Matthew 13:45-46 (NKJV)
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
There are those days when irritation seems inevitable. Our patience are tried by people and every other process and production of life. Even in our Christian walk, there are those moments when the pressure seems too great a price and the pain too much to bear to take another step. Just before breakthrough is the time when the enemy offers the most opportunities to quit, give in or walk away just to have some relief. The idea of throwing up our hands turning and walking away seems so inviting yet deep within us there is that still small voice telling us to watch, wait and pray. There was a merchant seeking beautiful pearls. He was not just looking to turn a quick profit. His intent was to find the most expensive and exquisite pearl. The pearl of great price. He was looking for the most priceless pearl to be his treasure. When he found it, he didn’t balk at the price but committed everything to have it. He went and sold ALL THAT HE HAD and bought it.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant, not the pearl. It is the passionate pursuit of Christ as our treasure not just to gain entrance into Heaven that we are after…sometimes we forget. We desire the things of Heaven rather than the Kingdom itself. God’s Glory fills the Kingdom. It is illuminated by Jesus. He is the treasure of Heaven. Eternity is hidden deep in our heart so that we may pursue Him with passion and purpose. The Lord desires us. We are God’s Treasure. He seeks us with every bit of passion if not more implied in this parable of the Pearl of Great Price. Jesus paid it all to have us. Will we do the same for Him?
James 1:2-4 (NKJV)
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
The process of pearl production is not elaborate in nature. In fact, I can absolutely relate to the process. It is much like the process of patience born within us during times of perseverance and persistence beyond the pressure, pain and problems of life. An oyster is not a complex creature by any means yet produces a valuable treasure. As an oyster grows, its shell must grow also. The “mantle” within the shell secrets the substance that enlarges the shell to accommodate the growing and changing mollusk inside. If a foreign substance becomes lodged between the mantle and shell, the oyster will begin to produce nacre to cover the offensive intrusion. It is like a thorn or splinter that becomes lodged in it causing irritation and as the oyster works to stop the irritation a pearl begins to form. The average pearl takes about two years. A pearl of great price takes about five to seven years to mature. It is through a process of irritation that a masterpiece and treasure is formed inside an otherwise basic organism.
Count it all joy when you fall into various trials. What is irritating you today? No, seriously what is the thorn in your flesh or splinter in your finger that is not killing you but nagging at you day and night. The Lord allows us to be irritated on purpose. I knew it – you say. Not because He is mad at us or punishing us in any way. God created us with purpose. He has a plan with a future and hope that we cannot produce naturally but must be instigated in us. God allows discomfort to produce the purpose hidden under comfort, complacency and compromise. Ever say, “Why me?” Because God loves you too much to allow you to be anything less than the masterpiece that He designed you to be. He will produce pressure in our life to motivate us to move from our current situation into His Glory. The testing of our faith produces patience. The Lord does not gauge our process by our cries and complaints, it is all based on the purpose hidden in our heart trying to get out. The perfect work of patience is completion. Jesus will not leave you lacking or incomplete. He designed us to be perfect and complete lacking nothing. Is that you today? Are you completely satisfied with your life? Are you lacking nothing? If not, press in, be patient, and by all means do not give up due to the minor irritation.
Matthew 7:6-8 (NKJV)
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
Are you casting your pearls before swine today? There is only one source of complete validation and purpose in our life. It is Jesus Christ. The Word of God planted in our heart must have time to couple with purpose and grow into God’s Plan. The world demands immediate gratification but Jesus said, “The one who endures to the end will be saved.” Do I want it right now or do I want forever? It is our choice if we live for today or if pursue forever. God does not force His Plan and Purpose on us but simply gives it to us along with enough grace to see it come to pass despite our human weakness and natural inability to finish what “we” start.
Ask and it will be given. When our son needed a bone marrow transplant to beat cancer, the insurance company denied us more than Peter did Jesus. Door after door slammed in our face. Rejection letter after rejection letter crumpled in the trash. I heard “I’m sorry” more than grieving widow or Catholic priest. But that didn’t cut it for me. My son was dying. Jesus told me that he would live and not die. The world was not lining up with God’s Word. I had to choose who I believed. Was there ever really a choice? I knocked until knocking turned to pounding over and over again. When I had exhausted every effort, I went to the Throne Room of God boldly yet broken. I remember it like it was yesterday. My strength was gone. I had done everything I could possibly do. I had exhausted all effort. All I had was this teeny, tiny promise given to me on my knees in a filthy bathroom. It started like a banner announcing the Grand Marshall of a parade. Now it was as small as a tiny fortune from a Chinese cookie held in desperation. I said, “You said that he would live and not die. Jesus, I am still holding on the promise. The rest is up to you.” End of prayer. End of me. Everything on the line for Jesus.
Have you stopped reaching? Are you no longer knocking? Have you forgotten His Promise? Have you walked away from purpose? Are you irritated? A bit agitated? Downright done? Do you have a thorn in your flesh today? If so, I have awesome news.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NKJV)
Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for My Strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
The world abhors weakness as it represents dying flesh. The Spirit flourishes in our weakness. Paul says in verse 7 right before this famous passage, “A thorn was given to me, a messenger of satan to buffet me…” Can the “thorn” in our flesh really be God’s Way of producing “priceless pearls” in us? Absolutely. If a pearl is purpose, it will require some irritation in order to produce patience in us. The mantle over us is our spiritual covering in Christ available by His Grace which is freely given to us. As it begins to cover those irritants and by choosing to wait for God’s Process to be complete, we allow something priceless to emerge. The masterpiece eluded to in Ephesians 2:8-10 that is created by His Grace when He saved us and grows by faith and confidence in His Plan and Purpose for us. It is not something we can do or build but is the working of God in us by His Spirit and the Truth. It is this mantle of grace that takes every grainy irritant in life and allows the Lord to makes something marvelous and beautiful out of it. This solidifies the truth that all things work together for our good. (Romans 8:28) Our mantle came from the Father and was handed down to the Son just like Elijah gave Elisha his mantle with the warning that Elisha had asked a hard thing in requesting a double portion of God’s Power. The more of the Kingdom that you desire the greater the irritation and pressure it will cause in our life. Those who press in, press through and are patient under pressure will produce something of great worth with a life that was ordinary making it extraordinary.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV)
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
You are God’s Workmanship, His Handiwork and His Masterpiece. He created you with purpose, a future and a hope that sin tried to strip from you. He gave us grace in His Son, Jesus Christ who saved us when we put all our faith, hope and love into pursuing Him. I can do nothing to make my life any better than what it is outside of Jesus. I am capable of making better choices but have no idea how to be complete lacking no good thing. Anything good or even great that I can do or be is because of Christ in me. It means there will be pain, pressure and problems in order to create the irritation that I need to motivate change. Otherwise, I would gladly remain in the comfortable place of compromise and complacency because I am human. God loves me too much to leave me like that…
The largest naturally formed pearl ever found is the Pearl of Lao Tzu. It measures 9.45 inches and weighs a whopping 14 pounds. Put that on your necklace and wear it. It is worth $3.5 million. If you look at it, it is not round or perfectly shaped and suited for jewelry. Yet it is the pearl of greatest price in the world today. I wonder if sometimes we look at ourselves according to the world’s superficial standards rather than understanding it is the work within us that makes our life successful. I am a bit irritated today as I watch and wait for the next phase of God’s Promise to unfold. He gave me His Word yet again, and I am gripping it in my hand refusing to let go. I cannot judge my process by the world’s projections. It is not up to anyone else or even me to complete me – it is the work of grace becoming the mantle of my life. If I refuse to give up, press in and persevere, every promise will be mine. I will have the pearl of great price. I will find my treasure. He will fulfill my purpose and make me His Masterpiece. His Name is Jesus.
2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NKJV)
Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.