“How Much Am I Worth?”
Many people struggle with what is called an identity crisis. They have a hard time figuring out their role in this world. Some cannot decide what they want to do with their life, as they consider going to school, finding a job or perhaps doing nothing at all. For others, a change of direction is needed, as what they are currently doing is no longer satisfying. Sometimes, they may even question their role in this world or their purpose in life. That is a challenge facing many people. It is a challenge that might even lead one to have a low self esteem. In other words, a person may think they offer little or no value to this world or to anybody else. They might even believe they themselves are of no value at all. Again, that struggle is real for many people and some are looking for an answer. Well, the story before us today is about a man who experienced a loss of direction. Even though he was doing good things in the name of God and for God's people he lost his focus. He wondered if he really had a purpose. He thought he was the only one who was doing what was right and he began to feel sorry for himself. We might even say he had a self esteem problem. But before he drifted too far away, God let him know he was still very valuable and important to Him and to others. Yes, there was a purpose for his life and a role for him to fulfill. If you are struggling with something like that in your own life, perhaps today's story will be of interest. Thank you for choosing to watch "Key to the Kingdom." I hope you will stay tuned as we now open the Bible and study together.
Have you ever considered how much you are worth? Oh, I'm not talking about your financial statement from the bank. I'm not referring to your net assets and liabilities. I am referring to what you think about yourself. Are there times when the pressures of life seem too much to bear and you wonder if you can hang on? Perhaps the strain and the stress of things at work cause you to consider how much longer you can last. Perhaps the responsibilities and the relationships at school are more than what you expected, or maybe the daily life of the home, dealing with children or elderly parents; and you wonder if this is all there is to life. And you begin to think to yourself, "Well, perhaps I am not worth much, anymore. Perhaps I am not of any value to anybody or anything." The man that we look at in our story today, from 1st Kings, had some of those very same feelings. He felt as if he was not worth very much anymore. The man I'm referring to is Elijah. He was the Prophet of God. One day he met up with the king of Israel, his name was Ahab, and they began to argue back and forth. And Ahab said to Elijah, "You have brought all kinds of trouble upon the people." And Elijah said, "Oh no, Ahab. It is you, king, because these people no longer obey and follow the Lord, but rather Baal." Elijah presents an opportunity for them to all assemble there at the mountain, Mount Carmel, to have a contest to see who really is God, the Lord God Almighty or Baal. And that pleased Ahab. All of the Israelites gathered there at the mountain, along with 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who ate at Jezebel's table. And as they were all assembled, Elijah stands before them and he asks the question, "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If God is God, serve Him. But if Baal is god, then serve him." It's interesting to notice the people's response. They did not say a word. They had no response. Perhaps they did not want to insult the Lord God Almighty. Perhaps they did not want to insult the god Baal. They had nothing to say. And so Elijah said, "Here is what we're going to do. Ahab, I want you to take a bull sacrifice and to put it upon the altar and then call upon the name of Baal to send fire to consume, to destroy that sacrifice." And so he did. And the people cried out to Baal all morning long, that he would send fire, and yet there was no response. About noon time Elijah began to make fun of the whole situation and he said, "Why don't you cry out just a little bit louder? Perhaps he is on a trip or perhaps he is taking a nap." And so the people began to cut themselves with their swords and knives and they cried out to Baal all afternoon. And yet, there was no response and no voice and no one answered. It was now Elijah's turn and he rebuilt the altar of the Lord. He took his bull sacrifice and placed it upon the altar. He then dug a trench all around the altar and he poured four big pitchers of water on top of the sacrifice and the altar and it ran down into the trench. He then filled up those four water jars a second time and a third time, and poured it out. Twelve full jars of water all over that altar and that sacrifice and into the trench. And then he called upon the name of the Lord God Almighty, and immediately and without hesitation, God sent fire down and consumed the sacrifice and the altar and even licked up all of the water. And then the people responded by saying, "The Lord, He is God. The Lord, He is God." Elijah commanded all of the people to gather up the false prophets. To take them down to the river and there they were put to death. It was about that time, though, that Elijah told Jezebel what was happening and she sent a servant to Elijah saying, "By this time tomorrow your life will also be taken away." And Elijah was afraid and he began to run. In fact, he ran as hard and as fast as he could, for some 125 miles to the south, and he ended up in the wilderness of Beersheba. Yes, Elijah was afraid. He was afraid that indeed someone would come along and take away his life and he would be no more. And yet it seems that was okay with Elijah because he began to say to himself and to the Lord, "I'm not worth much anymore. They're trying to take away my life and I just want to hide." And so he ran away. But he could not hide from the presence of God. After he left Beersheba he continued to run another 250 miles to the south when he ended up on the mountain of God, Mount Horeb, or another name for it is Mount Sinai. And there Elijah went into a cave, hiding out, just waiting for his life to be over. And it was then that God passed before him and He said, "I want you to come to the entrance of that cave." And when he was there, God passed by in a great earthquake. And yet there was no voice or message for Elijah. He then passed by in a wind storm; but again, there was nothing from the Lord. And then God passed by in a fire, and yet for the third time, there was no message. But yet, after God had gotten Elijah's attention, He then spoke to Elijah in a still small voice. And Elijah heard it. And God asked him, "What are you doing here?" And Elijah said, "Oh, I've been very zealous for you, God. I've done what is good and right, but they seek to take away my life and I am no good anymore. I'm ready just to die. Why don't you just take away my life because I have nothing left to offer." And God said, "I want you to go out and to anoint a new king for Israel and anoint a new king for Syria, and then to identify Elisha as the prophet who will take your place." And Elijah did just that. Several things in that story jump out at me. First of all, when Elijah comes before those people he asked them the question, how long will you waiver or limp between two different opinions? And isn't that the question we need to ask our-self every day? If God is God then I should serve Him. But if He is not, then I choose a different direction. Yet, oftentimes, we tend to straddle the line, and to serve the Lord one day and not another day. And yet God calls upon us to make that decision for Him each and every day. A second thing that grabs my attention is that there is absolutely no god in this world who is even close to the Lord God Almighty. There's absolutely no god that can demonstrate the kind of power that our God in Heaven demonstrates. We saw that when He sent that fire down and consumed the altar and the sacrifice in the presence of the people. The third thing that gets my attention is that Elijah was afraid. When his life was threatened, he ran away. He thought, "Sure enough the enemy is going to get me and I'm not going to live very much longer, but I'm going to run away as hard and as fast as I can." And yet we are told some 365 times in God's Word something to the effect of do not be afraid and do not fear. That is one time for every day of the year; a daily reminder that we don't need to live our lives in fear because God is watching out for us and we are of great value to Him. Now even after this great victory there on Mount Carmel, Elijah became discouraged. He was disheartened. He went through a period of depression. He didn't know for sure if he was worth anything to anybody any more and he was ready to simply give up. And yet when God appeared to him at the entrance of the cave there on Mount Horeb, He reminded Elijah that Elijah was of great value to Him. Elijah was important. Elijah had a purpose that he needed to fulfill in order to bring glory to God. And Elijah went out and did those things. He anointed those two new kings and he identified Elisha as the next prophet. Elijah needed to hear those words. He needed to know from God Himself that he was of value and significance and importance to God. I want you to know today that no matter how you might feel about your life, you are important to God. You are of great worth and of great value to Him. And I hope that you will never forget that, that God has a purpose and a direction for your life, also. Oh, it may appear at times that He doesn't. It may appear at times that you are kind of wandering through life and there is no direction for you to pursue. And you wonder, "What is God up to in my life?" I want to share a passage of Scripture with you. It comes from the Old Testament book of Jeremiah. God's people, the Israelites, were in Babylonian captivity, and they were there for some 70 years. And no doubt those people must have thought, "God has forgotten us. He doesn't know that we're out here. What are we going to do? How long can we survive in captivity?" Well God knew that; and that's why He sent this message to them from the prophet Jeremiah. We find his words in chapter 29, verse 11. "'I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. You will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. I will be found by you.'" Oh, those people needed to hear those words. They needed to know that God had not forgotten them. He had a plan and a future for them. And no doubt it inspired hope for these people, that God was preparing something for them. They didn't know for sure when or what it might be, but God had not forgotten them; and certainly that promise still applies to us today. God highly values us because God deeply loves us. He loves you more than you will ever know. In fact, He loves you so much that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die on your behalf. Jesus died on a cross, was buried in a tomb and then He rose up from the grave to give you a hope, to give you the opportunity to be a part of God's family and to have a meaning and a purpose and a direction for your life. And, yes, it is in Him that we find our significance and our value. It is in the Lord God Almighty that we find our self esteem, and we recognize that we are very valuable to God. I think about the words of Jesus when He spoke, in His ministry in Matthew chapter 10, these words: "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground, apart from your Father. But even the hairs on your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows..." Oh, we see those little sparrows flying in the sky, don't we, those little birds, and we oftentimes wonder, "How are they cared for?" And yet they always seem to find something to eat and something to drink. They find a place to stay at night. And Jesus says, "When one of those little birds falls to the ground, your Father in Heaven knows that. He recognizes and He sees all of His creation. He sees what is going on in those little birds' lives." But do you realize that He cares so much more for you? He loves you. He even knows every intrical detail about your life. He knows how many hairs are on your head; and yes, for some of us that's fewer than for others. But the message Jesus conveys is 'therefore, don't be afraid.' There's no need to live your life in fear. There's no need to live as if you aren't worth anything to anybody anymore, because you are special to God. I think about the words of the apostle Paul from Galatians chapter 4 and verse 7: "You are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God..." As a child of God I am a member of His family. I am one of His sons. You might be one of His daughters. We are children who belong to the Lord. And as a result of that, we have an inheritance. We are an heir to the promises and blessings that He has for all of His children. Oh, I think about the various inheritances that people receive today. Sometimes it's a great deal of money, perhaps some land or other valuable possessions. And we look forward to that inheritance. We are an heir in that family and we are a part of it and that's what we receive because of the privilege we have of belonging to that family. And Paul tells us, in the Scripture, "I have something even better for you." Peter tells us that it is an inheritance that can never perish or spoil or fade, that is kept in heaven for us and will be given to us at just the right time. Now, I don't know about you, but that makes me feel special. God has something in store for me, He has a reward, He has an inheritance for me that can never be taken away; and I look forward to receiving that reward. And that reward is for you, as well, as one of one of God's children. I want to look at one more passage of Scripture. It's written by the man David in the Old Testament. It comes from Psalm 139. We won't read the entire Psalm but I want to read the first 10 verses. And as I do, I want you to put yourself in David's sandals. Think about how these words can apply to you. Let's begin with verse 1. "Oh, Lord, you have searched me and know me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold oh Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is high, I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there, if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the utter most parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me and your right hand shall hold me." Oh, that's a beautiful thought. And then going down to verses 17 and 18, we find these words; that we are precious in God's sight, and He is always thinking about us. Did you know that? Did you know that God is always thinking about you? And you are precious to Him. He knows the words that will come out of your mouth even before you say them. He knows when you get up and when you lie down. He watches over you and takes care of you when you go out and when you stay at home. And why is that? It is because God loves you and you are of great worth and value to Him. You know, David reminds us of that great truth. That was something Elijah needed to know, that God loved him and cared for him and He was watching over him, even when Elijah thought there was no hope and no future. You know today, our worth really does not depend on what other people might say about us. Our worth does not depend upon the rumors that float out there about us. Our worth to God does not depend upon where we live or who we are or what we do for a living. We are of great value to God because He created us, He sustains us, and He loves us more than we will ever know. And because of that, we recognize that what other people say about us is not nearly as important as who we are. And who are we? We are special in God's sight, we are His children, we belong to Him, He belongs to us, and we have that fellowship with the Lord. Our sufficiency is found in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is there that we find our self esteem and our purpose and our direction in life. And it really makes no difference what other people might say or think about who we are or how much we are worth because we are of great value to God. And because of that great truth, we can now focus on God's love for us instead of the pressures of life. And those pressures of life come; don't they? We experience the ups and the downs, the trials and the testings and the tribulations of life and sometimes they weight heavily upon us. We may even feel like Elijah and want to just throw in the towel and quit and say, "I'm no better than anybody else. I'm not worth anything any more." And yet, let us never forget God loves us more than we will ever know. We are special to Him. We are of great value to God; and, we are worth more than we could ever imagine. If you are struggling with feeling as if you are not worth very much any more, remember that God loves you and you are worth a tremendous amount to the Lord God Almighty.
As I look at this house for sale, there is one question that is the bottom line question for me, and that is; is this house really worth it? How much is this house worth? As I look at the price sheet of all of the different things that are in this house and as I consider the outside of the house, I ask that question. Is it really worth what they're asking for it? We ask that question in a variety of situations in life; don't we? We want to know if what people are asking for certain things they're selling is really worth it. And from time to time we might even ask that about our own life. Is it really worth anything? Am I of any value to anybody or to any organization? I was doing some research not long ago and I found that the chemicals within a 175 pound body are only worth about $160. That's hard to imagine, isn't it? Our physical bodies really aren't worth very much when it comes down to the chemicals. And yet here is one thing I always want us to remember. We are of great value to God. We are worth something that we cannot even imagine, to God. We are important to Him. We always have been and we always will be. He created us. He gave us a purpose and a mission in this world. God even knows the number of hairs that are on our head. Yes, we are important to God and we can never forget that. I would encourage us to know that when we become discouraged or down on our self, God believes in us. He believes in you because you are special and important and of great value to Him.
Thank you for watching today's episode on "Key to the Kingdom." Hopefully the story of Elijah gave us some things to consider. If you are struggling with the issue of self esteem or seeking a purpose for your life, remember, God has a plan for you and that you are very important to Him. This lesson can be viewed again on our website, keytothekingdom.com. It is available in video, audio and written format. It is also free from any charge or obligation. Other lessons are on the website as well and you are welcome to download any that might be of interest. I encourage you to do so. Short inspirational videos and one minute messages are there as well. A free Bible study can be received through the mail when you call the number on the screen. Please leave your name and address and we will be happy to mail the first lesson to you. If you would like to the study the Bible through the internet, this same free Bible study can also be accessed through the website. The six-part study is designed to assist you in your own study of God's Word. If you have not already done so, please find and like us on Facebook. Weekly messages are posted each and every week and they give you access to our website. You can also find us on Roku® Television and through a free app on your phone. Thank you so much for tuning in to today's program. Hopefully this message was a blessing to you. I do invite you to join us again next week at this same time, as we continue to study the Bible on "Key to the Kingdom."