Jesus was not one to follow the rules of the day, Friend. Do you remember this interaction with His disciples?
The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”
They discussed this with one another and said,
“It is because we have no bread.”
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?
- Do you have eyes but fail to see,
- and ears but fail to hear?
- And don’t you remember?
When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
“Twelve,” they replied.
“And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
They answered, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
- What do you suppose Jesus meant when He said,
“Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod”?
- And what’s the relevance of His questions about feeding the multitudes?
King Solomon’s Book of Wisdom instructs us to guard our hearts. So what does that look like from a Kingdom perspective? Here are a few items to remember as we consider the possibilities:
- First we must know who our enemy actually is.
- Then we must be aware of the ways he attacks our own hearts.
- Finally we must learn how to thwart his attacks and protect our families.
Dearest Heavenly Father,
Take me deeper into the Truth of who I am. Because before I can know what I am created to do, I must know who I am created to be. Teach me to look into the eyes of Jesus where I will see a reflection of the woman I’m known as in Heaven. I know the real me will always be that woman to you, now & forever. But I want to manifest Heaven’s perspective of me in the here-and-now and thereby impact the earth with Thy-Kingdom-Has-Come today.
You have called me Beautiful. Show me what that looks like, Lord. Let’s Heaven’s reality soak every atom, every particle of my physical being. Flood my soul with Your goodness and wash out the filth the enemy deposited in the vulnerable places of my heart, and fill me with Your light. Flavor my personality with the Beauty of Your indwelling spirit.
I am forever Yours.
[callout]Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23[/callout]
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a wellspring of life. Proverbs 13:12
What if the answer to your current struggles is completely off your map? What if there is more to be gained from your circumstances than you can see? How would you live differently if you knew The Lord has greater plans for your life?
Most of us experience depression and anxiety everyday. Perhaps not to the point of being “clinically significant.” But enough to drain our energy. We’re down because something hasn’t gone well. And worried about a future that mightn’t be any different.
- If you’re in Survival Mode …
You’ve already experienced a lot of failure and disappointment. Which has left you with a deep sense of inadequacy. And you have lost all hope. You have resolved to just hang on. To try to create the best life possible in your personal Egypt.
- If you’re in Management Mode …
You’ve determined to beat whatever (whomever) has kept you from your Promised Land. You’ve adopted the popular belief that “if it’s to be, it’s up to me.” You fight against yourself. And everyone else. Find ways to whip people into shape. Taking charge is your solution.
But what if The Lord has Something Better in mind?
Your circumstances – everything you face and will ever face – are there to draw you back to The Lord. He put specific desires in your heart. And He is The Only One Who can fulfill them. He wants more for your life than mere survival. He also knows that if you take charge, you’ll make a big mess. For someone. Probably yourself. And the ones you love.
What if God isn’t answering your prayers because He has Something Better in mind than what you’ve been praying? Why not ask Him what He wants to do? Then pray accordingly. He’ll answer that prayer! (1 John 5:14-15)
A Higher Calling requires two,
closely-related ways of approaching life.
- Love God. Delight in your personal relationship with Him. Talk to Him about everything. Absolutely everything. He knows that you are only dust. And He totally understands your feelings … and your frustrations. So be honest with Him. Remember His promises. Especially the ones about not leaving you and helping you overcome everything that comes against you. Listen for His voice. He may just listen to you for awhile. But He will speak to you. Always give Him thanks. Lots of thanks.
- Love others. Especially those who have hurt you. Respect each person’s free will. God does. Even so, always hope and pray and believe for God’s best in their lives. Speak words of blessing and think kind thoughts. Imagine what The Lord will do.
A New Perspective
Our vantage point is limited. Things look very different from above. Ask The Lord to show you how things look from where He is. He delights in showing you His ways. And He has a glorious purpose for your life. It may not look glorious to anyone else. But it will to you.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8)
Maybe you remember the Berenstain Bears’ Inside Outside Upside Down. I know it well because I read (past tense) it to my three sons. The title describes the way many of us have been misinformed about how to have a successful marriage.
Looking over my journals for the last 20+ years, I can clearly see how much time I’ve spent whining and begging God to do something for me that He’s already done. I’ve pleaded with Him to be with me, to take care of me, and to bless what I’m trying to do.
In short, I’ve looked at my life from a place of need. Trying to talk God into making my life better, even as I tell Him what it should look like. I’ve determined what the outcome should be, rather than asking Him to show me what He has planned and to teach me how to partner with Him. But that is changing. Quickly.
TAKING through self-effort
Many pastors and counselors actively encourage couples to use a “Bottom-Up” model that is totally inside outside upside down!
- Tell your mate how you feel and what you want.
Unspoken assumption: I should get what I ask for.
- Plead with God (whine and complain) until He listens to you.
Unspoken assumption: I need to work hard at getting close to God.
- Beg God to do something about your spouse and bless your marriage.
Unspoken assumption: God must fix your mate before you can be happy.
This approach is not only self-focused, it emphasizes what is wrong. It is past-present focused. And we all know you can’t be looking behind while you walk because you’ll surely stumble and fall.
RECEIVING through Abiding
My journals look a lot different nowadays as I’m learning to abide, to receive, and to give thanks for what God has done for me in Jesus, is now doing in my present circumstances, and has planned for me. In other words, my approach to my relationship with Him is now present-future focused. Hallelujah!
You don’t have to beg God to give you something He’s already promised. Just learn to abide in His love.
- Abide means “to remain in, comply with, obey, observe, follow, keep to, hold to, conform to, adhere to, stick to, stand by, act in accordance with, uphold, heed, accept, go along with, acknowledge, respect.”
Jesus said: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
- Receive means “to be given, presented with something.” God is the Creator and Initiator of all things. He freely gives us His Love in His Son (John 3:16) through the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). Plus he freely give us grace (Ephesians 1:6), peace (John 14:27), and wisdom (James 1:5).
Paul wrote: “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:35-36)
- Gratefulness means “warm or deep appreciation for kindness or benefits received; thankfulness for something received from another.”
Paul encouraged: “… give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
BOTTOM LINE: Abiding, receiving, and being grateful takes your focus off what’s wrong and puts it on what’s right. Whatever you think about will be magnified, not only in your mind, but in your heart and your actions as well. And it’s the only way marriage can be truly enjoyed for a lifetime … in case you were wondering.