I love the Parable of the Pearl of Great Value. The parable says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (v. 45-26 ESV). He sold ALL HE HAD to buy it. What a great pearl!
The parable speaks of the pearl of great value. So what about the lesser pearls? What about the things in life that are of lesser value? Consider for a moment a person who goes out searching for pearls, finds these lesser pearls, and gives everything away for them.
We want the greater pearl. It should be our goal in life. But there are times when we don’t live like we are going for the greater pearl. We toss it all for the lesser pearls. Today let us pray for the Spirit to reveal these lesser pearls in our life so that we can toss them aside. This merchant was looking for fine pearls but he found one pearl, one pearl of great value. May each of us turn our eyes from fine pearls and seek the one pearl of great value—the only one with eternal value.
“When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!” – Matthew 13:36 [NLT]
Here’s a sermon outline from a message I shared on the Slavery of Self-Reliance. You may download the outline below. Please note there was no illustration with this message but instead I spoke of King Asa of Judah from 2 Chronicles 16 giving the gold and silver from the Temple to Ben-Hadad King of Syria.
Slavery of Self-Reliance
Everyone needs: Meaning / Purpose / Security / Safety / Significance / Worth / Value
Self-reliant / Self-determination / Self-Dependence / Independent / Self-Sufficient / Self-Contained
The world sees these as good things / the world applauds these things
The problem: These things enslave us. Burden of Self-Reliance à when all relies on you à Slavery
The solution: God wants to free us from ourselves
God is our: meaning / purpose / significance / security / safety / protection
- God provides you meaning and purpose
- Isaiah 43:7 – God has made you for His glory.
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
- Matthew 5:16 – Let your light shine before others to glorify God
- God provides you security
- Proverbs 3:26 – “For the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap” (NLT).
- God provides you safety
- Psalm 18:2 – “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
- Psalm 91:2 – “… He alone is my refuge, my place of safety…” (NLT)
- Proverbs 18:10 – Godly run to God and are safe
- God provides you significance and worth and value
- Genesis 1:27 – God made you in His image
- Psalm 139:13 – God created each of us individually – knit you in your mother’s womb with certain abilities & gifts – allows certain experiences – all so you can be of great worth to His Kingdom – YOU CAN DO GREAT THINGS! (John 14:12 – “… anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works…” NLT).
- Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (NLT).
Only those who stand in need of a savior will look for and recognize one.
Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (ESV)
Jeremiah 17:5-8 – “This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
Have you ever been called a “nobody”? In this world we spend many hours trying to show people that we are somebody, that we are important, that we mean something. There are books written about how to turn your life around and go from a nobody to a somebody. There are lectures and programs built around this idea of turning your life around from being nothing to being something.
God sees things differently. Yes, we all are nobodies traveling the earth, but we each have a purpose. We each are valuable. No one is more valuable than another. We are all important. We can all be somebodies. We simply need to find our way back to God and follow our purpose, God’s awesome plan. Trust me, it is an awesome plan, a plan we cannot even fathom.
Now being a somebody does not mean you will be a millionaire or a celebrity or even find great earthly success. But it is so much better. You are a child of the King. You will have eternity to enjoy. You are forgiven. You are redeemed. You are restored. These things make you a Somebody. Without Christ, we are all forever and always nobodies, no matter how hard you work and how much time and effort is put into changing your status. In Christ alone we are Somebody.
“But down the road the population of Israel is going to explode past counting, like sand on the ocean beaches. In the very place where they were once named Nobody, they will be named God’s Somebody. Everybody in Judah and everybody in Israel will be assembled as one people. They’ll choose a single leader. There’ll be no stopping them—a great day in Jezreel!” – Hosea 1:10-11 [MSG]
Money has been tight and we have had to make some cuts; one of the cuts we have made was the dog bones. When things are going okay, we give the dog a bone daily to help him clean his teeth, and he gets this bone first thing in the morning. The dog remembers he is to receive a bone in the morning; however, when it doesn’t come, he still sits by my side, still wants to be with me. He loves me with or without the bones.
God loves us with or without us doing anything. His love for us is not based on what we do, but on who He is—His character. He showed us this love before we were even born by sending His Son Jesus to die for our sins and then be raised on the third day. He did this all before you were born because He values you—He loves you—because He wants to do life with you. He knew where you would be right now, this very second, and still wanted to be with you.
Today, consider His love for you—consider how much you are worth to God. God made a way for you to return to Him and He has a great purpose for your life.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27 [NIV]
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 [NIV]
“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” – Isaiah 49:16 [ESV]
Although I was told time and time again to not write on my hand, I continue to write things on my left hand so I do not forget what is important. As I was teaching a lesson this past weekend, a child asked what was written on my hand. It so happened to be a verse from Nehemiah. The night before I was reading from Nehemiah and found some verses I wanted to revisit. Most of the time you will find that my left hand has a fresh verse or remnants of past verses that have faded with the numerous hand washings, and I am okay with my dirty hands. They are reminders of what is important to me.
It reminds me of the verse in Isaiah that notes how God has us engraved on the palms of His hands. Imagine all of us, His sinful, flawed children, all written on His perfect hands. Can you see how important you are to Him? Can you grasp that you, YOU right there, matter to Him?
Too often we get caught up on being received well by those around us. We want to be loved. We want to be appreciated. We want to feel important. At times we find ourselves discouraged in these areas of our life. Today is a good day to remember just how important you are to the Most High God. Remember, He has your name written on His hand. You don’t have to do anything to get your name there—He put it there because He loves you. You are special. You are important.
This morning I gave my dog a bone and I found that rather than eating it, he took it over to his special area of the room and lined it up with a few other bones he had collected. If he could talk, I think he would have been boastful of his nice collection. Of course, what is the purpose of having a collection of bones that doesn’t get eaten? Pardon my harshness, but I’m not fond of collections. I do not think God wants us building up big collections of items. In the Bible there are times when there are reminders that will be used to keep God’s people focused on God. Some manna is saved in a jar. Some stones are piled up. I get this. All of this saving and collecting involved God.
There is nothing wrong with saving money and being a good steward, but a problem occurs if the money becomes a god and a reason for living. I think of the character of Uncle Scrooge, counting coins as the poor families struggle. There is nothing wrong with collecting some mementos from the past, but to live in the past can prohibit you from reaching where God wants you to be in life. There is nothing wrong with having a few porcelain dolls or baseball cards, but when it encompasses much of your time and much of your attention, where is God’s glory? Where is God’s time?
My dog was collecting bones. When we think of bones, we usually think of something that is dead. It reminds me of these collections that we have here on earth. Our life here is temporal, and each collection is simply as collecting bones. It is so much better to taste what the Lord has given, say that “it is good,” and enjoy a relationship with Him, than to collect things that He created to build up a temporal kingdom here. What He has for us is so much better than we have seen with our eyes or felt with our hands here on earth.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” – Matthew 6:19
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” – 2 Corinthians 5:1
This past week was Vacation Bible School. As always, it was a week filled with praise and worship, learning, forming friendships, and enjoying fellowship. This year the theme was Hometown Nazareth: Where Jesus Was a Kid. With the theme in place, one can easily imagine the set consisted of present day items fixed to look like the Nazareth of old.
We attempted to stick to our theme as closely as possible so that the children would have an authentic glimpse into Nazareth. This even included hiding the cell phones and carbonated drinks that plaster our world, for shekels and edible bugs (yuck). Though the heat was nearly unbearable, many of us donned attire to suit the occasion.
A child in my group was a bit of a troublemaker at times. I took the behavior as a testing. Before the week was over, he acted in a manner which was caught by a few of the other children. He took the fake shekels that were being stored in one of the shops of Nazareth. Yes, I am talking about fake, plastic coins that we were using to allow the children to participate in an authentic marketplace atmosphere.
At that very moment, with these children pointing fingers, and this other child standing there guilty, I paused, not knowing what exactly to say. I must admit that part of me wanted to laugh, because it was a silly situation. Putting on my serious face, I told him that sneaking the plastic shekels may have gone unnoticed by me, but it did not go unnoticed by God. Then I began to ask why he would want to take something anyway.
I thought a lot about that episode. The boy changed and was great the rest of the time. He is a good kid. I thought of the episode for another reason. It got me to think about how many of us take the fake plastic shekels. I’m not talking about purposely stealing, but I am talking about taking from God.
Taking from God doesn’t only mean dipping into the collection plate or not tithing. Taking from God is not using your skills you were gifted as you were purposed. Taking from God is not using your time wisely. Taking from God is when you tell God you are His, but yet you’re not even consulting Him about anything in your life. Taking from God is spending more time talking to someone in a day then you do with Him all month. Taking from God is giving someone or something else more time, more consideration, more care, and more attention that you give God. It doesn’t matter what it is.. Whatever it may be, nothing can take priority over God.Life is hard. Life is busy. We only have 24 hours in a day. We can look at that in two different ways though. We can say that there are only 24 hours to try to get everything done. Or perhaps we can look at things differently. We can say God has blessed me with 24 hours in this day, more than enough than I deserve. No matter what excuse that can be created as a reason for not having time for God, the excuse will never be good enough.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” – 2 Corinthians 8:9 [NASB]