The Relationship Between Worry, Trust, and Eternity
Worry

It happens all too frequently. I sing praises to God on Sunday morning and wake early on Monday morning beset by worry.

The cause might be my growing to-do list. Or circumstances outside my control. It could be due to loss and grief. Actually, the reason is less important than my response.

Worry. Anxiousness.

It comes in the form of a thought life that constantly imagines the worst possible outcome for any situation. I might worry about health, finances, relationships, safety, or any of a hundred other topics.

When I find myself worrying, it means several things.

First, I’m depending on myself. Specifically, I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that outcomes are dependent on my own ability.

Being consumed by worry also takes me out of the present. Instead of enjoying today, I’m too busy obsessing about tomorrow.

And depending on myself means I’m not trusting God. Worry means I believe the lie that God is not working for my ultimate good and His eternal glory.

Antidote to Worry

The antidote to worry is to remember who we belong to.

And that leads to understanding what salvation in Christ really means. Our salvation has 3 components:

Past

At the moment we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior God declares us justified in His sight (Romans 5:1). Justification means we have a right standing before God. His wrath is no longer directed toward our sin, for Jesus “drank” the full cup of God’s wrath against sin when He died on the cross for us.

So I have no need to worry about the past. As a Christian, my past has been covered by the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Present

But God did not stop at addressing our past. He also addresses our present. Every committed believer in Jesus Christ has the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (II Thess. 2:13). The Holy Spirit does the work of sanctification in our life—a  lifelong process of becoming what God has declared us to be: righteous!

So I have not need to worry about the present. God is at work in my life to make me more like His Son. And He will use every situation in my life toward that end.

Future

Finally, we look forward to an amazing future. At the moment a Christian dies, he or she is immediately in the presence of God. As the apostle Paul said, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Our glorification includes having glorified bodies, free from even the temptation of sin.

 

Understanding the full breadth of our salvation reminds us God is in control, so there’s nothing to worry about. Whatever happens in this life is both temporary and will be used by our heavenly Father for our good and His glory.

Kick worry to the door and replace it with trust in the Lord who has us covered: past, present, and future!


Where Do You Belong?
Belonging

I’ve had some unexpected—and unwanted—visitors this past week.

The first occurred when I let the dogs out one evening for their final outing. A tree frog took the opportunity to hop into the house. Let’s just say he was not easy to catch. Of course, attempting to catch a frog while trying to corral two large boxers is no easy task to begin with. But with a little perseverance, I captured Mr. Tree Frog and released him outside.

Two days later, I’m sitting at my laptop when my dog fixates on a corner in the living room. I get up to see why she’s so laser-focused, but there’s nothing there. The dog remains unconvinced and becomes more agitated. Now I’m wondering what she knows that I don’t know. On the off chance something’s hiding, I angle the furniture away from the wall and find a big, fat lizard, at least 8 inches long.

So, once again I corral the dogs and lock them up. Then I chase the lizard around the house until I catch it. Actually, I caught it 3 times, but it kept escaping. The 4th time was the charm and Mr. Lizard is now enjoying the outside…where he belongs.

Of course, neither of these visitors compares with the alligator who crashed a window to enter a house elsewhere in Florida. Thankfully—and with apologies to that homeowner—I’m glad the gator was not my unwanted visitor #3.

I consider myself to be a lover of nature, but I’m sure you’ll understand when I say some components of nature belong outside and need to remain there.

Which brings me to us…

How do we know where we belong? Or who we belong to?

For Christ-followers, I Corinthians 3:13 tells us Christians belong to Christ. So what we do and where we go should be guided by who we belong to.

Just as a tree frog does not belong in my house, there are places I don’t belong either. This is not about being legalistic, nor is it about isolating ourselves from those who don’t know Christ. It is about making wise choices about my entertainment, the work I do, and the values I espouse. It has everything to do with the books I read, movies I watch, and how I spend my time.

True confession…when I was a new Christian in my early 20s, I was invited to be a bridesmaid for a childhood friend. Her bachelorette party was a girls’ night out at a bar watching men dance and encouraging them with dollar bills—if you know what I mean.

I knew I did not belong there. I was as out-of-place as that tree frog in my living room. But I didn’t have the courage to decline, and I didn’t have the courage to leave by myself after our group arrived. Instead, I sat in a corner, slumped down in my seat, nursed a soda, and prayed the night would end quickly.

Oh, and I prayed for one more thing. You see, as a fairly new Christian, I had only recently learned about eschatology (theology related to end-times). I was terrified Jesus might return that night. I did not want to be seen coming out of a male dance club to join Jesus in the air!

That embarrassing and convicting evening happened almost 40 years ago, but I remember it as if it were yesterday. And the lesson has stayed with me all these years: don’t go where I don’t belong.

I belong to Christ. My identity is wrapped up in Him. The direction of my thoughts, the words I speak, the things I do, and the places I go are to reflect Who I belong to. That means listening for the prompting of the Holy Spirit to do or go—or not to do or go, rather than following other people. It means understanding that what is okay for someone else, even other Christians, will not always be okay for me.

It also means being willing—and having the courage—to stand alone in obedience to Adonai, the sovereign Lord who purchased me out of the slave market of sin to belong to Him.

Who do you belong to?
If you belong to Christ, do your choices reflect your identity?


Taking Offense
Taking Offense

Were you offended today?

We live in a society where taking offense is now the norm. And the catalog of culprits multiplies by the minute, with politics and religion topping the list.

Sadly, it seems our culture is especially offended by the claims of Christianity, more so than any other belief system. I used to think it was because of the exclusive salvation claims Christians make. But that’s not the case, since Muslims make similar claims.

Perhaps it’s because the enemy of our souls knows Jesus truly is the only way to the Father, and has blinded the eyes and stopped up the ears of those who need to know it. The exclusive claims of other beliefs continue to be proclaimed without obstacles because the enemy knows they don’t matter.

So what’s a Christian to do when others are offended by our faith in Jesus Christ? I recently read an article in which the author proudly proclaimed her refusal to apologize for the gospel and for her faith in Christ.

I agree with the apostle Paul who wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16 NIV).

Still, what if we do need to apologize, but not for the truth of the gospel message? Not for our faith in Christ. And not for the transforming power of God’s salvation by the Holy Spirit.

Content vs. Delivery

What if we need to apologize for the way we communicate that message?

We’ve all seen and heard derogatory comments by self-described Christians addressed to abortionists, homosexuals, and others who commit sins different from our own. Comments such as:

  • Judgment will come!
  • God will punish you for this!
  • You’ll burn in hell for eternity!

If we close our eyes, we can almost picture the speaker proclaiming the words with a fist raised high in anticipated victory over the forces of evil.

And the world continues to close its ears, shut its eyes, and turn its back on the gospel message.

But what if we said those words with a broken heart? If we spoke them from a place of tenderness for the eternal destiny of others created in the image of God? And what if we talked about hell with tears streaming down our face—grief stricken over the judgment to come?

Finally, what if the cry of our heart and our mouth is, “I love you and I don’t want you to experience that terrible judgment.”

What if we would say, “I was right there with you.” What if we would identify with the apostle Paul who said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst” (I Timothy 1:15 NIV). Not someone else. Me. Us.

But God. But God intervened. He saved me from my sin. He saved me from myself. And He saved me—us—for Himself. Not because we’re better than other sinners, but because of His lavish grace.

So what if we would apologize for our arrogance and self-righteousness? What might happen? We might still be mocked and denigrated, but that happens anyway.

Or…

Maybe, just maybe, the other person might walk away having experienced real love from an unexpected source. The kind of love the Holy Spirit can use to speak to their heart and mind long after the conversation ends.

Speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Not arrogantly. Not rejoicing that “they’ll get theirs.” But with a tender heart and tears in our eyes.

Then if anyone is offended, it will be because of the gospel, not because of how we delivered the message.


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