Word of the Day

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!

Love Quantified

John 17: 23

I am in them, and you are in me. So they are completely united. In this way the world knows that you have sent me and that you have loved them in the same way you have loved me.

This is one of those verses you may want to read in several translations. Although, the same point is made in all, they have slightly different nuances. As you will have perceived, these are the words of Jesus. This speech is conversation with the Father. The first observation we may make is how normal Jesus’ dialogue with the Father sounds. It is not stilted, formal prayer. He is simply talking.

Then, as we begin looking at his words, we learn that he is in us as the Father is in him. If we stop right there, we have a very powerful concept to meditate on. What does this mean to our lives? Jesus is to us as the Father was to him in his walk on the earth. Everything the Father is resided in Jesus. He is the all in all. Then all that Jesus had, which included the fullness of the Father, came to reside in us. Isn’t that what Jesus says in this passage? He is in us in like manner to the Father in him. This joining of the Father in Jesus and Jesus’ residence in us is supposed to bring us into complete, and even perfect harmony or unity. It does not say that we agree on all doctrine. It does not say we do not have differences of opinion. It does say, though, that we are united in him, completely and totally. If we are not in unity, I hazard to say we are not truly in Christ or allowing him to abide with us. There is no disunity for all who are in Christ and in whom Christ has made his home. I don’t care if you are Catholic, Baptist or even a Messianic Jew. There is only one body and we are either in or out, it is our choice.

This is a crucial message of the times. As we approach the end of this age, we must come into a united purpose in Christ Jesus. Only a united body will reach the world with the good news of Jesus, the risen Christ. As long as we are back biting and disparaging one another, the world will not come to know that God sent Jesus or that He loves us all, even the heathen unsaved, as much as He loves Jesus. Only our love and tolerance of one another will show the world the love of God. The doctrinal and theological points we tear the house apart over are of no importance to God. In fact, I very much believe we will get to heaven, run to Him and argue our case only to find we were all wrong. Those things just don’t matter. What matters is that the world, which is suffering and broken, sees the love of Christ. If we cannot love our brothers, if we constantly fight with one another, then how is the world ever going to believe in the love of God?

Jesus tells us in this passage that the Father loves us all as He loves Jesus. How much larger a revelation do any of us need than that. If you think God loves Jesus, then you must also accept that He loves you that much. He also loves every single non-believer in the same quantity and quality of love. Whatsmore, He even loves those crazy people in the church down the street.

We are not going to gain ground by telling the unsaved what decrepit, wicked people they are. In truth, I can’t think of much the Father despises more than that. They, like all of us, need to hear that God loves them. They also need to see us loving one another. So, regardless of our doctrinal stripes, let us wrap our arms around each other, joining in one united purpose – that is to share (and show) the love of Christ, the love that gives all for the other person. We need to major on love and learn what it means. There is a graduate study for you. It is a subject so rich and so deep that it will take the rest of our lives, here and beyond, to fathom its depths. Let’s just do our best to let a little of Jesus seep out of us today. You will have challenges today, especially if you have to drive anywhere. You will encounter unlovely people whose mind is solely on themselves. Reach in and touch Jesus within you and let him shine on those people. Let the world see for once and for all that God is love and that He loves ever single person.

Christ is in you today.

Getting Happy

Psalm 37: 18 – 19

The Lord knows the days of the blameless; and their inheritance will be forever. They will not be ashamed in the time of evil; and in the days of famine they will have abundance.

Hey, let’s get happy today! There is so much blessing in these two little verses that it wants to bust out all over the place.

In this thirty-seventh psalm, David contrasts the wicked and the righteous. The righteous are those who are no more perfect than anyone else but rather their hope is in the Lord as is their trust. They are looking to God while the wicked are contriving and scheming in their own brilliance and in the world system. How brilliant can they be, really, if they eschew the guidance of the Lord. Well, anyway, we get a look at the blessings we can expect to enjoy in this earth but we are also told that the blessing will continue beyond this mortal life.

How exciting is that? The blessing God is pouring out for you is forever! It is only going to get bigger and better as time goes on. The part about the time of evil and the days of famine describe how the blessing works in the earth. There is no evil, no famine in heaven. You have not only a promise, but a statement about what you should expect. We should not shutter as we face evil times. We just lean in on God knowing He has already prepared a haven for us so that we will not be ashamed or forsaken. The wicked will make plans for prosperity and power but their own schemes will be the source of their destruction. Meanwhile, the children of the King will look to their Father and He will be their fortress and their strong right hand. He will provide for them so that they shall not be ashamed. They will not be humiliated by poverty. Instead, they will sing the praises of the Father who shows them grace, love and abundance in all things.

When the world suffers violence or famine, the children look to their Father and actually prosper. In 2008 while many people sang songs of woe, those whose trust was in the Lord took steps forward. Your life is not at the mercy of the world or even its economic systems. The children of God have always prospered in the time of famine when they trusted Him and listened to His counsel. We are just as vulnerable if we listen to the 5:00 news and try to glean wisdom there. If, however, we will turn to the Lord and seek His counsel we shall be safe and secure in all ways.

Let the Lord speak to you today about how He wishes to lead you. Today could well be the day you enter a new level of relationship with the Father. He has big things to show you as He leads you into all goodness and blessing.

Happily Employed

Psalm 145: 14

The Lord sustains all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down.

Everyone stumbles sometime. Maybe it is sheer fatigue that gets you or maybe it is an overwhelming problem. No matter, though, because God is always there to lift you back up. He provides for you while you recover. Even if you are bowed down with the weight of challenges or the number of things you have to do, He is ever present to sustain you and lift you up. Lean on Him and be very aware of His presence with you. Allow yourself to rely on His support. You don’t have to be independent and self-sufficient. That is just ego talking. He is a good father just wanting to help you. Give Him whatever is weighing you down and let Him be your God. It is His job to sustain you and lift you up. Don’t make him unemployed by trying to do it for yourself. Keep God employed.

Foundation Stone

Isaiah 41: 10 -12

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; those who contend with you will be as nothing, and will perish. You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, those who war with you will be as nothing, and non-existent.

This is one of the scriptures that everyone should highlight in their Bibles because if you don’t need it right now, you will. It is, to me, a foundation scripture. By that I mean that it is one of the scriptures that you can build your foundation upon. Don’t you feel God’s strong right hand when you read this passage? He is with you through thick and thin and He absolutely will uphold you. You are never down and out when you have God. You may feel down. You may feel trod upon. But, you will be sustained by His strength and His love. Look to Him and focus your attention on His righteousness. As the scripture says, do not anxiously look all around you. Just look at Him and trust Him to deliver you. Keep your focus on Him and let those problems melt away under His scrutiny. He is your God. He is your strength. He is your father.

Good Advice

Psalm 37: 7 – 9

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.

The most difficult thing about Psalm 37 is choosing a passage to write on because the whole psalm is so good. The idea which occurred to me as I read this psalm was about receiving advice and from whom we choose to take advice. This psalm was written by David, who is one of my personal heroes. He learned how to live in a daily relationship with the Lord and I guess his trust in God was unparalleled until the time of Jesus.

David began as a humble shepherd boy but that boy defeated a real giant because he knew the Lord and the power of His might. He was chosen by God through the prophet to be the king of Israel, he was a faithful servant to Saul, and even when Saul persecuted him and chased him across the desert, David never took advantage of a situation to harm Saul but instead remained loyal. His rule is considered the golden age of Israel. The nation prospered under him and throughout it all, he remained devoted to his God. He knew what it was to be persecuted and hunted but he also learned how to hide in the shelter of the Father’s love. Of all of the Old Testament people, no one shows us the Holy Spirit to any degree other than David. He was truly a man after God’s own heart and I believe I can learn a lot from him.

Therefore, when I read these impassioned passages from David I find my spirit energized and I am inspired. When David tells us to wait upon the Lord without become envious of the prosperity gained by unholy, even wicked people who use ungodly means of acquiring wealth, I feel I can trust this advice. David is not speaking from the point of view of a philosopher. He teaches us from his experience with God. How many people can give us such first hand experiential knowledge and wisdom?
Look at what David says about anger and wrath? Don’t you suppose he wrote that sentence from his experience as well? Wrath and anger will only lead us down roads we do not wish to travel. The way of peace is what the Father has chosen and provided for us.

I did not mean for this to be a piece on David. I liked the message the passage conveyed. However, the messenger can add weight and credibility to the message through their life experiences. When God describes someone as a man after His own heart, then I dare say that is a pretty good referral. David’s relationship with God is an example we all can learn from. Additionally, I think that when David shares his wisdom and advice with us, it is advice we can trust. We too show wisdom when we hearken to David’s words. I think if you will spend time in David’s life and words, your own relationship and trust with the Father will be increased.

Unshakable Love

Isaiah 54: 10

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” says the Lord who has compassion on you.

You’ve got to love this verse. Some of you are going through challenges right now so this must be really good news for you. No matter how rough things get, even if there is a calamity so great that the mountains are reduced to rubble; even if the hills quake, you will remain in God’s loving embrace where He can look after you. No matter how dire the situation, God’s love will not be shaken. In your loneliest of times, in the most stressful situations, the Lord our God, loves you. His devotion to you cannot be shaken despite the circumstances. Even when you are paying Him no attention, He is alert and watching over you. He awaits your return.

This verse says that no matter what, His lovingkindness will not be removed from you. That means there is no power strong enough, no situation dire enough to shake His love from you. There is no darkness deep enough or pain strong enough to separate you from His love. The only power in this earth or beyond that can separate you from the love of God is you. As long as you are steadfast and do not reject Him, then you can trust that His love and affection are present for current circumstance.

Did you know that Father has a covenant of peace? It goes back to the beginning of time however, it was fulfilled in the person of Jesus, our Messiah. Jesus is the prince of peace so as long as you are holding on tightly to him, no one can steal your peace. Sometimes you just have to whisper his name to remind yourself that no power or person has authority over the peace Jesus left for you. You may have to write out John 14: 27 on a 3 X 5 card and place it in a prominent location while you are working through the challenge.

Be reminded, daily, that nothing can remove Dad’s love from you nor steal the peace pact He has with you. Keep today’s verse in front of you and realize there is not one moment of any day that the Father does not love you with all He is. His devotion to you is larger than the universe and it is a source of great strength. Be safe and secure in the absolute knowledge that your Father loves you and has provided peace for you. Let Him love you and hold you in His safety.

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