Derek finishes this week's theme with a retelling of his adventure with God in the Sudan. Then he looks at the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price. Did you realize that you are that pearl to God? Out of the suffering of an oyster comes a pearl. Likewise, out of the suffering of Jesus, you came forth to be His. That is how valuable you are!
So then I got to John chapter three about being born again. And that phrase lodged in his mind--born again, born again. So when we were on the camels on the way back he said, “Born again. What’s that?” “Well,” I said “God will give you new heart.” Well he just laughed because in those days heart transplants didn’t exist and he couldn’t understand anything but a heart transplant.
“Well,” I said, “It means you get the life of God.” So I said to him, “Would you like to be born again?” And he said, “Yes.” “Well,” I said, “listen. This evening when the sun sets you go to your hut, I’ll go to my billet and you pray to be born again and I’ll pray for you.” So he said, “All right.”
Next morning we met. I looked at him. I said, “Did you pray?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Did you get anything?” He said, “No.” So I was disappointed, but the Holy Spirit whispered in my, “Remember he’s a Muslim.”
So I said, “Did you pray in the name of Jesus?” He said, “No.” I said, “You have to pray in the name of Jesus if you want to be born again. Are you willing to do that?” He said, “Yes.” “Well,” I said, “this evening you go to your hut, I’ll go to my billet, we’ll pray. When I met him next morning I looked at him and I said, “You’ve got it.” He said, “Yes I did.” And everybody in the hospital heard about that. They came to me and said, “What happened to your friend Ali?” I said, “He got born again.” They said, “What’s that?” I said, “Let me tell you.” So as a result of that two of my fellow-soldiers came to the Lord.
Well, I want to say that all came out of that night of intense intercession for the people of the Sudan. And without travail, there will be no birth. Unless we travail in prayer we won’t see any birth. It says, “As soon as Zion travailed she brought forth her children.” As soon as the Church travails she’ll begin to bring forth children.
The next parable in Matthew 13:45-46. This is the parable I love. Verses 45 and 46.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
Now there are different ways of applying this, but I want to give you one application which can make a change in your life. First of all I want to point out that he was a merchant. He was not a tourist. He was a man who spent all his life dealing in pearls, and he knew the real value of a pearl. And then he found this one pearl, so wonderful and so precious, that he sold all that he had to buy it. But you see he was a man who knew what things were worth. He found one pearl that was worth more than everything he had in life and he sold it all and bought the pearl.
Now I want you to think for a moment. There are many different ways to interpret this, but I want you to think of yourself tonight as that one pearl, uniquely beautiful and valuable pearl. You know that pearls are the result of suffering. Out of the suffering of an oyster that a pearl comes forth. So maybe you’ve been through suffering and you’ve begun to question whether God really loves you. And you’ve begun to think, “Well, I’m not really worth much. I’m not important to God. There are other people who are important, but I’m not.” I want to tell you that is not true. You are important to God. So important to God that He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for you. You. Specifically you. Jesus sold all that He had. He left all the riches of glory in heaven, became a carpenter’s son, became a traveling preacher, and when He died on the cross He literally owned nothing! He was buried in a borrowed robe in a borrowed tomb. You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ Paul says, “That though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor. That you through His poverty might be rich.” Jesus sold all that He had. He gave up everything for you. I know that He purchased the treasure in the field. That’s God’s people as a company. But He also purchased the one pearl of great price which is you. You. You in your weaknesses, your failures, your lack of understanding, your frustrations, your loneliness, your fears, Jesus died for you.
I really believe—I’ve convinced myself of this—that if no one else would ever have got save, Jesus would have died for me. If there had never been anybody else, thank God there are millions of others, but I like to make His love individual. I like to make it personal. I like to say for me He died, for me He gave up His throne, for me He laid down His life, for me He suffered on the cross, and He was buried. And then for me He rose, He ascended, He’s at the Father’s right hand.
Now if you have a problem with self-worth, if you have a low sense of self-esteem, you don’t really feel that you matter very much to God or maybe to people—you may be lonely, you may be wondering how you ever got here—I want to tell you God brought you here. You have an appointment with God tonight. And I want you to think of yourself this way. I think of that merchant having bought the pearl, he’s holding it in the palm of his hand, and he’s looking down at it and he’s saying, “You’re beautiful. You’re the most beautiful I ever saw. You cost me everything I had, but you were worth it. You are so beautiful.” Now I want you to think that you, individually, are that pearl. You yourself. You’re there in the palm of the Lord’s hand and He’s looking down at you and saying, “You’re so beautiful. You cost me all I had, but I love you. I’m glad I died for you.”
Now I want to help you a little further because I know from dealing with people how common this problem of a low sense of self-esteem is. I want to suggest that if you have a problem with believing that you’re really valuable to God, that you stand to your feet here and I’m going to lead you in a specific prayer. You have a problem with self-esteem. Now don’t be afraid, don’t be ashamed. If you have that problem just now for a little while shut everything else out and see yourself as the one pearl in the palm of the hand of Jesus and remember the palm bears the scars of His sufferings. I want you to think Jesus is speaking to you and He’s saying, “You’re beautiful. You cost me all I had, but you’re worth it. I’m glad I gave my life for YOU.”
Can you perhaps say these words with that picture in your mind? Say these words after me.
“Lord Jesus, I thank you that you died for me. That you gave Yourself on the cross, a death of agony and shame to purchase me. And Lord I belong to you. I’m Yours forever. I know You will never leave me. You will never forsake me. I’m graven on the palm of your hand. I’m beautiful in Your eyes. More beautiful than all the worlds You created, because You set Your love on me. And because you love me, Lord, I love You. Receive my love tonight. I just give myself afresh to You tonight. I thank You I’m not unwanted. I’m not unworthy, I’m not a castoff, I’m not rejected. I’m accepted in the beloved, in You Lord Jesus. I’m accepted. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you again and again!!! for that wonderful love which You poured out on the cross. Thank you, Lord.”
Now those of you who have been standing, don’t sit down for a moment. I want you to find somebody near to you. You may never have met them before, but I want you to look them right in the face and say, “I’m not rejected, I’m not unwanted. I’m precious to the Lord.” Will you do that? Just turn around. Verbalize it. “I’m not rejected. I’m not unwanted. I’m precious to the Lord.”