2018 – Work On What You CAN Change

Lots of plans will be made in the beginning of this new year: promises, resolutions, intentions, plans. Some will be practical and beneficial but many will be wistful, wishful and highly improbable. Some will actually be impossible. Those are the safe ones because no one will ever hold us accountable for the impossible.

Then, along with the plans and wishes for the new year will come the guilt and pre-packaged disappointment we’ll have to lug around… at least for a short while. In some cases, we’ll even worry and fret over the promises and plans we’ve made which have little chance of surviving January.

The Bible talks about our tendency to saddle ourselves with unnecessary worry. Listen to what Jesus had to say.

Matthew 6:25-34
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The scriptures remind us that worry keeps us from actually doing what needs to be done. You see, worry actually FEELS like we’re doing something about what matters to us, but in reality worry is mostly a delaying tactic; it bogs us down and it can potentially ruin our health.

So Jesus offered an alternative action to occupy the space we normally devote to worry. He taught us to seek Christ’s Kingdom and His righteousness. Sounds good…but what does it mean?

Seeking Christ’s Kingdom is just a different way of saying that every follower of Jesus must surrender to the Lordship and authority of Jesus for our lives. We are both God’s children and subjects in His Kingdom. As children we are loved, cared for, enriched, and secure. As Kingdom subjects we are obedient, submissive, responsible and devoted.

Then, integral to our position as children and subjects is the attitude and behavior the scriptures call righteousness. Righteousness is believing right, thinking right and behaving right as a result of living in a right relationship with God who is both our Heavenly Father and our King.

Jesus reminds us that worry adds nothing to our lives but we all know that worry robs us of a great deal: peace, contentment and well being.

So what the Bible challenges us to do is focus on the things which are within our control while allowing God to handle the things beyond our control. We can change how we function in Christ’s Kingdom and how we behave as children and subjects of God.

We can’t change the weather. We can change how we dress for the weather.

We can’t change someone else. We can change how we respond to someone else.

We can’t change (at least not immediately) how much money we have or earn. We can change how we manage our financial resources.

We can’t change the future – the unexpected. We can change our response to unexpected circumstances.

My challenge to you, therefore, as we begin a new year is to focus on changing what you can and to resist worrying about what you cannot change.

If you need better health, change something that will make you healthier.
If you need peace in your heart and mind, change the things you have control of which will bring you peace.
If you need to make better choices and decisions, change your approach to decision making and who you seek for counsel.
If you need to be a better follower of Jesus, seek His Kingdom and His righteousness.

The promise that comes with seeking after that which pleases and honors God is that all the things we cannot control and, yet, worry about will be taken care of by God on our behalf because that’s what a Father and King does for those He loves.

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