This Week’s Sermon By Dennis Davidson; God’s Hidden Treasure

This Day's Thought


God‘s Hidden Treasure

By Dennis Davidson

Colossians 2:1-2:5

A British TREASURE HUNTER discovered a huge stash of Roman coins buried in a field in southwest England. Using a metal detector, Dave Crisp located a large pot holding 52,000 coins. These ancient silver and bronze coins dated from the third century AD weigh more than 350 pounds. They were valued at $5 million.

While Crisp’s treasure may cause us to dream about somehow finding similar riches, we as Christians should be on a different kind of treasure hunt. What we seek does not consist of silver and gold. Rather our quest is to gather the precious gems or wealth that comes from a full knowledge of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:2-3).

The Bible is God’s Word to the world. It is God’s treasure chest. If we are to find God’s treasure we must find Jesus. The surest place to find Jesus is in the Bible. As we get to know Jesus we discover the hidden treasure of God. If we truly are to get to know Jesus we must be immersed in His Word, and be led His Spirit.

God’s truths must be sought earnestly with all the attention of someone seeking hidden treasure. The psalmist said, “I rejoice at Your Word as one who finds great treasure” (Ps. 119:162). Are you eager to discover the treasures of truth stored in God’s Word? Then lets start digging into the treasure chest of God’s eternal Word!

Our text contains a warning against the subtle mixing of Christian thought with the false philosophies of the world. Knowledge is not the answer to meaning in life. Jesus is. We do not think our way through to reality. We find truth and reality in Jesus Christ. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is foundational for the Christian life.
We Christians are the channel through which the presence and power of the indwelling Christ flows into the life of others and into the world. This happens in two ways: through our prayers and our presence. Verse 1 elaborates the importance of intercessor prayer. “For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face,”
The Greek word translated “conflict” or struggle in verse 1 is agôna, from which we get our word “agony”(struggling; 1:29; 4:12). It denotes strenuous activity, here indicating deep and earnest intercession. The spiritual powers that Paul wrestled to keep the work from defeat were real and resolved therefore he had to come against them with the power of prayer. He was strenuously exerting himself in prolonged, penetrating intercession and attentive receptive listening for God’s answer concerning what he should be praying.

Paul’s labor of love was not limited to those he personally knew; it extended to those who had not met him personally. He might be confined in a roman prison, but his love and prayers were not confide in a small, selfish, dark heart.
In verse 2 we have the stated purpose of Paul’s intercession. He agonize in prayer that the church would be knit together in their love for Jesus Christ and each other. “that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the riches that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,”
Though Paul could not be with them he could still minister to them by prayer and by the written word. He prays that the Colossians will be “encouraged,” that they will be “knit together in love,” that they will experience the “assurance of understanding.” Who needs our intercession to these ends?

Love is what united this congregation. It was what encouraged them to oppose those leading them astray. This unifying love for Christ gave them confidence and strength of conviction that yielded a fuller understanding of the truth. Do you realize that there is no full knowledge apart from commitment to Christ? Complete understanding results from complete yielding.

Understanding or insight (syneseôs) refers to applying biblical principles to everyday life. Only Christians can live a life based on true understanding because “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor. 2:14). Because “those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh” (Rom. 8:5), they are “darkened in their understanding” (Eph. 4:18).

When the believer begins to live in light of spiritual truth, it becomes truly understood and leads to assurance of his or her faith. Here the New Testament concludes that knowing the truth and acting on it leads to full assurance of understanding.

[People often express doubts about their salvation, even though they have been to church regularly. Their primary problem is not a lack of knowledge, but a failure to apply the truths they know. Truth that finds solid footing in a strong heart and works itself out to fellow believers in love results in deep conviction. That is the basis for assurance. [MacArthur, NT Com. Colossians. 90.]]

This rich understanding is Christ centered. For Christ, is the mystery of God, who reveals God to man (John 1:18; Heb. 1:2-3). Knowledge is not the answer to meaning in life. Jesus is. We do not think our way through to reality. We find truth and reality in Jesus Christ. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is foundational for the Christian life. And true insight into God’s ways enables believers to know (epignôsin) Christ fully.

The Bible say that we find our completeness in Christ. If you possess Him, then you are completed or fulfilled by being possessed by Him. Having Him, you have all you need. We are called upon to appropriate God’s fullness for ourselves by yielding ourselves to the indwelling Christ.
The supreme reality of God is revealed in Jesus Christ in whom are all the treasures of existence both now and eternal. Verse 3 is the bottom line. “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
True treasure, eternal treasure, is found only in Christ. The word “treasure” is the Greek word “thesauros,” from which we get our word thesaurus which refers to a treasury of words. In the original the word referred to a treasure chest or storehouse where a great treasure was kept.

Spiritual truth is often hidden. The treasure of the kingdom is unrecognized, unknown, and walked over by millions of people. People can be standing close to it and not know it’s there. While those who follow Christ know how valuable a relationship with Him is, most of the world has no clue. The bulk of unbelievers are caught up in other pursuits, oblivious to the true treasure that could be theirs. If you’re serious about spiritual matters, you must be willing to go below the surface.

I want to help you to discover the treasure that you have in the Lord Jesus Christ. Many years ago, the SPANISH ARMADA was sailing off the coast of Florida. A hurricane struck, and those ships that were laden with millions of dollars in gold and silver ingots went to the bottom, in shallow water. People knew the treasure had been lost, but they didn’t know where the ships had gone down. One ship went down near Vero Beach, in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Many have been in that water there by the Sebastian Inlet. Many have been in that water, swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, spear fishing right around that area but didn’t come up with any millions. They didn’t come up with any silver or any gold. Many ships have been there in shallow water. Fisherman, doubtless, fished over that spot. They would hang a hook, perhaps, on a lump of gold, and curse their luck, because they had hung a hook down beneath the water on something they could not see.

Then one day, some explorers decided, “The ship must be here.” They went out, and they made the surveys; they tested, and they went under. And, there it was, in shallow water-so shallow that any of us who could swim normally could have gone to the bottom. They brought up millions of dollars. There it was, but they didn’t know it was there.

I believe that many of us are yet to discover the full treasure we have in Jesus Christ. Oh, dear friend, in Him-in Jesus Christ-“are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Think of that-all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And it’s all in Jesus. [Illustration by Adrian Rodgers]

For in Him are hidden (Col. 1:26) all the treasures of wisdom (sophia, 1:9) and knowledge. Knowledge is the apprehension of truth; wisdom is its application to life. Knowledge is the data of truth, whereas wisdom is the ability to apply what truth has been learned. Both are found in Christ (Rom. 11:33; 1 Cor. 12:8) [whose wisdom is foolishness to the world (1 Cor. 1:21-25), but who is the power of God by which a believer receives “righteousness, holiness, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30)].

Now, how can those treasures be yours? Neither knowledge or wisdom is not the answer to meaning in life. Jesus is. We do not think our way through to reality. We find truth and reality in Jesus Christ. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the foundation for the Christian life is where knowledge and wisdom begin.

All wisdom, all knowledge is in-not from-Jesus. Whoever desires wisdom to navigate life successfully must come to the realization that there is nothing more, nothing less, nothing else than Jesus. All treasures of wisdom are in Him.

[It is vitally important to understand Christ’s deity. No person can be a Christian at all without this true knowledge of Jesus Christ as the incarnate God. Yet so many Christians who affirm the deity of Christ live as if He were not the One in whom all spiritual sufficiency resides.

Jesus is the One in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He alone is sufficient. [Hidden is from apokruphos, from which we get our English word apocrypha. It was used by the false leaders to refer to the writings containing their secret knowledge. But] there is no hidden spiritual knowledge needed for salvation and sanctification outside of Christ. These treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ are hidden from all but maturing Christians.]

[Because Christ is sufficient, there is no need for the writings of any cult, philosophy, or psychology to supplement the Bible. He is the source of all true spiritual knowledge. That knowledge is also crucial to assurance because doubts about Christ’s sufficiency bring doubts about His ability to do what He promised.]
The story is told that one day WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST was looking through a book of famous artwork when a painting caught his eye. “I want this painting for my collection,” he said to his aides. But after making some inquiries, they reported that they were unable to locate the particular work.
“If you value your jobs,” Hearst said, “do whatever it takes to find that treasure, and secure it for me immediately.”

Three and a half months later, the aides returned to Hearst. “Did you find the treasure?” he asked.
“Yes,” they replied. “After much searching and painstaking research, we found it.”
“Did you purchase it?” he asked.
“Why not?” Hearst asked.
“Because we found it in your warehouse.”

If you have Christ you already have all the wisdom and knowledge you will ever need to live life successfully. For it’s all in Christ. When you got Him, you got it all. So stop searching the world for what you already have in Christ.
Most of the problems we face and about which we pray for other are related to a lack of understanding of Christ -what He did, what it means for us, and what is available to us through Him. Everything you need or should want are offered to us in Christ. They are in Christ, but they are hidden in Christ from the eyes of natural man. Do you see them? Or are they and their eternal worth hidden from you?

[The treasures of truth in God’s Word are best mined with the spade of meditation. If we read the Word of God hurriedly or carelessly, we will miss its deep insights.]
Verse 4 is a warning against the subtle mixing of Christian thought with the false philosophies of the world. “I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.
Only this full knowledge and wisdom of Christ can keep a believer from being deceived by fine-sounding arguments [pithanologia, occurring only here in NT, is lit. “persuasive speech” that uses plausible but false arguments]. Truth and persuasion do not always correlate. Error can persuade, and truth can be uncompelling at times. It all depends on whether one has the full truth and a complete commitment to it. [Walvoord, John; Zuck, Roy; The Bible Knowledge Commentary.Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983, S. 676]

Why is this understanding so important? Because it is the only way to keep from being sucked into “enticing words,” cults, and other dead-end pursuits of pseudo-spirituality. That’s what was happening in Colosse. People were coming on the scene, saying, “What Paul is preaching is fine, but there’s much more.”

“No,” Paul says. “Be steadfast in your pursue of Christ. All of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him.”

Karl Valletin of Munich, Germany, was a master among that rare group of PERFORMING ARTISTS we call clowns. The scene for which he is best remembered took place on a darkened stage illumined only by a solitary circle of light thrown by a street lamp. Valletin, with long-drawn face and deeply worried expression, walks around and around this circle of light, desperately looking for something. A policeman enters the scene and asks, “What have you lost?” “The key to my house,” replies the clown. The policeman then joins the search, but they find nothing. After a while the policeman inquires, “Are you sure that you lost it here?” “No,” says the clown, pointing to a dark corner of the stage, “over there.” “Then why on earth are you looking for it here?” asks the policeman. The reply, “There is no light over there.”

Valletin’s performance is a picture of the snare in which we become entangled. We go to whatever promise of light is available. Not unlike the Colossians, we respond to explanations that appeal to rational thought, to offers of insight that put us and our efforts in the center, to any philosophy that puts us at the center of the mystery. So Paul warned: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (v. 8).

Our present generation is inundated, especially through the persuasive medium of television, with offers to fill our emptiness-from toothpaste and deodorants to where we live and what cars to drive. All of this media manipulation is an expression of overarching philosophies that attempt to offer us meaning. One is hedonism-anything that feels good must be good, so “if it feels good do it.” It is seen in the self-realization philosophy which says that “I am number one,” and in the philosophy of materialism that reduces us to consumers and producers or what we are is what we acquire, and our worth is in our productivity. Then there is astrology, scientific determinism, situational ethics, multiculturalism, values education, moral relativism [voided moral boundaries], escapism, and it goes on and on.

There is no need to look beyond Christ. There is no purpose in pursuing other systems of thought. There is no eternal value in fine sounding arguments and the reasonings of man. There is no value in initiations, secret rites, and mysteries. In Christ is all God’s wisdom and knowledge.

In verse 5 Paul rejoices that the believers are standing firm in their faith in Christ. “For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.”
Even though Paul was absent from the Colossians, he delighted in how orderly (1 Cor. 14:40) and how firm (steadfast, solid, stable) was their faith in Christ. Like a well disciplined band of soldiers they were growing strong and wise in their faith. They did so through an unshaken reliance on Christ.

Deception has always been part of MILITARY STRATEGY. The British put it to good use during World War II in North Africa against German forces led by General Erwin Rommel.

The Brits constructed pasteboard look-a-likes of tanks and airplanes to deceive the Germans. From the air this fake equipment looked real enough to fool reconnaissance personnel, and it could he easily moved.
Satan, whom Jesus referred to as “the ruler of this world” (Jn. 16:11), is a master deceiver. He was the driving force behind the false leaders who were trying to persuade the Colossians to accept deception as truth.
Followers of Christ today are in a similar battle. How do we defend ourselves against deceivers? Paul used military terms in his comments to the Colossians that can help us to know what to do. First, he commended them for their “good order” which refers to being battle-ready, disciplined soldiers. Second, he spoke of the “steadfastness” of their faith in Christ, which refers to as having a solid front. They had an unshaken commitment to their Lord and to advancing His kingdom.

Don’t be fooled by Satan’s lies. Know the truth of God’s Word, and be battle ready through a disciplined life and an unswerving commitment to Jesus Christ. God’s truth is the best protection against Satan’s lies.
[Ever try to lose weight or get in better shape? Dumb question. Most guys want a fitter physique. Many of us have even purchased some sort of workout equipment. Sales for the home fitness industry totaled $4.3 billion in 2008. But now most of those treadmills and weight machines gather dust.

While a majority of guys fail, some accomplish their goal of body transformation. Their not-so-secret tip for success: Get a workout partner-somebody committed to giving encouragement and getting stronger together.

The same principle works in building spiritual muscle. Many men want to become more Christlike. We join a church but slip into the service on Sunday morning and slip out when it’s over. We don’t connect and don’t experience significant life change. What we need is a spiritual workout partner. Even better might be a group of Christians with similar goals and interests. Paul writes in Colossians 2:2, “I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding.” Believers have always grown stronger in small groups. Small groups provide a place to firm up our faith where we can question, share struggles, build friendships, and help each other through life’s journey.]
In this section Paul contends that the mystery of life is in a person, not in philosophy. His argument is against all those who would “deceive you with persuasive words” (v. 4). The mystery of life is in the person of Jesus Christ. True treasure, eternal treasure, is found only in Christ.

The story is told that in the days of the ROMAN EMPIRE, a certain wealthy senator became estranged from his son. When he died unexpectedly, his will was opened. “Because my son does not appreciate what I’ve done, I leave all of my worldly possessions to my loyal slave, Marcellus,” the will read. “However, because I am a man of grace, I bequeath to my son one of my possessions of his choosing.”

“Sorry,” said the testator to the son. “You can only take one of your dad’s possessions. Which will it be?”
“I take Marcellus,” said the son.

Brilliant! That’s the idea. When you take Jesus Christ, you get all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. When you open your heart to Him, you find everything you need. It’s all in Him.

Why don’t you wise up today and take Jesus to be your only and all-sufficient Lord and Savior?

This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – A Year Of Gratitude

A Year Of Gratitude

By Eric Elder

The Ranch

We’ll be returning next week to our study of the book of Romans and the “Lessons in Renewing Your Mind.”  But while the New Year‘s still fresh, I wanted to give you a prescription for how to have the best, brightest, and most fulfilling New Year you’ve ever had.

It’s simpler than you might think, and the price is within reach.  The prescription is this:  give thanks in all circumstances.

The idea was sparked anew within me over the holidays after reading a great book called 365 Thank Yous.  The book was written by John Kralik, who was a lawyer in L.A. when he wrote it.

At 53 years old, he thought he was at the end of his rope.  He had been through two failed marriages, his most recent girlfriend had just left him, and his business was on the brink of financial ruin.

So he took a walk into the mountains on New Year’s Day.  As he walked a voice seemed to speak to him saying that he shouldn’t focus on what he wanted or had lost, but should be grateful for what he had.  Looking  at his life, though, he couldn’t think of even one thing for which he could give thanks.

Then he remembered his grandfather, who at John’s age had already retired and was spending his days golfing and watching the stock market.  John remembered a lesson that his grandfather tried to teach him when John was young.  His grandfather had given him a silver dollar and told him that if he were to write a thank you letter for the silver dollar his grandfather would send him another silver dollar.  That was the way thank you letters worked, his grandfather told him.

True to his word, his grandfather sent John a second silver dollar upon receiving the first thank you note.  But John says he failed to learn the lesson.  Having received the second silver dollar, John never sent a second thank you letter, and thus never received a third silver dollar.

Reflecting on this lesson on his mountain-top walk, John came up with an idea.  He had a stack of stationery in his office with a return address that might soon become obsolete.  He decided he would try to find one person to thank each day.  At the end of the year, he would have written 365 thank yous, he would have used up his stationery, and if his grandfather was right, he would have a lot more to be thankful for at the end of the year.

The only problem was, he couldn’t think of even one thing in his life for which he could be grateful.

The rest of the book describes what happened as John set out to find something to be thankful for each day, whether it was a tie that someone had given him for Christmas, or a kind word spoken by someone who regularly served him coffee at Starbucks, or the fact that one of his clients had actually paid their bills on time.

The response he got from people varied from shock and delight to overwhelming emotion, as so few people had ever received a hand-written thank you note from anyone, let alone from John.  But this simple act of finding something to be thankful for every day began to release a wave of return in John’s life that he could have hardly imagined that day on the mountain.  His relationship with his estranged son was restored.  Some of his paying clients began to refer other paying clients to him.   He began to take notice of those around him, from co-workers in his office to the maintenance man at his apartment.

His heart began to soften to the plights of those around him, and his attitude about his own frustrations began to diminish, too.  By the end of the year, and by the end of the book, John was in a new place on many levels:  personally, professionally, spiritually and emotionally.  What he learned from his grandfather had turned out to be true.  Blessings abound for those who give thanks.

And isn’t this just what the Bible says?  Even though John Kralik’s book is not particularly spiritual, per se, what he says underscores the wisdom of the Bible in many ways.  There’s a blessing of peace and joy that comes to those who have a grateful heart.  The book of Philippians says:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

God wants us to present our requests to Him.  But He wants us to present them to Him with thanksgiving.  When we do, the peace of God follows.

The book of Colossians says:

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:15-17).

Three times in these three short verses thankfulness is mentioned.  The same God who called us to peace has also called us to be thankful.  Peace and thankfulness go hand in hand.  The God who wants us to teach and admonish one another and to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs also wants us to do these things with with gratitude in our hearts to Him.  And in whatever we do, whether in word or deed, God wants us to do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

The book of First Thessalonians tells us when we should give thanks:

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

If you’d like to know God’s will for you this coming year, here is is, at least in part:  be joyful always; pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.

This doesn’t mean that it’s always easy to give thanks in all circumstances, but it does mean that the peace and joy that might be eluding you now could be easier to recover than you might think.  God’s peace doesn’t come from getting everything you want, but by being thankful for what you’ve been given.  Being thankful changes your heart, your mind, and your attitude in a way that can bear a fruitful return in your life.

I wish I could read you all the stories in John Kralik’s book.  While it doesn’t have a fairy-tale ending, it does show that the powerful impact that gratefulness have have.  And what did it cost him?  Just a little time to reflect each day on those things for which he could be truly thankful, and the cost of a stack of notecards and stamps so that he could express his gratitude to others.

In the short time since reading the book, I’ve already had several occasions to express my thanks to those around me.  On a visit to a dermatologist with my daughter this week, I was able to tell him thanks for a treatment he had done on my foot several years ago.  It was a painful treatment, but now it’s healed and I’m pain-free.  But I never had a reason to go back to his office after that treatment, so I never told him thanks.  I was able to write some thank you notes for some Christmas gifts, not out of obligation, but with a renewed sense of thankfulness in my heart towards those who took the time to give them to me.  I’ve been able to thank my wife and my kids for things that I might otherwise have overlooked.  I can tell in my own life that the gratitude that is welling up in my heart is already bringing about a new level of joy and peace.

It’s amazing what a little simple act of gratitude can do–both for you, and for those around you.

As we head into 2012, I’d like to encourage you to make this, “A Year of Gratitude.”  A year where you put the Bible to the test and see what happens when you “give thanks in all circumstances.”  If you do, I believe you’ll find that the Bible will prove true for you on this point just as it has proven true on so many other points that people have put it to the test and found to be true.  And if you follow this prescription, I’m confident that you’ll have a better, brighter, and more fulfilling New Year than you’ve ever had before.

And if you’ve got some thank you notes handy, why not take one out from time to time to express your gratitude to those around you?  John Kralik suggests that the notes don’t have to be long, just three or four lines at most. Start with “Dear So-and-So,” he says, then identify the gift specifically (“the red and white tie”), and say one sincere thing about why you like it (“It’s a perfect match for my blue suit.”)  Remember that thank you notes don’t have to be just for those who give you gifts, but for anyone who has been a blessing in your life, whether it’s helping you through a crisis, or serving you with a smile.

With all the other New Year’s resolutions that you could start this year, one of the simplest, yet most beneficial is to be thankful for at least for one thing each day.  Or for best results, as the Bible says, “give thanks in all circumstances.”

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for giving us another year of life.  Help us to live each day with gratitude in our hearts toward You and toward those around us.  Help us to express that gratitude in ways that others can benefit from it as well.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

P.S.  I’d like to say a sincere “thank you” to all of you who have taken time to read these messages this past year, sharing them with your friends, praying for our ministry, helping us financially, and writing me your own notes of gratitude.  While I try to respond personally to as many notes as I can, I’m sorry I’m not able to respond in that way to every note that comes in.  But I do read every note, and want to let you know that I very much appreciate hearing from you.  It bolsters my faith, gives me encouragement, and is exciting to see how God uses His Word to touch people’s lives.  Thank you!

365 Thank YousWhile I don’t have copies of John Kralik’s book to send to you (I got mine from the library), I’ve included a link below to the book on Amazon if you’d like to get a copy for yourself.  Thanks to Greg Potzer for recommending the book to me!  Now I’m glad to recommend it to you!
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