February 19, 2011 – Stanley

Big Anxieties, Little Faith Matthew 6:25-30

Stressful situations come in a variety of forms and intensities, and in this earthly existence, we will never be totally free of them. However, the important issue is, What are we going to do with our anxiety? If we let it dominate, fretfulness can become a way of life. But if we believe what the Bible says about God and His care for us, we will experience an awesome liberation from worry.

Do you sometimes doubt whether our heavenly Father really cares about the ordinary things that cause you anxiety? After all, He’s got the entire universe to run, and your issues are so small in comparison. Consider how inconsequential birds and flowers are, yet Jesus says that the Father cares for them (Matt. 6:26). Don’t you think you are worth much more to Him than they are?

At times we let ourselves get all worked up and stressed out because we’re trying to change something that is beyond our control. Just as no one can add a single day to the length of his life, so there are some situations that we are powerless to alter. But the sovereign Ruler of the universe loves us and holds everything in His hands—including our stressful and seemingly out-of-control situations. Therefore, we have no reason to fret or fear.

Perhaps the biggest reason we worry is because we don’t trust the Lord. Anxiety is no more than unbelief. The Bible is filled with God’s promises to provide, but so often we doubt that He will. If you can trust Him for your eternal security, can’t you also trust Him for your earthly needs?

February 19, 2011 – Begg

The Forerunner of Mercy

Thus says the Lord God: this also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them.

Ezekiel 36:37

Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. Turn to sacred history, and you will find that scarcely ever did a great mercy come to this world unheralded by supplication. You have found this true in your own personal experience. God has given you many an unsolicited favor, but still great prayer has always been the prelude of great mercy with you.

When you first found peace through the blood of the cross, you had been praying much and earnestly interceding with God that He would remove your doubts and deliver you from your distresses. Your assurance was the result of prayer. When at any time you have had high and rapturous joys, you have been obliged to look upon them as answers to your prayers. When you have had great deliverances out of sore troubles and mighty help in great dangers, you have been able to say, “I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”1

Prayer is always the preface to blessing. It goes before the blessing as the blessing’s shadow. When the sunlight of God’s mercies rises upon our necessities, it casts the shadow of prayer far down upon the plain. Or, to use another illustration, when God piles up a hill of mercies, He Himself shines behind them, and He casts on our spirits the shadow of prayer, so that we may rest confident, if we are much in prayer, that our pleadings are the shadows of mercy.

Prayer is thus connected with the blessing to show us the value of it. If we had the blessings without asking for them, we should think them common things; but prayer makes our mercies more precious than diamonds. The things we ask for are precious, but we do not realize their preciousness until we have sought them earnestly.

Prayer makes the darken’d cloud withdraw;
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;
Gives exercise to faith and love;
Brings every blessing from above.
1Psalm 34:4