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Monday, February 24, 2020

Pearl of Great Price -- Part 2




The Seeking Savior in the Pearl of Great Price

Jesus is the One who seeks, not the opposite. John 15:16: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My Name He may give you.”  Jesus seeks the sea of humanity long and faithfully for His precious pearl. Jesus is the Seeker (merchant), but He cannot be bought. He must be received willingly from the heart out of love. Jesus bought our salvation willingly through His precious blood out of His and the Father’s love for mankind who were originally created in their image and likeness. We are not our own. “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:20  Because God’s Pearl of Great Price – Jesus – paid the price of our salvation, we are to become His precious pearl of great price by glorifying Him in our body and spirit.

Once having sought and found us, Jesus wants us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Matthew 6:33  Jesus said that if you search for Him, you will find Him. As Jesus seeks us, we must also seek Him and His truth, so we truly know Him. Man can’t do anything to a pearl to make it more beautiful as we can add nothing to the work of Jesus’ salvation. First, we must recognize the value of the price Jesus paid. Jesus gave His all to purchase us. He covers us with His beauty as we allow His transforming power to put on His righteousness and glory. We become more spiritually beautiful every day. (Eph. 5:25b) We are to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. We have nothing of value as sinners, but Jesus will begin to shape and form us into a valuable precious pearl if we are willing to listen and obey.

Jesus gave His all to purchase us. He covers us with His beauty as we allow His transforming power to put on His righteousness and glory. We become more spiritually beautiful every day. Eph. 5:25b God’s kingdom cannot be bought. Having purchased the Kingdom of God for us, He wants us to value and seek His already purchased kingdom. (see Isaiah 55:1) We are to store up treasures not on earth but in heaven. Where our treasure is our heart will be also! (see Matthew 6:19-21)

This precious pearl not only represents Jesus, but also His Bride who is like Him. There were other “goodly” pearls the merchant had gathered and sold, but the most valuable pearl was far more glorious than the others, just as an earthly bride is more glorious in her white garment than the bridesmaids.

This pearl of great price was “one” pearl indicating the unity of the Bride of Christ with Jesus and other believers. Jesus wants to cover us with His beauty by allowing His transforming power to put His righteousness and glory in us and out of us to others through our actions, words and deeds, “that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:27 In transforming us, we become more valuable and precious to Him every day. We also become more valuable to the kingdom of God when we seek Him with our whole heart. The original disciples left all to follow Jesus. Christ wants us to give our all to Him.

When the merchant found this pearl of great price, he stopped seeking. The merchant surrendered all to receive this glorious pearl. He had need of nothing more as we have need of nothing except Jesus. As Christ surrendered all for us, we are to surrender all to Christ. I can’t help but think of the hymn “I Surrender all, all to thee my precious Savior, I surrender all” as I write this. Jesus will stop seeking when He marries His Bride. Their union will be celebrated at the wedding supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:7)

The treasure and the pearl of great value were the objects and greatest desire of the Man and the Merchant (Jesus). Lost humanity is the object of Jesus’ greatest desire. He gave up everything to suffer, save, make us righteous and bring humanity back to an eternal relationship with the Godhead, just as Adam and the Woman had before sin entered.

How is a pearl developed?

Understanding how a pearl is created also has spiritual lessons for us. An oyster or clam is without fins or scales and found in the sand of the sea. According to the Law of the Older Testament, the pearl would be considered unclean because they would come from a shellfish which God considered unclean according to the Law. (see Deuteronomy 14:10) The word pearl is not found in the Older Testament. Why? Jesus had not come to do His redeeming work yet. Before we believe in Christ, we too are stuck in the muck and mire of sin encased with our hardness of heart. If we are willing, Jesus will slowly transform us into a beautiful, glorious pearl of great value to His kingdom. The pearl is the only gem formed in a living organism. Jesus is God’s pearl of great price. He lived to pay the price of our redemption through His suffering and death on the cross and to reveal God and Truth. After Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, He give us the Holy Spirit to reveal Truth and help us live His Truth and defeat the enemy of God and mankind.

Sometimes a piece of sand or foreign matter slips in between the outer, protective shell of the mollusk. This becomes an irritant to the oyster or clam. In order to relieve the irritation, the oyster emits a white substance that forms a covering around the sand to ease its suffering slowly forming a thing of beauty – a pearl. Spiritually, we are an irritant – sinful.  Jesus wants to take humans who are made of the dust of the earth mixed with water, and shape and form us into a thing of beauty and glory so we radiate the beauty and glory of our Savior. The sand represents our earthly being and sinfulness. Sin is an irritant to our spirit. Jesus secretes His glory covering and righteousness around the irritant to take away our sin until we become a pearl of great value to His kingdom.

In the sea of humanity, there is a pearl of great price that Jesus is shaping and forming into His Bride. As I said previously, not every oyster or clam has a pearl. The Bride of Christ is something more than a nominal believer. Christ’s Bride has allowed His cleansing and transformation making her beautiful in His eyes. Sinfulness is not beautiful in the eyes of the Lord. Holiness is! Christ’s Bride is to be connected to her Husband heart to heart.  The merchant in Jesus’ parable was searching for a rich pearl which is hard to find, not just an ordinary one. As the pearl is hidden in the mollusk, Christ’s Bride is hidden in Him. They are One in heart, spirit and mind.

Jesus wants a pure, glorious (holy)  Bride “that He might present to Himself the Church with all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that She would be holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:27 (see also Revelation 19:7) As the pearl must be found and raised up out of the water, then the outer hardened shell must be opened in order to find the pearl, Jesus finds sinners in the muck and mire of sin, and takes them through the water of His Anointed Word to cleanse us of our sin so we become a thing of beauty and value to Him. We are buried with Jesus in the waters of baptism and risen with Him in the water of the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. As we are moving through the Word with the power of the Holy Spirit, our sins are being taken away and we reflect the glory and beauty of Christ more and more. This is not a quick process, as the formation of a pearl takes time. Jesus wants His Body to become One Bride who loves and serves Him and His Kingdom with their whole heart. This can only happen with love and pure Truth. It will also take sacrifice. Truth that is not rightly divided will cause division, not unity. Jesus sacrificed His all for us; He wants us to sacrifice our all for Him. 

(To be continued)  If you would like to see Part 1, go to my website: sandrakingministries.com.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Pearl of Great Price -- Part 1




         
 Why did Jesus speak in parables?


          Jesus spoke in parables in fulfillment of Isaiah 6:9, “Keep on listening, but do not understand; keep on looking, but do not understand.”  At the time of Isaiah, the Israelites were spiritually blind and deaf because of their sin against God. Those who rejected Jesus in the New Testament were also spiritually blind and deaf. They could not understand the truth because they rejected the One who is the Truth. By speaking in parables Jesus was veiling himself. (Mark 4:9-12) There is a veil over the Word of God that only Jesus can lift. 2 Corinthians 3:14: But their minds were blinded. For until his day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 
              Jesus used the things of the earth to speak spiritual truth. Why? He created it all; therefore, the whole earth has a message of Jesus and the kingdom of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that the whole earth is full of His glory. So, Jesus sometimes spoke truth in parables. His disciples understood because they believed that Jesus is the Messiah that God had promised would come. Mark 4:11: And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables.” Without Jesus and the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth, we would all be spiritually blind and deaf. Colossians 2:3 says that all the mysteries of the kingdom of God are hidden in Christ.  Because His disciples accepted His truth, Jesus gave them more and more truth. To those who hunger and thirst for truth, Jesus and the Holy Spirit will give more and more truth—“for whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance….” Matthew 13:12 Spiritual truth cannot be discerned by worldly vision and hearing, only by spiritual vision and hearing.

              In Matthew 13, Jesus speaks seven parables about the Kingdom of God. He began with the Sower and the Seed and the Growing Seed. The Sower is Jesus and the seed is the Word of God. Jesus showed the growth of the seed or the lack thereof in the receivers. Next, Jesus spoke of the separation of the wheat and the tares, and then the mustard seed that grew into a large tree. The final two are the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price. All these parables illustrate the Kingdom of God and how it is developed.

 Pearl of Great Price


         The parable about the hidden treasure in the field shows the value of the kingdom to one who accidentally finds it. This person sells all he has to buy the field to obtain and own the treasure. Jesus purchased the field of earth with His blood in order to obtain followers who are His treasure as He is our treasure. “For we have this Treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 The owner of the field would also own the treasure!

In the parable of the pearl, the merchant is seeking it. Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost. No matter how the kingdom of God is found, it is valuable. The treasure and the pearl of great price were the object and greatest desire of the Man and the Merchant (Jesus).

       Jesus now tells His disciples that “the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45 The merchant in this parable wasn’t seeking  just any pearl. He had found many pearls which he had bought and sold, but now the merchant was looking for a glorious, beautiful pearl that would be of great value to Him. This pearl was more glorious and worth more than all the other pearls he had found. It was so glorious and beautiful that he stopped searching, sold all that he had and bought it. Jesus is more valuable than all the others and His Bride-to-be will also be glorious and beautiful. This pearl represents Jesus and the Bride of Christ who reflects the beauty of Christ and who has made herself glorious and ready for her King. “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His Bride has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:7 Notice it is the Bride’s responsibility to make herself ready for her King. There is an action on her part! Revelation 19:8 says that His Bride has “clothed herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”  Jesus is seeking and searching for those whose hearts are all His and who have allowed His cleansing and transforming. Pearls are found in oysters and clams, but not every oyster or clam. Those who give up all to follow Jesus will understand the ultimate value of the Kingdom of Christ and will become valuable to Him by allowing His cleansing and transformation.

Jesus is the Merchant and the Pearl. “In Him, all things consist.” Colossians 1:17 The cost of our salvation came at a great cost to God – the separation, suffering and death of His only begotten Son. Jesus gave up all to purchase us! He gave up His place of glory with the Father in the Heavenly throne room to put on the flesh of man in order to seek and save humanity. This is the love of God for humanity in full display. He is the pearl because there is none more glorious or valuable than Him. He is One of a kind! Jesus travels far and wide in search of that glorious, valuable pearl. He will not be satisfied until that Pearl is His.
          Jesus is the One who seeks, not the opposite. John 15:16: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My Name He may give you.”  Jesus is the Seeker (merchant), but He cannot be bought. He must be received willingly from the heart out of love. Jesus bought our salvation willingly through His precious blood out of His and the Father’s love for mankind who were originally created in their image and likeness. We are not our own. “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:20  Because God’s Pearl of Great Price – Jesus – paid the price of our salvation, we are to become His precious pearl of great price by glorifying Him in our body and spirit.

Once having sought and found us, Jesus wants us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Matthew 6:33 First, we must recognize the value of the price Jesus paid. Then we are to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. We have nothing of value as sinners, but Jesus will begin to shape and form us into a valuable precious pearl if we are willing to listen and obey. This precious pearl represents the Bride of Christ. There were other “goodly” pearls the merchant had gathered and sold, but the most valuable pearl was far more glorious than the others. It was “one” pearl indicating the unity of the Bride of Christ with Jesus and other believers. Jesus wants to cover us with His beauty by allowing His transforming power to put His righteousness and glory in us and out of us to others through our actions, words and deeds, “that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:27 In transforming us, we become more valuable and precious to Him every day. We also become more valuable to the kingdom of God when we seek Him with our whole heart. The original disciples left all to follow Jesus.

When the merchant found this pearl of great price, he stopped seeking. The merchant surrendered all to receive this glorious pearl. He had need of nothing more as we have need of nothing except Jesus. As Christ surrendered all for us, we are to surrender all to Christ. I can’t help but think of the hymn “I Surrender all, all to thee my precious Savior, I surrender all” as I write this. Jesus will stop seeking when He marries His Bride. Their union will be celebrated at the wedding supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:7)

The treasure and the pearl of great value were the objects and greatest desire of the Man and the Merchant (Jesus). Lost humanity is the object of Jesus’ greatest desire. He gave up everything to suffer, save, make us righteous and bring humanity back to an eternal relationship with the Godhead, just as Adam and the Woman had before sin entered.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

It’s a Matter of the Heart – Part 3


   

        God didn’t create robots who would love Him by command or demand because love would not be the motivation. Love must be given willingly from the heart. God gave us hearts and a free will and told us to choose to love and obey Him.1 John 5:3: This is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome. Jesus and John said that love for God is obedience to Him. Life is full of choices. Our choices can have life-changing consequences for the good or for evil – spiritual life or spiritual death, blessing or cursing. We make choices out of our heart and mind (intellect).  The choices we make must emanate from our love for God. God desires us. He wants us to desire Him.

God told Moses he was to love God with his heart, soul, mind and strength. Deuteronomy 6:5 This was not a new precept. Jesus repeated this scripture when asked what commandment was the greatest. God also went on to say to Moses, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul….Deuteronomy 10:12 Jesus said in Mark 12:33 that loving God with all our heart, understanding, soul and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves “is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  Love for humanity whom He created in His image and likeness has always been God’s motivation. He wants love to be our motivation. 1 Timothy 1:5 tells us that the “goal of His instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”


Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength


        Matthew, Mark and Luke quoted the scripture regarding loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Having the full and abundant life promised by Christ begins with the heart and love.

Heart – Our heart and mind are the ruling and central places of good and evil that is translated into action. The heart and mind are the seat of our moral character, our appetites, emotions, passions and courage.

 Physically, we eat to strengthen the heart and body. Spiritually, we eat the spiritual Word of God to guide our heart, mind, strength and soul. The heart is what moves our physical body and its actions. Likewise, the milk and meat of the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit move our spiritual man and God’s spiritual Body, maturing us spiritually and moving us to do what is right and good. Our physical heart is center for physical, emotional, intellectual and moral activities. God wants to turn our fleshly heart into a heart that strives to do His will and walk in His ways to the glory of His Name.

  Jesus says that the “secrets” of our heart are betrayed by the words of our mouth. “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” Matthew 12:34-34 Solomon says, “a wise man’s heart guides his mouth.” Proverbs 16:23

  Jesus was talking to the religious leaders of His people. If you want to know who is truly serving our holy God, listen to the words of his or her mouth. If they are spewing hatred, division, cursing, and lies, they are bringing forth evil things, not the good treasure of one who truly serves God. Their character is not moral and good. Our words and actions reveal our character. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 Jesus called these leaders a brood of vipers because they were evil. They were prideful and loved their position of power and continually went against Jesus. The Pharisees and Sadducees heaped tremendous burden upon God’s people through their added demands to God’s truth. The Truth Jesus was standing in front of them talking with them but their jealousy and lust for power blinded them to the truth. They thought more highly of themselves than they ought. One who is evil cannot speak good things. He or she will speak evil things that divide and degrade because this is in his or her heart. Jesus is warning us of this. Jesus knows our hearts.

Jesus also says that the fruit of a tree reveals its nature. “Either make the tree good and its fruit good or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.” Matthew 12:33  Jesus is telling us that we can know who belong to Him by their fruit. If they are producing the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, they are the good tree. If not, they are led by the devil and produce bad fruit. True believers will set their hearts on things above – good, spiritual character and deeds. The heart’s reasoning and actions depend upon our moral condition. We are to understand and discern between good and evil and embrace the good and stay away from the evil.

These are God’s instructions on discerning who is serving Him and who is not. 


                                              (to be continued next week)