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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor


The Tenth Sunday After Pentecost

Option #1: "Two Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven"
Matthew 13:44-46
Rev. Wayne Dobratz

"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." Mt. 13:44-46 (NIV)

I. The Hidden Treasure

       A. The field wasn’t his, but rabbinic law allowed him to claim this treasure.

       B. Buying the field was worth all that he owned--Prov 23:23; Isa 55:1; Matt 6:20-21; 1 Tim 6:19.

II. The Pear of Great Price

       A. It was so valuable that, once found, all the searching was worthwhile--Prov 8:10-11, 18-21.

       B. You must search in the right place--Deut 4:29; Ps 105:4; Prov 3:13-17; Lk 11:10; Acts 17:27.

III. THE Point of Comparison

       A. What treasure map are you consulting?--Prov 2:1-5, 16:16.

       B. How long will your treasure last?--Matt 6:20; Col 2:1-3, 3:1-2; Phil 3:7-11; Heb 11:24-26.

John MacArthur draws these truths from these two parables: On the immeasurable worth of the kingdom of heaven, the nineteenth-century Scottish preacher Thomas Guthrie wrote, "In the blood of Christ to wash out sin’s darkest stains, in the grace of God to purify the foulest heart, in peace to calm life’s roughest storms, in hopes to cheer guilt’s darkest hour, in a courage that defies death and descends calmly into the tomb, in that which makes the poorest rich and without which the richest are poor indeed, the gospel ‘has treasures greater far than east or west unfold, and its rewards more precious are than all the stores of gold’" (Thomas Guthrie, The Parables [London: Alexander Strahan, 1866], p213). The blessing of being a child of God through faith in Christ is utterly priceless, more valuable than all the possessions the richest man could acquire. There is absolutely nothing to compare to it in worth and beauty, because it is "an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away" (1 Pet 1:4). It is forgiveness, love, peace, happiness, virtue, purity, righteousness, eternal life, glory, and more. When Robert Herbert Thompson--who owned 180 newspapers, controlled 290 other companies, and was personally worth more than 300 million dollars--was asked how much he would give to buy the New York Times newspaper, he is said to have replied, "I’d mortgage my soul." If they could, many people would do just that in order to achieve the possessions, fame, or power for which they lust. The value of God’s kingdom far exceeds that of all earthly riches and advantages together--and would still exceed them in worth even if they brought the satisfaction they promise. Yet God offers His priceless kingdom to any person, no matter how poor, how insignificant, how sinful, who trusts in Christ. The price is the same for everyone--all they have. For those whose hearts are genuinely turned to Christ, whatever values they have clung to in the past will be exchanged eagerly for this priceless treasure.

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Option #2: "Servant Leadership"
1 Kings 3:5-12
Rev. Kelly Bedard

A. Servant leaders listen--with interest and understanding

B. Servant leaders judge--themselves first, then others

Notes

1. A few years ago I took a sales training course for a new job. Most of the training involved techniques to intimidate people, to manage any meeting with another person. Nothing could be more alien to the biblical views on relationships in community! What might our federal government, our state legislatures, our churches, even our families, be like if both leaders and people would choose "a listening heart" instead of control and intimidation? (Dennis Bratcher)

2. We should not try to ignore the fact that Scripture often equates blessing with material belongings. In our Western, success-driven culture we should not make too much of it either. The point is that everything comes from God. Any security, any benefit, any happiness, life itself, is a gift from God. (Bratcher)

3. shama (v9): hear, hearken, obey, publish, understand, obedient, diligently, shew, sound, declare, discern, noise, perceive, tell, reported; to hear, listen to, obey; to hear (perceive by ear); to hear of or concerning; to hear (have power to hear); to hear with attention or interest, listen to; to understand (language); to hear (of judicial cases); to listen, give heed; to consent, agree; to grant request; to listen to, yield to; to obey, be obedient.

4. shaphat (v9): judge, plead, avenged, condemn, execute, judgment, defend, deliver; to judge, govern, vindicate, punish; to act as law-giver or judge or governor (of God, man); to rule, govern, judge; to decide controversy (of God, man); to execute judgment; discriminating (of man); vindicating; condemning and punishing; at theophanic advent for final judgment.

5. biyn (v9): understand, understanding, consider, prudent, perceive, regard, discern, instruct; to discern, understand, consider; (Qal) to perceive, discern; to understand, know (with the mind); to observe, mark, give heed to, distinguish, consider; to have discernment, insight, understanding; (Niphal) to be discerning, intelligent, discreet, have understanding;
(Hiphil [text]) to understand; to cause to understand, give understanding, teach.

6. chakam (v12): wise, wise man, cunning, cunning men, subtil, unwise, wiser; wise, wise (man); skillful (in technical work); wise (in administration); shrewd, crafty, cunning, wily, subtle; learned, shrewd (class of men); prudent; wise (ethically and religiously).

7. ...the sign of those who are mature in Christ and have learned to really walk in Him is that they are able to discern between good and evil. That is the problem today, isn't it? Good looks bad, and bad looks good. Anybody can tell good from evil when good looks good and evil looks evil. The great problem is to identify evil when it comes smiling at you, dripping with solicitude, and seems to offer you everything you have been looking for. Christian maturity comes when we learn to exercise the spirit of wisdom to distinguish between good and evil. That which seems to minister to the spirit may actually be a clever trap of Satan to plant a seed of distrust in the heart and will eventually produce terrible fruit a few years later in life. (Ray Stedman)

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