God Knows Better

(Day 20 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you—you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Matthew 6:25-33 

The key to submissive prayer is an understanding that God knows what we need better than we do. We are His children, and He is a good father who is pleased to provide for our needs. Therefore, Jesus instructs us to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness foremost, because those are what we need the most. As we eagerly seek to know Him more, He will provide for our needs. As he promises in the passage above, He will provide for our physical needs, making sure we are fed and clothed; but more importantly, he will provide for our spiritual needs, giving us more of Himself.

Psalm 37:4 tells us to “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” It is not wrong to have desires, and we know that God loves to give good gifts to His children; but we must first delight in Him. As we seek Him more, He will become our heart’s greatest desire; and He will never fail to give us more of Himself, allowing us to know Him and love Him more.

By Kyle Reilly

31 Proverbs Highlights: #24-Enough with the Agitation

(A simple series highlighting verses from each chapter of the book of Proverbs)

Don’t be agitated by evildoers, and don’t envy the wicked. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭24‬:‭19‬ HCSB)

Social Media is full of agitation. I get agitated by all the agitation, you know what I mean?

So why do we allow ourselves to get so agitated? Yes, people do crazy things. Yes, we don’t understand how people get by with their actions. Yes, we will never agree totally with others. But must we live in such an agitated state?

Is it possible we’ve gotten so agitated by what we see in others because we’ve forgotten the evil that resides in our own hearts? We’ve gotten so used to excusing the person in the mirror that actually given enough power and freedom is capable of just as much wickedness.

This proverb reminds me to look at my own heart. See myself as God sees me. Worry about my own evil and wickedness rather than focus on someone else’s. Resist the agitation of pointing out the sins of others and let God deal with them. Enough with the agitation.

Fruity Fridays: Seen Peace

by Jeremy Nixon, a nobody fireman trying to do it right, but mostly getting it wrong

Galatians 5:22 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace… 


We’ve walked through what love and joy means over the last couple of months; but today, today we enter into peace. At least my prayer is that you can enter this day, week, month and year with peace, a true peace. With the election being over and hate crimes surfacing, racism, discrimination, x vs. y, red vs. blue and everything else going on in America, to say that tension is like cutting butter with a knife is an understatement. So my prayer for you and me this year is that we could have peace. The God-sized peace that is talked about in the Bible. But, what is peace?

 

Peace is a fruit of the Spirit, and Paul writes that if we live by the Spirit then we are free and we can stand firm knowing that we are doing what God has called us to. Peace is supposed to rule in hearts. (Col. 3:15) In 1 Peter we are called to cast all of our anxiety on the Lord because he cares for us. He also calls us to seek peace and pursue it, turning away from evil and doing good. James tells us that peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. Proverbs 12 tells us that those who promote peace have joy…and we all know how important joy is.  

 

I see a trend of the fruits. One leads right into another. They go hand in hand, and I don’t believe that you can have one without the other. Psalm 29:11 says the Lord gives strength to his people and the Lord blesses his people with PEACE.  

 

Paul calls us, in Romans 12, to live at peace with everyone. WOW. That seems like a hard statement living in the world we are in today. It’s easy to get anxious and worry about different things in our lives: our children, our homes, making ends meet, or work. And the media seems to show that there is so much hate in our world, but I believe and trust that God is up to something BIG. If we can stand firm and let the fruit of peace happen in our lives, it will overflow into the world. It has to start with you. It has to start with me. You all know about the snowball effect. God wants to use you, and me, to spread his peace to all nations, and I believe that if we are seeking first His kingdom and listening to what the Lord says, he will give us peace. He promises it.  

 

When we need peace, He promises to give us a peace that surpasses all understanding. The best thing that we can do when we are filled with anxiety and worry is to find a quiet place to pray and seek His kingdom. God wants us to live a life that is full of peace. He wants to do BIG things in your life. Let your fruit be seen.

Fruity Fridays: Internal Peace

by Eric Vorhies

I have a mother that worries. But I guess everyone has a mother that worries. The difference is that my mother’s worry has in many ways robbed her more often than it has protected her. It has taken moments that should have been enjoyable and given her stress. Since observing this while growing up, I knew that there had to be a better way. I just didn’t know it was going to come from the Dalai Lama in the Brad Pitt movie “Seven Years in Tibet.”

“If you have a problem and can fix it, then why worry about it. If you have a problem and can’t fix it, then why worry about it.”

My mind was blown. That articulated why there was no reason to worry…and that might worry some of you right now.

This week’s fruit is peace. I wrestled with how I divided peace and joy because they seem to be so similar and overlap greatly. I landed on the difference being timing. Joy is the ability to be happy despite our present circumstances. Peace is the absence of conflict and, which in many ways, is the opposite of worry – the feeling of uncertainty about how a situation will eventually play out.

Here’s an example from my life to better illustrate – I live in Florida. To me, it’s like living in an over-developed swamp. It always hot and muggy, and everything here, from gators to mosquitoes, is trying to kill you. Now, have I enjoyed Florida? Most definitely. I have met so many great people and have had the best jobs ever here. But I have not always had peace about living here. Though the plan has always been to be here for a period and then move, I worried that it might not happen, or not happen soon enough. Despite finding much joy here, I had this internal conflict for a long time. Though both joy and peace are closely related to our given situation, I think joy is focused more on the present and peace is concerned with the future.

Let’s be clear about something. The peace that God offers is not an outward one. It’s not a peace that will protect you and your family from harm. It’s not even a peace that guarantees that you have the right to bear arms, read your Bible, go to college, and not be picked on. The peace that God offers is an internal one. One that says, “Eric, even though you live in a swamp, it’s ok, and it will be ok if you never really leave.” It’s a peace that overcomes conflict within a person. It overcomes fear and inadequacy.

Now, let me lean in a little bit…

Are you lacking peace?

Not sure? Well, are you easily offended? Do you rant on social media? Are you the Angry Aaron or the Nervous Nelly in your group? Do you think of all the ways that something can go wrong before you consider that it doesn’t really matter? What worry is robbing you of your time and energy?

Is it how you will be paying for Christmas? Maybe it is something much deeper, like a sense of failure or shame. Fear and regret?

Philippians 4:6-9 – Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — If there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Look, external conflict is unavoidable, and sometimes you will need to take action against it. But internal conflict, the unseen battle that people wage war with, that is unnecessary. If we can fix it, then don’t worry. If we can’t, don’t worry. You don’t have to stew on how things are wrong in the world….You can think about how things are right in the world. Yes, the glass is half empty of water. But it is half full of water and half full of air, and man I know some people who could use that air and take a breather. Am I right?

I can say all of this because my worries will be taken care of…and taken care of by God. I don’t have the time and energy to put toward worrying. I have an amazing wife, three young boys, and, praise God, I’m busy packing to move out of Florida. I will not give fear and worry power, because, my God, who willingly bears that burden for me, IS WAYYYY more powerful. And that right there….that gives me PEACE.

Don’t be like my mom in this way. Don’t let worry rob you of the peace that God wants you to have.

PS – My mom has other characteristics that everyone should have, but that’s a different blog

Dr. Henry Cloud on Worry

In this Q&A video, move forward (the whole video is good, btw) to 5:30 to listen to Dr. Cloud answer this question about worry: “How can you train your mind to not worry?”

His answer may help you apply Scriptures like Matthew 6:25-34 and Philippians 4:4-8