Welcome to the Live to Love Blog for October, 2021.
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We’ve been through a tough season, haven’t we? And we’re still in the middle of it in many ways. How are you doing? Are any of you dealing with unbelief, fear, helplessness, confusion, anxiety, feelings of depression, discouragement, isolation, anger, and hatred? Do you feel like no one is listening—like you have no voice? That’s Satan’s game plan—to convince you that you’re useless, powerless, and unloved. We’re living in a fallen world, where followers of Christ increasingly are considered the enemy. We are not really used to that feeling, so more and more we’re coming to understand how much we need each other. We also need daily reminders that Jesus is enough for us.
But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13).
Jesus is the answer to everything that Satan, the world, and even we ourselves throw at us. We can’t afford to take our eyes off of Jesus. I hope you’ll take a few minutes right now to be encouraged by these thoughts about how Jesus is the answer—the power, strength, and love—that we need to refute and stand against the onslaught of evil coming at us from the world system.
Jesus is the answer to unbelief. How tempting it is to get distracted by all the bad information filling the news media. If you are one of those who have several news apps on your phone, and you have a habit of watching the evening news, then you know what I mean. Almost every story reveals some sinister action by governments, individuals, or powerful entities, with only a rare mention of thoughtful resolutions to the compounding problems, or of justice being done for those who have been wronged. The news is ominous and frightening, and it can consume our daily thoughts and nightly dreams. It has helped me to understand that when my main focus is on this world and the things in this world, I’m likely to act like an unbeliever. What I look at shapes my thinking. What I think about shapes what I do. For unbelievers, their mindset, values, and security—their entire lives—come from this world. Not so for Jesus’ disciples. Our lives come from Jesus. He is the answer to this world’s conditions and philosophies. We need encouragement to keep our focus on Him. And, remembering our enemies of the world, the flesh, and the devil, we need to remind ourselves of how important it is to keep our minds and hearts fixed on Him.
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4).
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance [focusing on our pain and suffering] and the sin [unbelief] which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Jesus is the author of our faith, and that declaration is our best response to unbelief. When we are assailed by the fears and doubts arising from this world’s chaos, we can look to Jesus, who is the anchor and author of our faith. We can boldly proclaim to Him, to ourselves, to others, and to the devil that Jesus has made us His own, given us saving faith, will never berate or abandon us, and (by that faith) will see us through to our last breath. This is part of what it means to “stand firm against the schemes of the devil … the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers over this present darkness [and] the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (see Ephesians 6:10-20). We must remember our position and our power in Christ!
Jesus is also the answer to fear and helplessness. Evil in this world tells us, “Be afraid!” But Jesus says, “‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6). He is with us always, and His love is what fills and satisfies our souls. We know the love of Christ, “which surpasses knowledge, that [we] may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). Fear threatens our security and the assurance of God’s love. But we say, “If God is for us, who can be against us? Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ.” We also can remind ourselves of God’s Word. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life (with all of its problems), nor angels, nor principalities (demons and their schemes), nor things present (orchestrated attempts to destroy our nation and the world), nor things to come (whatever they may be), nor powers (of judges, politicians, or the wealthy elites), nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). Jesus lives in us. “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity (fear), but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). His life is the answer to fear and helplessness.
Jesus is the answer to confusion and anxiety, as well. It is so encouraging to be reminded that Jesus gives us peace and a sound mind. “For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). In 2 Timothy 1:7, above, the word for “discipline” is rooted in a word that means “of sound mind” —literally, “to recall to one’s senses.” When the world has lost its senses, let’s recall to our senses the hope of the gospel: “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). The world is filled with confusion as politicians and medical experts lie repeatedly and change their stories from one week to another. But if we keep our minds fixed on Jesus and His truth, and live our lives with Him, He will keep our minds and hearts in His peace. So, “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
When feelings of depression, discouragement, and isolation overwhelm you, Jesus is the answer. He is with us! Meditate on that, and do not doubt it. He told His disciples that He would go to the Father and ask that He would send the Helper, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who would never leave us. Speak the truth to yourself. “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence” (Psalms 42:5). We are never alone—we can’t be separated from Jesus and His love. When those feelings start to harass you, ask Him to encourage you with just one word of who He is. Then let thanksgiving and praise come out of your lips toward Him. Watch how the awareness of His presence and love crescendo within you.
The world system excels in breeding anger, hatred, and division. You can feel it in the spiritual atmosphere. Jesus has an answer for those spirits—it is His love. When we live to love with Jesus, we are grounded in a purpose that is the antithesis to the spirit of the world. Anger, hatred, bitterness, and division are like theater stages on which the love of Jesus shines the brightest for God’s glory. He has promised His followers that they would be hated and despised. We are to overcome this hatred with His faith and love. His faith at work in us overcomes. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4). His love overcomes—by His forgiveness, patience, goodness, kindness, peace, and joy flowing through us. His love is the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22; Colossians 3:12-14).
Jesus is the answer when you feel unheard. The world won’t listen to you, but Jesus does listen. You always have His ear. As I close this blogpost, be encouraged by the Word of God through the apostle Peter. Whatever may be the nature of our afflictions, we can cast our cares upon our God.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 5:6-11).
Let us press on to live to love with Jesus until the end.