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Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Mark 8:36 Kember print
I've had this Kember print practically since I began my ministry in the seventies.
What a solemn question and reminder from our Lord!

"Gaining The Whole World"

Message summary: Today we consider two probing questions that Jesus, the supremely wise One, asks. When Jesus speaks or asks a question we do well to listen and not only listen but also obey.
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“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

EF Hutton adYears ago E.F. Hutton, a financial services company, had a popular ad campaign with this line, "When EF Hutton talks, people listen". The premise was that their advice was so valuable that people from all walks of life would stop whatever they were doing to listen. (Video sample below)

There are certain people whose input we greatly value. They talk, we listen. Shortly after moving to Lancaster County in 2001 I developed a friendship with Daryl who has given me good counsel on various issues over the years. In late 2004 I made the transition from working for a national chaplaincy company to working independently and it was Daryl who met with me at a restaurant in Lititz, PA and asked some probing questions. I still recall some of his questions to this day, for they were the kind that demonstrated his wisdom and especially spoke to my situation.

Today let us consider two probing questions that Jesus, the supremely wise One, asks. When Jesus speaks or asks a question we do well to listen and not only listen but also obey.

Many years ago I memorized today’s verse. These solemn words of our Lord ought to be etched deeply onto the tablets of our hearts and firmly established in our minds: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Lord doesn’t directly answer these questions, for the answer to both is obvious, Nothing. However, many are seeking to “gain the whole world”, and in the process give little or no attention to their individual eternal soul. Those who are recognized as very successful or wealthy by this world’s standards may ignore their very soul to their own eternal peril. What, from an eternal perspective, can possibly be given in exchange for our soul that is of infinitely more value?

Let's consider these two questions:

1) “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”

In business a common statement is the P&L or profit and loss. This is a financial statement that summarizes the revenues, costs, and expenses incurred during a specified period, usually a quarter or fiscal year. Obviously a corporate goal is to have more profit than loss! Let's consider our personal P&L statement for life. Even the richest have not gained the whole world. The world in this context is the domain of the devil. That was offered to Jesus when Satan tempted Him: "The devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 'All this I will give you', he said, 'if you will bow down and worship me'" (Matthew 4:8,9). But Jesus refused, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only’” (Matthew 4:10).

So what does a personal profit and loss statement look like according to today's text using a two column spreadsheet?

The left column lists profits with a lengthy list of worldly achievements and possessions summed up with the "The whole world". It's a long impressive list. The right column lists losses and uses only one word, "Soul". From an eternal, heavenly perspective that is a horrible loss but many focus only on the profit illusion. There may be short term, temporal "profit," but long term, eternal loss! A financial adviser would call this a very bad "investment!"

2) “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Over the years there are reports of people seeking to sell their souls.
A 24-year-old British musician named Dante Knoxx tried to sell his soul for $38,000 on Ebay several years ago but the sales site bars the sale of intangible items. The musician wanted the money to kick-start his career.

"The soul has no market price, though the devil thinks so. A man must give, surrender his life, and nothing less to God; no exchange is possible.” (A.T. Robertson)

When I carefully read this question I am a bit baffled with the word "give". The ICB version is helpful to me: "It is worth nothing for a man to have the whole world if he loses his soul. He could never pay enough to buy back his soul."

Commentator Matthew Henry reflects: “As the happiness of heaven with Christ is enough to make up for the loss of life itself for Him, so the gain of all the world in sin, will not make up for the ruin of the soul by sin. And there is a day coming, when the cause of Christ will appear as glorious, as some now think it mean and contemptible. May we think of that season, and view every earthly object as we shall do at that great day."

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, Your Scriptures teach us that we’re not home yet; we’re just passing through. This world is all we’ve physically known so it is only through our spiritual transformation of salvation that we are able to transport our affections to our future home where we’ve never been. Fix our hearts and our minds upon that which is imperishable, that which satisfies the soul and lifts us above the allurement to this world along with the troubles it brings. There is nothing in this world that is of greater worth or of more lasting value than our salvation in Christ, and it is in His name that we pray. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"My Worth Is Not In What I Own"  Video  Shane & Shane  This song really reminds us of where our worth consists.

E.F. Hutton commercial from the 70's  Video  "When EF Hutton talks, people listen".

Kember Prints: Walter Kember was a Canadian who prepared prints of Scripture verses, had them framed and distributed all over the world. Some of our readers have seen these prints. I have several of them and have seen them in churches and businesses wherever I have lived, although I suppose they are most common in Canada and the northeast USA. They are framed in a simple pine frame with a stamped inscription on a piece of cardboard from a salvaged box on the back.  (In fact this inscription proves their authenticity!)  I prepared a page with more information about this with many different prints of various Scriptures I have received through the years. See here.

It appears that these two are worn out from hard play and headed to bed to rest!

Little Swatara Creek
Early yesterday morning following a visit to a company in rural Lebanon County I heard the wonderful sound of honking geese, so I walked down to the Little Swatara Creek where the gaggle had already floated downstream beyond my view. However this lone male (presumably) was bringing up the rear with a wary eye on me (can you spot it in the background)!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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