Linda Larsen - Williams and Perth Special Meetings - May, 2006

Hymn 220

Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord God is one Lord and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” As I was getting ready for this meeting there seemed to be one burning question in my thoughts, and that is how much do I love God? True love sees no cost. True love gives and true love sacrifices. As we have heard, it’s true love that leads us to the place of prayer. And more than that, it’s true love that leads us to the place of sacrifice.

How much do I love God? I would like to tell you a little story of a little girl, and maybe we’ll call her Suzie. She had been to the toy shop and seen this string of pearls, so she diligently saved up all her money to make that string of pearls hers: and it became her most favoured possession. It went everywhere with her and at all times. She had a special father, and each night her daddy would read her a bedtime story. But this one night after the story he looked at his little Suzie and his heart was stirred. He asked, “Do you love me Suzie?” She said, “Of course I do, Daddy.” And he said, “Will you give me your pearls?” She said, “Daddy, I will give you my favourite teddy, my doll and jigsaw, but not the pearls.” Daddy just closed the book and left the room and left it for a few nights. Again he asked her, “Do you love me Suzie, and will you give me your pearls?” Well she started to cry, “No Daddy, I will give you my favourite teddy, but not my pearls.” A few nights later, her father went in to read her a story again and he found her crying. As he sat down beside her and asked her what was wrong; she raised her little hand and in her hand was that string of pearls. And she said, “I love you Daddy; here are my pearls.” That father held that little girl for a little while and when she stopped crying he reached into his pocket and brought out a real strand of pearls. He said to her, “Suzie, I have been waiting for you to be willing to give up your toy pearls so I could give you this one in exchange - true pearls.” I wonder if we feel a little like Suzie at times? Our Father knows that we are hanging on to things which are like fake pearls: things that are precious to us - things we feel we can’t live without, things in our homes and in our lives. Maybe because of peer pressure: of feeling and being different to others – things that are like fake pearls. Maybe there are things that are robbing us from entering into the greater treasure of God’s kingdom. And maybe God is today saying, “How much do you love Me?” Or even, “Do you love Me and are you willing to give up these things in your life for Me?”

We heard in the Special Meeting last Sunday a little of Abraham in Genesis 22:2 where God came and said to him, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest and get thee into the land of Moriah and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Make him an offering! We heard that there was no conversation on Abraham’s part: he just arose and simply did what the Lord asked. God was asking of him the most precious thing that Abraham had in his life at that time. It’s too hard to comprehend the love in Abraham’s heart for God, “Do I love God like that?” When I was struggling with the thought of going in the work, I remember a worker speaking about this verse and said, “What if the Lord was to come to us and say, 'Take now thou life, thine only life that thou lovest, and give it to me.'” It was like an arrow straight to my heart. How much do I love God? And would I be willing to show my love to God even by giving Him my life? The thing that’s most precious to any of us is our life. Are we willing to give it to God to show Him our love?

In Luke 18 and also recorded in Matthew 19, there was a certain ruler that came to Jesus asking what he had to do to inherit eternal life. And Jesus said, “Thou knowest the commandments. Do not commit adultery, do not kill, and do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Honour thy father and thy mother." And he said, "All these have I kept from my youth up." Now when Jesus heard these things, He said unto him, "Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast and distribute unto the poor and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” This man had been serving God and had been following up to a certain point, yet felt there was still a lack. I just wondered if it was like Jesus asking him whether he was having feelings towards there being a need in the harvest field. But Jesus was telling him if he wanted to be perfect, he could sell all he had and be like Jesus: and follow Him. What was He saying? You take now your life: the life that you love and come follow Me. It says that man was very sorrowful because he had other riches. One day in eternity, those very riches are the things we will hate the most because they were the things that kept him from totally living and following Jesus.

What have we got in our lives that’s hindering our love? In Matthew 6 we read, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Where is our treasure? Is it in the walls of the kingdom? Is our treasure loving the will of God and doing the will of God? You know where our treasure is will determine what the walls of the kingdom become to us. If our treasure isn’t in the walls of the kingdom they are going to feel like a prison, aren’t they? We will be feeling the restriction of the kingdom if our heart and our treasure are in the will and way of God. Won’t the walls of the kingdom be our safety, our protection and our security? It all depends on which side of the walls of the kingdom our treasure truly is. How much do I love God, and where is my treasure?

One other little thought, in thinking along the lines of Suzie giving false pearls for real pearls. Our God is a God of exchange: He wants to take those things – false feelings of hope, false feelings of peace, joy – and give us that which is real. He gives us real hope, real joy, real peace. I went to John 5 and read about that pool and around that pool lay a great multitude of impotent folk, blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. “For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity 38 years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, He saith unto him, 'Wilt thou be made whole?' The impotent man answered Him, 'Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.' Jesus saith unto him, 'Rise, take up thy bed and walk.' And immediately the man was made whole.” The more I have looked into this little story, the more I realise that this was no angel of the Lord. This was an angel of Satan that was stirring this pool and giving all these people a false hope that whoever would be the first in the pool would be helped. This man had been lying there all these years with that false hope: holding on to ‘false pearls’ could we say? Jesus actually asked that man, “Wilt thou be made whole?” It would be an obvious answer that he would want to be made whole, so why did Jesus ask? I got a picture of some of the pools that Satan’s angels are in today. We have all been in the shopping centres and seen the people line up: huge lines of people all there with the hope of being the big winner; like false hope. But how many times have they lined up and paid their money? If you were to walk up and tap them on the shoulder and tell them that you have something far greater in life, a greater treasure you could offer them. They would look at you and think you were really queer. I just wondered is that why Jesus asked that man about wanting to be made whole?  How many others were there lying around that pool happy to hold on to their false hopes instead of realising that Jesus was passing by with that real hope, real peace.

Good to question ourselves have we got false pearls? Are we holding on to maybe, being rebellious about it, and the Lord is touching our hearts? I long, that as we go from here we would want to have more love for Thee, O Christ. More love, so we can enter fully into the blessings of the kingdom.