I write devotions each day of the week and email them to those who sign up for them. Several hundred get them each day. I wrote one earlier that’s actually for tomorrow. Katy and Josh are coming into town and are due in at 11:30 tonight (Thursday) and I know we’ll be up late talking. So, I went ahead and wrote tomorrow (Friday’s) devotion because I thought I might be tired in the morning. Then I had this thought, “This devotion is about a topic that we all wrestle with at times. Why don’t you stick it in a blog post?”
So, here ya go:
Friday, May 17, 2013
Don’t Be Anxious
Yesterday we studied the fact that Paul had to encourage two ladies to get along and agree in the Lord. That encouraged me greatly. Today there’s more encouragement coming. In fact, the verses that follow are some of my most favorite in all of Scripture.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Many, many people I counsel with from week to week struggle with anxiety. They have a difficult time overcoming fear and often they seem to bounce from struggle to struggle like a pinball in a pinball machine. Why? Is this what God intends for our lives. Do we all just need to be placed on anxiety medicine and call it a day? I don’t think so. After all, what did people do in Bible times? There was no such medicine. What did people do in the 1700 and 1800s? Even in the 1950s?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for medicine in our lives when it comes to worry and fear. The brain is a mass of tissues floating in a sea of chemicals and sometimes those chemicals get out of balance and medicine can certainly help. However, I believe there is another medicine at our disposal. The Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that a cheerful heart does good like a medicine.
12 A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise. 13 A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. 14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.
Could it be that our hearts aren’t glad and that’s why we are anxious? Could it be that we aren’t being thankful and that’s why the peace of God doesn’t come? So many people are not looking to the Lord for their satisfaction and joy. They are looking to the world. They are looking at material possessions or relationships. So many people bounce from one thing to the next. They think, “If I can just get this, or have that, or do this, or go there…THEN I’d be happy.” No they won’t! We are created in the image of God and as image-bearers of God, we can only find true satisfaction in Him. We need to see the progression of what Paul is teaching us here in Philippians 4. There is a process to get to the peace we all desire. Watch this…
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
See it? We’ve got to pray about what’s causing us to be anxious, but we must do so WITH THANKSGIVING. You say, “No way! I don’t feel like being thankful! I’m anxious!” I get that! But, peace won’t come until you are thankful. We can’t break the chain here. If we do, we’ll continue the vicious cycle of bouncing along from one anxiety to the next. You see, after we pray and offer our requests to the Lord WITH thanksgiving…see what happens next…
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
See those words: “…will guard your…minds…” The peace of God WILL guard your mind. Friend, there IS help through prayer and the Word of God. But, perhaps here’s the real issue. Could it be that we have our eyes on ourselves and we’re wearing little party hats with little rubber bands around our chins? Can you see those little cone-shaped party hats on our heads? You know what those hats say on the front of them? No…they don’t say, “Welcome to my Birthday Party!” No! They say, “Welcome to My Pity Party.”
And that’s precisely why our hearts aren’t cheerful and that’s precisely one of the main reasons why many aren’t seeing the peace of God come into their lives. We are simply wallowing in our self pity and we are constantly inviting people to our pity party. We just continually think about ourselves and our problems, worries and yes…we even worry about the fact that we are worrying about our anxiety and Satan heaps condemnation upon us. He says, “Look at you! You Christian! You are a pathetic sight!” And we believe his lies! Stop!! You are a child of God! You are royalty! Don’t listen to the lies! Listen to the truth of God’s Word.
One other thought for us to consider. A lot of our attitude has to do with what we put into our brain. You’ve heard the computer term: Garbage in, garbage out? GIGO. Whatever we put into our brain is going to come out. You see there are four holes in our head that will dictate a lot of how we feel. Those four holes?
What you and I take into those four holes has a HUGE impact on whether or not we’ll have a cheerful heart. So, do you listen to Christian music? Do you watch Christian TV? Whatever you are putting in is what you will get out.
Want to know my remedy for anxiety? The Word of God and prayer. Nothing but Christian music and good stuff for my mind (through my four holes in my head). Want to try it? Read Psalm 18 and 27. David knew all about anxiety. King Saul was chasing him like a dog to kill him! Read Isaiah 40. Read Matthew 5, 6 and 7 and watch what God does as you allow the Word of God to soak into your being.
If you will do this, I can guarantee, (based on this passage we’ve just studied), that you will find your anxiety level begin to drop and your peace level begin to rise. Remember, the same Holy Spirit who lives in you is the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. You have the power! We must allow Him to work in our lives.
I pray that we’ll be thankful today and rejoice in the Lord. I pray we’ll listen and dwell on Christ-like things. As we do, the peace will come and guard our hearts and MINDS in Christ Jesus! Praise His Name!
Now let me show you a picture that will make you smile. Isn’t he a cutey!
And let me show you something. He and I were doing some cleaning tonight and he said, “Dad, I want to clean the toilets. I’m big enough now!” I said, “Well, Andrew my boy…you sure are.” So, on went the gloves and here you have it…
He’s only eight, but he’s a worker! And I’m proud of him! Clara has been cleaning toilets for several months now. Andrew and I were going solo tonight for a bit and so, he said, “I’ve finished getting up the trash, can I do more.” And that’s when he asked about cleaning the toilets.
Can I ask you something? “Do you think I’m mean to let him clean toilets?” Some probably feel like this isn’t fair for an eight year old to do. But, why not? Hard work is something that’s missing in our culture today. I remember picking up rocks in a garden and rolling them in a wheelbarrow in 95 degree heat. All day! It didn’t kill me! It made me better.
I want my children to have a work ethic and I’m convinced a work ethic is taught and developed. Once a child has a work ethic, they will then develop initiative. But, children will never take initiative if they’ve never been taught a work ethic.
Well…in about an hour Katy and Josh will be home! (Coming in for a weekend wedding that Katy and Kandace are playing and singing in together). Woohoo!! Can’t wait! I’m running on adrenaline! This must be how the Lord God feels about us! I know He can’t wait to have us all home with Him! Just thinking about how much I love it when all my family is together makes me know how merciful God is to stay His hand and not send Jesus to get us (just so others can be saved).