"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you"--Matthew 6:33
Seek Ye First was actually my first thought for a blog title. For various reasons, I went with Walk by Faith instead. But right now, I think it's incredibly important that we make sure we have our priorities straight. God is wonderfully merciful and extravagantly generous, and He's our Father. The truth is, we weren't created to have things. We were created to be in a relationship with our Father.
I think we often get the cart before the horse. We think about all of the things we want -- health, wealth, love, the stuff of this world. We make out our "honey do" list and present it to God. But, do we take the time to fellowship with Him, or do we only seem to have time to ask Him for something?
In the earthly realm, we seem to understand the way things are supposed to work. We want to spend time with our friends and family. In fact, we actually develop these unspoken and sometimes unacknowledged accounting systems for our relationships. We track how many times we have called, written, visited, and compare it to how many times that's been reciprocated. We may not even do this consciously, but it does have an effect on our relationships.
Don't think so? How many times have you said, or heard someone else say, "I just feel used." That's a sure sign of a relationship that isn't in balance; the scales have become tipped more in one direction than the other.
So, how about your spiritual life, is it in balance?
Obviously, there is no way we can balance the scales. God has given us far more than we could ever give in return; and all he asks is for us to love Him.
I know, we have responsibilities. We have jobs, children, parents, pets, homes, cars, lots of stuff to do -- even our church obligations can sometimes be less about our relationship with God and more about doing a task.
What is it that keep you from spending time with God?
I can hardly think of anything more heartbreaking for man or God than what happened in the Garden of Eden.
"And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden."
Adam and Eve enjoyed a close relationship with the Father God. They were used to being in His presence on a daily basis. They walked with him in the beautiful garden he had created for them in the cool of the day. But in the blink of an eye, everything changed. Instead of looking forward to spending time with the Father, they hid themselves in fear and shame. I'm sure we can all relate to a time when we were ashamed of something we had done and tried to avoid our earthly parents.
But, as special as their relationship with God must have been before the fall, isn't our opportunity even better? Now we don't just walk side-by-side with God in the garden He created for us, but He lives inside of us in the garden that we are creating with Him.
I know, sometimes it doesn't seem like much of a garden. Sometimes the thorns are more prevalent than the roses. But when Jesus died for us, when he emptied himself into our cup of salvation (thanks to Susan Allen for that wonderful analogy which I'm still processing and once I've made it my own, I'll write more about it), when he emptied himself into our cup, he made it possible for the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."
Imagine how difficult it was for the disciples to understand that anything good could come from Jesus leaving them. They walked with him, sat at his feet while he taught them the truth, ate with him, and fellowshipped with him daily. Yet, here he is telling them it's better, or expedient, for them that he leaves.
Why? So that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, could come and dwell inside of us. There can be no closer relationship than that.
Our earthen vessels hold a treasure so wonderful that before Jesus's sacrifice, men died by touching the Ark of the Covenant -- the Presence of God was more than their flesh could handle. But now, we have been washed clean and made worthy -- not through anything we've done, but by what he did for us -- to be the temple of the living God. (If that's not enough to make you want to take care of your physical body, I don't know what is!)
I know I'm skipping all over the place. I'll try to focus and bring this to a close. I'm taking part in a wonderful Week of Worship and Fasting this week hosted by the Fellowship of Christians. For five days, we will get together and worship and praise God. Each day has a theme. Today was "Personal Relationship". Can't think of a better starting place, since that's where it all has to start... "Seek ye first..."
You know, the enemy hasn't changed his tactics. He will still come immediately after the Word has been sown and try to take it from us. He will use every trick in his book -- especially distraction. One of my very, very special four-footed friends was hit by a car just before Christmas, and is still recovering. Spot just yesterday began acting more like himself. Then tonight after service, I went back to the hospital to walk the Spotted One, and noticed that his left foot (this is the leg that was broken, and now sports an external fixator to allow the bones to heal) was cold, much colder than his right foot.
My first reaction was to worry and be afraid. But, I drove home, put my ear buds in, and cranked up some Praise and Worship and sang at the top of my lungs while I walked the other dogs, fed them, fed the cats, cleaned the litter boxes, etc. And here I am, hours later, and way past my bedtime, too energized to sleep.
God is good, and His mercies endure forever.
It's easy to get our priorities out of whack. But, that's when trouble sets up camp in our lives.
"...for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
God met all of my needs today, and I have no doubt that when tomorrow comes, He will meet those too in His usual extravagant manner.
I was listening to Creflo Dollar the other day, and he was talking about the difference between belief and faith. He said that belief was when you believed God would do something for you. Faith was when your relationship with God didn't depend on whether or not you got what you wanted. (Loose translation)
What I took away from that was, we confuse the source with the avenue. Sometimes we ask for something and when we don't get it exactly the way we thought we would, we turn our backs on God. We forget that when one river dries up, God still has more than enough water to supply our needs, He'll just channel it to us some other way.
He knows what we need. We just have to know that He will provide.
Thank you Father.