Experiencing Freedom from Worry

by Greg Laurie on Jan 22, 2021

I’m always amazed that people will spend good money to be frightened. They’ll ride the most radical roller coasters at an amusement park or watch the scariest movies out there.

Another emotion that works in tandem with fear is worry. And there are a lot of things to be worried about in today’s world. Yet some experts say that worry can actually shorten your life. Charles Mayo, one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic, said that he never knew anyone who died of overwork, but he knew many who died of worry.

Worry never makes anything better, and for all practical purposes, it makes things worse.

I like the philosophy of our friends Down Under who love to say, “No worries, mate.” For instance, if you ask for directions, they might say, “No worries, mate. You just go right over there.” That’s how we all ought to live.

In his letter to the Christians in Philippi, the apostle Paul wrote about what we should do instead of worrying. He said, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7 NLT).

Here’s something to consider. Paul wrote those words while he was a prisoner in Rome. It would have been one thing if he were lying on a beach somewhere in the Mediterranean, soaking up some rays and sipping an iced tea.

But he wasn’t. Not only was he in prison, but he didn’t know what his fate would be. His desire had been to go to Rome and preach the gospel, but instead he’d been arrested. He didn’t know whether he would be acquitted or beheaded.

Yet Paul could write these inspired words: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.”

Paul was saying, “Look, I’m in dire circumstances. If anyone could be miserable, it would be me. But I’m saying don’t worry about anything. Pray about everything.” His contentment came from knowing God.

In the same way, our contentment should come not from the things we have but from the relationship we have with God. That’s because no matter what we’re going through, God never will abandon us. God never will desert us.

The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk wrote, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (Habakkuk 3:17–18 NLT).

Are these the words of a crazy man? No, they’re the words of a man who knew that God was in control of his life and that God wouldn’t abandon him.

The word oops is not in God’s vocabulary. Isn’t that nice to know? I also know that God’s plans for us are better than our plans for ourselves, because God said, “For I know the plans I have for you . . . They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).

You might be experiencing tough circumstances today. Know that God is in control. God is sovereign. God knows what He’s doing.

The psalmist wrote, “But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life” (Psalm 42:8 NLT).

Paul knew about singing songs in the night. The Bible tells us in the Book of Acts that he and Silas were thrown in prison for preaching the gospel, their back ripped open by a Roman jailer’s whip. At around midnight, with their feet fastened in stocks, they “were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening” (16:25 NLT).

When you’re in pain, the midnight hour is not the easiest time to have a worship service. When you’re in the doctor’s office waiting for test results or in a waiting room when your loved one is having surgery, that is not an easy time to rejoice.

But you don’t rejoice only when you know the outcome; you rejoice ahead of time because you know that God is in control.

Freedom from worry not only requires right praying, but it also requires right thinking. Paul went on to say, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

Maintaining personal peace involves both the heart and the mind. The Bible tells us that God “will keep in perfect peace all who trust in [him], all whose thoughts are fixed on [him]!” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).

What we think about ultimately affects what we do. So we want to have our minds set on the things of the Lord.

Every temptation that will hit you always will come in the realm of your mind. Why? Because it’s command central. It’s in our minds that we plan, that we think, that we contemplate. It’s in our minds that we reach to the past through our memories and reach into the future through our imaginations.

So we need to train our minds to think both properly and biblically. Far too often we emote. We just react in the moment.

However, we need to think as the Bible teaches us to think, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NKJV).

Everyone can have lapses of faith. Everyone can have moments of despair. Everyone can experience times when they don’t understand what is going on in their lives. That is when we need to remind ourselves of what the Bible says.

Learn more about Pastor Greg Laurie.

This article was originally published at WND.com.

Interrupt the Downward Spiral

By Max Lucado

Anxiety is an out of control thought pattern.  It settles over the mind like a severe weather system, spewing thunderclouds and casting lightning bolts.  Life feels like an airplane in a tailspin.  It feeds on what-ifs and worst-case scenarios.

What if the Coronavirus is unstoppable.  What if a pandemic takes over?  I’ll be quarantined for weeks! The economy is sliding into a bear market.  I’ll lose my health.  I’ll lose my job.  I’ll lose it all.  How will I survive on unemployment?

Down. Down. Down.  Don’t give in to this thought pattern.  It’s a sinkhole. Don’t catastrophize your way into quicksand.  Take a deep breath and then…

1.   Pray about it. At the first hint of an anxious thought, Take the thought captive. Don’t tolerate the devil, not even for a second. Lasso the anxious thought with a word of prayer. Lord, there is an intruder at the door! Please take over!

2.   Identify the culprit.  Generalities are not permitted.  None of this: “I’m worried.” Get specific: Lord, I’m worried about the layoffs at work. Now, that’s better. But even more detailed: I’m worried that I will lose my job. Will I be able to find more work? Will we have to move? Specificity disarms anxiety.

3.  Take a reality check.  Is this a legitimate concern? Or is this a vague, ill-defined, rumor-fed possibility? They say layoffs are inevitable. Who are they?

4.  Take an action step.  Assuming the concern is legitimate, what can you do? Make a list of two or three steps you can Resist the urge to try to solve everything immediately.

5.  Ask: “Can God solve this?”  Is this challenge within his skill set? Is he overwhelmed by this setback? Are the angels pounding on the door of heaven trying to convince him to come out of hiding? Is he resisting?

I can’t handle this challenge It is too great. I don’t know what to do! I’m stumped, stuck, and stalled out.

No…I don’t think so either. God is never baffled or belittled. Take the problem to him.

Reflect on this verse: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment, You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me, says the Lord” (Isaiah 54:17).

And, pray it through:

Lord,

Thank you that “before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely” (Psalm 139:4).  Thank you that there are no surprises with you.  Help me find deep comfort in the fact that you are unshockable and nothing is too great, too terrible, too large, or too heavy for you.  Help me see the problems that I face today in light of how big you are.   Amen.

© Max Lucado  (adapted from Anxious for Nothing, Thomas Nelson, 2017)

He Gives Power to the Weak

 by ZAMA-ZOE GRACE

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Isaiah 40:28-30

Mounting up with wings as eagles

Greetings! Friends, How are you this day? Are you feeling tired and weary? I know the answer for many is a “No” because they have just witnessed God breaking through for them as they were passing through the storms of life. However, some feel tired and weary because the journey has been challenging for them. They don’t think they have any power in them to continue to fight and push through till the end. 

Well, I am here this day to encourage you and tell you once again that you are not alone in this battle; God is with you and for you. As I was meditating last night, I felt weary and exhausted, and I kept asking God the same question, when will the end of these trials comes to an end. For a moment, I felt that I don’t have the power to go on and finish this race. As I was entertaining this thought, the Holy Spirit started ministering back to me and reminded me of Isaiah, chapter 40, from verses 28 to 31. 

This chapter begins with proclaiming comfort for the people as quoted in the scripture below: 

Our God says to you:

    “Comfort, comfort my people with gentle, compassionate words.

 Speak tenderly from the heart to revive those in Jerusalem, and proclaim that their warfare is over.

Yes, the warfare has ended, even though it seems hard, but God is proclaiming this day that the fight has ended. In this chapter, God reveals Himself as our Shephard, who has gone ahead of us and has made every crooked path straight, every mountain and hill low, and every valley leveled. He has cleared the way ahead of us, and not only that, He has promised to give power to the weak and increase strength to the weary. 

However, there is a part we need to play for us to continue to finish this race. We have to wait patiently in the Lord, in His presence through prayer, praise and worship, tithing and giving offerings, serving in the house of God, and so on. There is a promise that God gives to those who are weary and, tired yet, continue to wait silently and patiently in His presence.

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired. Isaiah 40: 31 AMP

According to the above mentioned scripture, God will renew our strength and power as long as we continue to wait in His presence. We will receive new strength like never before, and we will mount up with wing as eagles and soar very high, we will run and not become weary, we will walk and not be faint. 

I got very excited and felt energized after meditating on this verse, I felt revival entering my soul, and I was overflowing with joy to continue and finish this race. May I encourage you this day to meditate on this chapter and allow God to fill you up afresh with His strength and power so you can mount up with wings like an eagle and start soaring high once again and run your race like never Before!

There is the power that comes with meditating on the word of God as we learn in Hebrews chapter 4, verse 12

For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart. AMP

May I also end this post with this quote from Nehemiah Chapter 8 verse 10.

Then Ezra said to them, “Go [your way], eat the rich festival food, drink the sweet drink, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be worried, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and your stronghold.

NEHEMIAH 8:10 AMP

I hope you found encouragement and inspiration to continue to wait in the presence of God. Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read—many blessings to you. God loves you, and He is with you and for you.

When Life Goes Sideways, God Is Still in Control

by Greg Laurie on Jan 8, 2021

Have you ever had one of those days when everything was going along beautifully, and then suddenly a crisis hit? It may have caused you to say, “Why me, Lord? What did I do to deserve this?”

The Bible asks the question, “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” (Romans 11:34 NKJV).

The answer to that question is I have . . . on many occasions. I’ve tried to give God counsel and direction.

But as I think about my attitude many times, I realize that I’m not alone. That’s why I’m so glad Peter’s story is in the Bible. You have to love a guy like him, because he was so utterly human. He was outspoken and thoroughly honest. Peter said what we’d probably say in a situation.

Although Peter was impulsive, impetuous and hotheaded, he also was very honest, courageous, and intelligent. And perhaps he was the most accessible of all the followers of Jesus.

I can look at Peter’s life and say, “There’s hope for me,” because not only does the Bible record Peter’s great victories, but it also records his foibles and defeats.

In Caesarea Philippi, Jesus commended Peter for his insightful statement in which he recognized that Jesus was the Messiah. But then Jesus spoke of His impending death and suffering.

Matthew’s Gospel tells us, “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (16:21 NKJV).

Jesus knew exactly what was in His future. It came as no surprise to Him. He even knew who would betray Him. He knew He would be raised from the dead, and He knew exactly when that would happen.

Peter, however, couldn’t believe that Jesus was saying this. In fact, Jesus used an interesting word here when He said He would be killed. From the original language, this word also could be translated “murdered.”

I wonder if Peter heard anything else after that. He must have been thinking, “What? That cannot happen!”

It’s commendable that Peter was concerned about Jesus, but he was missing what Jesus was trying to say. And he took things way too far: “Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’” (Matthew 16:22 NKJV).

Maybe Peter thought, “Look, I’m on a roll. It wasn’t that long ago when He told me, ‘Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’ Hey, I’d better set Jesus straight. He’s making a big mistake.”

Interestingly, in the original language the word used for “rebuke” carries the meaning of a leader or an officer rebuking someone under his jurisdiction. It’s a word that would describe a commanding officer giving his troops a tongue-lashing. It also implies that Peter did this repeatedly.

So picture this in your mind. Jesus had just made this statement and was obviously in anguish over it. And then Peter took an authoritarian position over the Lord and repeatedly began to rebuke Him.

Peter had lost touch with reality, but Jesus set him straight. He said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23 NKJV).

Now, why did Jesus say that? Because it was Satan who wanted to stop Jesus from going to the cross. But Jesus would not let anything deter him from His course. He knew what He had to do.

So one moment Peter was speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and the next moment he was speaking under the inspiration of the devil himself. It’s that continual struggle that we all face between right and wrong, between the flesh and the Spirit.

The Bible says, “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions” (Galatians 5:17 NLT).

And guess what? The battle never stops. No matter how long you’ve been a Christian, this battle will rage until your final day. On one hand you can speak under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and on the other hand you can speak under the inspiration of the flesh. We must guard our words and be careful, because that battle will persist.

May God help us to trust Him when He doesn’t do things the way we think He ought to do them. May God help us to trust Him when we’re tempted to say, “Why, Lord?” or when, like Peter, we say, “Lord, that’s a bad idea. What are you doing? What are you thinking?”

God is thinking of His eternal purposes. We can only see the short term and what will benefit us in this moment. God is looking at the long term, the big picture. And He knows what He’s doing.

It’s during these times that we must trust Him, cast ourselves at His feet and say, “Lord, I admit to You that I don’t understand. I don’t know why. But I thank You that You are in control.”

When it comes to things that I don’t understand, I fall back on what I do understand. I understand that God loves me, that He’s looking out for my best interests, and that He will work all things “together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 NLT).

I don’t understand a lot of things that happen in life, but God will make it clear in that final day. Until then, we all need to trust Him.

Learn more about Pastor Greg Laurie.

This article was originally published at WND.com.

With the Exception of Weekly Churchgoers, Americans’ Mental Health Is at a 20-Year Low

By Megan Briggs -December 11, 2020

weekly churchgoers

Americans rated their mental health lower this year than they ever have in the past two decades, according to a survey by Gallup. The percentage of people who rated their mental health as “excellent” or “good” shrunk by nine points this year, compared to last year. But there is one group of people who have actually managed to increase their “excellent” and “good” ratings in a year that has brought stressanxiety, and worry to many. According to the survey, weekly churchgoers are still faring well.

“The latest weakening in positive ratings, from a Nov. 5-19 poll, are undoubtedly influenced by the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to profoundly disrupt people’s lives, but may also reflect views of the election and the state of race relations, both of which were on Americans’ minds this year,” a report on Gallup’s survey states.

Just over 1,000 adults were surveyed via telephone for this year’s annual November Health and Healthcare survey, which Gallup has conducted every year since 2001. 

This year, the percentage of Americans that rated their mental health positively (they responded with either “excellent” or “good” when asked “How would you describe your own mental health or emotional wellbeing at this time?”) was 76 percent. This is down from 85 percent in 2019. The second lowest rating that has been reported occurred in 2002, when 81 percent of Americans rated their mental health positively. 

While the numbers indicate that more Americans overall are struggling with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, when the data are broken down by demographics, a couple of groups emerge as seemingly more resilient to the year’s harsh circumstances, at least mentally. Those groups are churchgoers who attend services at least once a week and Democrats. The big winner was weekly churchgoers, however. For this group, 46 percent reported “excellent” mental health this year compared to 42 percent last year. Comparatively, Democrats didn’t see an increase in their “excellent” numbers, rather the smallest decrease out of any of the other demographic groups surveyed (29 percent of this group reports “excellent” mental health this year compared to 30 percent last year). 

The biggest decreases in “excellent” mental health ratings occurred among the following groups:

Republicans (15 percent decrease)
People who attend church seldom/never (13 percent decrease)
People who attend church nearly weekly/monthly (12 percent decrease)
People who make more than $40,000 a year (12 percent decrease)
People who make more than $100,000 a year (12 percent decrease)

Other notable decreases occurred among women (10 percent decrease), singles (10 percent decrease), Independents (11 percent decrease), whites (10 percent decrease), and those aged over 65 (10 percent decrease). 

Weekly churchgoers were the only group to actually increase their numbers of “excellent” ratings. It’s unclear whether those attending services weekly did so in person or online, but a couple appear safe to draw from the survey results: Church services act as a boon to a person’s mental health and church communities are essential for helping people through adverse times

https://churchleaders.com/news/386760-with-the-exception-of-weekly-churchgoers-americans-mental-health-is-at-a-20-year-low.htm

Everything You Want Is On The Other Side Of Fear!

October 4, 2019  The Godly Chic Diaries

Our Faith is like a child learning to walk. Jesus is our father. He crouches down, with open arms as we take our bumbling steps towards Him, and each time we make it to Him after a long journey, He stands us upright, helps us catch our breath. And then He backs up a little bit and then ask us to come a little further in our faith…

OUR FEATURED GUEST BLOGGER ISJORDAN SMITH: I am a Jesus lover. An ardent worshiper who longs for nothing more than to revel in the presence of the one who is WORTHY. I am a wife and mother of a new baby girl( BRAVEN) and Hair stylist. I thrive most when delivering the Word of God thus started speaking at local youth meetings at the age of sixteen. I have been traveling abroad doing mission’s work and now lead mission’s teams with my husband. I have had the opportunity to preach in the U.S. as well as Brazil, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua for the past eight years. My hearts beats with passion to encourage and empower women (women’s ministry) to walk in the freedom only Christ can provide. I love writing on topics of relationships and faith to share with you. Please check out Jordan’s blog/follow: Website: http://www.jordansmith.blog

Jordan’s story: I used to think being brave meant not being afraid of anything. I wanted so badly to be brave but I couldn’t seem to shake away the worries and fear. I didn’t know how to just not be afraid. I did devotions, I read the Bible, I prayed about it. For a long time it seemed like I would never get the answer. Until I got pregnant with my sweet baby girl. While in prayer for her, the name “Braven” was on my heart. I couldn’t escape the word Brave.

2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

This verse not only says what God didn’t give us, but it tells us what He did give. I wasn’t handed a spirit of fear- the fear was not part of me. But power, love, and self-discipline was given to me. It IS part of who I am. Whether I felt that way or not. Suddenly I realized that being brave had nothing to do with not being afraid but everything to do with not letting fear have a voice in my life. Fear didn’t get to dictate the words I said, the choices I made, or the thoughts I focused on. Those were the words God wanted me to make sure my daughter knew, “fear doesn’t get a say.” Being brave means moving forward in faith regardless of how you may feel in the moment.

Sweet Friends, Do you realize how powerful you are? That you have everything within you to breakthrough FEAR and step into your greatness? Remember, it takes the same amount of energy to BELIEVE as it is to WORRY. In every season, every mountain, every loss, every victory, every answered prayer, God is with you. He loves you. He will take care of you. You are in good hands, today and ALWAYS. Amen! God bless you abundantly!!!

Blessings and Love. . . 😊 🙏

https://gcdiaries.wordpress.com/2019/10/04/guest-post-fear-does-not-get-a-say/