What Do You Do When You Find A Great Treasure?

She was young, intelligent, attractive, mother of 4 children; the oldest delivered when she was 13 years old; none with her now. She loved Jesus; she prayed; she read the Bible; she talked to others about Jesus; she actually led a young man to the Lord within the past six months; she went to church within the past two weeks with her new fiancee with whom she lived and whom she had just met two months previously. And a little over a week ago she had gotten a new tattoo on her forearm: “Jesus Christ- John 3:16.”

And yesterday I preached her memorial service.

She died a week ago of her eighth heroin overdose, which occurred a little over a week after getting out of prison where she had been multiple times over the past ten years for drug related offenses. It was in prison that I met her. I saw in her, at times, a hunger for a different life. I saw in her the natural giftedness to be a leader; but I also saw the unwillingness to completely abandon the old life. She wanted both worlds.

Over 100 people, family and friends, crowded into a beautiful church building for an hour and a half memorial service followed by a meal provided by the church that her mother had previously attended.

The grief in the gathered assembly was palpable, with open sobbing and quiet weeping for the one who was deeply loved for her energy, her feistiness, and her humor. Friends and family shared their recollections.

And then it was time for me to preach. ( Before the service I had sensed God saying that He was setting before me “an open door”. And I had requested a team of people to be praying for me that I would clearly and powerfully deliver God’s word in this service.)

But, what do I say to this grieving crowd? Do I echo the themes of the open sharing time?

Do I say “God loves everybody, no matter what, so rejoice; everything is okay”?

Do I say “Heaven needed a hero; so God called her to Himself”?

Do I say “Everything happens for a reason; even though we are not quite sure what the reason is”?

But in the midst of this spiritually confusing atmosphere, the mother of another addict stood up and boldly proclaimed, “Listen, people, this death was not God’s will and plan. This was the devil’s work. Do not put this on God!”

And, because I was the moderator, I took this as the Holy Spirit’s cue to begin to preach.

“Yes, you are right! This is not God’s plan; this is the devil’s work. Things do happen for a reason and the reason is that we have rebelled against God’s call to totally reject the world, the flesh and the devil through the power of the Holy Spirit. And we have said ‘Yes’ to Jesus but not ‘No’ to the devil. As a result, we have not been set free from the devil’s lies and bondages.

“The Lord gave me this passage in Matthew 13:44 for today’s word.

“Matthew 13:44 ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.’

“I want to look at this passage in two ways.

“First, let us look at it from God’s perspective. God looks down on the field of the world which is under the control of Satan, the ‘prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience. And God sees us in this field: sinful, broken, purposeless, addicted, violent, and perverted people. And He loves us. He says, “They are worth the greatest sacrifice in the universe” and so Christ died on the cross to redeem us from this lost estate.

In our house we have a junk drawer. No matter how many times we organize this drawer, it ends up with useless items; items that we don’t know where to put anywhere else so we toss them in the junk drawer. The table and counter tops are neat and clear of everything, but the junk drawer is chaotic. We don’t know for sure what’s there, or what purpose or value it may have. Sometimes we think, it’s not worth the effort to organize this drawer one more time. Let’s just throw everything away and start over with a clean drawer.

Let’s imagine that Jesus comes to our house to spend a day or two in person. And the first thing He does is go to our junk drawer. He peers at it for a moment and then the tears start running down His cheeks. He turns to us and says, “You see junk in this drawer; but I see treasures. How much do you want for this junk?”

We set an incredibly high price; thinking to unexpectedly be able to pay off our mortgage.

But He responds. “I am giving you incredibly more than you ask. I do not want there to ever be a question about my ownership. I give my very life for your ‘junk drawer’. I do this so the whole universe will know that this was no shady back alley deal, rather I gave the highest price anyone could ever give. I laid down my life for this treasure.”
And so we give Him a clear title to our junk drawer. And the universe erupts with joy.

When asked by an interviewer for World News why He would pay so much, He responded, “I recognize this ‘junk’; it was mine from the beginning. Even though it is perverted, lost, doomed devastated, addicted, I could perceive the image of God in each one and I determined to redeem and restore each one to the original purpose designed by the creator God. Yes, there are treasures in this drawer.”

It is great news that while we were yet sinners, while we were yet junk, Christ loved us and died for us so that we could be redeemed from the control of the enemy and could be restored to the purposes God has for us.

I said in the beginning we would look at this parable in two ways. First we looked at it from God’s perspective, now we look at it from our earthly perspective.

A man is going about his work in the field of life and in the course of plowing a field he discovers a buried treasure. He becomes very excited about the value of this treasure. He perceives that nothing he has is as valuable as this treasure. He’s willing to get rid of everything he has in order to posess this treasure.

So he goes home and joyfully sells everything he has and converts it into cash and goes and buys the field so he can fully posess and enjoy the treasure.

Now let’s go back in our thinking to the junk drawer and deal with the junk drawer from man’s perspective.

It’s as though we are in the junk drawer, living our perverted and purposeless lives. At some point we learn the amazing news that we have been loved and valued and redeemed from this purposeless, perverted state.

We are overwhelmed by the ‘treasure’ that we’ve been given. We are absolutely amazed and undone by the grace we’ve been given. We’ve been forgiven and cleansed as though we had never sinned. We are given a purpose and a direction for our lives. Our lives now mean something. Yes, we’re going to heaven but we get to live purposeful meaningful lives here, free of our addictions and habitual sins. We no longer have to stay in the junk drawer.

We are so grateful and so joyful that we embrace the One, the Treasure, who has purchased us from the junk drawer and we say, “We will give up everything else we have been holding on to and we will hold on to you alone. We want your will to be our will; we want Heaven’s will to be done on earth just like it is in Heaven. So, fill us with your Holy Spirit, so we have the power to do what you’ve called us to do. We know you chose us to be holy and blameless. We know you chose us to live outside the junk drawer.”

We die to our old desires and appetites. We say “No” to the world the flesh and the devil and we say “Yes” to the Treasure.

“We would rather die than be unfaithful to you, Jesus, because you are the great Treasure that our hearts have been longing for.”

Now here is the most painful part we have to talk about.

What if we recognize that we’ve been saved by a mighty work of God so we’re no longer headed for destruction. We are forgiven, allowed access into the Father’s presence and promised eternity in heaven.

But, what if we say that we want to stay in the junk drawer. We are glad to be saved but we enjoy the old life and do not want to give it up. We do not want any one telling us what to do with our lives. We want to do what we want to do but in the end we want to go to heaven because God loves us and saves us. It does not matter if we continue to live like junk, because ‘Jesus loves me and I am going to heaven when I die.’

To take this attitude is to miss and dishonor the Treasure. To take this attitude is to redefine the Father’s plan. To take this attitude is to yield to the deception of the devil.

Christ’s purpose is not for us to continue to live perverted and purposeless lives. He wants to take us out of the junk drawer and grow us up as sons and daughters of heaven who manifest His glory here on heaven.

Christ plans that when his sons and daughters interact with the world, the world experiences Heaven’s love, Heaven’s power and Heaven’s purpose. It is not his plan that we only say ‘yes’ to Jesus and nothing else changes in our lives but the fact that we’re going to heaven. He wants us to represent heaven here and now in all we think, do and say. He wants us to grow up.

Yes, we often fail. And his forgiveness comes to us again and again in our weaknesses and failures and sins . However our direction is to seek Him above all else, not the world. We belong to heaven, not to Satan’s junk drawer.

It is possible that the church has over emphasized the judgments of God in the past. But if that’s possible, it’s absolutely clear that many times today the church puts such emphasis on the grace of God that someone only half paying attention gets only part of the message. They respond to this partial message by saying, “Oh great, I am loved and saved by Jesus because I prayed the prayer asking Him to come into my life. Now I can keep doing what I have been doing but with the new confidence that no matter how I live, I go to heaven when I die.”

As a church we are often more ready to emphasize God‘s love for you in your present state than we are to emphasize that He wants to take you out of the junk drawer. He’s got plans for you and a purpose for you. Don’t let Satan deceive you into staying where you are, being content with where you are, being in love with where you are. No! No! God wants to take you out of the junk drawer!

We are in a spiritual battle. When Jesus rose from the dead the devil’s defeat was certified. But now the devil’s major deception is to keep us away from developing a life-changing relationship with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. That power enables us to say ‘No’ to the old and ‘Yes’ to all that Christ has to offer..

In other words we want the resurrection without the cross. We want the blessing and privileges and rewards of the new life without dying to and rejecting the old life. And Jesus said, ‘You cannot have it both ways; you need to make up your mind. You cannot serve Christ and the devil.’

So today we grieve the death of a young woman who was not ‘junk’ but who was never able to get free of living in the junk drawer.

A favorite verse of this young woman was the familiar passage in Romans 8:28, “ And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”

The last communication of her life was to her fiancé. Already having taken the drugs which set her up for her fatal overdose, she texted, “I am sorry. But God has forgiven me.”

Yes, God is able to bring life to people even out of a devil-inspired death. Blessed be the name of the Lord for his outrageous grace in the midst of our brokenness. And we leave this young woman in the hands of a just and merciful God. For He alone is judge; not you or I.

So today I give you this invitation. Jesus sees the treasure in you and He died to gain you as that treasure. He died and rose again to take you out of the junk drawer and enable you to live a life free of compelling addictions and overcoming sins. He saved you so you can be an overcomer, one who is victorious over the world, the flesh and the devil in this life.

God is able to bring beauty out of ashes, joy out of mourning, life out of death. God wants to bring life to you out of the inspiration of this young woman’s life and death.

I know this young woman is saying now, “Come to Jesus and let him save you and take you out of the junk drawer. Do not follow me into death by deception. Follow the part of me that did say ‘Yes’ to Jesus. But I urge you to say ‘Yes’ loud and I urge you to say it strong and I urge you to say it with the commitment that you will die to your own appetites and fears and addictions and I urge you to say it with the commitment that you would rather die than be unfaithful to Jesus, this amazing treasure.”

I did give an invitation. And family and friends and even her children came forward to invite Jesus both to save them and to deliver them from the junk drawer. And God met them there and it was a glorious moment.

I confess that after going through this service I felt as though I had gone through a spiritual battle. I rejoiced at the victories of the morning, but I pondered the state of our culture and I pondered the message coming from the church.

I asked the Lord, “Why, in the midst of ‘Jesus talk’ do we see so little power of Jesus to change lives, when Jesus did say, ‘I have come to set the captive free’?” Is drug addiction beyond His power to overcome?.

I offer the following discernments with the hope that they will spark a conversation in the faith community that leads to more clarity in our message, more power in our message and more fruit from our message.

I offer these discernments in the form of questions.

1. Do we celebrate His Lordship in our daily lives as well as the salvation that comes from His death?
2. Do we celebrate His holiness as being a part of His extravagant grace.
3. Do we celebrate His judgments as well as His grace?
4. Do we celebrate the opportunity to give our lives for Him because He gave His for
us?
5. Do we celebrate that we are in a spiritual battle that requires spiritual means for
victory?
6. Do we celebrate the opportunity we have as a Church to speak and live a
transforming message?
7. Do we celebrate that “greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world”?
I Jn. 4:4

The two sides of this parable of the Hidden Treasure are the two sides of the covenant God wants to enter with each one of us. A blood covenant costs everything to the participants in that covenant. The participants are Jesus and you and me.

Jesus gave his life on the cross to secure this covenant with us. And there is also a cross for each one of us to carry. The cross we are called to carry is yielding our will to the very will of God, even to the point of death.

The treasure we find in the field is a costly treasure, a costly grace.
But the fruit of the covenant is life, life everlasting, full of freedom from death and from the junk drawer!

When you find a great Treasure, embrace it as though your life depended on it. For in fact it does!

Enos Daniel Martin

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