Philippians 3:7-9 (NLT)
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.
Being the designated budgeter and shopper in my family, it is my responsibility to know what things are cost and get the most out of the family income. Growing up, my mother was very thrifty and frugal. Our blended family started with very little even lunchmeat was rationed to the day in order to be sure there was food for the week. As teenagers beginning to earn our own money, she taught us the value of a dollar and how to get the most out of our hard-earned cash. By passing the racks in the front of the store, we would head for the bargain racks in the back making out with way more than the newest arrivals. We were taught how to shop sales. Once I had a family of my own, I began to apply these very same principles to my life. Having been ingrained in me from an early age, it is my nature to compare items when I shop for content and value. I am an avid label reader who can quickly decide the better value from years of practice. Pouring over sale papers before I go shopping is a definite plus as long as I know what things cost when they are not the item of the week. By adding coupons to the already discounted item, some things are drastically reduced. However, none of these thrifty tricks work unless I know the value of items. I must know what things are worth in order to evaluate the deals and get the most for our money. Very seldom do I impulse shop having learned the hard lesson very early when the money did not last as long as the month, so I must go armed with a list and weekly menu to keep my mind from wandering along the aisles and filling the cart with unnecessary food items. I am not a religious “couponer” or “stockpiler”. I am just a mom on a budget. I have learned is that life by comparison is not a bad thing and can be very beneficial. It can even be applied to my new life in Jesus Christ.
In the song “Here I Am to Worship”, there is a line that goes “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that Cross.” As these words sink in, it becomes apparent that to truly know and understand the value of our salvation it becomes necessary to count the cost and decide if following Jesus Christ is really worth it after all. Please don’t be offended. Shaking your head in disbelief at the audacity of such a suggestion, I offer this observation. If following Jesus Christ is worth it all, then why aren’t more people doing it including believers? Paul noted that everything is worthless compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord. He discarded everything else choosing to be oppressed rather than the oppressor and jailed rather than jailer just to know Jesus more. But that really isn’t what most of us signed up for when we called on the Name of Jesus Christ. We want the blessings and promises of God without ever committing to His Processes of faithfulness, righteousness and obedience. See if we ever could fully grasp or comprehend the true value of our salvation before we meet the Lord face-to-face – it would change our life inside and out forevermore as we life by comparison.
Isaiah 43:18-20 (NLT)
“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.”
God wants to do a new work in your life today. One that is far greater than anything that you could ever think or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20) It is a new thing. Brand new. Never been done. Possible only through the Lord. He has already begun lying the groundwork…can’t you see it? He promises to make rivers in the dry wasteland. I believe God is leading you to His Promise. He is ready to fully consummate His Relationship with you but is waiting to be sure that you will be faithfully committed to Him as well. If you do not take the time to make the comparison between your old life and the brand new one being offered, you will never see the differences in the two. God requires a choice in each moment of every day. Will you choose blessing or cursing? Will you choose life or death? (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) This is to be an informed choice. God has given us His Word as guidelines for our life. He sent His Son to make a Way for us to enter His Presence. His Spirit offers sound counsel all the days of our life pointing out the Truth over every lie so that we can successfully navigate the darkest valley of weeping to overwhelming joy in Jesus Christ. (Psalm 84:6) This is only possible by carefully evaluating each and every choice we make in life discarding the obvious answers of this world including casual, complacency and compromise to accept faithfulness, righteous and obedient Love for God demonstrated in a sold-out life.
Daniel 1:8-16 (NLT)
But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. But he responded, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has ordered that you eat this food and wine. If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded.” Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others.
Daniel’s faith allowed him to dare compare the Goodness of God to the things of this world. The king had made his decree, but it violated the covenant of Daniel’s heart. He didn’t arrange some big protest and call all the prominent news stations, but rather invited the attendant to test the Lord. After ten days of fasting on only water and vegetables, evaluate us. See if we are starving or in poor health, and then decide. Life by comparison begins just like this. Test the Lord. See if He is good. God will prove it over and over again as many times as you are willing to try and see. After ten days, these young men were healthier and better nourished than all of those eating the king’s food. When was the last time you tested the Lord? Those who dare to compare their life to the Word of God and Way of God will never be disappointed. Faithfulness, righteousness and obedience to the Lord tell its own story through you. Daniel was not a casual Christian who hid in the crowds of life. He chose to live a life committed to God in this world. He lived what He believed. To be a casual Christians means to live without definite or serious intent to serve the Lord in this life. They will miss God’s Best choosing to live in the lie that this is all that there is and then you die. Lack of commitment to the Kingdom of God is to choose this world as our home. It becomes our true intent no matter how unwillingly. We must compare our life to God’s Kingdom and live for this confident hope.
Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
If you want the new life that you have been promised, you cannot live the old way. Complacency interrupts destiny. You stopped too soon. You didn’t finish the course. What you have now is less than He promised! Jesus Christ has the perfect plan for your life and is leading you too it. Paul was pleading with complacent Christians motivating them to finish the race with his words of exhortation. This is the pleading of the Spirit of God to the sleeping church today. Wake up! There is more to life than this. Stop living a complacent existence and choose a supernatural life. It is the new thing I promised! Complacent people are self-satisfied. They live in the middle of the road or gray areas of life unaware of the impending danger when facing the Judgment Seat of God. You have to make a choice. Good or evil are the two sides. If you are not living sold-out for Jesus, then you are just another face in a crowd of dying souls. “For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” (Philippians 3:18-21)
Luke 14:25-30 (NLT)
A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
You must hate everyone else in comparison to me. Jesus Christ words not mine. How can this be possible? Comparison precipitates a choice. God has called us to choose life or death and blessing or cursing. There will even be times in our life when it will require a choice between following the crowd or walking with Jesus. The enemy has lied to Children of God that compromise is a provision of God’s Grace. This is a lie from the pit of hell. You have God’s Spirit inside of you that empowers you to do what pleases the Lord and walk in His Ways. When we choose to go with the flow, it is called compromise. Compromise makes us unable to perform optimally. It is a settlement of differences with mutual concessions which means you gave up God’s Best for something less. You cannot be a true disciple of Jesus Christ having all that He promised and doing all that He says from a compromised position. It is simply not possible. So the first thing you must do is count the cost. How valuable is Jesus Christ to you? How much does salvation and righteousness mean to you? If they are just words on a page or suggestions from a pulpit then you have not every truly tasted the Goodness of God’s Faithfulness and Love for those who test the Lord these two things become the most valuable asset in life. Faith and hope of our own are born in this union.
Psalm 119:1-6 (NLT)
Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.
Knowledge is power to every believer. Not worldly understanding, but divine revelation knowledge that comes from His Word. God will speak to you through His Written Word and His Spirit if you will only choose to spend time in His Word and listening for His Voice. I am living proof. These words I write every single day are a product of simply rolling out of bed and asking the Lord to speak to me in and through His Word. It has now been more than four years. All I do is ask Him to speak to me…now I cannot imagine what would happen if He every stopped. I depend on His Word. I must hear His Voice. It is valuable and nonnegotiable in my life. Without knowledge, people will perish. You cannot call on someone you do not know and expect them to be of any help, but if I have a need and call a friend they will do their very best to assist me. You must have a thriving and flourishing relationship with the Father to live a life worthy of comparison. To make the right choices in life, you must know your options. The world has its way of doing things and then there is the Way. (John 14:6) You get to choose the course of your life. Choose well.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT)
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
God’s Plan for your life is comprehensive. It encompasses every single day that you live. (Psalm 139:16) But you must look for Him wholeheartedly comparing every moment of your life in faithfulness, righteousness and obedience to Jesus Christ. Is it worth it to you to have His Plan? Absolutely! It is for good including a future and hope! A casual lifestyle is for those predisposed to fate. You are not that person. Your existence is not random so do not live like it. You are a planned and deliberate Work of God in progress! Do not be complacent you have too much to lose. The Lord hates lukewarm Christians who are neither hot nor cold and compares them to vomit. (Revelation 3:15-19) You must make a choice and be committed mind, soul and body.
Romans 12:1-3 (NLT)
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
Comparison before you make a choice allows for wise decisions. But comparison after the choice most often reveals compromise. Compromise always leads to disappointment. Choose to be a living sacrifice and let the Lord mold and shape your life through His Power according to His Plan. Make the conscientious choice to stay on course, settle for nothing less and finish the race. Compare what you see to what God has planned, if doesn’t match completely line by line and precept by precept discard it as garbage and worthless. Jesus came to give life in abundance so settle for nothing less! (John 10:10) Don’t let the enemy have it by taking what he offers instead because it is quick and easy. ”Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:7-9) Live a life of comparison always choosing God’s Best!
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) Guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life.