It seems everything on Earth is either increasing or decreasing in value. A watch that once belonged to Paul Newman recently sold for $17 million. While a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci sold for $266 million. What about in Heaven? What is our value to God? Would it surprise you if I said it is impossible for us to become more or less valuable to God? From His vantage point, as our Creator, our value is fixed and unchangeable. We are priceless to Him! And if we could ever actually believe this, it would change our lives. We’d never again give into hopelessness and despair. We’d realize we are so precious to God, He’d do everything possible to forgive and heal our past, establish our present, and preserve our future. That’s why Jesus came!
When Jesus said the meek will inherit the Earth, in Matthew 5:5, what did He mean? We are meek toward God when we accept His dealings with us as good, without disputing or resisting them. We are not passive; we are passionately focused and surrendered. In the Old Testament, the meek were those who totally relied on God rather than upon their own strength to defend themselves against injustice. Therefore, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is even using them to purify His followers, and that He will deliver us in His perfect time. Down through the ages, Christian martyrs were neither helpless nor hopeless, but fully trusting in the God who held their lives and future in His trustworthy hands.
Flying on Instruments
A friend of mine who is a pilot said he is required to fly “instruments only” at night or when in the clouds. In those situations, he’s not allowed to fly under “visual flight rules.” This is compulsory because the sensors in the brain will at times disorient pilots from keeping the plane level. One day, while flying in the clouds and looking at his instruments, they indicated his plane was pitched up as if it was ascending, while another instrument showed he was descending at a thousand feet a minute. At that moment, if he had followed his instincts, he would have pulled back, stalled the plane, and probably crashed. Following his instruments saved his life. Following the truth of God’s Word, and not our feelings, will save our lives as well. “For we walk by faith (in God’s Word), not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7, NKJV)
The End of Your Movie
Have you ever had someone tell you about their favorite movie, and they said, “Oh, you’re going love the end!” And they are a trustworthy person; fully believable, and not prone to exaggeration. Then you watch the movie and you can’t wait for the ending. No matter how difficult certain portions of the movie may be, you can’t wait to see what happens at the end. What if I told you that’s exactly the script God has written for your life. Your movie has the best ending ever! If you’ll just trust Jesus…follow Him…and believe in Him, more than the challenges you face, you’ll see God is the greatest Script Writer of all time, and you are one of the stars in His movie. “Those who are wise…will shine like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3, NIV)
An Honest Assessment from Friends
When I was a young Christian, it took two friends two hours to provide some objectivity as to how I was wired. They were primarily trying to alert me to the fact that I was very, very intense. It wasn’t a negative critique. It was just a helpful assessment of how God made me. Do you know how you are wired: your temperament, personality, giftings, passions, even your vulnerabilities and weaknesses? I’ve looked back on that conversation, now decades later, and realized, with a much fuller appreciation, that my friends were trying to help me, to give me a healthy grid for the rest of my life. Ask some friends who love you, people you trust, to give you an honest assessment of who you are. If you can hear them, it will change your life.
The Worst Commercial Airline Disaster
In the early days of commercial aviation, the captain had the final say, and it was unacceptable to challenge his or her decision-making. This led to many crashes. The worst commercial airline disaster in aviation history occurred in 1977, when two Boeing 747 passenger airliners collided on the runway of Tenerife Airport, because dense fog kept the pilots and control tower from seeing one another. At that time, the co-pilot’s inability to challenge the pilot’s decision-making led to 583 fatalities. Commercial airlines now require a pilot and a co-pilot to share responsibilities, with the co-pilot being able to advise the pilot in the event his decision-making is skewed. This speaks to me of accountability. Who in your life would be able to challenge your decision-making and spare you and others much pain and regret?
The Hand You Are Dealt
All of us process life differently. I’m intense; my wife Suzie is relaxed. I had a difficult childhood, lost in an oppressive boarding school. She had a marvelous one, surrounded by her happy family. I’ve forgiven her! HA! Our nature and nurture experiences are completely different, but I’m not going to wince, whine or wobble about the hand I was dealt. Even though I don’t wake up each morning to low-hanging hope, I’ve learned to climb the tree of worship and the Word in order to live an abundant life. None of our foundations disqualify us or establish us. It’s what we do with the hand we are dealt. None of us have been short-changed. We have each been lavishly overpaid. When you accept this fact, you finally arrive at a new level of trust.
When my father was just eight years old, after the death of his own father, he immigrated from Sicily to New York City. As a young boy, he shined shoes to make money, living in a one-room apartment with his mother, brothers and sister. He’d sit in a corner to study, and went to the top of his class in college and law school, becoming a famous political figure: a U. S. Congressman for five terms, and a New York State Supreme Court Justice. Presidents courted his favor; he was knighted by the Pope, and had his picture on the front page of the New York Times when he died. But when he left home, that final day, he was a frustrated, unfulfilled man. It made an indelible impression on me, that without God, no achievement can ever fulfill us.
Climbing a Goal Post
When I was 19, I went to a football game with my twin brother, Joseph, between Rutgers and Princeton. Since Joseph attended Rutgers, when his team won I was elated. Sadly, though, I was drunk and out of control. Shimmying up a goalpost, I had the top of the 32-foot pole under my stomach as hundreds of people below began to tear it down. Suddenly, the heavy metal pole snapped, stopping just four feet from the ground, and violently shaking me off. Completely dazed, a stranger walked up and said, “You’re an idiot!” Until then, I didn’t know who I was. Now, at last I had clarity. I was an idiot! HA! How many of us climb the imaginary goalposts of shallow recognition, not realizing we’ll soon fall? My Creator best defines who I am. I will gaze into His eyes to see my true reflection.
The Privilege of God-given Abilities
I have a friend who is a surgeon. He takes his job so seriously, he describes it in this way: “I get the privilege of people trusting me so completely, they allow me to place them unconscious, take a scalpel, and operate on them, believing it is for their benefit. I am so conscientious about the stewardship I’ve been given, that when I walk through the hospital I am continually reminded of the honor God has granted me. Even after doing this for 30 years, I’m still amazed this is what I am privileged to do.” How revealing! Perhaps the reason we are each given unique gifts and graces is because God wants us to see them as a privilege and not a burden. What responsibility has God given you, and are you taking it seriously?
God’s Spared Her Sons Life
A military Mom’s son was stationed in Iraq. She told me with tears how God had protected him. He was the only medic in his unit, when a Suburban filled with explosives wiped out an entire block. Knocked unconscious, when he woke up, having no idea how long he’d been out, he routinely began to administer first aid to those around him. On another occasion, his life was spared. A bomb landed just a few feet from him, shaking the ground, but didn’t explode. Even after all of these near-death experiences, her son has not yet surrendered his life to Jesus, but she is absolutely believing he will. As this year comes to an end, who are you praying for and believing will come to their spiritual senses, allowing Jesus to rescue their lives?
God’s Special Gift for You
I have a quirky doctor friend who has no interest in eating food. He literally says, “I am never hungry!” Going so far as to admit, “If there was a pill I could take that would provide all of the nourishment I would need for any given day, I would take it, and never go through the process of eating food.” One of the unusual aspects of his food connection is that he does have one absolute craving: chocolate, and considers this God’s silver lining, a special blessing from God over his life, allowing him this singular indulgence. He smiles and laughs when he talks about this, and considers it God’s special gift to him. Have you discovered an exceptional gift God the Father has given you? It will make you smile when you do.