“My enemies did their best to kill me, but the Lord rescued me. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory” (Psalm 118:13-14).
These words of the Psalmist can bring great encouragement to you and I. They were written at a time of high stress and tension.
During this time, the Jewish people were struggling to rebuild their community and their temple in Jerusalem, and they faced opposition and persecution from their neighboring nations. Despite these challenges, the psalmist expresses confidence and trust in God’s protection and salvation, and celebrates God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.
Perhaps today is a time of high stress and tension for you. Look again at these words of the Psalmist. The Lord is his strength. The Lord has given him victory. Though we are surrounded by stress and tension, we can be assured the Lord is bringing about a victory.
If you’re struggling today, cling to this promise. The Lord is your strength and your song; he will give you victory.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
This is an awesome piece of advice we can apply today. No matter what’s going on, we can exchange stress and anxiety for peace. Notice a couple words.
Merriam-Webster defines the word as “a thing, no matter what that thing may be.”
As you begin today, you may have a lot of anxiety. It may be caused by stress at work or in your personal relationships. Perhaps money is tight this week as you push through to pay day. I don’t know the cause of your anxiety, but I know Scripture makes a terrific promise to us.
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Think about this invitation for a moment. Cast – THROW – your anxieties on the Lord because he cares for you. The stress we’re feeling today can be thrown on the Lord. He will help us carry the load and get through the day.
As anxiety builds today, remember, you can throw it on the Lord, and he will help you carry it.
I was standing at the kitchen sink. The sun was coming in the window as it was a sunny, but windy day. I could hear the wind blowing and for just a second, the noise level increased. Thinking it was just a gust of wind, I went on washing dishes. Then from the next room comes, “The tree fell!”
A seemingly nice evergreen tree in our neighbor’s yard had been toppled by the wind. The tree’s root system was weak, so it couldn’t handle the force of the winds.
Paul writes in Colossians 2:6-7, “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him and let your lives be built on him, then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
How is your faith’s root system? As a deeply rooted tree is less likely to be toppled by the winds, a deeply rooted faith in the truth of God’s Word is less likely to be toppled by the winds of life. Scripture encourages Christians to fertilize our faith’s root system by spending time in God’s Word and in prayer, and by overflowing with thankfulness.
When we realize how we have been blessed and the source of our blessings, the resulting response should be giving thanks. We are encouraged in Colossians to continually and habitually offer thanksgiving. We know the winds of life will blow, but a firmly rooted faith can help us stand tall. Even amid a storm in life, Christians have reasons to be thankful. There’s always a reason to give thanks.
In a Peanuts cartoon, Charlie Brown feeds Snoopy on Thanksgiving Day. He gives the pooch his usual dog food. Snoopy looks at it and says, “Dog food again. That’s all I ever get is dog food. Everyone else is having all kinds of food today, but I just have my dog food. Oh well, at least I’m not the turkey.” There’s always a reason to be thankful.
Thankfully, the tree that fell did so in an almost perfect way. Across our neighbor’s yard into our yard. The only thing the tree hit was an old, ugly bush at the corner of our yard. We wanted the bush removed and the tree knocked it over, so mark that off the to-do list. There’s always a reason to be thankful.
Challenge yourself to spend time fertilizing your faith’s root system.
There are a lot of things that can entangle our minds. The stack of bills on our desk, the never-ending to-do list, and today’s headlines are enough to make us want to hide. Keeping our focus on everything around us creates much stress and anxiety in our lives; however, the Bible suggests we place our focus elsewhere.
Hebrews 12:2 encourages more focus to be placed on our faith and less on the world. “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”
Focusing on Jesus in today’s world can certainly be challenging, so here are a few tips to help adjust focus today.
Start the day by spending time with the Lord. Spend some time reading Scripture and praying. This will help start the day in the right way.
Follow the advice of Philippians 4. Think about whatever is pure, admirable, lovely, and excellent. All these adjectives point to Jesus.
Try equalizing the time spent on today’s worries with time thinking about the promises of the Lord. Equalize the worry about finances with a reminder of the Lord’s promise to provide.
Remember to focus on the Lord today as so much tries to grab your attention.
The mail brings an unexpected invoice. Where are we going to find the money to pay it?
My wife is delayed in responding to my text. Did something happen to her?
My boss is acting differently today. Did I do something to upset her?
Worry seems to find its way into our lives, and left uncontrolled, worry can cause significant harm. It can affect our physical health. The APA and Mayo Clinic list digestive issues, trouble sleeping, and migraines as some of worry’s implications. The Association also mentions worry negatively impacts our relationships by creating a number of unnecessary conflicts. This is why it is so important for you and I to handle worry in an appropriate way.
Thankfully, Scripture gives guidance on controlling and combatting worry. The Bible offers several suggestions for handling worry. Here are a few examples:
Pray and seek God’s guidance: Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This verse encourages us to pray to God with a grateful heart, presenting our requests to Him and trusting Him to provide peace in our hearts.
Trust in God’s provision: Matthew 6:25-34 encourages us to trust in God’s provision for our needs. Verse 33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” This verse reminds us to prioritize our relationship with God and trust Him to take care of our needs.
Cast our anxieties on God: 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” This verse reminds us that we can trust God to care for us and to take our worries from us.
Focus on positive and uplifting thoughts: Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” This verse encourages us to focus on positive and uplifting thoughts, which can help to alleviate worry.
If you are struggling with worry, there are steps you can take to find relief and peace. The Bible offers powerful guidance and reassurance for those who are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Remember to pray and seek God’s guidance, trust in His provision, cast your anxieties on Him, and focus on positive and uplifting thoughts. By implementing these strategies, you can begin to reduce worry and find comfort in the knowledge that God cares for you. Don’t let worry hold you back – take action today to find the peace and serenity that you deserve.
The old saying goes, “We can be our own worst enemy,” and there are times it is completely true. Have you ever allowed thoughts about yourself to rob you of peace?
A project didn’t turn out the way you desired, so you criticize every mistake.
You were late for work because you were stuck in traffic, so you blame yourself for not having enough time.
You compare yourself to the appearance of others, and beat yourself up because you do not have the life you believe they do.
It can be a struggle to not strip ourselves of peace when we’re having a bad day. Scripture gives some advice for these days.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, present your requests to God. And, the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Philippians 4:6-7).
“Cast your anxieties upon the Lord because he cares for you deeply” (1 Peter 5:7).
Take those unpeaceful moments to the Lord. Allow him to carry those burdens and hand you, his peace.
You’re probably judging the project more critically than others will.
The Lord may have an encouraging message for you during that traffic jam.
Social media doesn’t tell the full story, so others may be having the same thoughts when they compare themselves to us.
Perhaps it seems odd, but we share some thoughts with ancient Israel. The Israelites found themselves in captivity, and they were wondering if God had totally left them. Feelings of loneliness and thoughts of abandonment were prevalent. Where was God? Why was he not answering?
We may find ourselves asking these same questions as we look at our circumstances. The political landscape is stressful. There are marriages on the brink of disaster. Finances are operating paycheck to paycheck, trying to stretch every penny farther than it was designed to go. The pressures of life are heavy, and as we start to buckle under the weight, we relate to the Israelites. Where is God? Why is he not answering?
Thankfully, the Lord sent Isaiah to offer encouragement to Israel, and we too can find encouragement in his words. In Isaiah 40, the prophet offers 3 keys to remember amid hard times.
First, the Lord is all-powerful.
Isaiah asks in verse 28, “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.”
It’s as if Isaiah is saying, “Don’t forget…”
“Don’t forget the Lord is everlasting.”
Psalm 90 proclaims, “Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.” There’s never been a time without the Lord, nor will there ever be a time without the Lord. Don’t forget the Lord is everlasting.
“Don’t forget the Lord is the creator.”
Genesis 1:1 reminds us God created the Heavens and the Earth. He was there before anything existed, and he is the one who spoke everything into existence. Remember, God is the creator.
“Don’t forget the Lord never loses strength.”
Jeremiah reminds us the Lord’s strength is always there. In chapter 32, he says, “O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!” Nothing is too hard for God. There are things that are too hard for us, but not for him; he carries the heaviest of loads with ease. The pressures of life which cause us to buckle, don’t even cause him to flinch. Jesus says what is impossible for man is possible for God; his word never fails. Keep in mind God does not lose his strength.
“Don’t forget his wisdom is immeasurable.”
“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways,” states Romans 11. Don’t forget there is no end to the Lord’s wisdom.
Remember, God is all-powerful. It may seem are struggles hold all the power, but God holds more. Amid a difficult season, Isaiah reminds us of God’s power.
Second, the Lord desires to help us.
Isaiah says the Lord wants to help us. In verse 29, Isaiah exalts the Lord by saying he gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. The Lord is willing and able to help us.
Third, the Lord will get us through.
It is in our weakest moments it seems the Lord does his best work. He sure did for Israel. The Lord delivered the Israelites from captivity, and he rebuilt their nation. They were wondering where God was; why he wasn’t answering, but he pulled them through the hard time.
As we are wondering where God is; why he is not answering, we need to remember the encouragement of verses 30-31:
Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
Amid the hard times in life, we need to remember to trust in the Lord. He will pull us through. The stresses and pressures of life are no match for the Lord. His strength will get us through.
The next time you find yourself buckling under the pressure of a hard time, remember, Isaiah’s 3 keys:
The Lord is all-powerful, and can handle anything that may come.
Night time in an unfamiliar terrain can be a scary place. With darkness all around, a traveler is not sure what lies ahead. The pitfalls of the land are unknown, so anxiety increases and nerves grow razor-thin. Have you ever been in this situation?
Israel was. As they were leaving Egypt, they found themselves in the unfamiliar territory of the desert. They were unsure what lie ahead, but the Lord gave them guidance. Exodus 13 records the Lord leading Israel by a pillar of fire. The light provided by this pillar gave Israel protection, it provided salvation, and it helped the people remember the Lord was with them.
Like Israel, life may place us in some unfamiliar territory, and the Lord will give us guidance in these moments. Jesus says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Just as Israel followed the pillar of fire, we can follow him.
“here is a promise of salvation much greater than Israel experienced. For it is deliverance not just from a national enemy, but from the forces of rebellion against God that lie behind every form of evil in the world. And, this deliverance is not just a rescue from darkness and a glimpse of the light, but an ongoing life apart from darkness through possession of the light of life,” according to the IVP New Testament Commentary. Jesus is our guiding light.
It is through Jesus we find protection, salvation, and the truth the Lord is with us. He is our light in unfamiliar places. He is our light guiding us through the darkness of this world. What areas of life do you need the Lord’s light to shine?
The people of Israel found themselves in the desert where there are not a lot of food choices. Walking through the desert day after day is bound to strike up a hunger, so they had to eat something. They did not know what they were going to eat so the people grumbled. They had been pulled out of the fertile lands of Egypt and placed in the dry, parched desert. How on earth were they going to survive? Anxiety levels elevated; the Israelites quickly forgot how the Lord brought them out of Egypt.
But the Lord had a plan. Exodus 16 reveals the Lord sent manna each day for the Israelites. Verses 21-22 record, “Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much, two omers, for each person, and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses.” For the entirety of their trip, the Israelites were provided manna. The Lord met their needs.
The Israelites were taught a valuable lesson. The Lord can provide for our needs. What seemed impossible to them, was easy for the Lord. They saw a dry and parched land, but the Lord saw a bread basket. The Lord had provisions to meet the need. All the Israelites had to do was trust him.
Later, Moses recalled, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). The people spent 40 years in the desert, yet they had food, water, clothes that stayed wearable, and feet that were not swollen. The Lord continually met their needs.
The Bible teaches the Lord is still in the need meeting business today. John 6:35 says, “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Like the Israelites, our anxiety levels may be high. We may not understand how the Lord could possibly meet the needs in a situation or circumstance we are facing, but he put manna on the ground. What needs do you need to trust the Lord to meet today? Like the Israelites, he desires for us to trust him with our needs.