Heart Condition

Seeking God’s Kingdom

Spiritual Retreat

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious 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?” Matthew 6:25

I just returned from an eye-opening weekend retreat on which the focus was seeking the Kingdom of God. It was in breathtaking surroundings in an environment that filled the senses with the stunning beauty of God’s creation.

cSusan Irene Fox

c Susan Irene Fox

The weekend surprisingly began with Matthew 6:25-34 the “do not be anxious” passages. As we read through them verse by verse, I began to take heart at the uplifting and vital message.

It’s not about abandoning your responsibilities. It’s not about sitting back and waiting for God to drop food into your yard like He did with the Israelites in the desert. It’s about forgoing the desire to keep up with the newest diet, the best wine or designer water, the latest fashion or exercise fad. It’s about living simply, and honoring God first in everything – self, relationships, work, thoughts, speech, and action.

It’s about understanding that if God can feed birds and cause magnificent flowers and fruit to bloom during drought and scarcity, He will make provision for your basic needs.

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (vv 31, 33)

What is the kingdom of God? How do we seek it?

cSusan Irene Fox

c Susan Irene Fox

It’s not about laws and rules. Jesus berated the Pharisees about that. They were great at keeping rules, but they weren’t faithful in their hearts. They didn’t seek God, they sought power and honor for themselves. Jesus told us we have to be more faithful than the Pharisees. (Remember: “You have heard…but I say…” Matthew 5:27-47) Faith isn’t just for show – it’s a deep, heartfelt commitment to following Jesus. Oswald Chambers said, “In intimate personal belief I commit myself spiritually to Jesus Christ and make a determination to be dominated by him alone.”1

It’s about helping needy children, the single elderly, and foreigners among us.

It’s about doing the small things, encouraging others. It’s about being a vessel so God can shine his light and love through you. It’s about offering a smile to someone having a bad day even when you’re feeling crappy. It’s about making a call or sending an email or text message even when you don’t think you have time. It’s about putting someone else first even when you’re having a bad day. It’s about doing the right thing even when no one is looking.

It’s about remembering that when Jesus said,

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

he didn’t mean for us to seek or build anything for personal gain or recreation. Sorry, but this includes the mammon-driven “prosperity gospel.” There is no such thing. If it’s all about you, it’s not all about Jesus. If it’s all about you, it’s not all about the Father. If it’s all about you, then you have become your own idol.

Matthew 7:7-8 is about asking the Holy Spirit to tell us what we can do to seek and build God’s kingdom.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

This reminds me of the beautiful Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken. It’s about contemplating two roads that “diverge in a yellow wood,” one highly traveled, the other, “was grassy and wanted wear.” After much deliberation, the traveler, “took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

pathwithgate

1Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, November 6, Dodd, Mead & Co., Inc. c1935

20 comments

  1. Trusting that we will be cared for by our Father, is the hardest concept to grasp but the most important, after accepting Christ. Wonderful post, Susan.

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    1. Thanks, Beth. I have to remind myself often, and He always – always – comes through. I only need look back to find evidence. It’s when I’m in it that those other voices seem to drown His out. I just need to “be still, and know that” He is there.

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  2. Another beautiful, inspiring post…by the way, I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award! Check out this link to get your badge. Thank you for making a difference in the world! http://letmereach.com/2013/11/16/drum-roll-please-versatile-blogger-award-ceremony/

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    1. Thank you so very much, Kim. I think just being honest about our doubts and fears and our love for God lets others know that it’s okay to be human. I get sustenance from role models like David, Hannah and Habakkuk, all of whom had real and honest conversations with God, giving Him all their emotions. God is big – He can handle them.

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  3. It’s easy to get demoralized and beaten down, so there’s nothing better than focusing your heart, mind, and soul on God’s majesty. Stay strong! I always appreciate your uplifting words and dedication to His Word. 🙂

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. The path is not easy sometimes, yet the focus is so important. Looking back, I can honestly say that His timing was always better, his silence was always preparing me for His plan. The waiting room is part of the journey.

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      1. Yes it is. But He’s always faithful to His Word. Our patience is rewarded by amazing demonstrations of His love and majesty. 🙂

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  4. Mich-in-French · ·

    All we need is simplicity – within that when we seek first the Kingdom of God – we find real prosperity – that is when our souls are prospering to such a degree that we no longer need to worry or be anxious because we know without doubt that our Almighty Father has us in the palm of His hands. Paul speaks about learning to be content when we have abundance and when we have little – to me that is all about having our focus on what He wants for us and the steps He wants us to take.
    A beautiful reflection Susan – thank you for sharing with us.

    Lots of blessing xx

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    1. Thanks, Mich – always love your insight. You’re absolutely right – our contentedness in our relationship with the Lord is our true prosperity.

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      1. Mich-in-French · ·

        As I value yours Susan – you write for our hearts – keep inspiring us with your heart stories – we need to learn from each other as much as we can xoxo

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  5. You have written a beautiful devotion that should make us pause for reflection on what our lives should be about. Thank you for sharing about your retreat. Are those photos from your stay? They are truly lovely. I would not have wanted to leave. God bless you friend. xoxo

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    1. The first two are from the retreat, yes. I did not want to leave. I wanted to stay and watch the deer and the stellar jay, and soak up the pastoral nature of the place. Luckily, I was able to soak up some quiet time by myself, as everyone else romped up to Yosemite during a break. It was lovely.

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  6. Nicely written, Susan. Thank you.

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  7. Ahh Susan, how lovely that you got to go on a retreat, especially as you have such a busy time coming up with your move.
    So much stems from the daily choices we make to invest in others…or not.
    Just curious, is the ‘prosperity gospel’ still big in the States? I remember when it was the big thing in the 80s.

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    1. Sad to say, yes. It’s a twisted gospel of self focus. It takes people away from the true message of Jesus.

      Looking forward to your blog on Thanksgiving. We’ll have to compare notes. Looking forward to mine with dear friends this year.

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  8. Sounds like it was quite lovely 😀 I am sure it has given you a much needed surge! All the best with those emails!!!! AND ofcourse = the move 😉

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  9. good for you Susan, I have to ‘unplug’ from the Net every now and again too!

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  10. Down time is something we all need. Never feel bad about taking it easy for a time. Hope the move went/is going well.

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  11. Was wondering where you had gone! Glad to hear you had such a lovely experience. Welcome back!

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    1. Thanks! I’ve been busy packing for my move, then went off to retreat. Sorry I disappeared, but glad I’m back. I have over 700 emails to go through. Feel horrible about not getting to blogs, but just needed some down time.

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