Well, have you set those New Year Resolutions?
You want to lose weight — so you bought the exercise bike.
You plan to read more — so you got that Kindle for Christmas.
Every goal requires a little planning and usually a few purchases as well.
In January of 1996, my goal was to read the Bible and figure out God. By March I was in a study with Jehovah’s Witnesses in their new publication “Knowledge that leads to everlasting life.” The first Scripture referenced in the opening chapter was Proverbs 2:5 with a promise of finding a “special kind of knowledge” — the very knowledge of God. I was hungry for some of that so I continued to dig into my Free Home Bible Study.
Proverbs 2:1-5 is still a great passage, but since leaving the Watchtower, I’m back on track digging for God rather than the “special knowledge” the Watchtower organization had to offer.
My son, if you accept my sayings
And treasure up my commandments,
2 By making your ear attentive to wisdom
And inclining your heart to discernment;
3 Moreover, if you call out for understanding
And raise your voice for discernment;
4 If you keep seeking for it as for silver,
And you keep searching for it as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will understand the fear of Jehovah,
And you will find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:1-5 NWT)
“Hidden treasures” brings to mind digging with a shovel. Our Creator freely reveals Himself in nature of course, but there are also hidden treasures beneath the surface of the landscape to be discovered. For that, we need some tools and to put in a little labor.
I wonder how many of us have resolved to go deeper with God in the new year yet will let the days go by without picking up a shovel or breaking out in a sweat?
Before you can start to dig, you’ll need a shovel. Do you own one? Do you know where it is? Have you set aside time for this excavation? If you plan on searching for hidden treasures, you might begin by dusting off your shovel.
And if you don’t have one, buy one.
What? You think buying a shovel isn’t spiritual? You think that if you pray for wisdom it just drops into your lap? Actually, purchasing some items can be a very spiritual thing.
In Jeremiah chapter 13, the Lord ordered His prophet to buy a linen waistband. Jeremiah obeyed and bought the belt. Then the Lord directed him to hide it in the crevice of some rocks. Many days later the Lord told him to dig it up. By that time the belt was ruined and worthless. Kind of weird isn’t it?
So picture this, what if God sent you to Walmart and told you to buy a belt but then ordered you to pass it through your lawn mower? What a useless activity you might think.
But in Jeremiah’s case, after the belt was ruined, the word of the Lord came to him and God provided a lesson in how He was going to handle the house of Judah.
God is willing to impart His wisdom through everyday things like shredded belts, but first we have to learn how to recognize His voice. The prophet did not just go buy a linen waistband because he needed one, he bought it because the Spirit of God led him to find one. And it made no sense at first when he dug up a ruined belt, but Jeremiah waited and listened for the lesson.
In Jeremiah 19, same thing. This time God had him go spend his money on a clay jar. To put flowers in it so Jeremiah could enjoy them? Nope. God commanded Jeremiah to shatter the vessel illustrating another lesson concerning the house of Judah.
Jeremiah’s money was spent so that others could be taught a lesson through him. It cost Jeremiah. That’s not a pretty picture, but is an example of God’s economy. There’s always a cost.
So as I was digging into Scripture to grow closer to God, the treasure I uncovered was a lesson that it’s not enough to focus only on what it cost Jesus. What about our payment?
To be clear, I am not talking about working for our salvation, Jesus already paid for that. The cost I am referring to is digging for the treasure of a closer walk with the One who already reconciled us at great cost to Himself. If we are seeking this intimacy, what tools have we purchased?
If this new year has already cost you a new bike and a Kindle to achieve your goals of a slimmer and more well read version of yourself, what will it cost you to “contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all time handed down to the saints?” –Jude 1:3 NASB
Do you know anyone who constantly says they want to hear from God yet never pick up a Bible? They don’t have the time. And prayer? Well, no time for that either. It’s like going out for buried treasures without a shovel.
If you want to enjoy intimacy with God, why not find yourself the right shovel fit for your hands and set aside regular times to dig for hidden treasures? Yes, it will cost you. But you’ll get familiar with His voice and understand the lessons often missed otherwise.
If you need some motivation to kick start your year of Bible reading, may I recommend listening to this message from Pastor David B Curtis of Berean Bible Church who reminds us that if we want to hear from God, He is speaking: Just open your Bible and listen.
We also have some suggestions for Bible study tools at our website:
Happy New Year!
Keep yourself in God’s love,