Seek First

Anna Marie Magyar Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development, Planning 0 Comments

Welcome 2018!

The start of a new year can be filled with such excitement and anticipation for all that is to come. We make plans to improve our lives or to step outside our comfort zones, so that this year can be the best one yet. However, this time of year can also be filled with post-holiday lulls or stress, and anxiety over many things the new year brings to mind.

In Mathew 6:33, Jesus states:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

I am not known for my patience. When I am passionate about something, my mind begins to run with ideas, plans, and other thoughts for the future. If I see someone in need, everything in my being begins to adjust and determine the best ways to help them. None of these things are wrong in and of themselves, but it’s the first, and most important step that I can often miss fully pursuing: seeking Him first.

Jesus says this verse above in the midst of encouraging listeners not to be anxious about their lives or meeting their individual needs (Matthew 6:25). Jesus beautifully puts things into perspective as He shares God’s faithfulness to clothe the grass of the fields, the lilies with beauty, and to provide food for the birds of the air. The Message translation says that the birds are “carelessly in the care of God” (Mathew 6:25-26).

Jesus then lovingly asks “Are you not more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26, NKJV). God cares for the lilies and the birds, how much more will He provide for His chosen people, His children!

As you look ahead to the New Year, what things come to mind that may cause worry or anxiety? The start of a new semester? Fear of failing the same resolution we had in 2017, but saw little success with? Meeting a financial need, or seeing healing for a loved one? The list is unending and varies for each person, but the solution, our starting place, is always the same: seek first.

Jesus goes on to state what may seem obvious, but is something I believe we all need to clearly hear and to be reminded of: “your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:32, NKJV). No need of ours comes as a shock to our faithful Father, in fact He sees them all before they arrive at our doorstep, and He has already prepared the means to fulfill this need for us.

Our role is not to stress over these things, but to start by seeking Jesus first, and His Kingdom. Then, we will see His faithfulness as He brings his peace, love, and provision.

“But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.” 

Psalm 5:11 NKJV

About the Author

Anna Marie Magyar

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Wife. Cat mom. Lover of Jesus, coffee, and all things Disney. I was a student leader in my BASIC group at the College of St. Rose and have continued to help with the group as a co-adviser.

3 Joykillers in Ministry

Jamie Sinclair Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership 0 Comments

Recently I’ve been studying joy, and I realized how much more joy God has for me. It’s so easy to lose the joy God has for us. These are a few joykillers I’ve identified for myself.

1. Considering ourselves ultimate

Who would ever do this? The statement sounds amazingly haughty and beyond us, but it’s something I’ve done subconsciously.

You’ve probably heard how difficult Mondays are for pastors. It’s difficult because frequently they feel like they didn’t hit it out of the park with the sermon. Maybe there was a transition that didn’t go well; a problem with media projection. They didn’t say the right thing to that person after the service, or they received an email from that guy who always takes issue with everything.

The same thing can happen for anyone in ministry. Whether you’ve just met with one student, oversaw an outreach event, or after the weekly large group gathering, when we feel like we ultimately are responsible, every little problem isn’t just something to learn from but something that will chew us up and spit us out!

  • Yes, let’s do our best.
  • Yes, repent when you don’t prepare or if you say something selfish or react defensively because of pride.
  • Yes, ask God for help where you feel you can do better.

And know this:

  • God is building His Church! (Mat 16:18)
  • Ultimately persuasive words don’t win souls, the power of God does. (1 Cor 2:4)
  • God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Cor 12:9)

We have a part to play, but God is ultimate. Trusting in ourselves kills our joy, so do your best and trust Him.

2. Seeing ministry as an obligation

We are called and commanded to make disciples, to be witnesses, to love those around us. However, ministry isn’t an annoying chore, it’s like the best thing happening in the whole universe!

We are ministers of reconciliation. I don’t know about you, but seeing people who are dead in sins and trespasses, seeing them reconciled to their creator and transformed by His power…is there anything greater than that?

Don’t think, “I have to…” Rejoice at the opportunity!

I regularly preach at midweek services and sometimes at our Sunday morning gatherings. There is a sober burden that comes with preaching and rightfully so at some level, but I’ve found that if I don’t spend time thanking God for the opportunity to instruct and inspire and present a living hope, I just don’t have much fun, but when I see the opportunity not as an obligation but a wonderful privilege, I have lots of fun! : )

3. Stress

I get overwhelmed fairly easily. That coupled with my bad habit of constantly filling up my life with things until I’m totally maxed out means I could easily be stressed pretty much 24/7.

But there is peace in Jesus! Stress isn’t God’s portion for us. I could write a whole post just about stress, but let me leave you with a familiar but freeing passage:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Phil 4:6-7

Solution: Spending time in God’s presence and letting go!

Are you joyless today? There are a million suggestions I could give, but here’s what it boils down to: Jesus is our ultimate joy source.

That’s it. Jesus.

In John 15 Jesus gives us an illustration, He is the vine and we are the branches. Life runs from the vine into the branch, when the branch is connected. Similarly, life runs into us when we are abiding in Christ. And Jesus continues:

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.John 15:11

Divine joy is our portion, and fullness at that!

In Bullet Form

  • At the end of the day, it’s not about us; we aren’t ultimate.
  • Ministry is a privilege.
  • Let your requests be made known to God, and receive His peace.
  • And, lastly, abide in Christ; be filled with His joy!

photo credit: Depressed via photopin (license)

About the Author

Jamie Sinclair

Twitter

Slang, theology, history, computers, politics, and more; Jamie is a guy of many interests...but living with Jesus tops them all. His life is full, simple, and crazy...and he strives (imperfectly) for both contentedness and godly ambition. He lives in Potsdam, NY where he serves his local church, working primarily with college students and young adults. You can find his infrequently updated blog at www.jamiesinclair.com.

About the Author

Jamie Sinclair

Twitter

Slang, theology, history, computers, politics, and more; Jamie is a guy of many interests...but living with Jesus tops them all. His life is full, simple, and crazy...and he strives (imperfectly) for both contentedness and godly ambition. He lives in Potsdam, NY where he serves his local church, working primarily with college students and young adults. You can find his infrequently updated blog at www.jamiesinclair.com.