Jesus is Our Treasure

To those who know where to look, our world is full of rare and valuable things. There are treasures to be found, riches to uncover, and valuables to be acquired. Countless wars have been waged and kingdoms laid waste in the pursuit of worldly wealth:

They have devoured human lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst.

But such efforts are pointless. The great King Solomon amassed gold and silver beyond count, “the treasure of kings and provinces.” Anything he desired was immediately given into his possession, and no man on earth could claim more riches than he. But in the end, his riches failed him by amounting to nothing:

And behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

And for those who do not know Christ, the situation is even worse. They who are rich in this world but not rich toward God have been assured of fierce, fiery judgement in the last days:

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.

Even our most valuable worldly possessions will become a source of torment to us if we trust in them rather than in God:

Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire.

With every passing day, all of us are amassing a kind of moral wealth within ourselves. We are either stockpiling deeds of love and mercy,  or else storing up wrath for ourselves on the day when God’s judgment will be revealed. Our hearts are a treasure trove that ultimately proves what kind of people we are:

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

On that day, none of us will have anything material that we can claim as our own. No amount of money or goods will serve to divert the righteous judgement of Him who owns all things. There will be no barter to be had, and no bribe will stick to His almighty hands.

But those who are in Christ have laid hold of riches that are everlasting, unspoiled, and untouchable by the wrath of God:

The fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.

These spiritual riches, though housed in unworthy “jars of clay” like us, are immutable because they are bestowed by God Himself. They are a gift of grace that cannot be returned once they are given:

Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you.

And we may lay hold of this treasure by simply reading and believing the Word of God. We are told to diligently “treasure up” its contents, and in doing so to become increasingly rich:

Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.

Those who are wise know that in this life, moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. Everything we touch will one day melt away before our eyes. But that which we cannot touch is eternal, and worth more than all of our worldly goods put together:

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

So if you are poor in the things of this world, do not desire to increase in your possessions, lest you fall into a snare or pierce yourself with many pangs. Rather, seek the things of God, and you will discover an even greater wealth than you thought possible.

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.

Seek the Kingdom and His righteousness, and even if worldly riches are not added to you in this life, you will have lasting treasure that will be yours throughout eternity.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jesus Satisfies Us

The human condition is one plagued by perpetual dissatisfaction. From the moment of our birth we cry out to be filled, and we never stop until the day we die. Well did Job say,

Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.

Even when our needs are fully provided for—food, clothing, shelter—we are not content. We quickly become dissatisfied with what we have and crave something different.

Now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.

Food is given to nourish our bodies, but it becomes a snare to our souls when we look for it to provide what it cannot:

When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.

Worldly wealth yields no lasting contentment—we perpetually desire to tear down our barns and build bigger ones. But Scripture warns us of the futility of such hope:

Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.

Moth and rust destroy our treasures and thieves break in and steal, testifying that there is nothing on earth that fully satisfy the desires of the human soul. As it is said,

What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.

But thanks be to God, there is a heavenly provision that surpasses what earth can offer. Jesus is the living water that eternally defeats our thirst:

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved.

Jesus offers spiritual food without money and without price:

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

He serves a better wine than that of Cana, a heavenly draught that slakes our appetites, gladdens our souls, and gives us abundant life.

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.

And when we die, those who have trusted in Him will hear the proclamation that all our needs have been abolished and everlasting satisfaction has been granted to us just as it has to Him:

Enter into the joy of your master.

Lord, thank you for reminding us that no earthly blessing can ever satisfy our hearts or fill our stomachs. You are the One who created our needs, and You are the One who fulfills them. Help us in our discontent to remember that our desires are fully and forever met in You and You alone!

Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Jesus Gives And Jesus Takes Away

On April 6th, 2015, a daughter was given to us. She was very sick and could not survive, and so on May 21st of that same year we entrusted her soul into the hands of the God who made her.

Her short life was a precious gift, one that radiated the grace of God into our hearts. Only God can give gifts of that magnitude, and it is our joy to receive them:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”

But because of our self-centered nature, we sometimes lose sight of His goodness and purpose in it all. It is easy to love God when His gifts abound:

“Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.”

And when our blessings are taken away, we (human beings) instinctively curse God for our fiery trials:

“They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.”

Naomi’s death was a plague of sorts, a calamity that God could have averted. But he chose not to. And it is for that exact reason that we must worship Him and give Him glory.

Even if we were to rage against God, all our efforts would come to nothing. No one can resist His will:

“Also henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?”

If that were the path we had chosen, we would indeed have no choice left but to “curse God and die.” But we have instead submitted our hearts and quieted our souls before Him. We say with Job:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

We also remember that the Lord Jesus surrendered everything—unlike Job, His life was taken from Him. Even at the point of death, Christ worshiped. And because of His sufferings, the blessings of heaven are ours by faith:

“Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.”

Lord, we worship You for what has been given, what has been withheld, and what has been taken away by Your almighty providence. You are good, and do good to Your people. May Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

Jesus Is Powerful

In His wisdom and mercy, God has apportioned to each of us a measure of strength; as many as our days, so shall our strength be. But what of Him who is everlasting, whose days know no end?

He is the only one whose power is without limit:

“In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”

He created and sustains all things by His almighty command:

“He upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

And despite our vaulted notions to the contrary, no one can resist His power or His decrees:

“For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?”

Even when nations conspire against Him, they can do nothing but invite their own destruction.

“Behold, the Lord has one who is mighty and strong; like a storm of hail, a destroying tempest, like a storm of mighty, overflowing waters, he casts down to the earth with his hand.”

Like Job, we must despair of ever besting Him:

“If it is a contest of strength, behold, he is mighty!”

And yet, Jesus’ greatest display of power was when He hung dying on the cross. In His weakness we see a greater power than any other:

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

The twelve legions of angels He could have summoned would have been feeble and useless; He who withered the fig tree and turned the Nile into blood could have instantly taken the life from those who desired His. But instead He forgave, and in that forgiveness is the saving power of God displayed:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

And in that last day when Jesus destroys His enemies by the sword of His mouth, all His people will sing in eternal praise of His boundless love and power:

“The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.”

Thank you, Jesus for saving us by your mighty hand and redeeming us by the unstoppable force of Your word. Give us the power to resist sin more earnestly, to see You more clearly, and to love you more passionately, for all strength comes from You!

“He is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!”

Jesus Is The Door

All of us are on a journey. Just as time marches on, so we are always moving forward toward an ultimate destination.

But that destination can only be reached by means of a door. Jesus tells us that there are only two doors by which we may enter into eternity:

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

How then can we find this narrow doorway? The answer lies not in religious practice or vain speculation, but in the person of Christ:

“I am the door of the sheep.”

Jesus is the gate to salvation, the portal to every good thing. Anyone who tries to enter the kingdom of God by any other means will be counted as a thief or robber. But those who submit themselves to His way will be granted full and free entry into paradise:

“If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”

Jesus is the pearl of great price that serves as the gateway to Heaven itself. That gate stands open to all, but is harder to pass through than the eye of a needle because only the meek and lowly will sell everything they have to obtain Him.

And despite all the opposition hell can muster, this door will remain open even until the last day:

“Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.”

Thank You, Lord, for providing us a gate through which we may be saved! Give us grace to respond in kind by opening the doors of our hearts to You:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

Jesus Helps Me To Deny Myself

“If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.”

Perhaps there is nothing more Christ-like than self denial for the sake of others. Our Lord Himself left the comforts of heaven in order to be born into the most meager of accommodations, and throughout His life was often found in desolate places. He knew hunger and thirst full well; He also knew enough of exhaustion and pain to fall asleep in the midst of a storm. He knew loneliness and hardship and temptation and poverty more than any creature under heaven:

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

And all this for us! Christ gave up everything and denied His own wants, all for the sake of His people.

But when I examine my own heart, I find a different pattern at work. Instead of denying myself, I strive tirelessly to gratify myself. I selfishly seek out every pleasure; I scheme and manipulate to get my own way. And I shield my heart from every accusation with the standard of liberty and “moderation.” I thus become my own ruler, my self-supplier who does what is right in his own eyes. Of me is the saying true:

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.”

But Jesus who denied Himself is capable of changing me, not by His example but by his Spirit. The Spirit convicts me, humbles me, and softens my heart. He empowers me to deny my own wants for the good of others, to bless by giving up blessings. Only then can I truly follow Jesus, for:

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

Thank you Lord that you change hearts, even hearts as selfish and sinful as mine. Please help me to depend not on your example, but on your Holy Spirit for the power I need to sacrifice my own wants for the good of others. Just as you gave your life away, so let me give mine away, so that I may follow you and truly be your disciple. And may the praise and glory be Yours and Yours alone forever and ever! Amen.

Jesus is Beautiful

There is no one more beautiful in heaven or on earth than Jesus. He is the very radiance of the glory of God, the creator and originator of all light and glory. Things that are beautiful reflect His image in some way; everything that does not is either ugly or false.

And yet, contrary to all human expectation, Jesus’ outward appearance was not beautiful. When He was born there was no halo crowning His head, nor was He particularly handsome or attractive:

“He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.”

Idols are adorned with silver and gold so that they will move our hearts to worship. But Jesus had no such ornamentation. He was despised and rejected by almost all who knew Him in favor of those who appeared righteous. And we are no better. We too despise and reject the unadorned Jesus, casting Him aside in favor of more handsome and attractive saviors.

“As one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

We are so enamored by the superficial that we sentenced beauty to die on the cross. The most lovely, most glorious One was made incomprehensibly horrible and ugly. Our sin disfigured Him beyond recognition:

“His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind.”

But His is the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. His is the power of a life so indestructible that it transforms our deepest ugliness into scenes of heavenly glory. The marks of His passion display the glory of a love so deep that it bled and died for us. In the cross we now see compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and glimpses of a new creation that shines with unimaginable splendor.

Thank you, Lord, that You are beauty. Help me to see beyond how things appear, and to allow my heart to be captivated by You. Help me to see Your beauty in all that is good and pleasing, and to resist all that is outwardly pleasing but inwardly full of bones and filth. Give me a wise and discerning heart in all this things, for only You can show me what is truly beautiful!

“The Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”


 

Jesus Gives Us Good Gifts

People naturally love to receive gifts. A well-chosen gift has the power to make us feel special, valued, and deeply loved. Perhaps that’s why we tend to delight in God the most when we are most cognizant of the blessings He has given us. Either way, our heavenly Father is generous and gracious, and delights to give us good things: 

“Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Again it is written, 

“You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.” 

But when hardship and suffering are apportioned for us, days of calamity and pain, we too often forget the goodness of God. We become like Jonah who groaned in unbelief:

“O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

We grow faint of heart, and at times even desire to curse God and die. But Job rightly dismisses such talk as utter foolishness:

“Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”

Shall we? Shall we assume that we will escape pain and suffering when so many of our brothers and sisters are enduring it graciously in God’s sight? Shall we desire long life and see good days by denying the inevitability of the sorrows that were promised to us?

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Shall we forget the counter-intuitive logic of the gospel that tells us our suffering is a gift?

“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.”

And shall we forget the example of the supreme sufferer who blessed God in His trials and kissed the very hand that smote Him?

Lord, your sufferings—the deepest, most evil sufferings ever endured in all creation—are the greatest gift ever given to humankind. Thank you for leaving us an example of suffering well, and also for giving us Your Holy Spirit so that our suffering might bring you glory!

“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Jesus Is Redemptively Jealous

Most “jealousy” is simply avarice turned outward, an anger born of greed and nursed in contempt:

“You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”

But true righteous jealousy—redemptive jealousy—is as fierce as a bolt of lighting:

“For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge. He will accept no compensation; he will refuse though you multiply gifts.”

And just as a good husband will tolerate no rivals for his wife’s affections, so God resists our idols. We are by nature spiritual adulterers who cheat on our Heavenly Husband:

“I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.”

He is unequivocal in calling us to purity and faithfulness:

“You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.”

But our idols are not easily defeated:

“It is hopeless, for I have loved foreigners, and after them I will go.”

Like Joseph, God is righteous and would be justified in writing us a decree and sending us away. But instead He has chosen to do what no earthly husband could ever do—He changes our hearts!

“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.”

He rends our souls by tearing us away from our illicit and idolatrous lovers, but then clothes us in unparalleled splendor and binds us up in His love:

“All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold. In many-colored robes she is led to the king.”

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”

Thank you, Lord, that you love us and will never allow our hearts to be held captive by another! Fill me with the same jealousy that you have for Your holy name that I might love you forever:

“You shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

“You shall have no other gods before Me.”

Jesus is Our Hope

Hope is essential to life. Without it our health declines, our hearts wither within us, and we say,

“Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.”

For this reason, we are constantly looking for sources of hope to buoy our spirits and sustain us in times of trial or difficulty. Many are false hopes, offering counterfeit assurance and fraudulent predictions which appeal to our sinful hearts. We often seek out messages of ease and comfort without the unpalatable constraints of reality:

“If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, ‘I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,’ he would be the preacher for this people!”

We delude ourselves into thinking that we are in charge of our own destiny, not God:

“The Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill.”

We put our hope in our money, our jobs, our friends, our children, our homes, our leaders, our doctors, and ourselves, but all of these will fail us in the end:

“The hope of the godless shall perish.”

The only true source of hope is Jesus. Only He knows the beginning from the end because He is both. Only He has the power to accomplish all that we could ever ask or imagine, and only He cares for us enough to carry all our anxieties and bear all of our burdens. His is a living hope:

“He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

God thus commands that we turn away from all other sources of hope and focus on Him:

“Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Thank You, Lord, for being the sure and steadfast anchor of my soul, the Rock in whom no one will ever be put to shame! Be my portion forever, and my hope of eternal life!

“Though he slay me, I will hope in him.”

“Christ in you, the hope of glory.”