Hidden Treasure And One Valuable Pearl

I am always blessed to sit under the ministry of Jeff Hlavin! These are some of my notes from his message Calvary Assembly of God on Sunday, but you really should watch the whole message. 

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46)

There are at least two possible perspectives about the meaning and the application of these two parables:

First Perspective: Jesus is the One who finds and seeks. 

The field is the world, and Jesus paid the price for the whole field/world to be His. 

Second Perspective: We are the ones doing the discovering. 

Jesus provides Himself as the Treasure of treasures. So taking up our cross to follow Him is not a morbid thing. There is overwhelming joy because of the extravagant treasure that is ours when we do so! 

1. It’s about our response to discovering His Kingdom.

2. It’s about our appropriate response to His Kingdom.

3. It’s about the whole-hearted appropriate response which the Kingdom of God requires.

4. It’s about the value of His Kingdom.

5. It’s about the primacy of His Kingdom.

Three Observations:

Both individuals are alike in that…

  1. Both of them know there is more to life than what they have. Neither one of them considers what they’re doing as a sacrifice because of what they’re gaining! 
  2. Both of them recognize what is missing when they find it.
  3. Both of them recognize that what they have found is of far more inestimable value than everything else they have.

Passover And Communion

Last Sunday we began a new series called BC / AD, which is helping us discover how Jesus fulfills all of the “hints” we see of Him throughout what we now call the Old Testament. In truth, there is no such thing as “BC,” as there has never been a time before Christ. He always IS.

Yesterday, Jeff Hlavin shared with us a marvelous look at the foreshadowing of Christ’s work on Calvary in the institution of the Old Testament observance of Passover. In the “AD” period, Christians now remember what Jesus did through the observance of Communion.

Watch the video of Pastor Jeff’s message to learn more.

And if you would like to download the handout from his message, please click here → Passover and Communion

If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, I invite you to join me on Easter Sunday as we continue to see how Jesus fulfilled in the “AD” all that was promised about Him in the “BC.” It’s going to be a fantastic morning!

A Perspective On Problems

False ideas on problemsWe were blessed to have a special guest speaker yesterday morning: Jeff Hlavin. Wow, what a great word he shared with us! He continued in our series called Aliens and Strangers, on how Christians are to live in this world as citizens of Heaven. Below are a few notes I jotted down.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12)

Using this verse as his introduction, Pastor Jeff shared four false ideas about problems:

  1. Problems are bad and are an interruption to our lives.
  2. All problems can be avoided by hard work, careful planning and clear thinking.
  3. Good Christians don’t have problems.
  4. My problems are a result of sin or are a sign of a lack of faith/maturity.

Instead I should see from a biblical perspective that…

“The Holy Spirit is the greatest Change Agent in a Christian’s life. I can only resolve this tension by obedience. … The devil tries to invoke turmoil in my life, but I can overcome this turmoil by submitting to God (James 4:7).” —Jeff Hlavin

“Trials develop spiritual/emotional/mental muscles that we need to have to soar into the place God has for us.” —Jeff Hlavin

If you would like to download a copy of the outline Pastor Jeff handed out to us, click here → Perspective on Problems Outline ←

We will be continuing in our Aliens and Strangers series this Sunday, and I’d love to have you join us. If you cannot attend in person, check out our broadcast on Periscope by searching for @craigtowens.

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some good reading & watching from today…

“What matters is not the accomplishments you achieve; what matters is the person you become.” —Dallas Willard

“God-given dreams have to do with unselfishness and the serving and blessing of others. Dreams that are initiated out of our own imaginations tend to be primarily focused on ourselves and what we can ‘get.’” —Jeff Hlavin

“Pray against pride, dear friends, wherever you may be. Pride will grow on a dunghill, as well as in the king’s garden. Pray against pride and vainglory, and God give you grace to keep it under!” —C.H. Spurgeon

[VIDEO] John Maxwell reminds us that you don’t have to be a cosmetologist to make someone else beautiful.

Mark Atteberry addresses an article about why millennials are leaving churches, and he does a great job refuting the main points.

Great encouragement from David Wilkerson for anyone praying for a wayward child or spouse.

Planned Parenthood’s stance: if it’s consensual, then violent sex is okay. Again I ask, “Why are my tax dollars funding this garbage?!” Check out this transcript from Live Action’s latest undercover investigation

PLANNED PARENTHOOD: OK. Um, role-play absolutely is normal. Um, it’s—I would say anything within the sexual world is normal as long as it’s consensual 

15-YEAR-OLD: OK. 

PLANNED PARENTHOOD: —between the two people. So if you feel like—like, if he threw out role-play and you were like, “That sounds really weird,” or “I feel really uncomfortable with that,” and he still, like, pressured you, then that is not normal. 

15-YEAR-OLD: OK.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD: But if you were like, “Yeah, I’m open to it, whatever,” and you try it and it felt weird, so you said that, and he was like, “Yeah, that—whatever, that’s fine, let’s not do that again,” that’s also normal.

Overcoming The Goliath Fears

Jeff Hlavin

Rev. Jeff Hlavin brought such an amazing and timely message to Calvary Assembly of God yesterday! Using the well known story of David and Goliath (see 1 Samuel 17), Pastor Jeff showed us how to defeat the giants of fear that stare us down. Here are the notes I took during his message—

“Unhealthy fear is anxiety-producing and diminishes the quality of our lives. It negatively affects our behavior and our relationships.”

Unhealthy fear dominates our thinking … It looms larger in consequence … It intimidates… All other options seem to evaporate.”

On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. (1 Samuel 17:11)

“Who decides the battle gets to be fought this way? We don’t have to let the enemy dictate the terms of engagement! If we let the enemy define the battle, our fearful state becomes our new status quo.”

A Christian cliché will not overcome fear. We need to assess the situation accurately: (a) in the light of what fear is and does, (b) in the light of who and what you are, and (c) in the light of who and what God is.”

“…Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26)

We overcome personal fear through personal faith. Not someone else’s faith or experience or testimony, but mine.

“I cannot go in these,” David said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. (1 Samuel 17:39)

“God wired you the way He did on purpose. Use what is ‘you’ and ‘yours.’” Look at David’s faith. He tells Goliath he’s going to take his head off, but he doesn’t even have a sword! He used what God gave him and then he used the enemy’s own weapon against him. Once one fear is defeated, the other related fears flee too (v. 51b).

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak His praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt His name together. I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; He saved me from all my troubles. (Psalms 34:1-6 NLT)

 

Specificity

Sometimes only a big word will do. Specificity means something particularly fitted to a use or purpose. In pharmacology terms, it is a remedy intended for a particular ailment or disorder, or the selective influence of one substance on another.

In other words, the medicine is targeted for a selected pain or disease.

Yesterday at Calvary Assembly of God we heard a powerful word from our guest speaker Jeff Hlavin. But one thought from Jeff has been particularly working on me. He said, “The enemy fires his darts at your most vulnerable places.” Or said another way: the enemy is specific in his targeting.

My defense against the attack of the enemy is prayer. But my best defense is prayer with specificity.

Perhaps something like this:

  • In praying for Bethany, I’m not just praying for healing from cancer, but healing from neuroblastoma.
  • In praying for Brody who has Pierre Robin Syndrome, I’m praying with specificity for his lower jaw to continue to grow to its proper size. And in the meantime, that he will not experience any problems with choking.
  • In praying for friends whose marriage is in trouble, I’m praying specifically for healing from past mistakes, for open lines of communication, and for a willingness to seek out professional counseling.
  • In praying for a young man who is in a soul-searching time, I’m targeting my prayers at the low self-esteem issues he’s battling.

Let’s not just pray; let’s pray with specificity. The devil is targeting his attacks deliberately; let’s target our prayers just as deliberately.

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