A Lesson in Keeping Calm

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Matthew 6:25-27

This post took me a long time to write, because in this passage Jesus is telling his disciples to do something that seems humanly impossible. He’s telling them not to worry. And not just in a general feel-good off handed way, but literally. He is saying that even clothes and food and water – the very primitive foundations of life – are not worth fussing about because the Father knows of these needs and he will provide them.

This message is intended for you and I to take literally as well.

Looking it up in the dictionary, I found that worry means to give way to anxiety or unease; to allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles. This is a perfect definition, because when are we the most anxious? When we are focusing all our attention and energy on what’s wrong.

But what does Jesus say? In verse 33 he tells us what to do when our thoughts are weighing us down and causing us to be overwhelmed with worry:

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

This is our hope. This is what he tells us to do. He tells us to pick our eyes up off our troubles and consider the Kingdom of God.

Instead of letting our hearts grow sick with worry, let’s seek the Kingdom of God by asking ourselves the following questions:

How does God want me to respond to this?

What does obedience look like here?

Instead of dwelling on this, how can I trust God?

These questions will help us start to take a step back and give us space to think about what God sees that we don’t. There is life on the other side of this practice of seeking first the Kingdom of God.

I’ve learned that if Jesus says it, there is freedom on the other side of it. We can be certain that a calmer, more peaceful mind awaits us on the other side of our obedience.

I Will Be Found By You

“For I know the plans I have for you”, says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11

In Jeremiah 29:1-23 God is telling his people, who have been exiled to Babylon, to settle in. He told them to build homes, plant gardens, marry and have children, and to work for the peace and prosperity of their very place of exile – even telling them to pray for that city – for their welfare would be determined by its welfare.

The Lord had spoken through Jeremiah. Yet in their midst, false prophets began giving instructions that were contrary to what God was had said. They claimed that they were hearing from God when in fact they were lying and telling the people that they were having dreams from the Lord.

Not all prophets are truth tellers.

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let your prophets and fortune-tellers who are with you in the land of Babylon trick you. Do not listen to their dreams, because they are telling you lies in my name. I have not sent them,” says the Lord.

10 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”
Jeremiah 29:8-14

This emphasizes how important it is to seek the Lord. We cannot forget that while there are true prophets and words from the Lord, there are also those who would would claim God for their own fame and agenda.

There have been many times this year that I’ve been fearful because of a dream or a word someone has had. People are trying desperately to make sense of what’s going on and why the entire world has been turned upside down. But I had to keep reminding myself that God cares for his children. God brings provision when we thought non could exist. Even if the world is crumbling, he is still there. He is still my refuge. He is my foundation, and that foundation is not shaken. And he reminds us in verses 13 and 14 that if we look for him wholeheartedly, we will find him. He will be found by us.

Yes, listen to those who hear from God and have a proven track record. But use discernment. God has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. May we ask God for the discernment to know when a message is from the Lord, and when it’s merely human thought or desire.

God is for us, so who can be against us? Let’s be bold in our faith and trust that he’s got us and will lead us.

After God’s Own Heart

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.
Psalm 9:10

The theme running through Psalm 9 is that God listens to our prayers. King David had a close relationship with the Lord, and he knew him as a shelter for the oppressed and a refuge in times of trouble. He also testified, to his own heart as well as to others, that God cares for the helpless and does not ignore the cries of those who suffer.

David knew God. And the longer David knew him, the more he trusted him. But his relationship with God didn’t start when he became king. It started when he was a young boy and a shepherd to his father’s flocks of sheep. It was in those years that he first started to know of God’s faithfulness and sovereignty. As life went on, he continued to walk in step with God so that later, when his own kingdom was under attack and he was on the run for his very life, he knew God and proclaimed, out of his own life experience, that God would not abandon him. That God would be his shelter and refuge.

Sometimes, like David, we need to remind our own hearts of who God is.

Every time we believe, and God acts on our belief, it strengthens our confidence in him and our conviction that he is God.

As we live out our days seeking God first, we get to know him better and we see the scriptures proven true. Every time we place our trust in God over our circumstances, our faith muscle is strengthened. This is what David did. This has to be one of the reasons why he was dubbed “a man after God’s own heart”.

This week, read through some of the Psalms and underline anything that talks about God’s character. For example,

The Lord is known for his justice; Psalm 10:16

He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety; Psalm 18:2

You will not reject a broken and repentant heart…; Psalm 51:17

The Lord watches over the path of the godly…; Psalm 1:6

You will show me the way of life…; Psalm 16:11

Let this be your window into the character of God. Let this practice open your eyes to who it is that loves you deeply and calls you his own child.

And remember to be confident in this: He will not abandon those who search for him. So go boldly, and be full of faith.