We live in an anxious time. The media sells fear and anger which increases our anxiety. How do we cope? Are there antidotes to anxiety?
The Apostle Paul was in a prison in Rome when he wrote the small letter to Jesus’ followers in Philippi. He faced an uncertain future. He could have been executed by Nero at any time. He had no freedom of movement, no control over his circumstances and no assurances about the future from a human perspective. You would think he would be filled with anxiety but he was not. Take a minute to read this passage from Paul.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9)
Here are some questions to ponder:
What causes anxiety in my life?
How have I historically handled anxiety?
What antidotes to anxiety do I glean from this passage?
Few of Israel’s prophets suffered more varied or prolonged opposition, hostility and persecution for their faithfulness and messages. Jeremiah witnessed the total collapse and defeat of the nation, the occupation and destruction of Jerusalem and the enemy carrying away the captives to Babylon. Death, despair and destruction were all around him. In the midst of this kind of calamity, how would we think he felt?
Jeremiah records his emotions and feelings in Lamentations. He is honest and transparent. What stood out to me as I read this short 5-chapter book this week was his perspective and hope. Here are verses that can feed us with hope no matter our circumstances.
“Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers And is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:19-26)
Take a moment to reflect on this passage.
What are the pressures you feel are about to overtake or overwhelm you?
How does Jeremiah’s perspective challenge you? Give you hope?
What is the source of Jeremiah’s hope?
What might the Lord be saying to you from this passage?
I shared recently that many in India and other nations around the world, believe the Lord’s return is very near. This is causing them to gather in ZOOM groups to look into the Scriptures to discuss and pray over what they see. Many are coming to the Lord. Many are turning back to the Lord.
Likewise, I have been reading in Matthew’s Gospel in the last couple of weeks. Jesus makes it clear what the signs of the times are preceding His return (See the whole chapter of Matthew 24). No one knows the hour or day, not even Jesus (Mt. 24:36). But we know He will come again.
Here are some of His words:
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.” (Matthew 24:42-44)
Here are some questions for thought and reflection:
What do Jesus words, “be ready”, mean to me?
Who are some people I might be around who will help me be ready?
What is the Lord asking me to change so that I will be more ready?
May each of us follow Jesus with our whole heart in these days.
These last few days, I have been reflecting on the words of Jesus in Matthew 24. His disciples asked about the signs of the time when He would return. Below is part of what He said as He responded to their question.
“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.” (Matthew 24:32-41)
Take a few minutes to reflect on this passage. Here are a few questions to aide your reflection:
What thoughts come to your mind as you reflect on this passage?
Do you think the Lord’s return is near?
What might the Lord want you to do in this time?
How does He want you to live?
Many around the world feel the Lord’s coming is near. May He come soon.