I hope this post finds you in a good place. In a good mindset. A place of peace and a place of contentment. If you watch the news, no matter what the source or network, you will find your inward parts tied up in a knot. As we continue down the road 2020 has paved with COVID, protest, riots and the presidential election, it is easy to find yourself in place of anxiety and tension if you are not careful. In a Census Bureau study quoted in the Washington Post, 30% of Americans show symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and 24% showed clinically significant symptoms of major depressive disorder. This study claimed the results were linked to the current COVID situation. If that is the case, the numbers should be drastically higher when you add elections and riots. But what that tells me is one of 2 things, 1. you don’t know Jesus or if you do, 2. you have taken your eyes off of him. Now I am not saying Christians don’t have stress, worry or psychological issues, but I am saying, Jesus says it is possible Not To. ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ‘ 1 Peter 5:7 and ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ Matthew 6:34
I believe more than COVID, riots and the political environment, what is causing the most anxiety is coming through the division that has been perpetrated through the media. The Right verses the Left, Capitalism verses Socialism, the Right of Choice verses the Right to Life, Rich verses Poor, Black verses White and Mask verses No Mask. So with all of the division and caos, where are you expecting a solution to come from? If you are not a Believer, I expect your answer will be coming from a million different places. You could be putting your hope in yourself, a government, a job or a vacation. That may be sufficient in the short term, but none of these are lasting. A vacation last only a while, jobs come and go, govenrments rise and fall and you will eventually die. These things only stir up the waters of life leaving you looking into it for answers, only seeing that the water is Clear as Mud.
Is your hope only in today? Are you not concerned that your days are numbered and your time on this earth is finite? I would like you to envision a perspective of looking at the events of this life with a vision that makes things Crystal Clear. A perspective where your external circumstances have little effect on your joy, your peace and your kindness towards others. You may think in the chaotic world we live in today, this is impossible. But let me assure you, it is not only possible, this contentment is at your very finger tips, but not something you can grab with your hands. If you are like me, I have already tried to grasp everything in sight to bring lasting satisfaction to my life, to satisfy the internal cravings with materialistic items and endevors, only to be found lacking. Many people in America today are seeking satisfaction in the political system. Thinking it must lean either to the right or left, depending on their view, for them to have a continued opportunity to achieve their desired vision of how this country should, or in some views, shouldn’t be. So whether your view leans to the Right, or leans to the Left, the answer you are looking for is still the same. His name is Jesus and I would love for you to stick with me for a minute and let me explain why this is my belief.
I would like to take some of the famous verses in the Bible that alot , if not most, Christians know, and open them up so that we may have a different perspective on the verses than we normally do. I preface this by saying lets be careful not to make the Bible say something it does not say.
- ‘ “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”’ Matthew 11:28-30 If you are giving the most of your attention to CNN, Fox News, MSNBC or any other news outlet, your stress and anxiety level is more than likely ‘ OUT THE ROOF”! As we take our attention off of God and place it in other places, our focus, and the lens by which we look at it, is altered. Instead of feeling a sense of peace, it changes to a sense of anxiety, stress and worry. We do not feel like our yoke is easy or our burden is light because we are trying to carry our worldly load with the media’s yoke around our neck. If you are feeling this weight and pressure, chances are you are not carrying your burdens to Jesus and resting in him. We use this verse when we are confronted with difficult circumstances to get God to return us to our normal routine and a place of comfort. A place where we can get back to a normal life of going to work on weekdays, playing golf or going hunting on weekends, going on vacations and having fun with our friends. I hope you will look at this verse not as a promise to return you to a lifestyle of leisure, but to get you back to a lifestyle of Worship, a time of looking to Jesus who can turn any anxiety to rest, and is a comfort for the soul. Jesus will carry your burdens for you.
- ‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ‘ Jeremiah 29:11 I know you have heard this verse at every graduation service or quoted by seniors as their favorite Bible verse. I mean they are in a very comfortable moment, basking in their academic and social accomplishments with nothing in front of them except a vast world ready to be conquered. I would dare to guess this is not the verse you would think of in 2020 laying in a hospital on a vent with COVID, or looking at a political landscape invisioning your freeedoms and country being dismantled and destroyed. This verse does not say that you are promised a great job, a house on the hill, the perfect spouse, long life, good health, no problems and even equality. In the past 50 years, we have had it so good in America, we have become so complancent in our faith, that is exactly the way we have become accustomed to interpreting that verse. But let me assure you, it is during the most difficult of times that this verse will allow you to experience Christ as never before, your hope will remain stong, if you will stand on this unshakable truth. The resurrection is the greatest hope and future you can have. Jesus has a better future for you.
- ‘Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ‘ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 This is one I like to use when I stump my toe. When any type of light or VERY temporary unpleasantness rears it’s ugly head. I’m pretty sure this verse would not be one I would be leaning on if my house was destroyed by a hurricane and I had to move three times because to two following hurricanes destroyed those living accomodations as well. We are very good at using verses like this when light and momentary afflictions come upon us like when someone dashes into the parking place close to the door that we had I eye on and were heading towards, not when your brother was beat near a riot just because he was white. This verse is completely relevant today. No matter what side of the political isle you are on, if your candidate is elected to office or what your social economic status as well as the color of your skin is, this verse is for you. We can have this confidence because we are Not of This World (John 15:19) and Our Home is in Heaven (Phil. 3:20). In this world you will have many problems but, take heart, Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). Jesus gives you joy that last a lifetime, not just happiness that last for a season.
And the list of verses goes on and on. Romans 8:28, Phillipians 4:6, Matthew 6:25-34, James 1:2-3 and Joshua 1:9. But you know what, the problem is not that the promises in God’s Word are not true. The problem is we have become so spoiled and comfortable in the season of prosper God has allowed us to be in, that we have come to the point where we allow our current situation to determine if the Word of God is true or not. We have come to the point to where our, as well as others, feelings and emotions guide our actions and attitudes more than His Truths. ‘Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? ‘ 2 Corinthians 13:5 The problem is not with God, His Word, Jesus or His Spirit, they are pure and Crystal Clear. Even when the waters of our faith are stirred, they are still Crystal Clear if we stay true to His Word and keep our eyes on Jesus. It is when we stir in the things of this world that the waters begin to cloud and our Hope seems to fade. When we compromise on the truths of God’s Word and become complacent in our discipleship, the waters become murky and our Hope seems to disappear. Then before we know it, you can’t even recognize the difference between the truth and a lie, and the waters become Clear as Mud. And that my friends, is where I believe we are currently in America. As a Believer, if we would get back to loving and reading God’s Word, it clearly tells us that LIFE matters. Red, yellow, black or white, born or unborn, Right or Left, LIFE matters. God’s Word tells us to take care of His creation. God’s Word tells us to Love and Help our Neighbor. We don’t need a government or an organization to define what Love, Care and Compassion look like. God invented it and Christians have been living it out for thousands of years in times of freedom and times of bondage. His Word tells us how to live our lives and how to recognize evil. If times get tough for Believers, so be it. The Bible is clear and mentions repeatedly we should be expecting to suffer for the cause of Christ. Reread the previous verses, they are to be embraced during times of inconvenience, suffering and persecution. Standing on God’s Word allows us to be victorious in our every day life and a reflection of Christ to others. We are called to be a light in the darkeness and the salt of the earth. If we keep our focus on Jesus, we can see our the world around us not, Clear as Mud, but Crystal Clear. And this is what allows us to live Full of Faith, Full of Hope and Full of Love in a lost world.
‘Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. ‘ Psalms 119:105Ezra