The Power To Turn Worry Into Worship

Anxiety makes people feel overwhelmed. We over-burden ourselves with worries like…

  • Can I do it?
  • Am I good enough?
  • Do people really like me?
  • What if I fail?

Jesus said, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” Jesus went on to say that this type of worry and anxiety was exactly the opposite of what His followers should be doing: “People who don’t know God and the way He works fuss over these things.”

Instead, Jesus said, we are to turn our focus on Him: “Your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need.” (see Luke 12:22-31)

Instead of worrying … pray!

My friend Josh Schram said,

“When we worry, we communicate to God that we don’t really trust Him to take care of us.”

OUCH!

You might be saying, “If I’m supposed to pray every time I worry about something, I’d be praying all the time!” You know what? That’s actually a good thing because it’s exactly what the Bible instructs us to do—

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17)

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. (Philippians 4:6)

“We have the power to turn our…

  • anxiety into prayer
  • worry into worship
  • struggles and trials into testimonies.” (Josh Schram)

Are you using that power God has given you? Don’t let worry cause you to feel overwhelmed. Keep turning your worries over to God again and again and again and again….

Handling Tough Texts

How do you handle a hard passage in the Bible? Peter wrote this about Paul, “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand….” But if we don’t take the time to wrestle with that passage, Peter says this is what happens next: “…which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).

So here’s a 5-step plan I use when I am working through a challenging passage of Scripture.

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you

All Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), and the same Holy Spirit lives in a Christian (1 John 2:20). Think about that: the same Holy Spirit that inspired an author to write the words of Scripture is the same Spirit that will illuminate them to you!

  1. Read the difficult passage in context

We will make our task much easier when we “zoom out” from the difficult text and read the whole passage surrounding the difficult verse/phrase. Perhaps we need to “zoom out” even farther to understand why the whole chapter or book was written.

  1. Identify the parts that are clear

Start off by identifying the parts that you do understand, and then see what light that shines on the tricky text.

  1. Cross reference with other Scriptures

Never, ever, ever draw a conclusion from just one passage of Scripture. Paul reminded his audience that he used the “whole counsel of God’s Word” (Acts 20:27) in forming his sermons. If the challenging passage contains an Old Testament passage, look it up; if it references an historical event, read that history. I also like to use biblegateway.com’s excellent search feature to find cross references.

  1. Draw conclusions on what appears to be the main point

Only after you have done step #1-4 should you attempt to draw some conclusions. You will set yourself up for error if you draw a conclusion first, and then try to find other texts in the Bible that agree with you.

The Apostle Peter writes something rather challenging in his first letter. In fact, Martin Luther said this about 1 Peter 3:18-22: “A wonderful text is this, and a more obscure passage perhaps than any other in the New Testament, so that I do not know for a certainty just what Peter means.” If you would like to see how I walk through the 5-step plan on this “obscure passage,” please check out the video below.

Fear God, Honor The King

Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God (Matthew 22:21).

The Bible has much to say to God-followers about how to interact with earthly governments:

  • Wise King Solomon told us to “fear the Lord and the king” and not go along with rebels against the government (Proverbs 24:21)
  • Daniel said several times that “the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone He wishes” (Daniel 4 & 5)
  • The Apostle Paul declared he was no rebel to either the civil or religious governors: “I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar” (Acts 25:8)
  • Later on, Paul reminded the church that government officials are God’s servants, and that we need to give them the respect that is owed to them (see Romans 13:1-7)
  • Peter counseled Christians: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors … Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:13-17)

But a man that exemplifies this balance between fearing God and honoring the king best is Mordecai. Mordecai was a Jew who served the Babylonian king faithfully—

  • He protected the king from would-be assassins
  • But disobeyed the king when the law of the land conflicted with God’s law
  • Then Mordecai helped the king get out of a bad law written by an evil man

A mark of a godly leader is one who knows the difference between fearing God and honoring earthly kings.

How can today’s leaders live out this principle? This is something that should lead us to prayerfully search the Scriptures, and then boldly live out what the Holy Spirit reveals to us.

This is Part 13 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts by clicking here.

7 Ways For Christians To Point Others To Jesus

Have you ever had a really bad job? How about a job that you said, “This job is killing me”? They probably weren’t as bad as the job Ernest Shackleton advertised for:

“Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”

And probably not as bad as the help wanted ad for the Pony Express:

“Wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellow not over 18. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.”

Several times in his letter to Christians, the Apostle Peter tells Christians that living in a Christ-honoring way on earth is going to be tough. So are Christians just supposed to grin and bear it? Are they just supposed to slap a smile on their face and hang on until the end?

In a word: No! 

Instead, Peter points out seven ways Christians can live so that they will point others to Jesus.

  1. Live in reverent fear of an All-Righteous Judge who doesn’t miss a thing we say or do (1:17)
  2. Live such good lives that consistently glorify God (2:12)
  3. Live as the best of citizens, respecting those in leadership (2:13-17)
  4. Live as good employees (2:18)
  5. Live as Christ’s ambassadors by following the example of Jesus (2:19-24)
  6. Live with your spouse faithfully and submissively (3:1, 7)
  7. Live focused on eternity (4:1-2)

(you can read all the passages from 1 Peter here)

When the first Christians lived this way, everyone spoke well of them and help them in high regard because Christians…

  • Transformed life for women
  • Built the first hospitals
  • Founded the first free medical dispensaries
  • Established orphanages and homes for the aged
  • Made life better for children
  • Brought a dignity to marriage

Anyone who asks the question: ‘What has Christianity done for the world?’ has delivered himself into a Christian debater’s hands. There is nothing in history so unanswerably demonstrable as the transforming power of Christianity and of Christ on the individual life and on the life of society.” —William Barclay 

Bottom line—We need to live so that people will say “I those Christians!”

3 Apologetics For Your Christian Hope

There was a story circulating that a physicist once claimed that the bumblebee was defying the laws of physics and aerodynamics in its flight. Apparently, he calculated that the ratio of the bumblebee’s wing size in comparison to his body size just didn’t make the math work.

But entomologists and physicists quickly jumped in to say, “Hey, look, the bumblebee is flying, so clearly it works!” And then they went to work to try to explain it. They figured out that the bumblebee flaps its wings more back-and-forth than up-and-down, creating tiny hurricanes the propel them through the air. But then that created a whole new set of problems, like how does the bumblebee control a hurricane so precisely as it turns, stops, dives, and climbs. So then they had to create a new explanation, which they named dynamic stall.

All the while, the bumblebee is flapping its too-small wings 230 times per second(!), and going about its daily activities without being able to explain tiny hurricanes, the laws of physics or aerodynamics, or even knowing what dynamic stall is. It simply flies!

The ultimate argument for anything is doing something that critics say is impossible.

Peter tells Christians to be prepared to answer anyone for the reason for the hope that they have (1 Peter 3:15-16). The Greek word for “give an answer” is apologia, from which we get our word apologetic. Here are three apologetics for Christians to use for the hope that they have.

It really comes down to this: My hope is based on the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, which I believe because of the Bible AND because of the change in my life.

  1. The Bible’s authenticity

“No other work in all literature has been so carefully and accurately copied as the Old Testament. The particular discipline and art of the Jewish scribes came out of a class of Jewish scholars between the fifth and third centuries BC. They were called the Sopherim, from a Hebrew word meaning ‘scribes.’ The sopherim, who initiated a stringent standard of meticulous discipline, were subsequently eclipsed by the Talmudic scribes, who guarded, interpreted, and commented on the sacred texts from AD 100 to AD 500. In turn, the Talmudic scribes were followed by the better-known and even more meticulous Masoretic scribes (AD 500-900).” —Josh McDowell, God-Breathed

“No other ancient text is substantiated by such a wealth of ancient textual witnesses as is the New Testament. Roughly 5,500 separate manuscripts are available, variously containing anything from the entire New Testament corpus to a slight fragment of a single verse. … This textual support is far superior to that available for any other ancient documents, such as the classical texts from Greek and Roman writers (e.g., Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero). Only partial manuscripts have survived for many works of antiquity, and it is not unusual to find that the only complete manuscript for some ancient writing is a copy dating from 1,000 years after its composition.” —Archaeological Study Bible, “The New Testaments Texts” (page 1859)

“The biblical Dead Sea Scrolls are up to 1,250 years older than the traditional Hebrew Bible, the Masoretic text. We have been using a one-thousand-year-old manuscript to make our Bibles. We’ve now got scrolls going back to 250 BC. … Our conclusion is simply this—the scrolls confirm the accuracy of the biblical text by 99 percent.” —Dr. Peter Flint

  1. Christ’s resurrection 

In 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 Paul lists all of the eyewitnesses to Christ’s resurrection, giving critics ample opportunity to challenge these witnesses in person. If these witnesses would have been perpetrating a hoax, skeptics of their day would have been able to uncover the inconsistencies in their story. If the account of Christ’s resurrection was made-up, it’s doubtful the early Christian martyrs would have “stuck to their story” as they were being tortured, but none recanted.

Josh McDowell notes, “By AD 100, the apostles had died, but the Christian Church was still in its infancy, with fewer than twenty-five thousand proclaimed followers of Christ. But within the next two hundred years, the fledgling church experienced explosive multiplication of growth, to include as many as twenty million people. This means the church of Jesus Christ quadrupled every generation for five consecutive generations!

  1. My personal experience

“I am a changed person. I am not who I was before I met Jesus” and “My life tends to go better when I live by biblical principles” are both excellent apologetics!

Let others argue that God doesn’t exist, or that you shouldn’t have hope, and then you—like the bumblebee—just keep flying with Jesus! (see 2 Timothy 3:14)

If (book review)

Amy Carmichael was a committed follower of Jesus Christ! She served as a missionary in India, where she operated an orphanage, for 55 years. During all that time, she never took a furlough, but remained at her post, faithfully loving Indian children with God’s love. She wrote a number of books, but perhaps the most hard-hitting is a little book simply called If.

This isn’t a book for everyone. In fact, Amy herself wrote, “It is clear, I think, that such a booklet as this is not meant for everyone, but only for those who are called to be undershepherds.” By ‘undershepherds,’ Amy is referring to those who feel God has called them into full-time vocational ministry.

(A little side-note. I feel the Bible is clear that all followers of Christ are to be involved in ministry [see Ephesians 4:11-16], but God has appointed some to positions where their ministry is also their vocation. These ‘undershepherds’ [see 1 Peter 5:2-3] will have to give account to God for the handling of their vocational ministry [Hebrews 13:17]. It is to these folks that Amy writes.)

Amy set the bar high for herself. She expected to be continually growing in her level of commitment to Christ, and she expected that her outward life would continually show greater devotion to her Savior. If comes out of Amy’s personal introspection in the Holy Spirit’s presence on how she was progressing in her faith-walk with God.

If is written as a series of challenges that all follow the same format: “If I don’t measure up to God’s standard in this area … then I know nothing of Calvary love.” I realize this sounds challenging. In fact, this book smacked me right between the eyes! This is why If is only for a small segment of people.

What Does The Bible Say About Church Leaders?

God’s plan has always been for His leaders to organize and oversee His ministry.

The important thing for us to distinguish is “His.” It’s not a man or woman saying, “I will be a leader,” or even a God-appointed leader saying, “I am going to build up my ministry.”

The New Testament gives us a fourfold purpose for the Body of Christ:

  1. Mobilizing for evangelism
  2. Organizing for more meaningful ministry
  3. Making disciple-makers
  4. Caring for one another

We see God’s leaders involved in all of these aspects—

Mobilizing for evangelism—Peter pointed out the need for an apostle to be appointed to replace Judas, thus returning their ranks to the 12 apostles just as Jesus had originally said (Acts 1:15-22).

Organizing for more meaningful ministry—Everywhere Paul founded a church, he also appointed leaders to oversee and shepherd that church.

Making disciple-makers—Paul tells us that God appointed five offices of leaders in the church who had the specific task of preparing church members to do the ministry of building maturity in the church (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Caring for one another—The First Church set the pace for providing care for all who were in need, including organizing leaders to oversee specific care ministries (Acts 6:1-5).

What about a church congregation’s responsibility to their leaders? I see five areas:

  1. Hold them accountable to the Word (Acts 17:11). The Bible has to be THE standard to which leaders are held.
  2. Give them your confidence and submission after they have shown accountability to their biblical mandate (Hebrews 13:17).
  3. Pray for them (Ephesians 6:19).
  4. Pay them (1 Timothy 5:17).
  5. Be very careful about accusing them (1 Timothy 5:19).

A church and its leaders following this biblical pattern is a church that can effectively fulfill the Great Commission which Jesus gave us.

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