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August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

A pirate captain was on the look out for buried treasure.

After months of hard sailing, his ship caught sight of land, the land to which his treasure map had been leading.

He and his first mate disembarked on the island to search out the buried treasure, which was supposed to lie hidden deep within a swamp at the center of the island.

Sure enough, at the center of the island was a swamp, and the Captain and his first mate bravely entered the swamp.

Soon the swamp began to get deeper, and the pirate’s feet, then ankles, and finally entire leg below the knees was covered in swamp.

It was at that time that the Captain banged his shin against something hard. He reached down, searched around, and pulled up a treasure chest.

Prying the lock open, the chest revealed gold and jewels beyond imagination!

The Captain turned to his first mate and said, “Arrrr, matey, that just goes to show ye, that booty is only shin deep!”

One of my favorite books of the Bible is the book of Ecclesiastes.  In 9:1 of Ecclesiastes it says this, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  This was written by the one who asked for God’s wisdom and received it…Solomon.  Solomon realized something very true.  There’s nothing new in relation to human nature.  Today’s verse focuses on something that is as true today as it was when Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 6:19-21.  In fact, they were also as true for Jesus’ followers as they were for the people in Solomon’s time as well.

We like to have things.  We like stuff.  We like gadgets.  We not only like having stuff…but we like having the best stuff.  We like our cars and dresses and tv’s and radios and music and IPods and tablets and game systems and awards and certificates.  We like good smelling things and things that make our house look nice.  We like nice things to sit in and nice things to walk on.  We like cash in our wallets and we like to go buy something when we want it.

Jesus talks straight about this to the people who are listening.  He’s just covered how to give to the needy, how to pray and how to fast.  Those things all seem well intentioned because they look like things done for and with God.  This one’s personal though.  He talks about our personal treasure.

When I was a kid, mom would take my sister and me to the library on a regular basis.  One subject I loved to read about was “treasure hunters.”  I would day dream about being a “hunter” one day and finding a sunken treasure ship that no one had found before.  I remember when we would go on vacation to Florida.  We’d go out to eat somewhere and sometimes the placemat would be a “map” of sunken ships that no one had ever found.  I kept those placemats, thinking one day I just might go and use that map to find treasure.

Well, you don’t see me on TV scuba diving in the Caribbean searching for lost treasure in the sea.  But that doesn’t mean I still don’t search for treasure.  I like my stuff…my treasure…and as Jesus hinted to, it gets in the way of the True Treasure God has for us each and every day.

John Maxwell, speaker and author, says that he can basically tell most things about a person by doing a few things…and in about 5 minutes.  He said let me see your calendar, the books you are reading, and your check book.  From those three things he can get a good picture of what you go after…what your main focuses are in life.  Think about that for a minute.  If he can do that, and I’m confident that he can, what would he see if you opened up your books to him?  What would your checkbook show is important to you?  What would your calendar show is important to you?  What do you focus on in down time and what’s it say is important to you?

Jesus said that the stuff we collect here on earth is not meaningful.  This stuff is not going to last and it can be taken from you.  He said that there is treasure that will not rot away and no one can steal.  The last line of this short passage of scripture is the kicker.  Wherever your treasure is…your heart’s there too, and if it’s not with God it’s somewhere else.

Solomon got to this wisdom late and after many mistakes.  He had used most of his wealth to buy treasure on earth.  Later in life he realized what was really important.  Here’s what he said after talking about his abundance of stuff, “…when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”  He realized that not one of these things got him closer to God.  Luckily, we have his story and testimony and the books of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs to help us see a little clearer what’s really important in life.

So where’s your treasure?

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

Questions for Growth:

  • How are you a treasure hunter?
  • How does your treasure interfere with your relationship with God?
  • How does your treasure, or treasure hunting, interfere with your ministry as a Christian…a priest of God?
  • What steps will you take today or tomorrow to change your patterns of behavior?
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The Plan of Forgiveness


Toward the end of the service, the Minister asked, “How many of you have forgiven your enemies?” 80% held up their hands.

The Minister then repeated his question. All responded this time, except one small elderly lady.

“Mrs. Jones? Are you not willing to forgive your enemies?” “I don’t have any,” she replied, smiling sweetly.

“Mrs. Jones, that is very unusual. How old are you?”

“Ninety-eight,” she replied.

“Oh, Mrs. Jones, would you please come down in front and tell us all how a person can live ninety-eight years & not have an enemy in the world?”

The little sweetheart of a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the congregation, and said: “I outlived the old hags.”

********

Some people ask where I get these.  I really have no idea….and if I did, I woudn’t say.  Haha

Link for this week: It takes 2 minutes to watch.

This week’s focus is just as difficult for me as last week’s was. This week we focus on forgiveness. Most of us have a problem with forgiveness. We think we deserve forgiveness when we’ve done something wrong, but we have a hard time handing it out when someone has done something wrong towards us. So what we need here is a good working understanding of ‘forgiveness.’

As we’re still working through Matthew 6, Jesus speaks this next request in the model prayer in a different way than we might expect. The way He words this prayer to the Father puts weight on us. The question isn’t only for God to forgive us. We are asking Him to do so in the process of us forgiving those who have sinned against us too. Action required. This isn’t just a “gimmee” request. Jesus knows that would be too easy…and against the true purpose of forgiveness.

Here’s how I look at this. Forgiveness is conditional, but handed out freely. We have to ask for it. We have to be at a point where we believe with our whole heart that Jesus died and rose as the Son of God to bear the punishment for our personal sins…as well as the sins of our neighbor, family member or enemy. Thus, if He can forgive them, we need to do the same.

My guess is that everyone has gathered in close to Jesus as He’s speaking this to the crowd in this section of Scripture. Heads are nodding in agreement with the short statements. “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name,” has been spoken and the “Amens” go up. Jesus says, “Your will be done, here on Earth like it is in Heaven,” and those around Him speak out “Yes Lord” in agreement with the statement of prayer. Jesus then talks about asking for our daily needs. I can hear the people responding again in agreement. Most of them are not pulling down a million five per year. They get it. Then comes the next statement. I can hear Jesus speak, “And forgive us our debts…” and the people’s copy cat response…”Yes please Lord.” Then Christ drops the next line…”as we forgive our debtors.” This is where I can see faces drop to the ground. People look at each other with “uh oh” written on their face. There might even be a few who begin to walk away.

Ok, let’s ask the hard question. What if God forgave us like we forgive other people? How would your eternal salvation look based on your grace and mercy towards others who have wronged you? “Uh Oh!” Don’t walk away!

What is our purpose as a Christian? Jesus asked us to forgive like the Father…in a very dramatic way non-the-less…so this has to fit into this Christian living thing we’ve signed up for. God wants people back with Him like it was in the beginning (Genesis). We, as believers in Jesus, are called the church. The church is called the body of Christ. Therefore the body, you and I, are suppose to look and act and think and behave as Christ would. Christ is forgiving. We are asked to be forgiving in the same way.

What’s the purpose of forgiveness? Why do we need to forgive? Why do we need forgiven? When we see the true purpose I’m sure we will find the reason Jesus wants us to forgive like His Father does. Forgiveness is the only way to fix the problem between us and God. We’ve sinned. He’s perfect. It may seem like we’re completely stuck in a different place than the original plan…by our choice. God’s forgiveness makes a way for us to be back with Him. Forgiveness between people does the same thing. It makes a way for healing to begin. It gets junk out of the way. Satan hates forgiveness, because it messes up everything in his strategy to keep us away from God. When you forgive someone as God forgives, whether you think they deserve it or not, you put handcuffs on Satan. You are acting like God. God loves to see us act like Him…it brings glory to His name (Hallowed be your name). When you forgive, its like you’re turning to God and saying, “Ok, it’s not about me…it’s all about you.” People will see this attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:5) and God promises that through you taking the humble position, others will not see you, but God himself (Matthew 5:16). Purpose defined.

Here’s the specific question. Do people, even our enemies, see God through our acts, words and attitude of forgiveness?

Questions for growth:

  • What do you think is a good way to get better at forgiving?
  • Who do you need to forgive?
  • Do you need to do it vocally or publicly?
  • Have you forgiven yourself like God has through His son’s death?
  • Are you willing to forgive even if you feel it will get you nowhere with a certain person?

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

John Maxwell on Forgiveness

July 14, 2011 1 comment

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