Philippians 4:8-9 (MSG)
8-9 “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
A message that I keep learning more about is that for a world to be more peaceful and prosperous, peace must first begin within ourselves. Once this happens, then peace can be experienced on the outside in our surrounding world. A Professor in one of my missionary classes in seminary once said, that in order to change a neighborhood, “one must totally immerse oneself into the community. A person must be a part of, as well as suffer with those who are struggling.”
In our community as well as communities across our nation, there are a lot of people who are becoming overwhelmed with emotions from the COVID-19 Pandemic. Parents and teachers are concerned about this new school year and what it will look like for their children. There are growing fears of a new spike in cases of people infected with the virus. And there are continued worries and anxieties about personal finances and the struggles of those who have businesses or jobs which are strained from the Pandemic.
As a Christian, we are called upon to help our fellow brothers and sisters during times of struggle. However, in order for us to help others, we must first fill our minds and hearts with the best, not the worst. We must fill our minds and hearts with the beautiful, not the ugly. We must take time to allow our hearts and minds to be filled with the Good News of Christ. This means, we take time each day to pray, to read scripture, to read a devotion, and to counteract against the fear and negativity which surrounds us during this time in our history.
When my oldest son was very young, he was scared to go see the doctor. Each time I would be driving him to visit the doctor for a routine checkup or because he was not feeling well, he would always ask, “Dad, is this going to hurt? Am I going to get a shot?” Our fears are often most powerful in the unknowns. During times of uncertainty and worry we often find ourselves asking, “Where will this lead me? Will this hurt? How will this end?”
In the daily devotion I have been reading, “Instead of Fear: What God gives you when you let go of fear” (www.wycliffe.org), it shares the amazing thing about this life, if you’ve read Genesis and Revelation, you know the beginning and the end are more than points on a timeline. The beginning and the end represent the person of Jesus Christ—the Alpha and the Omega, the author and finisher of your faith.
For many throughout our community, for those who do not know Jesus, death is the ultimate fear. However, as a Christian, the death of Jesus and the eternal hope His resurrection brings is the very thing that can take away the believer’s fear: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18, ESV).
My friends, there are real things in this life that can hurt and even kill. And this COVID-19 Pandemic is a reminder that the world in which we live is full of uncertainties and that our daily routines can change quickly through situations which are out of our control. However, we should not give into our fears, and we should show by how we live, conduct ourselves, and in the way we treat others, that none of us are alone and that God is right here with us.
As it says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” You see, knowing that God wins this story and that eternity with Him awaits you, is your ultimate weapon against fear. My brothers and sisters, the next time you feel fearful about your life, this Pandemic we are all experiencing together, or the political situations surrounding our nation, challenge yourself to declare “Who holds you in His hands, Who saved you from death itself, and where He promises you will go.”
Today, I invite you to lay down any of your fears and instead, pick up all the things God has for you in this life and the next. And let us remind one another and the strangers around us, that we are not alone, and that the love, grace, and living presence of Christ is with us all. Because in the end, it is not fear, it is love which always wins. Amen.
Some questions to ask yourself or to discuss with others:
- What is your greatest fear or worry? Is it poverty? Illness? Loneliness?
- What fear do you need to put down?
- What promise from Scripture do you need to pick up?
Pastor Kevin & Carla Evers
A Follower of Jesus who is a Husband, Father, Pastor, creative communicator, drummer, Truth Seeker, and all around coffee drinking beach lover!
"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience."
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin