Seek First

Seek First

Pursuing God's Righteousness Amidst First World Problems
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"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles fee after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:31-33

I have head, read, and recited these verses more times than I can count on my hands, but I am just now beginning to understand how to apply this to my life. I had the amazing opportunity to go on a mission trip to Zimbabwe this past summer, and that is when this passage started to click for me.

The people over there have so little, yet they worship God with so much joy in their hearts.

They may not know what they are going to eat that night for dinner, or if they will have clothes for their quickly growing child, but nevertheless they pursue the Lord with all they have, trusting that he will provide what they need.

While this is a beautiful picture and example that these people painted for me, I still thought to myself "How in the world does this apply to me?"

I have been so fortunate to live in a stable environment where I don't have to worry that I have food on my plate or clothes to keep me warm. I have had everything I could ever need and more.

While I don't have these third world problems to deal with, I still work up anxiety worrying about things. I worry about what my major is supposed to be. I worry about who I am supposed to marry. I worry about what job opportunities I might have after I graduate.

I worry about so many minute details of this world when my priority should be seeking after God's righteousness.

Rather than getting caught up in world things such as having the cutest clothes or the nicest car, my eyes should be set on Jesus. Striving to achieve righteousness by following him. Worshipping him with everything in me because of his goodness. Praising him for what he has done for me, and what he will do.

I have gone for so long not understanding this familiar passage, but the Lord has been so faithful in my life recently and is revealing to me the true value of relentlessly chasing after him above everything else.

Cover Image Credit: katie miller

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12 Bible Verses For Faith In Hard Times

Remind yourself that God is always with you.
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Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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My Dad Is A Priest, But Surprise, I'm An Atheist

After 19 years of being raised as a believer, the only thing I am sure about is that there is no God at all.

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I feel like every high school has that guy who is always super active, always makes stupid jokes, and is always ready to party. My friend was like that. He was always down for any stupid or fun thing. And I remember one time hanging out we had a discussion about parents when suddenly he goes: "Oh, my dad is actually a priest."

What?

He told us that although he was raised in a religious family, he didn't believe in God at all. He said his parents have dedicated all their lives to the Orthodox Church, and tried to educate him the same way and make him a faithful believer. But after these 19 years, the only thing that he is sure about now is that there is no God.

"Every little thing that was happening in this world was a God's plan in my parents' eyes. Every day would start with a prayer where we thank God for life, food, and anything good that's going to happen to us. Growing up in the atmosphere of endless fasts, commandments, and attending church services, little me didn't have time even to doubt this kind of life's arrangements.

"I was always supervised by my parents at those times. My mom used to be a principal of a Sunday school, which I, of course, attended. The Sunday school's mission is to teach children how to be faithful. It works just like the normal schools do, but the subjects do vary. We were taught the Church Slavic language, the Laws of God, the Old and the New Testament, the orchestra. We even had a gospel class, where we were taught to sing in a choir at the church. Basically, we were taught everything that young churchmen need to know.

"I was playing with all the kids after and between classes like in normal schools, but most of the non-religious themes were prohibited. We all were scared that if we talk about something else we will be punished by the 'powers from the above'. I did really believe in that.

"Teachers were pretty good in persuading us that God is everywhere. The whole class would repeat in unison that God sees everything, knows everything – he is charitable and sinless.

"As a result, we were scared even to think about breaking any rules. We were obligated to pray before every meal, we couldn't miss any of the church services, couldn't condemn our parents or teachers, be aggressive any time, even to protect ourselves, because 'The Lord Jesus says if you're struck on your right cheek, you offer your left' (Holy Bible).

"It was perfect for handling kids. We were scared of punishment even when we knew no one could see us. We remembered – God knows everything.

"As time went by and we became the grown-ups, we started to notice our parents' or other adults' flaws. None of them were following all of the commandments as we did; they didn't have that fear of the 'Supreme.' Even my parents that were iconic to me allowed themselves to have their hands in their pockets while being at church or leave the services to talk on the phone. They could eat all they wanted, skip fasts, or even smoke. Watching them, I lost my aspiration in following all the rules perfectly. It seemed unfair that they could be freer but I couldn't. So I started giving myself indulgences…

"For example, one of the real orthodox believer's obligations was the oblation in front of Him every Sunday morning. Every single person had to come to the church early with an empty stomach and tell all of his/her sins in order to be forgiven. And it made me sick how many 'faithful' adults used it as the excuse for not following God's rules. Not to mention how many times the money donated to the church was stolen. They would sin and then just ask for forgiveness and become sinless again.

"When I started realizing all those things, my life started changing."

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