Do you ever find yourself trying to help God out just a little? You believe He’s going to answer some prayer, but you keep trying to figure out how, and pretty soon, you’re trying to orchestrate one of those possibilities. Abram and Sarai had been given a great promise, but years had passed with no answer in sight and they took matters into their own hands. Unfortunately, just as it does in our lives, it led to all kinds of problems and revealed some things about their hearts.
In the process, they needed some reassurance from God. How about you? Do you need reassurance today … of His faithfulness, His goodness, or His trustworthiness?
We’ll also look at polygamy, a great passage on worry, God’s mercy and His wisdom for the upright. Continue reading →
Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness. Because, as Paul said, bad company corrupts good morals.
Anyone who thinks the Bible is an old dusty book with little current application has only to read the book of Proverbs and other passages in light of today’s headlines. Just consider the growing list of those accused of sexual immorality, greed, and corruption:
Hollywood elite who looked the other way as directors and other powerful men preyed on young women.
The perpetrators themselves.
Politicians who have been corrupted by power, position and the ability to spend tax-payer dollars to cover their indiscretions.
Others afraid or unwilling to criticize, perhaps wondering if they’ll be the next to be outed or accused.
Women who have been willing to tolerate abuses to get what they wanted (yes, some were naive or fearful, but do we really believe all of them were mere victims).
Those willing to use money and favor, if not, out and out bribery, to get a desired outcome.
Those willing to accept it.
Politicians and media people willing to stack elections in favor of one candidate or the other; one party or the other.
And many other examples.
But bad influences don’t just exist in politics and the entertainment industry. They can exist with our friends, advisers, co-workers, business partners, spouses, and those with whom we spend a great deal of time, whose favor we desire, or whose influence we come under. Continue reading →
When sin entered the world it was accompanied by an uninvited guest … FEAR. Yet, the Bible tells us over 450 times, “fear not” or similar words. Find out the two root causes of fear and learn to overcome it biblically in your own life.
Handling Fear & Worry Biblically Part 2
We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” We’ve covered anger and depression. Last week we started talking about fear and worry. If you missed any of them, just click on the link.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Fear & Worry
Last week I said that some sins are so common they’ve almost become acceptable, even among believers in Christ. Though we may spin them with words like: concerned, disturbed, or troubled, fear and worry fall into that category. Last week we focused on worry, how it comes from a divided mind, that it has sinful roots, and how it’s a form of idolatry. Today we’ll focus on fear.
The minute Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God, an uninvited guest called “fear” showed up, too. Genesis 3:
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
When Cain killed his brother Abel and was banished, he responded with self-pity and fear. Genesis 4:
13 And Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.”
We fear what God will do. We fear what people will do. We fear what people think of us. We fear someone taking advantage of us or not loving us. We fear being disrespected. We fear all over the place.
Yet, in His Word, God told us not to fear over 450 times.
He told a fearful mother:
17 … Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.18 Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation” (Gen. 21.17-18).
He assured the nation of Israel of His help and deliverance by telling them to “fear not” (Is. 41.10, 13, 14). And in chapter 43 He said:
1 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.
In Exodus 4 God reassured a fearful, insecure future leader:
1 Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’”
10 Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”
11 So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”
And when he persisted, God sent his brother Aaron with him (Ex. 4.13-17).
In the New Testament, Paul told a nervous young preacher named Timothy:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1.7).
We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” We started with anger and then looked at depression. Today we’re going to begin looking at fear and worry.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Fear & Worry: Acceptable Sins
Some sins are so common that they have become acceptable, even among believers in Christ. Fear and worry, certainly, fall into that category. Some of us realize they’re wrong and try to spin them in a little better light with words like: concerned, disturbed, or troubled.
So, what is worry? Why would something that comes so naturally be sinful?
The Greek word for worry is merimnao. It’s a combination of two words: merizo (to divide) and nous (mind). It means to have a divided mind. It’s translated in various ways: worry, anxious, anxiety, or care.
There is a kind of care or concern that is good. Paul said he had deep concern for the churches (2 Cor. 11.28) and he commended Timothy because of his care for believers.
19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state (Phil. 2.19-20).
But worry is an overly-anxious concern. It demonstrates a lack of faith and trust in God, His character, and His sovereignty.
Jesus addressed worry in Matthew 6.19-34. In this passage, He forbids it three times:
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?”
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
The Apostle Paul, also, addressed worry when he said:
6 Be anxious for nothing … (Phil. 4.6a).
The Sinful Roots of Worry
Worry is idolatry. It involves allowing your thoughts and concerns about the future or your current circumstances to become more important than thinking and acting God’s way. Those things about which you worry have become your idols: finding a spouse, the opinions of others, money, success, good health, your children, etc.
When we worry, we often have an inordinate focus on things.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt. 6.19-21).
But Jesus warned us that we can’t be focused on the things of this world and still have a single-minded focus on and trust in God.
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
When we worry, we are putting our trust in some other god. We’re looking to something else as our refuge or savior. The answer is repentance and renewing our commitment to trust in God and God alone.
Worry Is Unbelief
Jesus said worriers have “little faith.”
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
The fruit of repentance in the life of a believer is a renewed faith and trust in God. We walk that out by focusing our minds on God’s care and trustworthiness (Matt. 6.25-30), His omniscience (Matt. 6.31-32), and His promises (Matt. 6.33).
What’s going on in your heart and mind? Is there peace and trust? Or worry and anxiety? How should we respond when anxiety or other negative emotions threaten to have their way?
Even if you haven’t followed along lately, I hope you’ll take the time to read this post. Our thinking is so important and learning to think biblically makes all the difference in our emotional condition.
Verses 22-31 repeat much of what we read a couple of months ago in Matthew 6 about worry and trust in God, but we can never hear these things often enough. Verses 29-31:
29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.
I especially like verse 29, “And do not … have an anxious mind.” Why are we so often anxious? What, generally, controls our emotions?
Philippians 4 says:
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Have you ever prayed and given some situation to God, only to find yourself worried about it a hour later? Why do we find it so hard to leave our troubles with God?
I believe the answer is in verse 8.
When it comes to worry and anxiety, it’s not enough to pray and then go back to thinking about it, trying to figure out how God’s going to solve the issue, or as we often do, fretting about what we should do to fix the problem. We need to change our thinking.
It’s no accident that verse 8 follows 6 and 7. “Finally …” after you’ve prayed about it, “meditate on these things”! Think about them deeply.
What is it we’re to think about deeply?
We’re to focus on what’s true, not the what if’s and maybe’s. We’re to think about the greater truths. It may be true that your husband has lost his job, but the greater truth is that God is your Provider (2 Cor. 9.8; Phil. 4.19).
We’re to think about what’s noble and lovely. Believe the best of others. Don’t see them in the worst possible light. See them as God sees them. And remember no one is too hard for God (Prov. 21.1).
Think of the good, those things for which you can be thankful. Think about how God has taken care of you in the past and how You have seen Him work in the Bible and in the lives of people you know.
2 Corinthians 10.4-5 says:
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
Notice the words “arguments”, “knowledge” and “thoughts.” These strongholds have to do with our thinking and patterns of thinking. We take our thoughts captive by replacing them with God-honoring, God-filtered ones.
When we’re tempted to worry and be anxious, we must remind ourselves that if the Lord is our Shepherd, we shall not want. We won’t lack anything we need. But, as I heard someone say, Psalm 23.1 may be the best known and least believed verse in the Bible.
When we start to wonder if our spouse will ever change, we must remind ourselves that our job is to first take the logs out of our own eyes (Matt. 7.5), that we overcome evil with good (Rom. 12.21) and that doing good to the other person will be the most likely way to bring conviction (Rom. 12.20).
When we start fretting about our children, we must remember that God only asks us to be faithful (1 Cor. 4.2) to teach and train them using godly principles (Eph. 6.4), not to unnecessarily frustrate them (Col. 3.21) or provoke them to anger (Eph. 6.4), and to leave the results in His hands (Prov. 22.6).
But in order to take our thoughts captive to these truths and others, we must first put God’s word in our hearts and minds. Romans 12.2 tells us:
“… be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
And Psalm 119.9-11 (NASB) says:
9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
10 With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
So when we’re feeling anxious or worried or a host of other negative emotions, let’s stop and take an inventory of our thoughts.
The Sovereign God who watches over all the details of life is watching over us. He knows what we need. Our focus is to be on doing the things that advance His kingdom. But if we’re not purposefully thinking and meditating on those things, our default modes of worry, anxiety, anger, other sinful thought patterns will take over.
How Journaling Can Help
When I’m counseling people struggling with emotional issues, I often ask them to keep a journal. It’s often very revealing for them to slow down and ask themselves a series of questions. Continue reading →
Aging parents, health concerns, rebellious children, financial worries, safety issues and more. For many of us, they can lead to increasing fear, worry, and anxiety ranging from mild to paralyzing.
As believers we know we should trust God rather than be fearful and worried, but the peace we desire and God wants us to have, seems elusive.
We know the answer lies in our relationship with Christ, but sometimes we need practical advice on how to break those old habit patterns. Elyse reminds us:
[Jesus is] the only one who intimately knows all our thoughts and fears. He’s the only one who is able to deliver us. That’s because He’s faced the greatest of all fears for us—the fear of death and separation from God— and He’s come through victorious. The Bible teaches that one reason He left heaven and came to earth was to “deliver those who through fear…have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread” (Hebrews 2:15 TLB).
Our fears are like chains around our hearts—they paralyze, entrap, and enslave us. But Jesus Christ holds the key that can unlock and banish all your fears. He’s able to do this because His love is more powerful than your fears. It’s His plan to teach, encourage, and transform you into a person who trusts Him— even in the face of your deepest worries and anxieties. He doesn’t promise to make you perfect here on earth, but He does promise to work mightily in your heart now and will ultimately, in heaven, completely free you from every fear.
She goes on to help us identify the source of our fear, worry, and anxiety. Then through careful application of the Scriptures and personal examples, her own and others, she helps us:
Cast all [our] anxiety on him because he cares for [us] (1 Pet. 5.7).
Mondays @ Soul Survival is a place to share your insights about God and His Word, parenting, marriage, homemaking, organization and more. Feel free to link up multiple posts as long as they are family friendly. Remember this is a Christian site. I would love it if you link back in someway and share the linkup on social media. I pin many of your posts on my “Mondays @ Soul Survival” Pinterest boardas time allows. Continue reading →
Several weeks ago I started this series, “Living Between the Already and the Not Yet.” “The already” is who we are in Christ and have been since the day that He saved us. The “not yet” is who we will be when we stand before Him faultless, in other words, when we are like Him.
Count it all joy when we encounter tests & trials.
Accept His discipline.
Keep the two great commandments.
Overcome evil with good.
Trust in His sovereignty.
In the second post, I talked about “Responding to Difficult People.” We all have one or more of them in our lives, whether it’s a child, a family member, a spouse, a co-worker or someone else.
I used a simple counseling diagram we call the “Y-chart,” to demonstrate how responding God’s way results in peace and blessings and how our load in life gets easier. But when we respond our own way, it results in tribulation and distress (anxiety, fear, worry, stress, depression) and life gets harder.
RECOGNIZING THE PROCESS OF SIN
In this post I’m going to talk about the process of sin: how it works, why we fall into its snares, and how we can avoid it. Continue reading →