Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Facing Uncertainty

We all face uncertainty or situations that do not seem to have an end or that may lead to an undesirable outcome. We feel powerless and unable to do anything. It seems no matter which way we turn, all paths lead to more uncertainty and more problems. I am sure each of you have felt this way. You feel a sinking uneasiness in the pit of the stomach each night before you go to bed and toss and turn all night long. Your appetite along with your rest begins to take a toll on your health. Your blood pressure steadily goes up and up. The same things happen to me each time I face an uncertain situation. I worry and pray for guidance, but I still let fear, uncertainty and doubt cloud not only my mind but also my heart and soul to the point that they ruin my relationship with the Lord. I no longer wish to praise and worship Him, but rather, I spend time in hopeless worry and begin to wonder if He is even listening to me. In short, I begin to doubt God. We have all been there and we all do the same thing.

Instead of seeking peace and wisdom, we choose to wallow in self-pity and worry. There is a great example of how worrying can come between what we are to truly do and what we feel is something that must be done. In Luke 10, Jesus visits Martha and her sister, Mary. Martha opens her home to him and is preoccupied with the preparations. While Mary sits at the feet of Jesus and listens to him, Martha is running around the house trying to make things perfect. Finally, she just blows up and says, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” What is Jesus’ response? Jesus tells Martha, “41 Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

Mary chose to worship and listen to the words of Jesus instead of worrying about all the little, inconsequential things. Jesus was not there to rate her home or judge her for keeping a cluttered household. Jesus was there to share his words and Mary was there to listen and take in those words. Martha allowed life to bring her down and she chose to stop worshiping and listening in order to concentrate on the little things. 

Part of dealing with uncertainty is knowing when to stop worrying and allow the power of God to work in our lives. Many, if not all things, are outside of our control. We may think we are in control of our lives, but, if you really think about it, we are helpless and cannot change one item.

This past week is a perfect example of just how powerless and prone to uncertainty we really are. With Hurricane Michael barreling towards the Florida panhandle, there was no human power that could stop it. Even with all of our technology and knowledge, storm models had the hurricane making landfall and going in every different direction. My wife and I live in Georgia and we watched to see where this storm would head next. Would it stay south of us as one model shows or would it radically change course and head more north toward us? All of our worry and uncertainty would not change anything. The hurricane would go where it would and no amount of worry or pacing the floors late at night would change that. 

So, why do we let uncertainty ruin our relationship with the Lord? Why do we allow it to obscure our view of the Father and become the chief and center occupation of our life? The answer is very simple. We believe we are in control all the time and that everything will be a part of our plans for the future. Life is ours to live and to control. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Consider for a moment my illness. I had no idea that there was an infection destroying my bones. I had no fever or any other symptoms to alert me that something was wrong. I went through my daily rituals completely oblivious to this life-threatening infection. Finally, late in December, 2017, everything began to fall apart and now my life was to forever change.

I could have remained in denial and become bitter and angry, but I soon found myself closer not only to God but also to my family and friends. I met new people who would work tirelessly and feverishly to save my life and give me back some normalcy in my life. It took time. There were times when I just got tired of waiting and prayed for a quick fix to all of this, but God, instead, provided a lesson to me that I will never forget. I learned that I had to rely on Him completely. My life was not my own but rather His. I, like Martha, concerned myself with the petty little things and chose not to sit at the feet of my Lord and just listen to His word. I should have been more like Mary and enjoyed the moments with the Lord by praising Him and listening.

If I had chosen to listen to Him, I would have realized a few things. First and foremost, He promised many wonderful things to me. While I was going through the early days of my illness, I allowed the petty problems to get in the way and ruin my relationship with the Lord. I should have found peace in the scriptures. The psalmist in Psalm 37 makes a wonderful point, “37 Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace. 38 But the rebellious will be destroyed; they have no future.

By allowing the uncertainty to become a wedge between the Lord and myself, I became rebellious. The outcome of that action would be disastrous. There is no future in that choice. Once I began to allow the Holy Spirit to work on my heart and deliver the words of the Lord back into my life, my anxiety level dropped to zero and I was at peace. I did not worry about all of the little things and knew that God would take care of me and give the doctors, specialists and nurses the knowledge to save my life. 

In Isaiah 43, the Lord is talking to Jacob and tells him, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. 2 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

We always need to remember that the Lord has called us by name and that we, as His sheep, know His voice. His voice brings us comfort. Just knowing that He is there should be more than enough to face the uncertainty of life. We should, like Mary, be drawn to His feet and listen to His every word and not run around wringing our hands in idle desperation. God has everything under control and has a plan for us. In Jeremiah, the Lord says, “11 For I know the plans I have for you. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you. I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.

In order to face the uncertainty, we must understand the certainty of the Lord. In those verses in Jeremiah, we see the promises of God. He has plans for us. These are not our plans. The plans He has provide us with a future and a hope. Our plans can only lead to more anxiety and uncertainty. If we find ourselves wandering away from the Lord and find ourselves being like Martha, we must seek Him out wholeheartedly. The Lord promised us that if we do that we will find Him. He will remove the hold of uncertainty in our lives and allow us to enjoy the blessings that He has for us. God will open the windows of Heaven and pour out His blessings upon us if we only allow Him to do so. If we choose to allow uncertainty to rule our lives, that path will lead us only to destruction. Uncertainty leads to anxiety and that will, in turn, cause us to lose our appetite, sleep and our blood pressures to go up. High blood pressure will lead to destruction in the form of a heart attack or a stroke.  

If, however, we choose to hold on tightly to our faith and trust in the Lord, He will see us through the uncertainty and keep His promise. The writer of Hebrews eloquently states this in Chapter 10, “23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

By having an unwavering hope we can rest assured that God will keep His word and promises. He will keep all of them without reservation. Remember, we are His children and He will give us only good things. A good parent does not give his or her child bad gifts. A good parent gives only good gifts. Our Heavenly Father blesses us each and every day. We just need to remain focused on listening, praising, worshiping and, most importantly, loving Him with all of our heart, mind and soul.

When we choose to do those things, we can know, without a doubt, that God will take away the uncertainty in our life and that we can stand firm in His grace. 

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

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