The Covering of God’s Mercy

13 No one who conceals transgressions will prosper, but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. [1]

Mercy in the Garden of Eden

God’s mercy can be defined as: the desire of God to see His children have goodness and blessing in their lives instead of what they actually deserve. We know that God’s mercy is there and we need it, but we may not think of it as the protection that it is.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. 8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.”… 20 The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them. [2]

In Genesis, after Adam and Eve have eaten the forbidden fruit, they feel naked and ashamed to see God. As far as the scriptures record nothing changed other than their perception. It was the act of disobedience that enlightened their eyes to see their own vulnerability as a part of their separation from God.

We are also vulnerable because of our separation from God. Ever since the fall, we have been open to the attacks of the devil against us. Cain was only one generation after the most perfect garden on the earth was created. He was the son of a man and woman who had personally walked and talked with the Most High God. Yet, he gave in to temptation and killed his brother. No one is exempt then or now from the dangers of sin.

Mercy and Goodness

The response of God to the vulnerability of Adam and Eve can give us hope for our own needs of mercy. In God’s mercy, He provided Adam and Eve with clothing. It may seem like a small thing, but what it shows us about our God is huge.

First thing it tells us is that God cares about meeting our needs, even when we’re working through problems. Adam and Eve had never had a need for clothing. The most likely wouldn’t have known how to make clothes or even what would happen to their poor bodies if they didn’t get them. But God, knowing the why and the what of their clothing needs, provided good, durable clothes for them. Animal skins make clothes that have protection and warmth. God didn’t give them wimpy clothes just to tide them over until they could figure it out for themselves. He gave them a good gift, because of His mercy.

The second thing we can learn from this is that the sin we’re doing doesn’t stop Him from providing for us. The only reason Adam and Even needed clothing was because they had sinned; they didn’t deserve to be provided for. But God’s mercy is because of who He is, not because of who we are. He gave them protection and comfort because He loved them.

Our God is merciful to sinners, which covers all of us. His mercy is beyond what we can comprehend or think, and He showers it on us because He knows how to give good gifts. He delights in it, in fact.[3] Knowing this about our God makes it easier to trust His gifts and His kindness. We often feel ashamed and want to hide in a bush like Adam and Eve did, our poor vulnerability and shame underneath poorly held together leaves. But God comes in and finds us and loves us and gives us the gifts we need, even while dealing with the consequences of our sins.

Hiding in Shame

When Adam and Eve realized they were naked, the immediately tried to cover themselves up by making leaf clothing. They didn’t want God to see them as they suddenly saw themselves.

We do the same thing in our hearts when we realize a sin. We feel like there’s been a huge change and we say, “How can we let God see us this way?” Of course, God has seen us as we are all along. Our sudden awareness of our sin doesn’t affect His.

Even though we often know this, we still try to cover up the things we’re ashamed of before we go to Him. We hide in uncomfortable shrubbery to try to avoid facing Him in our newly aware and vulnerable state. Moved by mercy once again, He doesn’t leave us in our hidey hole or demand that we clean ourselves up and present ourselves to Him. Instead, He comes and finds us in our shame and nakedness and talks to us about what we’ve done. He is so good and kind and He loves us so much. The more we can trust in His mercy, the sooner we’ll run to His arms instead of hiding from His voice.

What Mercy Looks Like

but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.[4]

Our version of what we need is very different from God’s version. God knew that the leafy loincloths that Adam and Eve had made for themselves were not what would be the best option. Instead, he offered them ones made of skin. Perhaps that made sense to them, perhaps it didn’t. Either way, we can find ourselves in the same place as they did, receiving something from the Lord that doesn’t look like what we thought it would be. We have to be listening to Him and learning from Him so that when he hands us a gift, we can accept it without hesitating.

Paul talks about receiving a different answer than he wanted in 2 Corinthians. He prayed that the thorn in the flesh would be taken away, but God told him no. God could show more power in Paul’s weakness than in his healing. Paul’s response shows someone who trust in the mercy and goodness of God. He doesn’t moan and become a martyr; he accepts the gift even to the point of boasting in his weakness to more thoroughly show the power of God.

Maybe it’s the Lord saying no to you or maybe the Lord has just given you a different answer than what you expected, but God is giving you good gifts. He is offering you the protection that comes from trusting in His mercy and goodness.



[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Pr 28:13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ge 3:8-12,20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Micah 7:18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (2 Co 12:9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

What Keeps Us from Resting

I will give you rest - Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.[1]

Jesus and the book of Hebrews both talk about letting go of things in our life that are holding us down, weighing us down. Possibly, they’re talking about the extra pounds or extra items in our home, but not likely. We know that Jesus came because of the lost souls of His children and that’s what He is wanting to reach to, our souls.

What are the soul weights that keep us down and make us unable to run the race God made us for? What are the burdens that we refuse to give to the Lord in order to rest? How does this impact our daily lives and our walk with the Lord?

Things in Our Heart that Keep Us from Resting

  1. Our view of ourselves

If we don’t see ourselves as God sees us, we run the risk of trying to “fix” ourselves and missing many opportunities to rest. Find a list of things that resonates with your heart right now and keep it close. Here’s a list to start with:

  • I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works (Ephesians 2:10).
  • I am a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  • I am a spirit being alive to God (Romans 6:11,1 Thessalonians 5:23).
  • I am a believer, and the light of the Gospel shines in my mind (2 Corinthians 4:4).
  • I am a doer of the Word and blessed in my actions (James 1:22,25).
  • I am a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).
  • I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me (Romans 8:37).
  • I am an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony (Revelation 12:11).
  • I am a partaker of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).
  • I am an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).
  • I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9).
  • I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • I am the temple of the Holy Spirit; I am not my own (1 Corinthians 6:19).
  • I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).[2]
  1. Serving outside our calling

There are so many needs in the world. Heart-wrenching stories and troubles around every corner. As the body of Christ, we are made to be the hands and feet of the world. As individuals, we are called to good works that the Lord made for us to do.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we have a specific calling and we try to fulfilling the calling of the whole body. Individually, we are not supposed to try to be the whole body to all people all the time. We are to be fitted together with the other believers who have their own specific gifts and talents in order to become the light the world needs to see.

We can stop ourselves from find rest when we refuse to listen to the limitations the Lord has blessed us with and we do too much.

  1. Guilt

Guilt often dovetails with the first point, not seeing yourself as God sees you. It can be more than just that, however, as it can come from so many different places. Others can place guilt on us, we can place guilt on ourselves, marketing ads or even random social media conversations can spark it in us.

Guilt makes us unable to rest even when we’re not doing anything. Our minds race and our emotions churn as we think about all the “should” or “shouldn’t haves” we can possibly imagine.

Sometimes, the guilt is validly earned. Sometimes, we can only eliminate it by repenting of the Lord and repairing relationships with others. However, most of the time we don’t simply leave it at that. If we can’t do what we think we need to do right this very minute (even if it’s the middle of the night), we stew and worry. Often times, even after we’ve worked through it, we still stew and worry.

Rest requires peace and guilt destroys peace. We must find forgiveness and healing in the Lord from the guilt that steals our rest.

  1. Unhealed Areas in our Heart

God wants whole and healthy children. Colossians says, “So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.[3]” He is the boss and He makes us whole. If there are patches in our heart that we haven’t submitted over to him to fill in with His grace and mercy, we run the risk of that darkness will steal our rest. Many times, unhealed areas spin into ideas that affect our view of ourselves and we’re back to the first one on this list, although that doesn’t happen every time.

Unhealed areas are things that we avoid. It becomes areas that the devil can poke at and jeer at and keep us down with. We often compensate for hurt in our hearts in many various ways, from chocolate to criticism of others. Deep peaceful rest is more quickly able to be reached when we have silence from the hurting voices of our past.

Ways to Begin to Rest

If rest isn’t a part of our daily routine, it can feel strange to try to find it. There are ways we can practice resting and find more of God’s peace in our hearts.

  1. Be Still

Being still is a powerful way to find rest. We often don’t realize how much chaos is in our hearts and minds until our bodies slow down. When there’s no distractions on the outside, there’s more noise on the inside. Being still in and of itself may not feel particularly restful, depending on your personality. However, being still is a vital step to finding peace and rest because it’s the step that brings us into the peace realm. Think of it like the exit door from daily life. You can’t get out of the noise if you don’t know how to leave the room. Being still is choosing to step away and find peace.

  1. Listen

Often we spend all the time in the Lord’s presence talking to Him. Stillness often means listening more than talking. When we listen, we can hear the sweet songs He sings to us and the beauty of His words. Listening and being still are tightly woven together as it can be difficult to one without the other.

  1. Get away from the routine

Matthew 14:22-23 (14:19 IV) tells us that Jesus left the disciples in order to be alone. It was right after the feeding of the 4,000 and right before He walked on water. Jesus often took time to pray out from His ministry and we must do the same thing. It doesn’t have to be often, in fact, it probably should be all that often, but we need to do it. We need time away from the routine to focus on God and fill up on His presence. When we see and do the same things day in and day out, we fall into ruts that block our minds from hearing His voice. A fresh perspective often allows us to hear a fresh word.

  1. Spend time in the Lord’s presense (Act 3:19-20)

Being still is good, but it’s only half the equation if we’re not being filled by the presence of God as we do it. The refreshing breath of spiritual air that comes into our hearts in His presence is better than any other form of rest.

We know God is with us and we know He’s near to us if we seek Him, but just knowing that sometimes isn’t enough to feel Him. We must choose to believe He’s near us no matter how we feel in the moment and actively ask Him to be more sensitive to Him. He may speak through your emotions or the scriptures you’re reading or through a song. In any case, the more consistent you become in seeking Him, more familiar you become with His presence and the quicker you can feel Him in the future.

  1. Turn your focus to praying for others

One of the things that can block us from resting in the Lord is simple selfishness. We don’t stop thinking about ourselves and our circumstances long enough to breathe let along think of someone else. Praying for other people when we’re struggling to get our mind off our troubles can be very helpful in stopping the spinning in our head and get our thoughts turned to the Lord.

There’s nothing wrong with bring our requests to the Lord, multiple times even. However, when our circumstances have become blinders to seeing outside ourselves, we can sometimes pray for others to help break the cycle.

Letting Jesus Restore Us

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.[4]

Let us allow the Lord to give us rest. Don’t allow the burdens of the past and fear of the future cloud your vision and clutter your mind. It will only steal the rest that God has in mind for you. The rest you need to live fully and completely, serving Him and His children.


[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 11:28). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] Meyer, Joyce. “Knowing Who I Am in Christ.” Web. 16 Aug. 2015. <>.

[3] Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Col 2:10). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[4] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ps 23:1–3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Leaving the Battle in the Lord’s Hands


15 He said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s.[1]

We know in our minds that we should leave our battles in the Lord’s hands. Leaving the battle there is more difficult. We often lose heart that the Lord will come through for us and we pick up things that we should have left for the Lord.

We can learn from many in the scriptures who have faced the consequences of trying to fight their own battles. The scriptures are full of examples of people who disobeyed the Lord and followed what they felt was right in their own eyes, instead of trusting in the way of the Lord.

Three Reasons We Take the Battle

Disobedience is always a cause of troubles in our relationship with the Lord (Isaiah 59:1), but let’s look at three specific mentalities that can cause us to take our focus off Jesus.

1. Arrogance or Disrespect of Authority

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.[2]

One of the most damaging to the battle we’re fighting is our tendency to take authority on ourselves that isn’t ours to take. God is the one that has put has put over us and expects us to live peaceably under it. Spiritually, we also have authority in the form of the local church and other believers.[3] We must respect that and choose to live under it, sometimes even when we don’t all agree. It can be challenging but it vital to the healthy community God wants us to live it.

One example of a Biblical character who chose to ignore the authority God had put in place was Saul. In 1 Samuel 18:8-14, we learn that Samuel was supposed to come and offer the sacrifices for Saul and the people, but was late. After waiting seven days, Saul decided to do it himself. The Lord’s response through Samuel was, “The Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever, 14 but now your kingdom will not continue;[4]” How heartbreaking that the man selected by God to rule His precious people could lose all the blessings promised him because he refused to honor the authority of Samuel. He took on a role that was not his own and lost a great blessing.

This doesn’t mean that we dumbly follow the lead of anyone who sounds like they know what they’re talking about. Confidence is easily confused with authority, but we must know the difference. Only the Holy Spirit can guide us into knowing who should be the authority that we are to place ourselves under.

2. Seeking Comfort or Security above Doing What’s Right

13 But if you continue to say, ‘We will not stay in this land,’ thus disobeying the voice of the Lord your God 14 and saying, ‘No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war, or hear the sound of the trumpet, or be hungry for bread, and there we will stay,’ 15 then hear the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: If you are determined to enter Egypt and go to settle there, 16 then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there, in the land of Egypt; and the famine that you dread shall follow close after you into Egypt; and there you shall die. 17[5]

Our physical comfort and the security that goes along with that can be very tempting things to run after. We know wealth is deceitful[6], but knowing we’re being pulled in the wrong direction and being able to be aware of it can sometimes be two different things.

In Jeremiah 42:9 – 43:7, we see the Israelites in a tough situation. They are facing famine and the threat of Babylon if they stay in Jerusalem. They are wanting to flee to Egypt because it seems safer on both fronts. Jeremiah tells them that the Lord wants them to stay. If they stay, God will protect them and bless them. Instead, they ignore Jeremiah and go to Egypt instead, taking Jeremiah and all the other Israelites with them. Once there, Jeremiah again predicts the coming of Babylon and buries stones where Nebuchadnezzar will place his throne, showing that they have lost out on the blessing and only delayed the trouble they fear.

When we trust in the short-sightedness of our own eyes and seek our own comfort and security, we forgo the blessings that God has planned for us. We take the battle away from the Lord and lose the power that He can show us. Then, even after we think we’ve made the right choices, often the insecurity we’ve fled catches up with us anyway. Hardly the victory that God has in mind for His children.

3. Not Letting the Lord Change Our Mind

23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” [7]

When the Lord is fighting a battle for us, often people and circumstances will change. It can often feel disconcerting to see these change, particularly if we had a vision in mind for what things were supposed to look like. We feel that if the ideas we have in our mind don’t come to fruition, that it must not be the Lord working. However, we can miss the blessing if we are unwilling to grow in the way the Lord is prompting us.

Peter was an example of this in Matthew 16:21-13. Jesus is telling the disciples that he’s going to suffer and die on the cross. Peter argues saying that he won’t allow it. Jesus’ response is very telling on the importance of knowing God’s vision of the outcome instead of our own. He tells Peter, “Get behind me, Satan.” The outcome will be what God wants it to be; let’s not miss out by mistakenly clinging to an old vision that God hasn’t refreshed.

Keeping the Battle in the Lord’s Hands

Looking at the story of King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20, we can see the way he followed the instructions of the Lord to leave the battle in God’s hands.

Acknowledge God’s Strength and Our Own Ineptitude

17 This battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” [8]

King Jehoshaphat immediately turns to the Lord when he hears of the hordes of enemies that are approaching. He begins by praising and remember the strength of the Lord that has protected them in the past. Building our faith up by remember what He has done for us is important for keeping our problems in perspective. But Jehoshaphat doesn’t stop there. Instead, he goes on to admit his own helplessness. Verse 12 ends with, “For we are powerless against this great multitude that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” [9]

The king doesn’t try to get the Lord on board with his great idea or try to talk the Lord into any battle plans. Jehoshaphat simply goes to the Lord and admits that he needs help. We fight this step so often because our pride rears its ugly head and tries to tell us that we don’t need help. It tells us to do it on our own so the Lord won’t see us as weak. In order to humbly let the Lord fight for us, we have to admit that we need the help and that we’re willing to take it when He offers it.

Listen to Godly Counsel

14 Then the spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah …in the middle of the assembly.[10]

King Jehoshaphat didn’t try to look like he had all the answers. Instead, he brought the people together and they all sought the Lord as a group. When counsel came, powered by the Holy Spirit, Jehoshaphat took it to heart.

Pride once again can keep us bound when we won’t listen to others. We think that the answer must come from us and only us or somehow we’ve failed or let the Lord down. Often during these battle seasons, our emotions are raging high which can sometimes block out the perspective we need to see solutions or hope. Having a godly person we can trust helping us to find perspective can be vital to keeping things in the Lord’s hands.

Be Patient

14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! [11]

It’s easy to feel that the Lord has let us down when we have to wait to see the answers. In King Jehoshaphat’s case, he didn’t have to wait too long, only a day. However, in other cases, the wait is much longer. David, for example, had to wait years before he could take the crown that the Lord had promised him, all the while running from the current king.

In our impatience, we open ourselves up to the temptations to take things on ourselves, or to doubt the Lord, or to give up. Being patient for the Lord to fight and resolve the battles in our lives requires deep trust in Him. It requires us to accept His timing and to be obedient when we see no end or we don’t understand.

Let the Results of the Battle Stand

27 Then all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat at their head, returned to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had enabled them to rejoice over their enemies.[12]

The enemy horde that faced King Jehoshaphat ended up slaughtering each other. The Israelites had to nothing but show up and plunder the dead bodies of their enemies. While for most, this outcome was completely celebratory, imagine if someone had been envisioning that the Lord would raise up an army out of the midst of the Israelites. Or perhaps they were expecting a new ally that would join them. Then they’d have someone to fight not only this battle, but futures ones as well. If someone had been hoping for that, as good as the defeat of the other army was, they could still have been disappointed. We need to have our hearts in a trusting place with the Lord so that we can not only see the victory when it comes, but not be disappointed by misplaced expectations.

In our lives, it could be a relationship that we are hoping to have restored, but isn’t. It could be financial problems that we are hoping to be resolved with a certain income, but isn’t. We need to make sure that we’re in tune with the Lord and able to accept the results of the battle that He has fought for us.

If we don’t accept the results, we run the risk of continuing to fight a battle that has been over. Before the advent of modern communication systems in battles, getting the word out to the soldiers about treaties or even just the end of a skirmish could be difficult. Often, soldiers would continue to fight days after the two warring sides had agreed to end hostilities.

We can do the same things in our spiritual lives. We aren’t listening to the Lord and we miss not only the end of the battle and the blessings that come with that, but we do more damage to others as we continue to try to get the expected outcome that we’ve envisioned.

God Is Good

1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. [13]

When we are entrusting our days and our hoped and our lives to the hands of the Lord, we need to keep one truth very close to our hearts: God is good. His goodness is not a show put on to earn our trust. He doesn’t have bad days where His temper gets the best of Him. He is faithful and true and good to His children. We can always rely on Him to fight our battles and bring us the spiritual victory.



[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (2 Ch 20:15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 13:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Eph. 5:21). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (1 Sa 13:13–14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Je 42:13–17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mat. 13:22). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[7] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 16:23). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[8] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (2 Ch 20:17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[9] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (2 Ch 20:12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[10] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (2 Ch 20:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[11] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ps 27:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[12] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (2 Ch 20:27). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[13] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ps 136:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Unity in Weakness

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. [1]

Unity is often thought about in the context of arriving at agreement between two equals. Romans chapter 15 talks about unity in the context of stronger people and weaker people. We all have strengths and weakness in ourselves; we can encounter situations where our weakness or strengths run into the opposite in others. How, in those situations, are we supposed to find unity when we are afraid of being stepped on or perhaps stepping on others? We need to start by being aware of three things.

  • Acknowledge the difference
  • Prioritize the emotional connection over trying to be right
  • Make sure that your actions are meant to build them up

Acknowledging the Difference

We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.[2]

We are often faced with the idea that we’re all the same, no different and to imply that something isn’t the same between people is somehow wrong. However, when we’re finding ourselves in a conflict point, we must be able to honestly evaluate, to ourselves if nothing else, whether or not we’re dealing with a difference in strength. Never should this be pointed out in a way that would make the weak person feel diminished or put down. In fact, in most cases, it doesn’t do any good to point out who’s the weaker one. However, the person who is stronger must be aware of the difference in order to know to be gentle.

Being the stronger one is the easier place to be in many ways. The weaker person may not feel comfortable taking about how they feel or even acknowledging the way they feel. However, if the weaker person is very aware and very deep in their relationship with the Lord, they may be able to admit their weakness.

We often think that we should only admit to weakness after we’ve faced it and dealt with it and are on our way to improving in that area. Doing it that way, however, is in fact not admitting to weakness at all. It’s only talking about it after it’s become a strength or on its way to becoming a strength.

Admitting our weakness in the moment of weakness is a form of strength, ironically enough. If we find someone who is brave enough to see it and admit it, we should not immediately begin trying to put a self-help program on them. We should first encourage them for admitting it, then take time to understand where they are with and what the Holy Spirit is doing in them about it. It may not be our place to do anything with them and disobeying the Lord in trying to improve them based on our own ideas of how they should be living or the choices they should be making is pure pride.

Prioritize the Emotional Connection

Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor.[3]

When we are in this situation, odds are high that there will be emotions running high on at least one side if not both. The stronger person must be aware that they must prioritize the connection with the person, not just try to be right. How you do what you do is far more important than the specifics of what you do. In this case, it must always and truly be for the benefit of the other person. Trying to get them to do what you want or how you want it or just trying to convince them that what you’re saying it right or good is not the right way to go. We have to work toward serving our neighbor the way that they will feel build up and unified with us. This is a sacrifice that only the stronger side can make.

We often think that being the strong one means bringing them up to our side, our speed, or our way of thinking. However, sometimes, being strong means finding ways to let that person come around at their own pace, no matter how long that takes. It means letting them stay where they are if they don’t feel ready to move on. The Holy Spirit is prompting us to support them where they are as a servant. We’re not there to please ourselves or accomplish our own goals; it’s all about them and what they need.

We can’t assume that a strong person is what they need to see their way out of the fear or whatever it is that’s holding them in weakness. Sometimes it’s another weak person who holds their hand and they move together. Sometimes that person needs healing or an epiphany about themselves or something like that that only the Holy Spirit can provide. There will be a few occasions where we will be called to encourage them to step out in faith themselves, but that happens far less often than we’d like to think that it will.

Building Them Up

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.[4]

We need to build them using the Word of the Lord. We’re helping them to remember who God is, who they are in Him, and what promises we have through Him. The root of unity is drawing closer to God and this is how we connect with Him in times of conflict. We can’t try to be right or convince other people to just go with what we say or want. It can even happen that as you work through remember to put God first, you can find that you were the one in the wrong.

This verse is such a comfort even out of the context of supporting unity. It is true in so many situations that we can turn to the Word of the Lord, both written and revealed to us (rhema word[5]) to have every day hope for our eternity with the Lord.

Real Life Situations

Stopping to think about whether the situation you’re facing is one of conflicting strengths and weaknesses probably isn’t something you do regularly. However, it can be a good exercise to practice looking for it. In particular, it can be helpful to see when you are or have been weak and look for what lifted you up and made you feel encouraged during that time. Looking for moments when you’re the stronger one must be done carefully and with a great deal of spiritual awareness in order to make sure that pride isn’t blinding you to things that are not gentle or encouraging to others.

When we’re operating on the weak end of this scale, there are things that we do that require stronger people to bend to us. For example, when we are afraid of change or facing a new situation, a weak reaction is to demand that others cater to helping us understand it or do it or even get rid of it entirely.

Another example of the weakness that can impact others is our unwillingness to let go of or invest things that are valuable to us. Time is one that we cling to because it feels so limited. We question whether or not we should do this thing or help that person. Our to-do list bosses us around and we don’t want to invest our time or energy into anything that doesn’t guarantee the results that we would like, whether it be a tangible thing or just appreciation.

Weakness can rear its head in the context of understanding. It’s easy to feel lost or out of the flow when someone around you is speaking or reading or doing something that you can’t quite follow. The weak reaction is to try to limit them or put them down for what they are doing.

In any of these situations you may be the weaker person or you may be the stronger person. It’s about learning to walk in love and support no matter which side you’re on.


[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 15:5–6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 15:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 15:2). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 15:4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] “What Is the Rhema Word?” Web. 2 Aug. 2015. <>.

Trusting Him Deeper

A man plans his steps, but the Lord directs His way – Proverbs 16:9

The story of Joseph, father of Jesus contains many changes from what he may have thought is life would be like. (Matthew 1:18-2:23)

  • Joseph plans on marry a virgin, then divorcing an adulteress, ends up marrying her by direct command of the Holy Spirit.
  • Joseph and his family are sought for by wise men looking for the Messiah, which clues in a paranoid ruler to Jesus’s existence.
  • Joseph (most likely) plans on going home, but is warned to go to Egypt instead.
  • The paranoid ruler kills all male children in the city of Bethlehem 2 years old and under when he realizes the wise men aren’t returning.
  • Joseph (most likely) plans on going home, but realizes the danger will never be gone there, so he settles in Galilee, a city in Nazareth.

From an outside perspective, possibly even to Joseph as it was living it, it can look like it was completely circumstance driven that he had to travel so far to keep his family safe. He knew he was following the guidance of the Lord, but it still might have felt that circumstances and the enemy were limiting him and causing him to do what he might not have chosen otherwise.

When we feel that life is shoving us around, how do we then keep our trust focused soley on the Lord? How do we keep our doubts away from our minds when we feel that we can’t anticipate what tomorrow brings?

The first couple chapters of Matthew give us insight into the Lord’s plans.

  • Joseph plans on marry a virgin, then divorcing an adulteress, ends up marrying her by direct command of the Holy Spirit. Verse 22 says this was to fulfill the prophecy “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son… “
  • Joseph and his family are sought for by wise men looking for the Messiah, which clues in a paranoid ruler to Jesus’s existence. The wise men are looking for Him because of the prophecy, “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,… from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”
  • Joseph (most likely) plans on going home, but is warned to go to Egypt instead. This fulfilled the prophecy, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
  • The paranoid ruler kills all male children in the city of Bethlehem 2 years old and under when he realizes the wise men aren’t returning. The Jeremiah prophesied, “… Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
  • Joseph (most likely) plans on going home, but realizes the danger will never be gone there, so he settles in Galilee, a city in Nazareth. Jesus was foretold to be called a Nazarene.

None of the chaos or trouble or moving that Joseph had to do with His family was unknown to God, even hundreds of years before it happened.

God’s Power

God doesn’t know the future because he happened to luck out when looking into a crystal ball. God is beyond time and through time and isn’t ever thrown for a loop by what He sees. God’s power is beyond what we can know or experience. However, in His graciousness, He allows us to experience as much as we are willing to and seek for.

Our ability to trust more and more deeply on God hinges entirely on our true and unbiased awareness of who He is. If we truly see Him for His depth and power, His majesty and might, our minds can be more fully open to learn to lean on Him.

If we don’t know Him, we hold back. We doubt because we haven’t experienced the wonder and awe that comes from being the presence of the power the created the massive universe.

God is powerful and amazing and more than we can know. This article on Incourage by Ann Voskamp gives amazing insight into the power and majesty of our awe inspiring God.

Giving Up Is Enduring To the End


[Endurance:] The ability to persevere in a task or calling. The Christian is called to endure in the face of trial or opposition, and his endurance brings spiritual rewards.[1]

One of the paradoxes of following Jesus, like needing to die to live and the last shall be first, is the idea that we must give up in order to endure to the end.

The view of doing things in your own strength is holding out by the skin of your teeth and brute force. We can sometimes conjure up an image of a worn out, muddy, exhausted person staggering into the throne room of God and hearing the words, “Welcome, child. You wore yourself out in My name, but kept moving anyway.” This is a false view based on the idea of completing this earthly life under your own power. If this is your goal, I don’t believe I am too far off in assuring you that you will be disappointed.

True endurance in a powerful Christian life, is about giving up. Not just to anyone, of course, but giving up to God. It’s about letting your own self die in Him and letting Him create an eternal and lasting connection with Him. Every time we take back what we gave up, we’re not enduring. Patience and love abound when we are standing in the throne room of God and are handing Him everything that we think is important.

Our flesh self thinks that by handing off what we love, we’re losing something. We feel afraid of lacking what is ours and not being able to go to what we know and are comfortable with. Once we experience the joy, the connection, the completeness and the providing protection of God, we realize this fear is completely wrong.

The things that we’re required to give up can sometimes refer to physical things, but in most cases it is actually referring to spiritual or mental things. Examples of things we might have to give up include: knowing how to respond to people and reach out to others in our life, knowing how to comfort ourselves when we’re disappointed, knowing how to praise God and when to do it, knowing how to react in situations that are fear or anger inducing, understanding how to set priorities, knowing how to sacrifice our time, knowing how to anticipate answers to our prayers.

Giving up begins in our thoughts and our hearts, like most of our spiritual growth. It begins by our becoming aware of our own self-talk, of what we are saying, and of what we are clinging to. Giving up, to be successful and helpful, must include two things: acknowledgement that we don’t know how to do act or think, and willingness to learn a new way. That, of course, is easier said than done. There are several things that stand in the way of being able to do this.

Acknowledgement that We Don’t Know How to Act or Think

The biggest obstacle that keeps us from giving up when we need to is pride. We think that for some reason, we have what we need to do it, therefore, thanks, but no thanks, I’ll do it myself. Unless you know for sure that you’ve been taught by the Holy Spirit, either in your heart and mind or though wise counsel, than you are probably doing it wrong. Maybe you’re not doing it entirely wrong, but there is probably an important part of it that the Lord needs to correct.

The reasons that we have for our unwillingness to give up are usually based out of our own understanding: “I’ve been a Christian this long, I should have figured it out by now,” or “I’ve heard so many sermons on this, I feel like an expert,” or the deadly, “True Christians should just know this.” It can also be about how we appear: “Nobody else seems to need instruction, I don’t want to look weak or stupid,” or “The Lord probably just expects me to know this; I don’t want to keep pestering Him about it.”

Pride will keep us from enduring to the end faster than almost anything. Giving up is always difficult, given the depth of pride in most of our hearts. The more we practice giving up, the easier it becomes to recognize when we need to do it.

Willingness to learn a new way.

This step is very difficult. After the battle of fighting ourselves to give up, we often feel like that should be the end, but instead, it’s only the beginning of another one. Once we’ve acknowledge that we need to learn something, we have to be willing to do something new.


This breaks down further into two more specific steps: willingness and something new. Willingness is vital because we can often get stuck in the quicksand of helplessness. “Well, I just don’t know how to handle this. That probably means there’s nothing I can do. I should probably just wait till the Lord sends someone to tell me how to solve my problems.” Or another one that gets us stuck in place is, “I should probably just sit here and pray about things until God solves my problems.”

The willingness is the understanding that the mistakes not only shouldn’t be repeated, but that they don’t hold us back and don’t define our future. Willingness is saying, “I know God is capable of teaching me and I’m open to the idea of doing things differently.

Something new

After being willing, the pitfall often becomes that we immediately return to doing what we know. After the deep emotional catharsis of feeling the power of the Lord in calling us to change and the deep uprooting of old mentalities that happens as we become willing to learn, often leaves us in the land of self-congratulations on our willingness and we still just sit. If the Lord calls us to do something new, that means that something must be either added or taken away. If you’ve gone through the first two steps and few days, weeks, or months later, you can’t identify anything that’s different, this is the land you got stuck in.

This is the step of faith. This is the leap that goes from what we know into the dark abyss called “I Don’t Have A Clue.” This is the land of experimenting and trying and sometimes failing. We so often think that if we’ve hear the Lord and are learning from Him that we should never have a hiccup in the process. That may be true if we have perfect spiritual healing and never have a relapse of self and always act in love, but that happens to absolutely no one. Also, the leaps God give us are what we can handle today and we probably still have several leaps to go and several things still to give up. Becoming complete is a long process; we have to be patient with ourselves and with God during the process.

What We Surrender To Is What We Achieve

31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples;[2]

The reason that understanding giving up is so important is that we have to know who we’re surrendering to. During war, surrender is about a transfer of power between two warring parties. Surrendering is admitting that one group can take power over another. This is why giving up is so important when we’re walking with Christ. He will never demand that we give ourselves to Him; the entire work on the cross and the sacrifice He gave is so that we can choose Him. Therefore, when we surrender, we are telling Him that we accept His work, we’re not going to fight Him, and we give Him the power over us. This is what we’re telling Him each and every time we surrender, each and every moment that we walk with Him. If we are going to stay by His side till the end, we must continually give Him the power. Walking in our own power results in a battle again. Our natural self is an enemy to God and it will be forever. Only the grace and power of God has the power to bring us back into His presence, and that only activates by giving up to endure with Him.

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.[3]


[1] Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jn 8:31). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ga 6:9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Belief in Tough Moments

We want our beliefs to be what we say, or what we think, or what we do on a good Sunday morning when we’re all dressed up and in a fantastic mood.

What we believe is what comes out of us when our status quo has been challenged.

This text references John 11:1-45, the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

Setting the Stage

  • Jesus knew Lazarus was sick, but he didn’t go to see him. Jesus also knew he was dead before they got there. This wasn’t an impulse decision; Jesus was planning on raising him from the dead the whole time. (John 11:4,14)
  • The disciples, as usual, were a little confused. At first, they though Jesus meant Lazarus was actually sleeping, so Jesus had to explain that he meant he was dead. In addition, the Jewish leaders were very anxious to see Jesus killed. Bethany was close to Jerusalem and the disciples feared this would do them in. They were devoted to Jesus and decided it was better to stick with him and die. (John 11:8, 16)
  • Mary is heartbroken over her brother’s death. She didn’t even get up to meet him when he came to Bethany. Many people have come to commiserate with Mary and Martha and Mary chooses to stay with them. She didn’t leave to see Jesus until he specifically asked for her. This in contrast with her earlier behavior of a lavish love for the Lord that she wiped perfume of his feed with his hair. (John 11:2,20,29)
  • Martha went out to meet Jesus as soon as he came in. She epitomizes a follower of Christ who loves him and believes his teachings. (John 11:20-27)
  • The other mourners who have come to visit have come along to see as well. (John 11:31)

The Beliefs of the People

  • The disciples’ first reaction was one of self-protection. They were worried for Jesus, of course, but probably also themselves.
  • Martha was in a place of acceptance. She didn’t fight what had happened and she held deeply to what she understood about Jesus’ teachings.
  • Mary was upset with him and trying to find understanding. Her first reaction to Jesus was a belief in his power, but not in his sovereignty.

The Scene

Now we get to the tomb. I imagine this scene looks something like this: there’s a large group of people gathered at the tomb. Jesus stands closest to the tomb, with the exeption of those who will move the rock away from the entrance. Martha is next to him, but is anxious of what we’re about to see. Many scholars agree that this family had money, and Martha wouldn’t have normally had to deal with death close up. Mary would be close, trying to stay near to Jesus, who she loved, but not too near, as she was confused and hurt by his lack of healing for her brothers. Around them are scattered the disciples. They are concerned and worried, anxiously scanning the crowd to see if any face looks like it will be the one to turn them over to the officials.

In this scene filled with many characters, Jesus says, “Take away the stone!” Martha, the practical one, checks the intention of Jesus. She can’t understand the point of breaking into a tomb now. Jesus tells her that it’s for the glory of God. He then prays and says loudly, “Lazarus, come out!”

Imagine if this scene had frozen right in this moment. We know how this story ends and we know that Lazarus comes out of the tomb, but the people surrounding Jesus that day had no idea what would happen next. Perhaps the disciples wondered if this was another sign of craziness, like his willingness to walk into a city where he was at risk of getting arrested. Perhaps Martha thought he was mocking her and her belief that she had to wait until the day of the resurrection to see her brother again. Mary, wrapped in the sorrow of her mourning, would she have been able to bring up the smallest amount of hope in her heart? The crowds surrounding them, how many of them mocked and laughed at what seemed an absurd command?

Unfreezing the moment, we can now look at what came next. Lazarus had his hands and feet bound, so he probably had to shuffle or hop out of the tomb he was in. There was probably a delay between Jesus’s command and the appearance of the formerly dead man at the tomb entrance. What happened in the intervening time? I wonder if the shock of seeing him there was so great that no one dared move, prompting Jesus’ next comment to unbind him.

What Can We Learn

As we see each person’s approach to loss and hardship and miracles, we can gather some input into what we might potentially be doing to limit our belief in Jesus.

  • Minimizing risk (the disciples)
    • If the disciples had let their fear overtake them and not come with Jesus, they would have missed out entirely on a powerful miracle that Jesus worked. By minimizing your risk and staying in your comfort zone, what are you missing out on?
  • Not looking for answers in our current situation (Martha)
    • Martha completely accepted the situation she was in. In some ways, this was due to the faith that she did have. Sometimes, we have to look beyond a situation in life to see the potential glory and seek for the beautiful.
  • Letting our lack of answers affect our view of God (Mary)
    • Mary let her lack of understanding impact her relationship with/view of God. It was a difficult situation and no one could blame her for being upset. Instead of running to Jesus, however, she chose to stay with the people who were telling her what she wanted to hear. Do you let negative results and unanswered prayers taint your view of God?
  • Not going to the Lord, requiring him to come to us (Mary)
    • Mary sat at home until she was asked for. We are so blessed to be loved by an awesome Father who loves us and comes after us when we are stuck in our own hurts. What kind of relationship could we develop with the Lord if we run willingly to him instead of hiding out until he finds us?


[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jn 11:1–44). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Surrender to God’s Righteousness

Dead to Sin

Are you living as one who has died or one who needs to die? We should be living as those who have died, since the work on the cross is completed. Are you striving to die to yourself? Then you are striving to do the work that Jesus already did.

24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls. [1]

Trust that God Meant What He Said

21 But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,[2]

When we take on the work of dying to our self, we are taking over the part of making ourselves righteous. When God said you are righteous through faith in Jesus Christ, He meant it. Your job is to believe it.

Self-righteousness come in to play when part of our heart can’t accept that God really truly made us righteous by Jesus alone. We think that we can improve our overall righteousness score by making up some of the difference. Another way it can creep in is when we think that perhaps God died for the good parts of us, but we get to keep all the good parts.

We don’t think these thoughts directly of course; that’s too much contradiction. These things come across far more subtly.

Does This Mean We Can Do Whatever We Want?

12 Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. [3]

In Romans chapter 6, Paul addresses the question of giving in to sin after we’re saved. In chapter 5, Paul establishes the completeness of God’s grace and how it was brought through the blood of Jesus. In chapter 6, he opens by saying, “Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.[4]

Paul new that an understanding of grace doesn’t mean an excuse to indulge our selfishness. Our new selves should be wholly and completely devoted to walking in the way of Christ. We have been raised in the power of new life through Christ and are therefore free to submit ourselves and follow Him.


Submission to our new life is vital to continue walking in the way. We must choose how our hearts and minds focus on Him.

Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, “God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says,

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” [5]

 What’s It Take Then?

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. [6]

  • Resist the devil – Actively oppose temptation and lies
  • Draw near to God – Practice being aware of Him and intentionally set time aside to be with Him
  • Cleanse your hands and your hearts – Repentance
  • Lament and mourn and weep , mourn, be dejected – Recognize the loss that happens from sin, the damage that happens from being separated from God
  • Humble yourself before God – Recognize your true status before Him

Stay in Love

It is so easy in walking with Christ to turn things into a check list or another self-improvement activity. It’s so easy to fall out of love with the relationship part of things. Just as in a marriage it’s important to take time to keep the love alive, we must also choose to focus on this as we walk with the Lord.

In the passage from James 4, it says, “God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us.” God is yearning for us! These actions aren’t the actions of a self-righteous individual that is trying to be “better” and earn more brownie points with God. This is the actions of a loving person who realizes that behaviors other than this will keep their true love away.

God is yearning for us; are we yearning for Him?

Additional Resource


[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (1 Pe 2:24–25). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 3:21–24). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 6:12–14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 6:1–4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jas 4:4–6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jas 4:7–10). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Don’t Worry

We’re told not to worry and we know we’re supposed to praise instead. While praising is a wonderful general strategy for refocusing and reprioritizing our thoughts, are there any specific strategies for coping with valid concerns?

What He Did Say

25 “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 (NKJV)

Verse 25 talks about not taking no thought for the material things of living. The word and its context at the time didn’t mean that deciding what pieces of clothing to wear today was wrong.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought—“Be not solicitous.” The English word “thought,” when our version was made, expressed this idea of “solicitude,” “anxious concern… [1]

What He Didn’t Say

  • Pretend it’s going to be fine
  • Pretend you’re going to get what you want
  • Pretend there’s nothing wrong

How often when we tell ourselves not to worry, we are actually telling ourselves to delude ourselves about the current circumstances or the future resolution? We tell ourselves, “Don’t worry, it will all take care of itself.” Our mental salve for troubles and problems is to look for and hope for the resolution of the problem.

The problem getting removed or resolved will happen sometimes. Sometimes, however, it won’t. The point of this passage is not to guarantee perfectly smooth living; it’s to tell us how to work through troubles that haven’t gone away. The New Living Translation translates verse 25 with, “Today’s trouble is enough for today.” It’s not about being trouble free; it’s about being filled up with power and knowledge of how to work through the troubles as they come.

Working through Worry

Sometimes a quick praise prayer can knock worried, anxious thoughts out of our head. Sometimes, the thoughts are more stubborn than that and they need to be intentionally removed.

  • Acknowledge the concern if it’s valid.
    • Jesus didn’t say that worry is made up or crazy. There are truly troubling things in life and truly difficult patches that we or our loved ones are walking through. It’s not about faking your way out of things or trying to pretend that nothing is wrong.
  • Don’t Let It Run with Your Mind
    • While worries can be legitimate, worries can also run away with us. Our minds can be very imaginative with where things can go and taking things to a new level of problems doesn’t help us and doesn’t help us to trust the Lord. Acknowledge that today’s troubles are enough for today and you’re going to lean on the Lord through it.
  • Realize that Worry Changes Nothing
    • Sometimes we can be so anxious to feel like we’re doing something that we latch on to worry as something we can “do”. Because we’re focused on the problem, talking about it, or finding solutions in our own mind, we feel like we’re helping somehow. We’re not. Worry doesn’t do anything and it doesn’t change anything. If anything, it makes it worse.
  • Worry Damages Your Faith
    • Worry isn’t just useless or a waste of time; it can acutally damage your faith and your ability to see God’s goodness and power. Deep down, the root of worry is that somehow, in some way, God isn’t going to keep one of His promises: maybe you don’t belive that He will provide, maybe you don’t believe He truly loves you and knows what you need. Whatever the block is, if you allow your focus to go to worry, you are tearing away and your foundation of belief in God.

The Antidote to Worry

While it’s great to work our way through worry and finally feel like it’s defeated, it’s not complete to stop there. The antidote to worry is service to the kingdom of God. The verse that says, “… seek first the kingdom of God” wasn’t accidentally dropped into this passage. Our worry blinds us to the needs of others and the call of God. Once we’ve acknowledge the source of our worry (our disbelief) and surrendered that to God, we must act out that belief and the change in us by serving others. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture; sometimes it’s just stepping up and making dinner on a night when you’d rather just curl up with a pint of ice cream. Maybe though, depending on your circumstances, getting out and serving others who are struggling, through more tradition outlets like serving the homeless or mentoring kids can be a huge help in keeping our perspective and humility before the Lord.



[1] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 28). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Finding Wisdom

13 Happy [is] the man [who] finds wisdom, And the man [who] gains understanding; 14 For her proceeds [are] better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. 15 She [is] more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. 16 Length of days [is] in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honor. 17 Her ways [are] ways of pleasantness, And all her paths [are] peace. 18 She [is] a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy [are all] who retain her.
– Proverbs 3:13-18 NKJV

What Is Wisdom?

Psychology Today says about wisdom, ”Psychologists pretty much agree it involves an integration of knowledge, experience, and deep understanding that incorporates tolerance for the uncertainties of life as well as its ups and downs.

“Wise people generally share an optimism that life’s problems can be solved and experience a certain amount of calm in facing difficult decisions. Intelligence—if only anyone could figure out exactly what it is—may be necessary for wisdom, but it definitely isn’t sufficient; an ability to see the big picture, a sense of proportion, and considerable introspection also contribute to its development.”[1]

Our wisdom level is indicated by how we react to our life circumstances. Some circumstances highlight wisdom more than others.

  • Situations with unknown results (unsolved problems)
  • Situations with high emotion or high stakes
  • Situations that challenge personal beliefs and morals

Unwise behavior examples:

  • Waiting till all factors are known before deciding
  • Deciding before any factors are known
  • Panicked or completely emotion driven decisions
  • Basing decisions on results that are unreasonable or, at the least, are not guaranteed
  • Loss of perspective on the problem
  • Loss of self-awareness in difficult circumstances

Practical examples of what unwise behavior

  • I’ll keep off from serving others until I know for sure that I’ll be appreciated.
  • I have no clue what’s happening so I’m going to go with the first thing that pops into my head. Probably that means the Lord is leading me.
  • I don’t know why I said that when I did, I just felt so angry.
  • Knee-jerk reactions to others hurtful comments (or even losing something like a phone or driver’s license).
  • The salesman promised me I’d save $100 dollars, so I’m out to buy new shoes!
  • My problems are so bad that there’s no one who can understand what I’m going though.
  • I thought I’d be more honest, but when the person was looking me in the eye, I chose to lie rather than risk upsetting them.

Wise behavior examples:

  • Moving forward even when not all things are known
  • Not moving forward unless there is clarity on some level
  • Combining emotional awareness with awareness of facts and clarity to make decisions
  • Making decisions based on current information and personal priorities regardless of results
  • Maintaining healthy perspective in spite of difficult or overwhelming circumstances
  • Maintaining awareness of self and personal priorities in difficult circumstances

Practical examples of what wise behavior looks like

  • I don’t know how all the pieces of my life will come together, but I know what I can do right now to serve my family and others I come into contact, so I’ll start there.
  • I began by asking others who had done what I wanted to do for advice before I just started moving without any direction.
  • I was so angry that I asked to take a moment to myself to calm down before continuing the conversation.
  • The salesman promised I’d save $100 dollars, so I’m waiting till I see that savings, then I’ll buy new shoes.
  • The circumstances felt so overwhelming that I needed to take some time to remember what I’m grateful for so I didn’t lose my mind.
  • The comments were hurtful, but I know that I’m supposed to love my enemies, so I was able to bite my tongue and just smile.

Myths about Wisdom

Myth: Wise people live like the guru up on a tall misty mountain and speak nuggets of easily digestible (and clever) sayings

Truth: The scriptures tell us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, so we know that we don’t have to be special people to get it, just have to seek with and have a deep respect for who He is.

10 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do [His commandments]. His praise endures forever.

– Psalm 111:10 NKJV

6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden [part] You will make me to know wisdom.

– Psalm 51:6 NKJV

Myth: Being wise means being right

Truth: Wise people accept instruction, Proverbs 9:9, so we still have things to learn after being wise. Wisdom is the willingness to learn, not the ability to be right.

9 Give instruction to the wise, and they will become wiser still; teach the righteous and they will gain in learning. 10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

– Proverbs 9:9–10 (NRSV

7 Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [Therefore] get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.

– Proverbs 4:7 NKJV)

God’s Wisdom is Different

Being wise isn’t about being right and it’s not about astounding others with our wit, cleverness or knowledge. True wisdom from God is based in fear of Him and an understanding of who He is. It brings awareness of Him, His nature, and His work. It even goes so far as to contradict the knowledge and ideals of human wisdom.

18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

– 1 Corinthians 1:18–25 (NRSV)

Wisdom that comes with the knowledge of God also means that our words and our actions align. We don’t just speak words that sound good we live them out and the truth of God can be seen our living.

My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

– 1 Corinthians 2:4–7 (NRSV)



[1] “Psychology Today.” Wisdom. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2015. <>.