Jesus calls us to a way of living that gives no thought about tomorrow and puts our future wholly into his hands: “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:31-34).
Jesus doesn’t mean that we are not to plan ahead or do nothing about our future. Rather, he is saying, “Don’t be anxious or troubled about tomorrow.” When you think about it, most of our anxieties are about what might happen tomorrow. We’re constantly harassed by two little words: What if?
Jesus interrupts our “what ifs” and tells us, “Your heavenly Father knows how to take care of you.” He tells us further, “You don’t need to worry. Your Father knows you have need of all these things, and he won’t ever forsake you. He is faithful to feed you, clothe you and take care to supply all your needs.”
“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?.... Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 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? (Matthew 6:26, 28-30).
We gladly give all our yesterdays to the Lord, turning over to him our past sins. We trust him for forgiveness of all our past failures, doubts and fears. So, why don’t we do the same with our tomorrows? The truth is, most of us cling tightly to our future, wanting the right to hold on to our dreams. We make our plans independent of God, and then later ask him to bless and fulfill those hopes and desires.
In my travels around the world I have witnessed a “spiritual tsunami” of evil drifting. Entire denominations have been caught up in the waves of this tsunami, leaving in their wake the ruins of apathy. The Bible warns clearly that it’s possible for devoted believers to drift from Christ.
A Christian who goes after “peace and safety at any cost” and merely hangs onto salvation pays a high spiritual price. So, how can we guard against drifting from Christ and neglecting “so great a salvation”? Paul tells us how: “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (Hebrews 2:1).
God isn’t interested in our being able to “speed read” through His Word. But what’s more important is that we “hear” what we read with spiritual ears, and meditate on it so that it’s “heard” in our hearts.
Staying steadfast in God’s Word was no small matter for Paul. He also says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Paul isn’t suggesting to these believers that they’re reprobates. Rather, he’s urging them, “As lovers of Christ, test yourself. Take a spiritual inventory. You know enough about your walk with Jesus to know you’re loved by him, that he hasn’t turned from you, that you are redeemed.”
Ask yourself today: How is your communion with Christ? Are you guarding it with all diligence? Are you leaning on him in your hard times? And as you examine your spiritual walk, allow God to show you where you can be strengthened.
One time, a pastor friend of mine traveled up to Wyoming to go snowmobiling with two of his friends. They went back-country and were having a grand old time until they started to realize that all their landmarks were out of sight. They had no GPS signal and no compass.
Now this wasn’t the kind of lost where you just keep wandering until you find a road one or two hours later. This was the kind of lost where you spend the night huddled by a snowmobile with no gas left. This was a they’re-sending-in-helicopters-to-save-you kind of lost.
The very definition of becoming truly lost is not knowing the way back. At that point, you need a rescue party. Sometimes we forget that when we start talking about sin, and this isn’t just talking about before we were saved, when we were still dead in our sins, as the Bible puts it. This is the flesh that we all struggle against. This is the creeping coldness in our hearts, the drift that we experience in life.
Sometimes when we sin, we fall in the Old Covenant mentality, thinking that God is there to smite us for our faltering and that we have make a payment of our own for our sins. This mentality is rooted in how we have to observe the law in order to earn our way back into the Lord’s good graces. This brings up fear. “Oh no, I’ve stumbled, so now it’ll be curses and rebukes for me. God’s going to put me on the sidelines for a while now.”
This contradicts what the apostle John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
We need a Savior, and we never stop needing him.
Thank God that the Holy Spirit’s fire produces light — something we desperately need in a world full of difficult decisions and hidden dangers. The Spirit illuminates our lives and our choices so that we can see the path ahead and know what to avoid. Yet too often we don’t seek the Holy Spirit’s direction when making vital decisions.
The Holy Spirit is God’s only agent on earth. He was sent here to guide us. Read the book of Acts and you will see that a computer-mapping program didn’t govern Paul’s trips. The illumination of the Holy Spirit guided his path. In fact, the Spirit forbade Paul from going to some places — not because they didn’t need to hear the gospel but because God had another plan. And the apostle waited until the Spirit’s direction could guide him into it.
To the believers in Thessalonica, Paul wrote, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Amazingly, although the Holy Spirit is fully God, it is entirely possible for believers to hinder his work and quench his sacred fire. Some people falsely believe that whatever God wants to do he will do. Consider Jesus’ invitation to his own church in Laodicea: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20).
If he is Christ, and he wants in, why doesn’t he just come in? Why does he bother knocking and asking? That is the mystery of God’s sovereignty and our free will. We must respond to him or we will miss out on his planned blessing.
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:6-7). Paul is telling Timothy to stir up the embers, to keep the fire going. We need to do the same.
We need the fire of the Holy Spirit changing our lives; we need it spreading throughout our towns and cities, spreading so Christ can be glorified. May that be your prayer today. Send the fire, God. Burn, change, renovate, illuminate — as we wait in Christ’s name.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.
God has given us an ironclad promise for life on this earth. He says that when our enemy attempts to walk over us, “Therefore My people shall know My name; therefore they shall know in that day that I am He who speaks: ‘Behold, it is I’” (Isaiah 52:6). In other words, God says, “When you’re in your darkest trial, I will come and speak a word to you. You’ll hear me say, ‘It is I, Jesus, your Savior. Don’t be afraid.’”
In Matthew 14, the disciples were on a boat in an awful storm, being tossed about by torrents of wind and waves. Suddenly, the men saw Jesus walking toward them on the water. Scripture says, “And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear” (Matthew 14:26). What did Jesus do in that fearful moment? “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid’” (14:27).
I’ve wondered why Jesus used these particular words, “Be of good cheer.” Why would he say this to men who thought they were about to die?
The word cheer means “to be relieved, happy, released from fear.” And here, in the disciples’ time of distress, Jesus tied the word to his identity. Remember, these men knew him personally. And he expected them to act on his word by faith. He was saying, “The Father has promised I’ll come to you in your storm. It is written, “Therefore they shall know in that day that I am He who speaks: ‘Behold, it is I’” (Isaiah 52:6). Likewise, our Savior expects the same faith reaction from us, in our distressing times.