Variation in Value

Scripture: Jonah 4:9-11, Matthew 12:12, Mark 12:42-44
Date: 02/27/1999 
The Bible has a lot to say about attaching appropriate value to things. God values intelligence and has not created all things equally. Jesus died to save people, not animals or trees. There is value in the things God has made and we should respect nature. But God places the highest value on the earth on people He has created.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

Good morning. Like to wish everybody happy Sabbath. Good to see you here. It’s very good to be back at home and be able to come together and open the word with you. You know I heard on the radio this week that a man found a penny. Any of you hear about that? Found a penny, it was a penny that was produced during World War II when there was a shortage of copper. Now all the pennies, I guess, were made of steel this one year and this one penny was a rare copper penny. And he knew it was worth something. He set it up on the refrigerator and he went to find out what it was worth. And it was worth at a minimum $100,000 and maybe up to $300,000. Went home rejoicing to find that the penny was not on the refrigerator anymore. His wife had spent the penny. And it was worth only a penny the way she spent it. Boy that hurts just thinking about it, doesn’t it? She didn’t recognize the value. You know, I was reading through the Bible and I’d like to share a message with you this morning that I actually started a year ago. And it’s talking about variation in value. The Bible has a lot to say about knowing how to attach the appropriate value to things. There are variations in value. You know when God first created the world He created things in importance of value. Of course the last thing He made was man, or more precisely woman. That’s probably when a boat is sinking why they say, “Women and children first.” Right? Because the children even came after the women. But first thing He made was the inanimate things like the earth and the trees. Then He made the birds and the fish. Then the more intelligent creatures. And I discovered that the Lord made things not only going from inanimate to animate, but from unintelligent to intelligent. Again, the women like the idea that they were last. But it was all the sixth day. Keep that in mind. God values intelligence more than anything. You see, the Lord communicates with us and He wants to have reciprocal love. And you cannot have that with a rock. A few years ago there was this craze of pet rocks. It didn’t last long because, you know, even though it was a novelty you really don’t get a lot of feedback from a rock. You can’t interact. It’s hard to measure the response the rock is feeling towards you. Because there’s no intelligence there. The Lord died to save people. The Lord attaches supreme importance and value on humans. Because they are the most precious. Now there is a value in the animal world. There’s a value on humans. There’s a value on nature. There’s a man who is an 81-year-old guide at Yosemite Park and there’s a question he often hears that almost brings him to tears. Someone will say, “I’ve got an hour here in Yosemite, what do you recommend I see?” And this old ranger who’s been there exploring the beauties of the park for about 20 years, he’ll be real quiet and then he’ll say, “Well, I recommend you go find a place by a river and you sit down and you cry; if all you have is an hour.” You know, the Lord has a lot of beautiful things in the world and we, I think, should respect these things. The Bible tells us that man was initially made to be a steward of God’s garden. And the Bible tells us we will give an account someday for what we did with the garden. This world belongs to my Father. “This is my Father’s world,” as the hymn says. Revelation tells us God will destroy those who destroy the earth. God places a value on the world, on the trees, the rocks and the rivers and the oceans. And the Bible says the Lord places a value on animal life. Proverbs tells us, “The righteous man regards the life of his beast, but that tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” Those of you who were just in our Sabbath School class, you would recognize that that’s an example of an antithesis parallelism; the opposites there. God values animal life. You read in the Bible where Jonah was upset when God did not destroy Nineveh for their wickedness. And while he was sitting there in the heat of the day waiting for the city to be zapped with fire and brimstone a gourd, this wide leaf plant, had grown up during the night and gave him some shade. And he was very happy for that. The next day a worm ate the gourd and it withered and he no longer had his shade and he was very upset. And God said to Jonah, Jonah 4:9-11, “Is it right for you to be angry about the gourd, the plant?” And Jonah said, “It’s right for me to be angry, even to death. But the Lord said, You had pity on a plant, for which you had not labored, or made it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should I not have pity on Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,00 people that cannot discern between their right hand and their left; and much cattle?” Livestock. God is saying, “There’s people there and there’s animals there and they’re more important than a gourd.” All through the Bible you’ll see the Lord tries to establish a right understanding of priorities. Jesus said, Matthew 12:12, “How much then is a man better than a sheep?” Talking about that incident where they were upset He would heal somebody on the Sabbath day and yet the Jews had a law that if a sheep was stuck in the mud or a pit you could legally rescue that sheep. But they were upset that He was rescuing a human. And Christ said people are worth more than sheep. Again it tells us in the Gospel of Luke 12:6-7, “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But the very hairs of your head are numbered. Do not fear therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows.” Now I believe that sparrows are worth more than mosquitoes. Do you agree? And I believe that dogs are worth more than sparrows. You’re not sure. I think so. And I think that whales are probably worth more than dogs. Not by virtue of their size, but perhaps by their intelligence. I think the Lord seems to rank things according to the length of their life, but not only that because turtles don’t contribute much to society and they live a long time. You know one of the longest living creatures is a pike, fish. They had one 260 years old. They don’t have a lot of personality. So it’s not just the length of time they live, but it’s the intelligence combined with life. And the Lord seems to add value based on those things. One of the biggest problems we’ve got in our world today is warped values. Warped appropriation of value. Not recognizing the right worth of things. People will campaign to save the whales and they’ll abort babies. I heard about a man a little while ago who was hugging a redwood tree up in the forest somewhere because the Pacific Lumber Company was logging these redwoods and a tree fell and killed him. And a lot of people thought it was a worthwhile sacrifice that that man should die for this stand of redwood trees. I respectfully disagree. I think there are some things we should be willing to die for; and I’ll get to that in a minute. But people are worth more than many trees. If Jesus said you’re worth more than many sparrows then you’re worth more than a whole forest. God places supreme importance on human life. And yet we’re in a world where the thoughts of men’s hearts are only evil continually and it’s not uncommon for somebody to be killed for $10 to buy cocaine or crack. Now people don’t even need any kind of monetary benefit. For entertainment gangs will shoot each other. They don’t have a right concept of value. Yesterday we were out in the front yard doing some of our Sabbath preparation and Karen was letting Stephen play with the hose. And he was having a good time. We’ve got an adjustable nozzle and Stephen put the hose on spray. It’s the rocket spray nozzle. And he was spraying, he was spraying the gravel. We had to keep reminding him not to spray the cars that we just washed and us. Not to spray the flowers because you drill for oil when you do it that way and it’s not really good for the flowers. Cars would drive by and he’d spray them. They didn’t always appreciate that. He was having a good time just spraying. It went on for quite a while and he was building; I looked and I saw down the street, I saw that the water from Stephen’s entertainment was running all the way out of sight around the corner down the street. I thought he’d probably sprayed long enough. I said, “Stephen, you need to put away the hose. Are you aware that that water costs something?” He was bewildered. He had no idea that that water cost anything. I mean it falls out of the sky when it rains. How can it cost anything? And I tried to explain, “Well, they’ve got to capture it and channel it to our house and that costs something. We pay a water bill.” He was just dumbfounded that we were paying for water. He was embarrassed that he had been just spraying it all over creation. Didn’t know there was a value attached to it. You know one of the jobs for parents is teaching your children value and the appropriate value of different things. Because you know every decision you make through the day is going to be based on your understanding of what is the value of different things. You’ve got to make judgment calls all day long. One of the most important things that people misunderstand is the value of time. A lot of us waste our lives one second at a time, minute by minute, fritter away our lives because we don’t appreciate that, “Time is the stuff,” as Ben Franklin says, “Time is the stuff life is made of.” Health. My father always says, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Health is something that is not rightly appreciated until you lose it. We don’t understand, we don’t recognize the value of health because most of us, not all, most of us are born pretty much pristine, with good health and everything’s vital and radiating with life. And we just take it for granted, especially during our teenage years. We’ll eat anything that isn’t rock. And just go all day and all night and abuse our bodies. And we think we’re indestructible. And when you really get sick you start to think about health. Don’t appreciate the value of health and what a gift it is until we start to lose it. People sometimes struggle through life because they don’t recognize their value. We call it insecurity, self-esteem. And I think as Christians there’s a very important point we must not miss. The great commandment is to love the Lord. Then it says, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” And that would mean then, of course, you are to value your neighbor and you’re to have a certain healthy, but not inappropriate value for yourself. One of the jobs we have as Christians is helping people recognize their true worth. That they’re valuable. A lot of people out there are insecure. I heard about this banker who worked in a major city. He was a manager of a bank and every day on the way into the bank there was a beggar who had no legs who sat outside his door. Had a little can of pencils that he offered people, but basically he was a beggar. And every time the banker came in, every single day, five days a week, except on holidays, he would drop some money into the beggar’s can and he’d say, “I’d like my pencil, please.” And the beggar was surprised that every day he asked for a pencil. He must have thought he just had a whole box full of pencils because every day he wanted his pencil. The banker told him, he said, “I am a business man and I’m doing business with you and you’re a merchant and I expect to get appropriate value for my investment.” Well one day the beggar wasn’t there. Several weeks went by, the beggar never returned. And the banker stopped thinking about it. A couple of years later the banker was in a mall and he saw the beggar had a concession stand selling stationery, pens and pencils in this mall. And the banker went up to him and he said, “Well, I’m glad to see you’re doing so well.” And the beggar said, “I am so glad to see you. I hoped I’d meet you again some day. I owe this all to you.” He said, “I thought of myself as a beggar, but every day you told me I was a merchant. So I started thinking like a merchant and I added pens to my pencils and then I started just selling them instead of begging and now I’ve got a stationery store.” It changed his concept of what his value was. A lot of people destroy themselves with drugs and low living because they don’t know their worth. Jesus came to help us recognize our worth. You know something that was very hard for me to deal with in India is even though legally, technically they’ve abolished this caste system where there are different people that have different levels of importance. And you’ve got the Untouchables and they clean the toilets and pick up the garbage on the street. And you’ve got the Brahmans at the other end of the caste and they’re superior to everybody. And there’s several levels in between. And I even watched among the Christians the dynamics of how the different castes interacted with each other. They still haven’t really gotten the victory completely over that even among the Christians. And I didn’t realize I’d ever be in a position where I had to tell people that they are all of equal value. And you could see a solemn expression come over the faces of that Indian crowd. Some of them were very happy to hear it. Some of them who thought they were better than everybody else were a little miffed that I would have the audacity to tell them that the Brahmans are worth no more in God’s eyes than the Untouchables; that the Bible says God is no respecter of persons; that you are all priceless to God. Which brings me to another point. One of the things that makes an item valuable is its being rare. You’ve heard the expression, “priceless treasures.” You know sometimes after an artist dies the value of their artwork skyrockets. Vincent Van Gough couldn’t sell anything when he was alive. Then when he was dead he really couldn’t sell anything. No, but when he was dead the prices of his artworks went way up because there weren’t going to be any more. And now Van Gough paintings are selling for millions, multiple millions. It’s because they’re priceless. There’s only one of them. There will be no more of them. Well you know you’re unique. They’ve found there are several ways now besides fingerprints to identify each individual. Of course they say there’s DNA that’s every bit as more unique for each person as a fingerprint. I understand they say the iris of the eye is another unique way; no two people have the same iris in the eye. Your tongue looks completely different than everybody else’s tongue. No two tongues. Look at the tongue of the person next to you for just a second. Go ahead, show them your tongue and you see if it isn’t true. We’ll do a little survey. We’ll get everyone to come up here and stick out their tongue and you see if there’s any two that are exactly the same. But, you know, you’ve got the lines in your hands and your feet. You’re all unique. There’ll never be another one like you. And there never was before, never will be again. And so in God’s eyes you are a priceless art work. I’ve got a little theory that the reason that people weigh themselves down with expensive clothing and jewelry is not always because it beautifies an individual. And I’ve mentioned this to ladies before, men will pretty freely admit that very rarely does a man look at the opposite sex and say, “Wow! Does she ever have beautiful jewelry.” It never does a thing for a man. Women may do that with each other, but I don’t know any men who have ever talked that way. I think the reason that people spend so much on these outward trappings is because they think it will increase their value. They feel insecure and they don’t feel like they have enough worth and they think if they go buy things that are worth more and put these valuables on that their value increases. But the tragedy of it is none of that stuff makes you valuable to God. All of that’s going to melt and fizzle when Jesus comes. The things that the Lord values are not what the world values. You know the Bible tells us the Lord values the fruits of the spirit. And there are different levels of value even among the fruits. Are you aware of that? The Bible tells us, if you go to Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” What’s first on the list? Love. Now that’s not by accident. If you look in I Corinthians 13:13, that wonderful chapter on love, it says, “Now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest.” Now where do you see the word greatest, what does that mean? That there is a distinction in priority. The greatest of these is what? Love, or the King James Version says charity. It’s agape love. The greatest of the fruits is love. What does the Lord look for in you and me? What makes us valuable? What makes us precious? You know as I read through the Bible I find the Lord, He really values humility. He values generosity. The Lord values sacrifice. God does not attach monetary value to people, but you know, sometimes people attach monetary value to one another. Even James talked about this dynamic where a rich person comes in and everybody lavishes attention on this rich person who’s got the wealth. And they say, “Here, you sit in the chair.” And then the poor untouchable comes in and they say, “You sit on the floor.” And James says this ought not to be so. We’re judging like the world where God treats us all with equal value. Your monetary worth, your bank account does not impress Him. Matter of fact, Jesus said something that is the opposite. He said, “Hardly will a rich man enter the kingdom of God.” Let me give you a little personal struggle I face. At Amazing Facts we are a self-supporting institution. We send out an appeal letter every month. Like you we have a budget. We live month by month. We tell what the projects are. We encourage people to believe in what we’re doing, to support the spreading of the gospel. Most of our people that support Amazing Facts send $5, $10, $20 and that’s what keeps us going. From time to time we get very generous gifts. We’ve had some very large gifts that are in multiple thousands. And when we get a check someone goes running through the office waving it, showing everybody. We praise the Lord, jump up and down. And they lay them on my desk, the big ones. Say, “Pastor Doug, can you give them a personal phone call?” Well, you know, most of the time they just sit on my desk. And it’s not just because I’m lazy. It’s because I have a struggle with treating these people who have maybe given multiple thousands with special thanks above the one who maybe gave $5, but it was their last $5. And I don’t know how to deal with that. I can’t call all 10,000 of our donors, or however many it is that help support the ministry. And I feel like I’m giving preferential treatment. So I struggle with that, you know. But the world tells us that if you want those big donors to keep on giving you’ve got to give them special attention, you’ve got to massage them and thank them and send them gifts and take them out to dinner and get them a hotel. I have a problem with that. Jesus did too so I’m in good company. The Bible tells us that Mark 12:42-44, you know the story. They were sitting in the temple and these wealthy people were coming by and putting in these fabulous gifts. Before they dropped the gift in the treasury box they’d blow the trumpet and everybody would look and they’d go, “Oooo, look at that. We’re going to name a brick in the temple after you because of your generous gift.” Well, their offering represented no real sacrifice because they were giving of their abundance. It’s like when you buy a Lamborghini and they say, “We’re throwing in a Casio wristwatch.” Well, by comparison it’s not that big an incentive is it? And sometimes people give what might seem like a really generous gift, but compared to what their bulk is it’s not much of a deduction. And then this woman tried to wait until all the fanfare had subsided and nobody was watching and she snuck by the treasury box and dropped in two small coins and tried to sneak out and Jesus said, “Look at her!” Everybody turned. He said, “That woman has given more than anybody.” And they thought, “Oh, you must be kidding. She’s wearing virtual rags. She’s a widow.” And He said, “Oh no, no. They gave of their abundance, but she has given of her poverty. She put in everything she had.” So how does the Lord measure worth? By the monetary value or by the depth of sacrifice? So the Lord doesn’t judge like the world judges and Christians need to start seeing more with the eyes of Jesus. Do you remember when Mary Magdalene, at Simon’s house, got down and washed His feet? She then broke open an alabaster box and poured out this very expensive gift. A year’s wages were invested in this ointment that she used to anoint Jesus’ feet. And Judas began to murmur and I think Judas was upset because he kept the moneybag and he thought that would have been that much more in his bag that he could be extorting. And he began to complain and say, “Wow, what a terrible waste. That gift could have been sold for 300 denari and given to the poor.” And Jesus heard his murmuring, knew the thoughts of the others, He said, “Leave her alone. You’re always going to have the poor with you, but she has given because of love for me. She has given because she heard me.” You know, when Jesus told the apostles, “I’m going to go to Jerusalem and I’ll die,” they ignored Him. She heard it. She did something about it. She wanted to lavish a gift of love on Him. And the Lord looked at the motive of what she had done. And He praised her for it and said, “Wherever the gospel’s preached this will be a memorial for her.” Mary Magdalene was given the honor of being the first one to see the resurrection. That woman that nobody wanted to touch. Because of the depth of her love and her sacrifice. So the Lord values things differently than we do. The Lord does not judge as we judge. Values can change. How much was real estate worth in the days of Noah when the rain began to fall? I thought it was really interesting, one of my favorite foods is, one of my favorite fruits is guacamole. One of my favorite foods is avocado. And, you know, there are times where they had a frost in Southern California and avocados went to almost $2 a piece a few years ago. You remember that? During that time I went to the South Pacific to do some meetings there in Ponapee. Matter of fact, this Central Church sent me there years ago. I did two different meetings there. And they’ve got great big avocados and they were falling out of the trees. Matter of fact, there’s so many that you make guacamole when you drive down the road. And I said to the natives there, I said, “Look at all these avocados. But you know I’m eating all kinds of things. I haven’t had you feed me any avocados.” They said, “Avocados? We feed those to the pigs.” I thought, “You’re kidding me!” I said, “Would you be offended if I had a little pig food?” They’re full of fat and they use them to fatten up the pigs. There’s just such abundance they’ve got contempt for it. It’s like I said before, what makes something valuable sometimes is its scarcity, its rarity. The prices go up. Supply and demand is a law that the world operates on. Clean water in India was a real precious commodity while we were there. For six weeks we spent a fortune on bottled water. Because you did not want to drink the water from the tap. You certainly did not want to drink the water that came out of the ground. They had pumps, they had wells, these old hand pumps in certain parts of the town. We’ll show you pictures when we give our report in a couple of weeks. Clean water was a real precious thing. Sometimes the things, clean air was pretty rare, too in Madras when I was there. The Bible tells us that Romans 8:32, “He that did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Your value increases based on what Christ paid for you. “He who did not spare his own Son.” You know if Jesus was given for you and I to be saved and to live the Christian life, that tells you how much the Lord values us and how much He’s willing to give us everything else we need to live a holy life. Now while we’re on the subject of value, this is a delicate area. There are not only varying degrees of importance in life. Are we all clear that people are worth more than sheep and sheep probably more than sparrows and sparrows more than mosquitoes and mosquitoes maybe more than rocks, unless they’re gold? There are varying degrees of value in the creation. There are varying degrees of sin. Now I’ve heard people say, “All sin is the same and it’s all equal. Sin is sin.” And well, that sounds very noble when you put it that way and it is true that all sin is offensive to God, but you cannot escape if you study the Bible the truth that there are varying degrees of sin. The Bible uses different words to identify different sins. There were varying types of punishment for sin. Some sins required simple restitution. If you stole bread you were to restore. Some sins required annihilation; you were to be executed for those sins. The Lord used different words. Some things were called an abomination to God. That was the strongest word that was used. It meant it stinks in the eyes of the Lord. Some sins meant you were to be simply exiled. Some sins you were to be simply separated from the people and exiled for. And so there were varying degrees of punishment, which means the Lord has varying degrees of sin. Let me illustrate. Exodus 32:30-31. Remember when Moses was up the mountain getting the Ten Commandments right after the people orally said they accepted the covenant? “And Moses said to the people, You have committed a great sin: so now I’ll go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make an atonement for your sin. Then Moses returned to the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a golden calf.” Right in the presence of God and you know why that was a greater sin? Because when you sin after you know God’s will it’s more offensive than if you did not know. Jesus tells us that. He said, “If you had not seen you would have no sin.” The Bible says in Acts 17, “At the times of this ignorance God winks at.” When we don’t understand we’re not as guilty as when we do understand. That’s why it tells us in Hebrews 10:26, “If we sin willfully after we have received a knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but only a fearful looking forward to of judgment and fiery indignation.” Matter of fact, I’ll get to that scripture in more detail in just a moment. When Jesus was standing before Pontius Pilate He had been betrayed by first Judas, His own apostle, then His own people to the Romans. Jesus said to Pilate, John 19:11, “You could have no power at all against me, unless it had been given you from above: therefore the one who delivered me to you has the greater sin.” And when Christ prayed as the Roman slaves were nailing Him to the cross, “Father, forgive them,” why? “They don’t know what they’re doing.” I don’t think the Lord was praying just a blanket prayer for the world. There were a lot of His own people who did not know what they were doing, but there were some people who knew just what they were doing. He told them that He was the Christ and Christ said that they would receive a more severe penalty because they knew who He was. But especially the Roman slaves and the guards who were carrying out an act of execution, Jesus is saying, “Lord, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” Which means that those who do know what they’re doing are more guilty. Do you see what I’m saying? Those of you who are parents you already know this. When your child is misbehaving and you say, “Stop beating your brother on the head with that toy truck.” Don’t know why that popped into my mind. They didn’t know they weren’t supposed to do that, but you say, “You’re not supposed to do that.” If they continue beating their brother on the head with a toy truck then they’re going to receive retribution. Because now they’re sinning against knowledge. They know your will and they’re not doing it. There are variations of sins and, you know what that means, there is variation of rewards and punishments for sin and for righteousness. But you already knew that. Luke12:47-48, “That servant, who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself, or do according to his will, he will be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, he will be beaten with few stripes. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required: and to whom him has been committed, of him shall they ask the more.” So there are varying degrees of both reward and punishment based on what you know your master wants. Is that clear? Now having known that, now that you know that, should that make us want to know more or less about God’s will? I remember when I first read this I thought, “No, if I’m understanding this correctly as long as I’m ignorant I’m safe. The more I study the more accountable I am.” And I went through a little quandary for a while thinking, “I’m not sure I want to study any more because I’m not sure if I can live the Christian life and the more I study the more accountable I am.” That’s why the Bible says in James, “Be not many masters for you’ll receive the greater condemnation.” You’ve got to pray for me. You know, as soon as a person stands up to teach others they are more accountable. That scares me. That’s why I want to be faithful here at Central to teach the truth. Because you’re already in trouble when you’re a teacher. You’re in a position of visibility, you’d better teach the truth. And so I hope you’re praying for me. Hebrews 10: 28-29, varying degrees of punishment. Incidentally, some people believe that when you die you go to hell and everybody burns forever. Well that doesn’t go along with the Bible. The Bible says that people are rewarded according to their works. If there are varying works there are varying rewards. If everyone burns forever how do they get the same punishment? Hebrews 10:28-29, “Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses: Of how much worse, how much sorer,” that’s a comparative word, “punishment, do you suppose, he will be thought worthy, who has trampled the Son of God under foot, and counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” Back in Moses’ day if they sinned against Moses and the blood of lambs and goats they were punished under the testimony of two or three witnesses. Is it worse to sin against the sacrifice of a lamb or the sacrifice of Christ? Is it worse to rebel against the teaching of Moses or the teaching of Jesus, God Almighty in flesh? The Bible says that there are varying degrees of reward and punishment. Jesus said it’s worse, and you know our society pretty much accepts this, to sin against the child who is innocent than an adult. Jesus said, “If you offend one of these little ones it would be better for you not to have been born.” Or to have a millstone tied around your neck and be cast into the sea. The Lord says that He has a special regard for children because they’re innocent and they’re vulnerable and it’s a special offense to God when we take advantage of that. Right? And even in our society when we think about someone who is a predator or molests children, most of the world accepts that as especially offensive. And so the Lord, He also echoes that. Varying degrees of reward. Matthew 5:12, not just different degrees of punishment. “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” There are varying degrees of reward. Now who does the Lord tell to rejoice? Those that are persecuted for righteousness sake. They’re the ones who have cause for great rejoicing. Jesus said Matthew 16:26, “What profit is it to a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul?” Now what does that tell you and me about priorities? What is of supreme value to God? Eternal life. What does the Lord value more? First of all, does the Lord value beauty? Yeah. Does God like beauty? Did He make beautiful things? One of the reasons I could never accept evolution, I eventually rejected evolution, was because there are certain things that all people find commonly beautiful. I’ve never heard folks say flowers are ugly. Color attracts us. There’s beauty in the world and God made beauty; He loves beauty. But what’s worth more, beauty or life? Let me tell you how; I like the way Solomon put this here. Ecclesiastes 9:4, “For he who is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.” I like that. You know the Bible says, “A beautiful woman without discretion is like a jewel of gold in a pig’s nose.” I really like that. You know, you’ve got a beautiful girl, but if she doesn’t have the virtues that God values it’s like putting a golden jewel in a pig’s nose. It’s just a wasted gift. Now beauty, outward beauty with the inward traits is really precious and it’s rare, too isn’t it? Because so often people who have the physical beauty, it’s corrupted by vanity like the devil’s beauty was. But there are a few extraordinary people who have outward beauty and inward beauty, that inward grace also. Most of us have been blessed with average appearance. It keeps us from stumbling in that area. Life is worth more than anything. Jesus valued leftovers. John 6:12-13, After He multiplied the loaves and the fish. I mean, after all He took five loaves and two fish and He turned it into enough to feed thousands. There were some baskets of scraps left over. Instead of throwing them in the ocean or leaving them for the birds Jesus said, “Let nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which were left over by those who had eaten.” The Lord believed in saving something that had value. Now is there a time to gather and is there a time to cast away? Without pointing any fingers, I haven’t been to all your homes, but I’ve been to some. Some of you need to know when to gather and when to cast away. I need to better understand that. I have seen some people, and you know what I have discovered? It’s often people who went through the Depression. We had a saint, I can talk about him now because he’s passed on, Henry Scadsheim, dear soul. Every one who knows him will agree, even his own family, so I don’t mean to be derogatory. Wonderful Christian man, but he could not throw anything away. And when someone bought his house after he died. He lived through World War I. He lived through a Great Depression. They knew what it meant to be in want. They learned how to use every scrap and reuse things. My dad said growing up during the Depression his mother saved every piece of string. She’d tie them together and she’d continue to roll them in balls. And last time he remembered when he left home she had an area in the house that was filled with these balls of string. Because she could not throw away a piece of string. Might need it someday. “Waste not want not.” Right?

Side 2

…some of us, we go to the dump we throw things away. Henry made a daily trip to the dump to collect things that other people threw away. Things you’d never use. And when someone bought his house they had to take semi after semi back to the dump and throw it out. Because he grew up afraid that he was going to be in want. Now that’s one extreme. There’s the other extreme and that’s the day, the generation we’re living in now where we have such abundance, very wasteful. We buy things we don’t need and we throw away stuff that has worth because we don’t want to take the time to store it or to utilize it or to give it away. Not recognizing the value. Solomon tells us there’s a time to gather, there’s a time to cast away. One of the things that’s of great value is truth. The Lord attaches incredible value to truth. The Bible tells us, Philippians 3:8, “Yet indeed, I also count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish.” That word rubbish is stronger than it appears right here. “I count them as rubbish, that I might gain Christ.” The truth of Christ is worth more than anything. Now I don’t think you ought to die for a tree or a whale or a forest, but you know a lot of people have died for truth and they did the right thing. Some things are very precious. And to God truth is very precious. Jesus died for the truth. You and I ought to die. Now you know the Bible says that obedience is more valuable to God than sacrifice. You can read in I Samuel where the prophet there told Saul, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to harken than the fat of rams.” Some people think giving an offering or making a sacrifice or doing some deed of service is worth more than doing what God told them to do. One of the most important things the Lord wants from us, that He values, is obedience. Have you ever counted the parables that Jesus used to illustrate doing what He said, the simple word doing? A man had two sons and asked them to work in his field and one said, “I’m going, Dad,” but he did not go. The other one said, “I’m not going,” but he repented and he went. And Jesus gets to the bottom line and He says, “Which of the two did the will of the father?” Jesus said, “Not everyone will enter the kingdom who says, Lord, Lord, but he that does the will of my Father.” The wise man is the one who hears the word and he does it. He builds on the rock. The fool hears the word, too, but he doesn’t do it. And so the Lord puts very high value on not only being a hearer, but a doer of His word, performing what He’s asking you to do. We get a lot of people who hear the word of God and don’t do anything about it. It’s kind of like when they sing the national anthem at a sporting event and then there’s no more reference to it. It just kind of launches things and they go on and play hockey or whatever it is. But some people treat the word of God that way. They hear it, it makes them feel religious, patriotic, then they go on and have a good time. Don’t recognize the value. Well God places great value on truth. You know it’s possible to be accurate and still not be true. Heard about a couple of men that were in a hot air balloon and the wind changed directions and pretty soon they were floating over the mountains and over trees and forests and they lost track of where they were. They let some air out of the balloon. They lowered down over a town and they asked a man, they were hovering about 50 feet above the ground, they said, “Where are we?” And the man said, “Well, you’re about 50 feet up in a balloon.” And one of the men in the balloon said to his friend, “Let’s ask somebody who’s not a CPA.” He said, “Well how do you know he’s a CPA?” He said, “He was very precise and accurate, but the information was worthless.” And so sometimes people are always sharing truth and arguing scripture, but it’s not present truth. It’s not the truth that makes a difference. And some people, I’ve caught a lot of Christians, they think they’re clever. They like to get embroiled in these diversionary tactics arguing about elements of the Bible that really don’t make a big difference. And they’ll ignore the stuff they do understand, salvation issues, and while they’re getting all embroiled in some of the side issues. Now let me see if I could, you know I always like to make sure that my messages are filled with deep and profound relevance. These are serious things and I think that we should use some serious illustrations to illustrate these serious points. Know what these are? You all know what they are, don’t you? Beanie Babies. Well, I’ve got a friend, I promised Bonnie I wouldn’t say who it was, who is collecting Beanie Babies. And I was just astounded to find out what these things can be worth. They’re all named and this company, Ty, that makes the Beanie Babies they just started out making these little $4.95 stuffed animals and they kind of took off by storm. And they made different ones and they discontinued ones. And then people started buying the discontinued ones because they were rare and paying astronomical prices for little stuffed animals. I asked my friend to give me an idea of what some of these things were worth. Here’s one, he’s called Fuzz. He’s new. I had a bathrobe like this once. Fuzz is supposed to be worth upward of $100. Here’s one, let me make sure I get these right. No, this isn’t it. Let me see. This one’s got angel wings. I don’t know what he’s called. Hallo? See, ah-ha. You folks, let’s have a little test here. Which one is this? It’s the Beanie Baby section over here. This one is Princess Di, you know, and they say that this one can be worth up, someone help me. A lot of money, hundreds of dollars. And as time goes by it can be worth even more. What’s that one called? We’re going to have a test here. Now this one, see? Some of these are worth hundreds of dollars. Oh, here’s one. Is that a Beanie Baby? No, this is not a Beanie Baby. This is an imposter. $2.99 with a taco. And that’s all it’s ever going to be worth. This one’s a little different. It’s got; I think Taco Bell was hoping there’d be. Now these talk. These don’t. $300. $2.99. Why are some of these worth so much and some of them worth so little? It’s a simple law of life. Their value is based on what someone is willing to pay. If you’re successful in business that’s a very basic principle, supply and demand. How much are you worth? Depends on what someone’s willing to pay. How much did God pay for you and me? What is the most valuable asset in all of the cosmos? God. Nothing g is worth more than God. Now you add that to a principle. What’s the most valuable thing that a person might have? Is it an article, their house, clothing, jewelry, piano, car, or a child? If the most valuable thing you have is your life, if you could go one step beyond that I think most of us who are parents would say we would give our lives for the life of our child. When God, the most valuable being, gave His Son there is no more valuable asset. There is nothing that is worth more than that. Can’t come anywhere near being worth more than the Son of God. When God gave His Son to save you and me that was the supreme sacrifice. So what are you worth? You’re very very precious to Him. Heard about a man named Eddie who got discouraged with life, just overwhelmed with financial reverses and problems and broken romances. And in a moment of total despondency he jumped from a bridge into a raging river. As he was washing downstream ready to go under and give up he noticed that someone who had spotted him from the other side of the bridge, a guy named Jim, true story, jumped in to save him. But the rescuer was not a very good swimmer and he began to flounder and struggle and the rescuee, Eddie, realized the rescuer, Jim, was going to drown and suddenly he realized he had to do something to save the one who was going to give his life to save him. And he began to swim over and save the person who wanted to save him. Suddenly his life took on new value when he realized somebody was going to die to save him. And when you see that someone died to forgive and to save and to empower you it helps you realize that you are somebody, that you are worth something. It also helps you realize the person sitting next to you is rare, unique and of great value. You and I are of infinite, priceless worth to the Lord. There’s never going to be another you. And if you’re lost through eternity God will always have a vacuum in that spot in His heart for you. It will be an eternal loss. Like that man who spent the penny as a penny. It was worth $100,000. It’s gone and it’s just going to be a regret for the rest of his life. The Lord wants you in His kingdom and the One who made that possible is the most valuable asset, that’s Jesus. If you think that you could trust your life to someone who paid so much for you why don’t you reach for your hymnal. Let’s sing our closing hymn about the One who’s most valuable. Fairest, that’s a comparative word, Fairest Lord Jesus. If that’s your desire, to trust Him, to serve Him, to follow Him, let’s stand together as we sing 240.

Verse one.

You know you see a strange dichotomy in the Bible. In one place the Lord says you and I are dust or worms and unto dust we’re going to return. And then somewhere else David says, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” Made us a little lower than the angels. We’re fearfully and wonderfully made. And He gives us glorified bodies and we will live and rule with Him through eternity. You know it’s as we come to the place where we realize that without God we’re nothing we come to understand that through Christ we become priceless. Without God we’re going back to the dust. But with God we’re going on to glory through eternity. We all have one of two destinies that we decide based on the value we attach through God’s eyes. If today some of you perhaps have not made a decision to cash your life in for what it’s really worth by giving it to God, we invite you to come to the front and do that now. Some of you maybe have been living for the devil, you’re heading for dust and dirt and worms. You give yourself to God, He’ll give you eternal body, you’ll live through eternity. And if it’s your desire to recognize your worth and give yourself to your Master, the fairest Lord Jesus, come as we sing verse two in this beautiful hymn.

Verse two.

I’d like to extend the appeal with a little different angel. I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but sometimes we don’t take care of ourselves because we don’t know what we’re worth. You know, we’ve got our van for sale. I’m not trying to make a Sabbath announcement, but I got a call this week and someone wanted to come look at it. I thought I’d better get out there and hose it off and clean it up and dust it and polish it a little bit. It did not change the mechanical value, but you know the outward appearance did have at least a perceived increase in value. The cleaner it looked on the outside the more likely I was to sell it. You are of value to the Lord based on the inside, but He wants us to live holy lives so we can be a witness to those on the outside, too. Your witness is destroyed, your value, your perceived value lowers when you don’t live a godly life. You know some of us maybe have not recognized our true worth to God or maybe have not represented the Lord well on the outside to those around us. If you’d like to ask the Lord to help you better recognize your real worth to Him and to increase your advertisement for Jesus by being clean on the outside, I’d like to invite you to come for prayer to that end as we sing verse three.

Verse three.

Before we sing the last verse I’d like to give an opportunity for people to respond with other prayer needs you may have. You might have burdens on your life, in your heart. You might have some especial prayer need for somebody else. There may be some here who have an interest in baptism or rebaptism or being part of the Central family. We invite you to come, meet with the pastors and elders that are here. Might have some special need. The Bible says you can bring those things to the Lord. And that’s why we invite people to visibly come forward. We’re not trying to make a spectacle, but we believe we can cast our cares on Him. And so if you’re in that category and you’d like to bring some special need to the Lord come as we bring it to Fairest Lord Jesus, as we sing the final verse about our beautiful Savior. Verse four.

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