Straight Talk, by Joyce Meyer

Jump for joy
Focus your attention and energies on this, and you will know true joy. (Flickr/Kreg Steppe)

Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (NIV). The key to living the abundant life God has for us is learning to make Him our first priority.

So, why do many people seek the "things" first? Many people's top priorities seem to be jobs, houses, cars or other material things. To seek means "to crave, pursue, to make sacrifices to get, to go after with all of your strength and all of your heart." It is a mistake to crave and pursue possessions, believing they will give us the lasting peace, joy and contentment that only come from God's presence in our lives.

Take a moment and ask yourself, "What am I seeking? What do I spend most of my time thinking or talking about? How do I invest the majority of my energy?" These are important questions you need to answer from your heart.

Deep and Wide

I got to a place in my life some years ago where I had a bunch of material things but I still wasn't very happy. Have you ever been in this place? Maybe you've wondered what's wrong with me, like I did. Well, when I asked God that question, His answer to me was, "Joyce, you're shallow. It's time to step out into the deep."

That was a wake-up call. I was a shallow Christian. I wanted the "fruit" of God's Spirit—love, joys, peace, patience—and all operating in my life but I wasn't seeking that, so my "roots" weren't very deep at all. I had it backwards...as many of us do at times. We want the money, the house, the platform or whatever our thing is. So we pursue that rather than the true treasure of God's presence.

Just like a tree needs roots to go down deep and spread wide in the soil for it to grow strong, healthy branches that can withstand the elements, Christians need to develop deep spiritual roots in Christ. Our lives need to be deeply rooted and grounded in the Word of God and in His love—not our "stuff." We soon find that out when the storms of life come, and our "things" don't to make us so happy anymore. That's because those things can't give us what we truly we need. And it doesn't matter how much stuff you have if you're miserable.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying it's bad to want nice belongings or to desire a good life. But we need to examine our priorities when it comes to those things. We need to learn to seek God's face and not His hand. If we will seek His face, His hand will always be open to us.

Cultivate

You may wonder what it means to seek God's face. Maybe you aren't used to hearing that term. It just means we need to take time to cultivate a relationship with God...to get to know Him. We need to learn who we are in Christ and trust what His Word says about us. And with prayer, Bible study and time, we will.

We are to pursue God in prayer, crave time in His Word, and go after a relationship with Him with all of our heart and strength, even if it means sacrificing some of our desires. Because the Bible never tells us to seek things, but instead, "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33 NIV).

Getting What We Really Want Out of Life

It seems that so much of the time, we get it the other way around, going after possessions as if we'll never get what we want if we don't. But I encourage you to think about what it will be like at the end of your life. I know that's not a pleasant thought, but do you really think you'll be concerned about your stuff? Or do you think you'll want family near?

We must establish our lives in Christ. If we are to be truly happy—with or without all the stuff—we must learn to trust our lives to God. If we will pursue His kingdom and His righteousness, we will see what it means to be content in life. As the apostle Paul said, "...I have learned in whatsoever state I am, to be content" (Philippians 4:11).

The key is to seek the Kingdom first. Pursue God; seek His face and not His hand.  Go after a relationship with Him as if it is everything! You will find that if you seek His face, His hand will always be open to you. So, learn to be content in your relationship with God; He knows everything you need.

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