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Is There a Right Kind of Worry?

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WorryFor the most part, worry is wrong. Jesus teaches this during His sermon on the mount. Listen to His words when He says, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Mt 6.25ff)

Jesus plainly shows us that it is wrong to have great anxiety over material things such as what we will eat or wear. Worry about the mundane things of this earth is useless because it changes nothing and worry is faithless because it reflects a lack of confidence that God can and will take care of us.

 

With that being said, is there ever a healthy kind of worry? Yes, actually there is, although we might choose to use words like concern or care in place of worry. Take a look at what the apostle Paul says, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.” (Phil 2.19-20)
Both Paul and Timothy are greatly concerned, even worried, about their brethren in Philippi. They were evidently facing some adversity that tested their Christian conduct (Phil 2.27-30) which could damage them spiritually. Paul was determined to send Timothy to help them due to Timothy’s deep love and sincere care for the Philippians. I believe we can say that both of these men were vitally concerned, or even worried, about the spiritual welfare of their fellow Christians.

 

This is not the only time Paul would feel great anxiety in his heart concerning all of the churches, to the Corinthians he said, “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” (2 Cor 11.28)
Paul was not worried about how many times he would be put in jail, beaten, or shipwrecked, these are all worldly things. What concerned him was humbleness, teaching Christ, and standing up against false teaching. He felt great concern, anxiety, and yes worry, for God’s children who faced the kind of adversity that could weaken the spirit and their bond with God.

 

So we ought to try to conquer our fretfulness over the mundane, temporal matters of our earthly life, while realizing that there is a legitimate place for true concern and care for the spiritual welfare of others.



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Words To Live By

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                From time to time I have had the privilege of looking through a ‘preacher’s Bible’. I am referring to that Bible which has been used by a preacher for many years. They are often easy to pick out among others. One of the first things you might notice is the duck-tape holding the cover together or the rubber bands around the outside to keep notes, bookmarks, and even pages from falling out. Speaking of pages, they are stained along the edges from many years of fingers seeking knowledge of God. You will not hear the crinkle of a ‘new Bible’ here.

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                This Bible has circles and arrows pointing out one verse from another. Some places are underlined and others highlighted. CIA code breakers would have a hard time figuring out the pattern of how verses are marked and referenced. Greek words are scattered everywhere. So many notes can be found in the margins that you might think a whole book could be written from them alone. In fact, some have; Wayne Jackson wrote a book titled Notes from the Margin of My Bible.

                Thumbing through a Bible such as this is humbling. It becomes a diary and testament to one man’s love for his God. The weight and responsibility of a teacher of God’s word can be felt within the lovingly worn pages. I asked once, “how do you decide what verses to highlight? Are they just special to you or do you have some other pattern?” You see, I was interested so I too could have an impressive looking Bible. How foolish, how selfish of me.

                This kind, older preacher smiled and then chuckled. He went over to his desk and pulled out a stack of index cards three or four inches thick. They too were stained with age and use. He explained that when he was a young preacher his friend and mentor told him to begin memorizing scripture. “You’ll ne-er regret et”, he mimicked. The handwritten cards helped him memorize and keep scripture fixed in his mind. Only then would he highlight them in his Bible. I swallowed a lump in my throat as I flipped the pages. There was not a single opening without verses highlighted in one color or another, some in colored pencil, others in marker. Here in my hands was a lifetime spent following in the footsteps of the savior. My eyes tear up just contemplating the sacrifices he must have made through the years and the number of souls that will one day be in heaven due to one man’s humble dedication to God.

                I have fondly recalled all of that to hopefully encourage you in this; teachers, preachers, dads, moms, Christians, we all grow weary from time to time. Life presents us with trials that will test our faith. Sometimes we just seem to run into a case of writer’s block that lasts longer than we hoped, and other times we are afraid to become more for God than who we are now. During those times, might I suggest, if you can, look at an old duck-taped, rubber-banded, circled, arrowed, and edge darkened ‘preacher’s Bible’ and consider that God has blessed us with a great gift…His word, direction, and love, all waiting for us to simply reach out and accept it. You just may be awed at how humbling and inspiring it can be.

Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts. (Jer 15:16)

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  (Jos 1:8)

Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. (Psa 1:1-3)

Who At The Door Is Standing

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DoorWhat a beautiful song and message this is! My soul stirs within me as we sing this hymn, and it makes me acutely aware of the Lord’s tremendous love and patience. Think about these words from the second stanza:

“All thro’ the dark hours dreary, knocking again is He; Jesus art Thou not weary, waiting so long for me?”

            Many people wait so very long before submitting to Jesus and becoming Christians. Thankfully He is enduringly patient. We, as Christians, often procrastinate in our coming back to the Lord after we have sinned. Christians and non-Christians alike lay awake at night, pricked by a guilty conscience. That’s what the song is talking about, during the dreary hours, Jesus is “knocking” on the door of our hearts and hoping we will reconcile with Him. Consider the thoughts of David as he expresses the heaviness he feels in his heart: (Psalm32:4) “For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.” Have you ever felt as David did? What a terrible burden it is to bear, and the really horrible part is that we choose to place that burden on ourselves!

Here is the response the Lord wants in the third stanza: “Door of my heart, I hasten! Thee will I open wide; tho’ He rebuke and chasten, He shall with me abide.”

The Lord wants to abide or live with all people. Of course, He can’t abide with all people as they won’t all submit their will and ways to Him. That is the thrust of the song. He is waiting, waiting, and waiting…standing at the doorway of our heart, patiently enduring our silence, just waiting for us to open up. The refrain of the song ends with this statement: “If thou wilt heed My calling, I will abide with thee.”If” is such a small word to have so great a meaning. “If” will keep people separated from Christ. However, if we do His will, He will be with us forever. He will be with us through the good times and the times when we don’t know how we can continue. He will be there on Judgment Day and tell God that we are His and to welcome us home.

Have you let Jesus in? He is still patiently waiting outside the door of your heart. When will you let Him in or allow Him back into your life? Don’t make Him wait long as we may not be here to answer the door tomorrow.

It’s MY Big Gulp

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Not too long ago now, there was an argument raging in the city of New York over the mayor’s dictate that a person cannot buy a single soft drink 32oz or larger. If you want a ‘big gulp’ from Seven Eleven then you will just have to buy two smaller ones and drink them both. The situation ignited the airwaves with controversy, something we Americans seem to thrive on.

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            One nutritionist argued that America is eating itself to death, literally. Obesity rates are higher than in any other country she said. Not to mention the deaths caused by heart attack and diabetes that can be caused by overconsumption.

            While I do not accept the mayor of New York’s solution to sugar consumption, I did have to agree with one thing. We are a nation addicted to things that are not good for us both physically and spiritually.

            Consider the words of Christ, “Then He said to them all, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9.23)

When we are hungry, we eat, but often it is too much ‘comfort’ food. I wonder, do we feed our minds in the same way? We soak up shows like Duck Dynasty when we want to sit and relax…for hours. People spend more time in activities like texting or messaging friends than they do in even considering their own soul. Others just don’t have time to consume spiritual food, opting for the world’s drive through instead.

            If our desire is to be with God in heaven forevermore, then we have to find the strength to put ourselves aside and pick up the cross of Christ, every day. We must develop the courage not only to be seen with Christ, but to stand up for His cause.

            To be honest, it doesn’t matter if you want to walk around with your 44oz Coke from Sonic, it’s OK. But if we fill ourselves to overflowing with the world instead of God, then we will die a spiritual death. Don’t die a spiritual death! Take up your cross, open the Bible, eat the bread of life, drink spiritual water, feed your soul, follow in His steps and live with the Lord forever.

Three Worlds, Two Loves

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BibleHeartIt may be interesting to you that there are three worlds mentioned in the Bible. John speaks of all three, beginning with the physical world we live in and on (Jn 1.10). Jesus teaches that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that all may be saved (Jn 3.16). The world here represents people as a whole. Finally, John contrasts two worlds (I Jn 5.19) by comparing the people of God on one hand and those of the world who belong to the ‘wicked one’, or Satan, on the other. It is the vast difference between these two worlds that should deeply concern us as Christians.

Satan uses our love of the physical world to draw us away from God (I Jn 2.15-16). Those who turned against God are aptly called ‘worldly people’ and are driven by lusts of the body, lusts of sight, and lusts of earthly rewards such as the praise of men (Gen 3, Mat 4). Scripture tells of some who loved the world more than God: The rich, young ruler (Mt 19.16-22), Judas (Jn 12.1-6, Mk 14.10-11), and Demas (2 Tim 4.9-10) are but a few. The truth is that the world, its lusts and those who follow after them will not last. Sadly, in the end, they will be destroyed (I Jn 2.17)

The love that the Father has for us however, is a different matter altogether. The only effective antidote to the poison of the world is to fill the heart with love of the Father (I Jn 2.15, Mt 6.24, 12.30) just as He loves us. Those who do the will of God will not be destroyed, rather they will live forever (I Jn 2.17). Abraham loved God and obeyed (Heb 11.10), so did Moses (Heb 11.26). Who could ever doubt that the apostle Paul loved God to the very core of his being and showed it through the life that he lived (2 Tim 4.6-8)?

What about us? Do we love the God enough that we can say no to the world and its evil? Do we actively seek to keep the poison out, and let God’s love in? One antidote to the world is to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Col 3.16a). When our hearts are filled to the brim with love and obedience to God, then there is no room left for the evils of the world. Fill your heart today and every day with His righteousness!

Who’s Your Barnabas?

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There are a few places in this world that are both awe inspiring and humbling at the same time. One such place is the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. Row upon row of pristine white crosses line a deep green sea of earth. So many lives lost, dreams cut short, opportunities never realized. Standing there, you may realize that you are truly are in a company of heroes.

(Image via http://home.comcast.net/~ejwoodall/Christmas_In_The_Military.html)

Experiencing the reality of such a place may make one wonder, how will we be thought of by others once our time on earth is done? It is impossible to sum up a person’s entire being with jut a few words, but imagine for a moment, what is the one thing you would like to be most remembered for?

Barnabas was a man, just as we are, and he is mentioned only a few times in scripture. What is said about him however, speaks volumes.

When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. (Acts 11.23)

(Image Via www.yourdictionary.com)

Barnabas demonstrated his love for the Lord and his fellow man through one of the most powerful means known to man. Barnabas was an encourager! What a wonderful thing to be remembered for. Consider for a moment how our lives would change if we all became more like Christ by following the example of this godly man.

So…Who is your Barnabas?