Search for the Lord and for his strength;continually seek him.Psalm 105:4
That’s the number of times that my worrying and stressing out has helped me or anyone else. Why do we assume that anxiety produces good results? From the way we seem to rely on worry as a “go-to” when things get a little crazy, you’d think that we’ve experienced some fantastic positive reinforcement for freaking out.
That’s the number of times I have freaked out when things have seemed to be outside the scope of my control. In reality, each time I stress out and pretend that God hasn’t been more than enough for me is an indictment against my faith. What does it really say about what I have learned about God? How about you? What have you learned (committed to your understanding and thoughts) about God’s faithfulness?
Back to zero.
That’s the number of times that God has NOT forgiven me for doubting Him.
The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm. Exodus 14:14 NLT
Fact #1: we are in a spiritual battle
Fact #2: on our own, we are incapable of defeating anything spiritual, even the smallest demonic imp is beyond our abilities without God.
Fact#3: God promises to fight for you. Not against you. FOR you, in your favor, on your side, to your benefit… God will fight for you! Have you ever had someone fight for you? It feels great to know that someone else values you enough to go to bat for you, doesn’t it?
Look at all He asks of us, “Just stay calm.”
Imagine that you are trying to save a drowning victim. While you are working to save them, against the water and their weight, as you are kicking, and swimming, all you ask is that they stay calm as you bring them home safely.
Oh, how we struggle, fight and scream when God is promising to keep us safe until we arrive home safely. Like a child who resists being buckled into their car seat, we seem to forget that God is FOR us.
What would your life look like if you stopped freaking out? How much energy, time, and money might you save if you would “just stay calm”? What drama would you keep yourself from if you determined that God is fighting for you?
Let’s stop imagining this kind of life and “just stay calm”.
Let’s Go On A Trip!
Imagine with me that you are going out of town for a few months; what are some items you know that you would need to take with you?
Money? Clothes? Shoes? Phone?
What if you were told that you couldn’t bring a thing with you? Would it change the way you felt about the trip? Would you cancel the trip?
Consider these words of Jesus from Luke chapter 9 verse 3
“And He said to them, ‘Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bags nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece'”
Wow! It really puts into perspective the level of faith with which the disciples were operating. They must have assumed that Jesus was asking them to put themselves in a place of lack and dependence on the kindness of strangers in the towns they would visit.
In reality, nothing was further from the truth; God was then, and is now, the Provider. He was only asking them to have faith that God would see every one of their needs met. What a beautiful moment of faith and discipline Jesus was teaching the disciples; Jesus had preordained the provision which they would need each day for their journey.
Think of the following “coincidences”:
- Jesus is handed the book of Isaiah so that He would “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted” Luke 4:17
- Jesus tells the fishermen where to get fish, although they had just been out and caught nothing. Luke 5:5
- Jesus encountered the woman with the dead son – Jesus raised him from the dead, causing the entire village to worship God.
Jesus repeatedly would provide the perfect timing and provisions for God to be glorified and people to be changed; that said, certainly, He could tackle some clothes and food for His disciples while they were on their journey doing the work of the gospel!
What’s Our Luggage About?
Why do we stress out about God taking care of our affairs? Hasn’t He already been faithful a thousand times over?
Perhaps you’re not planning a trip somewhere, maybe you’re concerned about how some future plans are going to work out; if Jesus could arrange for a room, a donkey and a colt, and for people to supply them so that He and the disciples could have the Last Supper together (all without speaking to anyone about it) I’m pretty sure that He’s got you and your situation covered.
Step out in faith knowing that He’s the most amazing travel planner you’ll ever encounter and He takes care of everything!
For the record, there’s nothing wrong with planning ahead, but if Jesus tells you to trust Him, (I can assure you that He’s good for it) trust Him! He’s got you covered!
As I sat in a funeral service today, I considered the words from the book of Psalms 118:24,
This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Everyday we have a choice, an option if you would, on how we choose to respond to the day. We can count on each day bringing its own share of troubles and frustration, therefore we shouldn’t act surprised when things go awry, rather make it a matter of our will to celebrate God’s goodness in the midst of the frustration by not allowing it to wreck our day.
This verse reminds us that each day is both a result of God’s goodness to us and an opportunity for us to show gratitude for the gift of Jesus.
We don’t have to wait for Sunday to declare today “the Lord’s Day”, each and every day belongs to Him; our conscious determination of how we will behave is either a praise or a curse upon the gift He has given.
Has it been an act of your will to rejoice in the Lord today?
Even if you’ve missed it today, make it a matter of your will to rejoice, celebrate God tomorrow, regardless of the circumstances it may bring, knowing full well that He’s blessed you with another chance to do so.
I remember this commercial when I was a kid that advertised a tiny little toy car; the announcer could speak faster than anyone I knew at that time. You had to listen so closely to catch everything he was saying, you might even say you had to be a quick listener.
In James 1:19 we read
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
The truth is that I’m not all that great at listening, slowly or quickly! In truth, I’m better at listening for the sole purpose of responding; I think it has something to do with believing that I’m supposed to have a good deal of answers for anything anyone is going through because of the office I hold as pastor.
disclaimer: while I believe that to be a valid explanation for why I behave that way, I in no way agree that it is an acceptable behavior.
The reality is that we miss so much of what is being said when we aren’t quick to listen; most of our fights with the people we love are usually based on either misunderstandings or miscommunication, both of which are avoided entirely when we listen to what the other person is saying. Sadly, all too often we are listening for ways in which to defend our position or make our point stronger.
This task of being quick to listen isn’t difficult to master but it does require intentionally listening and purposefully closing our mouths while other people are speaking. Yet, there is one more component that this verse brings up, an ugly truth many people’s nature; anger.
It isn’t enough to simply shut up and listen if all you’re going to do is get mad in the long run! So many of us are so ready to fight to be right that we feel any negative (perceived or real) comments are direct attacks on our persons and quickly take offense, resulting in anger.
To be slow to anger we have to move past the need to prove our point, surrender our point (along with all our other treasures lol) and be more interested in how we can express love to those around us.
So as we lay our precious need to be right at the feet of Jesus, we can expect to discover that we don’t need to express our thoughts as much and find ourselves listening more attentively.
Listen well my friends!
Do you know the difference between social justice and benevolence? One is society’s response to the needs of the less fortunate, the other is an individual’s response to someone in need. See below:
Social justice: justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.
Benevolence: the quality of being well meaning; kindness.
There are a growing number of churches today which are totally foregoing any kind of benevolence fund or assistance programs, many of them claiming that they don’t see any fruit from their work with the needy in the local church, i.e. attendance, salvations, or new members.
A minister friend of mine told me that he doesn’t believe that it is the responsibility of the church to engage in social justice matters which don’t result in people at least hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Regardless of your position on the local church body’s responsibility to dealing with the poor in your community, we can be sure that God hasn’t expunged us of our duty of benevolence to the less fortunate.
Some argue against giving to the poor because of the uncertainty of how they will use the resources we offer them. Other people are reluctant to give because they don’t know if the person is truly in need or just another abuser of the system.
Is it ok to give or not? It can be so hard to tell anymore!
So, what does the Bible tell us about giving to the poor?
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,and he will repay him for his deed.Proverbs 19:17
But when Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail, and thunder had stopped, he and his officials sinned again, and Pharaoh again became stubborn. Exodus 9:34 NLT
My one-year-old grandbaby was about to get too close to the hot wood burning stove in our home recently; I jumped up to grab her and scared her in the process. She was mortified and began to scream like a maniac.
Once the tears dried and had I convinced her that Opa didn’t mean to scare her, I let her back down on the floor. She immediately went for the hot wood burning stove!
This is sort of expected of a one-year-old child but when adults behave in this manner there is no excuse and God must resort to more extreme measures to grab our attention.
Many of our veterans will tell you that boot camp “changed” them; the harsh treatment they received bent their will to that of their drill instructor until they were a unit which moved as one to the sound of the voice of their instructor.
Words like “excruciating” and “grueling” are used to describe their experiences but they would also tell you that it was necessary to drive out their own agendas and desires in order to ensure the success of the platoon which they served and to instill a sense of loyalty and trust for their commander.
As a civilian, I can only hear about their experiences and seek for similarities in my life by which to compare them. Oh, how I’ve cried out and prayed to God that He would stop the rain, the hail, and the thunder in the past.
I’ve mistaken the storms of my life as Satan’s hand bringing grief and pain rather than God’s discipline bringing my stubborn heart to a place of repentance and surrender over and over.
How many times, like Pharaoh, have I noticed that the rain, hail, and thunder stopped only to find myself seated once again upon the throne of my stubborn heart refusing to stop the sin which God was driving out of me?
I can see and hear myself asking for other believers to “pray for me while I go through this difficult situation”, totally aloof to the work that God was doing because I was uncomfortable with the manner in which He was driving the sin out of my life.
It absolutely amazes me how captivated I am with my own life that I can totally disregard the connection between my actions and the discomfort I’m experiencing. Like a man walking barefoot through broken glass and complaining that his feet hurt, I fail to see that my sin could possibly be the cause for the pain in my life, or that a loving God is desperately trying to get my attention and bring me into a right relationship with Him.
Our difficult times are designed by God to draw us closer and closer to Him and to rely entirely on Him, not on ourselves.
This has been His method for centuries before me and you and will be until Jesus comes again. Whether you’re preferred title is Pharaoh, King, Queen, God or Goddess, when the storm ends, the hail melts, and the sun begins to break through, instead of ascending to the throne of your stubborn heart again to plot how you might return to the sin in your life, consider that God has once again brought you through the tumult only to bring you into a right relationship with him.
If life were truly chaotic – meaning that there was no rhyme nor reason, no set order to events – it would be terrifying! If there was no one presiding over the activities on Earth and in the hearts of mankind we would have plenty of reason to be scared to death!
But in Psalms 103:19 we read,
The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.
The reality is that God’s throne and throne room aren’t here are on Earth; just because we can’t see His throne and physically see that He’s actively ruling doesn’t mean that He isn’t working things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
“His kingdom rules over all”, another way of wording this might be, “His kingdom’s influence has no limits; whatever God says is what goes across the universe”.
So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and life seems chaotic, remember that God is in control. You have nothing to worry about because the King is on His throne.