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Keeping First Things First

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It’s so easy to get bogged down by the cares of life.  It sounds crazy, but even in ministry, if we’re not careful, we can get caught into people pleasing and not pleasing God.  So many things are always vying for our attention.  However, God want us to prioritize and keep first things first.  What are the things that we’re supposed to be keeping first?  Well, thankfully, it’s not complicated.  In Matthew 6:33, Jesus says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

How do we seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness in 2013?  Some may wonder if the message is still relevant or even realistic in the midst of the fast-paced, anything goes society we live in, but His Word is always relevant and never changes.  Seeking Him should be a lifelong, daily journey in the life of a believer, and it’s not a wild goose chase either.  We seek Him; we find Him, and we continue looking for His direction, will, and goodness in every situation, no matter what.

Jeremiah 29:13 reads, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  The Lord has really been dealing with me in this area.  Our whole heart must be open and seeking Him, not out of own selfish desires and even our needs.  In fact, Jesus tells us not to worry about what we’re going to eat, drink, or wear (Matthew 6:25). Jesus goes on to say that He already knows what we need (Matthew 6:32).  Yet, He instructs us to seek the kingdom of God.  I’m no Bible theologian, but for me, His kingdom is everything that is God-related.  It is understanding that God rules over all things, both heaven and earth.  It also is understanding that we are saved by grace, through faith.  Because of our submission to God and belief in Him (and that He sent His Son on earth to live, die, and be resurrected for our sins), we can be saved and dwell with him in eternity.  We also believe in God’s Word and choose to live in obedience to it.  We understand that it’s not just another religious book, but it’s the God-inspired, living Word of God.  We understand that there is life in His Word.  Through obedience to His Word, we can not only live forever, but we can also live our best life here on earth.

Seeking His kingdom also means that we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes it’s difficult to hear the Spirit’s gentle prompting and instructions when we already have our minds made up to do this or that.  Worry and depression certainly deafen the Spirit’s voice and direction.  When we live one day at a time, trusting Him, listening to Him, reading His Word, and seeking Him, He will instruct us and give us peace that truly does surpass all human understanding.

On a final note, the verse in Matthew says that we are to seek Him and His righteousness.  It can be so easy for us to look at situations and people and see the bad, negative, and worst, but that’s not seeking His righteousness.  When we see the world the way He wants us to see it, yes, we see the negativity in much of the human condition, but we are compassionate—but not compliant to it.  We choose to love the people, not the sin.  We look for the good.  We seek opportunities to witness and share God’s love, favor, and faithfulness.

Sometimes it’s good to examine ourselves, making sure that our actions, motives, and speech are really keeping first things first.  When we have things in the right order, God’s way, the Word says, “all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 7:33b).  We won’t worry about our lives, including what we eat, drink, or wear, when we seek Him, diligently, every day.  We will be able to handle the challenges that God wants us to pursue and overcome, if we keep first things first.

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Surviving Quicksand

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As crazy as this may sound, I was curious and did a little reading about quicksand.  I remember seeing it in the movies and wondered if people really could drown in it.  I discovered that quicksand is rare but real.  Apparently, anytime sand or silt is saturated with water and they’re exposed to vibrations (from an earthquake, for example), quicksand can develop.  As I was reading “How to Get Out of Quicksand,” I couldn’t help thinking about how sometimes we feel like we’re sinking in quicksand because of the pressures of life.  There are so many things constantly bombarding us.  Health issues, death, poverty, depression, unemployment, divorce, unruly children, and the list goes on and on.  What do we do when we feel like we’re sinking, and the ground beneath us isn’t able to support us anymore?

The first point in the article about how to avoid quicksand reads: Avoid quicksand.  I chuckled, but it’s true.  Although sometimes you can’t detect quicksand by looking at the ground, when you step on ground that ripples or shifts, the author of the article admonishes that you should step back “quickly and smoothly.”  It seems like a no-brainer, but how many times do we see trouble or feel trouble coming and keep going, not trusting the Holy Spirit warning us? He guides us in all truth (John 16:13).  We just have to be sensitive enough to hear His voice.  We have to avoid situations, people, and any and everything that the Lord tells us to avoid.

Point two: Bring a large stick when frequenting quicksand territory. Carrying a large stick or pole will help you to test the ground in front of you, and it can also help you to get out of quicksand if you begin to sink.  As believers, we should have protection with us at all times.  We must have on the whole armor of God if we want to be assured that we will always be on solid ground.  Ephesians 6:13 says, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Drop everything if you find yourself in quicksand.  Relax. Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”  Just as if we were in quicksand, we sink further into desperation when we panic.  When we focus on Him and His promises, we know we will come out victoriously.  We can withstand trials, heartache, and pain when we are anchored in His Word and not focused on what we see.

For me, surviving the chaos in life during turbulent times is a daily thing, something that requires pre-planning, discipline, prayer, and study.  Especially when things are tough, I decide in advance how I will handle things, telling myself that I will not cave to the bad circumstances or situations.  Instead, I will do it God’s way.  Giving our problems to the only one who is capable of handling it all, with no complaints and in perfect, unconditional love, is always the best way.

Alas, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! There is nothing too hard or too wonderful for You.”  ~Jeremiah 32:17