Friday, March 15, 2013

KEEP CALM AND ________________

Lesson 9 - March 10, 2013
  Keep Calm And ....
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

     Keep Calm and Carry On was a propaganda poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of the World War II.  It was intended to raise the moral of the British public in the aftermath of widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities.  The picture is on the left.   Over 2,500,000 copies were printed and distributed in various major towns.
     The poster reappeared in the year 2000 and its popularity grew.  The poster started appearing hospital room, businesses, financial firms and advertising.   Recently a new twist was added to it.  Some fast-food restaurants have even have a poster -- and on the poster, there are bright bold letters with the words “KEEP CALM and __________.”  You get to fill in the blank.  There are so many variations.  I have even seen some that say "Keep Calm and Breathe" or "Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate".  I could really could go for that advice pretty easily.   Others say “Keep Calm and Go Shopping”; “Keep Calm and Be a Princess”; “Keep Calm and Be Yourself; “Keep Calm and Text Me”....  Serious -- there are over 100 of them.
      I thought about those sayings and was reminded how much the Lord can keep me calm.  There is so much uncertainty in this day and hour.  There is so much unrest in the world.  We have so much happening in Iraq, Syria, and all over the Middle East.  It makes me shudder to think what I would do without my Lord to be there for me to help keep me calm.  I know that when I have been upset, someone will come up to me and say “Keep Calm - everything will be okay!”    How do we keep calm?   Well, let’s look at a few things today to see how we can stay calm in a world in which we live. 
1.  Keep Calm and Pray.  I John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:   The first thing I find I need to do when I want to keep calm is to pray. There's nothing like being able to just talk to the Lord when you need to. Knowing He is always there to listen whenever I need Him most is so wonderful. Praying relaxes me because I know whatever, whenever and wherever I am -- the Lord is listening and I can just give all my thoughts and worries over to Him.
      Why does God not always answer our prayers immediately?  Why is it necessary to ask and seek and knock and then to keep on asking and seeking and knocking?  Why do we need to ask at all when God already knows our needs even before we ask?  There are four reasons: 
      a.   Prayer teaches us to communicate and fellowship with God and to trust and seek after Him more and more.  When God holds back the giving, we keep coming to talk and share with Him more and more.  Just as a human father desires such fellowship and trust our Heavenly Father desires the same fellowship and trust. 
     b.  Prayer teaches us both patience and hope in God and His promises.  When God does not give immediately, we patiently (enduring) keep coming into His presence, waiting for and hoping in what He has promised us (Mt. 21:22; John 14:26; I John 5:14-15.
     c. Prayer teaches us to love God as our Father more and more.  Knowing that what we ask is coming and having to wait on it causes us to draw closer and closer to God and His gifts.  And then when the gift is given, our hearts are endeared ever so much more to Him. 
     d. Prayer demonstrates how deeply we trust God and how much we love and depend upon Him.  A person who really trust God - who really knows that what he ask is going to be received - will bring more and more to God.  He will come to God in prayer more and more.  But the person who is not so sure about receiving will only occasionally come - unusually only in emergencies.

2.  Keep Calm and Read God’s Word.   Romans 15:4  For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. The Bible is full of calming thoughts for me.  I usually turn to Psalms when I need a little calming down.  It's full of calming words for me. Some of the ‘go-to’ Psalms for me are Psalm 23, 61. and 91. The whole Bible is really chock full of little tidbits that calm me down.
     Remember this -- God's Word is alive! The more you expose yourself to it, the more it will be revealed in you.  To know God better you must spend time hearing what He has to say.  If we neglect to read the Bible, we are missing the best things in life. Earthly things do not satisfy the heart. The Bible is the Book of the heart. It shows us how we may possess and enjoy real life. A worthwhile life and a satisfied life are found by reading and receiving the Word of Life into our hearts.  The Words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life”   (John 6:63).
3.  Keep Calm and Fellowship.   Phil 2:1,2  If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”  Aren’t you glad for that fellowship with other believers in Christ?  Christian friends are a wonderful source of lifting us up when we need a shoulder to lean on.   I really look forward to Sunday morning and Wednesday night.  Fellow-shipping with my church family is such a calming force to me.   
     *  Fellowship within the church offers consolation.  In other words it offers encouragement, comfort, and strength. (verse 1)
     *  Fellowship within the church offers love.  There is a comfort of love that is in Christ.  The love of Christ stirs a person to keep unity with other believers.  This is an agape love - selfless and sacrificial.  (verse 1)  
      *  Fellowship within the church offers compassion.  Compassion is the trait that stirred Christ to reach out for us.  We should allow His compassion to flow through us.  Can you imagine to our church if it was driven by compassion?  (verse 1)  
      *  Fellowship within the church offers joy.  The believers in a church are to be concerned for each other's joy.  The one thing that brings joy quicker than anything else is unity.  Joy is interrupted when there is criticism, dissatisfaction, murmuring, cliques, and opposition.  We are to worship, build, love, encourage, minister and serve in the joy of the Lord. (verse 2)

4.  Keep Calm and Have Faith.   Hebrews 11:1  "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  We can relax when we believe that faith makes all things possible even when our hearts may be unsettled. When we have faith, we can let out that breath we've been holding. 
      Hebrews 11:1 is the only verse in the Bible that defines faith.  Time and time again, the Bible discusses faith and the great importance of having faith.  Many Biblical characters demonstrated their great faith.  But in Hebrews 11:1 we see that faith and hope go hand-in-hand -- they go together.   We cannot see the future but we know who holds tomorrow.  We can be calm in the midst of the storm because of our faith in God.  How is your faith today?

5.  Keep Calm and Sing.   Psalms 59:16  But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.”   Music always has a calming effect.  I love to sit down and play the piano  for it has a way to calms me.   Bob says he can always tell the mood I am in by listening to me play the piano.   One of my favorite songs is "It is Well With My Soul".  I love listening to it on a CD and then sing along with it.  I love it when our church sings it. It provides comfort - even in Russian. 
      I also like to sing those little kid choruses. There's something about those bright little songs mostly about God's love that calm me down.  "Jesus Loves Me!". Don’t you love to cling to the thought that "They are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me!".
      There are over 100 references to singing in the Bible.  Most of them are found in the book of Psalms.   David knew a lot about music.  He played a harp.  He played to his sheep on the hillside when they needed consoling.  He played before King Saul when the king could not sleep.  “Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.”

6.  Keep Calm and Laugh.  Proverbs 17:22  “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:” Of all the things the Lord gives us as humans, I'm glad he gave us the ability to laugh.  Laughter is a wonderful way to help release all that tension we build up. A good laugh can sometimes help calm me.   Every time I watch a baby laugh, it makes me laugh.  There are some cute things going through Facebook about babies laughing.... I always get a chuckle from them.   
     Humor is an amazing thing. It’s a tension dis-solver.  It’s an antidote to anxiety.  It’s just like a tranquilizer, but without any troublesome side effects.  And it’s FREE! You don’t even need a prescription.
      Laughter is life’s shock absorber.  If you want to have less stress in your life, learn to laugh at your circumstances.  The Bible says that God laughed.   Put a smile on your face and turn to your neighbor - watch what happens.  It’s contagious and it’s healthy!

7.  Keep Calm and Cry.  Psalms 30:5 Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  Laughter is wonderful but crying is good too, especially for us women.  One of the greatest losses of our society is our lack of tears.  It is a tragic loss that goes deeper than the eyes - it goes to the heart.  There is a connection between a hardened heart and the absence of tears.  There are times to weep -- weep for lost family members, weep with another Christian who is weeping.
      I know that some believe that crying is a form of weakness.  The Bible contains numerous examples of men and women—including Jesus Christ himself—who shed tears. There are over 600 references to tears, weeping, and crying.  So if you’re coping with emotional stress or grief, you don't need to hold back your tears.  Letting your emotions out will help you a lot more than keeping them bottled up inside. Read Psalms 56:8.  What does God do with our tears? Puts them into a bottle
      When I have things building up that takes away from my calm factor, crying can be a good release.  I'm not sure about you, but sometimes a good cry does me a world of good. 

8.  Keep Calm and Serve Others.  I Peter 4:10  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”   When our nerves are frayed and our hearts are troubled, reaching out and doing something for someone else is a great way to forget what is ailing us.  We spend way too much of our time dwelling on ourselves.  When we are concentrating on someone else, it is easy to forget about ourselves. Serving others is a wonderful way to keep us calm.
     If you are feeling lonely and forgotten, go visit the nursing home.  If you feel that life isn’t fair, go visit Alina.  Alina is 20 years old and has spent the last 10 years flat on her back laying in a cast that holds her torso together.  She suffers from a disease that robs her body of calcium.  Yet she smiles - she loves the Lord.  By the way if you do go there to try and be a blessing, you will leave there blessed beyond measure.   Serving others not only helps to calm us, but it lays up treasures for us in heaven - where moth and rust cannot corrupt.  Nothing kills pride and selflessness more than serving others! 

9.  Keep Calm and Deal with the Problem.  1 John 4:4  Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.  Sometimes when we need a little calming, maybe we should see what is making us feel that way and just go ahead and fix the problem.  Not that we can always do that -- there are always going to be things that may be out of our own control.   But other times, we may be able to deal with a problem that is unsettling and just go fix it.  My husband has a saying “Rub dirt in it!”  In other words pick yourself up, brush off the dirt and go on with life.   At the least, we may be able to put some effort into working on solving the problem.  You are either part of the problem or part of the solution!

10.  Keep Calm and Carry On.   1 Cor. 3:12-14  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.”  I think that old war time poster now makes a lot of sense. We just have to “carry on” no matter what.  We've got to keep moving. I know for me personally, just getting busy helps calm me more than anything.  I'm one of those busy cleaners.  Sometimes I get a lot of cleaning done in my house just because I need to calm my nerves down.
      An old Baptist pastor (Dr. Bob Jones) used to say “Do right - till the stars fall from the sky - do right.”  All of us desire to do right but it takes more than desire - it takes simultaneous action along with our thoughts.   Dr. Bob Jones, also said, “Finish the Job.”  Men and women of character will finish the job that the Lord has set before them.  Doing right consistently takes a person of character, but doing wrong comes naturally.    Just keep on doing right - till the stars fall!

Conclusion:  I'm just so glad that I have the Lord to go to for calming.  Sometimes I wonder how people without the Lord can go through life - with all the problems, pains and cares of this world.  Praise the Lord - that He grounds me and helps me to be able to "carry on". 

After all, He has "...overcome the world." John 16:33.