Treasure

What I am talking about here is not at all what you are expecting. I am referring to “treasure” as a verb, as in:

“Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11
“But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

Hearing a message and thinking, “This is good,” is not enough, even if you make a note somewhere but never get around to looking at it again.

Underlining or highlighting a verse in your Bible, printed or electronic, is not enough, even if you happen to run across the marks at some point in the future.

To treasure something in your heart means to handle it there, turn it over and around, scrutinize it, think about its parts, and come back to it again and again. This is memorization.

Having been a teacher of science and mathematics among secondary students and of the Bible among adults for over fifty years leaves me with the settled conviction that memorization is almost a lost art. I understand the reasons for it. Electronic entertainment has taken the place of the time prior generations used in recalling a memorized poem or passage of Scripture, to ponder it, recite it, enjoy it anew. The ubiquitous electronic devices we carry also allow us to look up almost anything in the Bible or elsewhere with just a minute of research (and a good WiFi or cellular signal). But, this is not enough.

When you are praying, do you say, “Just a minute, Father, while I look something up?”

When you are telling someone about the salvation that is in Jesus Christ, do you say, “Just a minute. I know there is a good verse about this; let me look it up?”

When someone (perhaps Luke) asked Mary about raising Jesus, did she say, “I don’t remember, but let me flip through my photos on my phone?”

When Satan tempted Jesus (and when we are tempted), is “Let me look up a verse about that,” adequate?

To memorize a verse, here is what you do:

1. Write it out by hand.
2. Read it aloud.
3. Say the first word or words from memory, then check if you had them right.
4. Add the next word or phrase, saying everything from the beginning and checking it.
5. Repeat step 4 until you have the whole verse.
6. See if you can still say it a few hours later.
7. Say it before going to sleep that night.
8. Repeat it in the morning.
9. Treasure it in your heart.

There are eight necessary steps there; the ninth is the payoff.

Guidance

If you have a heart to do what the Lord wants you to do, you will wonder what it is, perhaps pondering what it might be as you read Scripture and praying about it day by day. Some become rather anxious, especially the younger believers, to know what it is the Lord has for them.

If you wish to know what the Lord wants you to do in the future, be busy about the Lord’s things now. Gather with other christians, take part in ministry as opportunity presents itself, pray with others, be attentive to the example and words of those older than you, and welcome the divine encounters God arranges from time to time. If you desire to know what you should do in the future, be busy about the Lord’s things in the present. He will lead you.

Abraham’s servant, who was sent back to Mesopotamia to find a wife for Abraham’s son Isaac, tells the story of how he was guided in Genesis 24. It may sound as if he was saying, “If the next stop light turns green before I have to stop, then I will know that God wants me to make this or that choice.” Please do not do that. Wait and see what the Lord does.

The reason Abraham’s servant could lay down stipulations of how he would be guided was that everything he did was bathed in prayer along the journey. And, more importantly, the chapter specifically says that the Angel of the Lord traveled with him. This is not a metaphor, as Abraham knew (see Genesis 18 and 19). There may have been some serious consultation before the servant dared ask for specifics to happen.

Although the requested events did happen, with other confirming factors included, the point is that God guided Abraham’s servant. He will guide you, too, if you are listening and watching as you are busy in the Lord’s work.

And now for the bad news: God probably has more than one thing for you to do in your life. What you hope will be the revelation of His plan for you will likely be just the next step on a long journey, one filled with turns and challenges you never expected. The Lord Himself will be with you.