Introduction:

Today, we will learn about Priorities of Our Identity, pursuing kingdom treasures over earthly treasures.

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Background:
The word “reward” is repeated seven times throughout the context of chapter 6 of Matthew. “Reward” here, in the Second Temple Jewish perspective, speaks about having a flourishing life. For Jonathan Pennington, he translated it to “macarisms/ asherisms.” It means, having a blessed life, a joyful one, or a purposeful living. Yet, all these meanings are inadequate when it comes to trying to limit them in the English language. During our class last Summer, I introduce to him the Filipino word, “ginhawa.”
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In the context of Filipino culture, “maginhawang buhay” or flourishing life is the goal of each Filipino. This is why we work hard to achieve the state of “maginhawang buhay,” abundance, contentment, fulfilled-life, happiness, or convenience. Likewise, there is no exact English word for this. Being “maginhawa” correlates with salvation, according to Filipino Theologians Fr. Jose de Mesa, Timoteo Gener, and Melba Maggay. Hence, for us, we can somewhat imagine, though not fully, the exceeding joy of a person who desires or experience a macaristic life.
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This kind of reward is only given to those who can pass the standard of Christ—indeed, no one can, unless we are in Christ. While in our passage (19-21), the word “treasure” is in each verse. This repetition also implies its significance. Having the “reward” principle of achieving the ginhawa in our life, let us explore our passage that pertains to where we ought to lay upon our treasures.
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Main Idea:
Human praise is fleeting, temporal, and earthly. It is not a matter of if human treasures will eventually be lost somehow but only a matter of when. As seen in the first two verses of our passage, storing our treasures—our most valued things in life, so precious for us—in unsafe, unsecured, and risky places will only harm it. It is unwise, indeed, to store things in this world since they can be stolen, expires, it can be broken, and destroyed.
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While, the early disciples, applying the words of Christ, know what it means to devote their treasures to heavenly things, investing in their inner lives (internal), to their personal intimacy with Christ, and for eternal matters in God’s kingdom. Let us learn these three things.  

 

  1. Internal

Meditation of the Word

Putting the Scriptures as supreme authority in one’s faith and practices. The Word points to the promises of God. It enlightens and satisfies one’s soul.  Wherein, self-examination is also inseparable from the Bible, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. By looking to one’s inner life using Spirit’s lens in Christ is essential.
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Prayer
Joining your hands together portrays our full dependence on His divine wisdom, love, and goodness. We tell God, our Father, who delights to listen to the voice of His children that we are crying out for the kingdom to come. Focus your prayers on Christ, because Christ perfumes the prayers of saints.
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Lord, listen to us, listen to your beloved children. Break our hearts, so you can heal us once more. Empty our spirit, so you can fill us again with your overflowing love. Only through these that we can once again recognize to put God first in our lives. Actually, not just first in our lives, but all over our lives even in the little things that we do.  

 

  1. Personal

Worship

Divine worship includes the character of the heart whenever we sing praises to God. When we sing, we should prepare our hearts beforehand. When we enter the hall and heard the prelude, we need to realize that corporate worship is now starting. Remember, we are a body, we cannot be functioning well by doing a lot of things differently and simultaneously.
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Service
Communion with the saints, nourishing one another, and keeping the sabbath are also internal witnesses that manifest towards service, which are also external. It is in the community of believers where saints see the glimpse of heaven’s worship. All the internal witnesses cause believers to grasp the idea of peace, comfort, and dependence on God through prayer, His Word, sacraments, and fellowship. These display genuine faith and hearten assurance in the soul.
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Giving
We need to realize that everything that we have, actually, all came from God. You also need to learn the principle of stewardship, sowing and reaping, and generous giving. Furthermore, God’s ownership (Deut. 8:17-19; Haggai 2:8) permeates the Scriptures. A pastor shared the four kinds of church givers: (1) God-tippers, (2) regular givers, (3) tithers, and (4) generous givers.  

 

  1. Eternal

Ordinances

Participating in the ordinances nurtures and strengthens faith as it is an outward manifestation of an inward reality of receiving the grace of God. As our souls are troubled by the messiness of one’s state but it reminds believers to focus on the work of Christ—in his death and resurrection.
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Kingdom of God
In the coming of Christ, the kingdom of God will be final and completed, thus we desire and pray for the coming of Christ, because in the completion, pain, injustices, indifference in social issues, and sufferings will no longer exist. This is certain. As for now, we conduct ourselves in the manner of a kingdom citizen. That is what it means to live a gospel-worthy life. A life wholly devoted to Christ’s kingship and kingdom. Commit yourselves to Christ and be part of His kingdom. Rest in His promises.
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Proclaiming the Gospel
Lastly, to share the gospel is the greatest priority we ought to put in our daily dealings. Let me tell you this, if you are struggling in proclaiming Christ, you are struggling in loving God.  
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Conclusion:
The last verse declares that whatever people value is who they truly are (v. 21). In the “Shema,” we are told to love the Lord our God with all our hearts. Let us just put an emphasis on the heart since it is in our text today. We ought to give ALL our hearts to God, how much again? Does it say to give just parts of it? Or just half? No, right? The Bible states that we give our hearts fully, all-in-all, wholly, truly, completely, its totality to Christ, our Lord.
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Now, let us ask ourselves. Do we really treasure Christ in our life? Or do I prioritize other things in my life over Him? Do I obsess over earning a salary for material things? Or do I cherish and entrust everything unto Him?  
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Ptr. John Paul Arceno
March 7, 2021
*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript above.

 

Recommended Readings/ References:

Andrew S. Ballitch, and J. Stephen Yuille, The Wholesome Doctrine of the Gospel: Faith and Love in the Writing of William Perkins (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2020), 108-9.

Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (NY: HarperOne, 1998), 20-21, 126-40.

Richard Sibbes, “The Saint’s Happiness,” in The Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander Grosart, 7 vols. (1862-1864; reprint, Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001), 7:73.

Sibbes, “The Soul’s Conflict with Itself with Itself,” in Works, 1:148-9.

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Sibbes, “A Glimpse of Glory,” in Works, 7:496.

Steve Weaver and Michael A. G. Haykin, Devoted to the Service of the Temple: Piety, Persecution, and Ministry in the Writings of Hercules Collins (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2007), 79, 83-4.

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