Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Suffering series #2: Refined

"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."  Malachi 3:3 

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and caused them to wonder about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group. 

That week the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work.  She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.  As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. 

He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were the hottest so as to burn away all impurities.  The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot as she thought about that verse, "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver." 

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.  The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. 

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" 

He smiled and answered, ""Oh, that's easy- when I see my image in it." 

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you. 

A friend shared this anonymous email with me and I share it with you. Let me add a comforting truth from Job 23:10   Job in the midst of his severe trials was able to say,  "But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."

May 8, 2006 Posted by | Suffering | Comments Off on Suffering series #2: Refined

Church Series: We Need Each Other

 Christ’s Church is pictured in a variety of ways to help us grasp the fullness and richness of what it means to  be a member of His Church.  All of the following word pictures show that we can’t make it alone as Christians.  We need each other.  We’re all linked together through our relationship with Christ, in spite of our differences, The Doctrine of Christ is the foundation upon which His Church is built. There can be no compromise here. The Doctrine of Christ includes, The deity of Christ, His virgin birth, His blood atonement for our sins. His bodily resurrection from the dead and His coming again to reign on this earth. However, when it comes to opinions and preferences, there is lots of room for compromise.    Let’s look at some of those word pictures of Christ’s Church. 

BECOMING A CHRISTIAN MEANS ENTERING CHRIST’S KINGDOM 

Salvation involves being translated from the kingdom of  Satan into the  Kingdom of  Christ.  Colossians 1:13  It involves not only trusting Christ for salvation, but also submission to Him as Lord.  Note, I did not say that one must make Jesus Lord to be saved.   What I am saying is that it is obvious one is not in Christ’s Kingdom who is still living in rebellion to Christ.  Being in Christ’s Kingdom involves living in love in a spiritual relationship with other Christians who are also in Christ’s Kingdom.  Romans 14  is devoted to that theme. Being in Christ’s Kingdom also involves reigning with Christ  in His future, literal, earthly Kingdom, known as the Millennium.  For more on this topic, go to my link on PROPHECY on this web site.  In James 2:5  those who love Christ are referred to as heirs of His Kingdom.  Revelation 5:8-10 promises that those who have been redeemed by Christ’s blood from every  “kindred, tongue, people group and nation will reign with Christ on this earth.  In II Peter 1:1-11 we learn that those Christians who have grown in Christian maturity will enjoy an “abundant entrance”  into Christ’s Kingdom. 

 THE CHURCH IS A NATION 

Redeemed from every nation, we have become a heavenly nation.  We have a Heavenly citizenship, Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:20  As citizens of Heaven, we are very much a part of an earthly nation. We learn  in Philippians 2:15 that we shine as lights in the midst of  crooked and perverse nations Though we are proud, loyal, obedient  citizens of our earthly nation, our loyalty to Christ and His Church supercedes our national loyalties.  It was that loyalty to Christ that brought about the Roman persecution of Christians in the first century.  In case you are wondering how our heavenly loyalties affect our earthly loyalties,  see the next  article in this CHURCH series,  “Minding Our Own Business”.  

THE CHURCH IS AN ASSEMBLY 

James speaks of local churches as assemblies in James 2:2   and again the writer of Hebrews in 12:22-23  speaks of the church as an assembly. The very name “assembly” rules out individuals or families who meet together by themselves because they want no relationship with any other Christians, from being churches. We need one another in order to edify the church.  I Corinthians 12 teaches us that we are as a Body with many members, each member different, but needing one another. 

THE CHURCH IS DESCRIBED AS A FLOCK OF SHEEP 

In John 10 Jesus refers to Himself as The Good Shepherd.  Again Hebrews 13:20 refers to Christ as the Great Shepherd of the Sheep.  As sheep need to be led to pasture and as they need the protection of their shepherd, so Christ has called His under-shepherds, better known as pastors, to feed and protect the sheep.  As under-shepherds, we take our orders from Christ, the Great Shepherd of the Sheep.  See more about this in Acts 20:28  and I Peter 5:1-4. 

THE CHURCH IS CHRIST’S DWELLING PLACE 

Here is an amazing dual truth for us to try to comprehend. Psalm 91 teaches us that Christ is our dwelling place. Romans 8:9,  II Corinthians 6:16  and Ephesians 3:17 teach us that our bodies as Christians are the dwelling place of God. Jesus announced both truths in His final conversation with His disciples in John 17:23  

THE CHURCH IS HIS TEMPLE 

Certainly our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit as is clearly taught in  I Corinthians 3:16-17,  6:19  and Ephesians 2:18-22.  This temple is built on the foundation of The Apostle’s Doctrine and Christ Himself is the Cornerstone.  Ephesians 2:20  

THE CHURCH IS A HOLY PRIESTHOOD 

Israel needed the Levitical priesthood who stood between them and God. We as Christians need no priesthood to mediate between God and us.  Revelation 1:5-8 teaches us we Christians are actually a Kingdom of priests.  As priests, I Timothy 2:5 affirms that we have direct access to God through our only Mediator, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  

THE CHURCH IS PICTURED AS BRANCHES IN A GRAPE VINE 

In John 15   Jesus pictures Himself as the vine and we His Church as the branches. As branches need to be united with the vine to bear fruit, so we need to be united with Christ to bear spiritual fruit spoken of in Galatians 5:22-23.  

THE CHURCH IS CHRIST’S BRIDE 

This amazing holy truth is taught in Ephesians 5:22-33.  Our marriage on earth is to be a picture of that heavenly relationship with Christ.  See my series on MARRIAGE for more on this. 

THE CHURCH IS THE FAMILY OF GOD 

This pictures the love, intimacy, and care that we as members of His Family have for one another.  Jesus spoke of this relationship in John 13:34-35  Paul wrote about this Heavenly Family in Ephesians 3:15. “Aren’t you glad you’re a part of the Family of God, washed in the Fountain, cleansed by His blood”, as Bill Gaither so beautiful described it in that wonderful song we sing?

FINALLY, THE CHURCH IS THE VERY BODY OF CHRIST ON EARTH. 

 Paul writes about it in I Corinthians 12:12-27.   Though Jesus lives in His glorified, resurrected Body in Heaven now;  we, His Church, are His Body on this earth today.  We have a common life,  His life flowing through us.  We are interdependent members.  We all need one another for the health and growth of His Body.   May God help us to have an increasing understanding of the wonderful privilege of being a part of Christ’s Church.  My prayer for you is Paul’s prayer for the Church in Ephesians 3:14-21 

May 8, 2006 Posted by | Church Series | Comments Off on Church Series: We Need Each Other

Occupy Till I Come

Before you start reading this message, I encourage you to get the Biblical background  by reading Luke 19:11-27.  Jesus is on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem as He prepares to offer Himself on the cross  as a sacrifice for our sins.  His Disciples are with Him, along with the crowds of people heading for Jerusalem for the annual Passover.

 

CONFUSION CONCERNING THE KINGDOM

 

His Disciples are confused about the truth He has been teaching concerning His Kingdom.  They evidently expect it to take place immediately.  So Jesus tells the story in this passage to correct them and explain to them that His Kingdom is not going to be set up at that time.  Later on as He talks to them on the Mount of Olives in what is known as His Olivet Discourse, recorded in Matthew 24 and 25 He repeats some of His teaching concerning His future Kingdom by telling other stories, such as the Parable of the Ten Virgins, recorded in Matthew 25:1-13   and His Parable of the Talents recorded in the same chapter,  verses  14-30.  In each of these stories, Jesus emphasizes that His earthly Kingdom is not  going to be established at that time, but will be  delayed for an unspecified period of time.

 

Though the story of the talents in Matthew 25  and the story of the Pounds in Luke 19 are very similar, yet they are not duplicates.  Each teaches different lessons. In this message we want to focus on His story in Luke 19.

 

INVESTING FOR ETERNITY

 

Jesus tells a story of a nobleman who prepares to leave his servants for an unspecified length of time.  He gives to each of his ten servants a measure of money known as one pound.  Each pound is equivalent to 50 shekels  or 20 ounces of silver.

 

What could you do with silver?  The facts are that between July 1, 2003 and November 30, 2006 while the price of gold rose 84%,   the price of silver increased more than 200%,  Of course, the prices of precious metals is very volatile, so I am not making any predictions or investment suggestions for you regarding the future; only that I who am now 75 am not putting any money into that market, for I probably don’t have enough time left to recover from a down market.

 

But getting back to the story in Luke 19,  we read of three of the ten servants. What the seven did, we do not know.  One invested his pound and made 10 pounds.  Another invested his pound and made 5 pounds.  A third was fearful and just took his pound and wrapped it in a napkin and hid it. Of course, he earned nothing.

 

When the nobleman returned to set up his kingdom and to receive an accounting from his servants, he was pleased with the servant who had earned ten pounds and rewarded him by making him ruler over ten cities.  The servant who had earned five pounds was likewise rewarded with rulership over five cities.  However, the servant who hid his pound in a napkin was reprimanded and his one pound was taken from him and given to the servant whose pound had grown to ten.  That servant had proven his investment skills.

 

Now, let’s examine this story and  note the applications for ourselves. Again, I remind you that the reason Jesus tells this story is to clarify the confusion in the minds of His disciples concerning His Kingdom, as is explained in Luke 19:11. But more important than that, His purpose as verse 13 declares is to challenge us to be faithfully occupied with His concerns until He returns.

 

Later in Act 1:6-11  as Jesus is preparing to ascend back to Heaven, He challenges His Apostles to not be caught up in surmising about when Christ will return to establish His Kingdom; but rather they and we are be occupied with fulfilling His Great Commission which is repeated in the final chapter in each of the four Gospels.

 

THE NOBLEMAN

 

The nobleman is, no doubt, a picture of Jesus who is about to leave this earth for a long, unspecified period of time and then return to establish His Kingdom on this earth. 

 

Likewise in Matthew  25:1-13  Jesus is pictured as the Bridegroom who leaves to prepare a place for His Bride and returns unexpectedly. The point of the story is that the Bride, His Church,  must be watchful and ready for His imminent return.

 

In I Corinthians 3:1-15 Paul warns us to not  be caught up in “preacher worship”; but in working together to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission. Here we are warned that we are going to give an account to God for the way we invested our lives. Some Christians are going to be rewarded.  Others will suffer great loss.

 

HIS SERVANTS

 

Every born again believer is expected to be a faithful servant of God.  That is clearly taught in Romans 12:1-2  and in II Corinthians 5:14-20,  I encourage you to read both those passages and settle the matter right now.  Are you going to be Christ’s servant or are you going to ignore this responsibility?  Two kinds of servants are described in our story in Luke 19.  In verses  17-19 we learn of the faithful servants and their rewards.  In verses 2-22 we learn of the unfaithful servants, who are described as lazy and wicked.   Which are you?

 

WHAT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY?

 

Luke 19:13 clearly spells it out.  “Occupy till I come”, Jesus says to us.  What does that word “occupy” mean?  The Greek word translated occupy is pragmatuomi. That word implies that what we do must be practical; not merely theoretical.  Christ does not want us to waste our time focusing on the theories of Christianity. Too many Christians are focusing all their attention on the theories of Christ’s return.  All we need to be concerned about is that He is returning again to reward His faithful servants and we are to spend our lives putting our hands and our feet, as well as our heart, into the work of Christ.

 

In Romans 10:15  we read of the Christian’s beautiful  feet who carry the Gospel to those who do not know it.   As James teaches,  Christianity is more than simply abstract theory.  It is practical. It involves work and sweat as we meet the physical and spiritual needs of people who have never heard or comprehended the Gospel.

 

HOW BIG IS YOUR TALENT?

 

It doesn’t matter.  It’s not our concern.  God is the one who gives the talents and abilities.  It is our responsibility to simply use the talents He has given us.  Let us not waste our time comparing our talents with one another and boasting of ours, or feeling sorry for ourselves because we do not have another’s talents.  The distribution  of our talents is  according to Matthew 25:14-15   “as He will”  I Corinthians 12:4-11 teaches identically the same truth.  He gives His gifts to us “as He will”.

 

WE ALL HAVE THE SAME RESOURCES

 

Though we have diverse talents and abilities,  we all have the same resources.  Look at them.

 

1.  We all have the same powerful Gospel that saves, as Paul declares in Romans 1:16.  We do not save anyone.  We simply love sinners and present the Gospel to them.  His Gospel alone has the power to save.  It’s not our schemes or our psychological approach that saves.  It is His powerful Gospel, plain and simple.

 

2. We all have the same weapons for dealing with Satan.  They are listed in Ephesians 6:10-17.  We all have the same weapon of prayer, See verse 18.

 

3.  We all have the same power of the Holy Spirit. See Acts 1:8,  I Corinthians 12:4, and II Corinthians 3:5.

 

4. As the various members of our body all have need of one another in order to be healthy and useful, so we  are all members of the same Body, the spiritual Body of Christ. Romans 12:3-5, Ephesians 5:30.  Let’s not get so wrapped up in our denomination or association of churches, that we fail to understand that all true Christians who are trusting in Christ alone  for their salvation are all a part of His one spiritual Body.  We are members one of another and we need each other. Paul warns in I Corinthians 12:21 that we cannot look at other Christians and sneer, “I have no need of you!”  That is the height of pride and arrogance.

 

THE LAW OF SYNERGY

 

As members of our human body each need to be working well for the total health and usefulness of our body,  so each of us as Christians and members of Christ’s Body need to be faithfully fulfilling our calling in order for the Law of Synergy to work in Christ’s Body. That Law is that we can accomplish more together than we can each working independently.

 

That’s why we gather together in local churches, rather than Christian families each doing their own thing apart from one another.   That’s why Churches of like precious faith can work together in joint efforts to win the lost to Christ.  Together, we can accomplish more than working independently doing our own thing.

 

Christ is glorified, saints are edified and the lost are evangelized in churches where each member is faithfully fulfilling His spiritual gifts in love, humility and in dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

WHAT CRIPPLES OUR EFFECTIVENESS?

 

When we, as the unfaithful servant in Luke 19:20-22,  fear that Christ is too harsh, unreasonable and demanding and expects more from us than is possible, then we are not going to make any effort to serve Him and use our talents for His glory.

 

Those of us who because of laziness refuse to do our part in serving God are classified by Christ as slothful and wicked servants, Let us not blame the weather or anything else for our laziness or indifference for not serving the Lord.  Rather, just call it sin and confess it to God as sin.  With the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:16, let us “redeem the time for the days are evil.”

 

Let us determine to be faithful in our service for Christ so that one day we can hear Him say,  “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”  Matthew 25:21,  Luke 19:17.

 

 

May 8, 2006 Posted by | Faithfulness | Comments Off on Occupy Till I Come

Church series: Minding Our Own Business

We, Christ’s Church, ought to be model citizens and the greatest asset to our nation. We ought to live a quiet and peaceable life doing our own work, minding our own business, being a good neighbor, helping the weak, being involved in our communities as we are able and paying our taxes. I Thess. 4:11-12 II Thess. 3:11-12 Romans 13:1-8

Don’t be a disturber of the peace!
Because of our clean, holy living, we ought never to be an unnecessary tax liability or burden to our society. We are never to be agitators and disturbers of the peace. We ought not be a danger to our streets and highways by drunken or reckless driving. We ought not be a burden to our neighborhood with loud, drunken parties, or by allowing our trash to litter the streets. We ought not blight the appearance of our neighborhood by allowing our house and yard to become sloppy and run-down.

Don’t get in their faces!
By our lives and through our prayers we ought to be quietly influencing our nation for good in our homes, in our neighborhoods and in our work place. Jesus described our influence as light and as salt. Matthew 5:13-16 The purpose of light is not to glare, but to give light to those who walk in darkness. The purpose of salt is not to call attention to its presence, but to make food more palatable. So a Christian is not to live his life in the faces of those he desires to reach with the Gospel, but as a quiet, helpful friend always looking for opportunties and always ready to give an answer for the hope that lies in us. Colossians 4:4-6 I Peter 3:15

Pray for our leaders!
We, Christ’s Church, ought to be blessing our neighborhoods and our nation by praying for those around us that they might come to the saving knowledge of Christ. I Timothy 2:1-4 Pray for our President. Pray for the members of Congress, including those you detest. Pray for our state and local officials; that those without Christ may come to know Him as Saviour and Lord.

Pray for our peace-keepers,
both our military and our local and state police as they daily risk their lives for our safety and protection. Romans 13 teaches us that they are servants of God for our good. Give them your support and appreciation. Next time you get a traffic ticket, thank the cop for doing his job.

Pray for the garbage collector,
the meter reader, the mail man or woman, the school teachers who influence your children. Thank God especially for every Christian teacher who has a godly influence on his or her students.

Are you able to volunteer?
Thank God for Christian doctors and nurses in hospitals and for nursing home workers, and hospice workers who as they do their work, patiently and tenderly bringing God’s love to fearful, despondent, suffering patients. Are you available for God to use as a volunteer?

Smile when you answer your door!
Thank God for the person who disturbs your privacy by knocking on your front door to sell you something or try to convince you of his beliefs. Treat him kindly and offer him a Gospel tract or introduce him to this web site.

Our fulltime business is to be an Ambassador for Christ

Paul tells us that in II Corinthians 5:20-21.  Every moment we are in the presence of others: whether shopping, working, walking, standing in an elevator with others, in public transportation, on vacation, visiting in a hospital, at school, or wherever we are, we ought to be aware of the fact that if we are Christians, we are Ambassadors for Christ.

That is why the way we live our lives is so vital. We must reflect Christ to others. We must be looking for ways to introduce Christ to others.  It is our responsibility, it is our business to take the message of reconciliation to those who do not know Christ. Read it and master the message in II Corinthians 5:20-21.

Use  your computer to evanglize the lost and to encourage and strengthen Christians in the Word.  One simple way to do this is to forward this web site to others.

https://hiddentreasures.wordpress.com

Ezekiel 3:18-21 was God’s sober challenge to the Prophet Ezekiel.  It is also a sober challenge to each of us Christians of our responsibility to the lost around us.

Remember, our primary responsibility as Christians is to live for Christ’s glory twenty-four hours a day.  If others respect and admire our kindness and thoughtfulness and genuineness, they are going to be more open to know the Christ we reflect.

May 8, 2006 Posted by | Church Series | Comments Off on Church series: Minding Our Own Business