This morning I would like to talk to you about a treasure hunt. Have you ever been on a treasure hunt? I enjoy it. I often look for treasures. They're fun to find. When I was a boy I found a five-dollar bill and I thought I was the richest person in the world. How great that was! I guess it would be like finding a two-hundred-dollar bill today.
One night fire broke out in the old tumble down house of a man who lived alone. The fire department managed to save most of the old shack. But the old codger had to be taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and was hospitalized over night.
So, the fire department decided to button the house up so that nobody would vandalize anything while the old man was gone. While they were getting everything straightened out one of the firemen noticed something shiny on the floor by the bed. He stooped down and found several of these shiny silver coins lying on the floor by the bed. He started picking them up bumped the bed and more coins fell out on the floor. He got to investigating and the bed was stuffed with silver coins. Now, this happened in 1978 and the last year that silver coins were made was in 1964 or something like that. So, here was this bed full of silver coins and they thought, "Well, we can't just leave these here." So they started gathering them up. Pretty soone they noticed that there were silver coins in old sacks stashed around the walls and old boxes stuffed with real silver coins; dimes, quarters, silver dollars, fifty-cent pieces, just all kinds of silver there.
The more they looked the more they found. The silver coins were everywhere. They were in the walls. They were in an old chimney that was no longer used. The chimney was full of silver. Finally they called a Brinks armored truck and they called the police for protection. They got $100,000 in real silver coins and took them to the bank. What a treasure! What a tremendous treasure! (1978, UPI)
The Bible tells a similar story. Look in your Bible in Matthew 13, and I pick one verse to have a sermon about today. Matthew 13:44 "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. Well, that's a short verse. That is the only place in the entire Bible this story is mentioned. But what a great story it is!
In Bible times they did not have banks like we do today. The didn't have Federal Deposit Insurance. They didn't have the stock market and mutual funds. They didn't have any of those things. Every person was responsible for his own treasure. There was no safe place for valuables so thefts were frequent. People would come and rob you and they knew that under your bed or wherever you slept there would be the money, or under the floor. So people took to burying their treasure out in the field. Have you ever buried something in the field, or in your yard? It's hard to find it again if you leave it there very long unless you have some cross coordinates it's very hard to find that treasure. I've done it, and lost it. That treasure is still there in Cicero, Indiana, buried. I've tried my best to find it. A hole in the ground was often preferred in Bible times because when there was a change in rulers those who had much wealth were taxed heavily. Invading armies came and would take back with them all the valuables they could find. So the ground became a safe place to hide your gold and silver. You concealed it so nobody knew where it was.
So, the ground became a safe place for you to hide your gold and your silver. In Bible times they often forgot the place of concealment. Or, death might come to the owner or he might be taken to exile or jail. So different people would change hands of the property and it would be owned by many generations. And suddenly one day, somebody would be coming along and would find the treasure. So it was common for people in Bible times to discover buried treasure. This happened a lot. It is estimated that of all the Gold ever found since the time of Adam and Eve that fully one third of it is now lost! It's buried under the water or under the soil. It's gone.
So in our text we read of a man who might have been out plowing a field. Maybe he is renting the land. Obviously he did not own the land. As he plows the plow point strikes something and upturns a shiny piece of metal. Several shiny pieces. "Oh, there's something on the ground. So he reaches down and picks it up. He digs a bit and discovers "There's a mother lode in there! There's a lot." And he quickly covers it up and makes note of the spot and he thinks about that all the time he's plowing that field.
Now what? What would you do? He goes to the land owner who obviously does not know of the buried treasure. "Have you ever thought of selling your field? I'd kind of be interested in buying it." Oh, I've never thought about that." "You know, I could use another field. Name a price." He names an exorbitantly high price. The man says, "I'll take it. It'll cost me everything I have, but I'll take it." So he goes home and sells everything he has, according to the Bible, and he comes back and purchases the field. Now what does he own? Not just the dirt, but he owns the treasure. It costs him everything he has.
This parable of Jesus has some lessons for the year 2004. It has some lessons for us. First of all, God does not dig up the treasure for you. Now, there's a lesson there. If you are ever going to find riches, and you're going to become a wealthy person in life, you're going to have to do it yourself. Unless you have some rich uncle who wants to give you some of his riches. God doesn't dig up the treasure for you. You have to work hard to strike spiritual gold. Work does have its rewards! The person who sits home and complains about life and does not work, do we have sympathy for them? We need to work. And if you are ever going to find a deep spiritual life it's going to be up to you. It's available. It's out there.
The farmer found great treasure! A great spiritual experience awaits every Christian. And you might say, "Well, I don't have that deep experience." Well, maybe you need to get out and do a little more plowing. It's there. It really is. It's in every field of life. There is buried a depth of spiritual treasure that can only be imagined. It's there. If you don't now have a rich spiritual experience don't be tempted to think that one does not exist because it does exist. You can have a wonderful relationship with Jesus Christ. You can have that depth of experience that your grandmother had, that your daddy had or your mother had. You can have that same experience.
The farmer found a fabulous fortune and it was still good! It was fine. It wasn't rusted. It wasn't corroded, it was still in great shape. And the treasure that you find is going to be in good shape. It is still good. A superb prize awaits the person who finds.
Was the plowman correct in not informing the owner about his find? Do you think he should have said, "You know, are you aware that in your field there is buried a pretty good amount of gold out there? I'm not going to tell you where it is, but it's buried there. I'd like to buy the field so that will become mine." Did he tell the owner that? No, he did not. According to Jewish law if a man found loose coins in a sack of grain he bought, the money was his to keep. If a man found gold on or in the ground it was his to keep if he owned the land. So, I'd say he did the right thing.
Has your ship come in? It would be nice to find some great treasure in my backyard. People say, "I can hardly wait for my ship to comes in." Well, I will tell you that your ship can come in. There's great treasure in your back yard, because, what does this field represent? I read in Christ's Object Lessons that the field represents the Holy Scriptures. So, the field...you already own it. You don't have to go out and buy it. You own it. It's the Bible. This is the theme of Christ's Object Lessons, page 104. Your Bible is that field and you are the owner of that field. Now, you may not know where the treasure is, but it's in here, it's in your field.
The plowman had no knowledge there was buried treasure in that field. But it is not like that for us. We know what the field is, and we know that within this field there is buried a great treasure. We know that. The Question is: Are we out there doing our daily plowing? That's the question isn't it? Do you read the Bible every day? I'm going to make a challenge to you. No sermon should ever be preached without a challenge. The challenge is that I would like for you to do in the year 2004 , if you have never done it, to spend a daily significant time with your Bible. Is that fair? Is that a fair request? If you're not doing that you are not a Christian. "Pastor, that's a bold statement." Well let me tell you. If you can read and you're not out there plowing every day in your field that you own, you're making the mistake of your life.
Our Bible is the gold mine of the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ. By laying the Bible aside we sacrifice a treasure worth everything else. The word of God must be our daily study. In it is an inexhaustible treasure. That treasure is not buried in one spot like the farmer found. Do you realize that treasure is not like in the story, one place, but a little bit her and a little bit there. It is scattered through every page. Some is on the surface. Still more is buried within each passage. Some is buried very deep. Only when you dig do you find. Search until it is within your hand.
Let's go back here to Proverbs 2:3-5 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. That's a promise. If you dig for it, you're going to find it. You will.
A boy was prowling about the house found the dust covered family Bible. "Mamma, Whose book is this?" And she said, "Sweetheart, that's God's Book." And he said, "If it's God's book, we ought to give it back to Him because we never use it."
Revelation 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because th time is near. We need to read it, we need to hear it.
Are you really spending time with your Bible? I've read the Bible through a number of times. I try to read a new Bible through every year. I would advise you to do that, too. Spend time reading it, spend time studying it. Spend the time digging and you will unearth some priceless things. The Bible is not lost, but it is largely unknown. So stake your claim and start your daily mining operation. You can do that. You can be a miner. And you can discover great wealth. You can unearth some of the most priceless things in the world. It will really help you. Many people buy a Bible because it looks nice on the shelf or on the coffee table or makes them look pious when they carry it to church. They use it like a rabbits foot or a horseshoe. Use it. Don't just have it for good looks. Don't use it like a rabbit's foot or as a horse shoe (tokens of good luck) or something like that..
Isaiah 34:16 (KJV), Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read... Seek it out and read it.
Ellen G. White says in Christ's Object Lessons, p.111, "Our salvation depends on a knowledge of the truth contained in the Scriptures... Search the precious Bible with hungry hearts. Explore God's word as the miner explores the earth to find veins of gold. Never give up the search..." That's a beautiful quotation. You explore, you become a miner and you will strike it rich.
When I was a small boy in Indiana we had a yard full of clover, violets and dandelions. This attracted a scad of bees and butterflies. My observation was that the bees were quite serious about life. They would go and dig deeply into all of these flowers to haul the nectar off to make honey out of it. But the butterflies would do a little bit of that, but they were hap hazard. They would flit here and there and seemed to spend most of their time beside the moist mud puddles in our driveway than at the flowers.
Some Christians are like butterflies instead of bees. They light upon a page or two of the Bible and then go to the mud puddles. There they read novels, listen to dirty music or fill their mind with TV muck. They spend most of their time near the mud puddles.
I'd rather be like the honey bee. You dig deep for the jewels of truth that like nectar will sweeten the life. Fill up on God's sweet promises. You fortify your soul against the harder days that lie ahead. Be filled with precious truth. Be numbered among the very elect.
What is the great treasure we find in the Bible? It's Jesus Christ. You're going to discover Jesus and a relationship with Him You're going to have eternal life. You're going to have salvation. The Bible has a priceless treasure, and that treasure is Jesus Christ and His salvation. But they will never enrich you unless you tap into it. Did you know that a huge pipe line crosses the McDonald Road Church property? We called the Plantation Pipeline Company and they said that their big pipe is full of gasoline! Every second enough gasoline passes to fill a 23 gallon gas tank! 60 cars every minute. At $1.50 a gallon imagine the wealth going by under our feet. $125,000 every hour. Do you know how much that is in a day's time? It's just going right here under our property from Breman, Alabama up to Knoxville. There's a lot of money going through our property. Now, let me ask you something: That vast pipeline will never enrich you unless you tap into it. And that's illegal. Don't you do that. Don't take this sermon out of context here.
Now let me tell you, that unfortunately the Bible will never enrich you unless you tap into it. You've got to tap into it otherwise it won't help you at all. By laying the Bible aside we sacrifice incredible wealth. God wants to fill your spiritual tank with the life giving energy of His powerful high octane word.
The people of England used to love the Bible. They had a king called King James. And England got away from the Bible. England was the most powerful nation in the world. The sun never set on the English Empire. But now they are not that way. God blessed them when they loved the Bible.
And, America used to love the Bible. But of our 300 million population only 120 million are church members and only half attend church. On any given weekend only 60 million attend church. 240 million stay home, they skip church. 80% of Americans are not in church on a given weekend. Are we a Christian nation?
Let me give you a quiz.
1. What country do you think has the world's largest Buddhist temple? USA! Where? Boulder Colorado. 2. Where is the largest Muslim training center in the world? New York City. 3. What country has the world's largest Jewish population? USA. 4. Which country has the world's eight largest Hindu population? USA. There are far more Hindus in America than Seventh day Adventists. 5. Where is the world's largest training center for Transcendental Meditation? In Fairfield, IOWA.
Are we a Christian nation any more? I doubt it. I really do. Did you know that 85% of all churches are shrinking here in the United States in membership or just barely holding their own. This reflects practically the same percentage as those people who do not open the Bible at home or hear a bible based sermon from the pulpit. Are we really a Christian Nation anymore? I doubt it. This is the new mission field. WE go over to Africa, we go over here to India and here and here, but this is the new mission field. We have omitted the Bible from our daily diet and omitted God from our land.
Now I sit me down in School Where praying is against the Rule. For this great nation under God Finds mention of Him very odd. If Scripture now the class recites, It violates the Bill of Rights. And anytime my head I bow Becomes a Federal matter now. Our hair can be purple, orange or green. That's no offense; it's a freedom scene. The law is specific, the law is precise. Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice. We're allowed to cuss and dress like freaks, And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks. They've outlawed guns, but first the Bible, To quote the Good Book makes me liable. We can get our condoms and birth controls. We can study witchcraft, vampires and the totem poles. But the Ten Commandments are not allowed. No Word of God must reach this Crowd.
Are we a Christian nation any more? Not really. This is the new mission field. In our homes and in the schools we used to be a nation of the Bible. Now we are a Nation without the Bible. Kids need the Bible! It's important for you to send your kids to a school where the Bible is going to be taught. It's important for you to sacrifice to put your children in a Christian school. 1 Peter 2:2 (KJV) says, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: Kids need the Bible more than anybody else.
It has been said that we are what we eat. True. But even more so, we are what we look at and read. And, what are kids reading today?
As we begin this new year, I believe our kids are growing up on television. They ought to be growing up on the Word of God. Can we resolve to have a daily plowing program? Is that too much for me to ask of you from this pulpit? I would urge you every day to commit to spending time searching and plowing in the Word of God. You're going to find valuable treasure here. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand the Bible. Trying to comprehend the Bible without the Holy Spirit is like trying to look out the window and enjoy your flower garden at midnight. It isn't going to happen. You've got to approach the Bible with the Holy Spirit. John 3:3 says, In reply, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." We can't approach the Bible without the Holy Spirit.
What is the Treasure you're going to find in the Bible? It's Jesus! You are going to find Jesus. How do you find Jesus? You keep Plowing. Read your Bible every day. Study it deeply. Pray about it. Invite the Holy Spirit to help you and you're going to be changed. It's just like that.
Let me read something else fro Ellen White. This is so beautiful. Christ's Object Lessons, page 114. "The experimental knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom He has sent, transforms man into the image of God. It gives to man the mastery of himself, bringing every impulse and passion of the lower nature under the control of the higher powers of the mind. It makes its possessor a son of God and an heir of heaven. It brings him into communion with the mind of the Infinite, and opens to him the rich treasures of the universe.
"This is the knowledge which is obtained by searching the word of God. And this treasure may be found by every soul who will give all to obtain it." You're going to have to give up something. That farmer that struck the treasure out there in that field and unearthed those valuable coins had to give up everything. He had to give all, sell everything to obtain the treasure beyond all others. It'll cost you everything you've got, but it will give you the universe. It'll give you eternal life. It'll give you that relationship with Jesus. John 17:3
Let's go on a treasure hunt where everybody is guaranteed to strike gold! You can't beat that.
Hymn of Praise: #246, Worthy, Worthy is the Lamb Scripture: 2 Peter 1:16-21 Hymn of Response: #326, Open My Eyes That I May See 040117#126
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last updated 4/12/04 by Bob Beckett.