Sunday, August 26, 2007

Article: Ask Not What Your God Can Do For You, Ask What You Can Do For Your God

"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:19-34

Hum...? Jesus said it so plainly. Jesus said we are to be concerned about the things in heaven, His Father's kingdom, not about the things on earth. All of us have read this passage, yet we readily forget to apply this truth in our lives. Well, perhaps I shouldn't speak for you, but I know I forget to apply this truth when I need to apply it most - every day!

I hear about God's promises to bless us in mulitple ways, but I don't hear much about seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness first: seeking to love the LORD, seeking His face, seeking to spend time in His presence, seeking to know Him better, seeking to worship Him, seeking to serve Him. If we did nothing but seek Him on a daily basis: meditating on Him at work, at play, with family, with friends, or alone, wouldn't we find that the comforts in our lives would remain intact yet we would be closer to, if not the closest we have ever been to, God? John F. Kennedy's infamous speech comes to my mind, but with a twist: "Ask not what your God can do for you, ask what you can do for your God."

Some are sick among us, physically ill. Some are sad and brokenhearted. Some are persecuted for His name's sake, either at work or school, or by family or governments. Some are rejected and alone. Many are sick because of their sin, as in 1 Corinthians 11:29-31. But some are sick because our "adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." - 1 Peter 5:8

No matter the reason for the sickness or sadness, do we teach that we can chase the healing, money, honor, acceptance, or deliverance by demanding these things from God because He promised? Or do teach what Jesus taught? Do we teach and understand that were are to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things will be given to us? Do we go before Him for His sake alone? Do we cast aside the cares and worries of this life and set our eyes and hearts upon Him? Do we come before Him with a broken (humbled) heart and a contrite spirit that He will not refuse? Do we come humbly into His presence, being bold enough to do so only by the atoning blood of Jesus, to bask in the light of His glory as we worship Him in spirit and in truth and offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving? Do we pour out our thanksgiving as an offering to the LORD? Do we ask what we can do for Him? Sing to Him? Remind His people of the things He has done and that He is a covenant-keeping God who does not lie? Tell the unsaved about His wonderful plan of salvation? Stand under the banner of His love and give glory to His holy name? Do we rejoice in Him? Do we simply seek His face?

"O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon His name: make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him: talk ye of all His wonderous works. Glory ye in His holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD, and His strength: seek His face evermore." - Psalm 105:1-4.

Let us take our eyes off of ourselves. Let us put the LORD before our eyes today and every day! Let us put others before ourselves. And by so doing, we obey the two greatest commandments by default: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD: and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." - Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Mark 12:29-30. "The second is like, namely this, 'Thou shalt thy neighbor as thyself.' There is none other commandment greater than these." - Mark 12:31 and Leviticus 19:18.

"Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them." - Jesus, John 14:21.

Isn't it after humbling ourselves and being in His presence that we can thankfully and assuredly ask in the name of Jesus for the healing provided by the wounds suffered by Jesus (Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24)? Is it after we have been before Him with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving that we humbly and assuredly remind Him of His promises and thank Him for His wonderous works?

James echoes Jesus' teaching found in Matthew 6 and tells us that we do not receive answers to our prayers for two reasons: (1) lack of faith (doubt), or (2) evil desires and lusts within us that cause us to pray 'amiss', meaning we pray for something outside of God's will. When we don't seek His kingdom first and His righteousness, we end up asking for things that don't line up with His will and His Word. If we don't know Him, if we treat Him like a sugar daddy by demanding he give us something because He promised or ask for something we wrongfully desire, we ask amiss. Without knowing Him intimately, we can ask for His intervention, His blessings, His deliverance with the best intentions and not get an answer, because we cannot discern if our desires are running contrary to God's desires, if God is humbling us and applying the heat for our refinement, or if our adversary the devil is trying to apply the heat for our destruction.

"Even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong - you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don't you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. . . .He gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, 'God opposes the proud but favors the humble.' So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the LORD, and He will lift you up in honor." - James 4:3-10.

"The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds." - Jeremiah 17:9-10.

"As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever." - 1 Chronicles 28:9-10.

"...Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law. But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them." - 2 Chronicles 15:2-4.

"Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD." - Zechariah 1:3-4.

"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you He will not fail you or forsake you." - Deuteronomy 31:6.

"The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." - Deuteronomy 31:8.

"Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." - Psalm 9:10

"I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." - Psalm 37:25

"Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU," so that we confidently say, "THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?" - Hebrews 13:5-6

"So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you." - James 4:7-8

"...There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:13-16.

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you." - Matthew 6:33.

We come to know God's will by spending time with Him through His Word, prayer, and worship. By spending time with God in His Word, we can remove both reasons that hender prayers since we will better understand His will and/or our faith will rise to the level that's necessary to receive answers - "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." - Romans 10:17.

I encourage you to seek God's kingdom first and His righteousness - come to know Him... "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." - 1 Corinthians 2:2 .

No comments: