Worrying – what’s the point?

I know numerous people who work hard at worrying, don’t you?  Or worse yet, maybe you are one!  These caring folks that I know work hard at pretty much everything including worrying, actually, so it must be a natural tendency.  But even as little as I personally worry, I have felt the drag, the drain and the tension worry causes.  It sometimes smacks us like a freight train, and at other times it slips in silent and insidious.  Either way, it ends up undermining our very peace and trust.

I see no point in saying, “just stop it, it is not good for you.”  That would be as effective as those highly-accomplished worriers telling me to be a high-octane, energetic and bustling dynamo. “Ain’t happenin’!” comes first to mind!

So I’ve been thinking about this recently.  Surely the energies put into intensive, consistent worrying about whatever could be put to better use, like telling it to the Lord and placing it in His capable, loving hands and leaving it there while we put our mind towards something constructive and uplifting.  In Matthew 6:27 (NKJV) we read:  “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”  That pretty much shows just how ineffective worrying is, right?  No matter how much we think and think and rethink…that’s all we actually accomplish and produce…more thoughts.  Worry accomplishes no goal, but rather creates angst, heartburn, impatience, ulcers, arthritis…you get the picture?  And it adds fuel to our fears.  It just plain is not healthy nor worthwhile!

Here’s a thought!  Why not develop a new habit?  How about when we recognize we are worrying, we turn from it and purposefully start declaring we are trusting in One greater than our own selves, who cares even more deeply about our concerns than we can?    (“casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”  I Peter‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

I wrote a song a few years back based on the scripture “The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms; ”  Deuteronomy‬ ‭33:27a ‬ ‭(NKJV)‬‬  My husband and I have been privileged to get to travel by plane now and then, and we love to fly.  As our plane banked and approached the airport for our mid-trip layover in 2008, I thought of how relaxed and contented we were, happy to be flying and really enjoying the trip, and yet by contrast, how others are so full of fear and anxiety when just contemplating flying.  Once again I personally claimed that scripture in Deuteronomy while on our approach, relying on God’s arms underneath us, upholding us in His care, and *a new song began forming.  I started jotting down thoughts as they flowed about in my mind.  When it was complete, the chorus repeated throughout states, “Underneath are the everlasting arms, I’m safe, secure, free from all alarm.  There’s nothing to fear for I know that underneath are the everlasting arms.”  What a comfort this truth gives when we let it be truth, believing and acting on it?

God gives us so many promises of being with us, caring for us, never leaving us, being a hedge of protection, giving us an ear to hear us anytime we cry out to Him…. let’s start walking in faith, actively trusting Him, and experience the fullness of joy He has to offer us rather than letting worry eat away at our peace and ultimately undermining our trust in God.  Search the scriptures for every promise of God’s loving care, how He will not leave you, how He wants us to ask Him for what we need.  Need peace?  Go to God and ask!  Believe!  Receive!  Rejoice!

You know, if we are letting worry rule our days and/or our nights, we need to change our focus.  We need to change our view.  Quit mentally looking at the worst, imagining the negative, the things that could go wrong, the events that might happen, and instead start quoting scripture and faith-based songs that affirm God has our life in His hands, and that nothing can touch us without His permission.  Do we trust God to be God?  Really?  Then why are we scaring ourselves into a frenzied lather?  Really!  Do we believe His word, that He will go with us (and our loved ones) and meet our needs?  Yes, in this world things do sometimes go wrong, that’s life!  But we are not left to struggle through by ourselves!  He is with us to go through the dark times with us.  He promised in Deuteronomy 31 to be with us, and encourages us with these powerful words in verse 6:   Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”  And in verse 8:  “ And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”(NKJV)

OH, there is SO MUCH I could say about this!!!  But how about it?  How about a new focus for a healthier, happier life?  Do you need help changing this harmful habit?  Let’s take it to God!  He is our answer.  Pray with me:  Lord, I believe You, I trust You, and I thank You that You are in control.  Lord, I want to refocus my heart and mind from worrying to trusting You and rejoicing in being Your child.  I ask You to catch my attention, and show me when I start to fear and worry.  Help me to remain committed to replacing those thoughts with words of faith and hope, with scriptures and songs and affirmations that build up my faith and release Your power to be at work for the good of my own life and of my loved ones.  Lord, I know You love me and mine and promise to be with us through the hard times.  So I release the angst, the worrying thoughts into Your care, and I rest in Your promises.  Thank You Father for loving us so deeply, and for providing peace for my turmoil, giving joy for my journey, and for being my strength when I am weak.  What a wonderful God You are!  In Jesus dear name I pray, with thanksgiving, Amen!

There, we did it!  Step one!  What’s next?  Keeping on putting one foot in front of the other, consistently following the Lord, reading His word, believing it, memorizing and rereading it, researching and learning and internalizing His truths so His thoughts become our thoughts.  And there it is!  We just hit the key, right?!  Here are some of my favorite verses in the entire Bible because for me they are a guide and a control devise so my thoughts won’t go so far amuck!   Philippians 4:6-8, New King James Version (NKJV): 6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  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.”

Not one time in those verses does it say to be anxious, to let our thoughts and fears run rampant, to focus on the bad that might happen.  We are to think of the good, true, noble, pure, things of good report…etc!  So yeah.  What’s the point of worrying?  It profits us nothing, brings doubt and fear (which are the opposite of trust, by the way), and is self-destructive.  Instead, let’s focus on God and His promises, knowing that in Him we are never alone, always loved and in His care.  Look to Him, and rejoice.  Remain steadfast and committed to taking those worrying thoughts captive and controlling them.  You’ll be so glad you did!

* (You can read the lyrics to above-mentioned song in my blog entitled [no surprise here!]  “UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING ARMS.”)

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Underneath Are the Everlasting Arms

UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING ARMS
CHORUS
Underneath are the everlasting arms;
I’m safe, secure, free from all alarm.
There’s nothing to fear for I know
That underneath are the everlasting arms.

Verse 1
I’m traveling with Jesus
He keeps me day by day
The Lord is here beside me
To guide me, Come what may—

CHORUS
Underneath are the everlasting arms;
I’m safe, secure, free from all alarm.
There’s nothing to fear for I know
That underneath are the everlasting arms.

Verse 2
The way gets steep and winding
And can be very rough
Wherever life may take me
The Lord’s more than enough

CHORUS
Underneath are the everlasting arms;
I’m safe, secure, free from all alarm.
There’s nothing to fear for I know
That underneath are the everlasting arms.

Verse 3
Sometimes the path is rugged
And sometimes smooth and clear
Wherever His hand leads me
I’ve nothing now to fear

CHORUS
Underneath are the everlasting arms;
I’m safe, secure, free from all alarm.
There’s nothing to fear for I know
That underneath are the everlasting arms.

Verse 4
I’m going on with Jesus,
My Savior and my friend
He promised to go with me
Clear to my journey’s end.

CHORUS
Underneath are the everlasting arms;
I’m safe, secure, free from all alarm.
There’s nothing to fear for I know
That underneath are the everlasting arms.

©2008 Patricia A. Hunter, All Rights Reserved. 4.24. 2008

Why Christmas?

WHY CHRISTMAS?

The closing line of a movie caught my attention. I quote: “GIVING IN ITS PUREST FORM EXPECTS NOTHING IN RETURN.” I got to thinking. While that may be so, what joy it brings when that same love flows reciprocally back to you. It may have been an act of kindness or an item given that you know your loved one is fond of. Whatever the gift, the love that prompted it is the true and lasting treasure. And certainly if we love someone, we want to protect them, so we give them our attention, our care, our nurturing, our best counsel and encouragement.

Before time began, God thought of us. He knew us entirely, and loved us completely. He knew what we would experience, yearn for, reject and respond to. He knew what we would gladly embrace; He knew our hidden thoughts and deepest feelings. Before we were, He was aware of what would be our insecurities and hopes, our failures and joys. He knew what dangers and temptations we would be susceptible to. Knowing us as He did, and loving us as only He can, He gave us His most prized and priceless treasure, His love gift; the gift of His only Son, Jesus.

Giving in it’s purest form “expects nothing in return”? Perhaps. But does not the heart long for acknowledgment from those it loves? Is there not pain when love is not returned? Is there not a sense of loss and sadness when a gift of love is overlooked, or worse yet, refused entirely? God loved. And because of that love, He gave. God so loved you, He so loved me, that He gave His one and only Son Jesus, to die for our sins. Why? So that anyone- you, me, whosoever would believe on His Son should not perish in eternal payment for our sins, but might have everlasting life.

But how much greater it is, when love is returned. God loved, so He gave. Does He demand we accept His gift and give Him our love in return? No. But what joy we can give Him by returning His love. Loving and giving, expecting nothing in return, is selfless and can be fulfilling. How wonderful when love is reciprocated, shared. And of course there is the benefit of eternal life rather than eternal punishment for us by receiving His gift!

Have you accepted God’s gift to you? Do you return the Lord’s love? He knows you in minute detail, and loves you infinitely, with a non-stop, regardless of us love, an everlasting love.

And that, my friend, is why we celebrate this holiday. That answers the question “Why Christmas?” Because, GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE. (John 3:16 New King James Version -NKJV)

What love! What a gift! Accept His gift of Jesus, who paid the price for forgiveness from your sins. Love Him back! It’s a win-win situation. We receive His love, He receives our love. Return that love He has given you, and pass it on to others needing to learn of and accept this awesome gift.

Gifts of Life

It was Good Friday 2016 when our youngest son came home to his family to heal from a surgery that saved him from much illness, pain and misery…and potentially much worse. My heart ached for him thru these past two years…month after month of ever increasing suffering. What a gift this successful surgery has been to our son, his wife and two children, my husband Bob and I as his parents, to his siblings and their families, to his church family, his friends and fellow classmates and yes even to those whose lives he will touch in the future by being a better nurse for having had this experience.  What a beautiful gift being made whole is to so many!

Going back in time, there was another and oh so much greater gift of life given.  It was given on Good Friday over 2000 years ago.  For you. For me. God’s only Son laid down His life for us because He was the only one who could pay the price required for us to be forgiven.

Forgiven of what?  Of our sins.  God is pure and holy.  He cannot look upon sin.  Yet He loved us and wanted a relationship with us.  He actually made us for that purpose!  But when Adam and Eve willfully chose to disobey Him in the Garden of Eden, a curse of sin was passed down on all people to come which blocked us from God. So while we were yet sinners, Christ Jesus, who was not a sinner, gave His life so that all who would accept His gift of forgiveness could be in right relationship with God… all because of what Jesus did.  A GIFT … to make us whole.

Oh, the heart of the Father!  With mind-boggling love He loved us!  And oh the love of His Son!   He willingly, knowingly not only suffered, but DIED so we might receive the gift… a FREE GIFT … of forgiveness.  It cost Jesus everything.  It hurt the Father horribly.  But their love that looked beyond their pain, gave us this opportunity to love and be loved by God.

Let’s talk about gifts for a bit.  A gift is something given (obviously), but think about this: it also must be received, or it does not belong to the one intended to own it.  It must transfer from the giver to the receiver.  The giver can hold out the gift to give it away, but if the one intended to get the gift does not take the gift, the transfer didn’t happen and the gift was not received.

Have you received God’s gift?  Have you admitted you need a Savior to remove the curse of sin from your life?  It is not something you chose to have…just like my son did not choose the illness that came upon him… but there it was.  Sin is imposing its’ rule over you and forcing pain on you that you don’t have the ability to get rid of, no matter what you do.  The curse is on you, but wait!  The gift is here for you, ready–“just for the taking”!

What if my son had refused having surgery?  What if the surgery was scheduled, the nurses, anesthesiologist and surgeon were standing by ready to start the life-changing surgery, but he said,  “No thanks, I’ll pass.  Not interested.  I don’t need help from any doctor.  I know I can expect increasingly worse pain until I’m debilitated for the rest of my life, but that’s ok.  I’m good.”

Will you receive it?  Don’t make Jesus death for your freedom from the curse be for nothing!  He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities.  He bore our sorrows and sicknesses so we might be free from them.  For what?  To be rejected, spurned, treated as if it was nothing?   That is what rejecting salvation does.  It dooms us to a life without hope and a hopeless eternity without God.  It is an automatic choice of death and damnation.

Rather, choose the gift offered! If you have not already, please pray this prayer with me. “Lord, I’ve done wrong.  I have sinned and need forgiveness.  I believe you are the Son of God, and I believe you shed your blood and died for the forgiveness of my sins.  I believe you rose again on the Third Day and are alive in heaven.  I accept Your gift of salvation and thank you for coming into my heart. Be my Lord and Savior I pray.  In Jesus Name and with thanks I pray.  Amen.

Oh what boundless love!!! How GREAT God is! Amazing, Ever-loving, never-abandoning us — the true lover of our soul has Given Us Eternal Life!!! What now? Read His Word, Talk to God (He knows your heart, so share it freely with Him…no regrets, just joy of forgiveness!) Get into a Bible-believing church family and grow strong in your spirit. Share the good news of this awesome, FREE gift with others!
 

Reality Smackdown!

Matthew 1:18-20. I would like to know Joseph and Mary if they lived in my community. She was favored of God, and he was a just man. Even though Joseph at first thought Mary had been unfaithful to him, he was considering “putting her away privately, not willing to make a spectacle of her.” This he considered and thought upon, rather than rashly acting out in a fit of rage and bitter hurt. Verse 20 “but while he thought about these things,” the angel of the Lord brought assurance of her faithfulness to him and their betrothal.

Matthew 1:21-25. Again I am touched by and made aware of what a Godly, honorable man Joseph was! He was smacked in the face with reality. No longer was he awaiting the fulfillment of the prophecy that some virgin lady would bear God’s Son, but his very own fiancee is said to be pregnant yet a virgin. That takes faith! Even with hearing it from an angel, that takes faith! But God’s spirit must have borne witness and rang with truth in his heart…something like “your lady is pure and honorable and has humbled herself to whatever lies ahead. She knows she very well might be scorned, face rejection from her beloved as well as local communities…” Talk about a smackdown…SMACK!!! Reality just hit! HELLO!! God WITH us, God changing our lives! God intercepting our day to day plans and wishes for a greater good. SMACK!!! MIRACLES upon miracles!!! Oh the tongue wagging and finger pointing and shunning by RELIGIOUS folks Mary and then Joseph agreed to by saying YES to God! WOW! Think about it! But thank God for their willingness to deny self and accept God’s challenge-filled blessings. Eternally grateful here in Idaho for the deep, life-changing faith of Mary and her fiance Joseph so many years ago. Point to ponder: Is my relationship with God such that I know hear and know His voice AND willingly obey?