Learn to USE your Bible - Week One - Part Four 💕
“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? 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? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
“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, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 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?
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:25-34 NLT
Where is the Kingdom of God?
In these verses the Apostle Matthew quotes Christ, who told his followers exactly what their first priority must be.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else.”
As a follower and disciple of Christ this must be the first priority today – exactly as it was when Jesus spoke these words in the first-century A.D. Once you have decided to follow Jesus, it is needful to follow his instructions to seek the Kingdom of God above all else…FIRST…before everything else. When we get this priority in order He will give us everything else we need.
Figuring out how to follow these instructions often becomes a sticking point for Christians. Especially new Christians.
“How can I do it?” they’ll ask.
” Where will I find the time?”
“Where is the Kingdom of God, anyway?”
Here’s what Jesus told the religious leaders of his day about it…
“The kingdom of God does not come with signs to be observed or with visible display, nor will people say, Look! Here [it is]! or, See, [it is] there! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] (within your soul) and among you [surrounding you]. Luke 17:21 AMP
Jesus was making it clear to these religious zealots that the Kingdom of God, which is a spiritual Kingdom, is already a spiritual reality within the heart of every human being. He was trying to open their understanding, to make them see that any external evidence of God’s Kingdom flows from within the heart and soul of those who have received Christ as Savior and Lord.
Every one of us knows what the actions and words associated with our nature were before Jesus entered into our lives.
The Bible says:
“What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions; in worship of idols and witchcraft. People become enemies and they fight; they become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups; they are envious, get drunk, have orgies, and do other things like these.” Galatians 5:19-21
So there is no need to spend time dwelling on those negative actions and emotions. Instead let’s move on quickly to the really important stuff.
How to change our old [negative] human nature into a positive Christ-like nature?
Today’s world travels at blinding speed and every day we are surrounded by swirling masses of information pointing us away from Jesus and toward self-gratification and self-sufficiency. How is it possible to get out of the fast lane, racing through a negative world, and change the direction life has been taking us? How can we move toward a life that will give external evidence that we are God’s own children to those who know and love us?
The Bible tells us the answer is found “within.”
In Matthew chapter 12:33-35 Jesus tells the Pharisees,
To have good fruit you must have a healthy tree; if you have a poor tree, you will have bad fruit. A tree is known by the kind of fruit it bears. You snakes—how can you say good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good person brings good things out of a treasure of good things; a bad person brings bad things out of a treasure of bad things.
In verse 34 – The Amplified Bible says “whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”
The old King James translation puts it this way. ” for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”
It logically follows then, if our hearts are abundantly filled with negatives — self-pity, self-loathing, fear, bitterness and anger — our mouths speak those things. If, on the other hand, our hearts are filled with the things of God — love, joy, peace, forgiveness, grace and abundance—our mouths will speak of those things. And, by the words we speak, our lives are either blessed or cursed, acquitted or condemned.
Paul wrote to his beloved children in the church at Ephesus, saying:
“Assuming that you have really heard him and been taught by him, as [all] Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in him], strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; and be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:21-24 AMP
It has been said the human mind is a lot like a computer. Back in the day the catch phrase was GIGO, “Garbage in/Garbage out.” In today’s world we are bombarded with garbage! Everywhere we look we see opportunities to fill the mind, heart and soul with trash.
Paul told the church in Rome:
“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect in his sight for you.” Romans 12:2 AMP
It makes perfect sense to assume that in order for our actions to reflect the adoption as one of God’s Kingdom Kids there is a need to get some new thoughts, ideals and attitudes going on in life.
Christ’s instructions are to seek FIRST his kingdom. It follows, therefore, most of the information available to us about God and his Kingdom can be found in God’s Word.
Again, it follows…in order to seek first his Kingdom and his way of doing and being right it is necessary to go to the Word…find a Bible, dust it off, open it up and find out what God has to say about what’s going on in life.
For the next week, your assignment is to work on establishing God’s first priority in your life.
No matter how you choose to study, here is the assignment for the first week.
Set aside a quite time with Jesus every day.
Make it a time when your mind is alert, your heart is open to the Lord, and you won’t be distracted every two seconds. It’s called quiet time for a reason. Turn off the cell phone, the email, and facebook. Nothing is as important as these few minutes alone with the Lord. None of life’s little interruptions are so important they will not keep for 30 minutes. I promise! Thirty minutes with God will smooth out any minor crisis you may be experiencing!
Commit yourself to this one thing, and unless there is an earth shattering MAJOR crisis, follow through on your commitment without fail.
Take a little time to put yourself in a reverent mood. Be still for a few minutes to cultivate his presence. Follow God’s admonition: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Before you begin read Psalm 119:18 & 34 as a prayer.
“Open my eyes to see
the wonderful truths in your instructions.
“Give me understanding, so that I may keep your Word
and observe it with all my heart.”
Remember, as your quite time with the Lord begins…. He speaks to you through his Word, and you speak to him in prayer.
Look up — write down in your journal — and read aloud these scriptures. You can spread them out over the week or read them all every day. The important thing is to plant them (like seeds) firmly in your heart.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Also, personalize the prayer from Ephesians 1:3-8; 1:16-23 and 3:14-21. Word these verses as a single prayer and work it out so you are asking God to accomplish these things in your own life. Speak this prayer aloud to the Lord every day during your quiet time.
Next, start thanking God for what He’s going to do in your life through his Word, keeping in mind the Word always accomplishes God’s purpose.
It never returns to him empty. Isaiah 55:11
By the time you’ve spent a week working with these scriptures every day, allowing the Lord to show you the enormity of their meaning for YOU personally, a growth process will have been accelerated in your heart. You will grow to a greater recognition of who you are in Christ.
By putting the Word of God first in our lives we can all develop a positive Christ-like nature to replace the negative worldly nature or unrenewed nature that has been holding us back and keeping us down.
It is also recommend that you take a few minutes as you end each day to examine the small wonders God has blessed you with during the day. Write them down in your journal, along with your prayers and praise reports. Each day holds many tiny miracles and great moments of beauty. Learn to see them. Learn to thank God for them. Then before you close your eyes to sleep pray the prayer Jesus taught his followers:
“Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us daily our bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us [who has offended us or done us wrong]. And bring us not into temptation but rescue us from evil. For yours is the power and the glory forever and ever. AMEN