The Good News of the Gospel

Lately my personal reading has been in Matthew 5, which is commonly referrerd to as the Sermon on the Mount. There Jesus reminds his disciples that those who are blessed are those who are poor in spirit. This refers to those who acknowledge their desperate need for Christ’s all sufficient grace. Our human brokenness points us to the wholeness found in Christ.

Anyway, these things have been permeating my mind. The following statement was made in class this morning. The Holy Spirit clearly spoke through this to me and my prayer is that He will speak to you as well.

“Don’t be discouraged if you do not always see numerical growth in your ministry. As long as broken hearts are being healed by Christ, the Kingdom is indeed being advanced.”

This statement was made in reference to Christ’s promise to restore Creation. We may not always know Christ is working, but He is.

He is healing our brokenness. That’s the Good News of the Gospel.

I’m trying not to worry, but…

As Christians, we worry entirely too much. We are faced with various difficulties and we just don’t know what to do. Sometimes we forget the role of faith, which is trusting God because He is infinitely greater than anything we face in spite of our present circumstances. Worry is part of our human response to the things we cannot control, no matter how hard we try. Even so, Christ has called us to lift up our eyes and realize that He is Sovereign.

It’s the end of the month and my school payment is due and I have no idea how I can possibly pay my bill. I have been blessed with two jobs by God’s gracious provision, yet I still find myself coming up short financially. Every semester in college has been difficult financial but every single time God has come through and provided for me to continue my studies. God’s provision looks different every semester, but He still provides. (For more on how God has provided for me at Welch College, read my article in ONE Magazine.) My point is that my worrying has not benefited me at all, but trusting Him has caused me to be blessed beyond measure.

Almost everyone has something that causes them to worry. Whether it is financial difficulties, family/marital problems, job stress, or difficulties with interpersonal relationships it seems normal for humans to worry. Christ is calling us to redefine normal as it relates to worrying. This post was inspired by a small group lesson from church this week. Caleb and Krissy, this lesson has greatly impacted my life. Keep up the good work!

Our Sunday School lessons have been in Philippians the past few weeks. This Sunday we read Philippians 4:1-8, which I have provided for you below. Focus especially on verses 4-8.

[1]  Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. [2]  I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. [3]  Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. [4]  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. [5]  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; [6]  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. [7]  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. [8]  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:1-8 (ESV)

Paul has just reminded the Philippians that they are citizens of heaven, not earth. (3:20) That provides them and us with a reason to rejoice. Remember that the joy of the Christian is not based on circumstances. It is based on Christ’s gracious offer of redemption. Christians should also be joyful because the Lord is near. (The Lord is at hand) Think about the drastic difference between this joy and the worry we often subject ourselves to. Paul went on to instruct the Philippians not to be anxious about anything. No doubt, the Philippian church likely experienced suffering (1:29) and from an earthly perspective they had reason to worry. Paul exemplifies an attitude of gratitude and joy, despite his imprisonment and torture and he expects the same out of the Church.

So what’s the key to worrying less and having more joy? Paul reminds us that we should never be anxious if we belong to Christ because He rules eternally with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The key to less anxiety is found in the next sentence. In everything, be active in prayer and supplication. Prayer is an expression of faith. It reminds us that we are fragile and fallen and helps us remember that God is Sovereign and able to do all things that are in accordance with His will. See, our situations attempt to move our attention off of God. Paul says that prayer guards our hearts and minds. (Prayer helps us bring our thinking back to Christ. That’s taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.) Prayer reminds us that we are not citizens of this world and that Our King provides every good and perfect gift for His children. Prayer reunites us with our creator and brings about covenental peace. Adam and Eve experienced Shalom  peace before the Fall and Christ is working to restore that peace in the world. This peace refers to more than mere conflict. It is a peace that can say, “It is well with my soul” no matter how bad one’s present situation is.

The Christian life is not a problem free life. We will have problems and things won’t be perfect until Christ comes and finishes His work of redemption. Christ promised us that we would have trouble in the world, but we should take heart because He has overcome the world. Even so, we can change the way we view difficulty by immersing ourselves in Christ’s presence through prayer and Bible reading.

The solution to our human problem of worrying is found in verse 8. When we are tempted to fret, we must redirect our minds on the exalted Christ. We must redirect our minds on the Kingdom of Christ. We must redirect our minds to things that are true, honorable, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise. This refocusing really is just part of our journey of faith. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it when we experience joy unspeakable and full of glory.

The next time you are tempted to worry, remember that you serve the Sovereign King of the universe. Remember that you walk by faith and not sight, so prayer is at your disposal. You cannot do life on your own. We may not be able to conquer worrying by our own strength, but we are more than conquers when we express faith in Jesus. That’s a promise you can trust. I will end this post with Christ’s own words.

[25]  “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? [26]  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? [27]  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matthew 6:25-27 (ESV)