Worried?

 

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I admit I’ve done my share of worrying through the years. You too? But where has it got us?

If worry doesn’t help, what does?

“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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Who said this?

These words are from the apostle Paul, addressed to Christians at Philippi in Macedonia.

But these are not simply the words of a man.

Paul preached and wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 2:12-13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 3:15-16).

Therefore it is actually God speaking through His servant Paul.

Since God made us, shouldn’t He know what we need most?

What it says

The passage quoted above prescribes the most effective antidote for worry: prayer.

Instead of fretting, pray. Instead of tossing and turning all night, tell the Father.

But there’s more. Paul says our prayer is to be accompanied “with thanksgiving.”

Gratitude gets the focus off our fears and onto the Source of all our blessings.

This passage tells us:

1) What to avoid (worry).

2) What to do instead (pray with thanksgiving).

3) What God promises (peace instead of anxiety).

This promise is for those who belong to Christ.

Guaranteed to work.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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True Beauty

Recently I saw a picture of a woman I haven’t seen in over 50 years. When she was in her teens, she was quite attractive, but more than five decades have taken their toll on her face.

But that’s OK—provided she is beautiful on the inside.

Beyond externals

Isaac McNally made an interesting point regarding the Worthy Woman of Proverbs 31—it doesn’t say whether she was outwardly beautiful. After describing the excellence of her character, the passage does say, however, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised” (v. 30).

Addressing Christian wives, Peter writes, “Your adornment must not be merely external . . . but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

As God sees it

Whether one is physically attractive or not, it’s what’s inside that counts. When God sent Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king over Israel, Samuel was highly impressed when he saw the oldest son Eliab.

But God told him, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

God’s values and ours so often clash.

That’s why we need to be in the Scriptures daily, to re-program our thinking to be in line with His. Then we can appreciate what He counts as true beauty.

From the inside out.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Christian in the Workplace

A dear brother in Christ recently received a very affirmative written evaluation from his supervisor, commending him for his consistently positive attitude at work.

Likely, this supervisor has observed others who gripe, gossip, and create friction among coworkers. In contrast, this brother’s attitude really stands out.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).

How else can Christians let their light shine in the workplace?

Be honest.

Employers are looking for people they can trust completely—who never lie, pilfer, or cut corners. Paul says that this kind of work ethic of “showing all good faith . . . will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect” (Titus 2:9-10).

Work hard and work well.

The Christian who gives 100% on the job not only earns the respect of his superiors, but also serves as a pacesetter for fellow employees.

“Whatever you do,” Paul exhorted Christian slaves, “do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24).

Do more than required.

This is the principle of going the second mile, as taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:41).

When my mother-in-law got caught up with her work as a secretary, she’d ask her boss, “Is there anything else I can do?”

A job is so much more than a paycheck.

It’s a golden opportunity to make a positive impression on those who are curious or even skeptical about what being a Christian is all about.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Who am I?

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Now what?

A man who has worked for the same company for 25 years suddenly finds himself out the door, due to downsizing. His self-identity has been tied up in his profession. Starting over at his age is a daunting prospect.

Long before he thought it would happen, a professional athlete’s record-setting career ends abruptly with a debilitating injury. Now that his glory days are over, the very thought of being a “has-been” is unbearable.

A woman whose chief role in life has been nurturing children must now adjust to the empty nest. What is she to do with herself now?

How will we respond?

If we haven’t already experienced it, likely we will. Being forced out of a role that has given us a strong sense of self-worth and identity can be emotionally devastating.

Our comfortable, familiar world has suddenly lost its reference points, and we are adrift.

A healthier perspective

Child-rearing is vital. Careers are necessary. But usually we fill these roles for a few decades at most. Then what?

What we need, both during and after our cherished roles, is an over-arching and undergirding sense of true meaning and purpose transcending and energizing all aspects of our lives—right down to the very last breath.

In Christ we have it, and only in Him!

“I came,” He said, “that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

When Christ is at the very center of our lives, then everything else falls into place. We do not derive our identity from a role, but from our relationship with Him.

That’s what gives us the ability to adapt, adjust, and even thrive regardless of life’s changes.

If this sounds unattainable, let’s consider this: Many who have tried Christ’s way can testify from personal experience that before they knew Him, they didn’t really know how to live.

But now they do.

And so can we.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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When the Rains Come Down–and In

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Since our backyard slopes downward toward the house, when heavy rains come, the accumulation sometimes invites itself right into our kitchen without even knocking.

The efforts we’ve made so far to divert the rainwater away from our house haven’t worked too well, so next we’ll try an outdoor sump pump.

This week the rains have really been coming down—and in. The first night of flooding I didn’t get a full night’s sleep, getting out of bed periodically to deal with the problem.

The wet/dry vac we borrowed from our neighbor has been a tremendous help in keeping the inflow manageable.

So what helps put situations like this into perspective?

It could be a whole lot worse.

A family we knew in Pennsylvania had floodwaters fill their basement and their first floor, and up into the second floor a foot or more. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d rank that a 10—and ours only a 1, if even that.

It’s only temporary.

It helps to remember that 99.9% of the time our house is dry. Floods always subside and the sun will shine again.

If we are faithful in Christ, even the very worst of our troubles in this life cannot pursue us into the next.

It’s an ideal opportunity for growth.

Though the apostle Paul experienced many severe hardships, he could still say,  “. . . we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope . . .” (Romans 5:3-4).

Many believers have discovered from their own experience that hardship can actually turn out to be a very positive thing (Psalm 119:67, 71; Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10; 12:7-10).

We can either let trials embitter us, or we can be open to the lessons they can teach us.

There’s so much to learn!

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Suffering Viewed Through the Lens of Faith

A few weeks ago Jimitri and Ruby Green, much-loved members of our congregation, learned that little Jimitri Jr. (whom they call Deuce) has a rare form of leukemia that is difficult to treat.

Yesterday Jimitri sent an update on Deuce’s condition. He’s making good progress, in answer to many prayers!

Peace in the storm

What impressed me most is the upbeat attitude they have chosen to take through this ordeal. Jimitri wrote:

“The following statement may sound weird, but I am blessed to have the opportunity to go through what we are experiencing. Although it is hard, there is a great deal of good that has come from it, and we’ve spent the multitude of days thus far in pure and perfect peace, knowing that God is with us. It’s amazing to know that so much peace comes with faith and trust. We’ve realized that God has not promised us a life without storms. But what He has promised to those who trust in Him is “Peace” in those tribulations.

“Please let the church know that we love them so much and that every word of encouragement, every card and every visit are not overlooked nor taken for granted. It fills our hearts with so much cheer to know that we are not in this alone.”

Joy in suffering

If Jimitri and Ruby did not have their faith and the encouragement and prayers of their church family, how well would they be doing?

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

The paradox of joy in suffering may seem to some to be unrealistic and nonsensical, but to Jimitri and Ruby, it makes perfect sense.

They’re living it!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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How Can We Help in Time of Loss?

A woman has a miscarriage. A middle-aged man is laid off at work. A family’s house burns. Parents lose a teenage son to suicide. A child is diagnosed with cancer. A surviving spouse must now go on without the other.

Responding to loss

A common response to the suffering of people we know is to do nothing—not because we don’t care, but because we just don’t know what to say or do.

When Job’s friends came after he suffered the triple loss of his children, wealth, and health, they may have meant well but succeeded only in adding to his grief by their ill-chosen words. “Sorry comforters” is what Job called them (Job 16:2).

How can we effectively show concern—especially when we haven’t experienced what others are suffering?

For starters, we can educate ourselves on what is and what is not helpful to say to someone in distress. Here’s an example of such a resource: https://www.healyourlife.com/10-best-things-to-say-to-someone-in-grief.

How best to help

In marked contrast to Job’s so-called friends, Jonathan was a great encouragement to David during a dark time in his life. Jonathan found his friend and wept with him (1 Samuel 20:31-42; 23:15-16).

Many years later David was again on the run. Barzillai along with others brought bedding and abundant food supplies for David and those with him—“for they said, ‘The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness’” (2 Samuel 17:27-29).

When Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he so appreciated the loyal support of his friend Onesiphorus, who “often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me” (2 Timothy 1:16-17).

Many of us know what it’s like to be on the receiving end when friends show up with a hug, a kind word, a listening ear, a prayer, a gift of food—and who even run errands for us and help with household chores.

Knowing the comfort others have been to us in our own time of need, how then can we pass along the kindness the next time we learn of a loss?

With so many hurting people around us, we shouldn’t lack for an opportunity!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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