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Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up. Proverbs 12:25 NLT

worryWhen I was growing up I remember singing an old chorus that went something like, “Why worry when you can pray, trust Jesus, He’ll be your stay. Don’t be a doubting Thomas, trust fully in his promise? Why Worry, Worry, Worry, Worry, When you can pray.”

Cute little chorus and I remember enjoying singing it often. Then life set it. I became a grown-up. I watched the news; I fought valiantly (and often lost) battles with temptation; People let me down, ridiculed me, misunderstood me and put way too many expectations on me. I made stupid mistakes and waited for the consequences to set in. I think that’s why I worry.

Worry is really nothing more than a form of idolatry. Worry says, in a sense, “This is too much for me to handle, therefore it must be too much for God to handle. I’m doomed!”

King Solomon was right when he wrote in the book of Proverbs, “Worry weighs a person down…” Those of us who struggle with worry know the feeling. Worry is like a downward spiral. The more we worry, the more stress we bring on ourselves. The more stress, the more worry. We lose sleep, which causes stress which causes worry which causes stress which…well, you get the idea.

Worry robs us of the joy God intended us to have. Worry affects our relationships. Those who are chronic worriers become ‘Debbie Downer’ type people. Worry can cripple our creativity and steal away our ability to reason wisely.

So, what can those of us who struggle with worry do? First of all (and this may seem obvious to you), Pray. Jeremiah 33:3 says, ‘ Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.’  (NLT)

God repeatedly tells us in his word that we will have struggles. We will be persecuted, mistreated, misunderstood and even killed. But he also assures us that nothing can happen outside of his permissive will. He tells the prophet Jeremiah to ask him and he’ll reveal to him all he NEEDS to know about tomorrow. Key word there is NEED. Jesus says, don’t worry about tomorrow. Work on today. Tomorrow is already taken care of.

When the enemy of worry attacks, what should you do? Here are some things I have tried to do. (I’m still working on these.)

  1. Is this something that will definitely happen? (Psychologists tell us that nearly 80% of the things people worry about are things that will never happen)
    1. If Yes, move to step two.
    2. If no, the chances are unlikely that this will happen, Pray that God will release you from this bondage of worry and help you trust in him.
  2. If what you are worrying about is likely to happen then ask yourself if there is anything you can do about it.
    1. If Yes, move to step three.
    2. If No, Pray that God will release you from the bondage of worry. The enemy wants to constantly question God’s promises to you. (Garden of Eden ring a bell)
  3. If what you are worrying about is real and there is something you can do about it strategize ways in which to take action. Four areas of your own life to consider in the strategy are:
    1. Communication: How is my prayer life? Am I really in touch with God on how I should act/respond to this crisis?
    2. Circumstances: What have I learned in the past about this type of situation?
    3. Counsel: Who am I listening to? God sends people into our lives to help us through the tough times. The enemy sends people into our lives to mess with our minds. Seek counsel from those you can trust and who have shown by their lives that God is working in them and through them. This may be a pastor, a friend, or if the problem is severe enough, a professional counselor. It’s amazing to me how we are more than willing to go to a medical doctor for physical ailments but those ailments of the heart we tend to think we can heal ourselves. Get help if you need it from a professional.
    4. Conscience: What does my gut tell me? After you have spent time with God listening and sharing your heart; after you have pondered the wisdom gained through your past; after you have sought godly counsel, there will still be times you need to rely on that gut feeling you have. When you are in tune with God, this is often the Holy Spirit speaking to you.

Why worry? We have a loving heavenly Father that wants to see us through the tough times in life.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please forgive me for my lack of faith and the idolatry that keeps me from trusting you. Thank you that you know my heart, my needs, my fears and my frustrations far better than I do. I pray against the demon of worry in my life and ask that based on your power you remove it from me. Amen.


As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Genesis 15:12

It’s during those darkest times of our lives that God often reveals himself. It’s when we are too tired from striving that his strength comforts us. It’s during those times when we can’t see his hand that he reveals himself.

Imagine the scene when God revealed himself to Abram. Jehovah God had promised Abram that his descendants would be more numerous than the sand and that his seed would deliver mankind from their captivity.

God’s promise was sealed with sacrifice but not until Abram fell into a deep sleep and a thick and dreadful darkness encompassed him. It was then, at this darkest time in Abram’s life that God restated his promise.

That’s the way God tends to work. We don’t understand it. It doesn’t always seem real loving for a God who is, in essence love, but it’s the way he works and our trust in him is the foundation on which we enter into the darkness and exit in his timing.

Hundreds of years later, on a stormy Sea of Galilee, a small boat was tossed about in the darkness. The crew was trying desperately to get the boat to shore before the waves broke up the ship and sent them all to a watery grave.

In the midst of the terror, someone noticed a lone figure asleep in the bow. “Jesus!” They screamed over the howling wind, “Don’t you care that we are drowning?” It wasn’t a gentle question. It wasn’t whispered in his ear. It was a scream of terror.

How could Jesus sleep through the darkness and fierceness of the storm? It’s easy to do when you trust the one directing the wind. Complete trust in God allows us to rest in the midst of the most dreadful periods of our lives.

If you are like me, you will admit that most of the time, we lay awake at night because of worry. It could be worry based on our own poor choices. It could be worry over the effect others can have on us. It can be worry over things we know we should have done, or not done, long ago.

Abram, like Jesus, teach us something important for life. During the darkest, scariest, most dreadful times of our lives, our hearts can rest when we completely trust a God who loves us and has promised he will never leave us. EVER.

PRAYER: Father, I confess to you that I’m scared. The things I see in my world, my relationships, and my future are dark and dreadful. Through the power of your Spirit I ask that you would help me rest in you because my trust lay wholly in you for my tomorrows, regardless of my past. Amen.


There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? John 14:2

My daughter is amazing. She’s ten, going on 30 something at times. She’s bright and philosophical and has a heart for people who are struggling with life. She’s always writing down thoughts; paragraphs which seem far deeper than her years. One of her writings included this phrase, “Next time you complain because the shower is cold remember that someone else in the world is saying “Ah, I love this shower. I haven’t had a shower in weeks. They don’t care if it’s cold or warm, they just enjoy the shower.”

It’s easy to get sucked into the mindset that we need to be comfortable, to have a life that is free of pain, free of frustration, free of worry. God’s word tells us over and over again that we shouldn’t expect that kind of existence in this world. Jesus tells us ‘The foxes have holes, the birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). He says this in reference to those who want to follow him. Discipleship has no place for those who seek an easy life here on earth.

To follow Christ may mean, we break ranks with the popular notions of our times. Being a Christ-follower means we step outside the realm of political correctness while at the same time exhibiting grace.

That’s the hard news. The good news is this. While we may struggle to find a place of rest here on earth, Jesus is preparing a place for us where we will finally receive what we all really seek in this world, a place called home.

Here we grow weary with the battle. Here we endure the hardship of living in a world that seems intent on destroying all we know is pleasing to our Father. Here we are forced to make difficult choices that may tarnish our earthly reputation. Our sense of belonging can be shattered by misunderstanding and suspicion.

Jesus words still ring true. Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry at the struggles of daily life. There’s a place for you. A place I’ve designed especially for you to enjoy for eternity. In this world we’ll have struggles, but He has overcome the world, and through him we can overcome as well (John 16:33).

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I strive to live for you every day. It seems as though it gets harder to make the decisions I need to make to follow you in a world intent on self-destruction. I praise you for the promise that I can overcome all that comes before me in your name. I praise you that I have a place with you; a place called home. Amen.


You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up; then God will show mercy to you. Proverbs 28:13 (GNT)

One time while camping in the north woods of Minnesota we saw an interesting phenomenon. When we retired for the night we’d unknowingly left a jar of peanuts open and on a table. In the early morning hours a chipmunk happened to come along and seeing an opportunity, climbed into the jar and filled his cheeks with delicious peanuts. Unfortunately, the mouth of the jar was just large enough for him to get in, too small for him to get out with his peanut-filled cheeks.

We watched from our camper as he tried repeatedly to escape, but to no avail finally, he took the only recourse he had. He emptied his cheeks and (I imagine) begrudgingly left his treasure behind.

There are times in life when we hold so tightly to things that they keep us from enjoying the freedom God intended for us to have. Guilt is one of those things. Guilt can be ‘real’ guilt, based on things we’ve done against God, against ourselves or against others. Guilt can be false as well, based on the words and activities of others who use their power to keep us subdued and imprisoned by their own anger.

Like the chipmunk, we struggle to move on with victory in sight, but never seem to be able to make that final leap, never seem to be able to rid ourselves of those feelings of guilt and failure that bog us down.

  • Guilt forces you to focus on the past and clouds your vision for the future;
  • Guilt focuses on your failures not your strengths;
  • Guilt sends inaccurate messages about who you are. It tells you that YOU are a bad person when in reality it was your actions that were bad, not you;
  • Guilt masquerades as anger (leading to bitterness);
  • Guilt is a breeding ground for fear & worry;
  • Guilt can shorten your life expectancy by raising your blood pressure, risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, and anxiety disorders.

Millions of dollars are spent each year to find cures for a variety of illnesses. The good news is that medical science has made great strides in controlling or even curing many diseases that were once life ending.

The better news is that when we talk about guilt, the cure is already available to us…and it’s free! Guilt will never be resolved by a simple pill. Guilt will never be relieved by counselors or religion. Guilt can only be taken from us through confession to the one person who promises to grant us forgiveness and mercy.

Jesus Christ came to free you of the burden of guilt. He came to cleanse your guilty conscience. Other people may refuse to forgive you; other people may continue to remind you of your faults; there may be physical reminders of your poor choices that you will carry the rest of your life. But through confession of your sin, your guilt is taken away through Jesus Christ, who grants mercy to all of us.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I’ve been lugging this baggage of guilt with me for far too long. I confess my wrongs to you and ask you to forgive me and grant me mercy so that I can live free of the guilt that kept me captive. Amen.

 

 

 


But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Luke 2:10

You can’t really blame the shepherds for trembling in fear that night. Never before had there been a scene like the one played out in the hills of Bethlehem. An angel, a messenger from the most high God appears and the entire sky lights up. Not a flash, like lightning, but a light no doubt bright as the sun.

“Don’t be afraid.”

Words of assurance. Words of hope. Words of comfort. Words that remind us, when we are faced with things we don’t understand, or things that keep us up at night, that there is a power greater than our need that can conquer whatever obstacle lies before us.

God isn’t in the business of doing the spectacular to show his power, but he’ll show his power to calm our fears. That was the message of the Angle song. Don’t be afraid.

Don’t be afraid when business is down and the bills go up.

Don’t be afraid when the tension of the relationship flares up.

Don’t be afraid when you don’t have any place else to turn to; you feel abandoned; you feel alone.

Don’t be afraid when all the things you counted on as being secure begin to crumble.

Don’t be afraid when things happen you don’t understand and are beyond your control.

Why? Because there is one who understands. There is one who guides the seen and the unseen. One who knows the answer to your situation and is able and willing to comfort your fears and restore hope in your darkness.

What fear are you dealing with today? The song of the Angels is for you. God wants to reassure you of his love, of his message of hope, forgiveness, grace and mercy.

Who do you know that is in bondage to fear, doubt and worry? Perhaps the Father is nudging you to be a message of hope and consolation to them.

To the shepherds the reassurance came through the angels’ song. Where are you getting your reassurance today? From the packages under the tree? From the songs of hope and cheer? From the parties and hustle and bustle of the holidays. We all know those things will be gone in a moments time.

The Father’s message is the same to us today as it was when he appeared to the shepherds. His message is one of reassurance and hope for all people regardless of what troubles them.

For those who fear the Angel song brings hope. For those who know Christ, the Angel song reminds us to share that hope with those who are in bondage to the cares of this world.

PRAYER: Father God. Thank you for the Angel’s reminder to each of us that we have nothing to fear. Empower me to live in your confidence and to share that hope with those in need of comfort. Amen.

 

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