This is the third leg of our journey–and possibly the most challenging. So before we get started, I want you to fasten your seatbelts and prepare for a bumpy ride. But first, let me tell you about a priest, a minister, and a rabbi who were on a panel discussion at a medical conference.
It had been a long day full of speakers and workshops concerning the latest medical research. All the doctors were tired, and they wanted to leave. But before they could do this, the moderator banged his gavel.
“Gentlemen,” he announced, “if I could have your attention, something was added to your schedule at the last minute.”
The doctors stifled their groans and listened.
“I felt that we should end this year’s conference on a religious note for a change. We have brought in three scholars, who will form a panel. Their topic is, ‘When does life really begin?’. Now let’s get this under way with Father James Duncan.”
Clearing his throat, the priest began, “Thank you, friends. According to my research, the facts state plainly that life starts at the moment of conception. Therefore, I invite you to look at the screen, and allow me to go through my various findings with you.”
After a few minutes, however, the protestant minister jumpped up.
“This is just absurd! Everyone knows that life begins at birth, and I can prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
Things got so bad that people began to take sides and start shouting matches. Clearly, order needed to be restored.
When he saw that nothing was being done, the rabbi stood up and waved his hand until the room was silent. Then he cleared his throat said, “You want to know when life begins? I’ll tell you. Life begins when the dog dies and the kids leave home.”
While we might chuckle at this statement, the point is that man can’t place a value on what God has created, and the world can’t understand the life we have in Christ. So let’s open His Word and allow Him to speak to us.
In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus delivers the 2 most important commantments in scripture. “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (NLT)
In our culture, we have all been inundated with the idea of self-esteem. In fact, we have idolized it. For example, you may sometimes hear the phrase, “Be good to yourself.” One website I came across even features 5 reasons for loving yourself. There are tons of books and countless seminars devoted to this subject.
The Bible makes it clear, however, that we are to love God with our entire being. Then, and only then, can we extend the self-love that God has already placed in us to our neighbors.
Let me explain what I mean. When I first became a Christian and I began to read the scriptures, God’s love for me really stood out. This love revolutionized my life, and I didn’t feel like the outcast, different kid anymore. I began to realize that God placed a high value on me, and I now had a message that people needed to hear. I was to be a witness, and God’s love would flow through me to others.
Have you ever really stopped to think about what God is saying to you? If not, just ponder this scripture.
Psalms 36:7 tells us that we really can’t fathom the value that God places on each one of us. He says, “No matter what your status in life might be, don’t base your feelings of worth on that. Instead, base them on the love I have shown you in My Word, which tells you about the price that I paid on Calvary. Then, as My witnesses, take My love, and share it with a dying world.”
Knowing that God loves you in this way provides freedom and true joy, but that joy is different from the joy which the world offers. While the world seeks after momentary happiness that doesn’t last, the joy which Christ gives is eternal. It is a joy which calls me not to concentrate primarily on my own pleasure or needs, so I don’t have to have that new car or the latest iPhone model. Because Jesus offers true contentment, we can concentrate on the needs of others.
The world is always trying to fill a giant vacuum of emptiness with one small happiness after another. However, God wants to fill us with His spirit, if we will only ask Him. The Bible says that if we draw close to God, He will draw close to us.
Jesus used a word picture to illustrate this. He told us that our lives could be like a river that overflows with God’s blessings.
Therefore, instead of always concentrating on ourselves, I encourage all of us to experience true joy as we draw nearer to God, and think about all that we have been given. Because of the Lord’s love for us, we can go out of our way to touch someone’s life today. After all, Jesus said, “When you have done it to one of the least of these, you have done it to Me.”
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.