Eyes on the Prize

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What matters most in life? Is it our health and wellbeing?  How about our legacy? Maybe it’s the good things we do for others or the longevity of our time here on earth. All of us answer the question solely based on our worldview. Our worldview informs our place in this world and the purpose of our existence. It’ll determine the things we pursue and how we measure success. It’ll either help us through hard times or leave us blowing in the wind. In the challenging times that we live, we need to be able to answer this question.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  Colossians 3:1-2 ESV

For believers in Jesus, our view of the world and our place in it should never change. Viruses, wars, famines, human trafficking, and all other hardships and evils don’t have to alter our perspectives. When God created mankind, he gave them a place in all of creation. That place is to rule alongside Him. Humanity is ingrained with the calling of bringing God’s kingdom to His creation. The above passage in Colossians reminds us to stay focused on that calling…to keep our eyes heavenward. As people all around the world are suffering, the opportunities for the Kingdom of Heaven to be extended on earth are even greater.  As emotions are reeling and anxieties are rampant, Christians need to be that steady voice of hope and victory.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5 ESV

Our command to love has not changed. If anything, people are more desperate than ever for sincere love and generosity. As I see people rush to the stores to hoard supplies out of pure self-preservation, the need for selfless love has rarely been more obvious. People are buying things they don’t need and putting at risk those who actually do need them. In tough times our truest character is revealed. The time is now for Christians to rise up and be a beacon of hope and light during these dark days. As people gather all they can, we need to be giving all we can. As people fear uncertainty, we need to proclaim the certainty of God’s love for them. As the pain of loss ravages families all over the world, we need to be sharing the peace that comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the face of economic trials, we need to be reminding the world of how God provides for His children.

If it wasn’t before, it should be obvious by now that our lives are in the hands of another. And that’s actually a good thing. We don’t need vaccines nearly as much as we need repentance. Government bailouts are great but what we really need is more humility before our maker.  God redeems lives. God sustains life. And we need to spend our days participating in His mission of love to a hurting world. Let’s do our part to shine for God’s glory because that is what matters most in life.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.    Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters!

Peace in the pursuit

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Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” 1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV

I once heard it said that our level of faith can be measured by our level of contentment. Contentment is one of those things that may seem pretty allusive at times. But perhaps that’s because our faith wavers at times. With the highs and lows of this life, we can sometimes have a difficult time maintaining this steady sense of calm. That’s usually due to the fact that our calm is based upon the conditions we find ourselves. When we allow our emotions to be on a roller coaster our actions will most definitely follow suit. The game-changer for all of us is that God will come through in our hardest times and in our greatest times. It may not look the way we expect or plan for ourselves. God remains the same despite our circumstances and when we live from a place of trust in Him then we can remain in that steady calm sense of satisfaction. No matter how much we have or how little, no matter how hard things are or how easy, God loves us. Through life in Christ, we can have all the riches of His grace. Praise God for that!

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  Philippians 4:12 ESV

Paul could say this with confidence because he had lived it. He had gone from a wealthy man of power in the priesthood of Israel, enjoying the comforts of that life, to walking the missionary path. He had to work hard to continue each journey. Along the way, he got beaten down, ridiculed, and imprisoned multiple times. Paul lived a life of extremes. And through it all, he kept his eyes of God. His path on the way of pursuing Jesus mattered more than what obstacles popped up along the way. For me, that’s where I hope to be. Despite any health problems, stresses with bills, the burdens of work, or any other trials that may come up, I want to maintain that steady peace that comes in the pursuit of Jesus.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 ESV

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters!

Worn by Worry

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“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious 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? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:25-33 (ESV)

The act of worrying begins and ends in the mind. And our minds are so smart that they can even create things for us to worry about. Have you ever been there? Jesus lists a few items in verse 25 of Matthew 6 that are considered basic necessities. Jesus isn’t just telling us not to worry about our nice car, the newest phone, or affording the next family vacation. I heard a phrase once that referred to concerns like these as ‘first world problems’. He goes much deeper than that. Jesus says don’t even worry about the things you need!

Some translations of this passage use “anxious” and others use “worried”. The English word “worry” comes from the old English Wrygen and the Old High German Wurgen, both meaning “To Strangle or Choke”. It’s no wonder that worry and anxious thought have a horribly negative effect on our bodies. We don’t even need science to prove it to us because we can feel the life, vitality, peace, and joy being drained out of us when we are worried. Our health and wholeness is literally strangled out of us bit by bit. There is not a single part of a person’s body that is not affected by worry. It doesn’t stop there either. Anxiety and worry one person’s life will carry over to affect others.

If we claim allegiance to Christ then that should change absolutely everything for us. We cease to exist as we were. The entire point of being a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 2:20, Colossians 3:3, and many in others) is that our lives will be completely consumed with Him. The problem is, we still think about ourselves way too much and give far too much room in our lives to things that are not about Him. It’s no wonder we don’t think about Him like we should. It becomes very hard to live from our new identity when we live like we don’t have one. But, our new identity is key to having peace rather than anxiety. The new person is focused on the Eternal One and eternal things.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

Come read more about how Jesus wants to set us free from a life of worry. In chapter 8, I share some of my story of an anxious filled life and how I’ve been saved from it. Get your copy at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Thanks for reading!

Peace brothers and sisters