If we lived like we knew that God is here...

You and I... We were made for wholeness. Woven together by the God who knows how to take what’s broken and heal it from the roots. By the One who willingly won our souls on a cross and writes eternal life over the death we were buried underneath.

He isn’t mighty to save just for a someday future. He didn’t set us free so that we could put our chains back on and try to carry them. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds in the here and now. He set us free so that we could taste freedom. Soul freedom. Today.

Sitting here, I’m so in awe of the idea of that kind of freedom, and of the God who brings it. So I have to ask myself, in the very face of the freedom that I was formed for, why can I be so quick to wonder and wallow and worry and wear insecurity like it’s my favorite outfit? Why do I so quickly assume limitations on the forgiveness and overflowing mercy of the One who says He delights in me and gently carries me and even sings over me? As if my issues are too great for Him…

Some of us might identify as dealing with a lot of worry or anxiety, but some of us might say, “I’m really not a worrier.” The original Greek word for worry in the Bible verses we’re looking at today is "merimnao." It means, "a part, as opposed to the whole." It is described, "to go to pieces."

That means “worry” means more than we might give it credit for. Worry isn’t just fretting or stressing out. It’s actually ANY kind of thinking that divides our minds. It’s ANY kind of thinking that pulls our minds away from the joyful, peace-filled mind of Jesus Christ. Meaning that jealousy, comparison, fear, impatience, and insecurity all fall into the category of biblical worry.

Thinking this way is not helping us. It's not giving us more time, better clarity, more confidence, or wiser solutions. Worry pulls us apart. No wonder the Bible clearly says not to do it. But God is so full of grace. He wants us to walk in joyful, peace-filled freedom. He knows worry doesn't help us to do that.

Philippians 4:6-7 is a go-to "don't worry" favorite, and it says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus,” (NLT).

But do you know what I find most intriguing about that passage about worry and peace?

Our English translation has verse references placed all through it, to help us find our place in God’s Word. But the original Greek and Hebrew texts didn’t have any of these chapter breaks or verse numbers. They were just text—written like a letter from God to us. And if you look in the ESV, at the line right before Philippians 4:6, it leads into this verse with this key phrase: The Lord is at hand;” (verse 5).

Do you see the semicolon?

Philippians 4:6-7 doesn’t stand alone. It really starts in verse 5, and it tells us not to worry, and to be confident in our prayers, and that we can live in peace…BECAUSE God is here with us!

Emmanuel. God with us. That’s why we don’t have anything to worry about. Because He’s right here.

Emmanuel_God with Us_Advent_To Choose Joy

What would change in your life if you really believed that God was right with you? In the darkness? In the fighting? In the loneliness? In the fear? What would life look like if every decision we made was really grounded in the knowledge that the very presence of the God of the Universe is with us in every step we take?

  • What would be different if we prayed like we knew that He is here?
  • What would be different if we stood firm like we knew that He is here?
  • What would be different if we lifted our eyes and loved and looked and lived like we knew that He is here?

Because He is here. God with us. He’s not a baby in a manger anymore. He’s not a broken man on the cross. He’s alive. And He’s coming again for us. And His very real and present and powerful Spirit will be with us until then.

{Captive Cards, a hand-held Worry Cleanse, to focus on God with us, are available in the shop at ToChooseJoy.com.}

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