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We’ve all noticed in the media the recent economic challenges our country is facing.  While our governing officials wrestle with decisions to help with this crisis, undoubtedly we all wonder what the future holds for our country and for us personally. 

I’m not going to give you my opinions about what our government should do.  Instead I want to focus on our own hearts.  How can we have a faith-filled and peace-filled life, even in the midst of very difficult times?  God has answers.

One of the best ways to have peace in a troubled world is to follow the adage:  Take one day at a time.  This expression comes from Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Don’t worry about tomorrow or any day in the future.  Why not?  Essentially, Jesus is saying that every day has enough trouble of its own, so why be anxious.  Just focus on today.

Over the past two months, this “one day at a time” theme has been the greatest lesson I’ve been learning.  My health issues (pain from a herniated disc in my lower back) have at times prompted me to be anxious:  “What if I am not better in two weeks or four weeks?  How much pain can I endure?  What about this or that?”  I could almost go insane from worry.  But the Lord keeps bringing Jesus’ words in Matthew 6 back to me:  “Brad, do not worry about tomorrow or the next day.  Focus on today.  Walk in faith today.  That is the most important thing you can do for Me today.”  This lesson has been unbelievably helpful, helping me to focus on the next few hours ahead of me with the goal of walking by faith.  I cannot know the future nor fix it, but I can walk by faith this next hour and the hour after it.  (This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan or dream for the future.)

 

One of main reasons we get anxious is because of fear.  We are afraid of the unknown and the future.  Read author Larry Burkett’s words on this:  “The opposite of fear is faith.  In Hebrews, faith is described as things that we hope for and things that we do not presently have (Hebrews 11:1).  It is God's plan that we have some needs in order that we can develop our faith in Him.  It is vital that we view these potential future financial needs as opportunities to exercise and develop our faith.  No Christian can truly serve God and live in fear of financial loss.  In Matthew 6:24, Christ was very specific when He said that we must make a choice. We must either serve God or money.  We cannot serve both.  If we are fearful of our financial future, we are not trusting in God or in His provision…God has conquered all fear and holds the future in His hands.”

 

George Muller, a Christian leader in 19th century England, was a great man of faith who found himself constantly tested about finances as he cared for hundreds of orphans taken off the streets of Bristol, England. In spite of this testing, he regularly walked by faith in complete peace because he had great faith.  Here’s what he had to say:

“All believers are called upon, in the simple confidence of faith, to cast all their burdens on God and to trust Him for everything.  They should not only make everything a subject of prayer, but expect answers to their petitions which they have asked according to His will and in the name of the Lord Jesus….Moment by moment, I depend on Him.  If I were left to myself, my faith would utterly fail.

“My faith is the same faith which is found in every believer.  It has been increasing little by little for the last twenty-six years.  Many times when I could have gone insane from worry, I was in peace because my soul believed the truth of that promise—“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” (Romans 8:28). 

 

Don’t look to the latest media reports for your encouragement, lest your joy and peace go up and down as much as the stock market does!  And don’t place your hope in politicians to bring stability to your soul.  (Yet we should still pray for them per 1 Timothy 2:1-4 to lead our country towards godliness.)  Our government is not our savior.  A strong economy or large bank accounts are not our savior.  We have only one Savior and one Hope, and His name isn’t Uncle Sam!  Psalm 65:5-6 says, “By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas;  6 the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might…”  My greatest concern in our country is not our economy.  My greatest concern is the condition of our souls and the souls of our fellow Americans: to be right with God and to walk in faith in Him.

 

Let me give you some specific and practical steps you should take to have peace and walk in faith:

  1. Be in prayer and thanksgiving.  Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And thepeace of God, which surpasses understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Pray. That is, ask God for help.  Tell Him your concerns.  Then, as it says, be thankful.  Give thanks for what you have, give thanks for God’s faithfulness.  God’s peace will guard your heart!
  2. Read God’s Word…a lot!  Spend more time listening to God than we do listening to the pundits in the media!!  When we lack trust (faith) in God, it’s usually because we are not exposed to what He says, i.e., His Word.  Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”   The root of the sin of anxiety is unbelief in God’s promises.   So read His Word more, and ask God to help you trust what He says.   An extra 5 minutes at lunch and extra 10 minutes before bed may change your life! And don’t forget to regularly read Proverbs, where the wisdom of God is revealed in all kinds of areas, including money.
  3. Continue to be generous.  When economic times are difficult, tithing and generosity seems counterintuitive, but God’s ways often are.  “A generous man will prosper,” says the wisest man in the world (Prov 11:24).  In Mark 12:44, Jesus noted that the poor woman who gave out of her poverty gave more than the wealthiest people.  Be generous and you will find your worries diminishing.  You can never outgive God!
  4. Consider taking a financial class offered periodically at Stonebrook called Financial Peace University (FPU).  Dozens of people from Stonebrook have benefitted significantly from it, including my wife and me who have been greatly helped by this in our finances and our marriage!  Stay tuned for the next FPU class. Until then, if you would like specific advice about your finances, such as budgeting or getting out of debt,contact Kevin Peterson from Stonebrook at 233-2799 or at kkjpeterson@q.com.  Kevin has been overseeing FPU for several years and has offered personal advice to many people.  And he will respect confidentiality. 
  5. Contact one of the pastors if you have any other specific concerns or needs. 

 

I will close with this benediction from the Apostle Paul:  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  (Romans 15:13)