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Where is your focus (1)

Where is your focus? Is it on Jesus' peace or the world's worry

By: Elizabeth L. Creecy

I think it is fair to say a lot has occurred in the last two years. The world is very different from what it once was. With the ever-changing COVID news, the vaccine, and what is occurring in Afghanistan, it is hard not to think about the future! There are many unknowns that many of us find ourselves wondering about, stressing over, and ultimately freaking out about.

Perhaps you are finding yourself catastrophizing – projecting what you hope not to see in the future. Or maybe you cannot sleep at night because your mind is so concerned with the realities of tomorrow, in three days or a month.

When you find yourself worrying about the unknown, afraid of the unknown, or not having peace about the future, the Bible calls this the Fear of the Unknown of the Fear of Tomorrow.

The Fear of the Unknown is very real! It can create insomnia, steal your peace, increase your worry, stress, and anxiety, and even cause you to be paralyzed with fear. However, as believers, we must hold on to the truth that our Father in heaven did not give us a Spirit of Fear but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). Since He did not give us the Fear of the Unknown, we must keep God’s armor on us and defeat this lying spirit.

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus teaches about worry. Let’s take a look:

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today (NLT).

First off, the command “do not worry” does not mean you have a complete lack of concern. God knows you will have concerns, which is why He asks you to cast them on to Him because He cares (1 Peter 5:7). Additionally, that command is not encouraging a person to be unwilling to work and supply their own needs. God cannot bless sin. He tells us to work and live within our means.

Please note that concern motivates a person into action, whether praying to God or being obedient to what God says to do. At the same time, worry keeps a person motivated by fear causing them to hyperfocus and harp on things they do not want to see in the future or things that they cannot change. As followers of Christ, we are not to be self-sufficient but to rely on the Godhead!

Ultimately, Jesus is highlighting kingdom priorities! He is telling us what attitude towards life that His disciples MUST exemplify. Jesus reminds His disciples that they do not need to OVERLY worry about food or clothing because God will take care of them. After all, they are more important than the birds and the lilies. Jesus is trying to get us to see the bottom line here: disciples of Christ need never to let their fleshly desires of worrying about clothes or food take precedence over serving God.

You can trust God to provide food and clothing! He knows what you need, and He will give it to you at the perfect time! Even that money you are working for comes from God! It all comes from Him.

When you worry about what you will eat or wear, do you know what you are telling God? You are telling Him that you don’t trust Him to supply your most basic needs! If you do not trust God to supply your most basic needs, then how can you trust Him with His promise in Jeremiah 29:11?

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV).

Worry causes a person to pay attention to all the elements they cannot change instead of putting their energies to work in effective ways. Jesus makes it very clear there is nothing effective about worrying! Do you know what worry does?

When you worry, a dual temptation is put into motion. First, you begin distrusting God and what His promises are. Remember, God cannot lie, so you are calling God a liar in turn and unintentionally. The second temptation is you begin to agree with Fear as a practical action. You start to feel like you are proactive while agreeing with those fear-filled, demonic thoughts. What is the end result? You become double-minded and begin trusting the devil more than God. That is a dangerous place to be. When the devil has you on the hook, it’s easier for him to take you down even further or even devour you completely.

Whereas when you trust God in those moments of concern, casting those concerns on to Him, and believing through faith that He will come through at the perfect time, you also move into action. This is how deceptive the devil can be. He wants you to believe trusting in God is not the same type of action as agreeing with his Fear thoughts. Isn’t it amazing how he perverts the truth to trick us? Agreeing with God and His word takes less mental energy than choosing to agree with the devil and spending your bandwidth consumed with what you don’t want to see happen or have no control over.

When you work for God and wait on His timing, you won’t have time to worry! Seeking first to honor God as King and conform your life to His righteousness creates a vortex around you. When worry comes knocking on that vortex, it will always find you as occupied and unavailable. Can you say VICTORY?

When you find yourself worrying or afraid of the unknown, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, take note as that worrying indicates that you do not trust God in that area. Rejoice over this understanding because now you can go to the Father in prayer, discuss the matter, work to renew your mind to trust Him, and ultimately trust Him! Adversity is an opportunity to grow in God’s love, power, and authority, not crumble surrendering to the devil.

In verse 26, Jesus is teaching the disciples about TOTAL dependency upon God instead of humanity’s self-sufficiency. It’s easy to find yourself believing your future, finances, decisions, and anything else only depends on you and you alone. Again, that is a lie from hell! As believers, we are to depend completely on God! Besides, all you have comes from God. He will provide for your needs. He will give you a great future.

When you find yourself worried about the future, your finances, what you should eat or drink, change your focus. Perhaps you might be thinking, “Well, why is anyone hungry then?” Well, that’s a great question. But notice Jesus was not teaching that every case of hunger will be satisfied. He was teaching us to focus our minds, channeling our efforts and directing our energies not to mere bodily maintenance or things that give us pleasure, but to God’s eternal promises and purpose! Besides, man is not to live on bread alone (Matthew 4:4). Next time you find yourself worrying, ask yourself:

How can I become less worried about money and more focused on serving the church, visiting the sick, and learning the Bible?

Plus, doctors finally agree with Jesus about the ill effects worrying causes. In verse 27, Jesus tells us not to worry about those needs God promises to supply! What has worrying accomplished for you? It has accomplished absolutely nothing constructive for me. However, it has created more oppression, problems, and hardship in my life. Hmm, that sounds like someone… oh right – the devil does that!

It is common for people in today’s world to feel “lazy” while waiting for God to supply. In reality, you are working to grow your patience (fruit of the Holy Spirit), teaching your soul, and developing your spirit to place your life and needs in God’s hands!

The bottom line is worry has no place in the lives of Jesus’ disciples. It is the unbelievers who choose to showcase the fruit of worry. The followers of Christ have kingdom principles and a favored relationship with the mighty King, sealed with a promise that our Heavenly Father knows our needs and will provide them.

If you are finding yourself worrying, then see the worrying behavior as an opportunity to settle the question of priorities in your life! When you become a born-again believer, you enter a new kingdom and come from a new world! That means you are to be different than unbelievers whose priorities are comfort, money, fashion, security, technology, popularity, or whatever the trend is for that season.

In Matthew 6:33, when Jesus says “seek,” He says that is a command to fulfill a continuous obligation. To seek the kingdom means both to submit to God’s sovereignty here and now and to work for the future coming of His kingdom. When Jesus says “to seek his righteousness,” Jesus is saying to seek and to live as God requires. He is telling us we have to be completely and totally loyal and committed to the Father. When you are fully loyal, you will turn to God first for help. You will work to fill your thoughts with His desires. You will take His character and emulate it. You will serve and obey Him in everything.

Remember, all worldly things compete for priority. Any of them can easily and quickly bump God out of first place in every area of your life. When your priorities are right, all things shall be added to you! Are you consistently looking for ways to honor, represent, and always remember who your Lord and Savior is?

At the end of the day, you do not yet exist in the time frame of tomorrow. You are not even guaranteed to be alive tomorrow. You must remember to stay present. The truth is you exist right here, right now and today has its own matters that God is asking you to attend too. Do yourself a favor and continue practicing taking your thoughts captive. Tell those thoughts that you do not yet exist in the future. Today has its own agenda – choose to be a good steward of today!

Verses to bury in your heart:

Anxiety, Fear, and Worry:

Philippians 4:6 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

John 14:1; 1 Peter 5:7 – I refuse to let my heart be troubled, instead I cast all my cares on to Him because He cares for me.

Matthew 6:34 – I do not worry about tomorrow but stay present to today. For tomorrow has its own worries and today’s trouble is enough. For I exist right here, right now. I am trusting God with all of my needs and my life.

Sleep:

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

Psalm 23: 1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Psalm 3: 5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.

Prayer:Father God, thank You for all Your promises and everlasting life. I come to You in prayer asking for Your help and guidance. Please help me to trust You as Lord in every area of my life. Please take away my fears and help me defeat the thoughts I have. I want to trust You with everything. Please help me to see that I can trust You with my life. Help me to believe that You will take care of me and that I am more important to You than the birds and flowers. Father, I know You love you, and I only want to do Your will in my life. I know I do not always trust You with my future and I am so sorry for that. Please help me to change my thinking and trust You in everything! In Jesus’ name, Amen.