Monday, June 10, 2013

A message of hope and encouragement

In this world of uncertainty it is so easy to loose sight of Jesus.  It is so easy to begin to look at our circumstances and begin worrying about job stability, health care, etc.  I have to confess that lately things have been shaking me up at work.  Financial struggles for the company,  a new boss, lot's of changes happening quickly are all things that have been causing turmoil and worry among myself and my coworkers.  Sadly I and other brothers and sisters in the faith have found ourselves shaken, allowing ourselves to get caught up in gossip and negativity, and loosing sight of who it is that we serve, what is commanded of us, and what is promised to us.  I say this not to criticize but simply to be transparent because I know many Christians are facing trials and need to be encouraged.

One coworker had a little package of mustard seeds that she is keeping with her as a reminder that we only need a little faith to effect great change.  It is also a reminder that we, as Christians, are to be a light in the world.  We are supposed to rise above in our attitudes and behavior.  Sometimes we apply the idea of mustard seed faith to ideas that seem to require big faith and forget that, this same mustard seed faith is often required for our day to day faith walk.  Her package of seeds was a good reminder to me and a confirmation of what the Holy Spirit had already been convicting me about.

So who do we serve?  We serve the Living God!  The one who spoke creation into existence.  There is nothing He cannot do.  If we are faithful He will see us through.  If we lack faith we need but pray and He will increase our faith.  He is the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and the End.  And while He is God and we are not, He does not allow for that to be an excuse for worry, lack of faith, or disobedience.  No, God's word commands us to be Holy and strive for perfection(1 Peter 1:14-16, Matthew 5:48).  Scripture states that we have been given the tools by which to accomplish this task(2 Peter 1:3-8).  

What are some commands from our King regarding our concerns and challenges in life?
Philippians 4:4-7 says this, "Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again:  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds  in Christ Jesus."

In Philippians 4:8-9, Paul goes on to say, "Finally, brothers, whatever is pure, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you."

You see Paul is telling us that we are to rejoice in every circumstance, always representing gentleness which is a fruit of the Spirit(Galatians 5:22-23).  We are not to be anxious but to simply bring our requests and concerns before God and trust Him with them.  Then what?  Then we can have peace.  What else brings the presence of the God of peace.  Right thinking and obedience to biblical teaching.  These are actions we must take but that we are not alone in undertaking. You see in Philippians 2:12-13 scripture states that we are to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to work according to His good purpose."  His grace under-girds our actions.

I'm sorry.  I must go a little further because this really all ties together.  God's word is so good and Philippians speaks so much to growing in righteousness and walking it out.  We love to quote Philippians 4:13 which says that, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Unfortunately we often miss the context in which it is quoted.  The context is the previous vs. 12 and the end of vs. 11, which states, "for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

1 Timothy 6:6-8 says that, "Godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing we will be content with that.

So much of our approach to life and the way we handle our circumstances comes from the way we approach our circumstances and the way in which we wrongly prioritize what is really important.  Then we sit and worry about what is going to happen instead of trusting God when He gives us promises like this:

Matthew 6:25-33, which states, and I paraphrase, that we should not worry about tomorrow because each day has enough worry of it's own.  That if God is concerned about the birds of the air and the lilies of the field and takes care of them, He will most certainly take care of us.  What are we to do?  "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these other things will be given to you as well."

Hebrews 13:5 says, "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, never will I leave you nor forsake you".  The last part of this scripture is actually a NT quote of the OT scripture from Deuteronomy 3:16.  See, even the NT authors thought scripture reference was important to make their point :-)

Last but not least in Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says, "Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my  yoke is easy and my burden is light."  I don't think it gets much clearer than that.  Yokes were used to connect two oxen or horses together so that they shared the load.  When you yoke up with Jesus, He will carry the weight with you. Often times carrying more of it than you could possibly bear thus making your load easier and lighter.

Now, I have quoted a lot of scripture here because it is authoritative, God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work(2 Timothy 3:16)  God's word is truth.  Jesus said in John 8:31, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

So let the truth of these scriptures set you free.  Meditate on them.  Memorize them.  Hold to their teachings.  Apply them to your life that through your obedience you may find peace, rest, and joy.  One preacher I heard recently said that, in order to really experience joy, you have to always have at least one eye on heaven.  We must always remember that as believers we are not of this world.  We live for a world to come.  So no matter what may come in this life, if we are living for the next one, it has a tendency to help us scale back the dramatic ride that our emotions like to take us on.  If you are living this way then Joy, not happiness, but Joy can be found in the worst of circumstances.  Happiness is a surface level event.  Joy comes from the well of living water that is available when you have Christ abiding in you and you abide in Him.

This blog post is for me as well and I will be going back and reading it and allowing the word of God to minister to me as well.  We are in this thing together.  Please pray for me as I pray for you and let's trust and obey our Heavenly Father and Savior King together in Jesus Name.


Love in Christ,


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