The Riches of Peace ~ Jesus Calling: February 25-March 3

I realized recently that I spend a great deal of time walking circles around my house, trying to figure out the next thing I need to do, trying to plan ahead to save time, trying to remember something that I’m sure I’ve forgotten. Basically, trying to figure out the future. And this is not a peaceful place to be.

The author of Jesus Calling tells us that trying to figure out the future is grasping at things that belong to God. The “secret things” — and this, like all forms of worry, is an act of rebellion. Doubting God’s promise that He will care for us. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)

In short, we should repent about worrying about the future. Jesus tells us very clearly, “Do not be anxious about your life…” (Luke 12:22) What do we think is going to happen? Do we really believe that at some point God will show us the future? If He did, what would be our need for Him? God is not in the business of showing us the future, but He is in the business of guiding us step by step and opening up the way before us as we go. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8)

God is fully aware of all aspects of our situation. We don’t need to “carry tomorrow’s burdens today” — we need to discipline ourselves to live within the boundaries of today. Receive the peace of knowing that God walks with us in the present moment, helping us to carry the burdens of the present moment. “I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.” (Psalm 73:23) Do you doubt that God has you on the right path? Receive the peace of knowing that when Jesus gave the command “You follow me!” (John 21:22) that He also promised to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105).

The riches of God’s peace are the abundant joy and life that we receive by restoring our focus on Jesus and simply trusting. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) Be bold enough to refuse to worry. Instead, bring the riches of the Peace of Jesus into your life: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Rejoice in the riches of peace.

Sermon on the Mount: Week 7

What is it about this world that makes us want to accumulate more and more stuff? To put our faith in the things we can buy, collect, display, or store in closets and under stairs? To find it easier to be comforted by looking at our bank account balance than by studying the Word of God? We are all vulnerable to the overwhelming desire for “things” — for whatever reason, “things” provide feelings of comfort and security.

Jesus exposes the vulnerability of earthly possessions in Matthew 6:19-20:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth,
where moth and rust destroy,
and where thieves break in and steal,
but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
whether neither moth nor rust destroys,
and where thieves do not break in or steal;
for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

What does this tell us? Our earthly possessions are completely vulnerable and our heavenly possessions are not. Vulnerable to what? In so many words, impermanence. Nothing in heaven is impermanent — you can be sure without a doubt that any treasure you lay up in heaven is permanent…eternal. These verses also tell us that it is our human nature for our heart to go with our possessions — what we have becomes very closely linked to who we are. Are you linked to your earthly possessions or your heavenly ones?

Jesus then turns to directly address the issue of anxiety in Matthew 6:25-31:

“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life,
as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink;
nor for your body, as to what you shall put on.
Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow,
neither do they reap, nor gather into barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not worth much more than they?
And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to life’s span?
And why are you anxious about clothing?
Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,
yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory
did not clothe himself like one of these.
But if God so arrays the grass of the field,
which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace,
will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?
Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’
or ‘What shall we drink?’
or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?'”

In these current times, we are clearly vulnerable to anxiety about having our needs met (food, drink, clothing, our bodies). Yet God seems to be saying that we are the only earthly creatures who have anxiety about these things — the rest of nature does not work to earn and gather possessions as we do, but God provides for them and they don’t struggle with anxiety. God provides for us to a much greater degree than the rest of nature, but we continue to question Him. Do you ever ask yourself, “Will He actually provide? Don’t I need to make sure I’ve provided for myself and then I can trust in God to provide?”

Jesus gives us our answer in Matthew 6:32-34:

“For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek;
for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness
and all these things shall be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow;
for tomorrow will care for itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

First notice the three references to “all these things” that I emphasized in italics — Jesus is referring to what He addressed in the previous verses — our needs. Food, drink, clothing, our bodies. We seek all these things, but God already knows that we need them. In fact, He is the one who knows most deeply and intimately what we truly need.

The amazing thing about this passage is that Jesus is telling us EXACTLY what we must do to finally free ourselves of the anxiety related to “having enough.” We must seek God first, even before we seek the things that we need. As one of the wise women in the Grace Chapel Women’s Bible study pointed out, God is our greatest need. By seeking Him first we have in essence found the One who will meet all of the needs that follow. The daily needs. The hourly needs. The moment by moment needs. He is at the heart of it all.