Dealing With Worry

Dealing With Worry

So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 NET

Anxiety disorders are prevalent in the USA. With more then 40 million Americans daily coping with anxiety related “illness”, worry is a commonplace companion for many. Factors like genetics, chemistry and even personality contribute to the highly hidden struggle attributed to anxiety disorders today. Worry and anxiety are nothing new, however. I want to look at this issue because thoughts form our habits and lives. What we worry about reveals what we think about God and His ability or care for us. If we are filled with worry, we will not give freely; we will not live freely. Untitled design (14)Worry doesn’t free us at all but convinces us to settle for safe, comfortable, non-risky lives.  Is this how we were meant to live? This is why dealing with worry is so important:  Remember that what we think becomes “our” reality even if it’s not true reality.

Read through these three translations of Matthew 6:34

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing Untitled design (15)right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:34 MSG

“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time. Matthew 6:34 TLB

So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today. Matthew 6:34 The Voice

Give Your Attention To What Is NOW.

Time is fleeting. It is therefore essential to not waste time focusing on things that cannot be changed or may never happen. Famous British statesman and leader Winston Churchill said:

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”

Yet many of us do that very thing: focus on the past or the future; each with worry. Many of the things we fear or worry about never actually come to pass. We expend lots of energy, resources and time trying to avoid the imagined or the unknown. Jesus challenges us to simply deal with what we know and trust Who we know.

Worry doesn't free us at all but convinces us to settle for safe, comfortable, non-risky lives. (2)The apostle Paul said in his letter to the Philippians that he had to let go of the worries of the past, what others thought of him, things he had done and give attention to who God had called him to be now.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead,14 with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

Is a lot of your time going to worrying about your past? Mistakes? Sins? Choices? Regrets? Take a little bit of time and focus on what God is doing NOW in your life. Think about that!

Live One Day At A Time

Not knowing how much time we have, worry bemoans us to assume what tomorrow holds instead of trusting God’s hands which are shaping the future. The book of James tells us that our lives are like vapors:

 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not knowwhat your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. James 4:13-14Worry doesn't free us at all but convinces us to settle for safe, comfortable, non-risky lives.

God has entrusted us with today and wants us to entrust Him with tomorrow. By allowing us to wake and breathe today, God has given us the invitation to walk freely without fear and anxiety with Him through everything we will face. Seek to live today, not re-live yesterday or attempt to predict tomorrow. Live one day at a time.

Live Faithfully Is The Task

Worry is limiting and debilitating. It prevents us from experiencing a life of faith in God. By subverting God’s authority in our lives, worry demands we take control of as much as we can to have “peace of mind.” Even though God wants us to “plan” for the future, God is asking us to trust His plan for our future. His ways are higher than ours as Isaiah points out:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,Worry doesn't free us at all but convinces us to settle for safe, comfortable, non-risky lives. (1)
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

God is telling us to trust Him when even when we don’t understand what He is doing. His desire is for us to be faithful with what we know we are to do regardless of the potential outcome or perceived results. Worry is essentially the opposite of faith because we are trusting more in our own understanding than in God’s knowledge. For any Christian, faith is to be a defining marker in our lives. Depending on God’s providential plan, what you are facing today or in life in general is an opportunity to either live faithfully or with worry.  Steven Covey, author of the 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People said:

“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” Steven Covey

Is God challenging you to leave worry behind and live filled with faith? Share you thoughts and comments below.

George Profile

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Creative Arts and Mission Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA

New Zombies: Abel

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new zombies

With it being Halloween, I thought I’d kick off  new blog series called New Zombies. I’ve been wanting to write about this for close to a year now. And since “The Walking Dead” had it’s premier on October 31, 2010 (Days Gone By), I thought enough days have gone by for me. Here’s the first installment. Hope it’s helpful and challenging.

It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith. Hebrews 11:4 NASB

Did you know that Abel never had a word of his recorded or written down for anyone to read? When I realized this, I was surprised. I was struck by the fact that in the short…

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Christmas Surprises: Matthew 1:18-23

christmas devotional thought

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23

Surrounding Jesus’ birth there are many surprises and miracles. Many prophecies are fulfilled and promises of God kept because of the arrival of the Christ Child. Consider these surprises in relationships that occurred.

A Surprise In Relationship with Mary and Joseph.

There is no doubt that Joseph felt cheated and used. He had to wrestle with a ton of emotions and questions  upon hearing that his fiancee’ is expecting a baby and he is not the father! But Joseph was a good and nobel man and did not want to embarrass Mary. Moreover he could have publicly shamed her and had her stoned, which was in his right to do but instead, he was looking for a way to quietly dismiss her. This surprise was an act of true love from Joseph to Mary. He sincerely loved her by trying to care for her emotionally and physically before he really understood all that was happening. If Mary ever had a wonder if Joseph loved her, she had no doubt now. Sometimes it is during the most trying of times that love can surprise you. Their relationship was evidently much deeper than anything physical. The unexpected pregnancy  lead to the wonderful surprise of a love that was deeper than doubt, speculation, and fear. How are your relationships? When surprises pop up, how does your relationship with your spouse hold up? Are you fighting for your “rights”? Are you seeking what’s best for your spouse? Why not let love deepen and surprise everyone who’s watching, waiting for you to respond. Surprise them with your godly relationship.

A Surprise in Relationship with Mary and God.

Mary didn’t choose this herself. In fact, if she had been offered the choice, she may have given any number of excuses:

“I’m too young”

“I’m about to be married”

“Isn’t there someone else?”

“I have my whole life ahead of me…can this wait a little while longer?”

Yet God chose her, at her age, with her situation, at this time. She’s just a simple teenage girl…no mothering “experience”, yet qualified enough for God to give her the job. Perhaps God looks at us much differently than we look at ourselves? Maybe God’s relationship with us should be looked at as God’ choosing us, awaiting us to choose Him back? At the end of her conversation with the angel, Mary submits to God’s choice of her. She surrenders her life and will to obedience and acceptance of all that God wants to do with her. She exemplifies what we should be like in our relationship with God. Has God chosen you for something that seems bigger than you? What excuses have you been giving to God lately? How would your relationship to others change if you had this kind of open full acceptance of God’s choosing in your life?

A Surprise in Relationship With God and Man.

Early in the Garden of Eden we are told that God was walking in the cool of the day with earth’s first created beings. However, after the Fall, God doesn’t walk with mankind in this way again…until now. The title given to Jesus is Immanuel (Emmanuel as some may write it). This name is significant because now God is walking, breathing and in human form among his creation once again. This is HUGE for the entire human race. God pulls a surprise on us that no one would have ever expected. Sure there were many prophecies about the coming Messiah. For hundreds of years, prophets, priests, kings, wisemen, and even common people longed for and looked for the arrival of the King. It’s just no one expected Him to come as a baby in a manger.

Surprise!

God showed up in a way that changed everything. And still affects everything to this day. Mankind now not only has a God in Heaven but one who walked on earth. Because of this relationship, God can say He knows what we are going through. He understands what it’s like to feel hunger, sadness, pain, sorrow, suffering, along with the myriad of other emotions we deal with on a daily basis. Now that God has surprised us in coming to form a new way of relating to us, we never have to fear being far from Him again. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift! Do you feel close to God today? Why or why not? Does your relationship with God ever change? What does it mean to you that God is with you? How does having a relationship with God change your outlook on life?

Insights and Reflections: Blind Opportunity

insights and reflections And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out…Mark 10:47

There are all kinds of reasons people give for not taking advantage of an opportunity that comes their way. Some may say that they didn’t realize it until too late, while others may blame not having enough knowledge to make the most of the opportunity. Blind Bartimaeus diffuses such arguments and reasons with his actions in this instance.

Blindness is no excuse for not taking advantage of an opportunity.

Even if people can’t see all the possibilities, people who want out of their current situation are desperately looking for a change! Bartimaeus was most certainly physically blind but that did not prevent him from seeing and seizing an opportunity! In cases where “blindness” obstructs we must learn to use other senses to our advantage.

There were several things that helped Bartimaeus make use of this opportunity. He had been sitting in a place where activity and information would pass. He was on a roadside. People passed along there everyday and even if they didn’t give him money, they could give him information. He may have been a blind beggar but he was not an ignorant one! He paid attention to news about a certain man Jesus. He heard the rustling of the crowds as they drew near. He sensed the dust rising in his nostrils and took advantage of the chance he got.

Seeing doesn’t just happen with our eyes.

Bartimaeus couldn’t see where Jesus was. He had no idea how close he was to Jesus nor what Jesus looked like. All Bartimaeus could do was cast cries for mercy toward heaven and the general direction from which noise seemed to stir. He was listening. He was hoping. He was dreaming. He may not have seen Jesus at this point but he could most certainly see that his future lay in Jesus’ hands. Bartimaeus had faith. Without eyes, he had to listen more intently and closely for the voice of God. John 10:27 tells us that God’s sheep “hear His voice”. Bartimaeus’ faith came as a result of using His next greatest sense of sound. Many times people may miss opportunities God has for them because they are too fixated on God doing one thing or another and unwilling to see or act with eyes of faith. Bartimaeus “heard” and then he cried out. If we want to see again, listen for His voice. It’s then that everything becomes clear. “Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17. In other words, don’t look for God if you’re unwilling to listen to God.

Just because you can’t see the future doesn’t mean you don’t have one.

Bartimaeus was not content to be a beggar the rest of his life. He had a dream and that dream would require a miracle. Most dreams do! However when the dream-maker came near, Bartimaeus took full advantage of the chance he had been given. It was a “now or never” moment. Bartimaeus may not have been able to see with his eyes presently but he could certainly see what kind of future he desired. Don’t allow a present limitation to prevent you from asking God for a future without limits . Bartimaeus was no idiot; a beggar but a believer and dreamer as well! His belief was not in himself mind you but in the one who could give him a future beyond his present status and situation. But it all came down to the present: what would he do with Jesus so close by? This is also the case for us. What will we do when Jesus passes by? Will we miss the opportunity given us? Take advantage of every opportunity to see Jesus…even if you have to see with your ears for that’s when it’s a vision to hear!

GL profile 2George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and Youth Pastor of New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA

GOD. Immutable

GOD.

17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:17

Change. It’s the one thing that’s constant in our world, right? Everyone and everything changes to one degree or another. But not God. As consistant as change is in our world, God is even more consistently the same. We can count on God to remain unfazed by our plight and undaunted by our problems. By the same token, here are a couple of other things that God’s immutability reveals to me.

1) God’s Immutable In His Essence.

With the movement of time, I have changed the way I look at things, the way I feel about things and certainly the way I act on things. Who I am has been shaped by time, circumstances and people. God is not affected by any of those things mentioned, nor any other thing for that matter. As I find ways to improve upon who I am or what I know, God does not change in any way in His knowledge, or practice. He is perfect in every way and thus cannot be improved upon. He is who He is and that is perfect and unchanging. (Exodus 3:14)

2) God’s Immutable In His Promises.

God has made promises which He cannot and will not break. Because He is unchanging, I can always rest upon His word and the character I see displayed of God in His word to be true. Everything that God has previously promised has come true and everything that we await will most certainly follow suit. What God has said will happen because He is immutable and always keeps His word.

3) God’s Immutable In His Calling.

Regardless of how we feel about our lives, tasks, or position, God’s call on our lives supersedes every other calling. God’s counsel in calling us is wise, although we not think or act as so. His call is based upon His power, wisdom, and presence, not our own. It is best for us to embrace His calling when we first hear Him because He will continue to pursue us and hound us until we surrender (Romans 11:29). As I rest in His calling on my life, I find solace in knowing that even when I don’t feel I am the best for the job, He has called me and decided to use me and He doesn’t second guess His choice.

How does knowing God is unchanging affect you?

GOD. Omnipotent

GOD.God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Power. People of all ages and places struggle in their quest to obtain this attribute and wield it for their use. Whether it’s a brother dominating their siblings to a ruler lording over a nation, a desire for power can corrupt anyone. Yet, I must be reminded often that all power is not within our grasp. In fact, regardless of who’s in “power” all power and positions come from God.  These are a few ways that I recognize God’s power in my life.

1) God Has Power Over All Nature

There is no doubt that as of late our world has been overwhelmed by earthquakes, tornadoes, storms, hurricanes, and tsunamis. With Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti and tsunami in Indonesia, it’s easy to realize how powerful nature is. Nevertheless, God is more powerful. Nahum 1:5Psalm 107:23-32 Jesus demonstrated His power of nature several times, calming storms, (Matthew 8:23-27, Matthew 14:22-33). Even though nature may be powerful, God is more powerful still.

2) God’s Has Power Over All Governments and Rulers

If elections don’t go the way I want or laws are passed that I don’t agree with, I can be full of faith and trust in God who holds all nations and rulers in His hand, (Psalm 46, Psalm 82:8, Psalm 113:4). People, presidents, rulers or kings ultimately are under God’s watchful eye and His power trumps them all. I must simply obey God and submit to Him as my authority and be prayerful for the people in leadership around the world that they would recognize God as Sovereign.

3) God Has Power Over Me

God doesn’t always exercise His power over me or these other things I have mentioned. However, there are times when I can see God’s hand mightily at work in my situations and circumstances. At times I am made painfully aware that I a mere human, flesh and bone whose life is but a breath, whose life is like a blade of grass( James 4:13-17, Psalm 103:15-16)  Thankfully, God is not so much looking for someone to control as a puppet or marionette but someone who shares His heartbeat and wants to walk in the same direction as He is going. God’s power is best revealed in me when I love as He does, serve as He served and give as He gave. Forgiving others, praying for those who are not like me and don’t like me, and humbling myself before God are evidences of God’s power over my life. Apart from God, these types of things would be impossible. As I humble myself before the Lord and lift Him up, God’s power is made much more clear in my life.

Knowing God is omnipotent brings me a great amount of hope and comfort in days that seem bleak and abysmal. How does God’s power over nature, government or yourself affect the way you look at life?