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Sunday Sermon – 8/19/01 – Matthew 16:25 – The Loser

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The Loser

"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (Matthew 16:25)

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 full.

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 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 is victor!

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
www.fridaystudy.org
Ron@fridaystudy.org
 

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