I had no requests or petitions. I had no intercession. Today I needed to KNOW he heard me. I needed to know He loved me and I needed to know His closeness.
We are truly in dark times right now. This I understand and am not naive to. But alas there are some ways I do not find myself reacting with the larger population when I see the realities of our world playing out. There are a couple things I keep hold of in my heart and mind. 1. I do not place my faith, trust, or confidence (or lack thereof) in what I see on the news or in the world. 2. I have to clamor for more of the important dependence of life instead of living in fear of what I see outside.
First, truth is not anchored in my feelings or my circumstances. I believe truth is anchored in God's Word, and I will align all my confidence there. The Christian life is one of faith lead by Scripture (Jn. 15:7). In all parts of life it is critical that I have the Word of God and always ask, "God, what are YOU saying?" My ears need to be far more in tune to His voice than to the world around us (Ps. 28:1-2, 7). I am not moved by what I see, I am moved by what God says (2 Cor. 5:7). So is it does not matter what I see on the news; I do not pray what I see on the news, I pray what God says.
Secondly, a German philosopher said, "the more a man has in his own heart the less he will require from the outside; excessive need for support from without is proof of the bankruptcy of the inner man." In times that are truly dark, I am more frustrated by own and others' dependency on what they see outside themselves. My level of worry reveals the emptiness of my heart; it reveals how little I trust God. AW Tozer wrote, "Is it not a strange thing that in an hour when mature saints are so desperately needed vast numbers of believers should revert to spiritual childhood...?" We are in a dark time, yes, but I fear more for the faint of heart Christians with eyes dimmed.
We have come to be affected far more by what we see around us, and this is because we have not spent inordinately more time taking care of our inner lives. We ought to be clamoring to hear from God far more than we hear from FOXNews and facebook posts.
We cannot, and I do not propose here, we avoid reality by sticking our heads in the sand like an ostrich, but we also cannot run around like another bird with its head cut off. As my pastor, Banning said, "We are so impressed by darkness, we have all the statistics about it. My prayer life is not based on statistics."
"Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:6-7
This peace that surpasses all understanding is the peace OF GOD. This is a God who is immanent, transcendent and omnipresent. So peace of a God like that is available NOW. This peace is here and available now.
The problem is we fight and resist it.
Why would we resist that sort of peace? More importantly, HOW do we resist that peace?
That is answered in verse 6. If I am not experiencing peace that is available to me in my life, it is likely because I am anxious in everything and praying in nothing.
Where did that word come from? Why do we call people who worry "worrywarts"? What a gross image to attach to anyone! What is it about disgusting warts that, at some point, made someone say to his worrisome friend, "You know what! You worry too much; you're like a....a...like a WART!" Is it because a worrisome person has a root that goes beneath the surface that needs to be killed to REALLY make the worry go away?
Is it because worrisome people are an eyesore on the fingers of society? (I say "fingers" because that is generally where my warts reside)
Is it because worrisome people continue to avoid the removal of the disgusting part of themselves because of some unknown reason...because why would you actually WANT a wart (or to worry), and yet why don't you take the proper steps to remove the wart (or the worry)?
I'm not entirely sure why worrisome people are called worrywarts, but I have been thinking about worry today. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:25-34) Jesus talks about worry. I love to remember how absolutely pointless Jesus reminds us that worry actually is. "Has anything good happened BECAUSE you have worried? What has ever got better because you worried about it?" It poses the classic response to a good stand-up comedian; "Its funny because its true."
What does all that have to do with warts? I'm not too sure...
* I decided to spare you the inclusion of a pic for this post
Worry is like a scarecrow in that it is an empty threat designed to scare you away from something valuable. Just behind the scarecrow lies rows and rows of fresh delicious corn. But crows are frightened by something that isn't even real. They generally ask a lot of 'what if' questions of the scarecrow.
"What if it shoots us?" "What if it grabs us from mid air and pummels us slowly to death?" "What if..." "What if..." "What if..."
Just beyond our worry is God's greatest plans for us. But worry frightens us. My worry, something completely empty and unfounded, keeps me asking paralyzing 'what if' questions.
"What if said bad thing ends up happening?" "What if said bad thing happens...again?" "What if some ridiculous growing unreasonable fear happens to me?" "What if..." What if..." "What if..."
The worry is placed in my heart to divert my attention from God's very best for me.
There are so many good things I could go after and experience in my life, but I'm terrified of the straw man named 'Worry'. I may never experience those good things that lay just beyond.
What if the crows only had a brain and each time they saw a scarecrow, they started to say, "there must be something good right there."
an unsuspecting blessing
Reading through the Gospels in 30 days. If you still want in on it, we are only 2 days in. Thats only 6 chapters to read today to catch up. 3 chapters a day, 4 Gospels, 30 days
* I got this idea from a friend of mine, Justin Wallace, who has done this challenge before and is currently doing it again with us.
I am including my quick reflections here on my blog. Please feel free to include your reflections here as comments for others to read.
CHAPTER 1 1:1-17 - It is always striking how many women are included in Jesus' lineage, but whats more, it is interesting to note that there are whores and other "questionable" characters in that line
1:23 - This is why the Christmas story is so vital and crazy and wonderful. "...and they shall call him Emmanuel, which means God with us." Just take a second and reflect on how HUGE that is! GOD....WITH US!! Here...in flesh...WITH US.
2:3 - The NRSV says that "Herod was frightened and all Jerusalem with him". I knew that Herod gets uber-pissed later, but I never caught that, at first, he was frightened...and so was all Jerusalem
3:2; 4:17 - The Kingdom HAS COME near. We misunderstand this verse gravely when we state that the Kingdom is near or that it is coming near...this is very clearly a past tense statement of a present reality...the Kingdom HAS COME...it is here...going on right now
3:8 - "bear fruit worthy of repentance" (NRSV) - what does that mean do you think?
5:6 - "If you HUNGER and THIRST for righteousness...you will be FILLED" - Could I really define my heart with a HUNGER and a THIRST?
5:11 - "Blessed are you who are persecuted...ON MY ACCOUNT" - NOT because you're an ass
- How would 5:19 compare and come alongside "the least of these"?
5:42 - "Give to EVERYONE...do not refuse ANYONE." - Another instance when Jesus is clearly stark where we like to be muddy and faint...I'm sorry; I mean where...I...like to be muddy and faint.
5:47 - "What more are you doing than others?" - A haunting question I am slow to answer today.
6:2-6, 16,18 - "They will receive their reward...you will receive your reward." They will receive the reward they wanted which was attention, but if we do as Jesus has called us, we will receive our reward as well. The question here is, "What reward do you seek?"
6:11 - "give us this day our DAILY BREAD" - this is to say, give us what we need and not beyond that. We do not seek to hoard and consume more than we actually need.
6:21 - "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be" - At Christmas time, I wonder how much we have connected LOVE to what sort of gift I get/give.
6:33 - If you choose NOT to worry, Jesus gives you an action plan.
WHAT ARE YOUR REFLECTIONS ON Matthew 1-6
LISTENING TO: "Light" by Matisyahu