Posts Tagged care

Take Care

Luke 10: 41              KJV

And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things.

The word “careful” has become iconic in the American lexicon. We have adopted expressions like “Take Care” and “Be Careful” as routine sayings, by which we mean to bestow good tidings to the recipient. However, this is one of those uses of language which we all too easily fall into, not really appreciating the actual conveyance of meaning. In other words, it has become a normative expression without regard to its literal meaning. These expressions which creep into the vernacular without due notice given to their true meaning may well be what Jesus referred to in Matthew 12: 36 when he said, “I can guarantee that on judgment day people will have to give an account of every careless word they say.”

I have written on this before but I find it so prevalent in our society that I feel I must remind myself and others of this pitfall. There are many truths wrapped around this topic the greatest of which is that it is a violation of scripture. We say these words, well-intentioned, intending to bless others, but no expression which violates scripture can ever be the source of blessing. In today’s verse, Jesus conveyed the exact opposite message to Martha. He told her, “Martha you are full of care.” That is what careful means, full of care. He went on to tell her that there was only one thing that was needful, only one thing with which she need concern herself. That, of course, was himself. Keeping our minds and hearts on Jesus is the prescription, rather than worrying or being full of care about the many incidents of life. Matthew 6: 34 is illustrative in this matter, “Be not careful therefore for the morrow,” Jesus said, “for the morrow shall be careful about itself. Sufficient to the day [is] its own evil” (Darby Translation). Even though each day has its share of issues, Jesus said not to be full of the care of them. Tomorrow will take care of tomorrow. What about today then? Today is the only day we need concern ourselves with. Is that the same as saying that today is the only day we need worry about? No, that is being full of care again. Jesus addressed this in Matthew 11: 28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

We are supposed to take all of our worries and cares and give them to Jesus. He will, in exchange, give us rest. He will release us from our burdens and carry them himself or if you wish to know the fullness of truth, he already carried those cares to the cross. Peter expressed it this way, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5: 7 KJV). We are supposed to cast all our care on him, not carry it. Therefore, taking care, being careful, or not fully casting our care upon the Lord is completely contrary to the teachings of the Lord Jesus. As such, it is a violation of Scripture and, if you have ears to hear, sin.

Whatsmore, this idea of taking care and being careful is born of and perpetuates fear. Today at the YMCA I heard a lady bestowing what I believe was meant to be good wishes to a couple who is leaving today for Maui. She said, “Be careful. Don’t go scuba diving.” Despite what may have been well-intentioned, what was conveyed was fear and fear polluted the environment. One need not be very sensitive or tuned in to have felt the immediate change in the atmosphere. All fear is of the devil. Our God is a God of faith. Fear comes right out of hell for there is no fear in heaven. There is only trust, faith and well-being in the Kingdom of God.

So, with fervent prayer and pastoral concern, I implore you to eliminate this language from your vocabulary. Tell people to have a great day, be blessed of the Lord, be faithful. Give them words of faith and encouragement rather than a caution rooted in fear. Further, don’t allow people to speak these unscriptural words into your life. Help them to find better expressions, expressions which will bless rather than hinder, words which comport with the message of Jesus instead of flying in the face of his teachings. All the world will be a better place as we do. Be blessed!

The Cure for Anxiety

Matthew 6: 33

But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.

Many of us are familiar with Matthew 6: 33, but let us look back a little today. The New American Standard Bible has titles for many sections of scripture. This section is titled “The Cure for Anxiety.” I have verses highlighted in here as do many of you but today I wanted to attempt to look at it with new eyes. So I began reading right after the caption, which begins in verse 25. Of course, Jesus is speaking here so in my mind I translated that as, “Jesus is going to teach me how to be free of anxiety.” Alright, I will sign up for the class.

Jesus began to speak and for seven verses he attempts to reveal the Father’s mind and heart about our needs by showing us examples from nature. Jesus gives us picturesque examples so that in our minds eye we can visually follow what he is teaching in regards to anxiety. Then you hit verse 32. Allow me to quote it for you, “For all these things the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” I don’t know how many times I have read that verse but it stopped me in my tracks today. Without saying it aloud, Jesus declared that I was acting like the Gentiles. “Hey wait, I am not a Gentile. I am a child of the King. Why am I acting like them?” All of a sudden it felt like my worry and anxiety about the material things in my life was an insult to the goodness of God. What Jesus was actually saying is that we do not need to worry about the things the Gentiles worry about because we have a Father who loves us and who has taken on the role of provider.

When you look at a teaching, a speech or a book, you find that the author wishes to make a point at that conclusion is found at the end. However, it is supported by the evidence and examples which come before. Good writers and speakers give you a topical sentence in the first paragraph which is usually a restatement of their conclusion. Jesus absolutely lays out this entire topic in just such an organized fashion. I immediately began going to the end of the section to find out what his conclusion is but I like his opening. In verse 25 he tells us, “For this reason I say to you do not be anxious for your life.” He then uses the remaining verses to illustrate this reason. As we close in on the end of the passage we discover the reason we need not worry about our material needs is because “your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6: 34) Isn’t that good? Jesus goes on to teach the practical side of this message. He tells us to seek God, seek His kingdom and righteousness and all the things of life will be added to us. That is simply putting all of this in to practice. Don’t worry, instead – seek. That is the cure for anxiety, knowing that you have a heavenly Father who loves you and will care for you. Seek Him and let Him worry about all that “stuff.”

How many of us have (and are) seeking the things, worrying about the things we need: clothes, food, drink, tuition, car etc.? I know I think of those things but Jesus is telling us point blank that is how the Gentiles act, and, hence, not how we should behave. We have a heavenly father. We need to learn how to seek His kingdom and allow Him to be “Father.”

Maybe we can all think about that today as we go through our day. How do I seek God’s kingdom? How do I seek His righteousness? Meditate on that as you have that morning cup of coffee or as you drive to work. The revelations could change your life.

Lastly, let me share with you Jesus’ final thought on the matter, his wrap up conclusion, if you will. “Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” You know when you see the word “therefore” that someone is making a conclusion. In other words, because of everything he said in verses 25 through 33, you should not be anxious. Stay in this moment with Jesus rather than casting your concerns forward. Stay ever present and connected with him and with the Father and you will have no need to ever be anxious. That’s good news!

Casting

Psalm 55: 22

Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you.

Tuesday we looked at 1 Peter 5: 7 which reads, “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Seeing this same idea in the Old Testament brings three thoughts. The first thing which occurs to me is that God has not changed (Malachi 3: 6). The Old Testament God wants to care for us just like the New Testament God does. Secondly, it seems to me that Peter was increasing the understanding of Psalm 55 in his statement. Peter’s ministry was predominantly to Jews. Therefore, his audience would already know Psalm 55 and to cast their burdens onto the Lord.  They would also have known that this is the methodology for receiving God’s sustenance. Peter’s teaching explains why God gave them Psalm 55 in the first place. Peter explains that all of this is because God cares for us. 

Lastly, we can enter this verse through the back door and really wrap Psalm 55 and 1 Peter 5: 7 up in a pretty bow. The backdoor is that God wishes to sustain us. Therefore, He teaches us to cast our care upon Him. In other words, if you want God to sustain you then He has shown us that the way to receive that sustenance is to give Him all of our cares and burdens. Begin with the result and work your way backward to find out what you must do in order to receive that result. Do not stop there, though. The conclusion is that God provides our sustenance and the methodology for receiving it because He cares for us. We get to see His motivation for ever speaking Psalm 55.

For thousands of years now God has been calling us to go to Him to receive our daily bread and every other need met as well. He calls to us because He loves us and wants to take care of us. That is why it is almost sinful for us to “take care”. That is the role God has appointed for Himself. He is the ultimate caregiver, so roll all of your cares over on Him and receive the sustaining grace of His love.

Give a Care

1 Peter 5: 6 – 7

Humble yourselves therefore under the might hand of God that he may exalt you in due time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

Do you find it curious that God put a humility directive in the same sentence that He commands us to cast all of our care upon him? I do. As I ponder this, though, it strikes me that perhaps it is not so odd as one might first think. What do you think is the main reason we do not cast our care upon the Lord? Could it be that our own arrogance, our independence prevents us from giving our worries to the Lord? 

Many of us have frequently used the expression, “Take care”. Though I have said it many times myself, I find I have a growing aversion to the expression. First of all, it is unscriptural. It is in direct disobedience to the Word of God. God said to cast all your care onto Him. Give it to Him in other words. So, for us to go around saying, “Take care” is to encourage people to defy the Word of God. Okay, I know we all mean it in a kind way but sooner or later we have to grow enough in the things of the Spirit that we don’t defy God even in well intentioned ways.

Let me give you the big revelation that dropped on me recently. Have you heard the term “caregiver”? Caregivers are people who care for others. They are so selfless and noble. I so admire the people who are gifted in this area. I think so much of the great, and I do mean great, people of Hospice care. Someone asked me where people like them come from and without pausing I said, “They must fall right out of heaven.” I am honored to say I am a care receiver, that I was blessed to be a beneficiary of the kindness of these wonderful people. It gave me a whole new revelation on “take care” though. In fact, it now makes those words choke in my throat. How can I tell someone to take care now after what I have seen of those who devote their lives to caring for others? Now I want to say, “give care.” Let us not be takers. Let us be givers. And I just wonder if this isn’t part of the reason God told us to give our care to him. When we are free of our burdens, then we can give to others.

We have been selfish y’all, I worst of all. We have been arrogant and self-centered. I pray that you will take today’s devotional to heart and meditate on what God would teach us on this point if we could open our hearts to instruction. We were put here to be caregivers. Have no thought for your worries. Give them to God and free your hands to bless others.

Inbox

1 Peter 5: 7

Casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you.

This is the instruction the Lord gives for all the worry and care that plague you. Give it to Him. Roll all of the care of your problems and concerns over onto Him. Take the problem and mentally see yourself putting it in God’s “In box”. Write it on a piece of paper and make an “In” box if you need to but get that junk out of your mind and out of your Spirit. Put it in to the hands of He who is well able to resolve all of the problems. All that junk just hampers your creativity and takes your mind off of your relationship with your Father. Turn off that stuff and turn your thoughts on to the God of creation. Hand the problem to Him in prayer and then move on. He is waiting to take on every single problem in your life. Give Him a job.

He Cares For You

1 Peter 5: 6 – 7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.

We spend a lot of time and attention on verse seven which tells us to cast our anxiety on the Lord, the King James Version says to cast our care. We devote little time and attention, though, to verse six. In that these two verses comprise one sentence it would likely behoove us to read them together on occasion so as to perceive the light which each phrase shines upon the other.

When we read the two verses together it would seem that Peter is revealing that there is a relationship between our humbling ourselves to the master and promotion as well as the cure for anxiety. He who gives his care to the Lord is wise. I wonder, though, if some of us have trouble casting that care over to the Lord because we have failed to recognize Him as Lord over our lives in the deepest part of our being. We have all said those surrender prayers and of course we mean them when we utter them but it is in the trenches of life that quality decisions are truly made. A quality decision is one from which there is no retreat. It is not wishy-washy but rather strong and determined and I find that they empower a person to walk the path elected. They do not, however, come easily. Sooner or later, though, if we are to live the lives that we have longed for we are going to have to make the big decisions. Life can be wonderful and beautiful but it is not free. We must lay aside those things which keep us in the low life and one of the largest burdens that is preventing us from rising to the heights God has determined for us is our own ego. In our heart of hearts have we really relinquished our lives to our Lord as master? Do your hackles arise just thinking of someone being your master? Don’t feel alone if you answer that question honestly and find that submitting yourself completely to another’s lordship is difficult. It is how we have been indoctrinated but we must understand that the training which has elevated ourselves in our eyes is not of God and is not going to promote us. In the beginning it appears to be effective but there is story upon story of people who have risen to a certain level of success only to find ultimate failure.  

Success truly does come from surrender. Honestly, how can we fully cast our care upon the Lord, allowing Him to carry away the anxiety if we have not released ourselves into Him? There is a huge element of trust in this surrender and if we do not fully trust God then we will be unable to give Him our burdens. Therefore, humbling ourselves to the Lord our God is an essential element of casting our care upon Him. We will be unable to do the one if we have not first done the former.

Now, here is the crux of the matter. We may find it difficult if not impossible to completely surrender ourselves to our Lord and Father without first receiving healing. Those things in our past which have made it hard for us to trust people must be healed. Growing in our relationship with our God is a process and it is all interconnected. One cannot just choose the prosperity portion of a relationship with God without it affecting other parts of their lives. Prosperity, healing, well-being, blessing and all the rest are part of a package deal that comes along with a life with God. This is not a la carte ordering. We give God our lives and He gives us a grand, abundant life. He carries our heavy burdens and supplies our needs and wants above and beyond all that we can think of or believe for. 

We have longed for a good life, we greatly desire God to take away our troubles but we must put ourselves fully in His hands. He will not, cannot, usurp your control and will. As long as you are Lord of your life, then He will have to sit in the backseat while you drive. Keep surrendering your heart to the Lord. Every time you find an unsurrendered relationship, give it to the Lord. Each time you find a strong-hold in your life, give it to God. This is a process. We don’t renew our minds just once, but rather we are in a constant state of renewal. That is good news. Let your life go and with it the anxiety. Live free, give your life more fully to God today.