Posted by Gary on September 10, 2015
Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I preached on this passage a few weeks ago which of course was on a Sunday. A few days later a set of circumstances came my way that immediately made me anxious. It was funny in those initial moments that my sermon came to mind. I am very convinced that God teaches the teacher and forces us all to own our faith through experience.
A man may go to a gym and look at a set of dumbbells and know intellectually that those dumbbells can build his strength. However, if he does not pick them up and use them, the strength that is there in potential will never be his. So it is with us and our faith. We all say that we want stronger faith but we want this stronger faith to come to us magically without any trial or testing which is the way that God puts the dumbbells in our hands and makes us strain our biceps and forearms tearing down muscle so that it will grow back bigger and stronger.
God commands us through Paul that we are to be anxious for nothing. This of course sounds wonderful and very religious but then real life washes over our bow and we look to heaven and say, “Really Lord?” “Do you really expect me to be at peace in the midst of this?”
Yes brothers and sisters, the Lord does mean it. His command leaves no set of circumstances unaddressed. “Be anxious for nothing…”, “In everything by prayer and supplication…”
My recent life challenge was a reminder to me that God’s truth is not just theoretical or material for sermons. It is either the truth or it isn’t. I either believe it or I don’t.
All this being true I am grateful to know that God knows us and our frailties. “He is mindful that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). God is amazingly patient as He teaches us and makes us that which He commands us to be. I often become anxious and must confess my lack of trust to God and He forgives me.
But, God’s willingness to forgive is not His willingness to condone our anxiety. At the heart of this passage is the truth that God can be trusted. The reason we are not to be anxious is not because our problems are not real or perhaps very trying, but because God is greater than our problems. Not only is God greater than our problems, He is in control of them. Not only is God greater than our problems, He has a purpose for them. That purpose is always for our greater good and God’s greater glory. Not only is God greater than our problems, but our problems come to us from the heart of the God who is love and who loves us.
These truths are the smooth stones with which we must slay our Goliath-like fears. Not just once, but likely many times a day we will have to come to God in prayer and make our requests known expressing thanks to God for His innumerable mercies, gifts and provisions. These past kindnesses of God’s are to be our strength for today’s trial. Will God fail us now? If He has helped us before will He refuse us now?
Brethren, the cure for anxiety is not a pill nor is it the assurance that things will go as we hope they will, they may or may not. The cure for anxiety is trust. Is God God? If so, what can happen to us that He is not in control of? Is God our Father? What father will give his son a stone when he is asked for bread? (Matthew 7:9). If God is all-wise does He not know what is best?
Now here is where I must make confession. The issue is not whether I believe God is God, or that He is all-powerful or all-wise, the issue is whether I trust Him whatever He chooses for me. The issue is whether I will lean on my own understanding or rest assured in His? Simply put, most of my anxiety comes from my determination to have things go my way which may or may not be what is most honoring to God or what is best for my soul.
A wonderful companion verse to Philippians 4:6-7 is Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
There is a peace that surpasses all comprehension, there is perfect peace and it is for those who trust in their infinitely good, loving and trustworthy God and Father. It is for those who stay their minds on God and His goodness, love and trustworthiness. Peace comes to those who command their minds to think on God in the midst of their problems. We may have to do this one hundred times a day. Worry and fear have their way of creeping back in. The devil likes to send fear and we tend to like to worry but when the realization hits us that peace is gone, we return to the truth and pray and rest upon God again and He is faithful to send peace.
Let us remember, our chief end is to glorify God. Nothing brings God more glory than to trust Him in the midst of trial. Nothing dishonors Him more than to suggest through fear and anxiety that He can’t be trusted. “And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)
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