A SIMPLE CURE

 

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2  (BSB)

 

Have you noticed that the thing that most occupies our thoughts is typically the thing that most affects our attitudes and behavior?  For example, focusing on world affairs tends to evoke frustration and a sense of helplessness (if not hopelessness).  Attention to today’s politics can arouse anger; fear of the future can provoke anxiety; while exaggerated concern about our health can create hypochondria.  Proverbs 23:7 confirms that we are what we think in our hearts.

Paul wrote to the church at Philippi (4:8) to think about whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable… Essentially, we need to take control of what we entertain in our heads (and hearts).  We are to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (II Corinthians 10:5). 

We CAN discipline our thoughts and our thinking patterns.  …we have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16) and can expect the Holy Spirit to empower us to keep our eyes on Jesus rather than on things that rob us of what he would do in and through us.

So here’s the simple cure for anxiety, for (unrighteous) anger, for negativity, for worry or fear:  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.  Abiding in him, thanking and praising him, and focusing on him brings peace and joy.  In fact, in [his] presence is fulness of joy; at [his] right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11).

The hard part is consistently practicing this simple cure.  But we have the Holy Spirit in us to strengthen us to do what pleases the Father.  Now, let’s get started.

 

Heavenly Father, it’s tiring and counter-productive to think negatively.  It’s depressing to become preoccupied with self.  Train us to keep our eyes on Jesus.  Thank you.  AMEN.

CHEERFUL GIVING

 

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  II Corinthians 9:7

The music begins, and people dance down the aisles to deposit their gifts and return, dancing, to their seats.  Another song begins, and another group repeats the process of dancing down the aisle to deposit a handful of treasure.  This will continue for up to an hour until everyone has an opportunity to dance and joyfully give his or her gift.

Offering time in Nebbi, Uganda, is something one must see and experience to believe.  These beautiful people who some might describe as economically challenged prove themselves to be some of the wealthiest in the world in their giving to their Lord.  With joy and thanksgiving everyone dances to the front as his or her zone moves forward in time with their special song.

I remember being in one congregation where the gifts were vegetables from the garden or bags that jumped around during the service as cherished small farm animals were given in thanksgiving.  The focus of the offertory was expressing gratitude for God’s abundance poured out in the lives of his children.

At home in Texas most of my giving is online.  My church, missionaries, and organizations that I support all encourage online giving.  I never get to dance.  The closest thing to Nebbi offerings that I experience here is when our church has our Noisy Offering:  all the children grab pots and pans, spittoons and buckets, anything that makes noise when change is tossed in.  One cannot avoid giving—the children are seriously in your face until you put something in their containers.  And they do dance back to the front to lively, joyous music.

I really do believe God loves cheerful givers, and it’s so much more fun.

 

Lord, our hearts burst with gratitude for your generosity that never seems to end.  Remind us that “all things come of thee, oh Lord, and of thine own we have given thee.”  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.

FLATNESS

 

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Romans 12:12  NIV

 

Have you ever felt flat?  Perhaps you might call it dryness or dullness.  It’s not depression or discouragement; it’s just a sense of being inert, or static as opposed to dynamic.  Sometimes we call it the blahs.

Being flat can occur after a prolonged time of expectation working toward a particular goal or event.  It can occur after an unusual expenditure of energy.  And it can happen to anyone.

If you’re past twenty-one years of age, you know that life is not all that proverbial bowl of cherries, and that there are days (sometimes even prolonged periods) without inspiration or bursts of insight.  In fact, it seems that much of life consists of “walking without fainting” rather than “mounting up with wings as eagles.”

I was deep in contemplation this morning about the great thought behind flatness.  Why ever should we who are so blessed ever feel flat?  Any of us should be able to candidly sit down and list a dozen or more reasons to be joyful, and yet we experience times that are much less than joyous.

That’s where faith comes in.  Happiness, we know, is based on happenings, on the circumstances of our lives:  My child was inducted into the National Honor Society; my dog won Best of Show; my garden got the neighborhood award.  And so forth…  On the other hand, joy comes from that deep sense of relationship to Jesus Christ, of knowing he loves and cares for us, that he never leaves us, that he forgives our sins, and that he wants to spend eternity with us.

The happiness that’s circumstantial is transitory.  Joy never goes away.  The flat days are gifts to remind us that the eternal is not based on what we see, hear, feel, touch, or taste.  Joy is forever and can be accessed no matter how dark the day when we touch reality, God’s Spirit within us.  “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes…”

 

Father, now I thank you for flatness, for reminding me that I shouldn’t put hope in the things that are only temporary.  Thank you that your joy is always with us and is merely a foretaste of what’s to come.  AMEN.