- From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove
What does God treasure?
Merriam-Webster defines treasure as: “wealth (such as money, jewels, or precious metals) stored up or hoarded; wealth of any kind or in any form; a store of money in reserve; something of great worth or value; a person esteemed as rare or precious.” Treasures come in many forms and are valued based on the wants of the people doing the evaluating. God spends more time on treasures, money and every other kind of treasure than any other subject in the Bible. Why?
Because He knows we humans love what we treasure, Matt 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” He also knows we are incapable of loving two competing ideas without it creating stress and disease, Matt 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” He wants us to choose the treasure of eternal life, which He is offering, Deut 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” The eternal life He offers frees us from the stresses of this world, replacing them with a new kind of peace, Jn 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
God tells us the kingdom of heaven is a great treasure, Matt 13:44, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” Once we truly understand the value of the kingdom of heaven, we will sell everything in this life to buy it. Nothing in this life is worth giving up the great treasure God is freely offering, Matt 16:26, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Think of the Apostles, they walked away from everything they had to follow Jesus to their martyrdoms. Why?
Can we look around this world to learn what people treasure and where their hearts are? When we see drug use escalating, are we seeing temporary pleasures elevated above the love of the kingdom of God? When we see suicides increasing, are we seeing this world’s pain and suffering elevated above the hope of eternal life, which God has offered to all? When we see unethical behavior at the highest levels, are we seeing greed elevated above God’s calling for us to be servants? When we see people lying to us to get our vote, are we seeing hypocrisy elevating power above the peace and joy God is offering? When we see divorce rates rising, are we seeing selfishness elevated above God’s advice on love in marriage? We could go on, however, the point is we live in a world desperately trying to ignore the love of the kingdom of God and trying to keep His advice out of the hands of the average person. This path has led us to most of the pain and suffering we see in this world, we just have to be honest enough and patient enough to see the results of this path. Why are we allowing these temporary treasures to separate us from God’s love?
Do we not understand God treasures each of us? Lk 15:10, “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” and Matt 18:12-14, “How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” He wants all of us to come to heaven with Him.
He created all of the seen and unseen things of this life to help us understand His Truth, Rom 1:20, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” and to allow us to use the free will He has given us to decide our own eternal futures. He has never forced us to love Him. He has allowed evil to exist so we might be able to make the correct choice. Without the long-term effects of both good and evil playing out before our very eyes, how could we ever make the correct choice? Shakespeare is but one of many who has poured out their hearts through entertainment so that we might see the long-term effects of evil, are we paying attention to the suffering in this world?
As we watch our children grow, learning to treasure people and things, we can see how God’s plan is unfolding. We see our children learning, as they choose paths we know will cause them harm. We hold our breath and hope all we have taught them will help them overcome those bad choices, as God hopes we will all find the Truth He has provided in His Word, 2 Tim 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” We wait for our children to find the path of love, which leads to eternal life. Waiting and watching are not easy, we see the results of their bad choices and the scars they have left; and we weep for our children, as God weeps for us, Jn 11:35, “Jesus wept.” The difference is that God sees the future, He knows who will choose Him and eternal life; and who will choose this life only. Being in love with this life, to the exclusion of God’s way, leads us to fulfill a prophecy we have created for ourselves. Again, God weeps for us, for He loves all of us, even those who have chosen to refuse His offer of eternal life because we do not understand how much He loves us, 1 Jn 4:8, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
Until we treasure the kingdom of God more than we treasure what this world has to offer, we will be trapped by our own prophecies. This is where treasuring God’s Word steps in to pull us out of the pit and onto the path, which leads to Him, for He is willing to guide our every step, Ps 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” The secret is consistency, feeding on His Word daily nourishes our soul, as the food we eat nourishes our bodies, Matt 4:4, “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Without consistent feeding, our souls become the stony places, which futilely receive the seed of His Word, Matt 13:20-21, “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”
When we hear His Word only occasionally, we feel good as the Word penetrates our souls, however, we never let the roots of the Word grow in our souls. Thus, when tragedies occur, as they must for all of us, we do not have the full understanding of His Word to protect us and we are offended unto unbelief. Once the root system begins to develop in our souls, we learn to abide in our Father’s love, Jn 15:9-10, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.” We then learn God is rich in mercy because He has a great love for us and He has already demonstrated this by offering us Jesus’ sacrifice, when we were still dead in our sins, Eph 2:4-5, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”
Some see the animal sacrifices the Jewish people made, prior to the coming of the Messiah, as foolish. But, God gave them to us to foreshadow Jesus’ sacrifice so we might see how painful the shedding of blood is and seek Him to our own salvation. Evil always tries to hide the lessons we can learn from studying the long-term results of evil. Sadly, some today are trying to get us to believe that the Holocaust never happened. I am old enough to have personally seen the truth of the holocaust and to have heard the stories directly from survivors. My high school math teacher was a prisoner during World War II; his imprisonment left him unable to gain any weight, so he remained skin and bones for the rest of his life. He was a living example of what evil will bring to all of us if left unchecked. It is the truth of the results of evil, which leads us to treasure God’s Word and we cannot let the non-believers hide the truth from us.
When we treasure God’s Word and His kingdom, we will not allow the momentary pleasures of this world, or the lies meant to hide the results of evil, blind us to His love. We can learn to willingly trade those momentary pleasures this life has to offer for the eternal peace and joy He is offering. Everyone who does find God’s wisdom, which leads to God’s kingdom, finds the greatest treasure of all, Prov 3:13-15, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.”
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