“In his JOY”

Have you ever received or discovered something that was totally life-changing? I sure have. One of those moments for me and my friends back in Junior High was our discovery of a coke machine that would occasionally deliver a free drink! I’m no Cherry Coke fan, but free is free!So what about you? What was your response? What did the next two or three days look like after you discovered the “Charlie Bit Me” video on YouTube?

(No clue what I’m talking about? Click here: https://youtu.be/bnRVheEpJG4)

Facebook has discovered that when we get excited about something, when we find some valuable piece of information, or when something brings us joy, WE SHARE IT. And if enough people share it, it goes viral. I was reminded of this when Lacey and I received the good news that in November we are expecting to have a baby; in my excitement my first thought was “Who can I tell!?”

When we hear Good News we share it; we simply CAN’T help ourselves.

The Kingdom of Heaven, the past, present, and future work of God through Jesus: his example on earth; his sacrifice on the cross; his glory in the resurrection; his sending of the Holy Spirit; and his triumph over sin and death, is something we call “Good News.” As we should! But like a status on Facebook that we were just sure would be gold, sometimes it seems like the best we have to offer goes unnoticed while the ridiculous and pointless spreads like wildfire.

I admit that sometimes the Good News of Jesus goes unnoticed and unshared in my day-to-day life. Why am I not more excited? Why does waking up early on Sunday seem like a chore? Why do I have to change my life and reorder my priorities? Why don’t I tell my friends, family, or coworkers?

As I ask myself these questions, Matthew 13:44 often works its way into my mind: “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.”

In my life, though, Matthew 13:44 often looks like this, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which Morgan found and covered up. Then in his joy he went and sold all that he had, but on his way back he got distracted at the car dealership, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot!”

The world offers a million things that make it nearly impossible for us to make it back to buy that field!

And we can’t share what we do not yet possess!

In our shortsightedness we often forget that the greatest treasure of all is waiting for us back in that field, and IT IS OUR JOY.

Jesus is a treasure that cannot be outdone. But when my life doesn’t quite reflect that I possess such a great treasure Matthew 13:44 reminds me to keep my eyes on the life Jesus brought, brings, and will bring. And when I do I am reminded that the Kingdom of Heaven is my joy, and it is worth my anything and my everything.

Morgan Hines

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The Kingdom of Heaven is Like…

         Matthew records Jesus explaining the kingdom of heaven in several different parables. The kingdom of heaven is like a field, or a mustard seed, or wheat and tares, or a hidden treasure, or a dragnet, or leaven, or perhaps a very expensive pearl. All of these parables help the reader see some aspect of what the kingdom of heaven is, and this is very important because Jesus has been busy telling the multitudes that the kingdom of heaven has come near, and that even those who mourn and those who are poor in spirit will be welcomed. Now they needed to know – welcomed into what?!

We must really get a grip on the answer to that question as well. If we view the kingdom as some faraway place that we go to when we die, it loses its effect on our everyday reality. It is something far in the future that requires very little of us today. On the contrary, if it is a kingdom that we can be a part of now, if the benefits of citizenship there are available to us in this life, then it changes everything.

My favorite of the kingdom parables is the one in which He compares the kingdom of heaven to “…a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

It is my favorite because it draws a beautiful picture of how amazing this “kingdom come near” is. Life in the kingdom is so overwhelmingly desirable, that there would be nothing that I wouldn’t give up to be able to have a piece of it. I want full citizenship! Eternal life in the kingdom of the heavens starting right now, here on earth – sign me up!

I referred to this parable as my favorite, but that is only true in some respects. It is also my least favorite because it is very convicting. Think about this:

  • If the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that I would sell everything in order to own, I have to ask myself, “Am I willing to, or have I even thought about, giving up everything to gain access to His kingdom?” Would I give up my time? My comforts? My shows? My music? The list goes on and on. In this parable, the man doesn’t even seem to have to think long and hard about it before he sells everything to buy the property that would make the treasure his. When it comes to the kingdom, we don’t have to buy or sell anything to get in, but if we want access to all the benefits of citizenship, we’ll have to give up those things that are focused on me and what I want and focus on God and what He wants.
  • How many times have I complained about personal sacrifices or inconveniences related to the kingdom, completely missing the fact that being part of the kingdom of heaven is worth ANY sacrifice? If I had to be tortured or even die to gain access to the kingdom, would even that be too much?

The challenge is to live every day as if our citizenship in the kingdom of the heavens – the most wonderful treasure we can imagine – is dependent upon us ‘selling’ everything. We enter by God’s grace, but it is worth any and every sacrifice required of us here.

Tammy Beck