Seeking God with all of Our Hearts

Forrest Fenn is a veteran of the Vietnam War. After retiring from his military career, he made a fortune as an art dealer. Supposedly, in 2010, then an 80 year old Fenn hid a box of treasure worth, as he estimates, 2 million dollars. He says he did so to give people hope. He also says that he wanted to do something to get kids out of the house and off of the hand held devices into the great outdoors. He offered clues in a 24 line poem. Now before you head off to “google” the poem, just know that he says he hid this treasure chest somewhere between Sante Fe, New Mexico, and Canada. I’ve been to Santa Fe. I didn’t feel close to Canada. In fact, there are a 1,000 miles between the two.

It is estimated that 350,000 people have ventured off in search of Fenn’s treasure. Some are extreme in their search. Ricky Idlett, a steamboat operator from Mississippi, confesses that he spends 12 hours a day researching the clues that Fenn has left in his poem.

Ah, the power of searching for that which is considered to be of value.

Matthew 13 is a treasure trove of parables about that which is of infinite, matchless, incomparable value—the Kingdom of God. Jesus introduced the Kingdom of God in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 6:33 is pure spiritual gold. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”

In Matthew 13:44-46 are two separate parables that essentially say the same thing. The only difference really in the two short stories is that in the first, the man is not looking for treasure, but in the second, he is. In searching for God, some people find Him after intensely searching. They ask questions. They struggle. They read. Other times, the discovery is more sudden, more spontaneous. You weren’t looking at all for a relationship with God. In either case, two points strike our hearts.

Nothing compares to Christ.

Both men knew instantly that they had found something that was incomparable in its value.

Jesus said the Kingdom of God will be like that.

Why can this be our claim?

  • A personal relationship with God is possible through Christ.
  • A permanent residence with God in Heaven is promised through Christ.
  • Both are provided not because of anything that we have done, can do, or will do.

The value of this relationship to Jesus is tied to joy. Therefore, when we lose the joy, we have to realize that we have lost sight of the value.

If nothing compares to Christ, nothing should keep us from Christ.

It is incomprehensible that we would not forsake all for the kingdom of God. This is the common response of both men in the parables. They were not cautious. They did not seek to diversify their portfolios. They were all in. Everything they had was invested in their new found discovery.

Our relationships to Christ must model this activity. He has no rival. He has no equal. Nothing compares to Him.

The response of the first followers of Jesus was to leave everything and follow Him.

We ask ourselves these questions. Do I seek God’s will first? Do I seek God’s word first? Do I seek Him first?

On June 8, 2017, Jeff Murphy, a 53 year old from Illinois, went missing in the Yellowstone National Park. Rescuers found his body the next day. He had fallen, investigators estimate, about 500 feet. His wife confirmed that he had been searching for Fenn’s Treasure. He is the fourth known person to have died searching for the treasure.

What does today find you searching for with all of your heart? If it is anything but the Kingdom of God, you are wasting your time.

Game On!

Like so many other churches, we began Vacation Bible School this morning. We are using Lifeway’s Game On theme. We are looking forward to the week.

The theme verse for this year’s Bible School is 2 Peter 1:3. “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

What a glorious promise!

The author of 1 and 2 Peter is the apostle Peter that we are familiar with in the Gospels and Acts. During the ministry of Jesus, no other person is more important to the story than Peter. You will remember that Peter was the one who first identified Jesus as being the “Christ.” (Matthew 16) Peter is the primary preacher of the early church proclaiming the significance of the resurrection of the Lord. (Acts 2) Peter’s influential background is the backdrop of the importance of these two letters. These letters are written to “those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” That is, these are letters written to Christians who have been scattered perhaps as a result of their beliefs, but not necessarily so. They may have been scattered simply at the whim of the Roman government. Nevertheless, the idea of being a stranger is figuratively true for these believers. Peter desires to make the point that as believers they are strangers in this world. Their beliefs are foreign. Here is where these two books begin to take on contemporary application for the modern day believer in Christ. We also are strangers in this world. Our beliefs are foreign to the world around us. Our beliefs, desires, and habits of holiness are often thought of as foreign and silly among an unbelieving world. And as such, we sometimes fall into patterns of the world and lose our pursuit of holiness. This text speaks to that struggle that we often feel.

God’s Provision Regarding Our Godliness

Here’s the big picture of verses 3-4. God provides everything we need for life and godliness. The emphasis on this passage is godliness, but we can’t help but pause a moment on that word life. We should understand the context is what we need not what we want. (No automatic 54 million dollar jets!) Nevertheless, this is a big deal. Notice several things about God’s provision as outlined in 2 Peter 1:3-4.

  • The Power being referenced is His divine power.
  • The Parameters being referenced are everything regarding both life and godliness.
  • The Pathway to this promise is a relationship through His Work.
  • The Purpose of our victory is His Glory and goodness.
  • The Promise to succeed in Him is sure.
  • The Product of our victory is sharing in the divine nature and escaping the corruption of this world.

Irenaeus, a second century theologian said, “God became what we are, out of His immeasurable love for us, in order to make us what He is.”

If you feel defeated today in your spiritual life, know this: His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness!

It’s game on! In Christ, you can win your battle today!

Why VBS?

Next week is the week of Vacation Bible School for our church. I know that we are not alone. Would you stop right now and pray not only for us but for others investing in children this summer?

I read recently the results of a Lifeway Christian Resources poll which indicated that 2/3 of Americans plan to send their children to a VBS this summer. This is an astounding number. What an opportunity!

Why then is VBS so important?

Their Futures are at stake!

The future of every child begins with a strong foundation.

• Their salvation is dependent upon hearing and responding to the Word of God.
Paul declared, “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.” (Romans 10:17)

• Their strength is developed by hearing and responding to the Word of God.
The Psalmist summed up the power of the Word of God.

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping Your word. (Psalm 119:9)

• Their success in the God endeavors of life is dependent upon obeying the Word of God.
Read Joshua 1:8. “This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.”

Our Futures are at stake!

But, not only their futures but our futures are tied to the keeping of the Word of God. By that, I mean both our keeping the Word of God and others keeping the Word of God. This is a plan for the nation. This is a plan for conquest and occupation of the Promised Land. This was not just a word for Joshua; this was a word for the entire nation.

How can America become a more righteous nation? Our future as a nation may well be tied to thousands of Vacation Bible Schools happening around our nation this summer.