Open your Bible to Philippians 4. We're going to talk about the antidote for anxiety.
- Philippians 4: 6-7
The words of the text were written by Paul while he was a prisoner in Rome He says, "Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again I say rejoice." These are the words of a prisoner. The time of his trial was approaching and he, of course, did not know what the outcome of it might be. But he was not worrying about that.
On the contrary, he cheerfully bade his beloved brethren at Philippi to be anxious in nothing. We see the reason why he could say this.
- Philippians 1:21-24
Paul was saying, from a selfish perspective, that it would be better if he went to be with the Lord. If Caesar had sentenced him to death, he would gain the reward. But, he says it was better for them, and for his ministry if he were to stay.
There is a lot going on in our world. When you turn on the news all you can see is the trouble facing our world. The stuggles with illness, the trouble in the Middle east. We see there is much trouble.
Our individual experience, when considered in the light of world affairs and the providence of God, may be likened to that of a man dwelling between two tall buildings, with only a narrow strip of sky visible to him ; and if, perchance, a small bit of cloud covers that strip of sky, he may conclude that the whole horizon is covered.
But if we constantly keep in mind our relation to God and his care for us, there will always be sufficient reasons for our doing that which is enjoined upon us in the passage now before us
The text, in verses, 6 and 7, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." contains a double precept or exhortation.
The one forbids our indulgence in a habit which is evil and pernicious,
While the other requires that we do that which is not only good within itself, but which also is the effectual cure of the former evil practice.
But in studying this lesson, let us consider, the prohibition, Philippians 4:6a.
“In nothing be anxious" -ASV
This is a universal and unconditional command. It does not prohibit industrious, economical, and prudent forethought. In Matthew 6, Jesus’ said to “take not thought for your life…, ”Matt 6:25, does not mean that we should not even consider the things of this life, but that we must not become so focused upon those things that we become anxious.
We're commanded to not worry.
The Prevalence of Anxiety
There has, perhaps, never been a time when the world was so rich in material things and possessed so many conveniences for lightening human tasks and toils. Yet its people are more nervous and everywhere filled with worry.
In some ways life is easier than every before. We have all these conveniences. Yet, there seems to be more worry.
It is worry, rather than work, which wears out so many before their time.
The Folly of Anxiety
It accomplishes nothing. There might be some justification for anxiety if it accomplished anything at all.
For example, it does not cause tomorrow to come any sooner or enable one to cross a bridge before he comes to it.
It weakens and wears one out, both mentally and physically. Worry is a waste of energy, and it is utterly useless.
It indicates a divided mind.
- James 1:5-8
Worry is an indication of a divided mind.
- Matthew 6: 24
When we're so caught up worrying about the details of life we don't have the time or energy focusing on the things we should, and our duties to the Lord.
Not only does anxiety sap vitality and reduce efficiency. It also results in a preoccupation which makes it more difficult to do the things which should be done.
When in stress, you regress. (A reference to a professor in preaching school)
It makes it harder to focus when you are filled with anxiety.
"Do today's duty, fight today's temptation, and do not weaken and distract yourself by looking forward to things you cannot see and could not understand if you saw them." — Charles Kingsley
Anxiety makes it harder to do what needs to be done.
An old man was planning to get up very early the next morning to go on a long journey. He wound up his alarm clock and set it to go off at 5 a.m. He then sat up all night to make sure that he would hear it; and when morning came, he was so exhausted by his tedious vigil that he could not take his journey.
We can do our work much better if we do not allow our energy to go to waste in anxiety.
Note the perfect trust which Christ placed in his Father in John 14:27.
The folly of anxiety makes it so that we can't do what we need to do.
The Cause of Anxiety
The real cause for this condition is a lack of faith in God.
- Matthew 6:30
- John 14:1-3
He tells us to not let our heart be troubled, but to have faith in Him. Often, when our hearts are in trouble it's because we don't have the faith we ought to have. He has promised to do much for us – on condition that we do our part.
- Romans 8:28
- Hebrews 7:25
- John 14:6
- Matthew 6:25-34
Jesus says, don't be concered, don't be anxious about all these things. But rather, seek the kingdom first, God's righteousness first. When we do this, all these other things don't matter.
It may be that the father and mother do not know where the next day's food for the family will come from, but their little children do not fail to trust them for their needs.
The folly of anxiety comes down to an unbelief.
The Precept of Anxiety
Relief from anxiety cannot be obtained by the efforts of our own will, or by arguing its uselessness and hurtfulness. The text names the only sure way to get rid of this unhappy condition. "By, prayer and supplication, let your request be made known to God."
- 1 Peter 5:6-7
Two reasons for casting your care upon God, because of His mighty hand and because He cares for you, and me. The Creator of the universe cares about you, and He cares about me. What a great thought, that the One who made everything is concerned with what happends to you, and me. The means by which God would have us lay bare our hearts before him.
Prayer, in general.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:7
Be constant in prayer, never give up.
But, also, supplication. Put your specific anxieties into speech.
It is amazing how simple our worries sometime seem when we open up what is on our hearts to one who cares for us; to our true friend or to our spouse. How much more is can this be true than when we lay bare our hearts before our loving Father in Heaven!
Thanksgiving – Be thankful for past blessings, and for the opportunity of coming to God with our problem. Half our worries would immediately melt away if we began to sing a psalm of praise.
“Count your many blessings, name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done…”
We're to go to God with prayer, but with also thanksgiving.
The scope of our intercourse with God.
"In everything." – “casting ALL your care…”
In every matter of life, especially in those concerns which keep us up at night. No concern is too trivial to bring before God and no burden is too great for His power and might.
The Positive Result of Casting Your Care upon the Lord
“the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus"
“The peace of God…”
Peace that comes about through the reconciliation of Christ.
- Romans 5:6-10
We achieve peace with God. Sin, once separated us from God. We were at enmity with Him. But, peace comes when are reconciled with Christ.
- Ephesians 2:14-16
Peace that can only come from throught the “Lord of peace.”
- 2 Thessalonians 3:16
The Lord of Peace, the peace of God, “Which passeth all understanding…”
“Either, which passes all power of comprehension, or, which surpasses every (human) reason, in its power to relieve anxiety.” — Vincent’s Word Studies)
- Ephesians 3:14-21
It is the peace that passes all understanding. Words cannot describe the peace that we have with God.
- Philippians 4:7
God's peace is like a a sentinel mounts guard over our lives.
- Isaiah 26:3-4
- Hebrews 13:5-6
And in having the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding” our mind will be free to focus on that which is so much greater!
- Philippans 4:8
Instead of being concerned about the worries and anxieties of the world, let's set our minds on the blessings, and work of God.
I know not where his islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond his love and care.
O brothers! if my faith is vain,
If hopes like these betray,
Pray for me that my feet may gain
The sure and safer way.
And Thou, O Lord! by whom are seen
Thy creatures as they be,
Forgive me if too close I lean
My human heart on thee !
—John Greenleaf Whittier
True contentment is possible when we, like Paul, recognize our need to lean upon our Lord!
- Phillipians 4:11-13
We need to recognize that our strength comes from Christ.
“The peace of God which passeth all understanding,” can only be gained when we give ourselves completely over to God. Paul put his trust completely in God. Only when we can say, “He is mine and I am His” can we truly have this everlasting peace.
It is promised to those who become His obedient children.
The peace of God comes about through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins. He did it for you and me. We must believe in Jesus and what He did for us. WE must act on that belief and repent, and confess that He is the Son of hte Living God. We must be baptized to wash away our sins, and rise from baptism to live a faithful life.
If you've done those things, but have allowed the cares and worries of the world to separate you from God, you can come back and repent.
If we can assist you in coming to know the peace of God which comes through Jesus Christ, please contact us.
Adapted from a sermon by Leslie G. Thomas, “A Third Hundred Sermons” pg. 59