Worry, the struggle is real

365 times, the Bible commands its readers not to worry – that’s one directive for every day of the year. However, despite the frequency, many of us tend to view it as merely a suggestion, rather than a clear-cut command.

Fear and anxiety are inevitable parts of life that we must all contend with. Yet, as followers of Jesus, we are provided with guidance on how to handle them: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7-8)

God understands the struggles and challenges we face in this world, and He acknowledges the numerous situations that can instill fear in us. However, with each repetition of the command not to fear, He presents Himself as the reason we can obey it. He reminds us of His identity and how we can turn to Him in faith and trust through prayer.

Missed Pastor David’s message on “Living Free from Worry”? Watch here…

The Perfect Christmas Myth

The Perfect Christmas Myth

The holiday season is upon us again.  What does that thought stir in you?  For many of us, it is the pressure for the perfect Christmas.  What we would not do for the perfect Christmas season.   The beautiful decorations greet you as you drive up to your home.  As you walk into your home, the scent of pine sweeps you into Christmas euphoria.  The only thing that interrupts the pine smell is the whiff of a ham baking in the oven.  You are greeted with Christmas cheer by your children dressed in full Christmas attire!  With the sounds of holiday music playing, you recline in your comfy chair with your hot cider and dream of a white Christmas. 

            As you snap out of your dream state, you realize that your holiday season will not be the “Joanna Gaines” Christmas that you dreamed of.  Why do we put that pressure on ourselves to have the “Perfect Christmas”?  Why do our expectations of the holidays fall short of our experiences?  Could it be that other things drive our expectations?

            What are we searching for that drives us to do all these things?  To be sure, some people love the whole experience of the holidays, but other times it is caused by something else.  It could very well be that we are trying to capture something that we cannot attain by the craze of decorations.  Here are a couple of thoughts that may help you.

            Are we trying to relive our childhood memories?  Are we trying to recapture moments from the past?  One of the things I have learned along the way is that you can never recapture a past moment.  We tend to think that we will have the same results if we just do the same thing.  That may be true for some things, but it is hard to replicate feelings when trying to attach emotions with experiences.  Vacations are notorious for that.  How often have I tried to relive past experiences, and I left disappointed because I had those false expectations.  The holidays can be the same.  The truth is that God has new experiences for us.  He has new things He wants us to experience. God always wants us to experience new things.  Our life was never meant just to relive past experiences.  New things are His speciality.  So maybe this year you ask, “Lord, what do you want me to experience this Holiday season?”  He may want you to stay thankful.  He may say you need to enjoy the moments.  God has something He wants to do inside you this Christmas, and it is most likely different from last year. 

            Another reason we can get into the trap of the “perfect Christmas” myth is that we feel the pressure to impress others, or we fear that we will be judged by how well we “do” Christmas.   This isn’t a healthy way to enter the season.  I encourage you to enter this season with the question,  “What would give me peace?”  You cannot live your life according to the expectations of others. It’s easy to fall into the trap of living to impress.   This “keeping up with the Joneses” will drive you to exhaustion.  My suggestion is just to be you.  There are much more important things than your peace being stolen by the expectations of others.  Paul writes this in 2 Corinthians 10:12 “ But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”  The scriptures warn us against comparing ourselves with others.  We need to be careful not to fall into this trap.  A flower does not care about the flower next to it.  It just blooms. 

Let’s dispel the “Perfect Christmas” myth.  Just enjoy the journey.  Remember the meaning behind it all.  Jesus came to Earth.  He came to show us His way of love.  Let this season be centered around Jesus.  Let us ever be reminded of God’s love for us, and let that fuel our love for others this Holiday season.  Enjoy this season, be content, be thankful, and be reflective as we approach 2022. 

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable Gift.” – 2 Corinthians 9:15

Hesed-God’s Loyal Love

Hesed-God’s Loyal Love

The Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: The Lord—the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth,

Ex. 34:6

When God chose this moment in the Biblical narrative to describe Himself to humanity through this interaction with Moses, He could have used a lot of different descriptive words.  He could have said,  “I am the Lord God harsh and demanding.”  He could have been like the wizard in the “Wizard of Oz” movie,  by declaring Himself as “I am the great and powerful God!”  He could have used many different descriptions, but God chose to reveal Himself like He did in Ex 34:6.  Why?

When we talk about God,  some people talk about the Old Testament God and the New Testament God.  The God of the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament can seem to be a God of harshness and judgement.  There are sometimes where after the people stray from God and the consequences come.  That is true.  But here when God declares who He is he uses some amazing words.  He says, “the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God” So let’s process that for a minute.  How about this phrase, God “abounds in faithful love.”  Now as we dive into this phrase, we will see an amazing truth about God that will help us as we navigate our relationship with Him.  

The word that is translated to “faithful love” is the Hebrew word “Hesed”.  This is a word that can easily lose the full meaning through translation.  This word is translated other places “kindness,” “faithfulness,” “mercy,” “goodness,” “loyalty,” and “steadfast love.”  All these are great translations, and they are not wrong.  The full meaning of this word has to do with a love that is not dependent on the object of the love, but it is more descriptive of the one who is doing the loving.  This word carries the idea of a loyal love that is always available whether the recipient is worthy or receptive to the one giving the love.   This word also carries the idea that the one who is loving is bound by their own nature to love.  The story of the children of Israel is a prime example of the loyal or faithful love of God.  As the Bible story unfolds,  the children of Israel are constantly in a state of straying away from God and returning to God.  Hmm, sound personally familiar?  The amazing thing is that God is always there to receive them back when they return to Him.  This happens over and over in the Old Testament.  You see, God’s loyal love gave them the ability to return.  God’s faithful and loyal love allows us to return to Him too.  If God’s love for us was not loyal we could never find our way back to Him.  God never gives up on us because He cannot give up on us.  It is not in the nature of who He is.  His “Hesed” or loyal love always provides a road for any prodigal to come home, any person who gets caught up in this crazy world, any person who just forgot to acknowledge God this week or any person that has just lost their way.  The road back to God is paved by His loyal love.  God’s loyal love is the reason Jesus came.

But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

Jesus is the word “Hesed” in the flesh.  He is the one who loved us first, because it’s God’s nature to have steadfast love.  While we were away from God doing our own thing and living our own way, Jesus died for us.  You see, God loves you and pursues you whether you return His love or not. 

Are you struggling? God’s is not waiting for you to become perfect His attitude toward you is loyal love.  Do you need to return to God?  Turn back to God and you can rest assured that Gods loyal love is waiting for you.