“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.” Phil. 4:6-7
Verse 5 ends with the statement, “The Lord is near.” Then, it continues with, “Be anxious for nothing….” The Greek word translated “anxious” means to be literally drawn in opposite directions. It conveys the idea of being divided, pulled apart and distracted which is what worry does. Worry distracts us from faith and trust in God and His promises.
The word translated, “anxious,” is in the present imperative, meaning to stop (right now!) being anxious. Stop being divided in your affections. Stop being distracted and pulled in different directions. Stop it, right now! Stop, being distracted by worry and fear.
And when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” Then he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. (Exodus 15:23-25)
Moses had just led the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea that God parted for them. All the women had taken up timbrels and followed Miriam dancing and celebrating, exalting God for rescuing them from the Army of the Pharaoh. From there, Moses began to lead the newly freed nation into the wilderness.
They had wandered only three days, but it was three days without water. They found water at Marah, but it was too bitter to drink. So, the people began to get restless and “grumbled” to Moses. This is only the beginning of the grumbling, a theme that would continue throughout the years wandering in the wilderness. Even after God did miraculous things, like part the Red Sea and rescue them from certain capture and calamity, the people were quick to fall back to the habit of complaining.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
Although we have the choice to receive God, those who receive God do not grasp on to something that they have uniquely divined. We cannot boast in receiving God. Gaining knowledge of God and becoming a child of God has more do to with God than us.
When people claim that Christians are exclusive and boast of a righteousness and holiness that is exclusive, bigoted and intolerant (to put it in modern terms), they do not understand what they are saying. God presents Himself to us, and we either receive Him or not. It is not our choice (not by the will of the flesh or of the will of man).
The righteousness does not come from us. God extends the right to us to become His children. Continue reading →
In the Sermon on the Mount (where Jesus spoke to His disciples, not the crowds that also followed Him) a couple of the subjects that Jesus addressed seem contradictory at first blush. They both relate on the surface to the way we act in public, before other people. He said, on the one hand:
You are the light of the world…. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14, 16)
Jesus, on the other hand, gave the following negative instruction:
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1);
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
The tendencies of the self work within us and the forces of the world in which we live press upon us to move us along the broad and wide way. This way is easy and feels familiar. It is the milieu into which we are born and operates according to the customary and usual ways of our culture and society. Continue reading →
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny[i] himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)
There is no statement anywhere in the whole of the Bible any more fundamental or important than these words Jesus spoke immediately after He spoke of His own future suffering. All of the Law and Prophets speak of Jesus. (John 5:31) Jesus was approaching the nadir of the purpose for which He, God stripped of His glory, became man. As the disciples rebuked Jesus about talking about future suffering, Jesus spoke these words.
As Jesus looked forward to His own suffering, He looked back to His disciples and said, “If you would follow Me, you must be all in.” Continue reading →