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Are you troubled by worry?

"Me worry?" Why should I? And yet to be honest many of us would have to describe ourselves as the "King of Worriers." It hurts to admit that when we know that we are God's elect ... chosen even before birth to share in the glories of God's eternal inheritance.

St. Peter wrote: "To God's elect ... who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance." I Peter 1:1a,2

One of the features of modern life that has been designed to curtail worry is the long-term warranty. If you are buying a house, car or electronic device, the warranty and service agreement is designed for worry-free living. By paying a certain sum of money worry can be transferred to others. That is exactly what our Heavenly Father is trying to accomplish in our lives when He gives us positive assurance of His presence and continuing care in our lives without buying any warranty or paying any fee.

When Jesus was preparing to return to heaven, He knew the disciples would be worried. For that reason, He told them He wasn't leaving them as orphans because He was sending a "Comforter." It is this Comforter, the Holy Spirit, that has created faith in us and as new creatures in Christ, we are kept in that faith to do good works to bring glory to God. Why should we worry since the words of Luther are so relevant for each of us:

"He's by our side upon the plain With his good gifts and Spirit. And take they our life, Goods, fame, child, and wife, Though these all be gone, Our vict'ry has been won; The kingdom ours remaineth."

Be sure to thank Jesus for sending the Comforter. Through God�s Word, the Comforter reminds us of the victory which is ours, now and forever.

Are you concerned about temptation?

Each time Satan tempted Jesus, his approach was the same as it is today -- Satan asks a question. "If you are the Son of God ... if you will bow down ..." This is the way the devil always approaches people. He tries to instill doubt by asking questions. The devil never makes direct statements like, "there is no God." He knows better. We are told in James 2, "You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that -- and shudder."

We have to be aware of the wiles of the devil. He approaches us with our destruction as his goal. He asks questions through others. I've always told Bible Class members that the Saturday night question, "are we going to church tomorrow?" is really the devil's question. Beware of his trickery.

Temptation may come in unsuspecting places -- in books, movies, TV, and songs. In a recent movie review there was a PG rated movie that was successful at the box office but it said, "Adult situations, crude language." Now many Christians might think that they can handle that since they are adult. They may feel the same way about R-rated movies. However, is this the way we should live? Exposing ourselves to the ways of the devil?

Maybe the words of Jesus are most appropriate -- "Away from me, Satan. For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only."

As we are concerned with temptation we have to be reminded of the words of Jesus. He said: "Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect." In other words if you are anything less than perfect, heaven can't be yours. What a serious struggle we have. We know that perfection is required for salvation and then we hear that no one is righteous. This is what makes the Christian life such a marvelous paradox.

God tells what is required and then the bad news that we can't do it. Like the Philippian jailer we ask, "What must I do to be saved?" and are relieved to hear a simple answer. Nothing is required of us since it is already done. That's the Gospel.

Once we understand that basic feature of the Gospel, then the responsibility for living the Christian life begins to sink in. Our inadequacy could cause us to despair until we know what Jesus means when He said that He came for sinners -- not for the righteous. First, we must recognize our sinful condition and it's hopelessness -- then and only then can we receive the benefits of that precious blood of Christ, the spotless Lamb sacrificed for each of us.

When our faith and hope are in Christ, we can acknowledge that His holiness is ours. When God has forgiven our sins it means that He doesn't remember them and they are buried so deeply that we will never see them again. With our sins forgiven, we are holy -- that is, set apart by God for a special purpose in His kingdom. Live now like the victorious people that you are and meet that temptation head on with the Word of God. Remember to thank the Lord every day that it is only with His strength that we can resist temptation.

Do you feel spiritual weak?

St. Paul said: "I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power." I Cor. 2:3,4

Have you ever wondered how St. Paul would have fared in our society when a me-first attitude is promoted as necessary for success? When things don't go our way we can always blame others or go to court. Many live with a lottery mentality which promotes something-for-nothing. They are living in hopes of winning the sweepstakes and they lose sight of the fact that through our God they can be winners of the greatest payoff in history. There is no entry form or purchase needed. As Christians we do know the future.

Possibly, to your neighbors or those you might work with, you would be considered a little naive for believing in Christ as the Savior of the world. They could say it is a "weakness" on your part. To St. Paul that was a compliment and his weakness was a blessing because it took him away from a cocky, self-centered attitude, to one of dependence on God.

Paul was suffering from a physical ailment and he said that this "thorn in the flesh" came from God. Three times he pleaded to have it removed. Why not ... after all here was a man called to do special work in the Lord's kingdom. How much more effective he could be if he were well.

Jesus told St. Paul "my grace is sufficient for you" and Paul accepted that. You can be content in your daily battles knowing that the strength for getting through any problem will come from God. Remember that when you are weak you stop relying on your own strength and rely on God to see you through it.

In your prayers ask Jesus to help you boast not in your strength but to rely wholly and completely on our Savior and His strength.

Are bills and money worries bothering you?

Jesus said: "I know your afflictions and your poverty -- yet you are rich!" Rev. 2:9a

John D. Rockefeller was once asked, "How much money is enough?" and he is reported to have replied, "One dollar more than I have." And so if that was the reply of one of the richest men of his time, what would it take to satisfy you? Is it possible that in our human nature we are never satisfied? It seems to start early in life. Two children may be surrounded by toys but it seems to be their nature to always want THAT toy ... the one toy someone else is enjoying. That may be a characteristic of children or it might also apply to adults as well.

In II Corinthians 8:8-15, St. Paul is writing about an offering that had been gathered in Corinth but the effort seems to have hit a snag. He is sending Titus to encourage them. They had plenty and he wanted them to share that with others. Yet what one person describes as plenty is just not sufficient for another. So a test of love is prescribed and the standard which is used is greater than anything we could ever achieve.

Christ Jesus left the riches of His heavenly home and came here ... from riches to poverty because of His great love. He did this so that we might be rich. Not Bill Gates rich. No, richer than that. Anyone who knows Jesus as Lord and Savior and has faith in the promise of life everlasting is truly among the richest people on earth.

Jesus comforted His disciples by telling them that He had to leave to prepare a place in His Father's house. There is room in that heavenly mansion for each and every believer. We would have to agree that even with afflictions and poverty here on earth, we are still rich. It is time we lived the way Jesus wants us to live ... as one of His victorious followers. Enjoy your spiritual wealth!

So when money worries start to get you down, go to the Lord with your concerns. Remember that we are never promised that we will be rich in material possessions. However, we can be rich in the things of God and this gives us the confidence we need to handle our money worries.

We have been blessed more than we can possibly imagine. These spiritual blessings can never be taken from us. Ask the Lord
to help us live as saints who have inherited the Kingdom of God which was promised through the work of Christ.

Are you bothered by grief or illness of a loved one?

In the prophecy of Isaiah we read: "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."

And then in Psalm 103 we are told to: "Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits -- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases."

As pastors visit in the hospitals, prayers center around healing for the patient. Then on Sunday morning the petitions of the congregation include requests for God to grant healing. Often we pray for a restoration of health only to have the Lord answer our prayers in His own way. Often He takes the soul of the loved one out of this veil of tears to be with Him in heaven.

Then the "why" questions come from the family. "Pastor, God has promised to answer our prayers when we pray believing.
Why didn't He this time?" And it was always exciting to be able to tell them that He did ... your loved one is healed in an
even better way than we prayed for. This is complete, 100% healing.

Why do we find that so hard to accept when the Bible is full of healing accounts that refer to spiritual healing. Jesus came to bring healing that has real meaning. He came to heal the sick souls of this world.

As we carry our sorrow and sins we are like wandering sheep. The prophet said that we have gone astray and each of us has turned to his own way. Isn't that the way of the world? Confidently believing that what I do is okay. This is the path of false teaching -- believing that my way is the right way.

Jesus had the only solution -- He carried our sins to the cross where His Father laid all of these offenses on His innocent back. Friends, when you pray for healing remember that God may just answer your prayer in the best way possible.

Are you having trouble forgiving?

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:34

As we hear the accounts of Jesus forgiving the soldiers at the cross and Stephen's prayer that God would forgive those who were stoning him, we have to wonder -- could I do that? That question bothers us because we pray in the Lord's Prayer, "Father forgive me as I have forgiven others." In other words if I deny forgiveness to anyone, I'm asking God to withhold forgiveness from me.

When Corrie Ten Boom spoke to a Sunday School gathering many years ago she described a very poignant moment in her life after years of traveling throughout the world speaking of her experiences in the concentration camp. Her message always centered around the grace of God and His love for His children in even the darkest hour.

One day, she was greeting those who gathered around her. A man extended his hand and said, "I was one of the guards in the concentration camp and I beg you to forgive me." Corrie said that she immediately withdrew her hand and walked away without speaking. As the enormity of her actions hit her, she finally rushed to locate the man and joyously said, "You are forgiven." She said it was as if a gigantic weight had been lifted from her shoulders and she was free again. If Christ can forgive us, how can we withhold forgiveness from anyone.

Paul tells the Colossians and you and me to be clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other -- forgive as the Lord forgave you. Don't assume that it will be easy but be ready to do it sincerely when it happens.

Ask your Father in heaven to forgive you and give you the courage to seek out and forgive those that have sinned against you.