Treasure in Heaven: Your Heart

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;  for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

This passage is shaped by two aspects of a single command: one prohibition and one exhortation.  Do not store up treasure on earth; instead, store it up in heaven.  Notice that the prohibition here is not against hoarding; it actually endorses it, but not in the worldly sense.  Hoard away, but do so toward the heavenly inheritance.  To store up treasure there necessarily means taking it away from the earthly stash.  Heavenly gain necessarily means earthly loss.  This is exactly the thought in Paul’s mind as he writes Philippians 3:7-14, that everything he once regarded as gain (earthly) he has accounted now as loss for the sake of the matchless prize (heavenly).

A SOUND INVESTMENT

In investing there are several factors you might take into account before settling on an investment strategy.  With stocks, you typically weigh risk vs. reward.  With bonds and CDs, you should consider interest rates and time until maturity.  In all investments, you must take the security of the investment into consideration (Is this bank financially sound? Are these guys scammers?, etc.).  This is how the portfolio Jesus is offering shakes out:

-Initial cost of investment: Your life
-Risk: Guaranteed massive earthly loss (go read the Beatitudes)
-Reward: Unmatched heavenly gain (go read Philippians 3)
-Time until maturity: Your earthly lifetime
-Payout period: Throughout eternity
-Security of the investment: Guaranteed by the power of the eternal, omnipotent, omniscient Sovereign God (e.g. Isaiah 14:27 “For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?”)

THE HEART OF IS THE MATTER

The promise is sure, and the reward is immense, and yet I don’t think that this is Jesus’ point in this little statement from the Sermon on the Mount.  Notice his last words: where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  The promise of a heavenly inheritance is entirely true and totally sure, and yet Jesus’ point here is actually about your heart.  People get their hearts broken and stolen from them all the time.  It has happened to me, and I assume it has happened to most other people at well at some point.  Life is filled with unmet expectations and disappointed hopes.  Jesus lays out the only safe place to rest your hopes: in Him.  Everything on earth is subject to some sort of ruin, whether by devouring of moths, the corrosion and erosion of rust, or the robbery of thieves.  This is a totally unsafe place to rest your heart, where it may be eaten up or stolen by others.  But Jesus says your heart is completely safe when it rests in Him.  With these words Jesus is not trying to protect us from making bad financial investments or laying about 5 Basic Principles to Glorify God with Your Money.  He is offering Himself as the only sure refuge for your soul.  And with that, all of the glories of Heaven.

As the hymn says,

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ Name!
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand!
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

Lord, let that be true of me as well.

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The God Who Restores

A few verses from reading this morning:

Thus says the Lord, “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness–Israel, when it went to find its rest.” The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.  Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel!  Again you will take up your tambourines, and go forth to the dances of the merrymakers.”
-Jeremiah 31:2-4

God sees us in the wilderness, and there He meets us with grace.  Very often, we find ourselves in the wilderness through our own disobedience or our own lack of discipline.  But God is in the wilderness as much as He is in the land of plenty.  An “everlasting love” set on frail people mandates it.  We serve the God who pursues, meets, draws, and rebuilds.  I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to fathom anyone like this.  The closest equivalent I think of is the very best of parents: Watching over their children at every turn in life, knowing their children’s hearts intimately, meeting them at their point of need, picking them up and dusting them off, and sending them along to better ground.  God is something like that.  He leads us out of the desert place into the place of abundance, where there is dancing and fullness of joy.  That’s my God, the God of all grace.  My hope is that He would be yours as well.

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Grandma Powell

My Grandma Powell (Dad’s mom) passed away today at 89, a day before her and Grandpa’s 66th wedding anniversary.

One of my absolute favorite short verses in Scripture is 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” My Grandma was absolutely a woman of faith.  Today, her faith became sight.

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Take heed, Behold, and Cling

…For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect.  But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.
– Mark 13:22-23

Mark 13, like its parallel account in Matthew 24, is a tough chapter to grapple with.  Jesus says that in the time leading up to His Return there will be whispers of wars, actual wars, earthquakes, famines, persecution of Christians (imprisonment, flogging, trial, universal hatred, etc.), the Abomination of Desolation, and deception writ large.  In sum, things will not be good.

And then things become truly crazy.  False “Christs” and false prophets will rise up.  They will even produce demonstrations of power for attestation of their ministries.  The power and the deception will be so great that even the elect (“if possible”) may succumb to their deceptions.  But here is the thing: We have the Bible.  And as evangelical Christians, we actually use this thing.  We ascribe to it terms like inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency.  Why do we think and speak of Scripture the way we do?  Because Jesus tells us to:

But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.

How do we know what to look for as the days grow evil?  Jesus has told us in the Bible.  How can we possibly be prepared in the event of great persecution?  We listen to His words and we cling to them with a death grip as though our lives depended on our holding on.  How can we overcome?  The difficulty of the age to come surely surpasses our own capability, but this we know: God is working on our behalf, and His strength is more than sufficient for every trial.  As Jesus tells us, “Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days (Mark 13:20).” Do you know what I really love about that verse?  Jesus is speaking of future events, and yet He speaks of the acts of God in the past tense.  He has already shortened those days.  God is not bound by time, and He is certainly not bound by what powers of darkness there may be.  The days when darkness are sure to come, but they will be short because God is working on behalf of we who belong to Him.  And He has told us “everything in advance.” Let us work all the more diligently to take heed of what has been spoken, to behold the One who spoke it, and to cling to Him as though all of eternity hinged on Him.

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Good Quote: Passion

I’m not really sure where this one originated, but it’s worth reflecting on, particularly for a Christian:

“If people don’t know what your passion is, you don’t have one.”

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