"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
Only a few months ago on April 1st, my new favorite song came out. It’s called “Sparrows” by Jason Gray. This song inspires and uplifts those who are worried about their circumstances or trials that they face. Within the song, Jason uses themes and elements from scripture that helps encourage and give faith to anyone who feels hopeless if they put needs with God. Like Jason, I have come to realize through ministry that most of what we battle spiritually is within the small parameters of our own bodies. Our minds become a scene of battles between good and evil, the dark vs. the light (Ephesians 6:12). Worry and concern continues to be one of the biggest struggles for Christians today. You don’t have to read the prayer requests on this site or listen to the local church requests to understand that there is great need or concern in the world. Great worship artists make awesome songs that help us keep the faith fighting strong, but did you know that many of the elements that you hear in these songs can be found within a few flips of pages in your Bible? Today, we are going to discuss what these are and how to apply them in our lives so that we can be less stressed and more empowered through Christ.
According to a recent Gallup poll, around 15-20% of the adult population is diagnosed with depression in their lifetime. Although we know that depression doesn’t exactly equal a measure of worry, many times it correlates with one another. As a nation in America, we are facing constant worry. Whether it be finances, jobs, social life, or emotions; we worry a lot in our country. As one of the richest nations per capita in the world, why do we worry so much? The answer may be found in our trust of God to provide our means for us. According to a poll done by Barna we find that 19% of the population considers themselves engaged in scripture as Christians, while also 19% are skeptical of the Bible even coming from God and not man. This statistic of skepticism has nearly doubled from 10% within three years. If we do not believe that Bible to be a true inerrant Word of God, we could not possibly believe that what it says is true. The Bible has much to say about worry and the blessing of God to meet our needs and listen to our concerns (1 Peter 5:7). However, when nearly a fifth of our nation doesn’t even believe in what it says; there won’t be a lot you can do for them at that point other than pray for them. I fear, as the number of “skeptics” grows, so will the number of hopeless in our nation. Looking at the Gallup poll once again, we see that the lowest percentage of depression diagnoses were found among those who considered themselves as “very religious”. Here is how they defined people as very religious: “Religion is an important part of daily life and church/synagogue/mosque attendance occurs at least every week or almost every week. This group constitutes 43.7% of the adult population.” We see here that church engagement, fellowship, and a consistent influence of scripture along with the gathering of God’s people highly impacted being diagnosed or not with depression. A skeptic would probably argue that most “very religious” individuals are afraid of talking to a doctor regarding depression, but I would argue nothing could be farther from the truth. Most of the pastors of the local churches know the large percentage of the population affected by the crisis of depression and worry in our communities and receive requests daily for prayer. People aren’t shunned for mental, physical, and spiritual concerns like they may have been 400 years ago when the Catholic church was at the peak of its power. Today’s Evangelical body of faith challenges its members to take control of their spiritual walk and allows us to be more expressive and open about our faith. We understand that if we intend to minister and serve, we must be like Christ who always acted in love and concern for the brokenhearted. It is also interesting to note that Barna found that Bible engagement had a direct correlation with skepticism. It found that the more often we read the Bible, the less skeptical we become of its credibility. It seems that when faced with the test of the human skepticism, those who receive its message, cannot deny its power (Hebrews 4:12). What a powerful testimony to our faith!
So what does the scripture have to say about worry and concern? It says if you are a child of God, don’t worry yourselves with these matters, because your needs have already been met through the power of Christ (Matthew 6:25-34). Even if you are concerned because you are alone, God stands right beside you through your trial. Just as the song “Sparrows” highlights “even the sparrow knows He holds tomorrow”. He also goes on to sing, “If He can hold the world, He can hold this moment. Not a field or flower escapes His notice.” In other words: If God can handle all the needs of this world, His will, with every detail in our life simultaneously; he can handle our small problems. What is big in our eyes is small in God’s and he has the power to destroy the concern with the overpowering blessings of His Word. Mr. Gray goes on in his song to sing about the principle of giving/surrendering our problems to God. When we give God our problems, he takes the worry away for us (Philippians 4:6-7 & Isaiah 41:10). No one is stronger to carry the worry of our life on His shoulders except for our God in heaven. We can do this through a personal conversation between you and God. That’s right, I said conversation. Prayer should be an intimate conversation for you and God. Those who make it more complicated than that simply don’t know a lot about what God’s Word says regarding prayer. Even when Jesus was questioned by the disciples about the “perfect prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13), He gave them one that simply addressed all the factors concerning man while addressing God for who He was and what He has done for man. In essence, it was a perfect conversation for man to have with God when prayed wholeheartedly.
Now that we know what to do about our worry; let’s spread the hope, love, and Grace of Jesus Christ. We have seen the statistics and we know they are grim. Nearly 20% of the people need the hope and the good news of the Gospel. The media and television of today have constant influence over God’s people sharing every grim detail they can possibly get out 24 hours a day. Why not take a few minutes of your day to share the hope that Christ can restore in them. Share with that person the life giving water than flows from your heart, because of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Obviously, we can’t make that person not worry themselves over situations. What we have to do is share about hope in Jesus, not push it on them and when the time comes they will remember who cared enough for them to witness in the name of Jesus. Thank God that no one ever pushed the Gospel on me, but rather shared it for when the time was right. Today I am a believer in Christ and an advocate for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If a blind man who couldn’t even see my physical body, could see the love of Christ for us, how much more reason should we have to share it with everyone else? Our blessings are bountiful and many. When you take your eyes off yourself, your needs will be met by default just because God is good. Until next time, thanks for joining us!
God Bless, Pastor J.W.
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Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)
12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV)
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?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you,even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
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.
Isaiah 41:10 (KJV)
10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Matthew 6:9-13 King James Version (KJV)
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
Barna Group, https://www.barna.org/barna-update/faith-spirituality/701-year-in-review-barna-s-top-10-findings-from-2014#.V6ZGC_krKUl
Barna Group: concerning scripture engagement, https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/664-the-state-of-the-bible-6-trends-for-2014#.VJRquC5AA
Gallup Poll, http://www.gallup.com/poll/144980/religious-americans-report-less-depression-worry.aspx