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Summary: Our worth and value comes not in what we do or what others think of us, but by who we are in Christ Jesus.

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THE STORY IS TOLD ABOUT A WELL-KNOWN SPEAKER WHO STARTED OFF HIS SEMINAR BY HOLDING UP A $20.00 BILL. IN THE ROOM OF 200, HE ASKED, "WHO WOULD LIKE THIS $20 BILL?"

HANDS STARTED GOING UP. HE SAID, "I AM GOING TO GIVE THIS $20 TO ONE OF YOU BUT FIRST, LET ME DO THIS. HE PROCEEDED TO CRUMPLE UP THE $20 DOLLAR BILL. HE THEN ASKED, "WHO STILL WANTS IT?" STILL THE HANDS WERE UP IN THE AIR.

WELL, HE REPLIED, "WHAT IF I DO THIS?" AND HE DROPPED IT ON THE GROUND AND STARTED TO GRIND IT INTO THE FLOOR WITH HIS SHOE. HE PICKED IT UP, NOW CRUMPLED AND DIRTY. "NOW, WHO STILL WANTS IT?" STILL THE HANDS WENT INTO THE AIR.

MY FRIENDS, WE HAVE ALL LEARNED A VERY VALUABLE LESSON. NO MATTER WHAT I DID TO THE MONEY, YOU STILL WANTED IT BECAUSE IT DID NOT DECREASE IN VALUE. IT WAS STILL WORTH $20 IN YOUR HEARTS.

MANY TIMES IN OUR LIVES, WE ARE DROPPED, CRUMPLED, AND GROUND INTO THE DIRT BY THE DECISIONS WE MAKE AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT COME OUR WAY. WE FEEL AS THOUGH WE ARE WORTHLESS. BUT NO MATTER WHAT HAS HAPPENED OR WHAT WILL HAPPEN, YOU WILL NEVER LOSE YOUR VALUE.

DIRTY OR CLEAN, CRUMPLED OR FINELY CREASED, YOU ARE STILL A PRICELESS TREASURE TO THE GOD WHO CREATED YOU AND THE CHRIST WHO DIED FOR YOU.

THE WORTH OF OUR LIVES COMES NOT IN WHAT WE DO OR WHO WE KNOW, BUT BY WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST JESUS. SADLY, TOO MANY LET THAT FACT SLIP THEIR MINDS AND ALLOW THE WORLD TO BEAT THEM UP AND BRUISE THEM TIME AND TIME AGAIN.

HOW MANY OF US HAVE FOUND OURSELVES BEING HAUNTED BY THOUGHTS OF DISTURBING CHOICES WE’VE MADE IN THE PAST? ARE OUR MINDS FILLED WITH IMAGES OF PAST DECISIONS THAT JUST DON’T SEEM TO GO AWAY? HAVE WE ALLOWED OUR LIVES TO BECOME FILLED WITH ONE REGRET AFTER ANOTHER?

THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT IN REGARDS TO ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS IS NOT IN HOW WE ANSWERED THEM, BUT KNOWING THE ONE IN WHOM TAKES CARE OF THOSE ANSWERS SO THAT THEIR QUESTIONS DON’T HAVE TO BE ASKED EVER AGAIN.

WE NO LONGER HAVE TO PLAY THE GUILT-RIDDEN, BLAME-GAME. WE NO LONGER HAVE TO PRETEND TO BE THE "VICTIM" IN ORDER TO GET PEOPLE TO FEEL SORRY FOR US. WE NO LONGER HAVE TO INTERNALIZE OUR PAIN AND SUFFER ALL ALONE.

BECAUSE OF THE "OUTRAGEOUS" LOVE OF CHRIST, WE CAN LEARN ANOTHER REALM OF HIS PASSION TO DISCOVER ALL ABOUT HIS RADICAL FORGIVENESS THAT FORGIVES ALL OUR SINS.

IT IS A COMPLETE FORGIVENESS THAT ALLOWS US TO STEP FORWARD AND TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR ACTIONS IN ORDER TO BE RELEASED INTO THE NEW REALM OF FREEDOM WE’VE ALWAYS LONGED TO EXPERIENCE.

IT OFFERS US THE OPPORTUNITY TO REALIZE THAT WE ARE NOT IMMUNE TO THE SINS OF THIS WORLD. IT HELPS US REALIZE THAT EVERY ONE OF US MUST SAY, "I HAVE SINNED." REGARDLESS OF WHAT IT MAY BE IN MY RELATIONSHIPS, ACTIONS, AND THOUGHTS, I MUST ACCEPT THAT ROMANS 3:23, SAYS THAT "ALL HAVE SINNED AND FALL SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD."

WE ALL FALL SHORT. WE NEED TO ACCEPT THAT FACT AND REALIZE THAT WE ARE FALLIBLE. WE NO LONGER HIDE BEHIND THE FACES OF DENIAL OR VICTIMIZATION. WE MUST BEGIN BY SQUARELY FACING OURSELVES AND ADMITTING THAT BECAUSE OF SIN, OUR SEPARATION FROM GOD WILL EXIST UNTIL WE DEAL WITH THE SINS THAT STAND IN BETWEEN US.

ALL THROUGH THE BIBLE WE SEE THIS BEAUTIFUL CYCLE OF SIN, ADMITTANCE, CONFESSION, FORGIVENESS, AND RESTORATION. MANY NAMES THROUGHOUT THE BIBLE ENSURE US THAT WE ARE NOT ALONE IN OUR STRUGGLE WITH SIN.

FOR EXAMPLE, RIGHT IN THE BEGINNING, ADAM AND EVE REBELLED AGAINST GOD IN DISOBEDIENCE BY EATING THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT. MOSES HAD TO OVERCOME ANGER, A HOT TEMPER, AND A PHYSICAL HANDICAP. KING SAUL FOUGHT DEPRESSION, JEALOUSY, AND AN IMPATIENT HEART.

KING DAVID HAD TO DEAL WITH LUST, ADULTERY, AND MURDER AND WAYWARD CHILDREN. JONAH HAD TO WRESTLE WITH HIS PREJUDICE AND HATRED. MATTHEW HAD TO OVERCOME HIS PAST ACTS OF TREASON WORKING AS A TAX COLLECTOR FOR THE ROMANS. PETER HAD DEEP ISSUES OF NOT ONLY DEALING WITH DENYING JESUS THREE TIMES, BUT WITH COMING UP SHORT FROM MAKING A LOT OF PROMISES HE NEVER DID FULFILL.

THEN, LAST, BUT NOT LEAST, THERE WAS PAUL. I AM SURE HE WRANGLED DEEP WITHIN HIS HEART OVER BEING A MURDERER FOR HIRE. I AM SURE HE STRUGGLED WITH THOUGHTS OF BEING LESS THAN PERFECT AS SEEN IN ACTS 15:36-41, WHERE HIS BITTER AND SHARP ARGUMENT WITH BARNABAS LED TO THE TWO MINISTERS PARTING TO GO THEIR SEPARATE WAYS.

THE POINT I’M TRYING TO MAKE IS THAT THERE WILL BE SITUATIONS IN LIFE THAT WILL TEST OUR HUMANNESS AND TEMPT US TO BE LESS THAN WHAT GOD INTENDED US TO BE. IN OTHER WORDS, THERE WILL BE TIMES THAT WE PROVE THAT WE ARE SINFUL HUMAN BEINGS.

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