February 29

Leviticus 26:40-42 (NIV) 40"'But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers–their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, 41which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies–then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.

What was left of the nation of Israel went into captivity one thousand years later, just as the LORD promised. They were unfaithful to be the examples to the world that God had called them to be. Instead, they worshipped the gods of the people around them and perverted justice. Treachery and hostility toward God sounds so evil, but it is accurate. In great patience, God endured this attitude and sent them prophet after prophet, most of whom they murdered. Finally, when they had gone too far, God used one of their enemies to conquer them.

As captives in Babylon, they remembered these words and began to confess their sins and the sins of their fathers. They began to sensitize (circumcise) their hearts to God. They humbled themselves and recognized that they were the ones that were wrong and more than deserving of what they had received at God's hand. For 70 years they were captives in a strange land, and without a temple. God saw their repentant hearts, now sensitive and not hardened toward Him, and restored them just as He promised. He never forgets His promises.

God does the same with us today. When our hearts are hard, we may find ourselves in captivity of one kind or another. Things beyond our control cause us grief and pain until we do what they did, sensitize our hearts and humble ourselves. God knows that He is our greatest need, and He will take us through whatever we need to go through to bring us there.

Meditation: Is my heart sensitive and humble toward God?

February 29

Matthew 13:44-46 (NIV) 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. 45"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

Jesus spoke in terms of 100%. That was nothing new to the Jews. One of their favorite passages was to love the Lord with ALL the heart, soul, mind and strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) The things we become familiar with seem to lose their power of influence over us. It is as if our heart becomes calloused to the depth of meaning in those words. We rattle it off without even thinking about it. Jesus rephrased it in a parable to help them become re-sensitized to it. He compared it to a treasure. It was a common thing in that era for people to bury their treasure for safekeeping. Sometimes a person would die and his treasure would never be found. The man in the parable stumbled across a lost treasure. If he purchased the field, the treasure would legally be his. You have stumbled across a treasure, too. The Holy Spirit had a great deal to do with your stumbling, but you have found it nevertheless.

The problem with this treasure is that it comes with the Lordship of Jesus in your life. In other words, you can't just take it without cost. Yes, salvation is free because the Father paid your debt through the Son. Jesus is referring to living in the kingdom of heaven. That is to have Christ as your king. He cannot be your king unless you make yourself His obedient subject. Do you see the great value, both now and through eternity, of giving up everything else for the blessedness of living in the kingdom? This is discipleship! Jesus told His disciples that unless they gave up everything, they could not be His disciples. (Luke 14:33) You cannot really be a learner of the life of Jesus when other things come first.

Consider: Living in the kingdom begins when you see He is the treasure of all treasures and nothing else is worth a distant second in your heart. Have you seen Him?