Are you fretting about day and night worrying about the future? Maybe you are seeking direction for a decision coming up. Or your worried about how the rent is going to get paid next week. You may be a business owner with so much on your plate that you are just completely overwhelmed. Maybe you are stressed to the point of insomnia. Maybe fear is dominating your every thought, and you feel like a prisoner of your own mind. I want to first of all tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. All of that can be taken away in an instant. Today is the day that you walk away completely set free!
Ok, so there are so many self help books instructing us on how to overcome fear, how to get rid of anxiety, and how to get rid of stress its ridiculous. The world is hungry for peace, joy, love, and contentment. Without even knowing it, the world is searching for Jesus. It is in Him that we have complete freedom.
What if you could live each day with peace like a river? What if that peace was constant and unchanging? What if you could be happy in the midst of the worst circumstances? What if you were so happy that people called you delusional?
Well my friend, the truth is you can. And the best part is you don't have to work for it. It comes from the source of all good, Jesus Christ.
Heres our foundational scripture we are going to look at today.
1 Peter 5: 5-7
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
My desire is for you to realize that you can truly live a prospered life, full of peace, joy, happiness, contentment, purpose, and love no matter what your circumstance. Of course it sounds to good to be true. Thats why The Gospel means "news that is almost to good to be true." Think about it, all this is given to us at no cost to us? Sounds crazy. Unless we see it from God's point of view. If we see His unending love and grace for us we can live in it. If we realize understand His love is completely independent of what we do. Just bathe in His complete acceptance. Your soul will begin to leap with joy when you catch this revelation.
Its kind of like when you were in middle school and the prettiest girl in the classroom starts giving you all kinds of attention and acceptance. You felt as if she would never want anything to do with you, but now she is loving on you. Your confidence begins to sky rocket.
Its like that times a million. Think about it, the creator of the universe wants desires YOUR company. Selah
So lets look at one of the enemies to this grace filled life so we can destroy it.
WHAT IS PRIDE?
As we can see in 1 Peter, God doesn't really like pride. He resists the proud (1 Peter 5:5.) I don't know about you, but being resisted by God doesn't sound to pleasant. It would behove us to know what pride is so that we can avoid it. It's kind of like avoiding the land mines your dog leaves in the back yard. Ain't nobody got time to be stepping in poop right? It stinks.
Simply put, pride directly opposes grace.
What is grace? One of the meanings of grace is, "that which affords joy, pleasure, sweetness, charm, and loveliness." Its also that that thing that saved you, its that unmerited favor we live by, its Jesus Christ. All the descriptions and benefits of grace are all found in the person of Jesus.
Living by grace leads to an extravagant life of blessing and favor. Pride on the other hand… Not so much.
Pride is reliance upon self. It is trusting in your own effort. Its that thing that causes you to feel as if you have it all figured out. Its the stronghold against repentance (changing the way you think), it hardens the heart making it resistant to intimacy and truth. Never would a prideful heart admit a wrongdoing.
Maybe you have seen this example, " a husband and wife are on vacation, along the way they get lost. The wife adamantly insists they stop for directions. The husband in his pride decides he will figure it out himself. He continues to refuse help and gets the whole family lost. Pretty dumb right?
A prideful heart manifests in other ways as well. This heart is burdened with the cares of the world. In the name of responsibility, this person feels obligated to carry the problems of their friends and family. The problems dominate their thoughts as if focusing on them will somehow bring a solution. Constant stressing about the bills, the kids, the son that strayed away from The Lord, and so on.
This person is basically trying to take the place of Jesus. This unassuming, well intentioned person, has entered into pride and is now closed off from the source of life. According to 1 Peter 5:6 this person must humble themselves under the mighty hand of God so that they can be exalted, or lifted, out of their pit of despair into the marvelous light of His glory.
Jesus actually rebuked me one day when I was worrying about my future and destiny. I kept questioning if I had what it takes, if i really was good enough, if I really was the person He said I was. It was beautiful. His rebuke is stern yet it left me feeling so free and loved. I felt Him say that I was offending Him with all my unnecessary worry and stress. As you can expect, I quickly snapped out of my pity party. :)
WHAT IS HUMILITY?
Its not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. We spend so much time questioning and doubting our greatness because we keep viewing life out of our own fortitude. Humility acknowledges that we are great, not by might, but by the omnipotent spirit of God.
Its not by our effort, but our surrender.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11: 28-30
See, a humble heart is a light heart. It is living care free. I like to call it the "I don't care anointing." It may sound offensive but its a reality available for all of us. Just think if your dad was Bill Gates, would you be freaking out if about your mortgage payment? Or maybe your best friend was Dr. Phil, would you be super concerned about your relationships? No, you would just ask them for help. The more we grow in relationship with our God, the more we will be oak trees of righteousness, firmly rooted in the faith.
This cheerful life is ours because we see with the right perspective. We realize that He is sovereign. That He is our shepherd, our leader, our counselor, our everything. Because of who HE is, we can humble ourselves to trust him.
Even when we feel overwhelmed, exhausted, lonely, and distant from God, we know that we do not live by sight, but by faith. The truth is the truth no matter how we feel.
Thats why it takes humility. We must give up our right to understand every little detail of how its going to work out. This is where childlike faith comes in. Jesus said we can't even see the reality of His Kingdom unless we become like a child. This is how we fight anxiety, simply believing God is who He says He is.
He always comes through. In situations where my circumstances aren't lining up, in the end I always find myself saying, "why did I waste my time worrying?" He is faithful.
A great prayer is mark 9:24, "Lord I believe, help my unbelief." With this posture of surrender, He will drench us in his agape love. He will bring us into depths of peace that we could never fathom. He can work with a humble heart.
As you may know, I own a fitness business. Early on as we were just getting started, I didn't have enough money to pay my house rent and the rent of my building. At first I was stressed out, but I chose to rest in the fact that He is good. Lo and behold, a settlement from a car accident that has been held up in negotiations was suddenly released at the perfect time. I received a nice lump sum and was able to pay the rent and then some.
Why do you think we are instructed to "cast ALL of our cares upon Him?" Because we weren't created for anxiety. It doesn't solve anything, its a waste of time. We were created for love. We weren't created to be independent but fully dependent on Christ, as a branch is to the vine. We are designed to flow in the rhythms of grace just as the waters of the ocean.
So I should just abandon all my responsibility and go frolic in the river? Not quite. My point is, that work and play were never meant to be separated. We were created to delight ourselves in The Lord. (Psalm 37)
This reality of rest is an inward posture. Lets say you have two business men, both are building a business from the ground up. From an external point of view, they are doing the same things, marketing, sales, and all the procedures it takes to run a successful business. One man may be worried day and night about the fate of the business. He constantly focuses on how to get more sales. His heart may be constantly anxious whereas the one that rests in the reality of grace is effortlessly building His business. He knows that God is His provider. He knows that he isn't trying to prosper but he already is prosperous. He knows that the plans of God for him are good. He knows he is a king and therefore has an obligation to serve humanity with his skills. He has fun working hard while his heart is at peace.
HE CARES FOR YOU
Now that we see that true humility is manifested as a care free heart, free from anxiety and worry, how do we get there? I mean how do I possibly let go of all my stress and worry? I might not even be able to pay rent next week, I must DO something. This is the natural disposition of the western mindset. Give me a set of steps to get to the end goal. But as you can see, this is so empty and void of relationship. Theres no life in rules, regulations, and how to's. The reality of freedom I framed up for you is not attained, its a natural by product of true relationship.
How do we fight anxiety and stress? TRUST
Just as a branch cannot produce fruit on its own, so a child of God cannot create freedom by His own effort. Religious and self-righteous folk like to tell us that the solutions are in something we need to do in our effort, discipline, or striving to get it.
The reason we can be so sprightly and gleeful is because He cares for us. "cast all your anxiety upon Him, for he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7 This kind of logic does not make sense to the world. They call it foolish and irresponsible. God calls it obedience and faith. Yes this certainly requires a level of faith that is completely supernatural. Thats why it requires humility. We must lean not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) and trust that Jesus is who He says He is.
Jesus constantly used analogies and parables to describe various kingdom realities with us. Take Matthew 6:28-30 for example. Jesus points out that the lilies do not toil for their survival. Then he shows them its not just about surviving, but thriving. He compares the lilies existence to the splendor of King Solomon, the richest man that ever lived. He says that even Solomon in all his splendor wasn't even clothed like the lilies. Then He wraps it up by saying, "If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you--you of little faith?"
Wowsers, this is how much our true Father adores us. He is an abundant Dad who loves to come through for His children. He is the supplier of our every need. He is the one who prospers the soul. The only one that loves us unconditionally. He is the one that came and washed our feet. Don't respond to Him in pride, but humility, gladly receiving His love.
See, when we realize His amazing love for us, we can easily trust Him. No longer does faith become something I need to work up, but it is a natural response to such a loving and caring Father. After all, we love because He first loved us. ( 1 John 4:19)
So many focus on trying to build faith when in all reality they just need to see Jesus. They need to encounter Him, spirit to spirit, in the fullness of His love. When this intimate knowledge of Him comes, faith is naturally produced just like apples on an apple tree.
Jesus gives us rest, not anxiety. When we realize where we are, seated in heavenly places in Christ, and what we are, passive branches attached to the true vine, we can trust our Father to care for us. Realize that God cares for your every need. Rest in His glorious peace that surpasses all understanding. Live lightly and freely. Cast every anxiety upon Him and relax. He always comes through.
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