Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
Matt. 13:44-46 (NIV): “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
I still remember a story told by a stranger some 30 years ago. It was a dialogue between the merchant looking for a fine pearl and its owner.
“How much?” asks the merchant, to which the owner responds, “It’ll cost you everything you have.” Although the buyer offers all his cash and property, the seller demands even more. Upon being told, “I’ve nothing else except my wife and children,” the owner says, “They become mine too.” Though the merchant is troubled by what this is costing him, he reluctantly gives them up, but the seller isn’t done, saying, “There is one more thing I want.” Feeling indignant, the buyer shouts, “I don’t have anything else!” But the seller retorts, “You become mine, too.” Does the merchant want the pearl that desperately? He must have, since the phrase “sold everything he had” could extend to selling himself as a slave, especially in the antiquity when this was practiced (Gn. 44:16). But as the pearl is being handed over to the buyer, the seller says, “You can take back everything—cash, property, you and your family –I’m lending them to you; when I need it, I’ll take it back.”
On the surface, the two parables in which seekers sell all their possessions to buy treasure and pearl, respectively, appear to suggest human effort to get into the kingdom of heaven. But that’s exactly what Christ paid for—everything—in order to purchase (i.e., redeem) us from the slave master for God.
John writes, “For You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9 NASB). Subsequently, while we’re now free from the slavery to sin and death (Heb. 2:14), we now belong to God: “You are not your own; you were bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
This parable tells us not to “offer sacrifice to the LORD . . . that cost [us] nothing” (2 Sam. 24:24). Since everything we own belongs to Christ who paid for them with His life, when He calls for them, whether it be our availability, money, career, kids or spouse, we “give . . . to God what is God’s” (Matt. 22:21). What is He asking you for right now?
How precious, O God, is the sacrifice of your Son on my behalf so that I may be removed from the kingdom of darkness where hopeless reigns, to the kingdom of light where righteousness, peace and joy reign. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unending love and grace. I love You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 31
Lunch Break Study
Read Lk. 14:25-28, 33: “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:  ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.  And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?  For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,  saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish. . . .  In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.’”
Question to Consider
- What did Jesus mean by “hating” father and mother for His sake?
- What is a sensible and yet biblical way to approach our commitment to God? If we are not careful, can this approach can backfire or lead to stagnancy?
- What is the hardest thing for you to give up for the Lord? How can you obey God in this area?
- It simply means that we must love God first, so much so that when compared to our love for anyone else, including parents and children, it is as if we are hating the latter.
- Our commitment level must reflect our present capacity to reach it; setting the bar too high without having been discipled to reach it will lead to personal disappointment and public ridicule. But the bar should be placed a bit higher than our present capacity so that it will take faith to reach it. As the bar is increased incrementally, so will our faith and capacity in Christ to reach it.
- For me, it is my temper. Lord, help me to give it up!
During the course of this day, did you sense that God wanted you to do something (e.g., reaching out to a friend, being generous to someone in need, praying instead of doing FB)? How did you respond? Review the day and ask the Lord to give you a better day of obedience tomorrow.