Mary’s Treasure

I love Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth because, according to church tradition, it is Mary’s own recollections. Only Mary could recall intimate details about Gabriel’s visit the remarkable announcement: “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (vs. 31-32). She remembered her question “How will this be since I am a virgin?” (v. 34), and the angel’s reply about the Holy Spirit’s part in the conception.

She even included the report about Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy and her aged cousin’s joyful greeting, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed I the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (vs. 42, 43). And “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (v. 45). She remembered the song she sang: My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior . . .”  (vs. 46-55).

Mary was the one who included Caesar Augustus’ decree that sent them to Bethlehem where her Son was born among the beasts of domestic life, bound up in rags, and laid to sleep in the animal’s feed trough.

Mary told about the shepherds who surely reported the angel’s proclamation to the parents. And the angel’s song: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests” (2:14). Mary also remembered when Jesus was presented in the temple according to the law and the old man and woman who spoke powerfully about her son (2:25-38). Mary remembered Jesus when he was twelve years old, being separated from her and Joseph, and how He amazed the Jewish teachers by speaking with wisdom and authority beyond His years (2:41-50). And he amazed His mother by answering her scolding by saying, “Did you know I had to be in my Father’s house? (v. 49). Oh, how I wish Luke had picked her memory for more details of His childhood – clearly He was no ordinary child. Or maybe He was and the details are much the same as your childhood and mine.

Luke said that Mary, “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19, 51). I’m so glad she did because we have the most detailed, intimate account of our Savior’s birth and early glimpses of His ministry. Here’s my question for us both: What marvelous things has God done for you? Have you treasured them up in your heart (or written them down in a journal)? When someone (a grandchild, perhaps) asks you about your relationship with Jesus you will be glad you did.

Treasures of your Heart

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“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21)
The heart is so much more than an organ or a feeling. In the Scriptures, “heart” is emotion driven by reason and conscious thought.” That alone makes so many verses take on a whole new context. Which is why Matthew 6:21 jumped out at me recently, specifically the words “heart” and “treasure.”
When Jesus said, “Where your treasure is . . .” He was referring to what is stored up. Now He wasn’t talking about a stored up treasure of jewels or money. The treasure in your heart is what you think about. Because a treasure is something of great value to you, it is what takes up the greatest space in your conscious thoughts. Your treasure may be money, or it may be status, or your job or your children (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). It’s what you assign the highest value with respect to the amount of thought you invest.
Here’s the point: you control the treasure of your heart. Because you choose your conscious thoughts – you choose what you will focus on and what you will talk to yourself about. I know this is true. When I spend more time in Bible Study, my conscious thoughts – and thus my treasure – are being shaped by the Word. By investing in the words of my Lord, my treasure has eternal value.
Beloved, what treasures are you storing up in your heart? Where are you investing your thoughts? It’s your choice you know. Choose eternal treasures.

Trading Gold for Bronze

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie. . .” (Romans1:25).

I love to watch the Olympics.  I love to see people with great skill and talent at their best.   I admire the determination and dedication they show to hone and strengthen their skills; I am encouraged by their single-minded focus and discipline. Thousands of athletes come with the hopes of winning a medal for their country, with the gold as their ultimate goal. Silver medals are awarded to second place and bronze for third, but gold medals are the pinnacle of success in the competitive world of athletics. Gold is far more valuable than silver or bronze, thus it is awarded to the most worthy athlete.

Gold is also a show of one’s wealth. In fact, that can be taken to ridiculous extremes with gold cosmetics, gold clothing, a gold coffin, gold teeth caps or a gold slinky. And if you really want to show off, you can put a roll of gold toilet tissue next to your gold toilet. Silver and bronze just won’t cut it if you want to really make a statement.

Solomon was the wealthiest of all the Old Testament kings, so much so that the Bible says all the articles for his personal dwelling places were made of gold because “silver was considered of little value in Solomon’s day”(2 Chronicles 9:20).  Solomon had wealth that today’s richest billionaires can only dream about. I found a particularly interesting note in 2 Chronicles 9:15-16 which says: “King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold . . . he also made three hundred small shields of hammered gold.” Gold shields – that’s pretty wealthy, don’t you think?

Solomon eventually died and his son, Rehoboam ascended to the throne in his place. The young man did not inherit his father’s wisdom, nor his grandfather David’s love for God. 2 Chronicles 12 tells the story of Rehoboam’s turning away from the Lord – “he and all Israel with him abandoned the Lord” (v. 1). They soon came under attack from the king of Egypt, and God spoke through a prophet declaring, “You have abandoned me; therefore I now abandon you” (v. 5). At this the King and people recognized their sin and turned back to God for His protection. God relented and rescued, but they still were made subject to the Egyptian king for a season as the Lord said, “so that they may learn the difference between serving Me and serving the kings of other lands.” (v. 8).

While the Egyptian king did not destroy the people, he did strip them of much of the wealth that Solomon had amassed. Verse 9 says, “Shishak king of Egypt . . . carried off the treasures of the temple of the Lord . . . and of the royal palace. He even took the gold shields Solomon had made.” Wait, did you catch that. The gold shields – Solomon’s gold shields – were claimed as booty by the king of Egypt. Look at the next verse: “So King Rehoboam made bronze shield to replace them” (v. 10). Because of the sin of the king and his people with him, the royal gold shields were traded out for bronze – an inferior metal for an inferior king.

There are two points to consider here: first, God allowed the people some time with the enemy king so that they could see how much better they had it under His authority. Where they had once been the most feared and respected nation under David and Solomon, they were made a subservient nation under Egypt. Their freedom was taken from them and they were made to pay tribute to the Egyptian king. Their harvests were divided so that Shishak received his portion, whether or not they had any left themselves. The second point is this: they had been the wealthiest and most prosperous nation, but they had been forced to trade their gold for bronze because they turned away from their God. King Rehoboam’s entry ends with these sad words: “He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord” (V. 14). They squandered all the blessings God had given them for the false pleasures of the world. And in the end they lost more than all those worldly treasures were worth.

So I ask you – Are your trading gold for bronze – or even less? Are you trading the blessed life God longs to give you for the fool’s gold of the world?   The world we live in is ruled by an evil enemy – Satan, and he is constantly at work taking men and women captive under his cruel banner. God has offered us the safety and security of His Son, but we must set our heart on seeking Him, and receive His loving offer. We must turn to the Lord and commit ourselves completely to Him. I promise you will find that serving God, living under His authority and His golden shield is far superior to anything the world could offer you. Don’t throw away a golden life for worthless trinkets and momentary pleasures. Grab hold of the blessings God has for you and you will never lose the greatest treasure of all.

Holy Father, the world dangles worthless stones before our eyes, and so often we grab for them and forget about the real treasure that You give. Please help us to recognize the difference between fool’s gold and the pure and perfect gold that is only found in You. Amen.

What Are You Worth?

“God bought you with a high price.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

“God paid a high price for you.” (1 Corinthians 7:23)

“Sometimes I just feel so worthless.” I wrote in my prayer journal one day.  It was one of those days where everything seemed to go wrong.  And I thought that the something wrong must surely be me.  The frustrations and stress of the day had combined to create a black cloud of depression and emptiness in my heart.  You and I are not the first to find ourselves battling feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.  Feelings of worthlessness have long been one of Satan’s favorite weapons, because it is so effective.  When something is deemed worthless it is useless, futile, meaningless, an empty waste.  If you have ever thought yourself worthless, or worse, had someone call you worthless, you know it is hard to stop that endless loop of self-condemnation from playing repeatedly in your mind.

God doesn’t call us worthless.  On the contrary, He has placed a very high value on us.  He revealed this truth to me during a visit to a beachside souvenir shop. My husband and I were wandering through this little shop and he picked up one of the seashell items. After looking at the price, he commented, “They must really like their stuff. They’ve priced it so they could keep it.”

God spoke so tenderly to my heart at that moment.  I realized that it is not the merchant that places value on an item. Rather the buyer decides if it is worth the price.  If the price is too high, the buyer will walk away.  God willingly paid the highest price for you and me, the life of His one and only precious Son, Jesus Christ.  God decided that we are worth the price.  That makes us very valuable, don’t you think?

Because God created us and loves us, He places tremendous value upon us.  We are not worthy of His love or the price He paid to redeem us, but He does not consider us worthless.  The next time Satan tells you that you’re worthless, remember that Paul says we are “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.” (Colossians 3:12), and John declares that we are “greatly loved children of God” (1 John 3:1). Remember that God has given His Son for you.

Worthless? Not according to the One who paid it all for you.

Holy Father, You gave Your perfect Son to redeem my life.  Such lavish love for a sinner like me.  When the enemy tries to tell me that I am nothing, please remind me that you gave everything for me.  Amen