The Anxiety Counterattack

Psalm 20: “May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May He send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May He remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now this I know:     The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of His right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Lord, give victory to the king!  Answer us when we call!

Anxiety hits all of us at some point in our lives. Some of us have learned to handle it better than others. God does not want us to be anxious about anything. When we find ourselves in distress, Psalm 20 can bring us the comfort we need. I used to have a friend who carried this Psalm around in his wallet. I often saw him pull it out before football games. The greatest part of this scripture is found in verse 7.

Some of us trust our cars more than God. Some of us trust our jobs more than God. Some of us trust our homes, our education, our friends, our looks or our money. We are putting our faith in the wrong things. None of those things can save you!

God tells us the way to attack anxiety is to trust in the name of the Lord our God. It is that simple.

Today, reflect on Psalm 20. Outwardly speak the words of affirmations – “I do not trust in chariots or horses…NO! I trust in the name of the Lord my God.” Try it the next time you feel worried. See what a difference it can make.

God’s regrets

1 Samuel 15:10-11,”Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 ‘I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.’” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.”

Regret is painful. I do not know anyone who does not have regrets in some form or another. “If I had just taken a different path…if I had not spoken those words…if I had studied harder…if I had not gone that day.” Regret for humans is a belief that if we had not done something, the outcome would be different. Regret for God is not the same.

In this scripture it appears the all-knowing, supreme being of God made an error or a bad decision. We all know that God knows the beginning and the end. He holds our future in His hands. Nothing surprises God; but by our definition of regret, this scripture might make us wonder.

God’s decisions are made perfectly and righteously; however, it doesn’t say He enjoys seeing the trials and struggles we have because of those decisions. It was probably disheartening for God, to see the actions of Saul; even though He knew those actions before Saul ever made them.

Remember, when Jesus faced Pilot, He had no doubts as to what would happen. He knew the pain He would endure. He knew the anguish; but, He went through it anyway because of His deep love for us.

God, knowing how Saul would turn-out, chose him to be king anyway. 1 Samuel 15:29, “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”

God, the Glory of Israel, does not change his mind – He isn’t like us in that regard. What is difficult for Him is seeing the result of the decisions that He made; because of His great love for us, it is hard to watch us mess up. It’s hard to view our choices.

There’s also more to glean from this scripture. When we are disobedient to God, as Saul was, we hurt Him. Many times we don’t think about that. We are caught in the middle of sin and are either trying to hide it from God (impossible) or repenting of it. Either way, we are so self-absorb in our doings, we fail to realize what we are doing to our Savior.

Today, take some time to thank Him for the love He has for you. Apologize for hurting Him with your sin. Rejoice in knowing the depth of love God has for you. Spread that love to those you encounter today.

There’s no denying Whose you are

Acts 17:28, “…in Him we live and move and have our being.”

Some time ago my son David called me. He had run into an old friend of mine and the first words out of my friend’s mouth to David were, “Boy, there is no denying you! If you aren’t Mike Franklin’s boy, I’ll buy you dinner!”

David laughed on the phone later with me, “He actually bought me lunch anyway!”

I’m proud my son is similar to me, and I’m also proud he is the type of man I want people to relate to me. As we hung up the phone, I thought of God. God must be everything in our lives. As we go throughout the day, we need to ask Him what He thinks we should do. The decisions we face, the conflicts, our direction, the people we meet – any and everything – we need to bring before God. In actuality we should hear, “Boy, there is no denying you! If you aren’t God’s boy, I’ll buy you dinner!”

Several weeks ago I was traveling home from Serbia and I encountered a young man serving as a missionary. He hadn’t been home in two years and was feeling apprehensive about reconnecting with his family. As I listened to his story and heard not only the struggles but the miracles of his work, he told me his parents were not Christian; in fact, his entire family thought him to be a religious nut. He smiled sheepishly at me, “That is the last thing I am.”

“What?” I quizzed.

“I’m not religious. Religion predetermines what God wants me and you to do. No, God has written on my heart what He wants me to do.”

He attributed his salvation to his neighbor who was a mechanic. As a young teenager, his car broke down. He didn’t have any money so he asked his neighbor for help. The deal was, the neighbor friend would fix his car at no cost, if he would help him and listen about Jesus. “It was the best deal I ever made.”

What about you? How do people identify you? How do you want them to identify you?

In Him we live and move and have our being.”

To truly be “His” we need to pay attention in all that we do. Listen to our inner conscience and what He tells us to do.

Throughout the day today, stop and connect with God. Ask Him if there is anything He specifically wants you to do. Strive, as I am striving, to hear the words, “There’s no denying Whose you are!”

The whole path

Psalm  143:8, “Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go for to You I lift up my soul.”

This morning as I prepared for my day, I thought of this verse. I thought of the words and the importance of putting our trust in God each and every day. The very first words that come from our mouths as we open our eyes should be these. There are times in our lives when we can only see the next step and sometimes, it is difficult to see even that; but God can see the whole path. He knows what’s up ahead and He will faithfully guide us through the terrain as long as we allow Him to do so.

King David lived through tumultuous times. At the time he wrote this scripture, the surrounding nations were after the blood of God’s people. During this time period and even today, Israel was constantly threatened by the countries around it who were eager to conquer the land and destroy its people. But David relied on a Warrior far more powerful than the current threat of the day. He knew God had the bigger picture, the whole blueprint. He knew in Whom to put his trust.

This morning, try it. Memorize this verse and commit to quoting it every morning as you start your day. Each day, God’s love for us is new and fresh. He is completely sold out to us. And His love is unconditional, borderless, never-ending. Openly profess that you put your trust in Him. This means ‘whatever’ happens in your day, you know God is with you. Whatever fire you need to walk through, He’ll walk through it with you. Whatever storm you need to ride out, He’ll ride it out with you. Whatever decision you need to make, He’ll help you make it. Whomever you need to see, He’ll make sure you meet with them. If you do not need to see them, He’ll make sure you don’t.

You simply need to lift up your soul to Him.

Too busy living it

Psalm 35:9, “Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation.”

Take a moment today to stop and enjoy life. We are all moving on the fast track. Schedules are filled to the maximum with appointments and activities. We are so busy doing our list that we do not even realize if we actually like what we are doing.

When is the last time you stopped to notice which bird in your yard was chirping so beautiful. Do you even listen to them for any length of time? What about the stars at night, or the flowers blooming, or a butterfly passing by? When is the last time you really looked at your children? Noticed their eyes?

Time stops for no one and it is moving quickly.

Yesterday, I was running late for an appointment but as I was leaving the building, I noticed two children in a nearby park, playing.  It was their laughter that caused me to stop. I leaned up against my car and simply listened. The voices reminded me of my children many, many years ago. Oh, how I miss that sound! I can remember coming home and hearing the kids in the yard and how they would drop everything and come running toward me.

Don’t miss your life because you’re too busy living it. God created so many splendid things for us. Take the time today to really notice what is around you. Refresh yourself. Taste your food. Listen to the sounds surrounding you. Touch those you love. Rejoice in the God who gave it all to you. Fill your spirit with Him.

Today, delight in the God of your salvation.

Our faith or God’s faithfulness?

Whether it is financial, relational, or physical, we are often in the middle of a battle. When we are there, our faith in God’s delivering power may be the very element. He is trying to teach us. We know God honors faith; and Jesus challenged us to maintain faith and a willingness to put our trust in Him regardless of the situations of our lives.

Hebrews 11:6 – “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

Matthew 17:20 – “He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’”

Yet, there are times in our lives when God is teaching us other lessons.  Sometimes the emphasis isn’t upon our activity, but God’s.  Often the focus isn’t our faithfulness but God’s showing His faithfulness. Sometimes, the focus is on someone else, and God uses our circumstance to teach lessons others need to learn.

In the end, we learn to rest in Him, whether by difficult times, joyful occasions, storms, droughts, sunny days, or prosperous events. The manner in which our lives have been designed and molded forms us in God’s purpose and plan for our personal lives.  In short, we become the people God intends us to be as we respond in faith regardless of the situation. We come to a point where we see His purpose for our lives fulfilled. And in each situation, God wants us to see His faithfulness.

One of my favorite Bible stories is a story of ordinary events, typical humanity responding to circumstances of life. As with our lives, the events of this story mold the lives of the persons involved. It is a story about people like you and me, facing life circumstances and finding God’s faithfulness in the midst of life.

A famine strikes the land of  Israel and a Hebrew family, Elimelech, Naomi and their two sons, move to Moab in hopes of finding better conditions. Moab, a nation on the east side of the Dead Sea, was just next door geographically but was light years away philosophically, religiously, and morally. While there, the sons marry two women from Moab, Orpah and Ruth. Tragically, Elimelech and both the boys die; Naomi and her two daughter-in-laws are left as widows in a land foreign to Naomi. She decided to return home to Israel. Orpah, one of the daughter in-laws, returned to her family in Moab; but, Ruth, the other dauther-in-law, committed to stay with Naomi.

Ruth 1:16 – “But Ruth replied, (to Naomi) “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.'”

Ruth and Naomi returned to Bethlehem together. They were accepted by Naomi’s family there. A prominent land owner named Boaz noticed Ruth and asked his workers to be kind to her and her mother-in-law. He left extra grain for Ruth to pick up, glean, in the fields. Boaz took Ruth as his wife, bought Naomi and Ruth out of debt, and provided the two ladies with loving care. The result was provision in their lives though they had both been widows.

Sometimes the focus isn’t on our ability to demonstrate faith, but God’s loving faithfulness to us in tragedy. The story of Ruth and Naomi demonstrates God’s interest in our lives. Simple women living in Godly ways are noticeable to God. All He requires is a willingness to serve Him as our God. Just as He cared for the details of their individual lives, He cares for all the details of our lives.

You may be in a situation through no fault of your own; it may simply be tragic circumstances. Be assured God will show His faithfulness to you. He will restore, renew, and care for you. Trust in His faithfulness.

Cue the Rocky theme song…

It isn’t often that I am able to watch television. The other night, Connie and I were so exhausted from the events of the day, we decided to find a movie to enjoy together. After flipping through channels, we came across the Rocky movie starring Sylvester Stallone. It was at the moment when Rocky determines he is going to try and the infamous song begins to play. My heart started to beat rapidly inspired by the music and his desire to rise above the obstacles, no matter the odds, and try.

Henry Ford experienced financial brokenness five different times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company. Walt Disney was fired from his job at a newspaper because he lacked imagination. Albert Einstein was considered mentally handicapped because he didn’t speak until between the ages of 3 and 4 years and he didn’t begin to read until after the age of seven. Isaac Newton did not do well in school and under his care, his family’s farm failed. An uncle took over and sent Isaac to Cambridge. Winston Churchill struggled in school and when he entered the political arena, he suffered repeated defeats before he finally was elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Harrison Ford was told he lacked the ability to be a star by film directors.

Some of you find yourself in failed businesses, marriages, educational pursuits, friendships, and projects. Life seems to be using you as a punching bag and you are tired. Some of you don’t want to fight anymore. What needs to happen is our perception of failure needs to change. We need to see failure as an experiment that didn’t quite work; learn what went wrong; and try something different or try it again. We need to take the discouragement that is weighing us down and get encouraged again. We need to leave the bitterness and hurt behind and move forward in a new direction. We need to cue the Rocky theme song in our lives and get going!

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

God is not done with you. His plans for you are good! It isn’t over. What it takes is believing in a Father who loves you and wants what is best for you. Whatever you are facing today, you can rise above it; you can get through it; you can make a way; trust in the power of God.

Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the  power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

What to do with 5 daughters

Numbers 27 tells us of a father named Zelophehad who had 5 daughters, Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. By the law, land inheritance passed from father to sons, not father to daughters, and Zelophehad had died. These sisters come before Moses and petition his help. “Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah; but died in his own sin, and had no sons. 4 Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father.” Numbers 27:3-4.

It is important to understand the courage it took for the 5 sisters to go before Moses. These were women in a culturally different environment. They are asking Moses to change the law, to make an exception, to go against the norm. They are asking the “etched- in-stone” impossible. Also, it is done with wisdom and humility. They didn’t create a ruckus; or secretly try to defy the law. It is done in a manner worthy of representatives of God. The land was important to them not only economically but because it was a part of their father and his name should be preserved. Their intent was to honor the memory of their father as well.

“And Moses brought their cause before the Lord. 6 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 7 The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them.”

Maybe there are problems in your life right now that seemed, “etched-in-stone” impossible. You may believe it isn’t even worth asking. What is done – is done! It can’t change; it can’t be resolved; no one can help! I bet these 5 daughters entertained those same thoughts as well; but, they didn’t stay there. They sought a solution in God.

Moses could have dismissed them. Maybe there are people petitioning you for help. Maybe you are in the position of Moses. Does it seem too high a mountain to climb? Does their plight even matter to you? With great wisdom, Moses knew to bring their case before God. He could’ve judge them himself; he could’ve decided the potential uproar of changing the law to accommodate the daughters of Zelophehad were not worth it; the law and culture were on his side; but instead, Moses petitioned God. Maybe you need to ask God’s guidance instead of relying on your own.

God didn’t just rule for these 5 daughters, He instructed Moses to change the law and gave him specific scenarios as examples of how to distribute property. Because of their request, future generations benefited.

When faced with difficult challenges today, seek the Lord’s advice and wait for His answer. He cares about the details of our lives and how we interact and deal with eachother and the issues which present themselves to us.

Are you a good neighbor?

Mark 12:28-31, “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Sometimes it can be confusing. Who exactly is our neighbor? And is it really possible to love our neighbor as ourself?

Steps to becoming a Good Neighbor:

1. Loving our neighbor means putting our needs aside.

When we love our neighbor as we should, we are showing a selfless act, an admittance that demonstrates divine love in ways nothing else can. Showing love to our neighbor is the best example of Godliness there is. When Jesus came to walk with us here on earth, He came as a servant to all mankind. We, in turn, are to be servants to others, demonstrating a Godly love. Whether or not the person to whom you are showing love accepts it or not, it is still our responsibility and duty as Godly people.

2. Who is our neighbor in God’s eyes?

When Jesus was asked this question, He told the story of the Good Samaritan. Once I heard a story of a Sunday School teacher who asked a group of Third Graders what they would do if they saw a person on the road beaten and bloodied. After some thought, a little girl raised her hand and responded, “I would probably throw-up!” And the Good Samaritan might have felt that way too, but he helped the man anyway. A neighbor is anyone close by to where you are. Regardless of how we feel, God asks us to demonstrate His love to them.

3. Love is the greatest witness of Christ.

Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

1 Peter 2:15, “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.”

1 John 3:18, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

Be the neighbor God has called you to be to those around you.

Spread a little Sunshine

“I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. When its cold outside, I’ve got the month of May…” The Temptations’ song from the mid 60’s played over in my mind the other day as I boarded a plane from Washington, DC. The lyrics of the song are written about a girl who makes the singer smile, but shouldn’t we apply that to our lives as Christians?

I read a quote the other day, it said, “Life is easy. It’s living it that’s difficult.” I’m not sure who said it, but in reality, he/she is correct. However, I would change the quote to say, “Life is easy. It’s how we live it that’s difficult.”

God has called us to a higher standard and He should expect us to live accordingly.

Wouldn’t it be “day” changing if we all agreed to wake up tomorrow morning and our sole intent was to make those around us smile. If that were your challenge, you’d open your eyes with a different attitude. You’d take a deep breath and proceed with a positive outlook. You’d probably sit on the steps outside your home and pet your dog; prepare breakfast for your wife or husband; write a special note in the kids’ lunch boxes. Maybe as you grabbed a biscuit at McDonald’s, you’d say a few compliments to the Drive-Thru attendant, and thank the person who handed you the food. As you walked into work, you’d greet everyone a little differently, remembering your purpose, to make people smile. Your dealings with customers would be at an even higher standard. Those with special requests you may stop and pray for them. You’d drop a card in the mail to your mom or dad. Bring home flowers to your wife or pick up a special treat for your husband on the way home. Play ball with your kids or bake cookies. And as you went to sleep that night, you’d remember all the smiles you got that day. Would tomorrow be different?

“I’ve got sunshine, on a cloudy day. When its cold outside, I’ve got the month of May. I guess you say, what can make me feel this way, My God…talkin ’bout My God…My God!”

I challenge you to spread a little sunshine for God today.