“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31, NLT).
Sometimes it seems as if the whole world is against us. There are days when nothing goes right and we’re almost convinced everyone is conspiring to make us miserable. If you read the whole chapter of Romans 8, you’ll see that no matter what, God loves us and is on our side. So even if everyone really is against you, God will always be there for you. And since he’s the most powerful ally in the universe, the things people do to us and the things life throws our way don’t really matter, do they?
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken!'” (Jeremiah 9:23-24, NLT).
Our lives can turn on a dime – we can’t see the future and have no idea what will happen tomorrow. As soon as wisdom, power, riches, fame or youth disappears, and they will, we can feel as if the proverbial rug has been pulled from under us. Feeling secure or smug about anything except knowing God and his love is a sure way to depression and anxiety.
God says knowing him and understanding what makes him tick so to speak, is what we can hold on to and even boast about (in humility). The rug of God’s love is the only one that can’t be pulled from under our feet.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT).
How do you stop worrying, especially if you’re a worrywart? According to Paul, it’s as simple as praying about everything and thanking God for everything too. Gratitude is the opposite of feeling entitled to rights or benefits a person may or may not have worked for.
It can be difficult to always be thankful, but it can be learned as a spiritual discipline. You might have to start small, by thanking God for the little things, like a flower or someone’s laugh. As you do, your gratitude muscle will grow and get stronger. Sharing problems with God and being thankful, not just sometimes, but all the time, brings God’s peace.
“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:17-18, NLT).
We don’t hear about wisdom much anymore. Even older people, who used to be considered wise, are often seen as out of touch, old fashioned and unfortunately, narrow-minded. It’s still a much needed commodity – don’t we all wish it were more prevalent in our governments?
Wisdom is worth seeking. It doesn’t come all at once, but through experience and by following the principles offered in these verses, especially yielding to others. It’s pretty hard to learn anything when we put ourselves forward and don’t listen to others. God’s wisdom comes from yielding to his Spirit most of all, letting him lead, teach and guide.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NLT).
Fear can keep us from doing many things we would otherwise like to do, including simple things like talk to people or try new foods. It can keep us from fulfilling our dreams of writing that book or even writing a blog. But God says we shouldn’t be afraid, because he will strengthen and help us. Just knowing this in our heads doesn’t help much when faced with a situation we’ve been dreading; we have to experience it and learn how to trust him.
I’ve had to face many fears, including the big one – public speaking. I wanted to run away a few times, but instead I took a deep breath, said it’s up to you Lord, help me, and he did. He held me up when I got up to speak and my knees were weak and shaking. He gave me the strength I needed and the confidence to keep trusting him. Don’t be afraid to let him hold you up.
“O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help” (2 Chronicles 20:12, NLT).
Sometimes, no matter how much confidence I try to project or even have, I have to admit I just don’t know what to do. I suspect I’m not the only one. We like to think we have things under control and have the answers to life’s problems, but if we’re honest, we know it’s not true. We are at the mercy of many things outside our control.
The only way not to feel helpless and totally adrift is to keep our eyes on Jesus and trust him for help. He’s the one with the big perspective and he knows what to do. He can and will fight against any army – and win.
“The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10, NLT).
There are times in life we all feel like finding a safe place to hide. When we’re little, we hide behind Mom’s or Dad’s legs, knowing we’ll be protected there. As we get older, we realize just how unsafe we really are. The world is a scary place. While bad things do happen to believers and not-yet-believers just the same, we can let go of our fears and worries.
God is safe – he can be trusted. He’s not the one who lets us down, even though many want to blame him when things go wrong. In the strong fortress that is God we are loved, saved and secure in the hope of eternal life.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28, NLT).
So many look at the words of Jesus and see a list of things to do. When I read this verse, I relax all over. He didn’t bring more rules and laws, with more ways to mess up (e.g., if you even lust after someone, it’s a sin). No, he was pointing out that it’s impossible to save ourselves with rules or even to become a better person without him.
Jesus wants us to rest from trying to be good, to rest from legalism, to stop worrying about obedience and just let him take care of everything. Give him the weight from your shoulders, relax and rest in him.
Happy New Year! It’s time for a new challenge, to post every day in 2012. I must admit I ran out of steam at the end of 2011, but I’m ready to go again. I’m going to share a Bible verse a day, starting with one of my favorites. You can find this on other websites, but I hope to provide a little something extra to encourage you as you start your day.
May God bless you in this new year and may you grow in grace and knowledge of him.
“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (Zephaniah 3:17, NLT).
The first time I read this verse and applied it to myself, I cried. It was almost incomprehensible God might sing over me, delighting in me and calming my fears with his love. He’s like a mother, holding her baby close, soothing him or her with love songs.
God really does love us, not just in general, but personally. He delights in each one of you, as if you alone were his favorite. Delight in his love and enjoy his special song just for you!