How can the priority of God be clearly identified when there are so many great teachings throughout the bible? Taking a look at life in America its clear that we live in a land full of opportunities as well as challenges that can create tremendous distractions and burdens.
During his earthly ministry Jesus was made well aware of the hardships that were placed upon His people by the presence of Rome in the land. The scripture is full of accounts of various miracles performed by Jesus in response to the tremendous needs of the people he encountered.
To address this obvious concern He met everywhere He went Jesus encouraged the people by giving them this instruction which is found in Matthew 6:24-25;
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
The word worry means "to consume in thought, to establish as our first interest, mental preoccupation, priority concern, fretting, fear of the unknown, and to rehearse the future over which we have no control". Wow, that's a mouthful!
Through this passage Jesus is communicating to us that our self-worth is a priority of God and is more important than all of our basic needs combined. He wants us all to understand the compassion God has for us as our Abba God, or daddy God. He is our heavenly father and is concerned about every aspect of our lives and does not want us preoccupied with our needs. The priority of God is to see our focus placed on Him.
Their self-worth is tied to who they are in the Kingdom of God. He reminds them that they are not like the pagan Romans living among them;
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. (Matt 6:31-32)
The word pagan is emphasized here because it refers to a religion that emphasizes the drive for basic human needs for water, food and clothing.
In comparison God's emphasis, His number one priority, is that we discover and enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
How much do you worry about life's issues?
This is an area of life that is difficult for many of us to deal with according to God's instructions in Matthew 6. I have had many struggles with this truth that God has left us. Many times when I thought I was living this out I later learned that I was merely giving mental assent to this teaching.
I would read this passage and draw strength immediately but shortly thereafter doubt would begin to plague me. I would be reminded that time was running out, my account was in the red, or I would receive a phone call that I needed to pay the past due amount to avoid service being cut off.
It was during these times that I began to question the validity of God's word, " why aren't you answering my prayers, why is my need not being met?". I had to learn to submit all my worries to the Lord. Whenever the pressure of life would mount up I had to learn that my attention needed to be on Jesus and what he had promised me;
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
The revelation of His kingdom is one that God wants America to grab hold and never let go of.
How does worry establish itself in your life? Does it come suddenly or step by step?
My experience has been that worry creeps in and as soon as it gets a foothold it grows like a weed. As soon as worry starts to creep in I have found that the best way to deal with issues that seem out of our realm or ability to deal with it's best to turn to God's word and focus on His kingdom provision.
I realize that the kingdom concept is a foreign thing to Americans. We are so used to the government pretty much staying out of our lives so we are free to live our lives as we choose. As we enter the golden years our view of the governments role with regard to our care takes on completely new meaning. We feel that we have paid our dues and made our contribution and now it's time for the government to provide us with security in our old age.
Too many of us are entering our retirement with very little money saved up and having to rely on social security. It's time for us to consider the possibility that there is a better way. The arrival of Jesus signifies the arrival of the Kingdom of God and God's way of doing things. As mentioned in Matthew 6:31 it is God's intent for us to not spend our lives living in fear and worry.
Describe your self worth. Have you ever sacrificed your self-worth for your basic needs?
As a man it's s easy to link my self worth to the degree of success in my career, business or ministry. Men will be driven to compete in their field to meet the goals they have set for themselves and to provide for their families. The better we do at achieving these goals the greater value we place on our self worth.
The good news is that God wants us to know that he doesn't look at us the same way. Our identity and self worth is found in who we are in Christ. So how much value does God place on us? He gave up His only son to die for our sins so that we might be restored to a right relationship with him. If that doesn't tell you how much you matter to God then nothing will.
Keep this in mind the next time you're feeling sorry for yourself or someone has told you that you're a complete failure or that you'll never amount to anything. One last thing, never compare yourself to someone else. You are not designed to be anything other than what God designed and destined you to be. You'll never see a proud lion have a pity party because he can't soar the skies like a majestic eagle.
Why are pagans associated with the worry over basic needs? What statement do we make when we worry the same as the pagans?
We are instructed to not worry about the bare necessities of life but instead to seek first his kingdom. Worry demonstrates our lack of trust in God and his ability and desire to take of us. God's children are expected to live by faith because they know it is impossible to please God without faith.
At the same time that Jesus instructs us to seek first His kingdom He also directs us to thirst for righteousness;
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled" (Matt 5:6)
As a father God is very protective of His children and provides for them in more ways than one. Unfortunately too many of us are busy living life on our terms with Him looking in from the outside.
Living life with God on the outside or on the sidelines is not God's best for us. He has provided each of us with His righteousness through Christ. Righteousness describes the maintenance of the rightly aligned relationship with a governing authority so as to qualify for the right to receive governmental privileges.
In emphasizing the kingdom in many of his teachings he reveals to us the importance of the need to be righteous to receive "all things added unto you". This promise from our Abba God includes all your physical, social needs, emotional, psychological, financial, security needs, and a sense of self worth and purpose.
I want to keep this as simple as possible for you. Jesus established only two priorities for you and I: the kingdom of God and the righteousness of God.
Please understand that I am not here promoting religion. Actually, religion delays the kingdom and turns it into a future experience. God intends for you to live the Kingdom life now and experience all it has to offer. Living in the kingdom is the priority of God for you. Ushering in the kingdom of heaven once again in America will bring about the changes that we desperately need;
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