First Things First
by Cooper P Abrams III
INTRODUCTION: It has been said that we know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. There is a lot of difference between cost and value. The word "value" means something, that has the quality of intrinsically being valuable or desirable. It is something of great worth.
ILLUS: A story is told of a man who loved old books. He met an acquaintance who had just thrown away a Bible that had been stored in the attic of his ancestral home for generations. "I couldn't read it," the friend explained. "Somebody named Guten-something had printed it." "Not Gutenberg!" the book lover exclaimed in horror. "That Bible was one of the first books ever printed. Why, a copy just sold for over two million dollars!" His friend was unimpressed. "Mine wouldn't have brought a dollar. Some fellow named Martin Luther had scribbled all over it in German."
I do not know this ever happened, but it makes a good point. Sometimes people do not really know what they have and take the full advantage of it. Sometimes, we suffer great loss, because we do not know, or accept the value of something we have.
I. Temporal Worth vs Eternal Value. Phil. 3:1-5
The word "temporal" means simply something that is temporary. Here today and gone tomorrow. It is something that has no lasting value. This world is temporal, our material possessions are temporal. In fact most things in our life are temporal. Yet, we put great value on them for a while.
Years, ago Carolyn and I built a beautiful home on a lake. We built most of it ourselves. We fixed the yard, built a beach for swimming, a pier for my boat. He had a large garden. I built a shop and did taxidermy work. I told everyone...I had accomplished my dream and they could bury me there when I died. We both had good jobs and a wonderful future. Financially we were becoming well-off. . When God called me to preach, we sold it, and most of what we had and went to Bible college. Four years later we were basically broke having spent everything we had attending college. That beautiful home for us was temporal, we traded it for something eternal that will never past away. By the way, God has always taken care of us...
We have never given anything up that the Lord did not abundantly replace.
2. Paul says, he was circumcised the eight day a Hebrew. Of the tribe of Benjamin, an a Pharisee.
3. "Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless" As too his zeal for Judaism...Paul was "blameless." In fact he stood head and shoulders above most. He was zealous and proved it by trying to destroy Christians who he saw as threatening Judaism. By the way...he was right.
C. Verse 7, explains the reality of all he thought that was dear to him before he came to Christ. "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." (Philippians 3:7)
The word loss is interesting. It does not mean just something a person does not have anymore, but rather something that is destroyed. It is the Greek word "zemia" (Dya mee ia ) and refers to something that has been violently damaged. It is like a ship and cargo that in a storm is loss. The sea beats it and destroys it.
Note verse 8 uses the word again, but it is a little different. "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." It has the meaning of forfeiture of something. It is used in Mark 8:26 "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36) Jesus was stating it was a violence loss to trade one's soul for the what the material world has.
In other words, his salvation had changed his whole perceptive on what was valuable in life.
B. Here God is giving us a precious jewel, something of immense and unlimited value. He is giving us a principle to direct our lives and by applying it gain untold benefit, both now and into eternity.
2. "Excellency" means the that which is superior, and supreme. Nothing is greater in value that the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
D. Paul says he has "suffered" loss. We need to understand that word better. It means to experience. He has experienced the lost of the temporal things of the world, given them up for Jesus Christ.
2. The objective of his giving up the temporal things of the world was to "win or gain Christ." God is telling us there is nothing in the world that compares to the knowing Jesus Christ. It is a knowing in salvation and a knowing in living one's life as the Lord directs. v
D. Paul expresses the reality of what God offers us in salvation. It is the fruit and result of being saved.
We did not expect the what we were told. They said I had three old injuries to my spine. The one in the lower back could not be repaired. The surgeon then with noticeable cautiousness began to describe what the MRI showed on the upper back. He showed us discolorations on two vertebra. He read the radiologist report. The radiologist said it appeared to be a metastasis (Ma tas t sis) tumor of the spine. He said the radiologist wanted to do a CT scan and he would be able to know for sure. The word Metastasis means there is cancer somewhere else in the body and it has moved to the spine. The mortality rate with cancer in the spine is ten months. It also meant that as matastatized cancer...I had cancer somewhere else too.
We went home trying to take in all this meant. The earliest they could do the CT scan was April 14th...almost a month away. Before we left the VA hospital we went the CT scan department and asked the man who scheduled appointments if he would put us down and call if there was a cancellation. We told him we could be there in two hours. He wrote my name and phone number down, but did not give any encouragement. So Carolyn and I, returned home and in our living room, prayed together. I am so glad God gave me such a wonderful and supportive wife. We asked God if He would allow me to have the CT scan on Friday the next day. My symptoms fit the diagnose. My back hurts all the time...24 hours a day. I have been very weak and tired for months now and can't seem to get back to normal and the doctors do not know why.
I guess you can imagine the thoughts we both were having. We openly talked about me going home to be with the Lord. Though out this time we had a peace in our hearts. My main concern was leaving her alone and for our families and this church.
Friday morning about 9:15 o'clock the phone rang and the it was the VA. They had a cancellation. Could we be there at 12:30? Certainly....we will be there! How fast God answered our prayers. So off to Salt Lake City for the third time this week we went. The CT scan went well, but they did not tell us anything as the radiologists had to read the scans later. I would be up to the doctor to tell us. I made an appointment for this coming Thursday to get the results. But you know....the Lord wanted us to have the results sooner.
I had called my VA nurse case worker on Thursday after we were given the report. She was not in the office on Thursday when I called so I left word on with her answer service. I told her what was found and asked her if I could see my doctor soon because I had a lot of questions.
On the way home from Salt Lake City we stopped and got something to eat. My cell phone rang and it was Becky, my VA nurse. By the way she is a Christian. She said she got my message and had called the hospital and had my results. The tumor is benign. For about 24 hours I faced the possibility that I would be with the Lord by January. When you are told you are facing death and it tests your faith. It changes your whole perspective on everything. You know if your faith is real....and mine is real! Carolyn and I thanked the Lord. I will find out next week if they can repair the damage to my spine...but that is in the Lord's hands and I have perfect peace about it. I understood fully what Paul meant by the words he penned under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death" (Phil. 3:10)
As his head and neck were place on the block...I know what was in his mind. "Only moments away....for the glories of seeing my Savior, face to face." Anxious at the thought of being executed, yet totally confident in its result. I would think he would close his eyes....his mind totally fixed on the knowledge of Jesus Christ which blocked out the swinging of the axe....
And then....Hallelujah.....seeing the face of Jesus! His human lives journey concluded in such success....in reaping the reality of salvation.
2. This is what this passage is all about. It is our loving and wonderful God, showing us what is real and what is the most important thing we can do with the life God has given us. Give it to Him.
To give us what we cannot keep, for that which we cannot lose.
The reality is that we will all die. Our lives will end in time. Some shorter, some longer, but either way we all will face death. For some there will be a warning, for some it comes without any warning.
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