Monday, April 7, 2014

Pitfalls II:Drunk with worry

One of the most destructive forces active in the bride of Christ today is that of worry.  This force alone has the ability to incapacitate believers and render the abundance of teachings fruitless.  In a culture where we like to plan and have control over just about everything we can, the epidemic of worry is crippling us and making it difficult for us as believers to hear His voice and so trouble comes upon us without warning.

The Trouble with Worry

I don't think we often consider the impact of worry.  I know I have been caught thinking that the only problem with worry is a restless night's sleep and inability to focus on the really important things while I'm consumed with the worry of the day or week or whatever it might be.  I've also been caught just waiting for the event to pass which dissolves the worry that was rooted in the fear of the unknown.
Jesus was very clear on the topic of worry because it had such significant consequences to the believer.  Jesus when responding to His disciples regarding the end of the age said,
"But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and that Day will come on you unexpectedly." - Luke 21:34
Did you catch that?  Jesus places cares of this life, carousing and drunkenness all in the same category.  The effects of these are the same with regards to our spiritual life.  All of them will numb our spirit so that we cannot clearly distinguish His voice.  When one is drunk, one cannot pay attention or remember the important details.  The same is true when one is carousing or preoccupied with the cares of this life.  So much so that when the end comes those preoccupied with the cares of this life will be just as unaware of His coming as those who are drunk.  It's a scary thought.

Take a look at the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:18-23 where the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and make it unfruitful.

Jesus Answer to Worry

I think one of the most amazing things about Jesus' ministry was that He always had the solution.  Unlike the Pharisees who burdened others with loads without lifting a finger to help, Jesus was always there to help.  In fact many who came to Him with one problem ended up getting the real problem fixed which took care of a lot more than just what they came for.  His passionate desire for His bride to made whole is the joy that allowed Him to endure the cross.

Jesus solution to worry was to just not do it.
"Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." - Matthew 6:34
At the end of the day, this is the answer, just don't, God designed for us to live in day compartments and not to live in tomorrows compartment.  We weren't design to live in tomorrow, but in today.  Tomorrow is God's territory - "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Now although this is the answer, Jesus delivered it with so much love and reasoning behind it so that we would be empowered to let go of worry.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." - Matthew 6:25-34
Can you hear the love of the Father?  If we get a hold of this love by faith, there will be no more room left for worry.  Pray "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ would give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power" (Ephesians 1:17-19).

For further study:

  • Ephesians 1:3-14 Paul describes our redemption in Christ that we are holy, without blame, adopted, accepted, forgiven, sealed with the Holy Spirit to give Him praise through His glory.
  • 2 Peter 1:3 Peter describes how His divine power has given to us everything we need for life and godliness that we might be partakers of the divine nature.
  • John 10:10 "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
  • Romans 8:32 "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things."
  • Romans 8:18-39 Paul describes the amazing blessings we have in Christ which make the troubles he faced pale in comparison.  He talks about being more than a conqueror, how creation groans for the revealing of the children of God, how the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness, how everything works together for our good and who shall condemn us?
  • John 14:23 "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and my Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."
  • Psalm 91 A picture of perfect peace in the midst of turmoil.

A Crown of Glory and a Diadem of Beauty

The prophet Isaiah writes to those in the tribe of Ephrayim who have been overcome with wine.  While God does not deal with us in the same way as the Israelites because we have an everlasting covenant sealed by the blood of Jesus, it is important to see the Father's heart here and to know that the effects are the same.  Being overcome with worry is the same as being overcome with wine.

In verse 7 the prophet describes how they are confused and led astray, how they get erroneous visions and are unable to judge correctly.  The same is true of worry.  If continuously keep being led astray and we have a hard time hearing the voice of God and our decisions seem to get us into trouble or are quickly nullified, we should reflect on whether worry is the root cause.  God's love for us is intense and passionate even when we find ourselves overcome with worry and He will do everything He can to bring us out of our current state, but we must trust Him.

When we find ourselves ensnared in worry, the Holy Spirit must teach us like toddlers using nursery rhymes and simple truths.  It is the young men who are strong and whom the word of God abides and whom have overcome the wicked one (1 John 2:14).

As the end of the age draws near, worry will increase and many will be rushing here and there as their anxiety increases and their pride prohibits them from seeking first the kingdom of God and letting God provide.  There will be a remnant, those for whom God will be a brilliant diadem and a glorious crown.  God himself will be their crown because they have trusted in Him (verse 5).  This is God's invitation that He will show himself strong on your behalf.

The picture I have is of a world where people are busy, anxious and burning the candle at both ends either just to survive or to maintain or expand the wealth and life they have.  A world where those who know their God are in the minority.  Many will believe in God and have their salvation, but few will rise to walk in the fullness of all that He called them too, to live the abundant life.  In this midst of the rushing waters, the turmoil of nations, the remnant of His people will walk in perfect peace and everyone will know that God is for them because God himself will be for them a glorious crown, a brilliant diadem.  These are those who shall do valiantly and whom the Lord will show himself strong on their behalf.  These are those whom the creation groans and yearns for... the sons of God.
"[1] Woe to the haughty crown of Efrayim's* drunks, to the fading flower of its proud splendor, located at the head of the rich valley belonging to people overcome by wine! [2] Adonai* has someone strong and powerful. He comes like a hailstorm, a destructive tempest, like a flood of water, rushing, overwhelming; with his hand he hurls them to the ground. 
[3] The haughty crown of Efrayim's* drunks is trampled underfoot; [4] and the fading flower of its proud splendor, located at the head of the rich valley, is like the first ripe fig of summer— whoever sees it picks and eats it.
[5] On that day, ADONAI-Tzva’ot* will be a glorious crown, a brilliant diadem for the remnant of his people. [6] He will also be a spirit of justice for whoever sits as a judge, and a source of strength for those repelling enemy attacks at the gate. 
[7] But there are others reeling from wine, staggering about because of strong liquor; cohen* and prophet reel from strong liquor, they are confused by wine. Led astray by strong liquor, they err in their visions and stumble when judging. [8] All tables are covered with vomit and feces, not a single place is clean. 
[9] Can no one be taught anything? Can no one understand the message? Must one teach barely weaned toddlers, babies just taken from the breast, [10] so that [one has to use nursery rhymes]?—
Tzav la-tzav, tzav la-tzav,* kav la-kav, kav la-kav,* z’eir sham, z’eir sham*
[Precept by precept, precept by precept, line by line, line by line, a little here, a little there]. [11] So with stammering lips, in a foreign accent, [ADONAI*] will speak to this people. 
[12] He once told this people, “It's time to rest, the exhausted can rest, now you can relax”— but they wouldn't listen. [13] So now the word of ADONAI* for them comes “precept by precept, precept by precept, line by line, line by line, a little here, a little there,” so that when they walk, they stumble backward, and are broken, trapped and captured!" - Isaiah 28:1-13 (CJB)
For further study see:

  • Daniel 12:4 As the end draws near many will be rushing hear and there
  • Luke 18:8 When He returns will He find any with such faith?
  • 2 Chron 16:9 The Lord will show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are full committed to Him.
  • Romans 8:19 Creation groans for the the manifestation of the sons of God.
  • Daniel 11:32 Those who know their God shall do great exploits.
God has called and chosen you to represent Him on the earth.  He has done everything He can to ensure you have everything you need to overcome sin, to have all sufficiency in all things and to demonstrate His glory and love on the earth.  He is good and He chose you to show the world how good He is.  God is no respecter of persons, if you seek Him you will find Him, if you knock He will answer.  Abide in Him and He will abide in you.  Jesus said that we would do greater works because He is going to the Father.  Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father with the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before you waiting for you to take up the challenge, be all He called you to be.  Nothing in this world can compare with the glory He has for you.  Nothing comes even close.  If the things of the world captivate our thoughts it's a delusion.