Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

Do Not Be Anxious About Your Life!


Her is a sermon i found that is so encouraging.

Matt 6: 24-34

24“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

34“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

There are some kings who find it very effective to keep their subjects in constant anxiety. If the people are anxious about their life, and worry about where their next meal is coming from, then perhaps they will be more willing to do the king’s bidding in order to get the food they need from the king’s storehouse. Anxiety keeps them in their place. Fear makes the monarchy firm.

God’s Kingship and the Anxiety of His People

 

But one of the greatest things about Jesus is that he does not want his people to be anxious. The main point of today’s text is that God does not secure his kingship by cultivating anxiety. On the contrary, the aim of God’s kingship is to free us from anxiety. God doesn’t need to keep us anxious in order to establish his power and superiority. Instead he exalts his power and superiority by working to take away our anxiety.

If you are born again; if you have turned away from sin and are following Jesus as Lord in the obedience of faith, his will for you this morning is that you not be anxious about anything, but that you enjoy deep serenity and peace and security. Jesus spoke these words in Matthew 6:24–34 precisely for you—to help you overcome whatever is making you anxious this morning.

Each Person’s Struggle

 

I suppose I chose this text today for myself as much as for anybody. I feel anxious every time I come back from vacation. It feels like it used to when I went back to school after a long summer. I wasn’t sure I would still be able to write. Or maybe this new teacher would require a lot of oral book reviews in front of the class.

My Struggle

But my struggle with anxiety is not just at the end of vacations. I wake up anxious virtually every morning. It’s probably some weird quirk in my personality, or maybe some remnant of imbalanced parental upbringing, or more likely because there is sin in my mind and heart every day. Whatever the reason, it is a very real experience that I hate and have to deal with every day. So this sermon is for me. I will probably check this tape out of the library in a few weeks and listen to it early some morning when I am bouncing on my jogger before breakfast.

Young People’s Struggles

But I know it’s not just my problem. I got a letter from a young woman in another state last week, who had just broken off a relationship with a man because he simply did not take any spiritual leadership in their relationship. She closed her letter like this, “I want so to live a life that honors God, and it was easy to go off for awhile in a dream, thinking of being a wife and mother. But without a man who truly relies on God it is nothing, only heartache. Sometimes I lose hope that there are men who really do live like that—but I know there are. So I will continue to trust in God’s best for me.” There are a lot of young people who are anxious about whether they will ever get married.

Missionaries’ Struggles

I got another letter last week from David Jaeger, one of our missionaries who serves in Liberia. David was very honest about some of the struggles of living in the village with the Gola people. He said, “As I look to the future of our work here in Liberia I feel very anxious. I wonder if the Muslims will listen to our explanations with an open heart. Will they believe? I worry about the handful of believers here. Will they change some of their ways and walk in obedience? Language study is a continual source of anxiety, as is preparation for Bible studies and sermons . . . etc.” Missionaries get anxious, young people get anxious, pastors get anxious, everybody gets anxious.

We need a word from the Lord Jesus this morning to remind us that his kingship is not built on the anxiety of his people. He has made himself king over us for the very opposite purpose, namely, to take away our anxiety. In my own life the sheer statement from the Lord that he does not want me to be anxious has a great tendency to give me peace. But when you add to it the reasons he gives why we don’t need to be anxious, his word becomes tremendously powerful. So let’s spend the rest of our time looking at some of these reasons in Matthew 6:24–34.

The Main Point—Negatively and Positively

 

Everybody can see plainly that the main point of this text is that disciples of Jesus should not be anxious. Verse 25: “Do not be anxious about your life.” Verse 31: “Do not be anxious, saying , ‘What shall we eat?'” Verse 34: “Do not be anxious about tomorrow.” So one thing should ring in your ears when you leave this morning, namely, “Jesus does not want me to be anxious.”

But that is just the negative way of stating the main point of this passage. There is a positive way found in verse 33; namely, instead of being anxious, “Seek first God’s kingdom.” In other words when you think about your life or your food or your clothes or your spouse or your job or your mission, don’t fret about them. Instead make God the king in that affair and in that moment, and hand over the situation to his kingly power and do his righteous will with the confidence that he will work for you and meet all your needs. To seek the kingship of God first in every affair and every moment of life is a thrilling way to live. It’s full of freedom and peace and joy and adventure—and hardship; and it’s worth it all. If you believe in the kingship of your heavenly Father, you do not need to be anxious about anything. Let’s look at some of the reasons why.

Eight Reasons Not to Be Anxious

 

I see at least eight reasons Jesus gives why his disciples should not be anxious. Time is short, but I will try to mention them all. Who knows which one might be perfectly crafted to meet your special need?

1. Life Is More Than Food and Clothing

The first is given in verse 25. “Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on.” Why? “Because life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.” What does this mean?

Why do we tend to get anxious about food and clothing? Because there are three things that we would lose if we did not have food and clothing. First, we would lose some pleasures. Food tastes good. It is pleasurable to eat. Second, we would lose some human praise and admiring glances if we didn’t have nice clothes. Third, we would lose long life if we had no food at all or weren’t protected from the cold with warm clothes. So we get anxious about food and clothing because we don’t want to lose physical pleasures or human praise or length of life.

And to this Jesus responds: If you are gripped by anxiety over these things, you have lost sight of the greatness of life. Life was not given primarily for physical pleasures, but for something greater—the enjoyment of God. Life was not given primarily for the approval of man, but for something greater—the approval of God. Life was not even given primarily for extension on this earth, but for something greater—eternity with God in the age to come.

We ought not to be anxious about food and clothing because food and clothing can not provide the great things of life—the enjoyment of God, the pursuit of his gracious favor, the hope of eternity in his presence. We get anxious about food and clothing to the same degree that we lose sight of the great purposes of a God-centered life.

2. The Birds of the Air Work, and Count on God

The second reason Jesus gives for not being anxious is in verse 26: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” What we see when we look at the birds is not a lesson in laziness. They dig their worms and snatch their bugs and pad their nests with strings and leaves. But Jesus says it is God that feeds them. What we see when we look at the birds is a creature who does not act as though God is only a merciful provider for today but won’t be tomorrow. Birds don’t anxiously horde things for the day of God’s demise. They go about their work as though when the sun comes up tomorrow, God will still be God.

How much more, then, should we reckon with the reality and mercy of God tomorrow, since we are not brute birds, but children of our heavenly Father. The biggest difference between a disciple of Jesus and a bird is that we have the capacity of honoring God by our faith. And God values the exercise of our faith more than he values birds. So we ought not to be anxious, because the birds have taught us that God can be counted on to work for us tomorrow just as much as today.

3. Anxiety Doesn’t Get You Anywhere

The third reason not to be anxious is in verse 27: “And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?” The argument is very pragmatic: anxiety doesn’t get you anywhere. It doesn’t do you any good. Whatever problem is causing you to feel anxious, you can be sure your anxiety will not lessen the problem. It will only make you miserable while you try to deal with it. So don’t be anxious. It’s useless.

4. God Delights to Adorn Things

The fourth reason Jesus gives for not being anxious is in verses 28-30—this time from the lilies. “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

When you look at a lily, which has no will of its own to labor and spin, yet adorned with beautiful form and color, if you believe in God, you must draw at least this one conclusion: God delights to adorn things. But if his delight finds expression in adorning grass, that’s here today and gone tomorrow, then surely his delight in adornment will express itself in how he clothes his children!

But someone may protest: God has not adorned me! He has not adorned the poor Christians of our land or overseas. Are you sure? Very few of us are dressed like Solomon. True. But we couldn’t do our work if we were. I would only ask this question: Where have you ever seen a disciple of Jesus who did not have the adornment he needed to do what God had called him to do? Be careful. Do not measure the perfection of God’s provision by some standard below his calling. And do not forget that when we have finished carrying our crosses on torn shoulders in this life like Jesus, there will be kingly robes for us all.

5. Unbelievers Are Anxious About Food and Clothing

The fifth and sixth reasons why a follower of Jesus shouldn’t be anxious are given in verse 32: We shouldn’t be anxious about what we eat or drink or wear because “the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” Anxiety about the things of this world puts us on the same level with the world of unbelievers. It shows that we are really very much like the world in what makes us happy. And that ought not to be.

6. Your Heavenly Father Knows Your Needs

It also shows that we don’t think our Father in heaven knows our needs. Or perhaps we don’t think he has the heart of a loving Father. Anxiety shows that we are too close to the world and too far from God. So don’t be anxious—the world has nothing eternal to offer, and your loving heavenly Father knows your needs now and forever.

7. God Will Carry Your Burdens If You Seek First His Honor

The seventh reason not to be anxious, in verse 33, is that when you seek the kingdom of God first, he works for you and provides all your needs. The best reason to stop being anxious is that when you do, God starts being anxious for you. It’s such a foolish thing to insist on carrying anxious burdens which God has promised to carry for us when we put his kingly honor first in everything we do.

8. Tomorrow Will Be Anxious for Itself

The last argument in verse 34 says, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” In other words, God has appointed to each day its portion of pleasure and trouble. And as your days so shall your strength be. So don’t misappropriate God’s allotted troubles for tomorrow. Don’t bring them forward into today in the form of anxiety. Believe that God will be God tomorrow.

Jesus Does Not Want His Followers to Be Anxious

 

The main point of all this is clear and unmistakable: Jesus does not want his followers to be anxious. He does not secure his kingdom by keeping his subjects in a state of worry. On the contrary, according to verse 33, the more primary, the more central his kingship becomes in our lives, the less anxiety we will have. Jesus came, lived, died, rose from the dead, in order that he might reign as King over an anxiety-free people.

So come to Jesus. Forsake all other allegiances. Take your vow of loyalty to the King of kings. And seek first in all you do to make known his kingship over your life. This and this alone is the way to freedom from anxiety.

Piece of encouragement


 

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

Reflection:

Paul had no doubt that God was not a disinterested spectator in the affairs of the world, of His Church and of His people individually. His learning and his experience taught him otherwise. His encounter with the living Jesus, his experience of the Holy Spirit and the way God opened his eyes to the Scriptures convinced him of God’s presence, purpose and commitment. He lived his life accordingly.

Paul’s prayer request here is an acknowledgement of the personal presence and involvement of God. He does not prayer that messengers will be sent to us but that God Himself will reach into our lives to encourage and strengthen us. His own experience would have been of the truth of such blessing by God and of its value and importance.

Christian life and ministry can, at times, be very lonely and insecure. We may wonder where God is and if what we are about has any significance or value in the greater scale of things. We may even become confused by what appears to be contradictory teaching by different churches, by different ministers within the same denomination, and even by the ridicule levelled at Christianity by others.

We need to remember that Jesus gave His life, and His ongoing commitment, to the people who would believe in Him and continue His work and ministry. Every aspect of it, whether thought, word or deed is of importance and, if of God, contributes towards the building and extension of His Kingdom. Each one of us does indeed have a Circle of Influence, far wider in today’s world than we would at first imagine.

If God desires something to happen, whether on an international or personal front, then He will support and empower it. If God wishes you or me to lead a particular type of life – a holy life – then He will support, empower and encourage it. He will also stand with us when the enemy attacks us and attempts to scare us into inactivity or lead us astray.

We may ask and receive – and step out in that confidence.

Response:

Remind yourself of Jesus promise to be with you always, and act accordingly.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus please help me to remember that I am not alone, but that You are with me always. Please help me to think, speak and act in a way that honours You – and strengthen and encourage me every step of the Way. Amen

FAITH


One of my favourite definitions of Faith is “our response to God’s ability, made complete by our actions”. Simple, clear and precise, nothing more.

I have a very big problem with people who make faith look like it is a future thing, Faith is present and continuous. It is about NOW.

keep-calm-and-ask-believe-and-receive

Let’s examine this instance from Luke.

Luke 8:45,

“And Jesus said, ‘Who touched me?’ When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, ‘Master, the multitude throng thee, and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?'”

The multitudes were thronging Jesus. That is, they were compressing, and crowding in on all sides, so it seems strange that He would ask, “Who touched me?” Many people were physically touching Jesus, but this woman touched His power by faith. Many people in the crowd probably needed healing, but this person is the only one mentioned who received. The difference was the touch of faith. 

If it was simply Jesus’ willingness to heal that determined whether or not the healing took place, then all of the sick in this multitude would have been healed. This instance illustrates that it’s not prayer that saves the sick, but rather the prayer of faith that saves the sick (Jas. 5:15). 

Healing is governed by law and not by a case by case decision from God based on His feelings toward us. This woman received her healing by the law of faith before Jesus knew anything about her. Impassioned pleas to God will not obtain the miracle we seek. Although Jesus is touched by our feelings, it requires faith. It’s not because Jesus doesn’t know our needs or hear our cries that miracles don’t happen, but rather it’s because very few know how the law of faith works. 

One of the main differences between a God-kind of faith and a natural, human faith, which everyone has, is that human faith believes only what it can see, taste, hear, smell, or feel. God’s kind of faith believes in things that cannot be seen. You must believe that you receive your answer “when you pray” – not when you see the thing you’ve desired. Simply put, faith is our response to God’s ability, made complete by our actions. Trust Him completely and, because you believe, your actions will follow.

REVELATION KNOWLEDGE


“And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” LUKE 2:25-35

Simeon didn’t receive this knowledge through the normal method of learning. This knowledge was revealed to him directly from the Holy Spirit. This revelation knowledge which comes only from God is distinctly different than knowledge acquired through study. Man’s knowledge is based on observation. It cannot give perfect instruction about the future. God’s knowledge can. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit we can know things to come (Jn. 16:13).

When dealing with God, revelation knowledge is essential. The Lord’s ways are not always our ways (Isa. 55:8). A fear of trusting the intuitive knowledge that God gives us will cause us to miss many blessings of God.

If he hadn’t received it and anticipated its fulfillment, what a blessing he would have missed! He would not have been led into the temple at exactly the right moment to see the salvation of the Lord.

We need to ask for and expect to receive revelation knowledge from the Lord. God desires to impart it more than we desire to receive it. Great blessings await those who will not depend solely on their own understanding (Prov. 3:5).

GOD RECOGNIZES OUR SACRIFICES


Mark 12:41-44 “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.”

Jesus used this instance to teach His disciples a very important lesson – GIVING. Many times we give wholeheartedly without assurance that we will get back. The poor widow was not guaranteed of any returns, but was just compelled to give what she had. God’s promises concerning giving are clear – undoubtedly. There is not even a question as to whether God will reward you. There is no indication that this poor widow ever knew that anyone recognized the extent of her sacrifice.

Likewise, there are times when we may feel that no one knows or appreciates our sacrifices. But you know what good news is? God sometimes wants it that way. You don’t need anyone to acknowledge your sacrifice in order to receive the fruits. Just as surely as Jesus saw this woman’s giving and knew of the sacrifice involved, God takes note of our smallest deeds and one day, will reward us openly.

The Lord does not judge the size of our gifts by how much we give, but rather by how much we have left over after we give. Men tend to compare themselves with each other but the Lord doesn’t judge our giving by what others give. He judges our gifts by what we have to give. The Lord looks at the heart of the giver more than at the gift. The Lord weighs the giver more than the gift.

When we stand before the Lord, all of our works, not only our giving, will be tried to determine what sort – not what size they are.

 

LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT


For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Matthew 24:27.. (also Luke 17:24)

This scripture and the parallel scripture makes it very clear that the second return of Jesus will be no secret to as account, it is especially clear that this statement about the lightning was made so that we wouldn’t be deceived by false Christs. Just as lightning is visible to everyone, so the second return of Jesus will be witnessed by the whole world. That’s the reason we don’t have to be fearful about missing His second coming and anxiously follow every report that Christ has come.

The above verses completely destroy the claims of many religions that claim that Jesus has secretly come back the second time. (Rastafarians, Bahai etc..)

Just as Jesus had warned His disciples not to be deceived by false Christs because His second coming would be visible to everyone, He also explains that until the very day of His coming, the world will continue on its present course. People will not discern the signs of His coming just as the people during Noah’s day didn’t realize their impending judgment. This corresponds exactly with Jesus’ prophecies about His coming being like the appearance of a thief in the night. Jesus is emphasizing that the unbelievers will not recognize that He is coming until it is too late. He is stressing that His coming will take the world by surprise.

The Lord is pointing out the urgent need to be ready for His return. In the same way that a thief comes when people are the least prepared, so our Lord will return in a time when people are not looking for Him. There will be a condition of apathy in the latter days that will tend to lull even the faithful to sleep if they don’t take heed to His words. He urges us to be watchful so we will be prepared.

So, don’t be deceived any more!

God is God – (regardless of who we be)!


‘To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. (2 Samuel 22: 26 & 27)’

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. That means that there is nothing about Him that really changes, it is only us who see Him in a different light depending on what light we look through. And because Jesus Christ is God, that attribute is true of our heavenly Father as well. That is why James 1: 7 says that that The Lord does not change like shifting shadows. Now as a child you may have thought that your shadow changes in length, appearance, direction etc, but once you had been through a bit of school you came to learn that what changes is the position of the sun, and that affects which way your shadow will be cast. (And when you have been through more school you come to learn that actually it’s not even the sun, it’s actually the earth that’s revolving, then it’s so confusing you’re just better off thinking that your shadow actually shifts!)

God is the constant in life. He is the same yesterday today and forever, and He never changes. But depending on how we relate with him, our conduct reflects a different attribute of His being, and then we are able to say that God has shown himself – faithful, just, loving, kind, cruel, …..whatever we feel that we have seen of Him.

To that man who exercises faith in God, God shows Himself faithful. It is as if the man’s faith, for lack of a better word, ‘touches on the faithful side of God’, and God’s faithfulness is reflected. The sincere worshipper touches on the divine side of God, and He is awed at how deserving God is of his worship. Similarly the person who gives cheerfully touches the generous side of God, and he sees that God shows himself to him as a giver. He who loves the brethren touches the loving side of God, and testifies ‘behold what manner of love…’. On the other hand the man who is mean, or cruel, or arrogant, or bitter, touches a side of God that makes God look like He is all of these things.

God is Constant!

God is God – regardless of who we be. He is superior to us in each and every way. Someone said you can never out-give God, and that is true. But beyond giving, you can never really out-love, or out-forgive, or out-discipline, or ‘out-do-anything’ God. He is God, and in infinitely superior to mankind in each and every way. So whatever you know of God always remember, He is the constant, and you must keep discovering.

Stewardship


Stewardship this is one of my scariest words in English along with accountability. If you think about it, it’s both frightening in the secular world as well as in the Spiritual realm. I’m not sure about you but for me – there’s nothing as bad as being entrusted a duty with all the resources and skill then you fail to deliver! Now, as if that’s the worst; just imagine how you shall account to God (the giver of all)? We have to agree that certainly God has given us all we ever needed, and through His word we clearly know our duty on this earth. No excuses – Luke 12:48 “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”

A steward is a person who has been entrusted with administering someone else’s wealth or affairs. The possessions a steward controls are not his own and he does not have the freedom to do with them as he wishes. He is supposed to carry out the desires of the one who made him steward. A banker is a steward. He has been entrusted with other people’s money. He is free to invest that money wisely in a way that will benefit his depositors and stockholders, but would be sent to jail if he took all that money and simply consumed it upon himself. A steward is accountable (Luke. 16:2) to someone else for the use of that person’s money. The money does not belong to him even though it is in his possession.

Luke 12:42 “And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?” This parable, and other scriptures (1 Cor. 4:1; Ti. 1:7; 1 Pet. 4:10), describes every believer as a steward of God’s grace. The wealth, talents, and abilities we possess, as well as the revelation of God’s love that we’ve been given, are not our own to do with as we please. We have received these things from God and are therefore accountable to Him for the use or misuse of these gifts. Keeping this in mind is essential for fulfilling our obligation to God as stewards of His “abundant grace.”

No one will be able to stand before God on judgment day and say, “God is not fair.” He has given every person who has ever lived, regardless of how remote or isolated they may have been, the opportunity to know Him and His will. So if you haven’t began, it’s never too late…start giving back NOW!!

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