We’re going to start by looking at the Sermon on the Mount (in Matthew chapters 5-7), of which it has been said that it is the “Constitution for the Kingdom of Heaven”….
And next we’re going to learn the importance of our daily walking in the Shalom-peace of God, by doing what the above picture represents, and that is taking the time to pause, in between all the noise and distractions of life, and there to be still, in order to listen to what God is saying to us.
The Sermon on the Mount
It is no accident that the Sermon on the Mount is placed near the beginning of the NT.
Its position indicates its importance.
In it the King (Jesus) summarizes the character and conduct expected of His subjects.
This sermon is not a presentation of the plan of salvation; nor is its teaching intended for unsaved people.
It was addressed to the disciples (5:1-2) and was intended to be the constitution, or the system of laws and principles, which was to govern the King’s subjects during His reign.
It was meant for all—past, present, or future—who acknowledge Christ as King.
When Christ was on earth, it had direct application to His disciples.
Now, while our Lord reigns in heaven, it applies to all who crown Him King in their hearts.
Finally, it will be the code of behavior for Christ’s followers during the tribulation and during His reign on earth.
The Sermon has a distinct Jewish flavor, as seen in allusions to the council (i.e., the Sanhedrin) in 5:22, the altar (5:23, 24), and Jerusalem (5:35).
Yet it would be wrong to say that its teaching is exclusively for believing Israelites in the past or future; it is for those of every age who acknowledge Jesus Christ as King.
In Matthew 6:34, Jesus makes the point that planning for tomorrow is time well spent; whereas, worrying about tomorrow is time wasted.
However sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference.
Proverbs 16:9 (AMP) tells us that,
“A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], But the LORD directs his steps and establishes them.”
For every Born Again Covenant child of God, our careful planning is when we’re thinking ahead about goals, steps, and schedules, and then trusting in God’s guidance along the way.
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
When done well, planning can help alleviate worry.
Worriers, by contrast, are consumed by fear and find it difficult to trust God.
They let their plans interfere with their relationship with God.
The key is that, as God’s Covenant children, we must learn to be anxious for nothing (Php 4:6); and not to let the worries about tomorrow affect our relationship with God today.
In Matthew 6:25-34, we find the word worry or worrying mentioned six times.
The word “Therefore” at the beginning of 6:25 is important in helping us understand the relationship between a kingdom servant and the king.
In 6:19-24, the king expounded on His demand for unreserved devotion.
Beginning in 6:25, Jesus began to say,
“Now, when you enter into this kind of total commitment to Me, “I AM that I AM” is going to take care of you, so “Do not worry.”
Our commitment to Jesus and His commitment to us go hand in hand.
They are part of the covenant relationship He has established with His people.
The person who is totally committed to the King has no need for worry.
This entire passage focuses almost exclusively on God’s provision of (and our anxiety over) food and clothing.
However, we must see these two items as simply two concrete examples used to teach a broader principle.
We could just as easily insert any other basic need (shelter, a community of belonging, and so on) that can be a source of anxiety, which is also provided by the Father, and this principle applies equally in each of those other areas.
It is because of the ill effects of worrying, that Jesus tells us NOT to worry about the needs that God promises to supply.
(1) Damage your health,
(2) Disrupt your productivity,
(3) Negatively affect the way you treat others,
(4) Rob your day of joy, and
(5) Reduce your ability to trust in God.
Just how many ill effects of worry are you experiencing?
Here is the difference between worry and genuine concern:
Worry (or fear) immobilizes you, like a deer in the headlamps, or it will cause you to run in the opposite direction; whereas God teaches us to face our fears (see 2 Tim 1:7), with the wisdom and power that He gives to us and thereby overcome them.
The subject of the devotion below about the importance of our being “Fully Present,” reminds me of another book I read a while back, “The Sacrament of the Present Moment,” written by an 18th century French author/priest, named Jean Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751).
In the Introduction to that book, which was written by Richard Foster, he quotes brother Caussade,
“God speaks to every individual through what happens to them moment-by-moment”
He goes on to say that, “Cutting through the maze of religious obligations that so often encrust the gospel, he declared,
“There remains one single duty. It is to keep one’s gaze fixed on the Master one has chosen and to be constantly listening so as to understand and hear and immediately obey His will.”
This brings me to another point, and that is I believe that God’s intention has always been to have 24/7 365 – unending fellowship and communion with His Covenant children.
And in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are instructed to” pray without ceasing.”
Prayer is a two way conversation between us and God, and mostly it’s our listening to Him, indicating that God’s intention is that we keep that connection with Him all the time, day and night.
As we read of Jesus, from the Bible, (who is called “the last Adam” – 1 Cor 15:45),” He said that He only did what He saw the Father do; and He only spoke what He heard the Father speak – and then He said,” As the Father has called Me, I’m calling you.”
One other thing that the Lord showed me sometime ago, and that is in the name that He gave to Moses on Mount Sinai, “I AM that I AM” (which is called the Tetragrammaton).
The name “I AM that I AM” indicates, to me, that since God exists in Eternity, which is the absence of time and space as we understand it, if we are going to commune with Him then we have to get in the present moment where He is, in order to hear what He is telling us.
Jesus tells us that “God is a Spirit, and those who would worship Him must learn to do so in spirit and in truth.”
God created time and space for us, and enters into it, from time to time, to commune with us, but He doesn’t dwell there.
So this name “I AM that I AM” indicates to me that God is only available to us in the present moment, one moment at a time.
He was with us yesterday and He will be with us tomorrow, but if we’re going to have communion with Him and hear what He is saying, then we have to be in the present moment, with Him, in order for us to hear Him.
One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 46, which starts out by saying, “God is an ever-present help in our time of trouble,” and then it goes on to describing everything around us going to hell in a handbasket, and in the midst of all of that it says, (in verse 10) “to be still and know that “I AM that I AM” is still God!
All too often I mine is divided, we’re either feeling remote remorseful and sorry for something that happened yesterday, or worrying and fretting over something we think might happen tomorrow; and if our mind is in either one of those two places, then we’re missing God, who is only available to us (to commune with us) in the present moment.
Learning the Rhythm of the Holy Spirit
French composer Claude Debussy said, “Music is the space between the notes.”
The space between notes allows them to resonate, reverberate, and reach their full measure of expression.
Without this space, noise and cacophony would result.
The same can be said of our lives: too much white noise, clutter and distractions can stifle our life, and make our lives chaotic and discordant.
Conversely, it’s in the spaces and rest stops, between the notes, that God often speaks to us.
It’s in those rest stops that we learn to sit quietly and see one’s self pass by – to listen for “the sound of the genuine” deep calling to deep within – it’s here, in these moments, that we experience God, who is at the same time vast and limitless, and intimate and personal to each one of us.
Thu, March 31
The Winning Walk
by Dr Ed Young
“Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
— Matthew 6:34
Years ago, Spencer Johnson wrote a popular book called
“The Present: The Secret to Enjoying Your Work and Life, Now.”
His premise was that, to have a life that is effective, you have to learn how to be “fully present.”
Most of us have trouble with that. We are too concerned about yesterday, even though we can’t do anything about it.
Or we are too apprehensive about tomorrow.
God provided a way for us to be “totally present” in every situation and every relationship.
It is the Sabbath Principle.
We need to set aside one day in seven in which we shut things down.
We don’t look backward; we don’t look forward.
We look around at our family – and we look up to God.
God provided this for us because we need it.
If you want to see the hand, and feel the touch, of Almighty God in your life – Find a Sabbath.
Hebrews 4 speaks of Jesus as our Sabbath rest.
Verses 9-10 in particular state,
“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”
And in Hebrews 4:9-11
(Amplified Bible, Classic Edition) we’re told,
“So then, there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath-rest reserved for the [true] people of God; for he who has once entered [God’s] rest also has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors, just as God rested from those labors peculiarly His own.
Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell].
Come join the Adventure,