By Scott Shifferd, Jr
Why let stress control your life? Why spend life in depression and frustration? Where is your faith in God if you are depressed and overly stressed? How important is a spiritual outlook on life? Paul's example encourages us to press on "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:12-14).
Cast your cares on Christ. Why worry about the storm “O you of little faith” when Christ is with you (Matt.8:26)? What should you do with problems that you cannot control? Peter was in the same boat that we are. He said, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:6-7). List your concerns and give them to God in prayer.
Christ's Spirit promised Christians a peace that surpasses all understanding that guards the heart and mind if we thankfully pray (Phil. 4:6-7). Paul prayed 3 times to the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh. The Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9a). What was Paul’s conclusion?
“Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9b-10).
What peace did Paul and Silas have when they prayed and sang after being beaten and imprisoned (Acts 16)? Paul’s mind would have been much like His words in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18,
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” (2 Cor. 4:16-17).
Our God is the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-5). Hear Jesus,
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).
By Scott Shifferd, Jr
What did Jesus say about worry? Many times, we worry about what is not worth the time to worry. In the beginning and the end of Jesus' ministry, He taught,
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?” (Luke 12:22-24, cf. Matt. 6:25ff)
Should we not worry about where our next meal will come from? Should we not worry about what our family will wear? If we do not worry about food and clothing, then why worry about other problems?
What good comes from anxiety and worry? What does Jesus say? “And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?” (Luke 12:25-26). Worrying will not improve your life or comfort you. How much does worry help you fix things that you cannot control?
What is worry? Instead of the words “anxiety” or “worry”, the KJV says, “Take not thought for your life” (Lk 12:22). This is a good translation of the original. The Greek word for anxiety is made of 2 words. These are “divide” and “memory”, which is a vivid description of the mind divided over anxiety and stress. May God help to not divide our minds.
Have faith in Christ and keep your priority on Him? Jesus said,
“And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. [...] For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:29-31, 34).
Not only does anxiety show a lack of faith in God, anxiety disrupts life’s priorities. What are your priorities in this life? Where is your heart and where are your treasures?
By Scott Shifferd, Jr
Christians of like mind find Jesus compellingly sincere and beyond the invention of mankind's imagination. Jesus was witnessed by sincere men and women, who admit initial doubt and skepticism in whom they first thought was a mere man. Yet, these found Jesus to be more. We are astounded by the life, love, and miraculous works of Jesus. Christians believe the ancient witnesses of Jesus' first followers, His Apostles. We believe in the Apostles and their associate prophets, and therefore, we conclude Jesus to be infallible upon their testimonies. By the definition of apostle meaning “sent out”, Jesus' Apostles took His message to the world give sincere accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These are the faithful, who oversaw the collection of Christian scriptures in the middle to late 1st century (1 John 1:1-4, 2 Pet. 1:16-21, 3:15-16).
As Christians dig deeper for ancient references to Christ, we find other early Christian writers, who are witnesses, friends, and disciples of the Apostles of Christ. Such men include Clement, Mathetes, Polycarp, and Ignatius, who wrote in the middle to late 1st century and early 2nd century. As strata in history, these Christian writers were witnesses of the original witnesses, the Apostles and prophetic writers of the New Testament scriptures. Upon this layer, there were the associates of the 1st generation of Christians, who followed the Apostles. These Christians include Justin, Melito, Hippolytus, and Irenaeus in the middle to late 2nd century. Upon Jesus as the cornerstone, there was formed a foundation of Apostles and prophets, and then by God's providence in history, we have stone upon stone laid upon the Apostolic scriptures (Eph. 2:20-22). Even the early opponents of Christianity recognized the reality of Jesus' life while questioning the Apostolic writers. These opponents include Celsus, Trypho, Lucian of Samosata, Porphyry of Tyre, Hierocles of the Bithynian Proconsul, Julian the Apostate, and Peregrinus Proteus.
These are real people. There is no scheme that can invent so many layers of early writers and enemies of Christianity. No contemporary of Jesus' time doubted that Jesus lived and died. The New Testament scriptures are left for the sincere cross-examination of the apparent motives of the Apostolic writers. Those, who seek purpose in their life, the Source of moral virtue, and the Creator of all of nature's beauty and order, do no have to look far for the most compelling Teacher to have walked the earth.