“Buried Treasure” ( Matthew 13: 44, NEB ) by Carley Evans


A man finds a treasure buried in a field. This reminds me of those people you may have seen on the beach sweeping with a metal detector. When the beeping goes off, they dig and pull up whatever it is they’ve found. The point is they are looking for buried treasure.

Most people in life are looking for treasure. They are looking for the meaning of life, at least if they are honest with themselves. Typical questions include: Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing with my life? Why was I born? Why do I have to die? What happens after I die? Is this all there is?

Jesus says once the man finds the treasure that’s buried in a field, he is so joyful he buries the treasure again presumably for safe-keeping and so he knows exactly where his treasure is. Then the man sells everything he has, so he can afford to buy the field and so secure the treasure for himself.

The point Jesus makes is that the buried treasure is for the one who finds it and recognizes its great value. Likewise the kingdom of Heaven is for the one who seeks it, finds it, recognizes its “very special value, goes and sells everything and buys it.” (Matthew 13:46)

 

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“All It Means” ( Acts 5: 20, NEB ) by Carley Evans


The High Priest and colleagues who are Sadducees arrest the apostles at Solomon’s Portico in Jerusalem. Apparently all the apostles are imprisoned. But an angel of the Lord releases them by opening the prison door during the night. After all, what good is it for all the apostles to be imprisoned together at the same time and in the same place? The angel says,

“Go, take your place in the temple and speak to the people, and tell them about this new life and all it means.” (Acts 5:20)

“This new life and all it means” is the message that the apostles are charged to share with the people and from a particular place in Jerusalem. The angel of the Lord charges them to “take [their] place in the temple.” After all, this is where the people of Israel come to hear whatever God has prepared for them to hear.

The angel of the Lord sets the apostles free so that they are able to speak of the “new life and all it means” and to speak of it from the temple of God in the holy city, Jerusalem.  From the center of God’s earthly rule, the apostles preach at the command of God.

And, what a message!

You can have a new life, one of Light which brings you out of darkness. You can walk in this Light, which shines from within you because that Light dwells inside you as a Person. All this means is you can be a fundamentally different kind of human being both now and in eternity. You can be changed from the inside out. And this is not of yourself, lest you feel the urge to boast of this change in yourself. This alteration of your very nature is a gift, a present from utmost kindness of God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son.

Lift your voice! Sing praises to the One and Only King of the Universe!

“Treasure In Clay Jars” ( 2 Corinthians 4: 7, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Here and there, Paul makes a quick statement to his audience that encapsulates a truth so important it is surprising that he issues it as an aside. Paul speaks to the church at Corinth about “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God,” (2 Corinthians 4:4) then he speaks of his own physical and emotional suffering in his pursuit of sharing that same gospel with them. In between, as a quick aside, Paul writes this truth:

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

Paul writes to the church at Rome that:

“God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29)

Think on that word irrevocable. It’s a legal term meaning “unable to be retracted, altered, revoked, cancelled.” Essentially God signs a contract with us through His Son, and He seals that contract with Himself, as Holy Spirit. As you can see, we figure very little in this contract. We take the paper joyfully, read the contract repeatedly because we find it so hard to accept even as it is easy to understand. If we’ve got any sense at all, we realize we are jars of clay with a mighty, unimaginable treasure within.

The trick is to let that treasure shine as the Light it is. Paul writes:

“Show that you are a letter from Christ, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Corinthians 3:3)

 

 

“Victory Known” ( Psalm 98: 2, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“O victory in Jesus,

My Savior, forever.

He sought me and bought me

With His redeeming blood;

He loved me ere I knew Him

And all my love is due Him,

He plunged me to victory,

Beneath the cleansing flood.”(E.M. Bartlett © 1939)

David, the psalmist whom God declares is a man after His own heart, tells us to “sing a new song to the Lord, for He does marvellous deeds; His right hand and holy arm win Him victory. The Lord makes His victory known; He displays His righteousness to all the nations. He remembers His constancy, His love for the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth see the victory of our God.” (Psalm 98:1-3, NEB)

David emphasizes five key concepts in this song: God’s power, His righteousness, His constancy, His love, and His victory.

E.M. Bartlett sings of the victory of God from a slightly different viewpoint. Now God’s victory is also our victory, but this triumph remains essentially God’s victory. God seeks us out before we know Him; He purchases us and plunges us to victory “beneath the cleansing flood” which is His shed blood, not ours.

David and Mr. Bartlett emphasize God’s constancy, not ours.

“God be praised, He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, stand firm and immovable, and work for the Lord always, work without limit, since you know that in the Lord your labour cannot be lost.” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58,NEB)

“Enter God’s Rest” ( Hebrews 4: 11, NIV ) by Carley Evans


God rests on the seventh day after He creates the universe, every world, every living thing, and us. God calls us to a “Sabbath-rest” of our own, saying through His Holy Spirit that “anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God does from His.” (Hebrews 4:10) God’s “work has been finished since the creation of the world.” (Hebrews 4:3) We are to “make every effort to enter that rest.” (Hebrews 4:11) Then, the author of Hebrews adds, “so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:11)

What example of disobedience? The people disobeyed by not combining the message they heard with faith. (Hebrews 4:2) They heard the good news, but did not believe it. They heard His voice, but they hardened their hearts. (Hebrews 4:7) “So we see they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:19)

The author emphasizes that entering God’s rest happens in the present — Today, in fact.

“Encourage one another daily, as long as it is Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)

“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 3:7,8)

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9)

Rest from your own work. Make every effort to enter the Sabbath-rest God prepares for you.

 

“Both Are Made Holy” ( Hebrews 2: 11, NIV ) by Carley Evans


“Both the One who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”

And because men are flesh and blood, Jesus also is flesh and blood. “He too shares in their humanity.” (Hebrews 2:14) “He is made like His brothers in every way in order that He may become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He may make atonement for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17) Jesus is flesh and blood so He may help those who are tempted, having been tempted Himself. “In bringing many sons to glory, it is fitting that God should make the Author of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (Hebrew 2:10) Because of this direct experience with suffering, Jesus as the High Priest “is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and going astray, since He Himself is subject to [human] weakness” though not to sin as other high priests. (Hebrews 5: 2) Rather, He “is tempted in every way, just as [they] are — yet is without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Therefore, He is able to sympathize with people, in every way.

The author of Hebrews then calls Christians “holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling.” (Hebrews 3:1) The author calls these holy brothers “God’s house.” (Hebrews 3:6)

So, since Christians are the house of God and holy, “let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” (Hebrews 4:14) “Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) Let us “fix [our] thoughts on Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest whom we confess.” (Hebrews 3:1)

“Be Thankful” ( Colossians 3: 14 – 16, ESV ) by Carley Evans


“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

What binds us, as Christians, together? Primarily the binding glue that sticks Christians one to another is our common membership in the same body, that is, the body of Christ. As we exist as members of the same being, who is God the Son, we “put on love, which binds [our other virtues] together in perfect unity.” We “allow the peace of Christ to rule in [our] hearts.” We allow “the message of Christ to dwell among [us].” In His unity and in His peace and in His message, we find our gratitude to God.

Ultimately, the answer to our present difficulties, whatever they may be, is our gratitude to God. As we teach one another “with all wisdom,” the most effective admonishments are those that sing to God with thanksgiving.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. To the One who remembers us in our low estate His love endures forever. And frees us from our enemies, His love endures forever. And gives food to every creature. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136: 1,3,23-26; NIV)

Let us be thankful.