Stress. The word alone is known to not only raise eyebrows but blood pressure. 44% of Americans feel more stressed than they did 5 years ago. 3 out of 4 doctor visits are for stress related ailments. 44% lose sleep every night. It’s no wonder we lose sleep when we have so much on our minds. Balancing work and family is enough to make your wheels spin. So when we lay wide eyed, in the middle of the night, replaying the day, worrying about tomorrow, that would be a good time to remember what the Bible says about anxiety and worry.
Philippians 4:6-7 says not to be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God, and He will give you a peace that passes all understanding and will guard your heart and mind in Him. Worry can lead to stress. Stress can lead to more than sleepless nights.
Begin to choose today to praise God in every situation. Then ask Him to organize your life. Fill in the gaps. Change the direction of your circumstances. We are not able to eliminate stress by our own power, but when we put our lives in the hands of the One who created us, we can. Stress is created by what you are thinking and dwelling upon. If you can change your mind you can change your attitude. When we pray IN FAITH; then PEACE must reign. If I truly give it to God, then there is no picking it back up and worrying myself sick over it. There is a supernatural peace that can KEEP (umpire) your heart. The peace of God makes your emotions to rest even when you are being thrown strike, after strike, after strike in the game of life. He’s watching the score… Don’t worry! The game is fixed! WE WIN IN CHRIST!
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you…” – Gen 12:1
There are several reasons why Abram/Abraham is considered the “Father of Faith.” But I think we would do good if we looked at this one scripture a little closer. God came to a man who never knew Him. Spoke to him and told him that He was the Almighty God and that if Abraham would honor Him, He would bless Abraham and all of his descendants. But before all of that could happen God had to extract Abram from his surrounding in order to get him to trust Him. Abram was entrenched in an idolatrous culture. His father and ancestors had worshipped the sun and other gods all his life. And now here was this God speaking to him and telling him to leave EVERYTHING that he knew in order to attain only what this God could give him.
Joshua said to the people, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River, and they worshiped other gods. – Joshua 24:1-2
It never requires faith when you have support systems that are comfortable and familiar. As much as we are creatures of social interaction; sometimes relationships can restrict and hinder who it is that God is calling you to be. Often times we settle because those around us have settled. Abram was surrounded by idols and paganism. But he had to have known there was something more… When you know that there is something more; it will cause you to come out of comfort and conformity. It’s not easy to change; but it’s even harder to convince those who think they know you, that the change is authentic. Sometimes, as much as you don’t want to, and as bad as it hurts; you have to LEAVE in order to BE. Faith is trusting God even when you can’t trace Him. And in this walk of Faith we have to be willing to obey His word even when it goes against our feelings. God told Abram to take out the stops, kick out the crutches and believe in something REAL for the first time. LEAVE the drama of your past. LEAVE the opinions of others who would impede you! LEAVE the comfort of that safe place so that you can discover YOUR PROMISE. Notice that the promise of discovery, “the land that I will show you.” is only found when you LEAVE. Everything isn’t going to be perfect when you decide to trust God. It’s not going to be convenient. He will ask you to trust Him at your most vulnerable times. You wouldn’t trust Him or know that it was His power that did it, any other way. God’s got something AMAZING to show. But it’s not HERE. It’s over THERE.
What does it mean to be real, raw and relevant in today’s world?
Being ‘real’ is risky. We are taught to often put our feelings aside, to be strong, politically correct, in agreement with those around us. Sometimes that isn’t authentic to who we really are. Being real means being true to who we are called to be, how we choose to think and how we represent our purpose. When it comes to real honesty, with matters of the heart, it takes courage to express ourselves. The fear of rejection can hold us back for years. If God has placed an assignment, a passion and a call on your life, I encourage you, do not let the fear of what others will think change your mind. Stop listening to the voices that are loud. Start listening to the one voice that you know to be the most powerful. God is waiting for you to do what He has designed and placed in your heart.
Being ‘raw’ isn’t always glamorous. Not everything is appealing in it’s raw state. Although sushi is one of my favorite choices, I know several people who’d prefer a meal cooked well done instead. The raw reality of what God has called us to do isn’t always beautiful in appearance. It takes sacrifice. It takes commitment. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable. Long after the attractive emotion is gone, you are left to complete what He has asked you to do. Will you continue and finish or will you stop and say God changed His mind?
Being relevant in today’s world is crucial. Connection with others is key to building and keeping relationships. To impact a community, it takes consistency and connection. The connection takes place when a common ground is shared. Your words need to be relevant to those you are speaking to. The fish always thought he was a loser because he couldn’t climb a tree. Then someone told him to go for a swim… That’s impactful.
Jesus was real. He never denied who He was even when they threatened to take His life. Jesus was raw. He spoke from the depths of His heart. Many didn’t like what He had to say, yet He said and lived it anyway. He accomplished what He set out to do. Long after the celebrations and the festivals were over, He ministered, healed and restored. Jesus was relevant. His timeless message touched those back then and it touches us today. May we be as real, raw and relevant as the One who gave His life for us. May we love with all our heart. May we have compassion for all people. May we live the life that God has called us to live, in authenticity and in love.
Are you ready for a real, raw, relevant life?
13“If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace.14“Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.”
You have to make sure that people are worthy of your presence in their lives. Not everyone values you. Just because they are around you doesn’t mean that they perceive who it is that you truly are. Not everyone will celebrate you. But Jesus said, “Don’t worry about the ones who would simply tolerate you but find the ones who will celebrate you.” Jesus is conveying in this text that not everyone is deserving of what you have. Leave your peace with those who discern your worth and assignment in their lives. When you come in contact with those divine relationships, make sure that you are a blessing to them. People should be better because you came into their lives; not worse.
The word peace is the Hebrew word SHALOM. It’s literal meaning is: “nothing missing and nothing broken.” Peace is all that humanity has ever needed and unknowingly wanted. It’s what was lost in the Fall of Adam and recovered in the Passion of Christ. True peace can only come from God; and the only peace you can give in any situation is His peace. Unfortunately, as much as God wants to give His peace; not enough experience it. You can only leave what others allow to stay. Even in life you learn that not everyone who puts their feet under your table are your friends. Judas was a liar, and deceitful but he still was around Jesus. And there might be sometimes you can’t control the people who you have to be around but you can control to who you are vulnerable with. You can control who and what you entertain. Who can decide to not allow circumstances to robe you of God’s serenity in the midst of Satan’s insanity. Like I said before, you are not sent to everybody. Jesus is saying just because you have the right message it doesn’t mean you havethe right person. Be careful not to throw your pearls before swine. A pig doesn’t know the value of a pearl. It does not know the difference between a pearl and a pebble. And many don’t know your true value either. However, you do not have the time nor the energy to convince people of your worth or need. When you really begin to understand your purpose you discover you are on assignment.
Jesus said, “If they don’t receive you then brush the dust from off your feet.” No one likes to experience rejection. When one allows themselves to stay in a place of rejection and abandonment, depression and defeat will slowly leak into their lives. What we must understand is that rejection is redirection. Everyone of those doors that closed, God was orchestrating your steps. For every person that rejected you, It was the Holy Spirit redirecting! Leading you to better! See, the stark reality is; for most of us we would have settled into something that would have hindered us if they would have received us. Don’t only thank God for the doors that He opened. But I dare you to praise Him for the doors that He closed! He detached you from dead things. He rerouted you to greatness. Jesus said, when they don’t receive you, and when they talk about you, and when they misunderstand you, and when they judge your motives and reject you….SHAKE the dust off your feet.
Dust is accumulated dirt as a result of the lack of movement. Dusty people are folk who aren’t ever going anywhere. Dusty people are stagnant people allows talking about what use to be and what they hope would happen. Dusty people are those plagued by mediocrity and paralyzed by fear. If you are going to move on to the one who will receive you, you have to release the one who rejected you. Shake it off…MOVE! Dust and dirt can’t settle on moving things. If you could see where He is taking you, you’d thank the people who rejected you along the way. You can’t recapture dust that is shaken off. The particles move and although the dust may settle it will never rest in the the same place. When you start “shaking” your self off, you keep yourself free from offense. How do I have time to be bitter when I’m on to better?… In the infamous words of Taylor Swift, “ SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE IT OFF SHAKE IT OFF. Ewww eww ewww!