Discovering a Treasure

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S (Scripture): Matthew 13:44 Jesus said to the disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that somebody hid in a field, which someone else found and covered up. Full of joy, the finder sold everything and bought that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. 46 When he found one very precious pearl, he went and sold all that he owned and bought it.”

O (Observation): Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven like a treasure and as a pearl of great value for which people will sacrifice much. Ultimately, it is not about the treasure, the pearl, or those who search. This parable is about the joy of the kingdom of heaven. These are parables intended to motivate people to seek the kingdom of heaven and discover joy.

“Jesus seems to be talking about the hidden holiness lurking about in the mundane monotony of our daily lives.” (That’s a quote from my friend and colleague Delmer Chilton, found here.)

In the seeking, one may not necessarily know what one will come upon. But when the treasure / pearl is found that discoverer will give everything to obtain that treasure.

Much the same for the pearl…this treasure brings joy and yet costs much.

A (Application): In today’s world of facts and alternative facts, how is one to discern truth or knowledge? So much is hidden in the stories we hear and the textbooks we use to educate our young folks.

My hope is that we keep on attempting to unveil the places where the Kingdom has come to earth. I hope we keep on sharing stories and digging into our own stories and the stories of those around us…that we might discover where the Kingdom has already been planted, or hidden, or is taking root and bearing fruit!

This means we constantly have our “Kingdom antennae” raised : )

We remain vigilant in keeping the main thing the main thing: living the life of a forgiven sinner, like a beggar telling other beggars where to find some bread, narrowing our focus to the one thing that matters…that the treasure is here for all of us.

When is the last time you discovered this treasure / pearl? What did that look like for you? How were you able to see this as God’s blessing? What did you have to let go of in order to be able to pick up this treasure?

P (Prayer): Lord, give us willing hearts to let go of what we don’t need, so that we can pick up this priceless treasure you have hidden for all of us to discover. Amen.

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Treasures in Heaven

S (Scripture): Luke 12:32 [Jesus says] “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide yourselves purses that do not wear out – a treasure in heaven that never decreases, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

O (Observation):  Jesus is wrapping up a conversation about how greed and earthly possessions can distract them from living out the Kingdom ethics that Jesus encourages.  

Loving others; serving others; standing with the marginalized and poor.  These actions are the ethics of love lived out.  

Jesus reminds the disciples that while the people of the world are busy looking out for themselves, the disciples are called to live for others.   In doing so, one stores up treasures in heaven.  

A (Application):  Tomorrow, I and several other members of our congregation will be heading to work on a Habitat for Humanity build.   We will be serving someone else – a family that is working hard and putting in sweat equity and lots of classroom training on budgeting and life skills.  We will be working and sweating, even though we could be sleeping in or playing golf or going out to eat a nice big breakfast.  

I say this not for self-aggrandizement, but to point out what Jesus was talking about:  storing up treasures in heaven.  The pleasure of sleeping in or playing golf or going out to eat will fade away.   But the joy of serving someone else is everlasting.  And it may seem a tall order, but God guides us when we serve.  

In the end, putting in time to help someone else, is a treasure stored in heaven.  No one can take that away from us.  Ever.  

What a joy it is to serve others.   Every time I step away from something like this Habitat build, I wonder…why don’t I do this more often?  <ouch>

P (Prayer):  Lord, our spirit is willing, but our flesh is so weak.   Remind us of the joy of storing up treasures in heaven.  Amen!!!

To overdo…or Not to Overdo

  

S (Scripture): Psalm 119:161 Rulers pursue me for no reason, yet I am more afraid of disobeying your instructions.

O (Observation): The psalmist has a healthy fear of the Lord.  The psalmist conveys a sense that displeasing the Lord would be worse than displeasing people of power in this world.  

A (Application):  I think this is where my sense of conviction comes into play.   I would much rather displease the powers and principalities of this world than The Lord.   And moreover, this tells me that the Lord is more powerful and just than the rulers and powers of this world.  

This approach has a very practical impact on my daily life. My kids aren’t overdoing it in terms of activities.   They have chores and learn to save, spend, give with the money they earn from chores.  Being a good steward is a key value for us, and we try to live that out.  This also means that we don’t just spoil our kids, even though the trend is to have the latest phone or video game system, etc.   

For my wife and I…we put purchasing a new HVAC system on hold until we save a chunk of change large enough to pay for a new one with cash.  The world says we should put it on credit…but window AC units and (safe) space heaters do wonders : )

Our time, talent, and treasures are granted to us by God.   That is the Good News!   We have gifts and ministries to share.   Let’s use them for God’s glory, and not just for the world’s approval.  
When we focus on the world’s approval, we tend to be disappointed.   When we focus on what God calls us into, we receive grace upon grace.  

What “rulers” are you bumping up against today?  Are they financial bullies?   Emotional?  Spiritual?

P (Prayer): Lord, challenges lie all around us.  Keep us steadfast in your ways, which bring life and abundance. Amen.