Do you remember the days when you were a child and played all day long? You didn’t have a care in the world. You could run free. But when you grew up, running took on a very different meaning. Our lives are often compared to running a race. You’re in a race against the world and a race against time. Either you’re trapped in the rat race trying as hard as you dare to get out of it, or you’re trying to beat the clock. From day to day you compare yourself with the next person. If you’re not careful, you can become consumed with the competition that exists within your mind.
Our new life in Christ is also compared to a race being run. However, this race is much different. It’s not about how fast you run or competing with someone else. Although we race to win, it is not a competition, and we shouldn’t compare our race to that of others as if they are competitors. Scripture says “… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” No two races are the same, however, we all can find hope in knowing that our Savior, Jesus Christ, has gone before us. He has redeemed us from the penalty of sin so that we can be free from it.
Are you in the Christian race? I encourage you to stay the course by fixing your eyes on Jesus and letting go of all the distractions and the sin that can throw you off course. We all can be winners in this race, and the reward has a value out of this world: eternal life. When you lay aside the hindrances in your life, your race becomes light and you’re destined to run free.
Scripture Reference: Hebrews 12:1-3
Angela Gresham, MA
Anxiety is that uneasy feeling that you have when you're uncertain about a situation. It churns in the pit of your stomach and just won't go away. Anxiety thrives on your thought patterns; if you think negative thoughts, the anxiety increases. Isolation often accompanies anxiety; the feeling that no one understands causes you to feel alone. Yet isolation only leads to more feelings of hopelessness. Find relief from anxiety with these points from God's word:
4 Ways To Handle Anxiety
Trust in God
Jesus said not to worry about life. In Matthew 6:25-34, He gave an analogy about the birds to explain that God will take care of you because you're more valuable to Him than birds. He goes on to ask a rhetorical question: Can you gain anything by worrying? Being anxious doesn't help matters. But trusting God can bring peace.
Pray when you're feeling anxious. David said in Psalm 138:3 that when he cried out to God, He answered him and made him bold. Your Heavenly Father is always available to listen and bring resolve. In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul admonishes you not to be anxious, but instead to pray; if you ask for His help in prayer and be thankful for it, you can have peace of mind.
Share the Burden
Sharing the burden with someone else can help you overcome anxiety. It is often helpful to talk about what's on your mind. Christians are encouraged in Galatians 6:2 to bear each other's burdens. Develop healthy relationships with other Believers who can be supportive and caring.
Speak God's Word
Proverbs 12:25 says that anxiety weighs you down, but a good word can cheer you up. God's words are GOOD words and you should read them, study them, and speak them. When your words and thoughts veer off into negativity, lift yourself up again with positive affirmations from the word of God.
I encourage you to turn to God instead of worrying. He's your source of peace. Putting your trust in Him can help you to live without anxiety.
1 Peter 5:7
Angela Gresham, MA
The other day, I was looking at a photo of a happy family. Despite the fact that the family looked delightful, I found myself admiring the lovely room they were in and gazing at the objects positioned on the bookshelf beside them. My eyes had shifted focus and I was distracted by everything else that was in the background of the photo.
And such is life. Distractions are all around us and they come in many shapes and forms. Distractions turn our focus away from the Savior. In Luke 10:38-42, we find a story about two sisters, Mary and Martha. Martha welcomed Jesus into her home, and while she was serving, her sister Mary chose to sit at His feet and listen to Him. Realizing that Mary wasn't serving, Martha asked Jesus to tell her sister to help her. How Jesus responded and the actions of both women are still relevant today and holds the key principles to refocus when you have become distracted.
3 Keys To Refocus On Christ:
1. Welcome His Presence
2. Listen For His Voice
3. Worship The Savior
Welcome His Presence
Right from the start, Christ was welcomed into Martha's home. Although she was busy making preparations and serving, His presence allowed her to engage in conversation and tell Him about her problem. The 1st key principle in refocusing on Christ is to welcome His presence. Invite Him into your daily life and converse with Him as Martha did. You’ll be surprised at the insight that can be gained from His presence.
Listen For His Voice
Next, we see Martha asking for help because she had been serving alone. From Martha's point of view, Mary should have been helping her to serve. However, when she asked Christ for help in the situation, He showed her a totally new perspective. Jesus said to her, "Martha, Martha you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” This reply helped Martha become aware of her distractions. Christ helped her to refocus by correctly identifying the matter at hand. Martha was focused on serving Christ because of His presence in her home. Yet Mary, because of His presence, was sitting and listening to Him. Notice that Jesus acknowledged Martha’s concern by first calling her name twice which got her attention. He then proceeded to explain what was needed in her life. The 2nd key principle in refocusing on Christ is to listen for His voice. After you welcome His presence, be sure to give Him your undivided attention and listen intently to His words.
Worship The Savior
The last key principle here comes from Mary. Mary wasn’t given a voice, instead, the story highlights her posture. We’re told that, while Christ was present in their home, Mary chose to sit at His feet and listen to His words. Her posture was key to the entire course of events. Even though there’s no recorded account of her thoughts or feelings about Martha’s reaction to her act of worship, we can learn something from Mary. In this story, Mary was silent yet her action was so profound: she sat at the feet of Jesus. In fact, Jesus told Martha that Mary was doing what was necessary. Jesus was very pleased with Mary's reverent worship. Martha received a wake up call from Jesus that day. He helped her to gain insight into the act of worship by using the very person that she had spoken to Him about.
In our society, we consider multitasking and the ability to juggle many different things a skill set to be attained. Indeed, it may serve a practical purpose in some settings, however, it is inappropriate when Christ is present. The 3rd key principle is to worship the Savior. He wants your undivided attention and, like Mary, full abandonment in worship.
Where is Jesus in your life? Is your gaze centrally focused on Him? Has he become a part of the background while other things are front and center? I admonish you to take the time and refocus on Christ and worship Him today.
Angela Gresham, MA