Day 52: Matthew 6:31-33

So do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?’ (These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things.

[This is a continuation of Jesus’ teaching about materialism and worrying.  He is explaining to his disciples how they can bemore faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires.” (See Day 23)].

Jesus continues to repeat this concept, apparently for emphasis.  He really, really doesn’t want his disciples wasting their time worrying about where their food and clothes are coming from.  This is the second time he has mentioned food; it’s the third time he’s talked about clothing.

This is also the second time that he mentions that God already knows what we need (See Day 41).  I think this is the whole point of this scripture.  If we focus our minds and efforts on doing what God wants us to do, and he will provide for our material needs.

Do you believe this?  It seems like most people would rather retain control of their material needs and rely on God only when it comes to the things they think they can’t control, like healing incurable disease or straightening out their kids.  For example, when they make their decisions about what to do with their lives they follow the money – to the right university, to the right job, to the right retirement place – without any real input about where God wants them to go or what he wants them to do.

One of the main principles that Jesus wants to teach us is that there is abundance in the Kingdom of God.  Supernatural provision, in fact.  He says it here in this scripture, and demonstrates it throughout his ministry.  In the Kingdom of God a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread can feed thousands if we believe.  With the way we currently do things there are serious shortages, but in the Kingdom of God there is plenty of food, plenty of healing, plenty of love.  Plenty of everything we need.  Jesus invites us to take a great leap of faith and step into the Kingdom with him.

Acceptance of the concept that we don’t need to make financial security the centerpiece of our lives is absolutely essential to the establishment the Kingdom of God here on earth.  What are the implications of this?  Why is it important?  Well, in a world of shortages we have to compete for scarce resources.  We have to push each other aside and beat each other down to get what we think we need.  We believe that when we share with others we are taking food out of the mouths of our own families. We believe in the “survival of the fittest” paradigm which says we have to be strong and selfish to survive.

This primitive way of looking at things is totally antithetical to the way it works in the Kingdom of God.  In this scripture Jesus says God will supply our needs and admonishes us to surrender these false beliefs.  When we believe that God is our provider everything changes.  We don’t have to chase money anymore.  We can be gracious with others.  We can share freely.  We don’t have to compete.  We don’t have to compromise ourselves.  We can freely love and freely enjoy our lives.  We can enjoy a higher level of living.

While I believe that sharing and social justice are imperative in the establishment of Kingdom of God, I also believe in the supernatural provision that God promises.  I believe in it both because Jesus says it is so and because I’ve seen it so many times.  I’ve seen that when people trust in God, the money they need comes in, a job offers turn up, housing arrangements emerge.  Right at the last minute.  I have so very many stories I could share but this one is my favorite.

Our friend Chiquita was a single woman living in Chicago trying to take care of her five grandchildren.  The kids liked singing Gospel music so they ended up attending our church.  To care for the kids Chiquita relied on money that came to her through social services.  To receive this money she had to have a 4 bedroom apartment which, in Chicago, is very hard to find.  At one point they lost their apartment and had no place to live.  They didn’t part with the landlord on good terms, so they needed to get a new place without the benefit a good reference. It was an impossible situation.  For a few weeks they lived with friends but ultimately they ended up staying at the church because they had no other place to go.

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Every Saturday night some of us prayed at the church.  We put on a CD, got out the banners and tambourines, and had ourselves a good old time.  On one of those Saturdays Chiquita and one of her kids came in and sat at the back.  Sometimes I didn’t know what Chiquita thought about Christianity; when she originally came to the church she said she was a Muslim. On this evening she sat there for a while, and then she asked us to pray for her grandson.

Our group gathered around the boy and began to pray.  As we prayed, something really hot seemed to rise up and we all started to sweat.  It was weird. Suddenly the young boy, who had never displayed any signs of affection for me, grabbed me around the waist and began to hug me.  He was so hot it was like he was burning up and my glasses totally fogged up.  He hugged me for a long time while everyone continued to pray.  Suddenly he let go and sort of scampered away.  It seemed like he was happy.  It seemed like something got healed.

Within a couple of weeks Chiquita and her family were in a new home – a newly remodeled frame house with plenty of room.  A nicer house than any of the rest of us lived in.  It just turned up.  The owner said he was looking to make a difference in the lives of a family that might not otherwise get to live in a nice house.  He didn’t care that they didn’t have references.  It was awesome.  They sought God, and he took care of their impossible material need.

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Photo from Google Earth

God wants us to give up control of our material needs.  We want to take care of the small stuff (money) and leave the Kingdom stuff to just drop out of the sky on us.  I think this scripture says God wants us to use our time, energy, and talents to build up the Kingdom.  He wants us to make fixing the world a priority. He wants to take care of the small stuff (basic material needs) for us so WE can work on the big Kingdom-building stuff.  We need to do the work.  Important principle here.  If we take care of his business, he’ll take care of our needs.

Remember Psalm 24:1 says, “The world and all that is in it belong to the Lord; the earth and all who live on it are his.”  None of that material stuff belongs to us anyway.

So what comes to mind is another good old Gospel song called On Time God  popularized by Dottie Peoples: “He’s an on time God, yes he is…He may not come when you want him, but he’ll be there right on time.”  Here’s the link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4e728Mx2kCk

What does this scripture say to you?

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