Understanding Your Needs

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This morning, when I read Matthew 6:33-34, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble,” I understood it in a whole new light.

Whiplash

Starting in verse 25, Jesus tells us reasons to not be anxious about our lives, what we’ll eat, drink, wear, etc., and points to the birds and flowers and how God feeds and clothes them (and are we not more valuable than them). I’ve always understood those verses to mean God is faithful and will provide everything we need. So you’d think that would mean we’d always be comfortable and safe from harm or pain. But this is not so, because I then think of Christians persecuted, raped, beaten, tortured, starving, and dying around the world. Also, for those of us who are sick, who’ve experienced loss, who are striving for something and can’t seem to get anywhere, who can’t seem to “catch a break,” who can’t afford to meet rent or buy groceries, etc. What about us/them? Is this an empty promise? Is He a cruel, unfeeling, unfair and unjust God? No. God never contradicts Himself. Indeed, He promised us that if they killed him they would kill us, too (Matt. 24:9). And Paul says (paraphrased) who can separate us from the love of God? Death, famine, plague, etc.? (Romans 8:35-39)

Quick detour. Think of it this way (I don’t claim originality with this analogy; I reference Matt Chandler, lead paster at The Village Church). Imagine you’re a parent (maybe you are), and your two-year-old wants a whole can of Coca-Cola (or your dog wants your slice of chocolate cake). Would you give it to them? No. Why not? Well, you don’t want them to get sick. Do they see it that way? Of course not. You’re the mean, bad person. We all know how this goes down. The pouty lip, whiny begging and then wailing as if you’d committed the worse crime to them. They see the treat as the best thing in the world for/to them. Are you being unfair and cruel or loving and merciful? You’re giving your child (or pet) what they need.

The revelation

Back to the passage. Here’s the beautiful part. If you look back to the beginning of verse 33, “…seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…” there’s where the answer is! God promises to gives us everything we need in order to serve and glorify Him…to further His kingdom. “…and all these things will be added to you.” So, whatever it takes, He will make sure you have it. What a glorious hope and assurance.

Isn’t that just AWESOME?!

The part of this that makes me quake is that it’s so easy to proclaim it and let type up these truths, and much harder to believe when the tribulation comes. I know how cowardly and pathetic my own heart is and how often I fail at the little tests.

Will we be able to say in those shaky, scary times, “It is well with my soul”?

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Responding to Fear

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. (Psalm 56:3)

Do you have those days where you beat yourself up for being fearful or doubting? How should we respond to our fears? John Piper gives us some encouragement and biblical insights:

One possible response to the truth that our anxiety is rooted in our failure to live by faith in future grace goes like this: “I have to deal with feelings of anxiety almost every day; and so I feel like my faith in God’s grace must be totally inadequate. So I wonder if I can have any assurance of being saved at all.”

My response to this concern is: Suppose you are in a car race and your enemy, who doesn’t want you to finish the race, throws mud on your windshield. The fact that you temporarily lose sight of your goal and start to swerve does not mean that you are going to quit the race.

And it certainly doesn’t mean that you are on the wrong racetrack. Otherwise, the enemy wouldn’t bother you at all. What it means is that you should turn on your windshield wipers and use your windshield washer.

When anxiety strikes and blurs our vision of God’s glory and the great¬ness of the future that he plans for us, this does not mean that we are faith¬less, or that we will not make it to heaven. It means our faith is being attacked.

At first blow, our belief in God’s promises may sputter and swerve. But whether we stay on track and make it to the finish line depends on whether, by grace, we set in motion a process of resistance — whether we fight back against the unbelief of anxiety. Will we turn on the windshield wipers and will we use our windshield washer?

Psalm 56:3 says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

Notice: it does not say, “I never struggle with fear.” Fear strikes, and the battle begins. So the Bible does not assume that true believers will have no anxieties. Instead, the Bible tells us how to fight when they strike.

Future Grace, Multnomah Books (Colorado Springs, CO), pages 53-54

Attacking Anxiety

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)

Great word from John Piper that I read today regarding various types of anxiety and doubts/fears that plague us. I know all of us struggle with some or all of these to some degree. I hope you will print out the article below or just pin up the verses somewhere (home, car, office, etc.) as a source to run to, meditate on and memorize when you’re being plagued by anxieties.

Here’s Piper:

When I am anxious about my ministry being useless and empty, I fight unbelief with the promise of Isaiah 55:11. “So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

When I am anxious about being too weak to do my work, I battle unbelief with the promise of Christ, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

When I am anxious about decisions I have to make about the future, I battle unbelief with the promise, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).

When I am anxious about facing opponents, I battle unbelief with the promise, “If God is for us, who is against us!” (Romans 8:31).

When I am anxious about the welfare of those I love, I battle unbelief with the promise that if I, being evil, know how to give good things to my children, how much more will the “Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11).

And I fight to maintain my spiritual equilibrium with the reminder that everyone who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for Christ’s sake “shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29–30).

When I am anxious about being sick, I battle unbelief with the promise, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).

And I take the promise with trembling: “Tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3–5).

Future Grace, Multnomah Books (Colorado Springs, CO), pages 60–61