FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Something to Worry About

Yes, last post I wrote that worrying was for the birds, but as I continue to reflect upon the teaching of Matthew – and all the Scriptures, I realize there is something that you should worry about.

Your focus. That you have it wrong.  Your thinking.  That it’s misguided.

Admittedly, my own focus and my own thinking may have been off, too.  While I wrote that worrying was for the birds, was I making too light of it?  When we look at the teaching of Matthew 6, we are told several times not to worry.  Specifically, in Matthew 6:25 (CEB) we read, “I say to you, don’t worry about your life…”  Verse 28 asks, “Why do you worry about clothes?” and verse 31 says, “Don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?”  And if we missed or misunderstood any of those, verse 34 makes it crystal clear, “Stop worrying about tomorrow.”

Whether you read the Common English, New International, King James or some other translation, the teaching is the same.  Whether your Bible tells you not to worry, not to take thought or not to be anxious, the command is the same.  No translation offers suggestions; they all offer edicts.  Directives.  Decrees.  Commandments.  And this is where and how we get off base with our thinking and our focus.

Let me be clear.  Worrying is not just problematic.  Worrying is wrong.  Worrying is a sin.  At the risk of offending some readers, I will be bold.  Worrying is a sin just like stealing, killing and adultery.  OMG you say.  But if we disobey God’s word, we sin.  Hmm, you wonder.  Don’t just take my word, let’s consider examples.  Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:2-3).  Lot’s wife (Genesis 19:7 and Luke 17:32).  Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:25-33).  Jonah (Jonah 1:1-3).  While you are reading, read 1 John 2:3-6 which cautions us, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”  Can it be any clearer?  If we do not keep the commandments of God – not just the ten, but all the commandments of His word, we sin.

And worrying is not somehow a little or a lesser sin.  That’s more of our “misthinking.”  Adultery is a BIG sin.  Stealing is a BIG sin.  Murder is a BIG sin.  Worrying is a little sin.  A cute sin.  A “I can’t help myself, and anyway we all do it” sin.  As my pastor says, we think people go to hell for the BIG sins and, perhaps, to an air conditioned hell for the little sins.  No. Sin is sin.  If you’re thinking otherwise, I caution you; your thinking is misguided.

Matthew 6:33 (CEB) tells us that we should “desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness.”  In other words, our focus should be God, His kingdom and His righteousness rather than worrying about our lives, our clothes, what we will eat or drink or about tomorrow.  Further, Matthew teaches, when God is first, all those things will be ours, too!

THIS WEEK reassess your thinking and your focus.  What are you choosing to worry about?  Understand that worry steals your strength and buries your blessings.  Search the Scriptures for examples of those who worried and disobeyed God and those who cast their cares upon Him.  Decide which group you want to be associated with.


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It’s All in the Preposition

For a few seasons of my life I served as an English teacher which is probably why I occasionally get fixated on words.  I especially find myself listening intently to what people say (as well as to what they don’t say because both are very enlightening).

I am particularly intrigued when people talk about the blessings of God and what He has done for them.  Indeed, as the author of Lamentations wrote, His mercies are new every morning and great is His faithfulness.  Personally, if I wake up, I count it a good day.  If I am able to get up and ambulate without assistance or much pain, I call it a great day!

I once had a job that necessitated me rising VERY early every morning (somewhere around 3:00 a.m.).  I would leave home about 4:15 a.m. to drive to my office.  I dreaded every morning, so I used to focus on thanking God all along the way.  “Thank you for running water.  Thank you for hot and cold water at my fingertips.  Thank you for inside plumbing.  Thank you for showers and toothbrushes.  Thank you that I have teeth to brush.  Thank you for sight.  Thank you for road signs.  Thank you for letting me learn to read.”  It might sound ridiculous, but I found it particularly strengthening and encouraging and I found that it gave me a different connection with God which was especially comforting as I parked and walked dark streets that were milling with unique characters at 5:00 a.m.!  (I had to go to work.  Why were these people on the street at that time of the morning?!!!)

But back to my point. (I really do have one!).  We cannot dispute that God has blessed us.  If He doesn’t do one more thing for us, we really can have no complaint.  What I find intriguing is how often people talk about what God has done for them as opposed to what He has done in them.  Both words are prepositions but what a difference.

In Ezekiel 36 we read that God will give us a new heart and put a new spirit in us while removing our heart of stone. Ephesians 4 says that we receive a new nature to be like God, truly righteous and holy and II Corinthians says the Lord makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.  This is what God does in us, and this is the testimony we must share – to encourage fellow believers and to draw non-believers to Him.

In I Samuel 16:7 (NASB) we are reminded that man looks at the for – “the outward appearance,” but the Lord looks at the in – “the heart.” Today as you think of your relationship with Him, what will you look at?