Yes. Fear is part of the fallen human condition. When we are confronted with something that may alter our future, we become fearful. With the 24-hour news cycle reminding us of ever-increasing numbers of cases of COVID-19, blasting out stories of deaths and body bags, and reminding us of our dire financial straits, fear is inevitable. As the disease enters our communities and we hear of a friend or neighbor that has taken ill or died, we wonder if “I’m next.”
We’re also asking how this event will change the lives of our loved ones. And we’re probably wondering why God has let this happen. Contemplating these questions leads to anxiety and fear.
Fortunately, God knows us better than we know ourselves and wants us to turn our focus from our personal situation and our inward focus to an upward focus on Him and an outward focus on others.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
The Bible has a lot to say about fear. We read of great men of God who became fearful. And, we saw how God turned fear into Joy. When David was being pursued by men who wanted to kill him, he cried out to God. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you,” he wrote in Psalm 56:3. From the many Psalms David wrote we see a man who was regularly afraid but knew that God was there for him, no matter the outcome.
The apostle Paul encountered many life-threatening situations and shared what he discovered with others. In his letter to the Church in the Greek City of Philippi he wrote: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Paul knew that we all fear, but he wanted people to understand that fear did not have to control us. He reminded his disciple, Timothy: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
In 1 John 4:18, Jesus’ disciple, John, reminded readers “that perfect love drives out fear.” Here for what is translated as “perfect” John used the Greek word, teleios, a word that means complete, finished or fully grown. He is reminding Christians that when we refocus on God’s love, a love so great that He was willing to sacrifice his own son, that we might know peace in this life and a fear-free eternity with him. It’s a journey, not a destination.
As you meditate on scripture, sing songs of joy and hope, and seek ways to help those around you who are fearful and suffering, you will find your fears receding into God’s love. In a 100-year-old gospel hymn, we are reminded that “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through; My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.” COVID-19 is part of this world, not the next. It may make you sick. It may result in your financial ruin, and it might even cause your death. But don’t let fear paralyze you. Don’t be afraid to tell others of your fears and even seek professional help if necessary. But right now, stop and direct your thoughts to God. Tell him your fears, ask for his help and listen quietly for the Holy Spirit to begin guiding your thoughts.
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That depends on who is defining Christianity. Basic Christianity is the understanding that a person cannot do anything, including good works or good deeds, to win a place in heaven. Christianity alone teaches that forgiveness of individual sin and the promise of eternal life with God are gifts offered to an individual by God. To receive these gifts of both forgiveness and eternal life, one only has to accept the gift by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. So the question becomes, is Jesus true? Is what he says about himself truthful?
Jesus, the first-century teacher, is documented in the Bible and by historians of that period, Josephus and Tacitus. His teachings are among the best-preserved words from antiquity. His birth, life, teachings, miracles, death and resurrection were all prophesied more than 500 years before he was born. Only God, who exists beyond both time and space, could know the future.
Jesus’ miracles demonstrated his divine power. In his three and a half years of ministry, thousands were healed of all sorts of diseases and these events had many witnesses to testify to their authenticity. His death and resurrection are documented historical facts. After he rose from the dead Jesus was seen by more than 500 people, over a span of 40 days. Jesus’ ascension back into heaven had many witnesses proving again he was the Son of God. In addition, there are thousands of verified reports of Jesus appearing to people throughout the world, even to Muslims, who are accepting in great numbers the truth of Jesus as the human manifestation of God. They are recognizing that Jesus is the only path to an eternal relationship with God, the creator of the universe–the only entity who can bring true peace to the human soul and to the world.
Throughout history, many people have tried to hijack Christianity, to use the religion to advance their personal agendas. They have distorted the teachings of Jesus. They have killed and bullied and destroyed in the name of Jesus. However, even a casual reading of the Bible clearly demonstrates that Christians are called to love their enemies, to serve the poor, care for widows and orphans, and to reflect the love of Jesus in all they do. They are called into a life of service on behalf of God, not because God demands it, but because they are so thankful for what he has already done for them. This is the truth of Christianity. By contrast, all other religious systems are either unverifiable or irrational, thereby disqualifying them as being true. For these reasons alone you can know for certain that Christianity is true, but the question is, Do you believe it?
Every individual has the free will to receive God’s gift of salvation or reject it and pursue their own self-centered life. Heaven and Hell hang in the balance of this decision. All other religions propose a path to God. Unfortunately, the fact is these are all dead ends leading to eternal destruction. There is no path. There is only the Way of Jesus Christ because he is the Truth and he is God. (John 14:6)
We can never fully understand God, but we have glimpses and hints of what he is like. The creation speaks of his creative power and glory. Just look at sun rises and sunsets. The macro and micro worlds are beyond our understanding. The human body is such a marvelous creation that science and medicine will forever be trying to comprehend its complexity. Human love is impossible to fully grasp and the love of God is greater still. That said, here are some ideas of what God is like. He is eternal, personal (can be known), one/unique (no other gods exist except Him),Spirit, holy, just, sovereign, omnipotent, in control and the source of all love, joy, beauty and wisdom. That is why God is worthy of our worship our praise, our love and our obedience.
Maybe you’ve gone to church when you were younger, but never took that step to become a Christian. Maybe you’ve been living your life your own way and not taking into account what it takes to live life differently, one with meaning and purpose. Man looks on the outside but it’s really our hearts and our character that God is concerned about. Becoming a Christian requires a decision. The Bible says in Romans 10:8-11, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that He was raised from the dead, you will be saved.” Jesus waits patiently for our decision and our heart to be open to receive Him and His love. The fact is that God responds to genuine humility and sincere acknowledgment that one is a sinner in need of a Savior and seeks God’s forgiveness and acceptance. God is loving and merciful and doesn’t want anyone to be lost.
If becoming a Christian is the desire of your heart, all you need to do is to pray a sincere and simple prayer. In your own words, just say to Jesus that you admit you are sinner in need of a Savior. Then say that you will repent, turn from your old way of living and thinking, invite Jesus into your life and promise to follow Him for the rest of your days.
At that very moment, God’s Holy Spirit will enter your eternal soul, you will receive eternal life and forgiveness of your sins and become a child of God. In effect, you become ‘born again’, a new creation in Christ and enter into a personal relationship with Him. The old life will have passed away and a totally new life will begin. Giving your life to Jesus is the most important decision one can ever make. Eternity hangs in the balance; heaven or hell. Today is the day of decision.
Sanctification is a very important concept or process to understand in the life of a Christian. It’s much more than just a fancy word of the Christian faith. Sanctification simply means “to be set apart” for God’s exclusive possession as a reminder to us of God’s redeeming Grace made for our salvation. That gift of grace of course was the gift of his Son Jesus Christ who paid the price for our sins on the Cross so that we could be forgiven and restored to a right relationship with God our Creator.
Sanctification is the on-going process by which a person becomes holy in God’s sight by yielding his or her life daily to Jesus. It is a life long experience for the believer. We are reminded over and over again in the Bible that God never leaves us as we were before we experienced salvation in Jesus Christ. It is in fact a lifelong pursuit guided by God’s Holy Spirit and God’s inspired Word. Like an athlete training for a marathon, sanctification is an endeavor that takes discipline, time, sacrifice, commitment, faithfulness, and a desire to please and follow Jesus and bring honor and glory to God.
Finally, sanctification requires getting into God’s Word on a consistent basis, participating in Bible studies, having a regular quiet time with Jesus, attending and participating in worship services and treasuring God’s Word in one’s heart by memorizing Scripture. The goal of sanctification is to, over time, make a believer more and more like Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:1-18). As that happens, others will see Christ in the believer and he or she will be able to tell them about Him and God’s love for them.
Life is about choices. Decisions we make have outcomes that impact our lives, influence our behaviors, our beliefs and our relationships with others. We can choose to continue with business as usual, enjoying success based on the standards defined by our secular culture. Or, we can take an honest look at Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed, trusted and obeyed Him. Would following Jesus really bring life meaning and purpose, joy and peace and eternal life?
The fact is that each and everyday, for over 2000 years, people around the world from every nation choose to follow Jesus who gave His life and was raised from the dead so that all who follow Him can enjoy God’s kingdom, peace with God and everlasting life.
Jesus proved that He was God by signs, miracles, profound wisdom, and overcoming death and the grave. Jesus confirmed (John 14:6) that He is the only way to heaven and eternal life. So the question really is, “Why wouldn’t everyone want to follow Jesus?” Life is a gift from God. It can only be lived to the fullest in a relationship with Jesus. Remember happiness depends on happenings, which are temporary, but real joy and fulfillment, which are eternal, are only found in Jesus. That is why untold millions have chosen to follow Him.