Treasure hunting

The prospects of finding treasure has a persistent allure to us. Buried pirate treasure, the lost gold of Solomon, the gold rush of 1849, sunken bounty in the sea, or priceless antiques in the attic.

Let’s consider the treasure God has for us.

Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV)
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. “

Followers of Christ Jesus sometimes have a challenging time with earthly treasure. I suppose that I’m somewhat blessed in that I have a modest lifestyle.  I must pay attention to make sure that the bills get paid and that I’m not running out of money before I run out of month.

But I’m still susceptible to building up treasure here on earth.  It’s not the treasure that is the problem, it’s the heart.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The problem comes into play when the things we gather to ourselves here on this earth, eclipse our mission and our willingness to fully embrace what God has called us to do.

If the phrase “God has called us to do” gave you a sigh of relief, don’t’ be so sure of yourself.  Every believer has a calling. It is for each of us to identify that calling and peruse it with all our might.

There isn’t an escape hatch we can crawl out of to avoid this obligation.

John 14:15 (NKJV)
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

 It doesn’t get any clearer than that. Loving Jesus, means we do what he asks of us. There isn’t an exception, or exclusion to this. It is a clear ‘binary’ choice. If you’ve been around computers, enough you come to value binary options.

Binary is either on or off; 1 or 0. There isn’t a .05 or any other fractional value between the two polar opposite values. It is either on or it isn’t.

Our obedience to Christ Jesus is the same way. We can’t parse out part of our obedience to Him and consider our obligation satisfied.  No, it doesn’t work that way.

Jesus went so far as to say this about those who would attempt to divide their devotion to Him.

Revelation 3:15-16 (NKJV)
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

It’s abundantly clear that Jesus doesn’t care for fractional commitment either.

God did not ‘so love the world’ that he made a token investment. Jesus didn’t die on the cross of Calvary so that ‘whoever believes in Him’ might be saved.

Not at all. He was, and is to this day, fully committed to unrestricted relationship, with us.  There is no holding back, wavering, or special considerations. His Love relentlessly pursues us.

What about that calling?

What about that calling we mentioned back at the beginning of this article?  What is our calling? How do we know what it is? What are the parameters to it?

Let’s start at the beginning; baby Christian.

I’m not going to say that when one accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior that He doesn’t clearly lay out someone’s calling. It does happen; not all the time, but it does happen.

Typically, it doesn’t. We don’t normally become aware of our calling when we are babes in Christ, because we aren’t ready for that yet.

Ever notice, that God holds things in reserve for us? Then at an appropriate time, He lays it down right in front of us. If you haven’t and you are faithful to His direction, I assure you, He will do exactly that.

Matthew 11:30 (NKJV)
“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

He’s never seeking to overload us with a burden we are unable to bear. It’s that way when we first surrender our lives to Him.

In most cases we are not ready for the ‘Big Picture’ calling. Instead, He gives us a standard set of objectives that are remain constant from that moment forward, regardless of what new calling he brings us to. For reference let’s just call them ‘Persistent Callings’

Persistent Callings

That reference in Matthew is a good place to start but let me expand on it a bit.

Surrender:

Matthew 16:24 (NKJV)
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

This is our first objective in our persistent callings; deny self and follow Jesus.

John 14:15 (NKJV)
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

I’m repeating this passage again, but it is only because this is part of those persistent callings.  We are to be obedient.

What isn’t spelled out in the verses I have given you is an underlying thread; which is our first calling.

That is surrender. All of this can be summed up in surrender.

When Jesus says to His disciples, should anyone want to follow me, He follows immediately with ‘he must deny himself’. This could have been written ‘he must surrender his will to Mine’ and it would have meant the very same thing.

When Jesus said, “if you love me, keep my commands”, the message was clear. He was saying, ‘surrender to me and do what I tell you to do’.

It is only when our will is broken, and we can approach with a humbled heart that God can fully use us, to His Glory.

Read My Word:

This calling initially, of course, will be obvious to us. We read the Word of God, and practice what it sets out for us, as the Holy Spirit demonstrates those truths to us.

2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The word of truth is of course the Bible and those things which the Holy Spirit teaches us, commentaries place emphasis on the ‘true’ here; as there were false teachings abounding.

Something that is obvious here is the beginning of this passage; “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God”. Consequently, making strict adherence to God’s Word and the teaching of the Holy Spirit imperatives for the believer. Back to the ‘Binary’ condition we talked about earlier.

You either read the Word and obey the Spirits direction, or you don’t. It’s imperative that you do.

This is no different today. So what the instruction is really saying is we are to cut through the distractions and false teaching, going straight to the Word of God; taking heed to what the Holy Spirit teaches us.

To accomplish this, we must be in the Word of God intently and regularly. We can’t expect to be a healthy babe in Christ if we only get our feedings once a week or less.

The more we take in of God’s Word the healthier and faster we grow.

Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV)
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

This is a critical calling because much of the power for living the Christian life is going to come directly from the Word where there is tremendous power!

This element of our persistent calling is a key element in putting us in the position where God will call upon us to do more.

Pray:

Ephesians 6:17-18 (NKJV)
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints

I’ve quoted the 17th verse as well here to keep things in context. But it also backs up the prior calling regarding the Word of God and its power.

The context is important because prayer is another important persistent calling.

Prayer is where we pour out our heart to God. Prayer is where God reveals His will to us.  Prayer is the catalyst to our deeper understanding of His Word.

So, you see, the two are very closely linked.

It is through, prayer and the Word that God will reveal to us additional callings.  Both are effective in our preparation, reception, acknowledgement and fulfillment of subsequent callings given to us.

Subsequent Callings

The persistent elements of surrender, immersion in the Word (while being obedient to the Holy Spirit), and Prayer, will take you a long way on your journey down the path God would have for you.

But there will be subsequent callings. Our success in being persistent with the persistent callings, is going to have a lot to do with both the timing of a subsequent call and our ability to recognize and acknowledge it.

If we are not ready, God’s going to hold off. If we are not prepared to listen, we will not hear.

In my reflections of where God has called me to do certain things, I’ve noticed that often, God likes to call us to things incrementally.

While true I have been the witness and have had experience where God has called for the major leap; often, He moves us from one position, to the next, and then on to something else.

In very little time we find that we are a long way from where we first set out, and you realize that this was God’s intent all along.

Something that we (spell that I) can get hung up on, is the duration of a calling.  I think it is human nature to want to nest where it is comfortable and predictable.

When God calls us to something and we are obedient in taking that call, there is a period where we are not necessarily, completely comfortable.

As time goes on, we find our rhythm and the calling become more and more comfortable.

Be careful, not to get too comfortable, because it is these times, when God is likely to either add more to your calling, or change it completely.

Rest assured, it’s all part of the plan.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

God always has our way-points mapped out for us.  Just be prepared because He is not inclined to give us a heads up before the timing is right in accordance to His plan.

Back to the treasure

We started out talking about treasure, and I pulled us off to talk about our callings. Sorry about that. Well, no I guess I’m not.

I’m not sorry because you see, it is by being obedient to God’s will, fulfilling the persistent callings, being responsive to the subsequent callings, that we build up treasure in heaven.

Remember Matthew 6:19-21?  “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”.

Remember the rich man who approached Jesus and asked him what must he do? He had followed all the laws of the prophets and not done anything that was bad in his estimation.

Matthew 19:21 (NKJV)
Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Jesus was making a point here.  The man’s treasure was in the possessions that he held.  After Jesus told him this, in fact ‘called him’ to this; he went away sad.

Deny self and follow Jesus; a recurring theme.

With each calling we fulfill or continue to fulfill, we add to that treasure trove in Heaven.

It is critical that we place Jesus before all else.

Luke 12:19-21 (NKJV)
And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’

“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Makes it imperative that we lay up treasures in Heaven doesn’t it?

What will we do?

Will we rummage through long unexplored closets or look for treasure buried in the attic, left there by someone who thought they could possess it for all times? Or will we attend to our callings; first the persistent ones. Because it is the persistent ones that lay the foundation for the subsequent callings that God has in store for us.

Treasure hunting in this world can be grueling work. Often it can even be dangerous.

Laying up treasure in heaven is a different story all together. Because His yoke is easy, and his burden is light.

He’s only going to give us what we can handle and nothing more, because His Grace is always sufficient.

Happy Treasure Hunting!

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