Seek Treasure in Heaven
Matthew 19:26 (NASB) says “with God all things are possible.”
Jesus spoke these words after a young man asked Him how to have eternal life. The man said he had kept the ten commandments, honored his parents, and loved his neighbor as himself. But he asked if he needed something else. In response, Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor and invited him to “come, follow Me” and have “treasure in heaven” (Matthew 19:21). Sadly, the young man loved his riches so much it caused him to deny Christ’s offer for eternal life.
Then, Jesus told His disciples:
“Truly I say to you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:23-24).
The Bible does not condemn prosperity but cautions us to have the proper perspective. Scripture reveals that Abraham, David, Solomon, and others were wealthy, yet it didn’t interfere with their relationship with God. They loved God more than their possessions. Oftentimes, our priorities need to be rearranged to be in alignment with God’s purpose.
Wealthy or not, we can have possessions, but guard our hearts so they do not have us. 1 John 2:15 says:
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
This doesn’t mean we can’t have things, but we shouldn’t love them, or anything more than we love the Lord. This young man thought the way many of us have at one time — reject the gospel to live for ourselves. An unbalanced love for worldly things hinders our relationship with Christ, and we don’t want that because we love Him! For me, with God’s help, this change in priorities has been a humbling and rewarding process.
I used to be wrapped up in my possessions: the big house, nice car, designer clothes, Dolby sound, the people I knew, and parties I gave. But deep inside, something was missing. I lacked the joy and peace I wanted. Through a series of events, it all went along the wayside. Presently, my income is less, I live in a small apartment, and the Lord has me getting rid of my collection of possessions. Anything unused in the last three or four years isn’t needed, and I gladly give it away. Now my most valuable possession is my relationship with Christ and His life in me, prioritizing living in a manner that’s pleasing to Him. I can finally say I’ve found true love, true joy, true peace, and a heart satisfaction unmatched by any worldly possession. I discovered that if we let Him, the Lord will transform our minds, our priorities, and our desires to match His. The rewards are priceless!
Part of God’s plan and purpose for us is to draw ever closer to Him. May we surrender everything to Him and withhold nothing. May we possess a greater hunger and sincere love for the Lord with the desire to honor and please Him above all else. How can this be? By asking Him. Ask for help and grace, His amazing grace, which He supplies freely and abundantly — grace that enables us to love Him more than possessions.
Exodus 3:2, 7 2There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.
7The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.
The angel of the Lord is referred to by rabbis as the Prince of the Countenance. We know Him as Jesus, the visible manifestation of the invisible God. When Moses made his choice to side with his people, he had to flee for his life from the very people that had raised and educated him. In the wilderness of Midian, he received the second half of his training. Now he knows he can do nothing. He is humbled and ready to be called by God. Most of us would rather skip the last half of God’s training, but it is essential. Without it we end up polluting what God would do with our own wisdom and ways. When Moses was prepared, Jesus met with him.
This is the same Jesus of the New Testament that looks on people with compassion. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb. 13:8) God said, “I have seen their misery and heard them crying out…” God is concerned about suffering wherever it takes place and to whomever as we saw in the story of Hagar. We are made in His image, and He loves and values each life.
It is argued that the God of the Old Testament brutally destroyed lives and therefore is not like the New Testament God. He does end life when it is so corrupt and perverted that it only causes pain. He is the same just but merciful God in both testaments. If you are experiencing pain and suffering, know that God sees your misery and hears your cries. He will bring a change or see you through it because of His great compassion.
Meditation: God is concerned about suffering and I should be also. His life in me will demonstrate His concerns.
Streams in the Desert – January 29
- 202329 Jan
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early (Psalms 46:5)
“Shall not be moved”–what an inspiring declaration! Can it be possible that we, who are so easily moved by the things of earth, can arrive at a place where nothing can upset us or disturb our calm? Yes, it is possible; and the Apostle Paul knew it. When he was on his way to Jerusalem where he foresaw that “bonds and afflictions” awaited him, he could say triumphantly, “But none of these things move me.”
Everything in Paul’s life and experience that could be shaken had been shaken, and he no longer counted his life, or any of life’s possessions, dear to him. And we, if we will but let God have His way with us, may come to the same place, so that neither the fret and tear of little things of life, nor the great and heavy trials, can have power to move us from the peace that passeth understanding, which is declared to be the portion of those who have learned to rest only on God.
“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out.” To be as immovable as a pillar in the house of our God, is an end for which one would gladly endure all the shakings that may be necessary to bring us there!
—Hannah Whitall Smith
When God is in the midst of a kingdom or city He makes it as firm as Mount Zion, that cannot be removed. When He is in the midst of a soul, though calamities throng about it on all hands, and roar like the billows of the sea, yet there is a constant calm within, such a peace as the world can neither give nor take away. What is it but want of lodging God in the soul, and that in His stead the world is in men’s hearts, that makes them shake like leaves at every blast of danger?
“They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever.” There is a quaint old Scottish version that puts iron into our blood:
Who sticketh to God in stable trust
As Zion’s mount he stands full just,
Which moveth no whit, nor yet doth reel,
But standeth forever as stiff as steel!
SCRIPTURE READING — ISAIAH 12:1-6
“Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
It was a cold and sunny day in January—perfect for sledding down icy hills. Our church community gathered for a fun afternoon on the slopes and planned to meet afterward at the church for chili and hot chocolate.
Unfortunately, our 11-year-old son decided to go off a ramp with his racer, and he flew off the sled as it proceeded down the hill. He, on the other hand, came to an abrupt stop, face-planted on the hard ground. He lay there longer than he should have, and when others went over to help, they found he had lost feeling below his chest.
After he was brought by ambulance to the hospital with a diagnosis of a broken neck, the mood of the day changed. We spent hours waiting through X-rays and tests and talk of surgery. A prayer chain started up across the city.
After six hours the doctors were baffled and were ready to start the tests over again. At that moment, our son declared that he would play ball again. He was an avid basketball player. When we asked how he knew, he said he could feel God present with him and healing him.
As he walked out of the hospital that night, the doctors could only attribute his recovery to a miracle. We agreed.
Dear God, thank you for the moments when you show your presence to us. May we always look for your hand to care for us, even doing the unexpected. Amen.