Your Most Valuable Possession

January 19 Day 19

Your Most Valuable Possession

Raj was one of six children born into a wealthy Brahmin family - the highest caste in the Indian caste system.

At the age of twenty-three, Raj encountered Jesus. His family disinherited him. They cut him off. As far as they were concerned he was dead. They even held a funeral service for him. Neither his parents, nor his brothers and sisters have ever spoken to him again.

For several weeks he wandered around the streets of Bangalore. He had virtually no food to eat. He walked all day and slept in the park at night.

He started a new life. He began to speak about his new-found faith. Through him, many other people encountered Jesus. For several years he was the National Director of Alpha in India. He says that he has had a blessed life and that God has more than compensated for his losses. Although he left ‘everything’, in Jesus Christ he found the ‘pearl… of great value’ (Matthew 13:45–46).

Relationships are our most valuable possession. But there is one special relationship for which you were created. This is the most valuable pearl of all. It is worth selling ‘everything’ in order to get hold of it.

The intimate presence of God

Psalm 11:1-7

Even at the most difficult time of your life you can experience the intimate presence of God. David was in a crisis. He was advised to run away and hide in the mountains. His response was to say, ‘I’ve already run for dear life straight to the arms of God. So why would I run away now?’ (v.1, MSG).

David starts by saying, ‘In the Lord I take refuge’ (v.1). He also finishes by focusing on a relationship with God, with the promise that the upright ‘will see his face’ (v.7). David uses metaphorical language to paint a picture of the intimate presence of the Lord.

His experience and desire for a relationship with God brackets the beginning and end of the psalm. There is no safer place, nothing more valuable in life and nothing that this world offers that can compare with the intimate presence of God – seeing his face.

Lord, today I want to see your face. I ask you to satisfy the deepest longings of my heart with your intimate presence.

Knowing God’s Son

Matthew 13:36-58

Some people are desperately searching and then find Jesus. Others, like me, almost stumble into finding him. But once you have found the treasure it is worth giving up everything else.

In between the parable of the weeds and the parable of the net, Jesus tells two very short parables about discovering the kingdom (vv.44–46). The only difference between the two is that in one case the person was actively searching (v.45) and in the other he seemed to stumble across it (v.44). In both, there is something of enormous value (‘treasure’ v.44, ‘fine pearls’ v.45). In both cases it was worth selling everything to get it (vv.44,46).

This is where true ‘joy’ (v.44), real ‘treasure’ (v.44) and ‘great value’ (v.46) are to be found. The kingdom of heaven is all about knowing the King. It is all about Jesus and how you respond to him. How everyone responds to Jesus really matters both for this life and beyond.

When you consider all the evil in the world, do you ever wonder why God does not deal with it straight away and get rid of it? In the parable of the weeds the servant wants to pull up the weeds, but his master refuses (vv.28–29). A judgment will come (vv.36–43,47–50).

He warns about the fate of those who cause sin and all who do evil (vv.41,49–50). He says of the weeds that God will ‘pitch them in the trash’ (v.41, MSG) and that he will ‘cull the bad fish and throw them in the garbage’ (vv.49–50, MSG). He promises on that day that you ‘the righteous’ (made right with God through Jesus) ‘will shine like the sun in the kingdom of [your] Father’ (v.43). It is your relationship with God that causes you to shine and it means that one day you will shine like the sun in the kingdom of God.

But God won’t allow the destruction of all that is evil yet. He wants to gather all the wheat into his barn. He deliberately allows a delay until ‘the end of the age’ (v.39), so that more people have time to respond to the good news about Jesus.

Lord, thank you that a relationship with you is the pearl of great value. Keep me close to you and help me to avoid anything that draws me away from our relationship.

Experiencing God’s blessing

Genesis 38:1-39:23

Are your circumstances far from ideal at the moment? Do you feel confined by them? Do you wish you were in a different job, a different place, or a different relationship? Whatever your circumstances, this passage shows that if you stay faithful to God you can experience his presence, his favour and his blessing right where you are.

We see here a contrast between Judah’s unfaithfulness and hypocrisy and Joseph’s faithfulness when faced with sexual temptation.

Judah, vulnerable after the death of his wife, fell into sin. His own daughter-in-law, Tamar, posed as a prostitute and he slept with her. As a pledge, he left his seal and its cord and a staff. She became pregnant by him (38:1–18).

When he heard that his daughter-in-law was guilty of prostitution and as a result had become pregnant, Judah said, ‘Bring her out and have her burned to death!’ (v.24). She then produced what he had left behind: the ‘seal and cord and staff’ (v.25). Judah was caught out. He realised his own hypocrisy and sin (v.26).

The grace of God is extraordinary. Perez, one of the sons born as a result of this incident, is listed in the genealogy of Jesus (see Matthew 1:3). In his grace, God takes what the devil intended for evil and uses it for good.

Judah’s sin is contrasted with Joseph’s righteousness: ‘The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered’ (Genesis 39:2). Potiphar, who saw that the Lord was with him and had given him success in everything he did, put him in charge of his entire household (v.4). As a result, the Lord blessed his household (v.5).

The expression, ‘The Lord was with [Joseph]’ appears four times in this passage (39:2,3,21,23). However, the fact that the Lord is with you does not stop you facing temptation. Joseph faced great temptation. Potiphar’s wife tried to entice him to come to bed with her. He absolutely refused.

He saw that giving in to this temptation would be a sin against God and against his employer, Potiphar: ‘How could I violate his trust and sin against God?’ (v.9, MSG). Not only did he refuse to go to bed with her, he refused even to be anywhere near that temptation (v.10).

Joseph shows us a great example of how to deal with temptation. The best way to resist temptation is to flee from it (2 Timothy 2:22). If you are facing great temptation, take radical action. Like Joseph, run from it.

Potiphar’s wife grabbed Joseph by his cloak and said again, ‘“Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house’ (Genesis 39:12).

Look at the contrast with Judah. Judah left his seal, cord and staff in Tamar’s hands. It was the evidence of his guilt. Joseph left his cloak in Potiphar's wife's hands. She used it to prove his guilt, although in fact it was the evidence of his innocence.

In spite of the fact that ‘the Lord was with Joseph’, having resisted temptation, he then suffered terrible injustice (v.19 onwards) and ended up confined in prison (v.20). He lost his liberty but not his freedom.

Even in prison, the Lord was with him. He ‘showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden’ (v.21). ‘The head jailer put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners – he ended up managing the whole operation’ (v.22, MSG) – ‘Because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did’ (v.23).

Your circumstances may not be ideal. You might feel like you are in prison – literally in prison, or confined like a prisoner in your job, a health issue, a difficult relationship or other circumstances. Yet in the midst of all this, if you stay faithful to God, you can experience his presence with you, his favour in the sight of others, and his blessing on your life. This is the ‘pearl… of great value’ (Matthew 13:45–46). This is your most valuable possession.

Lord, thank you that even when things seem to be going wrong and there are trials and temptations, I can know that you are with me and experience your blessing on my life.

Pippa Adds

You can’t keep a good person down. God was with Joseph even when everything went wrong. He did not necessarily rescue him from it, but he did use it for good. God was working on Joseph’s character. It was all part of his preparation.
 

 

Verse of the day

… the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did’ (Genesis 39:23).

References

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.