Pastor Mark’s Devotions, June 9

“Treasure”

“The Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.”  Matthew 13:44

Are you a buried treasure enthusiast? As a young boy, I had dreams of finding buried treasure. Like Indiana Jones, in the jungles of the Amazon, I dreamed of finding a treasure that had been hidden ages ago. I do not think that I am alone. Over the years, there have been people who have traveled the world in search for treasure. They have searched mountains, oceans, tombs, and ancient cities for riches. But there have also been stories of people digging up gold coins right in their backyard. Others have found treasure using metals detector on nearby sandy beaches. And some have even found treasure buried among trinkets at a local thrift store. The idea of finding hidden treasure certainly can get one’s blood pumping.   

For the past decade, thousands of treasure seekers have been pumped to travel into the Rocky Mountains in search of a special-announced treasure. This past weekend, it was reported that the treasure had finally been found. After ten years, the buried treasure trove had finally been unearthed. The name of the man who found the treasure is being kept secret, for now. The bronze chest was believed to have contained not only gold but rubies, emeralds and diamonds as well, estimated to be worth over $1 million dollars.

Ten years ago, Forrest Fenn, an 89-year-old art and antiquities collector, created the treasure hunt. The genesis for the hunt was generated from news that he only had a short time to live. So, he created an adventure for anyone who truly wanted to seek after an honest buried treasure. He hid the treasure in the Rocky Mountains and he left clues leading to the location in a 24-line poem, published in Fenn’s 2010 autobiography, “The Thrill of the Chase.”

It is estimated that over 350,000 people, from all over the world, have hunted for this treasure. Some people quit their jobs, and some even died on the trail, in their quest for riches.

It is amazing what one will do in search for treasure. Back in the goldrush days of the 1840’s, people sold homes, left families, and rolled the dice in hopes that they would get their hands on some of that buried treasure.

In Matthew chapter 13, Jesus talks about buried treasure. He tells a parable about the Kingdom of heaven being like that of buried treasure. He says, “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 that he had and bought that field.”

The genesis of God’s treasure hunt began in a Garden. In the beginning, the treasure was obvious, available and enjoyed by Adam and Eve as they walked, communed and fellowshipped with God. Suddenly, with the onslaught of sin, that treasure seemed to go into hiding. Humanity was no longer, openly seeking after God. They were distracted by other earthly things. Riches of other kinds caught their attention. Since then, the world has been on a chase, wanting riches but digging in the wrong places.     

Jesus entered the chase and tried to highlight the trail. Sometimes his teaching seemed to conceal the path. But if people tracked with him, they would come to know the Way. He also led people to consider the idea of rolling the dice – to go all in. But in this treasure search, there would be no gambling on this roll. For all the risk was upon the one who created the search. God guaranteed a payout, eternal riches, for anyone who would roll the dice on his Son, Jesus Christ. And when the treasures of Christ would be unearthed, the treasure seeker would exhale a cry of celebration and would be willing to go all in, and sell off all other earthly riches because of the joy in the find.

St. Paul describes this joyful discovery as he says, “But whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” (Philippians 3:7-8)

It is pretty amazing that over 350,000 people would canvas and scale mountains in search of financial treasure. Yet, the eternal treasures found in God lay buried right under our feet. Actually, the treasure is found right at the feet of Jesus.  We can find this treasure whatever our location, position or posture in life because Jesus has humbled himself as a servant. He makes himself available to us, whoever we are, wherever we are. When a treasure seeker comes to Him with an open, honest heart, true riches are given. And when that joy is received, all else pales in comparison.

While some of us might still hold out a slim hope to hit those lottery numbers, or dream of digging up those dusty gold coins beneath our basement, let us encourage one another to continue to desire and discover the eternal riches that God desperately wants to unearth in us. These are riches that neither moth nor rust nor anything else in all of creation will be able to destroy.

Someone unearthed the true treasure of God’s grace and described it this way:

God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

This conversation also has brought to mind the beautiful hymn: “Jesus Priceless Treasure”.

1 Jesus, priceless treasure,
source of purest pleasure,
friend most sure and true:
long my heart was burning,
fainting much and yearning,
thirsting, Lord, for you.
Yours I am, O spotless Lamb,
so will I let nothing hide you,
seek no joy beside you!

2 Let your arms enfold me:
those who try to wound me
cannot reach me here.
Though the earth be shaking,
every heart be quaking,
Jesus calms my fear.
Fires may flash and thunder crash;
yea, though sin and hell assail me,
Jesus will not fail me.

3 Hence, all worldly treasure!
Jesus is my pleasure,
Jesus is my choice.
Hence, all empty glory!
What to me your story
told with tempting voice?
Pain or loss or shame or cross
shall not from my Savior move me,
since he chose to love me.

4 Banish thoughts of sadness,
for the Lord of gladness,
Jesus, enters in;
though the clouds may gather,
those who love the Savior
still have peace within.
Though I bear much sorrow here,
still in you lies purest pleasure,
Jesus, priceless treasure!  

God Bless You All,

Pastor Mark



Pastor Mark’s October Newsletter Blog

“Happiness:  Making a Few Moves”

 
This past month has brought some new moves. Jeriah has moved into her new life in New York. She has moved away from what was familiar to a brand new set of conditions – academically, socially, spiritually, physically, culturally, and if nothing else, adjusting to life without Costco. Fortunately, Trader Joe’s is only a 15 minute drive away. Simultaneously, I’ve moved back into an old house with new conditions. The loud noise of resounding quiet rings in my ears. No more daily connections around meals or meetings or work schedules. No more shared moments during sunrise or sunsets. No more spontaneous adventures wherever the wind might take us. It’s a new culture for me too. A familiar feeling that reminds me when she left for college, yet this is farther reaching, farther climbing, farther challenging. A father could not be more excited for his daughter’s new found adventure. But as I hear the familiar wind chimes ring in the distance, I also recognize that this move is something new.
 
Perhaps you are experiencing something new, and these words are ringing true for you. How are we to handle these new moving conditions?
 
This morning I read an article about finding greater happiness in life. Some of the recommendations given were to play more video games and take more selfies. This article sent me on my own pondering about…. what truly brings greater happiness in one’s life?
 
As I began to jot down a few notes, the following thoughts quickly emerged and without knowing it, an article of my own was being created. Perhaps this might be helpful to my daughter, I don’t know – but I quickly realized that I need these thoughts for myself and perhaps they might resonate with you.
 
Buried in each thought is a secret treasure that can be found in scripture – but I’ll leave that searching for you if you want to find.
 
This is not necessarily a complete list – maybe it’s a KEY list – and maybe these thoughts will provoke a few ponderings of your own to add, delete, adjust, or expand to personalize it for yourself.
 
    A Few Moves Toward Happiness:  
  1. Move to REST in a peaceful place – enjoy quiet, music, devotion.

  Rest for your inner soul. Time with God. Time with yourself.

  1. Move to ACCOMPLISH something that brings satisfaction – exercise, yard work, house work or homework, perhaps a remodel project or even paying the bills – some tangible tasks that feel good accomplishing.

  A work that is gratifying not a work that is driven by shame or guilt.

  1. Move to CONNECT with someone. Meet for coffee, a walk or a talk. Share a meal, a snack or perhaps happy hour. Personal connection with another human being – resist email or text or even phone call if possible.

  Face to face contact is always most satisfying.

  1. Move to SERVE (or encourage) someone else with an act of kindness. Shift your focus from self to others – help to meet a need.

  Helping to meet another in need will always bring meaningful satisfaction and happiness to your soul.

  1. Move to UNDERSTAND your life in a larger context. You will live more fully in the moment with the knowledge that your life is connected to a bigger picture. If a Christian, your life is lived within God’s grand design.

  From day to day, you might not see movement but understand, God is moving you toward His destiny!

Happiness is found when you are moving toward something of intrinsic value, not in your running away from something nor as you are paralyzed by fear, nor by simply treading water aimlessly.

   So, where are you headed?

   Take time to….. * listen to the birds * smell the flowers * sip the coffee * taste the wine * rest in the quiet * watch the sunrise * stir the sauce on the stove * walk the familiar path * receive from the Spirit * read the Word * return to what you know * share your inner thoughts * help a person in need * thank God for the moments you have right here, right now.

   Remember what has brought you joy in the past.

Happiness is here for us today. It will be waiting for us tomorrow. Can you see it? Can you perceive it? Let us move in these moments and receive it!   As I sip my coffee in this quiet moment, I recognize a familiar move: “Thanks Be to God!”

“And my God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”    Phil 4:19