Sunday, December 04, 2016

Treasure hunt

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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Psalm 119:161-176

TO CHEW ON: “I rejoice at Your word
As one who finds great treasure.” Psalm 119:162

I love the metaphors the psalmist and other Bible writers use for the Word of God. In our reading today the psalm writer likens it to “treasure.”

So I have just been on a treasure hunt, looking for Bible passages that speak of treasure and how it relates to the Christian life.

Where is this treasure?

When you hear the word “treasure,” does the image of treasure maps come to mind, and mines deep in the earth from which miners hack out gold, diamonds and other precious stones? That’s what I think of.

Isaiah references treasure in that way. Speaking as the voice of God to HIs chosen servant Cyrus, Isaiah says:
“I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places” - Isaiah 45:3.

Jesus too implies the hiddenness and value of treasure when He talks about the Kingdom of Heaven:
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a 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 several places Bible writers refer to those deep things at the center of our being—our hearts—as treasure, and it’s not always good. Jesus again:
'A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things'” - Matthew 12:35.

Another aspect of this inner treasure is its use as a description of the impact and value of our lives. Jesus warns about the futility of living life consumed with storing up treasure on the physical plane and concludes:
 “...‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” - Matthew 6:19-21.

To the Rich Young Ruler, who had supposedly done everything else, Jesus said:
‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven and come, follow Me’” - Matthew 19:21.

What is this treasure?

Our focus verse (Psalm 119:162) equates it with God’s communication (word) to us. That certainly includes the Bible.

Solomon pairs it with wisdom:
“There is desirable treasure
And oil in the dwelling of the wise” - Proverbs 21:20.

Isaiah says “The fear of the Lord is His treasure” - Isaiah 33:6. 

Jesus speaks of the kingdom of heaven in terms of treasure. In one parable he likens the kingdom to a valuable pearl:
'Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it'" Matthew 13:45,46.

Paul writing to the Colossians speaks of this treasure as Jesus:
“… of Christ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” - Colossians 2:3.

A lovely sidebar to this is the wise men who acknowledged this treasure with their gifts to the baby Jesus: gold, frankincense and myrrh - Matthew 2:11.

Paul speaks of this treasure as something we believers can possess:
“But we have this treasure (Christ—“…the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” - 2 Corinthians 4:6) in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” - 2 Corinthians 4;7.

So let’s live consistent with our wealth today, in deed and word. In Jesus’ words:
‘Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old” - Matthew 13:52.

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank You for the treasure of Your word, and of Jesus whose Spirit lives in me through the Holy Spirit. Help me to live consistent with the knowledge and in the power of this wealth today. Amen.

MORE: Second Sunday in Advent
On this second Sunday of Advent, churches may celebrate in various ways. Some may light the second candle representing JOY. Others may pay special attention to the players in the incarnation story, like the prophets, angels, shepherds and magi. The prophets appear to be the focus of the collect part of the liturgy for this day:

"Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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