PERISH THOSE THOUGHTS

Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established” – Proverbs 16:3

Thoughts.  It’s hard not to have thoughts.  We have them all the time and there are times when we have thoughts we wish we didn’t have.  We have thoughts that take our focus away from God.  We worry about all sorts of things.  We worry about our health, our jobs, our families, our finances and so many other things.  Then anxiety sets in and we become stressed and unable to concentrate on anything else.  When we have real problems become so intent in trying to solve them ourselves that when we are unable to find solutions, we become depressed.

We feel defeated and discouraged because we are unable to take care of our families and ourselves.  Instead of allowing this to happen, we should remember what Jesus said.

“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?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father fees them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6: 25-27, 31-34)

Jesus says here and we know this for a fact, that worrying doesn’t change anything.  It only makes things worse.  Instead, we should look to God who promised that He would take care of us.  Here are complaints we have and God’s responses:

  • We say, “It’s impossible.”
  • God says, “With Me all things are possible.” (Luke 18:27)
  • We say, “I’m exhausted.”
  • God says, “Wait on Me.  I’ll renew your strength.” (Isaiah 40:31)
  • We say, “I can’t go on.”
  • God says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • We say, “I don’t know what to do.”
  • God says, “I’ll direct you.” (Proverbs 3:6)
  • We say, “I can’t do.”
  • God says, “You can do all things through Me.” (Philippians 4:13)
  • We say, “I can’t make ends meet.”
  • God says, “I’ll supply all your needs.” (Philippians 4:19)
  • We say, “I can’t handle this.”
  • God says, “Give it to Me; I’ll carry it for you.” (Psalm 55:22)
  • We say, “I’m all alone.”
  • God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

We should surrender our minds to God, give Him our troubles and worries and relieve ourselves of unnecessary burdens.  We have to remember that God is our Father, a loving Parent who desires to take care of His children.  When I worry about something, this is what Jesus says to me:

  • “When you are afraid or hurt, close your eyes and you will see My hands reaching out for yours, you put them in Mine and I will raise you up.  I will uphold you.”
  • I am the Resurrection and the Light.  He who believes in Me will have everlasting life.  Therefore I will heal you of negative and evil thoughts and restore you in mind, body and spirit.”
  • “Focus on Me and not on your real or imagined troubles.”
  • “Let your heart not be troubled.  Be assured that I will restore it to peace.  My peace.”
  • “Cast your worries on Me and I will take care of them.  Give Me your troubles and in return I will give you My peace.”
  • “Have faith and don’t be discouraged.”
  • “The Lord takes care of His children.  He keeps straight their paths so that they turn neither to the right nor to the left.”

We should ask God to free us from worry and anxiety and to instead, focus on Him and allow His peace to fill our minds, bodies and souls.  When we accept that God is in control of our lives and not we ourselves, it makes life so much easier.  We will be able to sleep a whole lot better at night and focus on what is important—our relationship with God.

A lot of times we mistakenly believe that people are angry with us or are gossiping about us and oftentimes it is all in our imagination.  The imagination could be a very powerful thing.  We imagine the worst only to discover that things are not as bad as they seem.  More than once I thought someone didn’t seem friendly to me because of my colour or to realise that I was mistaken.

I always remember that Othello thought that Desdemona didn’t love him because he was insecure.  He allowed his father in-law’s prejudice and his insecurity to ruin his marriage.  He allowed Iago to turn him against his wife and a friend.  Destructive thoughts can ruin friendships and relationships.  The mind is a battlefield.  We are constantly deluged with negative thoughts that we need to terminate before they take hold of us.  We should turn our minds to God.  We should set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2)

Whenever we have a negative thought we should counteract it with God’s word.  Here are examples of negative thoughts and God’s word:

  • Thought: No one loves me.
  • God’s Word: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
  • Thought: I’m nothing, useless, a nobody.
  • God’s Word: “Beloved, now we are children of God.” (1 John 3:2)
  • Thought:  I have no friends.
  • God’s Word: “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:14)
  • Thought: My friends say that this dream/idea of mine is impossible.
  • God’s Word:  “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)
  • Thought: If I do this, my friends and family will not understand.
  • God’s word: “My mothers and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” (Luke 8:21) And “Whoever acknowledges Me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.” (Luke:12:8)

We should hand our worries and doubts over to Jesus in exchange for His peace.  He told us not to let our hearts be troubled.  Worrying only makes things worse.  Jesus wants us to enjoy our lives.  He said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly” – John 10:10.  Let us not waste any more precious time worrying.

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Hold Fast

Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised” – Hebrews 10:23

Faith turns into doubt when we focus on our circumstances instead of on God.  When Peter was walking toward Jesus on the water, he began to sink the moment he focused on the winds and the conditions around him.  When we doubt God we are basically saying to Him that we don’t trust Him to take care of us, we don’t believe what He says.

Faith wavers when we allow our feelings to get in the way.  Fear made Peter sink as he walked towards Jesus on the water.  Fear made him deny knowing Jesus.  Anger made Moses disobey God and as a result he was not allowed to go to the Promised Land.  Discouragement made the Israelites unwilling to listen to Moses who reported to them God’s promise to deliver them from the Egyptians.  Moses himself doubted God’s promise.  He said, “Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all.” (Exodus 5:233)

Thirst and hunger made the Israelites grumble against Moses.  Even though they had witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, they still doubted God’s power.   When the people saw that Moses was taking a long time returning from the mountain, they asked Aaron to make them gods who will go before them.  They did not have the faith to wait on God or Moses.  They were quick to turn away from God’s commandments and worship an idol in the shape of a calf.  No matter how many wonders God performed before them and no matter how many times He provided for them or showed mercy to them, they continually disobeyed Him because they were giving credence to their feelings and their circumstances instead of their recollection of all that God had already done in their lives.

Greed made the Israelites commit a sin regarding the accursed things.  They did not give over things or persons to the Lord by totally destroying them as they were commanded to do.  They took some of these things.  Disregard for God and His commandments made the Israelites worship other gods.  Love for foreign women turned Solomon’s heart away from his Lord and to other gods.  Satan’s lies turned Eve’s faith in God to doubt.  Desire for wisdom made her disobey God.  We let our feelings or other people to influence us and we forget everything that God has done in our lives.  We forget how loving, merciful and faithful He is.

We should be like David who always turned to God no matter what the circumstances were.  “Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.  For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name.” (Psalm 34:20-21)

Fear Not

Image“Let your heart not be troubled.  Be assured I will restore it to peace, My peace.”

 

Years ago I read a devotional for September 2002 which reminded me of a return trip from New York earlier in the year.  There were passengers travelling on the flight who made me uneasy.  My uneasiness soon escalated to intense fear.  I began to believe that something terrible was going to happen and I blamed myself because I wanted to fly back home to Toronto a day earlier.

The fear was suffocating and I cried out to God whose response was, “I did not bring you and your mother all this way just to have something happen to you.  These people will not harm you.” 

Then, I heard the words, “Peace, be still.”  And a peace came over me and killed the fear that had overwhelmed me.  I was so calm, that the tears went away and I was smiling.  No one looking at me would have guessed what I had been going through only a moment ago.  This was because Jesus’ peace was enveloping me—His peace that had the power to calm a troubled spirit in a matter of seconds as soon as I cried out to Him.

As He said to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)  No one, not even my mother would have been able to calm my fears.  Only Jesus could have done so and He did.  Fear is a powerful and unpleasant emotion but it is no match for God who is greater than anything we are struggling with.  He calmed my fears and let know that He was in control.  He wanted me to know that He was faithful.  He had promised to take care of Mom and me while we were in New York when I expressed my misgivings about going.  He wanted me to go with Mom to her brother’s funeral and I knew better than to say no to Him.  He had promised that He wouldn’t let anything happen to us.

This was after September 11 so I had a phobia about going to New York.  I should have known that God would keep His promise but when fear grips you it erases all rational thought.  Thank God, He calmed my fears.  Like David, I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)  Thank You, God.

No doubt many people were asking, where was God on September 11, 2001?  I believe that God was right there:

  • In the twin towers with those who managed to get out and those who didn’t.
  • On the planes that crashed into the twin towers and the Pentagon.
  • With the families whose loved ones were killed or missing.
  • With those who were late, sick or on vacation or who decided to go for coffee or run an errand instead of going straight up to their offices.
  • With the fire fighters and rescue workers as they searched through the rubble for bodies.
  • With the heroes who died trying to save lives.
  • With the rest of us as we tried to make sense of what had happened.

What can we learn from this tragedy?

  • Tragedy can strike anytime and anywhere.
  • No nation not matter how great is immune.
  • We should cherish every moment with our loved ones
  • Life is precious
  • Life is short
  • Make the most of life.  Don’t take it for granted.
  • It brought people together.
  • It affected everyone, not just those who lost their loved ones.
  • That people, if they haven’t already, need to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour, believe that He died on the cross for them, confess their sins and believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  They need to be saved because they don’t know when they would be taken from this world.  But, when they’re saved they don’t have to worry about where they’re going.
  • That evil exists.
  • That we are not alone.  God is with us.  He is there to help us, comfort us, heal us and strengthen us.
  • That if we trust God and lean on him, He could help us through the most horrific of tragedies.
  • That faith conquers terror.
  • That people are willing to pitch in and help each other by giving their time, blood, food, offering their prayers, support, etc.  It brought out the best in people—generosity to strangers.
  • The human spirit is indomitable.

God healed a nation gripped by fear and devastation and enabled it to bounce back.  As He promised, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you.  Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” – Isaiah 41:10.

NEVER TOO YOUNG TO LEARN

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” – 1 Timothy 4:12

Teaching the next generation about God is the duty of all Christians.  Teaching our children who will in turn teach their children God’s law and share with them how God had demonstrated His presence and power in their lives.  The Ten Commandments were written for the Moses’ generation and the generations that followed.  “These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all His decrees and command that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. In the future, when your son asks you, ‘What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?’ Tell him: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  Before our eyes the Lord sent miraculous signs and wonders—great and terrible—upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household.  But He brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that He promised on oath to our forefathers.’” (Deuteronomy 6:1-2, 20-23)

 

Moses had records of what happened in Egypt and when the Israelites left Egypt and everything that happened during their journey to the Promised Land so that these could be shared with the next generations.  We too could share God’s commandments with our children so that they could live the way God intended them to.  And when God works wonderful miracles and brings blessings in our lives, we get to share those with our children as well.  We could also share these things with other young Christians and non-believers.

 

Before he died, David said to his son, Solomon, “So, be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires:  Walk in His ways, and keep His decrees and commands, His laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the Lord may keep His promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’” (1 Kings 2:2-4)  Solomon later advises, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

 

As a child I was taught that Jesus loved me and that is why He died on the cross for me.  I was taught that Jesus loved all children—children of all colours. I was taught the Our Father prayer and other prayers.  Even now I’m learning things from my mother and my aunt.  I’m learning things from God who is my Father.  He is opening my eyes to what I am reading.  Even though I have read the Scriptures before, I feel as if I’m reading some of it for the first time.

 

Solomon’s advice to the young is, “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.  Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, And put away evil from your flesh, For childhood and youth are vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10)  When we are young, we want to enjoy life, have fun, and be adventurous.

 

When we are young, we don’t want to take life seriously or responsibility for our actions.  We just want to have a good time.  When we are young we think we are invincible, untouchable.  We think we can experiment with drugs and alcohol and not be affected; we think we can handle them.  We drag race and not think that we can get hurt or hurt someone else.  We do anything to get into a fraternity or we are willing to do anything to be accepted into the in-crowd.  We want to seem cool to others so we do things that we are not comfortable doing just to impress other people.  When we are young, we are easily influenced and vulnerable to peer pressure.  We don’t want to be seen as the geek or the wallflower.  We want to be popular.

 

Young people should be taught that it is cool to be a follower of Jesus.  It is cool to obey His commands and hold on to them.  It is cool to read the Bible, go to church, pray, meditate, help others, tell their friends about Jesus.  It is cool to do volunteer work, Bible study, work hard in school, do well in their studies and stay out of trouble, say no to cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.  It is cool to serve others.  Jesus wearing just a towel got down on His knees and washed the feet of His disciples.  It is cool to feed the homeless, visit the sick, help the poor and to treat others as you want to be treated.  It is cool to be part of God’s crowd rather than the in-crowd.  It is cool to stand out as a committed believer than as the popular girl or boy or the jock.  Young people should be taught that following God is the coolest thing they could ever do and the wisest.

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