Monthly Archives: February 2017

Should I Worry?

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Have you ever found yourself lying in bed, watching the hours roll by because you are overwhelmed with worry? Then, you wake up the next morning, exhausted, and the worry game starts all over again. The American Psychological Association survey states that the top three stressors in our lives are finances, work, and family responsibilities respectively (APA, 2017). Many of us are living testaments to the truth of this survey. It was once said that ulcers are not caused so much by what you eat but by what is eating you! The question that we as Christians need to be asking ourselves is: Should I worry?

Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-26 ESV, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” These words are some of the clearest of any words throughout Scripture on the topic of worry. What was Jesus saying? First, we need to understand what Jesus was not saying. Jesus was not saying that we can go through our lives without planning. Second, despite what many prosperity preachers say today, Jesus was not saying that if we trust God enough our lives will be problem free. The hard lives of so many faithful men and women in Scripture put a huge hole in prosperity gospel theology. So, again, what was Jesus saying?

Jesus was telling us in these verses that before we waste the hours of our lives with worry, we need to understand the power of His provision. We need to understand as children of God that He is more than willing and able to provide the necessities of our lives. The comparison that Jesus makes between you and the birds and the lilies of the field could not be more of an exaggerated comparison. The reason Jesus did this was to show that, if He cares and provides for something so insignificant as the lilies of the field, then we can be assured that He will care for us. See, the birds and the lilies are here today and gone tomorrow. Yet, they are provided for by God’s hand. You and I have so much more than the birds and the lilies could ever have. God has given us supreme dominion in His creation, the promise of everlasting life, the status of adopted sons and daughters, and the reality of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If we have been given so much more, will we not be provided for? In Matthew 6:31 and 33, Jesus makes the most important statement of all, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’….But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

This is the central message: We are to plan, work hard, and be good stewards of what God has given to us. We are to refuse to waste away our lives worrying about what tomorrow might hold. We are to refuse to live materialistic lives in which our desires are always for more. Instead, we are to focus our eyes upon the salvation of the Lord and realize that He is our Provider. He is the perfect Father that never fails to care for His own. Take your focus off your worries, and focus your eyes upon the salvation of God.

 

Works Cited

“2015 Stress in America” (2017) American Psychological Association. Web. Retrieved 27 Feb 2017 from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2015/snapshot.aspx


Do We All Worship the Same God?

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Do Muslims, Orthodox Jews, Christians, and believers of other faiths worship the same God? This is a question that is commonly raised today in several circles across the U.S. Recently, Professor Lyrica Hawkins chose to wear a hijab during the Catholic Advent season to show that Christians stand in solidarity with Muslims. (Gjelten, 2015) She quoted Pope Francis in saying that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Is this true? Do we all just have different ways of worshipping the same God?

It must be made clear that there is NO place in our world today for Christians, or people of any faith, to express hatred or any form of degradation to people of other faiths. We must remember, our goal as Christians is to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV) This mission is not accomplished through hate or force, but is accomplished through prayer and the Word and the love of Christ. With that being said, it is without hesitation that I say that we as Christians do not worship the same God as Muslims, Orthodox Jews, Hindus, and people of other faiths. Briefly, I will seek to explain why.

First, to say that Christians worship the same God would be to say that two distinctly different individuals could be the same person. Even though I may have similar characteristics as another individual, that does not, in fact, make me that person. The same could be said for the God of the Bible. The God that we serve as Christians is very clearly defined and characterized in the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible. Religions such as Islam, Mormonism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses have foundations that are based upon taking the Christian Scriptures and “correcting” them according to the words of their founding prophets. For example, the prophet Muhammed received the “correct” truth from Allah that men should follow. This corrected many of the “mistakes” that the Christian Bible had made. In the same fashion, Mormons claim that their founding prophet Joseph Smith received the “correct truth” in the 1820’s that men should follow. This corrected the “corrupt” nature of the Christian Bible. The fact is, in making these “corrections”, religions have taken the Bible and have replaced God’s Truth with man’s wisdom. 2 Timothy 3:16 in the ESV Bible says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God”. This means that, for a Christian, the Bible is correct, not because man wrote it, but because the Holy Spirit wrote it through man. The Holy Spirit has ensured that the Scriptures have been maintained and passed down in a form that is correct and holds its original Truth. As a result, when man claims to have “corrected” the Bible, he is claiming to be able to “correct” the Holy Spirit of God.

Second, one of the major differences that exist between Christianity and other religions is in relation to Jesus Christ. According to John 1:1 in the ESV, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Also, John 1:14 ESV states, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” What does this mean? This means that Christians believe that Jesus Christ is God and no less. He is equal to God, is the Son of God, and is God along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Other faiths, such as Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses, believe that Jesus Christ is not God but is a good man or a prophet. For example, the Quran in surah 5.75 states, “The Messiah, son of Marium (Mary) is but an apostle; apostles before him have indeed passed away.” As a result, we simply cannot worship the same God, because the God that we worship is Jesus Christ who is the God of our salvation.

Third, and I believe most importantly, the God that Christians serve is not a God of works but is a God of grace. In fact, Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” This is a primary difference between Christianity and other faiths and that is that other faiths believe that it is necessary to work your way to salvation. For example, the Quran teaches that salvation is based on purification by good deeds (Quran 7:6-9). Also, the LDS (Mormon) Articles of Faith state, “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel (Pearl of Great Price: Articles of Faith). This is completely against what the Apostle Paul and others fought for in the Scriptures regarding what salvation really means. The fact is, we cannot save ourselves by our good works. We can only be saved by God’s amazing grace.

In conclusion, while other religions may have elements that may resemble the God that we serve as Christians, their god is not our God. There is only One, True, God, and He is the God of the Bible. God stated in Exodus 20:3 ESV, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Unless we worship God as He truly is, then we are not truly worshipping God.

 

Works Cited

Gjelten, Tom. (20 Dec 2015) Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?. NPR. Accessed     on 21 Feb 2017. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2015/12/20/460480698/do-christians-and-muslims-worship-the-same-god