No place for worry

When we really take in what Jesus is saying about the power of the Kingdom, we come to his amazing “guarantee:” you won’t worry.

No matter how many times I read this passage in Matthew 6, I still choke on this passage. Worry. Anxiety. Things that keep me up. Things that wake me up. Things that give me nightmares.

Worry. Anxiety.

And Jesus says, “Stop.”

It does go back to FOCUS. When my treasure is in Christ, I learn to TRUST.

Life is so much more than the stuff I worry over.

Life is about his kingdomMy attention, my affections, are to be in his direction and he graciously takes care of the “little” stuff in my life.

Let my life be devoted to treasuring Jesus.

 

 

What if Jesus really meant it?

What if Jesus really meant all that stuff in the Sermon on the Mount?

You could love your enemies. You could bless those that curse you. You could live in spiritual maturity. You could live with peace and without anxiety.

Not only could you… but the implication is you should. 

What if Jesus really meant all that?

No more excuses. He has given the expectation. He has given the power. When it’s all said and done and we stand before Jesus it’s going to be useless to give excuses like, “I just couldn’t get it done!”

The invitation is to incredible freedom. The means are given. We have the power of the Spirit. Change is possible. 

The key is our heart. It is what we treasure that gets attention, energy… intentionality. We are called to treasure Jesus.

The wonderful gifts of spiritual disciplines take us in that direction.

What if Jesus really means all this? What are the implications?

The joy of giving

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus did not say, “IF you give…” He said, “WHEN you give…”

We can hassle over tithe or some mandatory number, like 10%. But, why?

The point is GIVING.

Why give at all? Giving is a bold statement, which is why I try to push myself past an arbitrary number like 10%. Giving says, “Lord, I worship you with this part of my life. I think I need ALL that I have earned, but I am releasing this to you because I trust you for all I need.”

We are releasing our responsibility in finances to say, “God, you invited me to test you in this. Here it is. It is now your responsibility.”

God invited it. I don’t think he is about to let us down!

 

Anxiety and the Kingdom of God

There is a place of freedom we can truly find in the Kingdom of God. It’s often seen as “beyond reach,” or for when we “get to heaven,” but when Jesus talks about the abundance of the Kingdom of God he is speaking directly to tremendous benefits. Benefits NOW. Expectations NOW.

In Matthew 6:25-34 he talks about freedom from anxiety.

Grab hold of this: it is an expectation in the Kingdom of God.

If you need help with how to handle this amazing concept, this Bob Newhart counseling session could be of assistance.

But beyond that, we need to realize the TRUE power of the Kingdom of God. We need to understand the TRUE expectations of the Kingdom.

When we have been touched by the Kingdom of God in blessing, and we have understood the command to “be perfect,” and we have entered into the training of spiritual disciplines so our focus can be truly on the King and his Kingdom… we will find new freedoms, one of which is freedom from anxiety.

Jesus does not promise something he cannot deliver.

Where is our focus?

We have to get MORE serious about the Great Commission

I’ve grown up always thinking about the Great Commission. It’s only over the past few years I’ve realized how incomplete my thinking was on that goal.

“Great Commission” Christians meant missions. It meant going overseas or sending people to go overseas. We were focused on the “all nations” part.

What we need to recapture is the “obey everything” part. THAT is as much a part of the Great Commission as the “going” part.

I want to be serious about two things:

1. Obeying all that Jesus commanded. He has empowered me. The means of obedience is there. It is my intentionality that must kick into high gear.

2. Training others to obey ALL that Jesus commanded. I must constantly set before people the expectation that salvation in Jesus is NOT getting your ticket punched to heaven. Salvation is OBEYING all that HE commanded. And… it’s possible. When that happens, the power of the Kingdom truly comes. True power flows. True freedom IS possible.

I want to be MORE serious about the Great Commission!

 

Discipleship — The Vision of What is Possible

I am currently working my way through the book, The Theology of Dallas Willard: Discovering Protoevangelical Faith by Gary Black, Jr. It is refreshing me on the thoughts and theology of Dallas Willard. The quotes Black gives plunge me back into the thoughts of Dallas Willard, reminding me of what I read over the years. I am also reminded I need to revisit Willard’s great work, Renovation of the Heart, soon. I so deeply love The Divine Conspiracy I forget how powerful Renovation of the Heart was as well.

One reminder I have in my own life as a pastor, and why I started this blog in the first place, is to remind people of what IS possible in Christ. There is a vision of the Kingdom I want to communicate, and it’s a vision I gained from reading Dallas Willard’s works.

There is a vision of what is possible in Christ. The foundation is the Great Commission.

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20, NIV)

The question Dallas Willard drives home for the church is this: What is your plan to implement that strategy? How are you going to lead people into obeying EVERYTHING Jesus commanded?

That IS the command. It is not to be taken lightly.

Jesus said his disciples would bless and not curse. His disciples would bless those who persecuted them, not seek revenge. His disciples would be satisfied in whatever condition they found themselves in.

It is my task to hold out to myself and to others ALL that is possible in the Kingdom, and then help us implement that plan.

This Sunday has an expectation, as should every Sunday: To keep putting out there the possibility of obeying ALL that Jesus commanded.

Every week I am to hold out to people the vision of what IS possible. It IS possible to OBEY all that Jesus commanded. THAT is his vision for us, and THAT is what we walk toward day after day.