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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One More Night With the Frogs

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country. The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. The frogs will come up on you and your people and all your officials.’”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’”

So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land.  But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 8:1-7 NIV)

Hmm. That’s a lot of frogs! Seems Pharaoh thought so, too, because in verse 8 we read, “Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.”

Moses, acting as God’s agent, was happy to oblige with one condition detailed in verse 9: “Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.”

Moses simply asked Pharaoh to set the time for him to pray for Pharaoh, his officials and his people and POOF! The frogs would be gone. This plague would end. Sounds like a great deal. Moses prays to God for Pharaoh AND the frogs disappear! Bet Pharaoh was jumping up and down hearing this offer.

Nope.

In verse 10, Pharaoh has a one word response to Moses’ offer. “Tomorrow.”

Pharaoh chose one more night with the frogs.

Seriously?

But isn’t that just like us? We want the blessing of God, but we don’t want to stop what we are doing; we don’t want to let go of some of the things, ideas, people or emotions that we are holding on to. We want to negotiate with God. We want one more night with the frogs.

Rribbit!

THIS WEEK identify your frogs – the thoughts, emotions, thinking, habits or people that you need to let go. Pray for strength to trust God, and let this be your last night with the frogs!


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Surviving (Part 2)

Children’s author, Judith Viorst, spins the tale of a day that many of us have had in her book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Nothing goes right for Alexander.  From the time he opens his eyes to face the day until he crawls back into bed and closes them that night, it’s all terrible, horrible, no good, very bad.  Page after page we read about Alexander, waking with gum stuck in his hair, tripping over a skateboard, getting smushed in the middle seat of the car and facing a dessertless lunch sack among other letdowns and annoyances. At one point in the story, Alexander thinks that change is needed, and he resolves to move to Australia!  (Hmm, no dessert?  I’d be thinking about moving, too!)

Well, I don’t know if Australia is necessarily the answer, but to survive times of crises change is often just what we need – and just what we fear the most.  What is the change that YOU need to make?  In our last blog post we offered some possibilities – job, friends, behavior, thinking.  You might think of others, but I’ll suggest you begin with the last two in this list – your thinking and then your behavior.

God’s best for our lives begins with right thoughts, His thoughts.  But Isaiah 55:8-9 (ASV) clearly tells us that our thoughts are not the Lord’s and neither are our ways; both His thoughts and ways are higher than ours.  So how do we change our thinking?  Look to the Scriptures for guidance:

  • “…taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:5(b)(NIV)
  • “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

It is possible to change and to control our thoughts.  As soon as a negative thought – one that does not align with God – comes into mind we must intentionally and purposefully “capture” it and replace it with “God-thinking.”  It is not enough to just tell our negative thoughts to “Stop!”  We have to replace them with right thoughts, God thoughts.  Consider these examples:

 

Our Thinking

“God-Thinking”

I can’t do it.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

It’s impossible.

“…Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19: 26 NASB)

I can’t go on.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  (II Corinthians 12:9(a)  NASB)

I don’t know which way to go.

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP)

I’m afraid.

God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control.” (II Timothy 1:7  NCV)

I’m not smart enough.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5 NASB)

I’m so alone.

“After all, he has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5(b)  CEB)

 

These are but examples. ANY negative thought that you have can be exchanged for “God-thinking” if you are intentional and purposeful in doing so.  Negative thoughts breed negative attitudes which breed negative behaviors.  And so a cycle begins and continues.  Break the cycle by taking captive your negative thoughts.

Next blog entry – changing your behavior!