Editor’s Note: Some content for this post is from Grief Bites: Finding Treasure in Hardships YouVersion Reading Plan
All gifts from God have great value.
James 1:17 NLT Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
We Christians love to quote this verse. We quote it when we're praying for a material blessing, a spouse, a child, healing, a promotion, and other, what we call “good stuff”. We quote if again when our prayers are answered exactly the way we wanted God to answer them. It's like the letters we wrote Santa Claus at Christmas and hints or out-and-out requests to our parents for our birthday when we were kids.
When we got what we asked for we were filled with excitement. We jumped for joy hugged our parents and told them how much we loved them. In much the same way we give God high praise...when we get the good stuff we asked for.
That joy and praise is even greater when we get “good stuff” that we didn't ask for. Our parents, or God, gave it just because they love us.
Have you ever received a gift you did not like...only to see the gift's true value later on?
What about the time you asked for a video game and got a book, or you asked for a bike and got a bible, or a doll and got an Audible Bible? Were you happy at the time? Did you jump for joy, hug your parents, and tell them how much you love them? I'm sure that some of you did but I know that you're a small minority. When you look back over the years my guess is that while at the time you were disaster, you now consider those among the most valuable gifts you've ever received.
Video games get old when the next one comes out, bikes get old and you lose interest, you outgrow dolls, but those other things never get old in fact they become more valuable.
We tend to focus on the gifts we didn't want or like
Isn’t that how we ALL are with God at times?
He gives us marvelous gifts EACH & EVERY DAY…gifts we didn’t earn or deserve: His unconditional love & forgiveness, family, friends, health, jobs, homes, appliances to make our lives easier, churches, food, nature, laughter, music, cars, vacations, FUN, electronics, phones, everything good…yet we become angry, resentful, and distant when He gives us (or allows) something we didn’t want or ask for.
“Gifts” you received from God or more accurately, He allows, that you didn't ask for, like grief and being sick may be the most treasured gifts you will ever receive. Sometimes, the gifts you don’t want will often have great value…later on.
Psalms 30:11-12 NLT You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
Think about a “gift in disguise” you didn’t want…something you resent God for. Ask Him to show you the gifts He has for you through your personal trials. Sometimes, you will not know the worth and value of a gift until you get to heaven…but sometimes, they may end up being exactly what you need at a future date in life.
Isaiah 61:1-3 NLT The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord ’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
Never discount any gift God can offer you…even the ones you don’t want.
Philippians 4:6-7 NLT 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.
A few weeks ago here in California there were a number of wildfires. The Camp Fire in Northern California has been called the most destructive California wildfire in the history of the state. As of this date of this post the death toll has risen to 86. There were 11,862 structures destroyed (including homes). The town of Paradise was nearly completely destroyed. At the same time firefighters were also battling the Woolsley Fire in Southern California. In that fire there were 3 confirmed fatalities and more that 400 structures destroyed. That was just this year. There were huge fires last year with major loss of life and property. The same thing could be said of the victims of hurricanes on the East and Gulf Coasts in the last few years. Add to these natural disaster, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, violent crime, home invasions, robberies, and other acts that result in the loss of life and property. There are people who have literally lost everything; a spouse, a child, a sibling, a parent, a home, all their belongings...everything.
When you’ve lost everything you may feel like you just can’t go on. I could do like a lot of people, including Christian folk, and quote scripture like;
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NLT2)8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT2)6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.7 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.
Or tell you that “this too shall pass” (see This Too Shall Pass Is Not In The Bible - A Sermon).
I know from experience that these things are true, however as I also know through experience and have written in the past God does not expect us to just grin and bear it (see Stop Faking It, Giving Thanks When It’s Tough Doesn’t Mean To Fake It, This Thanksgiving Stop Faking Fine), . We should be honest with God about how we feel about losing everything but do it with the knowledge that God does in fact love us and although we have lost everything God can use even that to accomplish His purpose in us.
.Romans 8:28-30 (NLT2)28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
Romans 8:31-39 (NLT2)31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I read a devotion recently that I want to share to those who have lost everything. If you are one of those precious people or know any of them please read and share this post with them.
A Prayer For When You’ve Lost Everything
By Jennifer Maggio taken from “To the Woman Who has Lost Everything”.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
It was 3:30 in the morning, when I received the call that changed everything. “Jennifer, you need to get out of the house. Your neighborhood is flooding,” my friend sobbed hysterically. Unsure if I was dreaming, I stumbled from my bed, down the hall, and out my front door. Floodwaters were pouring into my neighborhood, more quickly than I can even describe. Within 20 minutes, we were loaded in the car and fleeing the scene. It took only a matter of hours for the Great Louisiana Flood of 2016 to overtake my home and wash away virtually everything I owned – baby pictures, wedding albums, my children’s first letters, everything.
There is someone reading this who is there, right now. You have lost everything; you feel you can’t go on, you are certain no one sees you. I’m writing this for you, today. I’m writing to tell you some important things for you to know when you lose everything.
You haven’t lost everything. It may seem like it, today. It may seem like the dark cloud has followed you way too long. Maybe you’ve lost a great deal in a short period of time. Maybe you’ve lost your job and your health is failing, and your mom just died. I don’t know what your loss looks like today and I wouldn’t dare minimize it. Take your time to grieve the loss. Take your time; let time heal the wounds of the loss. But please know: you haven’t lost everything. God is with you. As a born again child of the King, your salvation isn’t lost. Your future beyond this earth is secure.
It doesn’t matter how you feel today. It doesn’t matter if you can’t feel God’s presence. Feelings are temporary and fleeting. What is true is that He is with you. Satan would like nothing more than to convince you otherwise. There are thousands of lies that Satan will whisper in your ear. But that’s just it. They are lies - lies from the pit of Hell, designed strategically to hold you down, destroy you, steal you your hope, and kill the joy of your future. Do not stand for it.
You have been given the authority to stand firm against the lies of the enemy. You have the authority to cast down his plans of attack against you. Know that you are God’s beloved. He sees you. He loves you. You are not alone.
A Prayer For When You’ve Lost Everything:
Lord, I’ll Just Be Honest: I Feel Like Everything Good Has Been Taken From Me. And I Feel Like You’ve Let It Happen. Can I Admit That To You? Thank You For Being Big Enough To Handle All My Fears, Angers, And Uncertainties. Lord, Thank You For This Truth: I Am Afflicted In Every Way, But Not Crushed, Perplexed But Not Driven To Despair, Struck Down But Not Destroyed. Lord, Help Me- Give Me Your Spirit, Help Me Know Your Goodness Even In The Midst Of This Pain. Help Me Out Of This Pit, Lord, And Onto Steady Ground. Thank You God For Never Leaving Me. Help Me Only Have Hope In You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Psalm 116:1-19 (NLT2)1 I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.2 Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!3 Death wrapped its ropes around me; the terrors of the grave overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrow.4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “Please, LORD, save me!”5 How kind the LORD is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours!6 The LORD protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me.7 Let my soul be at rest again, for the LORD has been good to me.8 He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.9 And so I walk in the LORD’s presence as I live here on earth!10 I believed in you, so I said, “I am deeply troubled, LORD.”11 In my anxiety I cried out to you, “These people are all liars!”12 What can I offer the LORD for all he has done for me?13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and praise the LORD’s name for saving me.14 I will keep my promises to the LORD in the presence of all his people.15 The LORD cares deeply when his loved ones die.16 O LORD, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains.17 I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people--19 in the house of the LORD in the heart of Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!
A Song Of Personal Thanksgiving
I love the Lord.” What a beautiful way to begin a praise, a new day, each moment of our lives! And then the psalmist begins to tell us why:
Psalm 116:1 (NKJV) I love the LORD, because He has heard My voice and my supplications.
He preserves and saves;
Psalm 116:6 (NKJV) The LORD preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.
Psalm 116:8 (NKJV) For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling.
He sets us free.
Psalm 116:16 (NKJV) O LORD, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds.
But it’s the heartwarming promise found in verse 2 that gives us a glimpse of the personal relationship God so longs to have with His children, because He bends down to listen.
Psalm 116:2 (NLT2) Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!
What a beautiful image, the almighty God — Lord and Ruler of All — bends down to listen as we pray. Just imagine… God not only invites us to pray whenever, wherever, and about whatever we want, but He leans over, to get just a little closer, to make sure He doesn’t miss a word of what we have to say.
Holy Father, just the thought of You bending down to listen to me fills me with awe and joy and praise. Thank You for loving me so.
Excerpted with permission from God’s Promises Every Day by Jack Countryman
If someone asked you what Arianism is would you be able to give them an answer? Until today the best that I could have done would have been to give them a blank stare. Not only did I not know what it was I had never heard even heard of it. After seeing the word and learning that it was a doctrine taught in the early days of the church in an Advent devotion, I wanted to find out more about it. After some research I quickly realized that know people who, believe the tenets of Arianism, most of them believing to be Christians. I’m pretty sure that most of them have never heard of Arianism either.
This is the time of year when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who we believe is the Messiah promised by God thousands of years ago. Essential to that belief is the virgin birth. It’s so important is because it fulfills prophecy, supports the deity of Jesus, and shows his sinless nature.
Isaiah 7:14 (NKJV)14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
This prophecy was fulfilled with the virgin birth by Mary.
Matthew 1:18-25 (NKJV)18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins."22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.
John 1:1-5 (NLT2)1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He existed in the beginning with God.3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
We also believe that Jesus is God and one of the personages of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit).
Arianism questions the divinity of Jesus which also means it questions the doctrine of the Trinity both of which lessen the importance surrounding the birth of Christ that we celebrate on December 25th (the date of the celebration doesn't matter what matters is the virgin birth which did take place). In fact not believing in the virgin birth and the Trinity reduce Christmas to just another holiday.
Is Arianism Heresy?
Arianism is named for Arius, a priest and false teacher in the early fourth century AD in Alexandria, Egypt. One of the earliest and probably the most important item of debate among early Christians was the subject of Christ’s deity. Was Jesus truly God in the flesh, or was Jesus a created being? Was Jesus God or not? Arius denied the deity of the Son of God, holding that Jesus was created by God as the first act of creation and that the nature of Christ was anomoios (“unlike”) that of God the Father. Arianism, then, is the view that Jesus is a finite created being with some divine attributes, but He is not eternal and not divine in and of Himself.
Arianism misunderstands biblical references to Jesus’ being tired;
John 4:6 (NLT2)6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.
And not knowing the date of His return;
Matthew 24:36 (NLT2)36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
It may be difficult to understand how God could be tired or not know something, but these verses speak of Jesus’ human nature. Jesus is fully God, but He is also fully human. The Son of God did not become a human being until a specific point of time we call the Incarnation, which we celebrate each Christmas. Therefore, Jesus’ limitations as a human being have no impact on His divine nature or His eternality.
A second major misinterpretation in Arianism concerns the meaning of firstborn as applied to Christ.
Romans 8:29 (NLT2)29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Colossians 1:15-20 (NLT2)15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.17 He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.18 Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything.19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ,20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
Arians understand firstborn in these verses to mean that the Son of God was “created” as the first act of creation. This is not the case. Jesus Himself proclaimed His self-existence and eternality.
John 8:58 (NLT2)58 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!”
John 10:30 (NLT2)30 The Father and I are one.”
In Bible times, the firstborn son of a family was held in great honor.
Genesis 49:3 (NLT2)3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my strength, the child of my vigorous youth. You are first in rank and first in power.
Exodus 11:5 (NLT2)5 All the firstborn sons will die in every family in Egypt, from the oldest son of Pharaoh, who sits on his throne, to the oldest son of his lowliest servant girl who grinds the flour. Even the firstborn of all the livestock will die.
Exodus 34:19 (NLT2)19 “The firstborn of every animal belongs to me, including the firstborn males from your herds of cattle and your flocks of sheep and goats.
Numbers 3:40 (NLT2)40 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now count all the firstborn sons in Israel who are one month old or older, and make a list of their names.
Psalm 89:27 (NLT2)27 I will make him my firstborn son, the mightiest king on earth.
Jeremiah 31:9 (NLT2)9 Tears of joy will stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care. They will walk beside quiet streams and on smooth paths where they will not stumble. For I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my oldest child.
It is in this sense that Jesus is God’s “firstborn.” Jesus is the preeminent Person in God’s plan and the Heir of all things.
Hebrews 1:2 (NLT2)2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.
Jesus is the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 (NLT2)6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
After nearly a century of debate at various early church councils, the Christian church officially denounced Arianism as a false doctrine. Since that time, Arianism has never been accepted as a viable doctrine of the Christian faith. Arianism has not died out, however. Arianism has continued through the centuries in varying forms. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons of today hold a very Arian-like position on Christ’s nature. Following the example of the early church, we must denounce any and all attacks on the deity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Editor’s Note: Some content from What is Ananism by Got Questions
A powerful first step to take when going through doubts is to become completely honest with God and yourself.
When God revealed to me that doubt was causing a wedge between Him and me, I knew I wanted to take care of it, so I listed every situation I was doubting God in.
As I honestly did an inventory of my life, situations, and doubts, I began to see that it was a much bigger problem than I realized.
Today, go to a quiet place before God and do an honest inventory of your heart. Ask God to reveal every doubt you are holding onto. Include past events that damaged your trust in God, present circumstances, as well as any future events you are worried about.
Go through your list with God...one by one...then after each event or thing you listed, ask God for His forgiveness and His help. Give each thing or circumstance you listed to God and ask Him to work out each situation according to His purpose.
Next, shred the list and ask God to truly set you free from all doubt, worry, and fear.
Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
When future doubts, fear, or worry attempt to surface, immediately pray to God and ask Him to intervene.
Immediately give Him your fears, worries, or doubts and choose to trust in His goodness, great love, and purpose.
Develop a close loving relationship and friendship with the Lord.
As you develop your love for God, trust becomes a naturally strong byproduct.
The greater the love, the greater the trust...and the greater the trust, the greater the thankfulness our hearts will have towards God.
Trust, gratefulness, and love, are truly spiritual muscles. They need to be strengthened every single day.
We can trust God...He is beyond trustworthy. We can be grateful to God...He is so good to us. We can have a vibrant love relationship with God...His love is an absolute treasure! He wants the very best for each and everyone of us!
God IS good...He truly is an absolute treasure!
Psalm 136:1 (NKJV)1 Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
Spend time with God and read His Word each and every day. Develop a genuine love relationship and friendship with Him. Thank Him for everything good in your life. As you dive deep into God, genuine trust is the treasure you will find.
Remember this: God is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask, think, or imagine! He is not finished with you or your situation yet! Ask Him to help you through your doubt...He's truly got this!
Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Grace is unmerited favor. The extent we understand this determines the extent to which we will extend grace and mercy, both to ourselves and others. Grace doesn’t excuse sin. Grace is God’s presence to do what only He can do, through Christ’s finished work on the cross. Grace empowers righteousness.
Romans 5:20 (NLT) God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.
Although God extends his grace and mercy, forgiving us of sin through the sacrifice of Christ, His grace doesn’t always save us from our foolish decisions.
The results of a recent survey by LifeWay Research and Bible Studies for Life found nearly half of Americans (47%) agree they are dealing with the consequences of a bad decision on some level. Think about that. Nearly one out of two people you will see on the street, at work, in the park, or at church are dealing with issues related to a bad choice.
Look at David and Bathsheba (adultery)...Samson and Delilah (unequally yoked/lack of parental blessing)...Abraham and Hagar (trying to force God's promises & favor through a wrong relationship). This list could go on and on.
When we make foolish decisions, refuse to trust God, or take matters into our own hands, God will allow us to do just that.
We are given the ability to make decisions based on free will---but it doesn't mean we are free from the consequences. And many times, the consequences are ongoing. There are some decisions that I made early in life with consequences that will last until I die or Jesus returns.
God allows consequences because of His holiness, as well as His great love for us (we can't disobey and "get away with it"...at some point, the consequences will show up) but God is still good to us before, during, and after our foolish decisions.
Proverbs 24:12 NKJV If you say, “Surely we did not know this,” Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?
Take for example David and Bathsheba: David had an affair with Bathsheba and even had her husband killed. The consequence was great...David and Bathsheba's first born child was allowed to die. God didn't just leave a consequence though… Instead, God was merciful (after David repented) and gave a blessing. A very great blessing. David and Bathsheba were given Solomon. Jesus was also born out of the genealogy of David.
So do we keep on sinning and expect a future blessing? Absolutely not. That would be playing with fire...and directly challenging God.
Romans 6:1-4, 15-18 NKJV What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
God is merciful but He also weighs the heart and desires our obedience.
John 14:23 NKJV Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
If you've been disobeying God in any area, why not take the steps you need to take to get right with Him today?
Proverbs 21:2-3 NKJV Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice Is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Favor is in His hand for those who are genuinely repentant.
Thankfully, followers of Christ do not need to live with self-condemnation. The scriptures assure us,
If God does not condemn us there is no reason to allow our conscience to do so.
Psalms 103:12 NKJV As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
God’s forgiveness is full and free. Even our most damaging decisions can be redeemed to honor and glorify Him in due time, even if that time is not until Jesus returns, but it will come.
Run back to Abba Father today and ask for a fresh start. He is very merciful.
Psalms 30:4-5 NKJV Sing praise to the Lord , you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.
Philippians 4:6 NIV Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Worry will kill your joy and cause you stress. We tend to expect the worst in life. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, they affect 18.1 percent of the U.S. population.
But worry isn’t just a mental issue. It’s a spiritual one. It’s assuming a responsibility that God never intended for us to have. It’s playing God and trying to control the uncontrollable.
There was once a scientific study on worry that discovered:
40% of our worries never happen
30% of our worries concern the past
12% of our worries are needless worries about our health
10% of our worries are insignificant or petty concerns
8% of our worries are really legitimate concerns
Worry is worthless. It can’t change the past or control the future. It only messes you up right now. It’s an incredible waste of energy. It’s stewing without doing. When we worry about things, they get bigger and bigger.
How to Handle Stress Like Jesus
Have you ever felt like you had the “weight of the world” on you?
Your responsibilities outnumber the hours in your day. Your paycheck won’t stretch to cover all of your bills. Everyone in your life wants a little piece of you—and you have nothing left to give anyone.
You’re not alone.
The truth is, only one person has ever had “the weight of the world on his shoulders.” It’s exactly what Jesus came to do: to carry the weight of the world.
1 John 2:2 NIV He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Nobody carried greater stress in life than Jesus. He not only carried the sin of the world on him while on the cross, but he also faced constant demands on him during his life. People frequently wanted to see him and be healed by him. He had no privacy. Other people tried to trap him and they sought to kill him.
But Jesus knew how to handle the stress. He had an incredibly attractive balance to his life. He handled pressure with peace
The Seven Step Jesus Stress Management System
Step 1 Know Who You Are
If you don’t know who you are, you’ll find all sorts of people who are more than happy to tell you. Your parents will try to turn you into what they think you should be. Your friends, your spouse, and your co-workers will all have their ideas, too.
Not knowing who you are—and letting everyone else mold you into their image—is a leading cause of stress for people today.
Jesus had no doubt as to his identity. In fact, he defines himself with “I am” statements 18 times in the Bible. Here are a few;
John 14:6 NLT Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
John 10:34-36 NLT Jesus replied, “It is written in your own Scriptures that God said to certain leaders of the people, ‘I say, you are gods!’ And you know that the Scriptures cannot be altered. So if those people who received God’s message were called ‘gods,’ why do you call it blasphemy when I say, ‘I am the Son of God’? After all, the Father set me apart and sent me into the world.
John 10:9 NIV I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.
John 6:35 NIVThen Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (Emphasis mine)
Jesus knew exactly who he was, and we need to know exactly who we are, who God created us to be.
Romans 8:29 NKJV For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Emphasis mine)
If you don’t know your identity, you’ll depend too much on what other people say about you.
Stress happens when you try to be something you’re not. We all start off as originals, but too often we end up as carbon copies of somebody else—because we don’t know who we are. (see You Are God's Masterpiece)
When you learn who you are, you’re less dependent upon the approval of others and you’re more stress-resistant.
Step 2 Know Whose Approval You're Living For
You can’t please everyone. It’s one of the great truths of life. If you haven’t learned it yet, you’ll struggle with stress for the rest of your life.You must know what (and more importantly, whose approval), you’re living for. If you please group A, group B will be upset at you. And if you please group B, you’ll upset group A. One minute you’re a hero; the next minute you’re a zero.
Even God can’t please everyone. Think of all the sporting events where people on both sides pray for a win. Only one team can win the game. One person prays for rain. Another prays for snow. Only one gets their prayer answered.
If God can’t please every person, it’s foolish for us to try.
If you don’t know whose approval you’re living for, stress will always follow you.
John 5:30 NIV By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
Jesus wasn’t trying to win a popularity contest. He lived for an audience of one. He had a simple life in many ways. He just did what God put him on Earth to do.
Jesus never let approval or rejection of others control him. It’s part of the reason he lived without stress.
Step 3 Know Your Calling (Vocation)
God doesn’t just call pastors and missionaries. The overwhelming message of Scripture is that God calls each of us to a specific purpose and mission.
When we don’t know what God is calling us to do, it causes stress.
Vocation comes from the Latin word for voice and means what God has called us to do.
And you must settle your vocation if you want to cut down on your stress.
John 8:14 NIV Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. (Emphasis mine)
Jesus understood his unique purpose—and he lived for it.
Your life is driven by something. All of our lives are driven by something. Sometimes they’re driven by regret or anger. Sometimes they’re driven by shame. Sometimes they’re driven by money or sex.
God wants your calling to drive your life.How do you know what you’ve been called to do? Take a look at your SHAPE.
Heart (what you love to do)
God doesn’t give you a calling you’ll find miserable. He’ll call you to do something you enjoy and something you’re good at.
Ephesians 4:1 NIV As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Ask yourself every day: Am I doing what I’m called to do?
Step 4 Know What Matters Most
You and I tend to get distracted by trivial things. If Satan can’t get you to be bad, he’ll get you to be busy. This causes us more stress than we can imagine. You must know what matters most.
Jesus was a master of concentration. He focused like a laser on what the Father wanted him to do.
When light is diffused, it has no power at all. But light that’s focused has enormous power. Take the sun as an example. On its own, the light won’t harm grass. But if you focus its light with a magnifying glass, you can burn that grass.
Focus light even more and it becomes a laser—and a laser can cut through steel and kill cancer.
If you want your life to matter, focus it.
Luke 9:51 NIV As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.
Jerusalem was where the cross was. Jesus knew that was where God wanted him. Nothing would keep him from it.
You have enormous spiritual power that will only be unlocked if you decide what’s most important to you. You can focus on either what will last for eternity or what is temporary. It’s your choice.
1 Corinthians 10:23-24 NIV “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
You’re free to do anything, but not everything will be helpful. If you don’t concentrate your life on what matters most, you’ll stress yourself out over what matters least.
Step 5 Listen to God
To reduce your stress, you need to listen to God.
Luke 5:15-16 NIV Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Emphasis mine)
Jesus, who literally had the weight of the world on his shoulders, spent time alone with God. As the pressures on Jesus increased, he got away to talk with God. Jesus had a habit of quiet times where he went away to reflect, to renew, and to recharge.
Noise is stress. That’s why you must create intentional times of quietness and solitude in your life.
Spend time with God. Find out what God wants to say to you.
If you want to lower the stress in your life, develop a daily time with God where you listen to God—and let that set your mood for the day.
Create A God-Space And Recharge
I led a study based on the book, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference by Philip Yancey. In that study I learned of how to create a God-space. A God-space is a place where you shut out all the noise, and it’s just you and God. It’s a space filled with God’s presence and nothing else. Your God-space can be anywhere and at anytime. It can be your bedroom, your bathroom, or your prayer closet. It can even be when you are walking down the street or surrounded by a group of people. You can shut them all out and still be aware of everything that’s going on around you. It takes practice to learn to create your personal God-space but when there it’s just you and God. I’m not talking about some New Age or Eastern religious mystic thing. I’m talking about being filled by the Holy Spirit. He does the recharging.
Ephesians 5:18-20 (NLT)18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In your God-space you can even “stop time”. I don’t mean that time actually stops. Here’s something else I learned in that study. The author Philip Yancey has a chapter section “Stopping Time”. In it Philip talks about a surgeon, Anthony Bloom, who after his conversion to Christianity, and many years as a surgeon, became a priest. He describes in his book “Beginning to Pray” , about a technique that he used for creating his God-space. He calls “stopping time”. The practice of stopping time gradually transformed Bloom’s life with God. He concentrated on living in the present, recognizing that the past is irremediably gone and the future is irrelevant, because who knows whether it will happen or not.
He started by just stopping everything that he was doing for short periods of time during the day. One minute, two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes. He just shut out everything. Just a short time of quietness. It could be in prayer or just being quiet. The first thing that he noticed, and we should take note of this ourselves, the world didn’t stop. His medical practice didn’t fall apart. For us whatever it is that is waiting to be done will wait. After these quiet times he was more efficient when he went back to the tasks at hand.
Anthony Bloom’s example is a good one but the best is the example of Jesus who often removed Himself from the hustle and bustle of ministry and took time to recharge.
Matthew 14:21-23 (NLT)21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home.23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Luke 6:12 (NLT)12 One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.
Step 6 Surround Yourself With Other Believers
Read the Gospels, and you’ll realize Jesus did just about everything with his small group of like minded people—those he called to be his closest disciples.
You were never intended to handle the stress of life by yourself. God wants you to share it with others.
You’ve probably heard this statement: If you need to get something done right, do it yourself.
That’s a recipe for stress—not success!
It’s not what Jesus did. He knew God intended we live in community, so he lived out that truth.
Jesus turned to his small group during the most stressful night of his life. When Jesus knew he’d be arrested in Garden of Gethsemane, the night before he went to the cross, he didn’t go alone. He took his small group with him.
Matthew 26:36-38 NIV Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Jesus didn’t need their advice. He didn’t need their words of comfort. He just needed their presence.
If Jesus benefited from a small group, imagine all the ways you can benefit, too!
Step 7 Take Time to Recharge
When we think about Jesus, we tend to think about the miracles. We think about him teaching thousands. We think about him dying for our sins—and rising from the dead on the first Easter morning.
But we don’t usually think about Jesus relaxing.
Relaxing is one of the reasons Jesus was able to live stress-free despite all the demands upon his life.
Even though Jesus had more important work to do than we do, he still took time to relax.
Mark 6:31 NIV Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Last year I wrote “Take Time To Recharge”. In it there is a section “Finding Solitude” which is an excerpt from Pressing Pause a book by Ruth Schwenk. Ruth says even Jesus, God in the flesh, needed solitude, and that he knew and practiced discipline of solitude, a time to recharge.
If Jesus can rest and relax, so can we.
The Bible calls those who will not work lazy, Proverbs is full of sayings about being lazy and the circumstances from it.
Proverbs 10:4-5 NIV Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
Proverbs 19:15 NIV Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless go hungry.
But the Bible also calls those who will not rest disobedient
In fact, God thought rest and relaxation was so important he put it in the Ten Commandments. Right along with commands to not murder, commit adultery, or steal, God tells us to take one out of every seven days to worship and rest.
The commandment with the most written about it the one to remember the Sabbath, the day of rest.
Exodus 20:8-11 NIV “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
If you’re too busy to take time off, you’re simply too busy—and likely too stressed.
A Prayer For Stress
Lord, Thank You That You Want Us To Cast Our Cares On You. Thank You That There Is Nowhere I Can Go That You Are Not There With Me. Thank You For Having A Hold Of My Life, Even As I Feel Like Everything Is Crumbling Around Me.
Lord, I Confess That I Have Let Stress Take A Hold Of My Life, Rather Than You. I Have Let Stress Control My Mood, My Attitudes And My Actions. Lord, I Repent Of This! Please Father, Help Me See What Is Stressful In My Life And Hand It Over To You. Help Me Not Let The Stress Win Out. Help Me Actively Think On Your Goodness To Me.
I Am So Hopeful For My Eternity With You, Lord, Where There Will Be NO More Stress! Help Me Look Back On All The Ways You Have Rescued Me From My Stressful Moments, And Look In Hope To The Future Where You Will One Day Rid All Stress, Forever.
Help Me Live Boldly In The Truth Of Your Goodness Amen!