The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalm 23 KJV
“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8NIV
On July 6, I published a post titled “Where is Your Treasure?” It is based on Jesus’ words,
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”Matthew 6: 19-21 NIV
Emma posed this question, “Any advice for someone who needs to be able to support themselves financially and yet, also needs to be careful about how much time is spent on working towards (worldly) success?”
That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? Let’s examine God’s Word to find the answer.
The Pharisees asked Jesus’s disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11)Jesus answered,
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:12-13 NIV
Jesus is quoting Hosea 6:6 which explains the meaning of the verse a little more.
“I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6 NLT
I think Jesus is teaching that we can’t live by a set of rules to be checked off. To please God, we must know God, and allow God to change us into the likeness of Christ. Later, the Apostle Paul writes,
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV
We please God when we seek to be like Him through prayer, Bible study , and obedience.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men . . . It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:17 NIV
That tells me that I should do my job with all my heart, as if I was working for the Lord. If we are honest, conscientious, hard-working, and kind to those we work with, it is a testimony to others. Jesus said,
“. . . let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”Matthew 5:16 NIV
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is . . . giving, then give generously” Romans 12:6-8 NIV
I believe the answer to Emma’s question is different for every person. Based on my study, here are some thoughts for you to consider as you study God’s Word.
We all have responsibilities, some more that others. Some have a family to provide for, others do not. I certainly don’t think the Lord calls everyone to live in poverty. Some are given the ministry of giving. How could they give if they didn’t have resources?
We need to be aware of what our spending says about us. If I wear $1,000 sneakers while those around me have holes in their shoes, then something’s not right. I must continually ask God to purify my heart. On the other hand, if I dress similarly to other people I work with, well that seems appropriate.
If my job keeps me so busy that I don’t attend church and don’t have time to read my Bible, something needs to change because I am not being obedient to what God has said in His Word.
If I make a lot of money, but I am a generous giver, helping those in need and seeking God’s will in giving, well that seems right to me. If I make a lot of money and spend it all on lavish gifts for myself, I need to start reading my Bible!
Father, Help me to be more like Jesus. Give me a hunger for your Holy Word and teach me to pray. Create a pure heart in me that I might be pleasing in your sight. I want to know you and walk in love with those around me. Give me a heart like David, a man after your own heart. Then I will know how to walk in your ways and bring honor and glory to your precious name. Amen
Thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you, today. Your thoughts and comments are welcomed and appreciated.
“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NLT
I went to my office, laid my head down on my Bible and sighed in defeat, “Lord, I don’t know what to do.” As soon as the words slipped from my mouth, I remembered something that I had read earlier in the day.
When King Jehoshaphat was warned that a vast army was coming against him, he was alarmed and resolved to inquire of the Lord. He called a fast for all of Judah and the people came together to seek God.
King Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly and cried out to God in prayer. He ends the prayer with these words:
“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you!” 2 Chronicles 20:12 NIV
I quickly found the passage in my Bible and read it over and over. God was telling me what to do: Keep my eyes on Him! I can do that! Immediately my anxiety melted away. My fear disappeared and I felt the comfort only God can provide.
I also remembered, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus” Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV
“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8 NIV
What does it mean to keep your eyes on the Lord? Here are some thoughts.
Acknowledge that you can’t fix this in your own strength. Jehoshaphat knew that he was in for a battle that he was not strong enough to win and he didn’t know what to do. The enemy was getting closer every minute.
When we realize that it isn’t within our own ability to fix the problem, only then can we really depend completely on the Lord.
These kinds of opportunities will stretch our faith and bring us closer to God.
You might be wondering what happened to King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah when they fixed their eyes on the Lord instead of the problem.
This is what the Lord said, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. (v15) Stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. . . Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged.”(v17)
“Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. . .Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord . . . ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.’ As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” (v18&21)
Take away: They depended completely on the Lord. They worshipped Him. They thanked Him. They praised Him. The Lord threw their enemies into confusion and they were defeated.
Read more about Jehoshaphat’s battle here. (2 Chronicles 20:1-30)
When our battle is too hard, let us fix our eyes on Jesus. Let us worship His holiness, thank Him, praise Him, and give Him glory. When you read God’s Word, God Himself will teach you and encourage you because He says,
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26 NIV
Thank you for letting me share my journey with you, today. Comments are welcomed and appreciated.