“Why am I not more spiritual? Why do I make the wrong decisions? Why do I seem to be going backward in my Christian walk?” We have all asked these questions before. We are discouraged because there is no apparent progress in our Christian life. However, God sees things differently. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6) God begins His excellent work in our lives at the moment of salvation. Our Lord is always working in our lives. Don’t be discouraged because God knows what He is doing, and He is not going to quit His work in our hearts and lives.
A Prayer “Dear Lord, I don’t always see what you are doing in my life. I get discouraged because I do not see the growth that I expect. Please help me to understand that you are very patient and loving in your making me into the Christian that I ought to be. Thank you for not only the exciting times of spiritual growth but also the quiet times. Amen
An old children’s song says:
He’s still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me
There really ought to be a sign upon my heart
Don’t judge him yet, there’s an unfinished part
But I’ll be better just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master’s loving hands
Have you ever felt pulled in several directions at once? You know you should have faith in God, and yet worry, and anxiety have a chokehold upon your whole life. Your life seems to be going nowhere. You find it difficult to sleep. You ask: “Where is God in all of this.” Despair is ruling your life. What can you do?
The word “worry” comes from the West Germanic word, “wrygen” which means “to strangle” or “to choke.” Worry chokes us spiritually, emotionally, socially, and physically. God knows the power that worry and anxiety have upon us. He tells us in Philippians 4:6-7: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
How do we break this chokehold that worry and anxiety have upon us? God gives us several ways to break this chokehold.
1. Understand the consequences that worry and anxiety have upon our lives. The words “be careful for nothing” have the idea of “stop being pulled in different directions.” Worry is a sin because it keeps us from giving glory to God. It also keeps us from serving God and others to our full capacity. Worry causes us to doubt the goodness of God, which creates confusion in our lives.
2. Focus upon God and not upon our circumstances. The above passage says, “Let your request be made known unto God.” God is the source of peace. When our eyes turn from our trials and focus upon God, we will see the greatness of God’s power, wisdom, love, and sovereignty. We know that we can trust Him regardless of what comes our way because God is greater than any circumstance in our lives.
3. Talk to God about the source of our worry and anxiety. The passage says: “but in everything by prayer and supplication.” God, our loving Father, wants us to take every hurt, misunderstanding, health issue, family issue, financial problem, and doubt, unto Him. He alone can carry that burden. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Worry and anxiety say I will carry my burden. Faith says I will take that burden to the Lord and leave it there.
4. Learn to give thanks to God in everything. Many problems and heartaches that choke us can be turned into blessings when we learn to give God thanks in everything that happens. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Th 5:18) When we thank Him in everything, we are saying to God: “I commit this circumstance, person or problem that is choking my life unto you. I thank you that you are fulfilling your great purpose in my life even amid this great trial or burden.”
5. Enjoy God’s promise of His Peace. God tells us that His peace “passeth all understanding.” God’s presence and peace shine forth in those who face their deepest trials with faith in Him. I have been beside many people who are facing death, and yet they had a peace that passes all human wisdom. God’s peace doesn’t make sense to the people around us. They only see our difficult circumstances, but they don’t see our enjoyment of the presence of God.
God doesn’t want any of us consistently pulled in two directions. He wants us to turn our faces directly towards Him. The songwriter wrote: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace.” God will break the chokehold of anxiety and worry in our lives. Will we trust Him to do so? “The truth shall make you free.”
Twenty-seven years ago, I said goodbye to my father. He had suffered a stroke. I traveled from Portugal to see dad one last time. Did he recognize me? I will never know. My return to Portugal was with a heavy heart. I would never see my father again. My father didn’t leave me by choice, but he was gone. I miss my father.
In life, we all face separation from loved ones. This separation is painful; however, there is One who will never leave us. Our Heavenly Father is always with us. Hebrews 13:5 says: ” Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” God is with us in the good times, and He is with us in dark times. How does His presence affect our lives?
God’s presence gives us contentment in dark times. The tendency in life is to complain about everything. As a result, when things don’t happen the way we want, we become bitter and complain. Our lack of contentment is saying that God is doing a poor job of taking care of us.
Contentment means that we find our joy and happiness in our relationship with our Living Lord. In spite of the tough times, we know that He is right there with us. He will not leave us. He will walk with us through any valley. As the Psalmist says: “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”
God’s presence gives us strength in dark times. The Word of God informs us that Our Heavenly Father will never leave us. “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper. ” (Hebrews 13:6) The dark times in this life weaken us spiritually, emotionally, and even physically. We may feel like quitting. God’s presence gives us the strength to carry on. God told Paul: “For my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (Hebrews 13:6)Our weakness says to God: “I need your strength.” God will respond.
God’s presence gives us courage in dark times. Dark times can bring out the coward in us. We become fearful of people. We are afraid of the future. Fear of failure rules our hearts. Where do we find the courage to move forward. “I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” (Hebrews 13:6) God’s presence and love will cast out the fear that torments us.
Many of our loved ones are no longer with us, but our Heavenly Father will never leave us. He is with us in good times and dark times. Yes, the clouds of darkness may dim our view of God, but He is still with us. May we lean upon Him in the darkest night; so that we may see his presence amid the darkness.
Afflictions, trials, and heartaches are all part of this life. We never choose to enter into the storms of life, but they come. They may occur suddenly or gradually, but all the same, we must deal with the afflictions that come our way. What are we to do in the day of tribulation and heartache? Jeremiah, the prophet, shares an answer from God. “O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction.” (Jeremiah 16:19) God shows us three truths about Himself that bring hope amid our trials.
1. God gives us His strength to endure the storms of life. (My strength) Trials and heartaches have a way of weakening our resolve to move forward with life. Our energy has disappeared. We want to quit. However, God tells us amid our weakness, His strength is always there. God says to the Apostle Paul in his time of weakness: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
2. God gives us His protection to stay faithful to Him during the storms of life.(My fortress) The fortress shows stability and security. During our afflictions, we are tempted to depart from the Lord. However, the Lord keeps us firm in our walk with Him. We may stumble, but He will not allow us to fall.
3. God gives us His refuge for rest and hope amid the storm. (My refuge) In the midst of our trials, we can become weary. We feel that we have nowhere to go. The affliction causes worry and anxiety. God says to us in our weariness: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:29) God’s rest is available. Are we ready to lay our weary souls in His loving arms?
A Prayer. “Dear Father, I did not seek this heartache that is an unwelcome guest in my life. I know that I can not handle this storm on my own. I feel weak, vulnerable, and anxious. You alone can take me through this trial. I look up to you as my strength, my fortress, and my refuge. Thank you for holding my hand as I go through this challenging time in my life. Please help me to glorify your name because of all that you are doing in my life. Amen”
Do you ever find times in your life when you feel like saying: “I need to wait for my soul to catch up with my body.” Our life is full of activity, and yet we experience emptiness and a great weariness of soul. God seems to be quite distant. We have lost the joy that we once had in Jesus Christ. What does the Word of God say? “For consider Him(Jesus) that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:3)
A sure remedy of weariness of soul comes when we consider Jesus and keep our focus upon Him. There are many occasions in life when we need to “Consider Jesus.” As we “consider Him,” we will find the strength of the soul to carry on with our life.
1. Consider Jesus in times of temptation. Jesus understands our temptations. Jesus experienced temptation, and yet He stayed faithful to His Father. (Hebrews 2:18) As we “consider Jesus,” we will find His grace and strength helping us to overcome the temptation.
2. Consider Jesus in times of failure. Jesus never failed, and His compassion never fails. He restored Peter after his act of denial. (John 21:15-17). He will revive us if we come to Him in repentance and confession of our sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
3. Consider Jesus in times of fatigue. Jesus understands our fatigue because He experienced fatigue and hunger as He walked the earth. He gives His strength to our weary souls and bodies. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
4. Consider Jesus in times of spiritual dryness. Jesus alone can quench the thirst in our soul. “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” (John 7:37)
5. Consider Jesus in times of loneliness. Jesus understands loneliness. He spent much time being alone. Also, when He was tried, convicted, beaten, and placed on the cross, He experienced loneliness. “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20)
6. Consider Jesus in times of indecision. Amidst the many voices crying out to us, are we listening for his distinct, wise, and loving voice? He is our Good Shepherd who knows us by name and leads us in the way that we should go. (John 10:3)
As we walk this life, let us always “consider Jesus” in every path we take. He is there to bring rest, comfort, and direction to our weary soul.
What has happened to evil? We know that it is alive and well in the world around us, as well as in our hearts. However, people no longer consider anything as being evil. What is evil? Evil is living a life without God or rejecting what God says. God sees evil as boasting against all that He is and all that He does. “Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The goodness of God endures continually.” (Psalm 52:1)
Evil seems to be winning. We see this in the media, the realm of education, as well as our political system. People have changed the definition of evil. They define evil as not being tolerant of attitudes and behavior that are totally against God. People call evil good and good as being evil. We can quickly become discouraged amid the wave upon wave of evil that we see all around us and even in our hearts.
Is there any hope? Yes! Psalm 52 reminds us that the boasting of evil is only temporary; however, the goodness of God endures forever. We can always enjoy God’s goodness in the midst of all that may be happening around us. Evil does not have to overwhelm us. God’s goodness enables us to gain perspective and hope. God’s goodness will ultimately win out over evil. We need to focus upon God’s goodness amid this evil world, or else despair will rule over our lives.
“Dear Lord, I become discouraged when I see the evil around me and even within my own heart. I wonder why evil seems so bold and prevalent. People don’t care about your ways. They have chosen to go their way. As I read your Word, You remind me of the greatness of your goodness. Please keep my focus on your goodness as I live as a pilgrim in this wicked world. Amen”
Dear Heavenly Father,
I live in a world that is continuously changing, yet you do not change. My circumstances may vary, but you do not change. My health may change, but you do not change. My financial situation may change, but you do not change. The people in my life may come and go, but you do not change.
Thank you, Father, for giving me the privilege to call you, Father. Thank you for the blessings of the past year. I experienced your mercy every day. Your Word brought direction, comfort, and conviction throughout the previous year. You blessed me by using my family and many other people who showed love and kindness towards me. You gave me strength when I was weak. You gave me wisdom when I was confused. Above all, I thank you for your love that I didn’t deserve.
Father, as I look forward to the New Year, I realize that I am facing the great unknown, but my unknown future is known to you. For this reason, I commit this New Year to you. Please help me to keep my eyes focused upon you.
Please guide me in every decision that I make. Help me to love my family and all those that you bring into my life. Please give me the strength, patience, and wisdom to bear any trial that may come my way. Could you help me to draw closer to you each day? Increase my faith because I often walk by sight and not by faith.
Thank you, Father, for your ears that are always open to my prayers. Take my life and let it be devoted to you. I commit my ever-changing life to you because you are my unchanging Father. Amen.