July 2020

From The Pastor's Heart

How can we overcome fear and anxiety regarding the future?

By Charles F. Stanley

Although we like to think that we’re in charge of our lives, in reality, we don’t know what a day may bring, let alone the next month or year. Life is full of uncertainties, but if we focus on the worst possibilities, we’ll live in a constant state of stress. This is not what the Lord intends for us. His desire through everything is to fill us with His peace, a peace that is not earthly, but transcends our changing circumstances (John 14:27).

But how can we overcome fear and anxiety regarding the future? One answer is seen in the life of Moses. So much of what he experienced was unpredictable—having to escape from Egypt, living as a shepherd in the desert for 40 years after having been raised in Pharaoh’s household, and then being used by God to rescue the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. How did he do it? Hebrews 11:27 says, “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.”

The key to facing an uncertain future is “seeing” the Lord. Obviously, the writer of Hebrews was not speaking about physical sight because God dwells in unapproachable light, and no man has seen or can see Him (1 Tim. 6:16). Although Scripture says that Moses spoke to God face to face in Exodus 33:11, a few verses later when he asked to see God’s glory, the Lord told him, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (v. 20). What Moses experienced in his intimate communications was the Lord’s presence with him, and that’s how we too may see the One who is unseen.

The first place we observe the Lord is in His Word because all Scripture is inspired by Him (2 Tim. 3:16). Many people today have a conception of God that’s based on preconceived ideas, erroneous teaching, or personal preference regarding who they want Him to be. But any view of the Lord that is not supported by the whole of Scripture is dangerous because it’s not anchored in truth. God gave us His Word to reveal Himself to us. In it we see His attributes, desires, ways, and works—all of which give us an accurate, well-rounded vision of Him.

The second way to see God is through His Son. “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18). Every time we read about Jesus in the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we gain a greater understanding of the heavenly Father through Christ’s words, desires, interactions, and works.

What’s more, every believer has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and that relationship includes intimate communion with Christ through prayer, praise, and meditation. When Jesus promised “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20), He was speaking to all those through the ages who would place their faith in Him. Today, Jesus is not present on earth to be seen physically, but He is with His people in Spirit.

The third way we see God is through eyes of faith. Christians are called to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). In fact, without eyes of faith, no one can see God. This was certainly true when Jesus was on earth. Although He taught with divine wisdom and performed supernatural signs and miracles by the Spirit’s power, many people rejected Him. Some who heard Him say, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” had no idea that almighty God was standing right in front of them (Matt. 5:8).

Without faith in Jesus Christ, no one can have a perfectly pure heart. But if we’ve believed in Him for salvation, Christ’s righteousness and purity are legally imparted to us. This doesn’t mean that we no longer sin, but now we have the Holy Spirit who continually works within us to bring our practice into alignment with our righteous standing. Now our responsibility is to pursue purity with uncompromising devotion and submission to God.

When our hearts are pure through confession of sin and a lifestyle of obedience, our conscience is clear, and our minds are spiritually sensitive and discerning. We’ll be able to filter our experiences and situations through the mind of Christ, which He has given us by His Spirit (1 Cor. 2:16). At night when we look back over the day, we’ll perceive how God guided, protected, provided, convicted, or encouraged us.

With awareness of God’s faithfulness, life’s uncertainties lose their power to make us fearful. We can trust God with tomorrow since we see how He’s been with us in the past, working every situation out for our good and His glory. Instead of fear and anxiety, His peace that surpasses all human comprehension will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus no matter what awaits us in the future (Phil. 4:7). When we choose this path, God is glorified, and we are blessed.

Prayerfully yours,

Charles F. Stanley

P.S. Here in the United States on July 4th, we celebrate Independence Day and the liberty we have in this country. As wonderful as this blessing is, God has something greater for His people—freedom from the stress of worrying about the uncertainties of life. We cannot control what happens, but we can trust the God who holds the future.


What happens to my notes

27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.

16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

11 Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

7 for we walk by faith, not by sight--

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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