Saturday, July 19, 2014

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure...

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." Matthew 13:44

In today's verse, Jesus uses the illustration of treasure, hidden in a field.

He speaks about a man finding this treasure, and hiding it.

Then the man goes and sells all that he has, in order to possess the field, so that the treasure can be his.

Some questions come to mind:

In the story, what does the treasure represent?

Why does he find it, then hide it?

Why does the man experience joy over it?

What does Jesus mean by saying "he sells all that he has"?

Something of importance is being taught by Jesus in this story. I leave you to think about these questions, as they relate to the kingdom of heaven.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I shall come forth as gold

"But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10

Job makes another triumphant declaration (a previous one is found in 19:25, 26) in today's verse. It comes in two parts:

He knows ... When you are overwhelmed, remember, He knows. All the details of your life are open to God, who sees everything. He knows the path on which you walk; he knows what you are going through right now. God knows, and all is well.

When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold ... Does it feel to you like the fiery trials of this life are burning you up? That the test is more than the strength to endure it? Gold comes out of the furnace purified; and that's how Job sees himself, coming forth (emerging from the experience) pure as gold.

May God's amazing grace surround you, and may His strength fortify you to say, as did Job, "I shall come forth from this experience, like gold."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I will restore to you the years

"So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you." Joel 2:25

This verse speaks of restoration.

God's people, in Joel's day, had turned away from serving Him. Other attractions had filled their lives. God punished them for their unfaithfulness, just like He had said He would, if they continued on their wayward course. Their crops failed, the rivers dried up, the cattle and sheep had no grazing. Then the locusts moved in - God's great army. They came in swarms and consumed everything that was left, leaving desolation in their wake.

Finally God allowed another army, that of a neighboring nation, to conquer and carry His people away, captives of a foreign king.

Today's verse tells of God restoring to His people all they had lost, provided they return to Him and serve Him with all their hearts. God kept His side of the bargain.

The lesson is timeless: if you are experiencing the desolation caused by the locusts that have eaten "every green thing" in your life, His message is: "Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning." (Joel 2:12) And when you do, you will experience restoration. God is so patient with all of us - is this Amazing Grace, or what?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

But he cried out all the more

Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Luke 18:39

Our verse comes from the story of a blind beggar, who lived near Jericho, and sat by the roadside begging. You can read the story in verses 35 – 43. In Mark's gospel, the blind man is identified as Bartimaeus (see Mark 10:46). He really had no name; just 'son of Timaeus'.

Blind Bart, the beggar, heard a crowd passing by one day, and asked what was going on. He was told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And so he cried out, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.' The crowd tried to silence him, but he paid them no heed. He just cried out more urgently for Jesus to help him.

Then Jesus stops. Can you see the dust from the moving crowd swirling around hundreds of feet and robed bodies? Jesus calls for the blind man to be brought to Him. He gives the crowd a task to do – those who, seconds earlier, have tried to silence the beggar. They bring the blind man to Jesus. Can you smell the stench of his tattered clothes and unwashed body?

But He, who was born in a stable, who had grown up in poverty, does not shrink from touching the poor and helpless. Jesus asks, 'What do you want Me to do for you?' Bartimaeus replies, 'Lord, that I may be able to see'. Jesus touches his eyes (see Matthew's account of the story) and immediately he can see. What must it have been like? – the first he saw was the face of his Healer. No wonder he followed Jesus, praising God!

Maybe you feel today like you're a nobody – like you've been sitting in the dark for a long time, and that the passing crowd tries to silence your cries for help. Like Bart, just 'cry out the more'. Be persistent, and your cry will be heard. Take courage - Jesus is listening for the cry of His child for help!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Reaching the Goal

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3: 13, 14

Paul is talking about arriving at a goal. The goal is to be like Jesus; to have a righteousness that comes through faith in Christ and to do the work He called him to do.

There were things in Paul's past that he is eager to forget. The past cannot be recalled, to be lived a second time - we have to move on, living in the present, and looking to the future.

We can identify with Paul – not many of us have yet arrived at the goal he mentions. The race is ongoing, and we are runners in the race – so we press on.

What is the heavenward call of God? Could it be that God is challenging us to go higher – to reach for the stars and live a life that's more like that of the perfect model, Jesus?

Success, if attained, is not a platform to stop at – it's merely a place to pause before we move on to attain the next goal. Many people have set goals, reached them and stagnated, because they never set another goal.

What goal have you set for yourself?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jesus came to seek and to save ...

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."  John 3:17 

Most of us can recite John 3:16, which tells of God's incredible love for the people of Earth and the gift of His Son, but verse 17 offers a large measure of hope also. Jesus didn't come to this earth to condemn people – God sent His Son on a mission - to seek and save.  

What a blessing it is to know that we don't have to feel guilty when we make mistakes - Jesus is there for us! He has offered to forgive us if we confess our sins – He is eager to help us in every need. Stay in contact with him through prayer. 

May you go into this day, knowing that you have a Friend who won't abandon you, and confident of Jesus' love and care for you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

God is with you, wherever you go

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Joshua is the new leader. Moses has died, and he and the people with him have finally reached the Promised Land after a forty-year journey from Egyptian bondage.

God speaks directly (audibly) to Joshua. He asks him, "Have I not been your Commander?" Then God tells him, as the leader, to be strong and courageous. It is interesting to note that, in chapter one of Joshua, God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous four times! Maybe Joshua doubted his leadership ability. Maybe he was afraid of what lay ahead.

As Joshua thinks about this question, and God's instruction, he realizes that he and the thousands with him have been led by the hand of God in the past, and they can now confidently walk the road ahead.

Today's verse is helpful to you, as you think about the past, live in the present and look to the future. You might be facing health challenges, financial problems, work-related issues, family difficulties, friendship concerns – or any other villain that attacks your mind.

Don't be afraid of the issues you face, nor of the unknown - and don't be discouraged, because God is on your side to help you – wherever you go!