A LIFE THAT REALLY MATTERS-GEMS IN THE JEWEL BOX

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 105:1-11; Matthew 13: 44-52

In the name of the God who creates us, redeems us, and gives us life. Amen!

Joshua was seven years old. He was a child who was going through a stage in

his life. The stage didn't last very long but involved keeping everything in exact order.

His parents were somewhat concerned about him that he might become

obsessive/compulsivein this way. His mother made the suggestion one summer's day,

"Why don't you straighten up your room?' It took him all day to do it.

That evening when he pulled his father into the room, everything on the shelves

was in perfect order. Everything in the closet was in perfect order. Everything in the

chest of drawers was in perfect order. There wasn't anything out, and nothing was out

of place. Hard to believe for a seven year old, isn't it?

The father noticed a single wooden box on top of this chest of drawers. He said,

"Josh, what isthat?" "It's my special box. Doyou want to see?" He pulled his dad over

and opened the box. The top item was a piece of ribbon about an inch and a half long.

"What's that, Josh?"

"That was part of the Christmas wrapping on the gift you gave me last year. I

broke the gift, remember dad? But I saved the ribbon to remind me that you had given

it to me." Well that brought a lump to his father's throat, but he continued to look.

"Josh, what about that pebble in there?" "Remember when we camped by the stream, I

pulled that pebble out of the stream to remind me of that time."

There was an old picture of their family. It was at least two years old, though it

looked much older. It had been in a backpack far too long for preservation purposes.

The father knew why it was there.

Then there was a little matchbox-sized wooden car. The father remembered

where that had come from. Josh had gotten it when he was a kindergartner. He had

acquired it at schoolone day at lunchtime when he did one of those 'Esau-Jacob"trades

that kids are so famous for.

That was Joshua's special box. It was his way of remembering special times in

his past. What is your special box? What gems do you keep in your jewel box?

We are looking through a series of sermons at "Life That Really Matters."

Remember in the first sermon I said that the first thing we do for a life that really

matters is to turn to God. Then the second week, I said the reason we turn to God is

because God there is grace in every place. Then two weeks ago I talked about the

resident place of a Christian person being at the corner of suffering and Glory. Today I

want us to think about the question, "what is it we treasure?" What are the gems

that we have placed in your jewel box?

For a person of faith, what we treasure is our relationship with God. It is the

most important thing we have. That's why the first step is to turn to God. The psalmist

captured that so very well. Psalm 105 begins with, "Sing praise to God, remember

God's wonderful works."

Then there are a number of verses given over to speaking about the covenant,

the promise that God has with the people, a covenant given to Abraham and to Isaac

and to Jacob. We hear the psalmist remembering how God has been a part of the

people's lives in the past.

It is a recounting of how God has been active in people's lives that have had

significance for the psalmist. The covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is a

covenant that is offered not only to that particular psalmist, but also to all of us

The psalmist captures something else, too. He says this covenant is for a

thousand generations. It's not just something in our past, it is something also in our

future, and it is something for us to look forward to. There are dimensions yet unfolding

in God's covenant that you and I can't even begin to imagine, let alone anyone in our

past.

In the passage from Matthew today, Jesus is telling parables about the Kingdom

of God, about a relationship with God. In these "kingdom" parables we are told that the

kingdom is the most valuable thing that is available to us. One of the parables goes like

this. There was a farmer out in the field. He was plowing. In the midst of plowing he

uncovers a treasure. Quickly he covers it up. He runs and sells all that he has.

Now if he were a contemporary farmer he would sell his truck, his tractor, all is

farm equipment, everything in the silo, his house, the boat at the lake, everything he

had. He sells everything to acquire that piece of property to get that treasure. Jesus

says our relationship with God is that valuable to us. To take everything we have and

give it up for our relationship with God.

Jesus tells another parable. There was a dealer in fine pearls. Now remember in

the first century pearls were the greatest article of value, much like we would consider

diamonds today. This was a dealer in fine pearls, so not only is he one who is out

searching for these fine works of creation, but he probably has a very beautiful

collection of them at home.

This dealer fines the perfect pearl. He sells all that he has, including all those

pearls that he has gathered to this point, so that he can get this one perfect pearl. Jesus

says our relationship with God is that important to us. It is that valuable to us that we

would offer all that we have for that relationship.

Jesus continues on. But before we move on with him to the next parable he tells,

just think for a moment. A person who takes all that he has and cashes it in on one

article, is going to have a radically changed life. Everything that has been valuable

before is gone. There is something new in their hands and in their heart. But the new

thing doesn't determine where they are going as their past has determined. This is

something new for them, and their future has newness about it as well.

Jesus realizing this aspect of life tells a parable about a drag net. It is a parable

of judgment. It's one of those parables we don't like to hear, because it says that these

decisions that we make about our relationship with God are crucial to us. They

determine our future. It's like the fisherman sitting down after the catch and sorting out

the good fish and the bad fish.

We don't want to be put in the bad pile. We want to be included in the good pile,

the possibility group, and the group that sees the future. Jesus says to us that these

decisions that we make about whether we accept or reject the kingdom, whether we

choose to be a child of God or not, are crucial decisions, and he uses this wonderful imagery to make his point.

Then Jesus says one other thing at the end of this passage. He says, "Each

scribe of the kingdom is like the householderwho brings out of his treasury things new

and things old." Now think backabout your jewel box, or your special box. Do you have

things that are new in there? Or do you only have old things, things from the past,

things that remind you of good times or good people or good occurrences from you

past? Jesus says there needs to be in our treasures those things from the future, new things, possibility things.br>

Jesus is capturing that same idea that the psalmist had, that the covenant of god

is for a thousand generations. It is a future that is offered to us as well. We need the

treasure of the old, but also the new. We need to treasure all those times in our past

where our faith walk has been strengthened. But we also need to treasure the

relationship we have with God starting today and going forward. We need to look for the

possibilities that are offered to us, ways that God will lead is in the days and years to

come.

What the farmer and the merchant both experienced when they sold all that they

had for that one great possession, was that not only their financial life turned upside

down, their whole life was turned upside down. New possibilities were opened to them,

possibilities that they had never yet imagined. That's the way it is in our relationship

with God. We need to treasure future possibilities, not to be afraid of them, but to

venture forth into the future with God.

Jesus calls us to look in our jewel box, to treasure those times from the past, but

also to look for times in the future when God will be present in our life in new and

startling ways.

Sarah was a middle-aged woman, married with two grown children. Her mother,

Susan, lived about a mile away from where Sarah resided. Susan lived in the old family

house. She lived there graciously but firmly independent.

One Saturday morning Sarah decided to go shopping. She stopped at her

mother's house just to check in to see how things were. She went to the side door and

knocked, but there was no answer. She tried the door, and it was unlocked. She

stepped in and called out for her mother. Again there was no answer.

If you are, or have an elderly parent, you know that sinking feeling when you

suspect someone to be there and there is no answer. Sarah began to quickly move

through the house. She went to the utility room and then into the kitchen and family

room. Finally in the living room she saw her mother sitting in the big chair. She was

leaning back, her head tilted back, her eyes closed, as tough she were sleeping. But

there was this glorious smile on her face.

Sarah went to her quickly and lightly touched her arm, and said, "Mother." At

that point Susan startled herself awake. She took a moment or two to kind of orient

herself. Then she motioned for her daughter to sit down. She said,"Can I tell you what

I just experienced?"

"Certainly," Sarah said.

Then Susan began, "I came to sit down so I could pray. I began, 'God, what do

you want me to do with this old life of mine?' I must have fallen asleep. It was a gift

because I had a vision. I had a vision that I was in a schoolroom. I was reading to small

children. They were sitting on the edge of their chairs. They were leaning forward.

When I cameto the end of the chapter, they said,'Don't quit. Read us another. Read us

another.' I have decided that Monday I am going to the school to see what I can do to

help."

It's a vision of the future. The Call to Christian Discipleship today is for us to

cherish the times in our past where we have walked closely with God, and God has

meant so much to us. But we are also called to the future, to see times when God might

again be strong and vital in our lives, and then we might be strong and vital in our

faithfulness.

Take a moment in prayer and pray about those future gems for our jewel box.

MAY THESE THOUGHTS GIVE YOU STRENGTH

 
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