Hidden Treasure

Todays reading: Matthew 13:44, Psalm 108

”The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”  Matthew 13:44 NIV

Last night I discussed this parable with my family. We were all a little unsure of the meaning. We were thinking the guy stole something that wasn’t his and took credit for it! That doesn’t seem right! Yes…..on first reading that’s the initial feeling. But in remembering the purpose of the parables we knew there was deeper meaning. I found my BSF notes from a 2007 study on the book of Matthew to help gain some insight. They noted that the people of that time often buried their “treasures” in the ground to keep them safe. According to Jewish law, if someone found buried treasure it belonged to them. The man in this parable found hidden treasure that became his once he found it. He was so excited about his “find” that he promptly buried it again so he could sell everything else in order to buy up the land and get the treasure too. He was all in. He knew what he found was special. Nothing else mattered anymore except holding on to that treasure. He got rid of his old life because the treasure he found was better than anything he had before.

The treasure is Jesus Christ.

Am I so excited about Jesus that I‘m willing to sell all I have? Am I willing to completely redirect my life for the treasure of heaven instead of the treasures of this world? Do I really believe the kingdom of heaven is better than the things I’m trying get in this life?

Luke 14:33 “In the same way, anyone of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”. NIV

Matthew 16:25-26 “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” NIV

Psalm 108:4-5 “For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.” NIV

 

 

Wise builder

Today’s reading is from Matthew 7:24-27, Luke 6:47-49, and Psalm 96

Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because it’s foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”

Growing up I learned about God as my foundation in Sunday school. Thankfully my parents started this for me at a young age. It wasn’t until I had my own storms that I really understood the strength and importance of God as my rock and foundation. There are a handful of moments that I can recall very quickly where I was clinging to my sure foundation for peace in the midst of my storm. When I failed a major class in college, when I became a mother, and when my son was diagnosed as “not typical”. These moments all made me shrivel back in fear and question my abilities, my worth, my significance. Initially I recall trying to reconcile these situations on my own. Study harder, be better, research more. But when these methods still left me feeling empty and exhausted I finally sat quietly with God…..my foundation…..and the peace of God replaced my fear. My perspective changed from the difficulty of the moment to Gods eternal perspective. I began to see the blessing in the trial and I started to grow in faith, love, and grace. My view of the world is much better when I’m sitting on the foundation of who I am in Christ. There is nothing that can change the fact that God loves me and sent His son to die on the cross for my sins. I am His and this life is a gift. I may lose a few shingles here and there but my foundation will not be shaken.

Are you sure of your foundation? In both Matthew and Luke it says that the destruction “is great” to those who do not build their foundation on the rock. The good news is that you don’t have to build it yourself. God already did. Just accept it and build your house on it. Storms will come……you may need to replace a few shingles, shattered windows, or creaky doors but God’s foundation is strong and peaceful.

 

Pigs and Pearls

Todays reading is from Matthew 7:6 and Psalm 84.

“Don’t give what is Holy to unholy people. Don’t give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you” Matthew 7:6

Ive always struggled with this verse. It seems to me the unholy people are exactly who I should be sharing the good news with at any opportunity. Don’t they deserve to hear about Jesus too?

The people of that time understood when Jesus spoke of swine. They were “unclean” animals according to Jewish law. He says not to give pearls, a very precious item, to them because they will never wear them as they were intended to be worn. They wouldn’t even know what they were or that they had any significance at all. Their uncleaness would overpower the pearls. And the pearls would be lost on them.

Jesus wants us to share all the things He has done in our lives and the good news of the Gospel to everyone, but when we see “swine” in our midst it’s time to be discerning. The swine in our lives are the people who like to argue us out of our faith and trample on our sacred ground. They won’t be won to Christ with our holy words or knowledge of the Bible. They will trample the “pearls” with another comment or remark. Only the Holy Spirit can change a heart. Not our continuous arguing.

When discussions get heated over Jesus, theology, or whether or not the Bible is the inspired word of God……we are throwing pearls to swine. They will not understand Holy things and they will use your words to continue the argument. Step back. Save your pearls for someone who wants to hear and know more about their significance. Pray for the swine and show Gods love in actions.

Our Father

Today’s  reading is from Matthew 6:9 and Psalm 72

I remember saying the Lord’s prayer in church as a child. We stood in the big sanctuary with stained glass windows and recited the prayer together. Everyone joined in the low monotone mumbling of the verses as we became one voice. I memorized it at a young age from being in church and listening. It didn’t mean anything to me at the time. I was proud for knowing the words until I realized there were different versions with different words and then the confusion set in.  I was suddenly not able to join in the beautiful monotone for fear I might mess up the cadence with a 3 syllable word instead of a 2 syllable one. The opportunity to recite this prayer has been less often but when it does arise I try to assess the crowd for what version I should use. I’ll admit I’m never right and end up mumbling through most of it. I asked my 13 year old son if he knows the Lord’s Prayer and he admitted he couldn’t recite it but he knew it was when Jesus taught people how to pray. He probably has a better understanding then I did at his age as I was just memorizing words. These past few days I spent time with the first 9 words of this prayer. It’s just the introduction to the prayer but it sets the tone and prepares our hearts for time with God.

Our Father……..addressing to whom our prayer is directed. The word ” Father ” expresses an intimate relationship that is not reserved for holidays and Sunday’s. We are His children and He knows us and loves us as a Father does. He is ours and we are His.

In heaven…….. He is not of this world. His ways are not our ways. His plans are perfect. I am in awe of His position and that I am able to pray and be heard by the creator of the universe through Jesus Christ.

May your name be honored……He is worthy of honor and praise. In all that I do, say, and think. How am I honoring God today?

I’m convicted to be more thoughtful about WHO I’m praying to and to spend more time honoring His name. I often skip the reverence part and get right to the asking or complaining. In doing this I’m forgetting how big and awesome He is. I have found a peace when I sit in reverence of who God is and it changes my heart.  There is a time for asking but it comes after acknowledging Him as our Father in heaven.  As we spend the next few days going through the Lord’s Prayer, spend time with each phrase. He reveals Himself through His word when we listen. Go slow and let the words rest on your heart throughout the day.

 

 

Christ Came to Fulfill

The readings this morning are Matthew 5:17-20 and Psalm 60

“Christ Came to Fulfill the Law”

In this short passage, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that he is not here to abolish the law…but to fulfill them. They are here to stay! I think seeing the definition of “fulfill” makes it clear of what Jesus is saying.

ful·fill
fo͝olˈfil/
verb
1. Bring to completion or reality; achieve or realize (something desired, promised, or predicted).

2. Carry out (a task, duty, or role) as required, pledged, or expected.
When I look at the definition, the words really jump out as to the purpose of the Old Testament laws and how they pointed to Jesus: desired, promised, predicted, required, pledged, and expected. All six of these words, combined, provide a great indicator…Jesus was to be all of these things.

Jesus also made it clear that just because he had arrived to fulfill the laws, that they were not to be taken any more lightly: “Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Not mixing words! Personally, I think it goes along with a phrase I heard from the great philosopher Gary York one Sunday morning: “Action follows faith.” If you have faith in Jesus…and that you believe He is Who He says He is…your actions will be in alignment with the laws. In John 14:6-7, Jesus tells us: “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Who can you introduce Jesus to today? He is the only way. Have a blessed day!

Today’s reading is from 2 Samuel 16 and Psalm 48

This has been a stressful week. I’m weary. Some of my weariness is a direct result of my own poor decisions and other things have been out of my control.  As I read this passage in 2 Samuel I sense a weariness in David. He’s tired of running from his  son Absalom. Tired of hearing stories of people turning on him. Ziba stops him on the road with news that Mephibosheth has plans to get his grandfather Sauls kingdom back. Mephibosheth! He was the one David took in and cared for after Sauls death. How disheartening it must have been to hear this news. Then he has to endure Shimei’s insults and rock throwing for a thing that he didn’t do. Harsh criticism from someone without all the facts. David knew this and because of it he didn’t fight back. He says in verses 11-12, “My own son is trying to kill me. Shouldn’t this relative of Saul have even more reason to do so? Leave him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to do it. And perhaps the Lord will see that I’m being wronged and will bless me because of these curses”. Weary,  but faithfully moving forward. Praying for a blessing.

Then in verses 15-23, Ahithophel told Absalom to sleep with all David’s concubines while he was away. This fulfilled the prophecy from Nathan that another man would sleep with his wives.

I would say this is a low point for David. Some of it because of his sin and some out of his control. And while enduring the rocks and cursing he prayed God would bless him through it. He quietly endured.

Are you weary and beaten down by sin or circumstances out of your control? Are there rocks being thrown at you in the form of stress, illness, financial strain, marital difficulties? Perhaps your job hangs in the balance of something out of your control. It’s ok to be weary. But don’t lose heart. Go to the source of peace and truth ….. Jesus. Matthew 28:11-30 “Come to me, all who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yolk upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yolk fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”

Shelly

 

And that’s what you get for trying….

2 Samuel 4, Psalms 36

I know that I can take for granted the amount and timeliness of information we have available to us today…as compared to back when King David lived.  In 2 Samuel 4, two guys thought they were doing this great thing by taking King David the head of Saul’s son.  When, in fact, they were doing the opposite of what King David wanted.  I’m sure these two guys would have loved to have that information.  Instead of an incredible reward that I’m sure they were expecting, King David has their hands and feet cut off and then hung beside the pool of Hebron.

The main thing that I take away from this is:  “You better be sure, before taking permanent action.”  These two guys “thought” they were doing the right thing, in taking the “permanent action” of taking another’s life.  Because they didn’t make certain, it ultimately cost them severe pain and death…and the death of an innocent person.

Even if it was something that King David would have been OK with, was it the right or duty of these two guys to kill Saul’s son.  In this modern day, while we won’t literally take the life of others, we can “kill” others with words.  While they may not physically die, it can cause a lot of pain and misery.  Is it your right or duty to spread information that may or may not be true.  What could be the end result of your actions?  Do others and yourself a favor, only spread the “good news” of and to others.  I know that I am much better off when I take that smarter path.  May God bless you and yours today!

Inquire of the Lord

Today’s reading is from 1 Samuel 23 and Psalm 24

Throughout this chapter of 1 Samuel 23, David is “inquiring of the Lord”. Five different times, David stops to ask God what to do next, and God answered. He cared for David in the midst of his inquiry by bringing guidance and encouragement from trusted people. Abiathar the priest and Jonathon his friend were there to encourage him and confirm he was doing the thing God asked of him.  Saul was not spending time inquiring of the Lord. He was on the hunt to kill David. If he had stopped to consider Gods will he would have had to lay aside his jealousy, anger, and bitterness. He was so far from God that he actually believed that David had been delivered into his hands. How deceived we can become when we stop inquiring of the Lord and start following our own desires. We become angry, mean, jealous, anxious, scared, isolated and bitter………just like Saul.

Do you feel “hunted” by a Saul sized problem? Are you inquiring of the Lord or trying to manage things on your own?  As you seek Gods guidance, look for the Jonathons and Abiathar’s God has placed in your life to encourage and spur you on. Or perhaps God has given you the opportunity to be the encourager.

1 Samuel 11 / Psalm 12

1 Samuel 11 / Psalm 12– “OK, so my choices are you kill us now…or each of us has our right eye gouged out to be disgraced the rest of our lives. Say, could we have seven days to see if someone will help us first?” King Nahash of Ammon: “OK”.

In our world today, we can’t imagine what it would be like to be given those two choices. Then, once you’re in that position, it’s not like you can pick up your cell phone and call the police or the pentagon. It amazes me that they thought of asking for seven days. It amazes me even more that King Nahash allowed it. My study Bible addresses that issue saying that King Nahash probably thought there was no way an army could be assembled in that period of time…and it would allow him to take the city without a fight. It is amazing how God used Saul to spread the word and the “invitation card” (cut up pieces of oxen) that Saul used to assemble his army.

Toward the end of this chapter, the men of Jabesh tell King Nahash that they’ll be out later and “you can do to us as you wish”. However, the morning before they are to arrive, Saul does a sneak attack and slaughters the Ammonites. All of this violence and nastiness…then the final sentence of the chapter: “Then they offered peace offerings to the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites were very happy.”

Through God, anything is possible. How can He help you overcome your King Nahash today?

Mike Thomas

Second Chances

Today’s reading: Jonah 3, Proverbs 27

The God of second chances.  This third chapter of Jonah is the epitome of the second chance. God tells Jonah (for a second time) to “get up and go to the great city of Ninevah, and deliver the message of judgement I have given you”. Jonah was still feeling like he didn’t want to, but after witnessing the power of God through the storm and the giant fish he couldn’t attempt another trip to Tarshish. The second chance was not to fulfill Jonah’s plan. It was the chance for God to fulfill His plan through Jonah.  Again, Jonah had the choice. In his mind the people of Ninevah didn’t deserve God after all their violence and evil. But God, in his mercy and grace had plans for Ninevah beyond what Jonah could comprehend. God asking the same request of Jonah a second time is so powerful. He didn’t give up on Jonah. He pursued Him with a storm and a giant fish until he realized the power he was running away from. Jonah finally submitted to the authority of the Almighty God.  He didn’t understand but he said “yes”. And because of his submission to a plan he didn’t understand, the people of Ninevah repented. They didn’t just say they were sorry, they expressed their repentance by turning from their evil ways immediately. Submission. They got a second chance too.

Do you have a Ninevah you are running from? Is God pursuing you with obstacles and struggle as you run towards Tarshish? Stop running. Rest, pray, submit. God will give a second chance to His people. And His plan is always bigger and better than ours.

Thank you Father for the gift of forgiveness and second chances.

Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend”