Barney’s BEST Message

God is the best, He knows best, and clearly He wants the best for us and the best from us. I think, throughout the
Bible He’s saying, “I want to give you my best… I have your best in mind… Be your best at reflecting my glory… Do
your best at following my will for your lives…”

OK, so now you know the ruse. I called this “Barney’s BEST Message” because it’s a message on what’s BEST!
Sorry if you were expecting some incredible homily on a spiritually deep topic. I just wanted your attention so I could
exhort you to be the very BEST person doing your BEST to serve and worship the BEST of the universe!  

I recently saw the connection between several biblical passages, each of which I’ve been a long-time fan. As I did, I
became convinced that God has a BEST for each of us, and He’s willing to point us toward it and empower us to do
it. Take a few minutes and read on – will you?


HIS BEST (God’s best to me)
"But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals
on his feet. Luke 15:22
Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but
you have saved the best till now. John 2:10

The Luke passage comes from Jesus’ famous Prodigal Son parable. When the wandering son finally had spent his
last and decided to come home, he found the father waiting with open arms. Among the five things the father gave
the son was a robe, but not just “a” robe – “the best robe.”  The son was undoubtedly clothed in filthy rags (just like
we all are before God) and needed his failures to be covered. The father ordered the “best robe” for the job – just
like the Heavenly Father covers our sin and imputes Christ’s perfect righteousness to our account. “He made Him
who had no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Remember that Jesus is the Best that God had to offer. He’s not just a lamb, He’s the Spotless Lamb…the lamb
without blemish or defect… He’s the BEST lamb God had to give!

The John passage is from the account of Jesus’ first public miracle, turning the water to wine. The master of the
wedding banquet gratefully acknowledged that Jesus (even though at the time he didn’t know who had brought the
wine) gave the “best wine” to the guests. Jesus didn’t just make wine, He made the best wine of the day! However
He did it, and for whatever reason, He made the BEST!

The “best robe” speaks of our perfect legal standing before God in Christ’s righteousness. It doesn’t get any better
than that - His standing with God given to us. That’s the best that can be found! My definition of justification is – God’
s righteous way of righteousing the unrighteous with His righteousness! That’s the BEST!

The “best wine” speaks to us of life from God,  provision from God, celebration with God, the perfect joy of God for
those who choose to “party” with Him! There’s no better joy than that. “My peace I leave with you – not as the world
gives, give I to you.”  

He sets a precedent. He gives the best robe and the best wine - not a good robe and adequate wine! It’s not just a
robe and some wine… It’s the BEST!

Jumping ahead to the theme of me doing my best...
  • If I know I’ve got the best robe that God has to offer, I’m inspired to want to live up to it. I’m not earning it, I’m
    embracing it. And embracing God’s embrace of me (the best robe and wine) is key for me to be living my
    BEST!

  • If I know I have His best, how can I give any less than my best!

  • I find that I’m not so tempted to seek something “better” if I know I’ve already got the best God has to offer.

  • I don’t tend to long for the embrace of others while I’m embracing God’s embrace of me.

·        While I’m drinking His best wine, I’m not thirsting for inferior brands. If I’ve got the BEST, why look for
something (supposedly) better?!


WHAT’S BEST (God’s best for me)
I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 48:
17
If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by
the sword.”  For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. Isaiah 1:19

Please know that there is a good and a bad… a best and a worst… God has the right to be the One, “who teaches
you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”  

There is a way you should go. And when you go that way, you’ll be convinced that it’s the BEST way. That’s the way
God made for you and you for it.  What brings Him His greatest pleasure is BEST also for you, and inevitably brings
you your greatest pleasure. Put another way - Our highest pleasure is the pleasure of pleasing Him!

·        Many Christians seem content with the bad because it’s not the worst! They look at others around them and
feel OK about themselves because they are at least looking better than someone else. “I thank you, Lord that I’m not
like that publican…”

·        Some are content with the good, even though it’s not the BEST! They’re doing fine, they’re being good, they’re
adequate in every way, mediocre to the core. They’re not doing a bunch of “bad” things, but on the other hand, they’
re not living the BEST way God intended for them!

I’m sure we’d all agree that sin is bad. Doing things that God doesn’t want us doing is wrong, it’s evil, it’s bad. Right?
But not only is sin BAD, it’s bad for us! Putting turpentine in your car’s gas tank is bad (and dumb!), and bad for your
car.

In other words, sin will make you sick (in one way or another), in the same way that eating Twinkies three meals a
day will make you sick. And sometimes we only get sick OF sin after we’ve gotten sick FROM it! Below are some
passages (all from the prophet Jeremiah) which warn us of how sin harms us.

·        … if you do not follow other gods to your own harm,
·        … are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?
·        … your sins have deprived you of good.
·        …and you have provoked me with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves.
Jeremiah 7:6, 19; 5:25; 25:7

Isn’t that interesting in light of one of Jeremiah’s most well-known verse? “For 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.”  Jeremiah 29:11

God seems to be doing all He can to dissuade us from sinning because He wants to help us rather than see us
harmed. He’s not trying to harm us, He’s trying to help us receive, rejoice in, and reflect His BEST!

Once I begin embracing God’s best TO me and accepting His best FOR me, I’m prepared (at least more prepared)
to give MY BEST for Him.


MY BEST (My best for God)
…you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, Philippians 1:10
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who
correctly handles the word of truth. 2Timothy 2.15

I’ve always been really challenged by these two passages. Both are exhortations from the Apostle Paul, both written
in a Roman prison. Rather than being frantic with concern about himself, Paul wants those he loves to “know” what’s
best and “do” their best.

Do you ever struggle with knowing what’s BEST? Do you think you can know what’s best? You must be able to (with
God’s help), otherwise Paul wouldn’t have been praying that they (we) would be able to. One of the reasons we don’t
do what’s best is that we don’t know it to do it. Paul says we need “discernment” about the BEST. Of course we get
discernment from the leading of the Holy Spirit and light He sheds on His Word. Bottom-line – we can know what’s
BEST if we listen carefully to the One Who is happy to show it to us.

In the second passage, Paul says, “Do your best…”. The context is about being sure that we do our best to know
God’s Word and to correctly interpret it, so that we may integrate it into our daily lives. But basically, Paul is telling us
in no uncertain terms – “Do your BEST!”

Can you honestly say that you are doing your best right now in your life? What would it look like if you were (or
weren't?)

When I was a pre-christian, confronted with the truth about Jesus, I was in a state of deciding between Jesus or no
Jesus. On August 20th, 1972 I settled that decision and said “Yes” to Him. And then my paradigm changed and I
began deciding between the bad stuff I had been doing and the good stuff that God wanted me to begin doing. After
I matured a bit in the Lord it seemed that the decisions became more about stuff that is essentially OK (amoral) and
stuff that it actually good (Kingdom stuff). Of course each of these modes continue daily for me, but fundamentally the
decision continued to change to between what is good and what is BEST! It’s true that I still fall into doing just the
good, and often what is OK, and sometimes what is outright bad. But deep inside I don’t want to do the bad, the OK,
or even just the good. I want to be and do the BEST! And it’s rooted in what we’ve said before. God gave His BEST,
how can I be content with offering Him anything less my BEST!

We talk about someone giving “his best years” to a marriage or a job or whatever.  Which are those “best years”? I
personally think they can be the ones you are in right now! These have the potential to be your best years! Whether
you’re young or old, rich or poor, these years can be the best because they’re the ones you have at your disposal
right now! You can’t go back to years already lived. You can’t leap ahead and live years not yet here. But these can
be your best years! The key is to give God your best during these years and they will undoubtedly be your best years
(until the next years, where you give your best to God again!).

If you’re young, don’t wait till you’re old to give your best to God. You may think, “When I get older I’ll give my best. I’ll
do my best when I have done all I want to in my youth.”  What are you going to have then in your old age that you don’t
have now in your youth? Wrinkles! Do you go to the grocery store, buy fruit, put it in your kitchen for three months until
it’s all wrinkled and spoiled, and then go next door and offer it to your neighbor? Give all you’ve got to the God Who
gave you all He’s got! And do it now! Give your BEST to Him now!

If you’re older (at least older than younger) do you feel that you already gave your BEST when you were younger? Is
your best all used up? Are you thinking that you can retire spiritually now that you’ve paid your dues in your youth?
Granted, how your BEST is expressed in one season of your life might well be quite different from how it was
expressed in another season. How you gave your BEST, and what your BEST looked like at 25 years old, will
probably be very different from your BEST looks like at 50 years old or beyond. But we have no excuse to give less
than our absolute BEST – the best that we have in our power to give to God right now!

By the way, I’m not talking about being the BEST in the crowd, better than other people. This isn’t a competition. It’s
not about being better than someone else. It’s about being your best - doing your best for the One Who invested His
best in you.

Young or old, too many Christians are offering to God their leftovers. They’re content with getting by instead of giving
their best. Aren’t you glad that Jesus wasn’t so easily satisfied? He came all the way (to earth) and went all the way
(to the cross), giving His best for me. How can I do anything less?

He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised
again.  2 Corinthians 5:15

Don’t think of offering your best as a cost, a “price” you pay as a Christian. Think of it as an “investment.” Don’t
“spend” your life, but “invest” it in the Kingdom of God. Invest your best in God’s best plans and ideas for you. Give
all of yourself all the time for the rest of your life. God has invested His BEST into you, invest it back with Him and
see -  just see - what He will do with it!

Gratefully wear that best robe, joyfully drink that best wine, listen when He teaches you what is best, eat from the best
of the land, discern what His best is for you, and do your best everyday to be your best for Him!
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