Private Devotions: A Balanced Approach to a Common Problem, Pt 4
As I start to write this post….I just do not feel well. I am not sure what it is, but I definitely have a touch of something. So, as I wait for my warm lunch to cook on the stove I am very conscious that there are times when we do not feel very spiritual and do not feel like doing spiritual things. Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is eat something, take some medicine and sleep (I Kings 19:1-8). Again, there can be various and legitimate reasons that we do not feel like spending time in the Word of God and prayer. However, we must discipline ourselves to press against our feelings and to what needs to be done. Yet, there is more than just discipline. In the last post we considered two things concerning those times when are feelings are working against us. In this one we will look at another one, and then bring it to a completion next time.
X Marks the Spot
Where is your treasure? Why do I ask this question? I ask it because of something the Lord Jesus said. He said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:19-21 NAS). A treasure is not just something that you value. It is something that is of unusual value. It is so valuable that you are willing to part with other things, even of high value in order to obtain it. To have one’s treasure in heaven rather than on earth is to value the eternal (Christ Himself, the kingdom of heaven, and righteousness-Matt 13:44-45) more than the temporal (things, relationships, etc.) . How do you know which one is your treasure? It is quite simple. Jesus says that it is where your heart is. The heart is where you desire, experience longings and purpose to do things according to those desires and longings. In other words, your treasure is what has won first place in your affections. It is is what you desire and long for more than anything. It is what you think about the most. It is what you love to talk about the most. It regulates your decisions. Since it is the great pursuit of your life, your treasure determines how you prioritize your use of time and money, etc. Now, here’s the deal. If your true treasure is that for which you have the deepest desires, and the greatest longings, then it is that for which you have the strongest feelings. Nothing excites and stirs up positive feelings in you more than your treasure. It cannot be otherwise if your treasure is indeed where your heart is.
The application of this to a devotional life is sobering and searching. First, these words come to us in the context of the Sermon on the Mount where the Lord Jesus was describing the true subjects of His kingdom that are on the narrow way to heaven (Matt 7:13-23). In the immediate context He is addressing covetousness, the root of carnal anxiety (Matt 5:19-34), and how His people do not live for fleeting temporal things. Therefore, if a person does not give evidence that his treasure is in heaven, as described above, then he is not truly a member of Christ’s kingdom. So, an unbroken, chronic pattern of never feeling like spending time with Christ that leads to an unbroken, chronic pattern of neglecting time with Him is evidence that a person’s treasure is on earth and not headed for heaven. If this is your case dear friend, the I urge you to first get right with God by repentance of sin and faith in Christ. Then you will have feelings for these things of which you have only heard others speak. Then you will know for the first time the delight of spending time in the treasure chest of His Word and presence. Second, though the believer’s treasure is in heaven, he still wrestles with covetousness. That is, he struggles daily with other treasures that are trying to win his heart. Always keep in mind that a treasure can be anything-a job, a spouse, children, sports, and yes, even SUCCESS in MINISTRY. You name it! We can turn into a treasure. The christian should always remember this when he finds himself not feeling like it and ask, “Where is my treasure?” and ,”Where is my heart?”. “What is it lately that has been the object of my strongest desires and that I have loved to contemplate, and talk about the most?” “If spending time in my Lord’s Word and presence doesn’t light up my feelings then what has been getting the job done?” Once you have identified the answers then you will have discovered things that have been taking first place in your affections and draining your “feeling tank”. Confess it for what it really is-covetouness, and be cleansed in the blood of Christ (I Jo 1:9-2:2). Then once again begin seeking Him and His kingdom first (Matt 6:33) and the feelings will follow.