Things above

I heard someone say today when asked how he was, “I am fine, but my business isn’t really doing well,” and when I heard those words something stirred in my spirit. I suddenly knew in my heart what I had known in my mind for a long time. It was one of those moments that I would like to frame, or build an altar, or have a heap of stones somewhere so that I can remember it for ever. I think I should find a way in which to commemorate times like these so that I bring them to mind when my faith is weak. To be able to separate our wellness, our spiritual wellness, from whatever else is going on in our lives is really what we should be able to do.

Matthew 6:31 – 34 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For all these things the Gentiles seek, For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

I realized in that instant that everything we own can be taken away from us at any time in the blink of an eye. If I see how many countries have natural disasters like tornadoes, earthquakes and volcanoes, and the devastation caused by them, it’s easy to imagine how possessions can be destroyed. Obviously that’s not the only way that we can lose things, but the fact of the matter is that the things we have, the physical things, are only things and they are temporary. Our spiritual property is eternal, nobody can take that away from us.

Matthew 6:19 – 21 Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.

Colossians 3:2 – 4 Set your mind of things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

We have to put spiritual matters ahead of physical, or worldly matters. It sounds easy if you say it fast. Obviously, with the world clamoring for our attention all the time, it isn’t easy. When we open our eyes in the morning, messages and emails are already waiting on our cell phones. Where are the good old days when you could only check your emails once you booted up your computer? I find that I really have to discipline myself to spend time in prayer because it’s so easy to get distracted by things that really aren’t all that important.

If we put God first, in other words, read the Word, spend time speaking to the Lord and memorizing scriptures daily, we are going to get into a habit of doing it.

We must apply biblical principles to everything we do. All the time, every day. We have to get so well versed in the Word that we know what to do in all situations.

Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

We need to get so close to God that the things of the world, the disappointments, the losses, the cruelty of people don’t overwhelm us. We should be able to take everything that the world dishes up for us and give it to God to handle for us.

Psalm 119:28 My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your word.

This is such a good metaphor, how often don’t we feel exactly like this. Here it gives us the answer – we should be strengthened by the Word. When we feel despondent and depressed, we should ask God to show us which part of the Word will strengthen us.

I am so excited by this revelation, by the fact that God can take head knowledge and, as it were, write it on the tables of my heart. I wonder how it would be when everything in the Word is written on my heart, when everything is not just knowledge in my head, but knowing in my heart? How special it is to serve the living God!!

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Don’t make a plan

I was trying to work out this morning how to solve a problem that I had prayed about, when it struck me that not only must I not worry about things I’ve given to God, I must not try to make plans. I’ve heard that it says, ‘Do not worry’ 366 times in the bible, but I haven’t actually looked it up. I don’t doubt the figures at all and I try not to worry, but it just became so abundantly clear to me that instead of worrying, what I often do is try to work out a plan. We are not called to work out plans. I’ve often heard people say, “While you pray, I will make a plan.” Those plans are the plans that don’t work because they are born out of desperation and often end up making situations worse than they were to start off with. I know, because I’ve made many plans in my life. Plans to try and keep things together, plans to keep people happy, plans that have no Godly source.

A friend reminded me of Matthew 11:28 – 30 , “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” and 1 Peter 5:7, “casting all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.” If I do what those verses say, I mean really do what they say; If we give all our cares and troubles to Jesus, why would we feel the need to keep looking for a solution? If we really trust him enough we would realize that we don’t need to make a plan. I think it comes from our culture that we have to be in charge, and we have to be responsible, and we have to take ownership and so on.

We need to really and truly learn from Jesus. When Lazarus got sick, Jesus didn’t rush to be at his side to cure him. He stayed another 2 days in the place where he was. He obviously listened to what God was telling Him to do. John 8:28, “So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.” If we can truly reach that point where we are able to take the Yoke of Jesus on us and give all our burdens to Him, we can live in peace. We will be able to truly believe that He does have everything under control. Just picture this, you have a really big problem, and you pray and give it to Jesus. Then you can pick up your bible, and instead of frantically looking for verses that you can memorize which will help you overcome the enemy, you can read the bible with peace in your heart. Then you can do what Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Maybe while you’re reading the answer to your problem will come to you. But maybe while you’re enjoying an unscheduled picnic lunch with your family, and you can because you aren’t worrying, the answer will come to you. Who knows, when you’re sound asleep, and you can be because you’re not worrying, your answer might come in a dream? There is a place for spiritual warfare and all night praying and fasting, but there’s also a place and a time to be at peace and to let the Lord fight the battles for you. Isaiah 26:3-4, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” Philippians 4: 6-7, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

There you are. We pray and we tell God what the problem is, and then we leave it with Him, we don’t take it back, we don’t frantically run around looking for solutions, we don’t revert to plan A, B or C. We receive that peace which He is offering us and we trust Him.