Do Not Worry

Many of us find it easy to worry about things in our life. Matters that relate to our jobs, families, finances, and more can cause anxiety. But Jesus told his followers, “Do not be worried about your life” (Matthew 6:25). Sometimes this is easier said than done. But notice what Jesus said about this subject:

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not the life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25-27).

In these verses, Jesus asked three questions. As the master teacher, He was able to ask questions in a way that was more instructive than inquisitive. Notice the three points Jesus made that will help us deal with anxiety.

1. There are more important things to consider (Matthew 6:25) – Yes, food and clothing are important. But a few verses later Jesus explained how we should order our priorities: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). We need to put a priority on spiritual things. We must recognize that the physical things we worry about are only temporal.

2. We are valuable in the sight of God (Matthew 6:26) – God provides for the birds of the air. Jesus said that in God’s eyes we are worth much more than birds. If God will provide for the needs of animals, He will provide for our needs.

3. It does no good to worry (Matthew 6:27) – We cannot prolong our lives by worrying. Another translation mentioned one adding height to his physical body. No good is accomplished by worrying. Good will be accomplished when we consider the situation and act appropriately. Anxiety hinders us from doing this.

When you are tempted to worry, remember what Jesus taught. Make sure you have your priorities in the proper order. Know that you are valuable in the sight of God. Recognize that worrying will do no good to help the situation that is causing you the anxiety.

Remember also the benefit of prayer. Paul wrote, “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).

Let us keep all of these things in mind. Do not let anxiety hinder you from serving God. Put your faith and trust in Him that He will take care of you, as long as you “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

–by Andy Sochor, Eastside church of Christ in Morgantown, KY.

Center

“. . . and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame” (1 Peter 2:6).

GOD WILL NEVER DISAPPOINT US. He is the only secure, unchanging center around which we can order our lives, and in which we can ground our peace. He is an infallible point of reference.

To say that God will never disappoint us is not to say that we will never be disappointed. We may sometimes be disappointed that God does not do as we wish. But this is not because of any objective failure of faithfulness on His part. It comes rather from a subjective failure on our part to understand God’s wisdom, His methods, and even His love.

God is often described in the Scriptures in terms of things that are solid and immovable. One figure is that of a rock. David, for example, said, “Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved” (Psalm 62:1,2).

But another interesting figure is that of an anchor. In the New Testament, Christians with a wavering faith were urged to hold on to their hope: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19). And they were reminded that God’s promise is backed up by His oath, “that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:17,18).

Our frequent frustrations in life result, more often than not, from having an unstable center. In selecting our end-all-and-be-all, we select some fairly shaky things, often with tragic results. And even when we suppose that God is our center, our faith often turns out to be not in God Himself but in certain earthly blessings that He’s allowed us to have temporarily. But like Job, we need to love God for His own sake, even when His wisdom withdraws particular blessings from us. And like Paul, we need to be grounded in God and able to say, “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

“Change and decay in all around I see; O Thou who changest not, abide with me” (Henry F. Lyte).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

The Set of Our Sails

“And Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people answered him not a word” (1 Kings 18:21).

WHEN IT COMES TO GOD, WE WON’T MAKE MUCH PROGRESS IF WE “FALTER BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS.” There is a certain amount of difficulty that has to be overcome in the course of our journey toward God, and that difficulty won’t be overcome if we haven’t made up our minds and committed ourselves to making the journey. The roadside will be littered with the bleached bones of those who wavered — those who weren’t sure what their opinion was as to the importance of God and weren’t sure whether devoting themselves to Him was something they wanted to do.

Less important excursions in life often don’t require any definite goal or decisiveness on our part. For me, one of life’s great joys is the joy of walking, and there are some times when I set out on a walk without any notion of where I want to go. It’s enjoyable just to walk. The destination might change during the walk, and side trips can easily be taken. On such a walk, a little haphazardness doesn’t hurt; it may even enhance the pleasure of the trek.

But haphazard progress won’t get us to heaven. We won’t reach God by casually strolling through life admiring the scenery. God is the God of those who “diligently seeking Him” (Hebrews 11:6), and that implies the necessity of conscious decision. If God is our goal, we won’t move toward Him if we don’t reach for Him.

In the end, there’ll only be two groups of people. The dividing line won’t be between the fortunate and the unfortunate, or between those who had it easy and those who had it hard; it will be between those who decided to go to heaven and those who didn’t. When “every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14) is gusting every which way, it’s the set of our sails that will get us home.

One ship drives east and another west, 
with the self-same winds that blow; 
’tis the set of the sails and not the gales 
that determines where they go. 
Like the winds of the sea are the ways 
of fate, as we voyage along through life; 
’tis the set of a soul that decides its goal 
— and not the calm or the strife. 
(Ella Wheeler Wilcox)

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

Strength for the Loyal Heart

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him”
(2 Chronicles 16:9).

THE LORD IS LOOKING FOR THOSE WHOSE HEARTS WILL BE TRUE TO HIM. And He is eager to “show Himself strong” on behalf of such people, those who know the meaning of loyalty.

Asa, the king of Judah to whom the admonition was addressed in 2 Chronicles 16:9, was a good man in many respects. The general course of his life was commendable, but there were times when his decisions left much to be desired. Earlier, he had been told by one of the prophets, “The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (2 Chronicles 15:2). This warning was not always heeded, however. And when Asa deviated from his duty, he forfeited the help of a God who fights on behalf of “those whose hearts are wholly his” (Jerusalem Bible).

There is hardly a virtue more noble than loyalty. Consider the cluster of words in our language that denote this trait. Faithfulness and fidelity imply adherence to one’s vows or obligations — the fulfillment of duty and the keeping of promises. Allegiance means that one has been true to an authority to which he is subject. Fealty, an older word, once referred to the obligation of a vassal to a feudal lord, but now means faithfulness to a law or principle that one has pledged to uphold. And the word loyalty itself gives us the picture of a person who has such a steadfast and devoted attachment to something that he or she is not easily turned aside.

Think of the good things that would come out of a serious application of these ideas to our seeking of God. If we sought Him with a loyalty that He could count on — a faithful love that would hold us at His side — what strength He would make available to us! Our greatest need is for fidelity, the honor that holds steadfastly to all the truth we know of God, however little that may be at present. If we turn our back on what we know of Him, then, as traitors, we cut ourselves off from His help at the time we need it most. Our seeking must be with an allegiance that will die in battle before it will do any treachery to God.

“Lord, help me faithfully to journey along my road, holding my rightful place in the great procession of humanity” (Michel Quoist).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

Calm Enough to Consider

“He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit” (Proverbs 17:27).

IT IS DANGEROUS TO LET OUR MINDS BECOME SO AGITATED THAT WE CAN’T CONSIDER OUR ACTIONS CAREFULLY. Our adversary, the devil, specializes in confusion. He loves to prey upon minds that are torn and upset by multiple worries, and he often has his greatest success in tempting us when we’re so beset by cares that we act on impulse, failing to consider the consequences of our actions.

Solomon observed that “a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.” But how can we have a calm spirit when many stressful things come at us at once, all of which have to be considered? There surely can be no question that this is one of life’s most difficult challenges, and there are no easy answers. Like most difficult things, however, cultivating a calm mind is a matter of training.

Our brains may have a more complicated connection to our spirits than the other parts of the body, but the brain (i.e., the physiological mind) is still a part of the body, and as such, it has to be trained to serve, rather than hinder, the spirit. Naturally unruly and seemingly with a will of its own, the mind has to be put in its place, disciplined, and taught to help us get to heaven.

Training our minds to be calm is like every other kind of training in that it has to be done in small steps. It’s a matter of incremental growth over time. What we do is put ourselves on a deliberate regimen of training, and we “exercise” every day. We find some little thing we can do today to help calm our minds, and that victory encourages us to do the same tomorrow.

At the very least, we need to consciously value a calm spirit. We need to pursue it, and when we find ourselves without it, we need to be wise enough to see the danger we’re in and make godly efforts to recover our calmness as soon as possible. If we can’t always be calm, we can certainly grow in that direction. Today, like every day, there is some step you can take that will lead to a mind that’s more peaceful — and more careful. What is that step?

“A calm mind is a great asset in this life. Without it your devotional life will not bear much fruit. If your heart is troubled, you are vulnerable to the enemy of the soul. When you are agitated, you are not able to make good decisions. You will stumble into snares” (Lawrence Scupoli).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com