Where is Your Treasure?

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“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:25-34

We are God’s treasure. He sold everything (laid down His life) to purchase the Pearl of Great Price (you and me.) He is the Good Shepherd who leaves the flock safe in the mountains, to go and search for the one lost little sheep. The very one who wondered off looking for something different, that greener pasture.
Where is your treasure? What is your treasure? Is it your fine education, your forty foot yacht, your modern day castle, or the latest technological toy? Or maybe it is the recognition you get on your job, or for doing your “good works?” Is your treasure something shameful that you don’t want anyone to know about? Is it simply money and possessions? What will you give for your treasure? What sacrifice are you willing to make? Your marriage, your kids, or your relationship with God?

When Jesus created everything-He created an order and a balance. God loves us and wants to give us good things. But our lives must have balance and order. First our desire should be for Him. Everything else comes after. Our greatest treasure should be Him. A passionate relationship with Him is the greatest thing we could ever hope to attain. When we do that, He adds all the other stuff to us-giving it freely.
When we hold back from Him or give our hearts over to other people and things, before Him, we lose. The sacrifices we make to keep those tarnished so-called-treasures, ends up being too much. We end up selling our soul and hurting so many others in the process. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Let’s get practical. The holiday season is fast approaching us. Thanksgiving-a time to thank God for all he had provided for us, a day spent with family sharing how thankful we are for each other. And quickly following that day comes Christmas. Christmas is a day set aside to remember a loving God who humbled Himself and came to us in the form of a mortal man. A Father who sent us gifts to make our lives better, the gift of life to a dying world. So we in turn give gifts to others in remembrance.

Sounds lovely doesn’t it? But for most people those days are not all “thankfulness” and “peace on earth.” They are stress and overspending, loneliness and depression. Some feel they have little to be thankful for, and some have little to eat while we all feast away. Many look at the expensive unnecessary toy, gadgets, clothes and merchandise (junk), displayed as the next-best-greatest-thing that will bring happiness, love, satisfaction, ease and envy. But it is all only stuff!

We are so shallow…and dare I say it? Foolish. Things may make us happy for a season, but most of the time they disappoint-or something newer and better comes along and we look at what we have with disdain. Who cares if the shoes I am wearing are five years old and not “in style?” Or if the phone I just paid extra for last spring, because the free one was too plain, is now obsolete? How many apps can one person use? We are calling wood, hay and stubble treasure! How disappointing that must be to the Father. We step over the homeless man who smell makes our eyes water, to hurry into the mall to purchase that sale item that is supposed to represent God’s gift to mankind. Seriously?

Ask Him what we can do to celebrate these special days. He’ll give you something wonderful (hard) to do. Like put away the charge card and only buy what you can pay for. Maybe invite someone to share your family only meal with. Maybe it will just be bringing some food, not your leftover things sitting in the back of your cupboard, to the local food pantry. This one is a favorite of mine; make some shoeboxes for “Operation Christmas Child.” All of these things build treasure in heaven, if our motivation is to please God and help others. Attend a Christmas Eve service. Not to show off your new clothes and jewelry, but to praise Him for who He is, to sit in His presence with a thankful heart.

We have Him! Is there anything that can compare to that? He is our treasure. Don’t you want to give Him to others? He’s the only treasure worth seeking. But He’s a treasure not to hide, or horde. He is to be shared. “Freely we have received, freely we give.”

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Comfort and Compassion
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for…” Isaiah 40:1
There are a lot of hurting people in this world, the result of the fall, Satan’s attacks and our own stupidity and wrong choices. Jesus comforted the hurting and had compassion on their plight. He told the woman caught in the very act of adultery that he didn’t accuse her. He told the woman at the well, who was living with her wrong choices, that he had living water for her that would change her life. He fed thousands who had empty bellies and empty hearts.
We see in the fourth chapter of Luke, Jesus standing in the Synagogue in Nazareth where he was raised and quoting Isaiah 61:1-2, “The spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.” Then he tells them that he is the fulfillment of this scripture.
What is the good news? That God loves us that his son came to show us that love and how to love others. Jesus demonstrated compassion and comfort. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:1-2, “Are you strong because you belong to Christ? Does His love comfort you? Do you have joy by being as one in sharing the Holy Spirit? Do you have loving-kindness and pity for each other? Then give me true joy by thinking the same thoughts. Keep having the same love. Be as one in thoughts and actions.” The good news is that what we have received from Jesus, we can share with those other hurting people. His compassion and comfort came out of a heart filled with love. His compassion healed the man with the withered hand in spite of the consequences he would face from the religious people. His compassion drove the demons out of the Gaderine, healed the sick, cleansed the lepers and it forcefully nailed him to the cross. The compassion of Christ was so great that the grave couldn’t hold it, or the five hundred others that came up with him.
Jesus told us that we are to preach this good news of God’s love and compassion. The wonderful news that he sits on the throne of grace in all authority and power then gives us the same authority and power her on earth. The good news that he hasn’t left us here alone, but has sent the Comforter, His Spirit to guide us and teach us. Jesus never put conditions on his love; he just wanted to help people. Search the scriptures and you’ll see he never turned anyone down. Sure, in his home town, in the same chapter quoted above in Luke, he said a prophet couldn’t do much for his own, because of their unbelief, but he still wanted to help them. He never said, “It’s your own fault, deal with it,” but he did tell us, those who say we love him, “what you’ve seen me do, you do it!”
We could reach the world this way – could change the world this way. One person at a time, one smile, one hand reaching out in love, one crust of bread, one warm blanket at a time…

What Does God Want?

Really, what does He want? You could ask dozens of people and get dozens of different answers. Those answers would range from- obedience, praise and worship, money (tithes and offerings), time, energy, loyalty, attention, commitment, and the list could go on. All of those things are true, but doesn’t that make God sound like some ego-maniacal, dictator who lounges on a throne demanding attention and glory? Who wants that for a Father?
Simply put, God wants you. I know cliché. But He wants your heart. He asks all of those other things from you because those things benefit us. Let’s break this down a little. God doesn’t need your money, but He asks us to give 10% (tithe for the running of the Church and the support of the staff) and offerings (to help others), because He knows that “if we give, it will be given back to us”. (Luke 6:38). Also when we give to God, He promises to “Open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing” (Mal 3:10). God wants us to praise Him because praise “stills the enemy and the avenger” (Ps 8:2), it makes Satan shut up and stops his actions against us. He asks us to work because He works with us (I Cor. 3:9). He doesn’t sit while we work, in fact “He works while we wait.” We work because the Church toilets need cleaning, those little noses in nursery need wiped. Those things bring us together as a family.
God is love! He doesn’t just possess, show, or talk about love, He is love. It is the very nature of God (I John 4:7). That’s why He loves everyone. He loves the drug addict, the prostitute, the serial killer, the child molester, everyone! But don’t be deceived they are not His children, or part of His family. His children are the ones who have surrendered their lives to Him. Those are the ones he promises to take care of. Because He is love and He wants all to be His children, He asks us to work together with Him to build His family. He doesn’t want this love to remain one sided. What does it benefit them if He loves them, but they never experience love for Him? Those others who have Satan as their father (and they don’t even know it), they need to be reached. They need to know God’s love. How can they be reached if we aren’t co-laboring with Christ.
Our ‘work’ for God, those things all mentioned in the first paragraph, and any other thing God may have asked of us, should come out of our love for God. If they are coming out a sense of obligation, duty or fear, the motivation is wrong. Even worse if they are coming out of self-righteousness and pride, it’s going to be harmful to you instead of helpful. What motivates your work? It’s easy to “grow weary in well doing” (Gal. 6:9) if we have the wrong attitude. I know I’ve been there. I’ve screamed in my head, “What do you want from me!” on more than one occasion. I had allowed the thoughts to take root in my heart that I was doing so much for him already, but that somehow that wasn’t enough, that He was demanding more. That I was lacking. Those are just a bunch of ugly lies, God doesn’t demand, we have a choice. At my worst moments of fear, illness, weakness and depression, God patiently reminded me that He loved me, that He wasn’t asking for a slave (being forced), but that He wanted a daughter who served from a heart of thankfulness and love. I had gone back to Egypt (slavery) when He wanted me in the Promised Land (a place of rest, provision and peace).
God showed His love for us through the ugliness and the shame on the cross. Jesus not only poured out His life’s blood on that tree, but also His great love and longing for us. When we know Him, (not know about Him with our reasoning mind, but know Him intimately in our hearts), we understand what He wants. He wants a relationship with Him, two way conversations, and fellowship. He wants us to spend time with Him, not in work or service but in relationship. Get these pictures in your head. First think about how you feel when your child obediently cleans their room, to the best of their ability. Now think of your little one sitting on your lap, with each of their little hands on either side of your face, looking into your eyes, and saying “I love you”. Which one touches you more?
Sure their room needs cleaned and we have to teach them responsibility, it’s for their own good after all (sounding familiar?), but first we want their love. The Church needs cleaned, bills need paid, and the lost need reached. But first and most importantly we need to accept God’s love for us, and love Him back, build a better relationship with Him. We don’t do that by work, but by sitting in His lap. All of those other things will get done and with the right motivation. Sounds easier, freer, and way more fun!
“Yes I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3