sin

Jesus explained to Simon in verse 47 that the woman’s “sins, which are many, are forgiven.” Was she a woman of the night? A prostitute? How many tricks had she turned? Didn’t matter. Having placed her faith in Jesus, her sins, every single one of them, were forgiven! Separated from her as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12)!

Because He changes lives

When it was time for the banquet to end and the guests to depart, Jesus told this woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” When your sins are forgiven and Christ is your Savior, you have a sweet peace that in beyond understanding by those who don’t have it (Rom. 5:1; Phil. 4:7).

What a transformation…to go from being consumed with guilt and shame to being overjoyed with grace and peace. Her life was changed indeed. She’s on her way to an abundant life on earth (John 10:10) and an eternal life thereafter in Heaven (John 3:16)! No wonder Jesus was treasured!

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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Jesus Christ, Luke, New Testament

 

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A Spiritual Needs Assessment

Hurricane Irene battered eastern NC for well over 12 hours a few days ago. While only a CAT 1 hurricane, Irene was plenty powerful enough to send thousands of trees to the ground, some landing on top of cars, some crushing people’s houses, and some crushing human beings.

Because of the wind, the flooding, and the downed trees, there were some things we were without for varying amounts of time: lights, A/C, phone service, internet, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and TV. More than once during the hurricane, I found myself thinking, I need electricity. I need to connect to my social media outlets. I need Internet service. I need to charge my computer battery.

But I really don’t NEED any of those things. They’re nice. I enjoy them. They make my life more convenient and enjoyable. But, they don’t belong on my “greatest needs list,” not according to the Bible! A quick survey of God’s Word reveals some of our greatest needs to be the need for…

  1. Righteousness – Christ’s righteousness imputed to my spiritual account (Romans 4.1-5, 23-25; 2 Corinthians 5.21). A Christian is saved by grace through faith because of Christ’s redeeming work at Calvary allowing God to be just and the justifier of all who believe in Him as Savior and Lord (Romans 3.23-26). Romans 3.27 then asks an appropriate question in response to salvation being such an incredible work of grace: “Where is boasting then?” The answer: It’s excluded! And that leads to a second NEED…
  2. Humbleness – Acknowledging others as better than yourself and demonstrating a Christlike humility (Philippians 2.3-8). Believers have no basis for pride…none! We owe everything to Him…everything! Go ahead and ask yourself, “What do I have that I did not receive?” An honest answer has to be, “Nothing. Absolutely nothing.” Then why do we often boast as if that were not the case? That’s what Paul wanted to know in 1 Corinthians 4.7.
  3. Repentance – If humility is missing and pride is present, what should a believer do? Repent! Repentance is always what a believer NEEDS to do with his sin. Repent means to change one’s mind and to stop committing the sin. Repentance is what the Lord Jesus repeatedly required when addressing the early churches: Revelation 2.4-5 and 3.19. Proverbs 28.13 teaches that mercy comes to the one who confesses and forsakes his sin.
  4. Forgiveness – We NEED to embrace AND extend forgiveness. That’s exactly what Ephesians 4.32 teaches: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another [that’s extending forgiveness], as God in Christ forgave you [that’s embracing forgiveness].” Having been the recipient of God’s gracious forgiveness of our sins, we as believers are to manifest a forgiving spirit toward others. Christ takes this reciprocal forgiveness so seriously that He will withhold forgiveness from the one who withholds it from someone else: Matthew 6.14-15.

Talk about NEEDS! These are some of our greatest: righteousness, humbleness, repentance, and forgiveness. How do you measure up?

 
 

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