31 December 2013

What to Do in 2014 (In Which I Wear My Preacher Hat)

As a minister of the Gospel, I'm occasionally asked for advice or counsel. Recently, there were a couple of e-mails asking about 2014, or whether I have any special insight for what's coming up. Why yes. Yes, I do.

That "insight" is to ask what God has said. Here's what Jesus told His disciples:

In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.

When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.

Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.

If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
~ Matthew 6:14-34, The Message

With a promise like that, what do we have to worry about?  Happy New Year!


Well Seasoned Fool said...

Excellent! Thank you.

Bob said...

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, my friend!


Rev. Paul said...

WSF - you're welcome.

Bob & Guffaw - thank you, and you too!

Sandy said...

Rev. Paul,

Great advice!

Happy New Year To You, Your Sweet Wife, and Daughters.

Rev. Paul said...

Thank you, Sandy, on both counts!

drjim said...

Always good to hear you with your "Preacher Hat" on.

Somebody once told me that prayer is when we talk to God, and meditation is when He talks to us.

Happy New Year to you and your family, my friend!

Old NFO said...

Well said, and agreed... :-)

Rev. Paul said...

Thanks, drjim. That's as good a way to put it as any; I always think of prayer as a conversation. If I can't hear God, it's usually because I'm talking too much. :)

Thank you, NFO.

Teresa said...

Happy New Year to you and your family Paul! Hope it's a great one :)

Rev. Paul said...

Thank you, Teresa!

CottonLady said...

Really enjoyed this post, Rev. Paul. We definitely need to take this to heart and get back to what God teaches us in His Book.

God's blessings to you and your family in 2014.

P.S. Your header sure shows God's beauty all around us!

Rev. Paul said...

Thank you, ma'am. I agree - and thanks!

Chickenmom said...

Thank you-we all need that reminder!
Happy New Year to you and your family!

Rev. Paul said...

You're welcome - and thank you.

Six said...

Amen Rev. I can always count on you for perspective.

Rev. Paul said...

Thanks for the "amen", Six. Have a great year!