Priceless Words

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Matthew 5:3

Some begin their speaking with an illustration or a snappy title. Some find a way to ease their audience toward their point. Some talk and talk and never arrive at their destination. Jesus began the greatest sermon ever preached with a thunderclap. His opening volley was as counterculture then as it is now. And make no mistake, it is as counter to our culture as can be heard.

The kingdom does not belong to the ‘you can be anything you want,’ ‘everybody loves a winner,’ ‘pull yourself up by your own bootstraps,’ ‘I’m OK you’re OK,’ ‘when the going gets tough the tough get going,’ ‘I believe I can fly,’ ‘just as long as you’re happy,’ crowd.

Rather, it is to the ‘I’ve never felt so empty,’ ‘will this misery ever end,’ ‘I just can’t go on,’ ‘how will I ever look HIM in the face,’ ‘Lord, have mercy on this sinner,’ crowd that he bestows the most massive of riches, admission to the kingdom of God.

That last crowd we are told are like the words of Jesus, rather few compared to others. Even Jesus’ stories were not wordy. It was as if he did not have a jot or a tittle to spare, as if every word was just so priceless and so significant that nothing else would do. No ornament need be added. No stroke dare be taken away. Priceless. Priceless, because they are his words, enduring, never shaken, always so.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

What a Savior. What a Savior. Oh, what a Savior!

On a Snowy Day

He also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day.
2 Samuel 23:20

I have loved this text for the longest time but I never knew what to do with it. It is the record of one of David’s mighty men named Benaiah. Among David’s mighty men there was a group called THE THREE and a group called THE THIRTY. Benaiah excelled among the Thirty but he never attained to the Three. He faced off with an armed and impressive Egyptian soldier only to steal the man’s sword and kill him with it. He was the Steven Seagal of three thousand years ago. King David made him captain of his personal guard.

So what do you do on a snowy day? Sit around and write blogs? Watch TV and hope the power doesn’t go out? Wash a few cloths and dream of Jamaica? Not Benaiah. He finds a pit with a lion in it. (By the way, what is the lion doing in the pit? Probably slipped in the snow.) Benaiah finds this unfortunate lion and, having nothing else to do on a snowy day, jumps in and kills him. They did not call them David’s mighty men for nothing.

So what do you say about such a biblical text? I have long wanted to preach a sermon from it, but there you are. I have already told you all I know.

I was once told of a missionary who labored in a place where Roman Catholicism was very strong. He was forever addressing the subject of infant baptism. Eventually he returned to his native land where he took up the pastorate of a local church. But he just couldn’t break the habit of preaching on infant baptism. Every sermon had something to say about infant baptism.

The deacons of his weary church came up with a plan to help the man or at least to have one sermon that didn’t mention infant baptism. They requested a sermon from a very specific passage of the Bible that they were sure could not be used to talk about infant baptism. Genesis 3. They asked him to preach on Adam and Eve hiding from God in the Garden of Eden.

The pastor was impressed that his congregation would ask him to preach on such a subject and he happily agreed. On Sunday morning he rose to preach and read the passage from Genesis. “My message this morning has three points,” he said. “Point number one: everybody is somewhere. Point number two: some of us are in places we ought not to be. And point number three: I would like to say just a few words about infant baptism.”

Perhaps I could do the same with 2 Samuel 23:20. Point number one: there is much good to be done every day. Point number two: but apparently some people just don’t have enough to do. And point number three: I would like to say just a few words about Jesus.

What a wonderful Savior he is!

And Jesus Stopped…

What do you want me to do for you? (Luke 18:41)

When Jesus stopped what he was doing to attend to the cry for mercy from a blind man, he called for the man to brought near. Then he asked a question. “What do you want me to do for you?” There was no doubt what Bartimaeus wanted and he asked straightway. “Lord, let me recover my sight.” Bartimaeus did recover his sight that day and he immediately employed it in following Jesus and glorifying God.

So, in your mind’s eye, Jesus is passing by you today. Like Bartimaeus you cry out to his mercy. He stops. You draw near. He is asking you “What do you want me to do for you?” What do you want Jesus to do for you? Bartimaeus did not make a list and check it twice. There was an urgency that brooked no delay. Do you have an urgency that brooks no delay? Is there something so needful, so important that you dare not miss this opportunity?

If you can identify that most urgent matter, is it something that you can and will use to follow Jesus and glorify God? Bartimaeus did. If God grants what you ask of him this day, will it make a difference in the life you are living?

Then consider that, unlike Bartimaeus, Jesus is not passing you by. He is always with the believer, always. That’s his promise, not mine. (Hebrews 13:5) You are free to bring your urgent requests to him daily, hourly if need be. It is, in fact, stronger than that. You are not just free to do so, you are commanded to do so. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Another question. What would you ask for your church? What is the great urgency that brooks no delay? What is the thing that your church dare not miss and, if granted, will propel her into a fresh encounter with the Lord and a renewed commitment to follow Jesus and glorify God?

And Jesus stopped… “What do you want me to do for you?”

What a Savior!