"For whoever desires to save
his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."
What an odd paradox, that something as important as your
LIFE, is dependent on losing it in order to find it! We don’t want to lose; we
want to win! Yet somehow, as Jesus tells us, the person who "loses
his life for My (Jesus’) sake, will find it."
Many WILL find kinship with this verse, for it seems like the more we try to
grab onto life and make it work in our favor, the more it tends to slip away.
I THROW myself into things, and when they haven’t turned
out so well, I’ve been surprised. A number of years ago, after a series of
memorable setbacks, I wrote in my "journal" of the time: "I
certainly have been losing, especially lately. No job – can’t seem to hold
one anyway. If I do well, the company goes out of business. No wife, family
grown and gone; no home, no prospects. The edge of CERTAINTY that I can learn
and then do the work – is gone!"
I remembered "blessed are the
poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3)
during those times. I felt I had POVERTY of spirit, and yet I did not feel very
"blessed" at all, in those years. I continued to teach small Bible
studies and participate in other ways, and on that level felt very blessed by
the Lord. The feedback was that the studies "fed" God’s people,
which both surprised and pleased me. But I still was looking at the
"glass" as "half empty" when in fact life was really quite
In a quarter century of financial difficulties, God was
always present. In losing jobs and failing to find income (I was in sales during
much of that time), it became apparent that I really AM a helpless person.
"One of life’s losers" was my personal attitude then, but I have
since learned that to "lose" life is to
find Him (God the Son), in a new and better way. I remember discovering 2nd
Corinthians 5:17 as a "personal" verse, many years ago: "Therefore,
if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away;
behold, all things have become new."
I didn’t feel particularly new, but somewhere deep
inside, I was continually touched at the point of my need by the Holy Spirit of
God, and was indeed "new" in Him. My
problem was like many other people - a bad perspective. We look to circumstances
and if they are "pleasant," we feel good about ourselves and about
life. If we don’t like the circumstances, we feel bad.
Life is, or can be, so much MORE than that. Another
favorite verse during those years that became "personal" to me, was
Joel 2:25 - "I will restore to you the years that the
locust has eaten". He has done that, and more. If you are waiting on
the Lord, as we are encouraged to do in Psalm 27:14 ("Wait
on the Lord") and in so many other places, don’t lose heart, for
He truly will "restore to you the years that the
locust has eaten." God WILL deliver you.
The "lead-in" verse to "our" verse in
Matthew 16:25, is this: "If anyone desires to come
after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me"
(Matthew 16:24). This is very much like "pick up an electric chair and
carry it," or "walk around with a hangman’s noose," as some
kind of prerequisite to following our Lord. Tough times often ARE the cross in
your life and the question is, will you trust in Him when things don’t go the
way you want?
I remember the attitude of Corrie Ten Boom, during the
time she was in a World War II prison camp. Actually, it was her sister Betsie's
attitude first, for Corrie could not understand how her sister could praise God
in such an awful place. That attitude, in the midst of the worst circumstances,
was: "Jesus is victor!" Finally Corrie understood and agreed:
"Jesus is victor" in EVERY circumstance of our lives.
Corrie came out of that prison and opened homes for
children throughout Europe, in a time and place where orphans were - everywhere.
She became a world wide speaker, and I was privileged to hear her speak, many
years ago. Her message was simple and clear: "Jesus is victor", not
only in the "good" circumstances of your life, but also through the
"bad." He is with you, and He will "never
leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).
As this is written, we now have over 3,000 visitors a
month to Friday Study Ministries (www.fridaystudy.org). I am ordained. Our
ministry was approved by the U.S. IRS and California Franchise Tax Board. I
somehow teach 2 ½ Bible studies a week (two on the website & I share one
more) and through the grace of God (it's all through the grace of God), a sermon
every Sunday. I'm happily married to (and in ministry with) the most wonderful
woman who ever lived. I get to see more of my terrific children. I babysat one
grandchild a couple of weeks ago, and have the privilege of spending a week with
two more, in another month. I have a 30-hour a week job with benefits. I just
finished interviewing with a reporter who wants to do a feature article on
Friday Study Ministries. A pastor has called, asking permission to translate the
Friday Study into Spanish, so he can send them to his people in Guatemala. I'm
to start teaching on-line college Bible classes later this year. And more. Jesus
Life is good. God is good, and I have to compare the
situation now with what was before. It seemed like the doors (to the ministry on
my heart) were closed. God filled my heart, then and now, with the Word of God,
and I thought I would EXPLODE if I did not share it! And now it's happening! If
millions visit www.fridaystudy.org, we can share the Lord Jesus Christ with
millions worldwide! All through the grace of God.
Yet the greatest gift in life is not that something
"big" is happening, but that we receive Jesus Christ; honor Him and
love Him, in WHATEVER circumstances we find ourselves. It's harder when things
are not the way you want them to be. So many times I was all "fingernails
and teeth", just hanging onto life. And yet, Jesus was victor then, and
Jesus is victor now.
It isn't WHAT happens, it's Who is in you. I challenge you
to TRUST in Him now, every minute of every day, no matter WHAT! (You'll be glad
you did). We are not "losers", we’re winners; "victors" in
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God said, "I will
restore to you the years that the locust has eaten" and He will. The
Lord said "whoever loses his life for My sake will
find it" (Matthew 16:25) and it’s true. Thank You, Lord, for all
You have done (and will do) for us. We trust in You now. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries