Charles Stanley - Treasures of the Heart
When you think about treasure what comes to your mind? Well, most people would say, "Well, money, prosperity, riches; all of those things come to mind". Well, if the only thing that comes to your mind when you think about riches is material things, you must be very poor. Because the best things in life are not material. Best things in life supersede the material. Best things in life are higher quality than all of that. But on the other hand there are some material things that are good. And God is a good God. He gives us what we need and much more than we deserve. Much more oftentimes than we expect or anticipate. Treasures, treasures. What is it in your life that you treasure? Is it somebody? Is it something? Some experience in your life? What is it that you treasure? And in this message, I want you to think аbout: what is it in my life that I really and truly treasure?
That is, I hold it dear. I hold it close. I protect it. It has high value to me. I love it. What is it that you really and truly treasure in life? Well, of all the people who had many things to treasure, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is certainly one of them. And it's interesting in the Scripture that two times, twice she mentions the fact of treasuring what she's heard, what she's seen, what she's experienced. Treasured in her heart. Quietly holding it there. Pondering it; thinking about it. Examining it and enjoying it.
So I want you to turn if you will to the second chapter of Luke. And I want us just to read a couple of verses or so here, sort of set the stage. And remember that Jesus at this point has been has been born. And the angels have announced to the shepherds about what's happened. And the Scripture says in verse fifteen of this second chapter, "When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, 'Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.' So they came in a hurry and they found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about the Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them".
And then again, the Scripture says a little later on and we'll come to this. The Scripture says in verse fifty-one of Luke, same chapter, "And He went down from with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart". So I would ask you again, what is it that you treasure, you hold dear to you? That you do not want to let go? That you like to think about it? That you pondered in your heart? And I want us to look at the Scripture here and ask that same question. And think about it from the perspective of what Mary held in her heart and what she treasured in these experiences. And so to understand really what was transpiring in her life you have to sort of understand the society in which she grew up and what was going on. And you'll remember in this particular chapter here in the first chapter of Luke, when the angel came and spoke to her here's what she said. She said, "How can this be, since I am a virgin"?
Now I want to just make this clear. The Bible makes it very clear that Mary was a virgin. And once in awhile you'll hear somebody say, "Well the Bible doesn't really mean virgin like we think a virgin". Yes it does. It means a woman or a young lady who has had no sexual experience with any man. And in every single case in the Bible where the word virgin is used it never refers to a married woman. So when Mary said how can this happen because I'm a virgin? She was saying I've never had that experience with a man. And so, what she couldn't understand is how could God bring her to this and say here's what's going to happen when I've never even had any kind of relationship?
Now think about this: it was the practice in those days when it came to marriage that the father of the bride chose the husband. And so at what age? Anywhere from twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen years of age, a young lady was betrothed. That is, in our terminology she was engaged to the man she was going to marry. And this engagement lasted for one year. And after that and there was to be no sex during that year. And the responsibility of the bride-to-be was to keep herself pure. And his responsibility was to prepare a house, a a home for them. And then after one year they could be married. And what they did is they had a big festival for the marriage for seven days.
Now if you can imagine as a dad your daughter's going to get married and so they say, "Well, you know, we're going to party for seven days". Well, that'd be a little expensive and, in those days, of course they were rather poor. Most people were at that time. And so when a marriage took place it it was a big deal. And this engagement period for example was very serious. Much more serious than an engagement today. People give somebody a ring today and b you know two weeks later they get mad and give it back. None of that kind of doing's going on. Because an engagement was as legal as a binding marriage. In other words, the only two ways you got out of an engagement was either by death or divorce. And so, when two people were engaged to each other, this was serious business.
And so, Mary if you'll remember this, Mary has her father to choose who this man's going to be. So we think in terms today, well, you know I dated this person and I fell in love. And falling in love, then I want to get married. Love had nothing to do with it. They could have been in love. In other words, they could have known each other. But the father could say, "I want you to meet your husband-to-be and that was it". Whatever he said, that was the law. And that's who she had to marry. Now I used to read that and think about that and think about how in the world would that be if somebody else chose my wife? Suppose I didn't like her looks? Suppose I didn't like this? Suppose this, suppose that, and so forth? And then I met a young man one day and he said, "I'm going home to be married". I said, "Where you going"?
See, he lives in another country. So he told me where he was going. And I said, "Well, how long have you known her"? He said, "I haven't". Oh, oh wait a minute. You've not known her? "No". You've never seen her? "No". Wait a minute. And everything in me was just having a revolt, you know. I said, "You mean you're going to marry somebody you have never seen, don't know anything about? You don't know whether, you can't love them, you don't know them". "Well, that's the way it is in our country. My father's made the choice". When I think about all the things that Mary held in her heart and treasured, I think about the fact of what she had to say to Joseph. And the things that she had to explain which nobody would have understood. So when it comes to marriage in those days, serious business and it's only by divorce and only by death could it be broken. And it was a family arrangement.
So thirteen, fourteen, fifteen-year-old girl; usually when we think about Mary we always see her in pictures and statues as an adult woman holding little baby Jesus. That is not the way it was. And so if you can think about, Dad, giving your daughter away to somebody at the age of thirteen. That'd be pretty serious business. Amen. It was very serious business. And it was serious in those days because their idea of marriage is this is for keeps. This is for life. I mean thirteen, fourteen years of age for life. And so that's that's the context of what is about to happen here. So with that in mind the Bible says that she treasured these things in her heart.
So what's the first thing you think she treasured? Here's what she treasured: one day she was just doing what little girls in those days did by helping their mother in the kitchen and so forth. And or playing with their friends at that age. And suddenly the angel of God, Gabriel, comes to her. Now whether she sees him or not is not the issue. The issue is that he made it so crystal clear. And he said something to her that did not even make sense at first. But here's what he said to her, he said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you". She never forgot that. She never forgot that sound because it was the sound of heaven. "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you". The Scripture says, "She was perplexed at this statement, kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. And the angel said to her, 'Don't be afraid, Mary.'" Listen, "'Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will call His name Jesus. And He'll be great.'" And explains all about that.
And then she says, "How can this be, since I am a virgin"? Never had a relationship with a man. "How can this be? The angel answered and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.'" So imagine this: here she is a teenage girl just going about her life just like normal teenage girls would in those days, young teenage girls. And she gets this message from God: you're going to have a baby. How could that possibly be? And then He explains it. She never forgot any of that. She treasured those moments in her heart probably because she was afraid as h the Scripture says she was perplexed. She didn't understand all of that. But she did understand this, he said, "Favored one". And he said, "The Lord will be with you".
Now one of the things that she had to face as a result of that was this: she knew the Law of Moses. And that was, if a woman was caught in the act of adultery and certainly she would have been accused of that having a baby and not having a husband, you stone her to death. So here's a teenage girl, say fourteen let's just say she's fourteen years of age or fifteen. And now she's facing the possibility of being stoned to death for something she had nothing to do with. Because the angel said it, she heard it, there was no explanation that; in other words, what do you mean the Holy Spirit's going to come upon me and and I'm going to have a child? None of that made any sense at first. The Spirit of God began to help her to understand but that's what she was facing. And then it's interesting that her friend Elizabeth and part of the family was six months pregnant. And she goes to see her.
And when she goes to see her, the Scripture makes it very clear that when she saw her, the Scripture says, "She entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!'" And then she asked, she makes this statement, "How has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, the sound of your greeting reached my ears, and the baby leaped in my womb". So here she is now and she is pregnant and by the time she gets home, she's three months pregnant. So imagine this: she comes home and her mother is the first one to notice, "Mary what is this"?
Now imagine her trying to explain to her mother and dad that she had seen this vision or heard this voice. And this voice said, "You're going to give birth to a child. This child's going to be the Son of God". Imagine what the father and mother thought. Absolutely impossible. She's lying to us. How could you do this to us? Because they were shamed. The the man she was going to marry, Joseph would be shamed. In a small village everybody would know it very shortly and they'd be looked down upon. And besides that there's the threat of being stoned to death. So what do you think she remembered? What what is it she treasured in her heart during all these things? These were terrifying sort of thoughts. Even though she knew that God had said it. And so she she said to the angel you know, "Be it unto me even as you have spoken".
And so she surrendered to that but remember she's still a teenager. And secondly, this is her family and she's about to embarrass her whole family, all of her friends, all of her playmates. Everybody's going to shun her because she's destined for death. But here's one thing she never forgot: when she had to tell Joseph he probably felt the same thing. You have betrayed me. You have been unfaithful. You have been disloyal. You have broken our marriage vow because engagement was just legal. And finally at some point here's what he said. And she could never forget it. She couldn't forget his voice, nor the expression on his face when he said, Mary, I believe you and I love you and I'm still going to marry you. She could never forget that. Treasure that forever.
And while we're thinking about this I want you to think about things that you treasure in your life. Do you have more treasures or more regrets? Can you look back in your life and think about how God's worked in your life? The good things that have happened to you? Places you've been? All the things that that are so good in our lives. What stands out at the very tip-top? What it what is it that you treasure? What is it that you hold very, very dear in your life? And I'm going to ask you that several times because I want you to think about it. Scripture says that, "She treasured all of these things in her heart. Now so what happens? He accepts her as his wife and doing so that protects her from being stoned to death. Assumes full responsibility". And then Caesar Augustus passes his rule that everybody must go to their hometown, where they were born and register.
Micah the prophet said in Micah chapter five, verse two, he says, "Out of Bethlehem will come the Messiah". Seven hundred years before it ever happened, the prophet prophesied the birth of the Messiah and to be born in Bethlehem. But now they don't they're not putting all that together at this particular point. And so, they have to go to Bethlehem. That's over a hundred miles. Now that's not on a highway. But and also it was riding a donkey side saddle. That's the way she would have ridden. Now she's pregnant. Now we don't know how many months had passed by but probably quite a number of months because when she got to Bethlehem you know what happened. And that is, they were trying to find a place to stay, to spend the night. Remember this is a hundred and something miles on a donkey. A hundred miles on a horse is tough. I've ridden horses a lot of times and long ways. A hundred and something miles on a donkey.
Now he's walking, she's riding, but she's pregnant. Weren't any motels and hotels. What about food? What about a place to stay? And what about all the dangers of those days? And so here they are and people are coming and going, going to their hometown. And and she's on her way to Bethlehem. So when they get there, trying to find a place imagine what Joseph must have been thinking. I better hurry because I hear I hear what's going on. And so he's trying to find a place and finally he does. And the man says well, I don't have a room here but I have my stable out here or my barn or whatever that was with the animals but you that's all I have. You're welcome to spend the night there.
Now that would be bad enough but then who delivered the baby? Imagine being a brand-new husband and having to deliver a baby. First of all, it's not yours. And secondly, you don't even get a chance to name him. Of course he he realized that because the angel also told him that. His name's going to be Jesus because He's going to save His people from their sins. So it's not his baby, he can't even name the baby. And besides that he's had no experience in delivering babies. And Jesus comes forth in perfect condition. Imagine this, you're talking about treasuring something in your heart. When she picked Him up and held Him, here's what had to come to her mind: I'm holding the Son of God. Not the son of Joseph, but the Son of God. And I had nothing to do with this except to bear Him. And Joseph had nothing to do with Him but to help deliver Him.
The awesome moments of the birth of Jesus. A treasure in their hearts they would never forget as long as they lived. It was the worst kind of conditions. They were somewhere else, unknown situation, circumstance and the most important thing I would I would think in in a woman's life would be the delivery of that baby. So Jesus is born. And then they're in Bethlehem. So they take him to Jerusalem about six miles away according to the Mosaic Law and time of purification. The Scripture says they met this man who by the name of Simeon who'd been there a very, very long time. And he made some comments about Jesus and happy to see Him and understand who He was. And then he said to Mary, "But a sword's going to pierce your heart". Well, what did that mean since she was bringing to birth the very Son of God Himself? But she never forgot it. A sword will pierce your heart.
Now she had no earthly idea about crucifixion of Jesus; in other words, that would be the furthest thing she could possibly think about, the fact that He was the Son of God. "A sword will pierce your heart". And then there was Anna who was there also in recognizing there was something special about this baby. Well, it's about this time that the wise men come. And coming through Jerusalem and asking the question, where is the child to be born? And then Herod and them they they get together. And Herod says, well as soon as you find Him, what I want you to do is I want you to come tell me so I can worship Him also. Which was a lie. He wanted to kill Him. And so they found the Lord Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Not in a stable but now more than likely in a house. And so, they presented their gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They had nothing and all of a sudden they were wealthy. And so they left. And they said we're not going back to see Herod. We're going home another way.
And so Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus went to bed that night. In the middle of the night the angel speaks to Joseph and says get up, get out of this country and head to Egypt immediately, there's danger. Well, you know what happened, probably the next day Herod sent his troopers in and they killed every single child from two years and under in Bethlehem and the whole area around them. Jesus is on His way to Egypt. Now that too is a very long trip; a very, very difficult trip. And they go to Egypt. And they stay until Herod is dead. And then they come back and they finally end up in Nazareth. And so she's got all these things to think about how all this has happened. And why in other words, the big question she had to answer was this: God why did you choose me? I'm a nobody. I'm just a little Jewish girl. Why why would You choose me? And I think all of us have to ask at times, why, why, why? And the answer oftentimes is the same that she got: "Because I made a choice".
Sometimes God makes choices in our life that we don't we'll never deserve. We can't figure them out. We could we couldn't ever explain why He does certain things that He does but He does. And so she had to ponder those things. Then after they come back we don't hear a thing. And by the time He gets to be twelve, they go to Jerusalem like they would normally do at the Passover. And so, Jesus is with His friends, His buddies. And I'm sure they're playing around this, that, and the other. And when Joseph and Mary are looking for Him, they can't find Him. Can't find Him anywhere. And so three days later they find Him. And it's interesting what Mary said when they found Him because she said probably what any mother would have said, "When they saw Him, they were astonished; at His and His mother said to Him, 'Son, why have You treated us this way?'"
Now she didn't say because He was Jesus, oh son, why have you treated us this way? No, she said, "Son, why have You treated us this way"? Because she was frightened by the fact that He was not there. And she said, "We have been anxiously looking for You. And He said to them, 'Well, why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?'" I'm going to come back to that verse. "They did not understand the statement which He had made to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart".
Now even though He was who He was, He was continually obedient to His parents. Now here's the reason He was continually obedient to His parents, now He wasn't being disobedient when He was at the temple. Because what happened He was there and when they found Him, He was talking to all the teachers. And the scribes, the Pharisees and asking them questions and answering questions. And they were talking back and forth. And so He was doing exactly what He said I'm about My Father's business. He was learning. And so He went home with them and for the next eighteen years you don't hear a thing. Now you would think that anybody as important as Jesus, even as a teenager now and in His twenties and yet, silence. Eighteen years of silence. Don't you know His mother must have said, well now, and she wouldn't have said it to Him. But if she'd have said, now Father, if He's Your Son and You have all these big plans, well, when are they going to start? Because what He was doing was watching His father and learning to be a carpenter.
Well, that had nothing to do with being on the thrown of David. And all the things that were implied by what the angel had said. And what's He doing? He's just being a carpenter. He comes, His hands are dirty and nails are dirty. And He has to clean up like anybody else. And so this goes on, listen, for eighteen years He's just doing what a boy would do and a young man would do. No explanation from God. He's just being what He is. And she's thinking, pondering in her heart, thinking about what the angel said. Thinking about the birth and thinking about their escape. And thinking about the temple. And thinking about what He said in the temple. In in other words, think, think, think, ponder in her heart, all these things she's treasured in her heart and now she's wondering, well you know I wonder how long this is going to last? Somewhere in this time Joseph dies. God takes him off the scene. And I'm sure y that God and His purpose knew that Joseph needed to be removed. And so it would be Jesus and His mother.
Imagine how she treasured this boy. Now He had other brothers and sisters. Now there are those who think that that the Virgin Mary only had Jesus. That is not true. It's very clear in the Bible that He had brothers and sisters. And so here He is now but He's perfect. But what's going to happen? One day He walks into her and He says to her, Mother, My time has come. Or something like that. And I'll be leaving. And don't you know when He left, what she must have thought? Because now she'd had Him for thirty years. And now He's leaving. And she had to know that when He left, He would really be leaving.
So when I think about all the things that she thought about, I want you to think about some things that she had to consider. Some ideas, some thoughts she had that are beyond the incidences themselves. And so I'm going to give you a list of them. I'm going to put them on the board here because I want you to I want you to think about this. And especially as a mother. Think about what she thought. She gave birth to the Son of God. This was not just another baby. That from her womb came the Son of God. The Son of God, that is, God who took upon Himself human flesh like any other child except sinless. And was born like any other child the Son of God. Not the son of Joseph. Not the son of Mary but the Son of God. And she had to be thinking about this. You know normally I would think this is my son. This is the Son of God. So she had to ponder that in her heart.
A second thing was this (think about this), her Son would be her Savior. What a thought. Her son would be her Savior. Because the more she listened to Him probably and talked to Him, the more she began to understand His mission in life. How much He told her? We do not know. But certainly He had to have told her many things to maybe prepare her for what was ahead. Maybe He kept a lot of the painful part out.
A third thing was this: she had to think about this. She had to exchange her parental authority for His divine authority. That is, she had to give up her parental authority. He was God. And now His divine authority was what ruled in that household and what ruled in His life and in her life. Though the Bible says and I didn't answer it a few moments ago. I want to answer it now. That He had to be in submission to her all the years of His life that He was with her. For this reason, think about it carefully. Why did He come? He came for the purpose of giving His life as a sacrificial offering to the Father; an atonement. His death was a sacrificial death; a substitutionary death. He died in the place of all sinners; took upon Him the sin debt of all mankind. Laid down His life at the cross in order to become our Savior.
Now, watch this, in becoming our Savior, watch this carefully, He took our guilt and our sin and gave us His righteousness. That was the exchange. He took upon Himself our sin. Now the only way He could do that is to be a perfect son, a perfect child, a perfect man. That is, because you see He had to keep the law absolutely and perfectly. That meant He had to be in subjection to His parents all the days of His life until the time came for Him to walk away. That is, in subjection as far as the way He treated them and so forth. But He had the authority of divinity. He had the authority of God. But in doing so He still as long as He was that son there, He had to be absolutely obedient. Because if He had sinned, He could not be the sacrifice. So He took our sin at the cross and gave us His righteousness.
That is, He took what was bad from us and gave us what was good from Him. That is, His life and His righteousness. It's the only reason you and I are accepted in the eyes of God is because He took our sin debt. He gave us His righteousness so that what makes us right in the eyes of God is not what we do. It is the gift of the life of the Son of God, the sacrifice at Calvary became our blessing, became our inheritance, became our possession.
Another thing I want you to think about is this, He was under heavenly authority, not His parent's authority. And yet the Bible says He subjected Himself. That is, He made Himself obedient to them. But He was under heavenly authority. Because why? Because He was the Lord. He was the Lord God Himself. And yet in order to fulfill the law, in order to be what He had to be, in order for us to become what He wanted us to become, there had to be that righteousness in Him that was not blemished by sin.
And the last thing I would say is this, she gave Him physical life and He gave her eternal life. What a thought. When I think about that, she gave Him physical life, He gave her eternal life. The things that she treasured in her heart are hard to conceive. And especially these ideas and many others that we haven't even mentioned. Things that have to do theologically and things that have to do with God in their relationship. Things that have to to do with eternity and the forgiveness of the sin of mankind. And her relationship with all this. When the Bible says she treasured these things, she pondered them. She questioned them. She thought about them. She held them close. And remember this, more than likely she never told anybody else all this. They wouldn't have understood. They wouldn't have believed. They'd have said, Mary is out of her mind. No. God was doing something awesome not only in her life but in the life of all humanity.
So when I think about all of that, I think about this, who in your life is a treasure to you? What kind of relationship do you have with anyone that you could say, "She is a treasure in my life? He is a treasure in my life". Is it your husband? I hope so. Is it your wife? I hope so. Is it your children? Is it your grandchildren? Is it your grandparents? Is it your parents? That is, who in your life is a treasure? Because of who they have been to you. Because of who what they've done for you. Because of who and what kind of life they have lived before you. Who is a treasure to you?
Now if somebody asked me that, the first person who would come to my mind is my mother. Besides Jesus, my mother. I treasure her. Why? I treasure her because of the love she gave me that I felt, that I embraced, that strengthened me, encouraged me. When everything else was going wrong I knew she'd be there. She'd put her arms around me and tell me she loved me. I treasure those thoughts. What possession do you have? What is it that you own that you treasure? Do you treasure money? Poor soul. What is it that you treasure?
Now if I asked you this morning: do you have anything on you ma'am that you treasure? You'd probably say, "Well, yes I do". So you have a diamond. And what you see diamonds are just diamonds. But you know why you treasure yours? I hope this is true, because of who gave it to you. And because of what he said to you when he gave it to you. And when he took your finger and he took that ring and slipped it on you and said to you, "Sweetheart" or "honey" or "darling," or whatever, "I just love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you". Naturally you would treasure that. Is there anything else in your life you treasure? Do you own something you treasure? Do you treasure something that you had to work very, very hard for? You labored for diligently and you treasure it? That is, it's very valuable to you? There's nothing wrong with that. As long as the things we treasure don't get ahead of God.
Well, let me ask you this, is there any promise that you treasure? Let me tell you the promise in the Word of God that I treasure above all the other verses in the Bible. Proverbs three, five and six says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, He will direct your path". And the reason I treasure that verse is because for all these years that I've been a Christian anytime I needed to make a decision, that's the verse I go to. Anytime I'm in the middle of something that I desperately need the Lord to help me understand or or experience, that's the verse I go to. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart". That's not the only verse but that's a treasure verse for me. There are many others but I'd put that on top.
Do you have a treasure verse? A verse that you treasure that just sort of rises above all the rest of them and that you that you just love it, you hold it close, you're grateful for it, you wouldn't want to give it up for anything in the world? You have, you have any of those verses? Let me ask you something else about a promise. Have you ever made a promise that you treasure? I promised her. I promised him. And the motivation for that promise and the love behind it and the loyalty and devotion. Do you treasure that? That in your sense of accountability and your sense of integrity, you made a promise and you will keep it no matter what. Well, what about places? Are there any places in life, places you've been, things that you have visited, is there anything that you treasure?
Think about it. It may be that you treasure the place you were born. It may be you treasure some place that you've been that you had the most wonderful, unforgettable experience. And I think about how many places that I could put in that category where I've photographed. That I've been there and I've thought, Oh God, don't ever let me forget this. The feeling that you felt. What you saw. And you see, here's what happens: whatever our eyes take in, our ears hear and our mind is able to perceive, it becomes a part of us. And I can visualize some places that I've been that are etched in my mind for good. And I can I can think about them and rejoice. I can think about them and smile. I can think about what I was feeling and what I saw and how it affected me. God wants us to fill our minds, our hearts, our lives with things that we treasure. Because you see here's what happens: they become a part of us. They make up who we are. They make up our character. Our attitudes are greatly affected by them. And the way we treat other people. And besides that, what we have to share.
When you think about the places that you've been and you come home and and you want to tell somebody. And I think about this often and a few times, not very not very many, very few times have I been somewhere by myself. And I'm standing here looking at this awesome, indescribable scene and I don't have anybody to say to, look at that. Can you believe that? This is awesome. And you're by yourself. You know what? I can tell you what happened. I felt like something just comes over me and covers me. I don't have anybody to say it to. Places you've been. Because you see what makes the places you've been so memorable is what you felt while you were there. I mean asphalt's, asphalt's wherever it is. Or a tree's a tree. And sand is sand. And beach is beach. But it's what you felt there. It's it's what it's what you experienced there. It's what it's what happened to you there when I think about those places.
I think about for example men who've been in the military. And you've been in the heat of terrible, fiery, bloody battle. You'll never forget it. And things happened that you treasure when you saw one man risk his life for another. Or somebody risked his life for you. Or you saw someone in need and you risked your life under fire to save somebody else. You'll never forget it. It's a part of you. Moments you treasure, good things that happen to you. I know what you're thinking, you say, "What about the bad things"? I'm coming to that. Because that is a part of our treasure. Then I think about periods of time in our life that we treasure. You think about before you got married and all the preparation and all the fun and all the parties and all the things. All of that was a part of getting ready for marriage. That was a time in your life that you treasured. And maybe those first days or first weeks or months or year or first children or whatever it might be.
There are times in our life that we treasure what was going on. It may be in building your business. You look back and you treasure those times because you learned a lot. You had to sacrifice. You paid a price. You you were you had to be disciplined to make it happen and now God has blessed you and honored you for your faithfulness and loyalty and devotion. And that you tithed your income and God blessed you. And you have something to to treasure. But let me ask you this, how many precious moments in prayer do you have to treasure? When I think about that I think about times that have no equal. Moments usually moments and minutes that have no equal when it comes to experiences in life. Of times with the Lord when He makes His voice so crystal clear. And His instructions so very, very clear to understand. Moments that you cannot describe. Moments you cannot give away. And moments you cannot duplicate because every one of them is brand-new.
What about those moments? Or you have moments in loving someone. Moments in playing, in your children's, what about moments with God? How many of those do you have etched in your mind? How many of those do you ponder? How many of those do you bring back when you're going through some difficulty or hardship or pain? We should build into our life those awesome treasures. They're treasures. Because you see, what you build into your life, nobody can take that away from you. Nobody could ever take away from a mother what she felt the first time she held that baby. Nobody could take away from a man what he felt when they placed on him the Silver Star for his valor. And probably most people who go to college and went to college and had a very difficult time, nobody could ever take away from them when they called out your name and you walked across the stage and got that diploma. And in the process of doing so, your eye caught your mother's face. Her smile, her gleam, and her pride. Irreplaceable.
Now you say, "But what about the bad times? Are they treasures"? Let me tell you how bad times become treasures, because every pain, heartache, difficulty, trial, hardship, failure, whatever, doesn't make any difference what it is. You and I know that as His children God allowed it. It may have been something that we would never want to repeat again. Maybe it something was our fault or something somebody else's fault. Painful, difficult, hard. You say, "Well how does that become a treasure"?
Here's the way it becomes a treasure. It becomes a treasure because you look back and realize God in His love sustained you, kept you, held you and loved you right through it. Forgave you over and over again. You treasure it because you learned an awesome lesson that has profited you down through the years. You treasure it because you know that it equipped you to be sensitive to other people, to understand their heartaches and their trials and their burdens. You treasure it because you know that it did something to your very character and your integrity by going through that. And while you wouldn't want to do it again, you wouldn't take anything for it what you learned. Because you realize that you have become more valuable to God in His kingdom as a result of what you've been through: your heartaches and your trials and your sorrows and your tears and your losses and your wins. He takes even the tough things, they can become treasures to us if we will respond correctly and recognize that even bitter things are sometimes the gift of God. Because He loves us enough not to let us just go along in life with things that are easy and understandable.
So what are the treasures in your life? So I want to make a suggestion to you before you go to bed this very day. Tonight maybe you get yourself a piece of paper or card and a pencil. You write at the top of the sheet. I treasure the following in my life. Now would you not put at the top, "What I treasure most is my personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ"? First and foremost. And then let all those other things follow that. If you can do that He will help you understand some things you should treasure. And it may be that as you think about them you may want to call somebody and say, "I just want to tell you how much I love you. I want to tell you how much I appreciate you. I want to thank you for what you've done for me. I want to thank you for understanding me. Thank you for forgiving me". It just may be that God will use this time as you look at the things you treasure to encourage somebody else who needs to realize they too have things to treasure.
Father how grateful we are You treasure us. And we know that. You don't treasure us because we're worthy or because of any good things we've done. You treasure us because we're Yours. And Lord if we didn't know any other way to prove it, we could just take one glance at the cross and realize that is a symbol of the Father's treasure as He sees us. Thank you, Lord Jesus for coming into this world in the humble form of a baby, going all the way to the cross to give us eternal life. And we praise You in Jesus's name, Your precious name, amen.
Well, you may not be a believer. You may not be a Christian. You're wondering, "Well, what's all this got to do with me"? Here's what it has to do with you. You have one hope of eternal life, only one. You have only one Savior. There's only one truth. There's only one way and it's all wrapped up in a very short name, the name of Jesus. And until you ask Him to forgive you of your sins and surrender your life to Him, you're lost and separated. You'll never get to heaven apart from Him. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by Me". And I want to encourage you if you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior to acknowledge your sinfulness.
Acknowledge your waywardness. Acknowledge your unworthiness. And ask Him to forgive you of your sins based on not your good behavior but based on the fact that you believed that Him when He went to the cross and laid down His life, He became your substitute; full payment for your sin. That He may give you in turn His righteousness. That He may forgive you of all your sin. Make you one of His children. Write your name in the Lamb's Book of Life. And forever become a child of God. That's a choice you make. It's my prayer that you'll make that choice.