Are you tired? I know I am. The last two or three years have been difficult to say the least. I was recently reading a report that said that the number one mental health problem in the world today is anxiety. Somehow I’m not surprised. There is a lot going on that would create anxiety in people. Wars, rumors of wars, pestilence, famine, inflation, and earthquakes, are just a few of the things happening worldwide. The headlines just seem to get worse with each passing month. If you read the Bible however, Jesus warned us that these things would happen in the last days (Matthew 24). The whole chapter reads like one news headline after another. You see, God is not surprised by anything that is happening on the earth. He knows the end from the beginning and He told us what was coming, so that we don’t have to be afraid.
I know that sounds great in theory, but how do we actually practice not being filled with fears and anxiety? How do we live our lives with peaceful hearts, instead of fearful ones? Proverbs 12:25 tells us that “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad”. How can we get a “good word”, so that our hearts will once again be glad? How do we learn to overcome anxiety so that we are not depressed? Let me share some thoughts with you that have helped me during these difficult times.
As I was reading my Bible this morning, I noticed something I’d never seen before. In the book of Revelation, Jesus writes a letter through the Apostle John to seven churches. These seven letters were written to actual churches that existed at the time that John was alive. They also represent the seven church ages. It is the last two churches that I want to focus on, the church of Philadelphia and the church of Laodicea. Many people, myself included believe that these two churches represent the end time churches right before the tribulation starts.
To the church of Philadelphia, Jesus says this: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” (Revelation 3:8) What popped off the page at me this morning was something that Jesus said to this church: “you have a little strength”. In the English, that word strength doesn’t mean much, but in the Greek, it means a lot. It is actually the word “dynamis”, which means power, wonders, works or miracles, That word is first used in the Lord’s Prayer, in Matthew 6:13, “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” In other words, that little word that we translate as “strength” in Revelation 3:8, actually means the miracle working power of God that shows signs and wonders.
So why does this church only have a little power or strength? Perhaps past generations would not have understood why, but living in our world today, looking at today’s headlines, it is not difficult to understand. The things going on in this world, are energy sapping, to say the least. It is easy to lose our strength and become hopeless, afraid and even depressed. It is only the Holy Spirit who can give us the supernatural strength or power to get us through each day. Only He can encourage us, strengthen us, comfort us and help us.
It reminds me of the Israelites when they were wandering in the wilderness and they had to get up each morning and collect Manna, but only enough for that day. They were not allowed to collect more than one days worth. Why? Because God was teaching them to trust Him for provision, each and every morning. I think during these difficult, last days, the Lord is teaching us to get up and collect “spiritual manna” each and every morning as well.
But what does the church of Laodicea have to do with any of this? This is the church that Jesus wants to vomit out of His mouth. Remember? They make Him so sick, that He wants to throw up. Why? He tells us in Revelation 3:17. “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”. They don’t need a thing, these people. They have accumulated all kinds of wealth, and consequently, feel very secure in their lives. Do they have any strength? From the sounds of it, they have lots. But it’s not the kind of strength that will do them any good, because their strength lies in themselves and what they have accomplished in their lives. They have no need to get up each morning and collect Manna. They have plenty of leeks, onions and garlic, that they have managed to bring with them from Egypt. (“We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” Numbers 11:4-6)
I know it would be easy to look back at the way things were, not that long ago, and long for those days. But the world has changed and God is telling us not to be like the lukewarm church of Laodicea. He wants us to get up each morning and collect Manna, not the kind that Israel collected, but spiritual Manna. He doesn’t want us to find our comfort in those things that we have accomplished or attained ourselves. He is asking us to sit and read His word, listen for His voice, feel His presence, and regain our strength from Him, for the day.
I have learned that I have to search for that Manna each and every day. What I read or heard or even understood yesterday, doesn’t really help me to face today’s issues. Paul tells us the secret in 2 Corinthians 12:9 when he tells us what the Lord told him “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” The word used for strength is that same word used in Revelation, dynamis. His power, his strength, is actually made perfect or complete, in my weakness. When I come to Him and allow Him to strengthen me, I am no longer relying on myself, but on Him.
If you don’t know Jesus, but you’ve made it this far, then let me tell you something that He said to those people in Laodicea that He wanted to vomit out. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20) Jesus is standing at the door of your heart right now, and He is asking you to let Him in. Will you repent of your sins, accept Him as God’s sacrifice for your sins, and allow Him to come into your life? He is waiting, because He loves you. If you decide to let Him in, get a Holy Bible and start spending time with Him each day. He will strengthen you to overcome.