When you think of treasure, what comes to mind? Treasure maps marked with an X? How about a chest of gold coins and precious gems, valuable jewelry, family heirlooms, a fat retirement account, large stocks and bonds? The truth is there is a treasure that is worth so much more than all of the things we could imagine in a treasure chest, and it’s available to everyone willing to accept it.
This ultimate treasure is found in God’s Kingdom, and Jesus’ life, death and resurrection opens the door to all of it. Today, we begin a series called “Kingdom Treasure” where we will uncover the Kingdom treasures that can change our lives forever.
All throughout the Gospels, Jesus invites us to experience the Kingdom of God not in just some far off day, but everyday starting today. When we except Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are now welcome into the Kingdom of God. But what does the Kingdom look like? How do we live in it today?
We’re just coming of a hugely successful revival event. Over 200 people attended the first three nights, over 400 the last night. People were inspired by the messages from the Lord, many people were prayed over, we had a baptism and several healings, there was 30-40 kids every night at the Kid’s Worship, over 60 volunteers and 15 pastors giving of themselves, and over $4,600 for four local charities! But the real success of revival will show within how we live our lives every day, whether you are joining the Kingdom of God for the first time in your life, or you are being revived and now ready to live again as a follower of Jesus Christ into that Kingdom.
In the Gospels, Jesus tells multiple stories that help us see and understand the Kingdom that God was bringing into the world through His Son, Jesus Christ. Each story is like a newly discovered treasure that reveals exciting truths about what we are invited into as followers of Jesus.
We’re going to look at just four parables where Jesus uses items to describe God’s Kingdom, things like a treasure chest that reveals the Kingdom’s incredible value, like yeast that permeates everything it touches, like a seed that starts small but grows much larger than expected, and like a net that is set to retrieve a massive haul. These stories unlock the treasure that is God’s rule and reign and that is meant to be shared.
Whenever we find something that is worth great value, we should want to share it with others. So, over the next few weeks we are going to dig into the scriptures as if we were mining for rubies, jewels or gold to find something new that we can share with the world around us.
It’s amazing what people will do for things that they see as having great worth. People work hard to build up a large bank account. People save for years to buy an expensive car. A young man will work his fingers to the bone to buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend. If we think something is valuable, we will do anything for it. In a world where value is usually defined by how much something costs, today we’re looking at a Bible story that will cause us to rethink what is most valuable – what is really worthy of our time, our energy, and our sacrifice.
POINT #1 – IT IS TIME TO RETHINK WHAT IS MOST VALUABLE
In Matthew 13, Jesus was speaking to a large group of people about the Kingdom of God. And all throughout this chapter, He uses parables with powerful imagery to teach a life-changing truth. A parable is not a story that actually took place, but rather story designed to teach a meaningful lesson. It was a way to compare something familiar to something unfamiliar, helping us to understand spiritual truth by using every day objects and relationships. For instance….
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.
The man who discovered the treasure hidden in the field stumbled upon it by accident, but knew its value when he found it. We don’t know how long it had been there. We don’t know how it got there. We don’t know exactly how the man even found it.
All we are told is that the discovery is so exciting that he hides it again and goes to sell everything he has so that he can buy the field that the treasure is in. The man in the story believed the treasure he found to be so valuable that he gave everything up to have it. Although the transaction cost the man everything, he paid nothing for the priceless treasure itself. It came free with the field.
Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is like this treasure. Nothing is more precious than the Kingdom of Heaven, and yet God gives it to us as a gift.
Jesus believes that living in connection to God and under His rule and reign is worth any kind of sacrifice it may cost. There are a few different places within the scriptures where Jesus teaches that living the Christian life will cost something.
Perhaps being a Christian will cost you certain relationships because of your convictions. Perhaps it may cost you a certain status in the workplace. It may cost you worldly pleasures, financial prosperity, personal freedom, and selfish desires. Jesus gets it, and wants us to see today that no matter what it might cost us to follow God, it is so worth it.
The reality is that a lot of the things we often chase after and see as valuable, in the end, aren’t worth anything anyway.
Between 1848-1855 there was something called the California Gold Rush. Approximately 300,000 people loaded up their families on wagons and horses and raced to the West to strike it rich. Gold had been discovered in the hills and people came from all around to get a piece of the treasure. Many did. Many hit the mother lode and changed the trajectory of their family’s future altogether. Others came all the way west and sacrificed so much for something called fool’s gold. A worthless stone that looks so much like gold, but was worth nothing.
They look so similar, but are so opposite in value. One is a true treasure. The other is nothing but a shiny rock. There are many people who are living their lives each day working for things that look so good, but in the end are nothing but a shiny rock.
POINT #2 – DON’T FALL FOR FOOL’S GOLD
Where does the majority of your time, your energy, and your attention go? We need to ask ourselves if our efforts are going toward things that are temporal or eternal? In other words, do your efforts go toward earthly things or Kingdom things?
One good way to tell if you are investing in a treasure that is Kingdom-oriented is to ask yourself what value is your investment when you are gone? Popularity will fade, cars will rust, bank accounts will be spent, homes will rot, and businesses will fail.
On the other hand, investing in the lives of people will make a difference in someone’s soul, which lasts forever. Investing in the love of God will deepen relationships that will last for eternity. Investing in character and integrity will pay off now and in the Kingdom come.
Everyone that is 25 and under please stand. The rest of you, look around the room. If you invest in the lives of these right here, if you spend time with them, teach them, show them how to live for Christ, how to live in the Kingdom of God, that will stick with them for the rest of their earthly lives and into their eternal lives in Heaven. If you don’t, we could lose them. If we are not teaching our young folks the Word of God, the world will teach them something else.
This investment is worth whatever it will cost and you should be honored to give it.
When I was 22-25, I was living a life that costs me a lot of heartache and pain, much of the heartache and pain came after it. I ignored God, went to church, sat in the pew, but did not live my life as a follower of Jesus most of the week. Especially on every other Friday and Saturday nights (that was when my son went to his dads). I ran into friends that led me to the dance club. I started off somewhat okay. I was just drinking my favorite soda, Sprite. In fact, the bar tender gave them to me free because he thought I was the designated driver. I didn’t correct him. But then I tried a friend’s drink, got one of my own and the rest was history. I made some beyond stupid decisions during that time. Things that I look back and say, how did that happen and how did I not end up worse than I did.
I guess I was doing what Pastor Joel preached against last Wednesday; I was sowing my oats. As he said, that’s stupid. There aren’t any oats to sow. I only sowed pain, humiliation, and wasted money and time.
Some way somehow, I kept going to church through all those years. Why? I was raised in the church and knew to be there. Not sure why at the time, but I was there. And God used it. Oh did He use it – that and my grandma who would flat out tell me she and God didn’t like me being at the bar.
You see, people in my home church mentored me through it all. They didn’t likely know all that I was doing or maybe any of it, but they never stopped mentoring me. They kept me involved, kept teaching me, and pouring into me.
Then when, as I say God smacked me with a two-by-four, and I opened my eyes to my stupid ways and what He was offering me, I knew everything had to change. I loved my sin. I was having a whole lot of fun. But I grew so hungry for God that I all of a sudden didn’t want any of that other stuff. He broke me real fast of my bad habits.
Now although I gained so much that I would never trade for anything, it also cost me a lot. My sins cost me a lot, but so did committing to Christ. I lost my two best friends in that decision. One was my friend since 4th grade, then 25 years old. We made it through all those years when friends change, and then gone when I accepted Christ.
I was devastated for a long time. But I grew to understand that God needed that change in my life to form me to be who He wanted me to be and to serve Him in the way He wanted me to serve. I fully believe I would not be where I am today without that one decision and that sacrifice.
There’s another story that is told in the Gospels about a rich man who encounters Jesus and asks a very important question. The man wants to know how to inherit eternal life. He’s looking for the treasure that’s the Kingdom of God, and he wants to know how to discover it for himself.
17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good.
When Jesus asked this, He’s really asking, do you know who you are talking to? See this was part of the problem.
19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
When asked about how to take part in God’s coming Kingdom, Jesus tells the man what he would have already known. Jesus points him to the law of God, the 10 commandments. The man says he has lived by all of those laws since he was a boy, but he is still concerned he is missing something.
Jesus then touches a sore spot by telling the man that there is one weakness he still has; he loves his stuff more than he loves God. This is revealed when Jesus tells the man to sell everything he has to follow Him. The man can’t do it, and he walks away sad. If your stuff is more important to you, then do you really know God?
Look, the call to follow Jesus is costly. It’s not for the fair-weather heart. There is a sacrificial element to living under God’s Kingdom that some people are not willing to give. For this man, the treasure of the earth was worth more than the treasure of heaven.
Notice that Jesus does not negotiate with the man. Jesus does not lower the standard or soften the blow. Jesus knew what was hindering this man from living the amazing full life God had intended for him. Jesus understood what was holding him back and tripping him up. But the man refused to see it, choosing the riches he desired instead, and missed out on Kingdom life.
POINT #3 – YOU ARE WORTH ANY SACRIFICE
Though the Kingdom of God is a treasure that is worth any sacrifice, it is made available to us by an even greater sacrifice. And you are worth that sacrifice.
Every year in Alaska, there’s a 1,000-mile dog sled race that commemorates an original “race” to save lives. Back in January 1926, 6-year-old Richard Stanley showed symptoms of diphtheria (dip·theer·ee·uh), signaling the possibility of an outbreak in the small town of Nome. When the boy passed away a day later, Dr. Curtis Welch began immunizing children and adults with an experimental but effective anti-diphtheria serum. But it wasn’t long before Dr. Welch’s supply ran out, and the nearest serum was in Ne-nana, Alaska – 1,000 miles of frozen wilderness away.
Amazingly, a group of trappers and prospectors volunteered to cover the distance with their dog teams! Operating in relays from trading post to trapping station and beyond, one sled started out from Nome while another, carrying the serum, started from Nenana. Oblivious to frostbite, fatigue, and exhaustion, the teamsters mushed relentlessly until, after 144 hours in minus 50-degree winds, the serum was delivered to Nome. As a result, only one other life was lost to the potential epidemic. Their sacrifice had given an entire town the gift of life.
Ultimately, the price we pay to follow God does not compare to the price that was paid to allow us the gift of eternal life. Jesus Christ so loves each and every one of us that He was willing to offer up His very life to rescue us from sin. Much like the enormous effort given in the Alaskan tundra to save lives, Jesus carried the cross and allowed the sins of the world to be laid upon His shoulders.
To fully obtain the Kingdom of God will cost us something. Unfortunately for some, the cost is more than they are willing to pay, and they miss out on this treasure.
But when we come to truly realize the sacrifice made for us, then we can come to see that trading the temporal for the eternal, the earthly things for the divine, the perishable for the imperishable is an easy trade.
What is it that is keeping you from living the Kingdom life? You can spend your whole life stockpiling things that in the end don’t really matter and miss the true treasure that is offered in Christ. So please, let go of the things that are getting in the way of fully embracing the Kingdom of God.