Sunday, March 27, 2016

Day 32: Matthew 13:34-46 & Psalm 32 - How Valuable is the Kingdom of God to You?

Today's Reading: Matthew 13:34-46 & Psalm 32

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How Valuable is the Kingdom of God to You?

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. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. - Matthew 13:44-46, ESV
In today's reading we learn much about the nature and value of the kingdom. First, in the Parable of the Weeds, Jesus teaches us that the sons of God are always mixed in with the sons of the world, just as wheat and weeds grow up together in the same field when both are planted alongside each other. We cannot separate ourselves from unbelievers in this life and we cannot have a perfectly safe and pure life until the end of this age, when Jesus returns and purifies His creation.

Then, in the light of the nature of the relationship between the kingdom and the world, Jesus tells two short parables to emphasize the surpassing value of the kingdom. In the first, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field and in the second it is like a rare pearl of great value. What do we learn from these two short parables:

1. The kingdom of heaven is worth more far more than everything we have. The man who found the treasure in the field and the merchant who found the pearl both knew what they should do. They did not hesitate to sell everything they had in order to secure the far greater treasure.

2. Not everyone sees and understand the surpassing value of the kingdom. The treasure was hidden in the field. The person who owned the field didn't know what he had when he sold it to the man who had found the treasure. The person who sold the pearl to the merchant probably didn't understand it's true value either.

3. The right response to the surpassing value of the kingdom is a whole-hearted commitment. The fact that neither of these men hesitated shows how we should respond to the Gospel of the Kingdom. When reconciliation with God, eternal life, and the inheritance of all things in Christ is being offered, nothing less than a full, nothing-held-back response of love and worship and discipleship is appropriate.

Jesus gave everything He had to secure the kingdom, to get the treasure, including us. He gave up His life. How have we responded to Him?

Prayer based on Psalm 32:

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
   and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Father, the blessing of being forgiven, of not having my sin count against me, is a joy and a blessing beyond all telling. Thank You that Your Son bore my sins on the cross so that I don't bear them any more but am forgiven in Your sight and my sin is covered by the blood of Jesus!

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
   through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
   my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

Father, when I sin and rebel against You and refuse to confess and seek repentance, it makes me miserable. I feel like I am dying inside and I know I need You. So often, I am too slow to turn to You and seek You as I should.
I acknowledged my sin to you,
   and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
   and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
Father, when I do turn to You to release my sin through honest and open confession, You are always so faithful to forgive and so compassionate toward me. Why am I slow to confess? Thank You for Your ready and waiting compassion and forgiveness, which is already mine in Christ because Jesus has already paid for my sin.
Therefore let everyone who is godly
   offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
   they shall not reach him.
Father, draw the hearts of all of Your people to seek Your face and to hide themselves in You always. Draw us away from worldly distraction, deceptions of self-sufficiency and worse. Draw us to Yourself and let us all seek You.
You are a hiding place for me;
   you preserve me from trouble;
   you surround me with shouts of deliverance.
You are our only refuge, our only safety, our only hiding place in a world of sin. You keep us in Your perfect care. 
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
   I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
   which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
   or it will not stay near you.
Lord, let me have a teachable spirit and a responsive heart. Teach me and lead me in the ways I should go, following after You. Forgive me for being so often stubborn and foolish. Let me be more tender, more responsive.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
   but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
   and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Father, You are the One who has delivered us from the sorrows of the wicked - the sorrows of not having any purpose, of not being forgiven, of not having eternal life, of not having peace with You. Thank You for saving us from these sorrows and instead surrounding us with Your steadfast love. Let us delight and rejoice in You, now and always!! In Jesus name, Amen.

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