Friday, November 14, 2008

When You're Worried or Anxious

Here's the last of the Kay Arthur pieces for this week. I know they've all been about rather negative things... but the fact is that these are things we all face time-to-time and when we do face them, it's so good to be able to read something like this that reminds us we're not alone, and helps put our focus back where it should be - on Him. :)

When You’re Worried or Anxious

Do you ever get frustrated or anxious?

It’s hard sometimes, isn’t it, to have peace when your circumstances are difficult… to have joy when your heart is filled with anxiety?
Circumstances, as well as our frustration and anxiety about the concerns of life, can rob us of our joy.
The apostle Paul was well aware of this as he wrote to the believers at Philippi, for he himself was living under house arrest as a prisoner of the Roman Empire. His circumstances were less than ideal! Yet, listen to his words:

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

If you’ll learn what kept Paul in peace and contentment despite his circumstances, if you’ll learn how he handled the anxieties of life, you will have a biblical example and pattern to follow in your own life.
Philippians 4 lays out several precepts which, if adhered to, will grant us the same victory Paul experienced.
First, Paul rejoiced in every circumstance – no matter what it was:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

Here is a command that, if obeyed, will bring victory and peace in the midst of any situation. Why? Because the minute you begin rejoicing, your circumstances cease to control you, and you find yourself living above your circumstances as more than a conqueror.
It is crucial to understand, however, that the command to rejoice does not mean rejoicing in your circumstances; it means rejoicing in your Saviour who is Lord over every circumstance of life. You could not be in the predicament you are in without the Lord’s foreknowledge.
God is sovereign: He rules over all; nothing happens without His permission (Daniel 4:34-35).
Rejoicing is a matter of obedience – an obedience that will start you on the road to peace and contentment.
We are to live by faith, not feelings. Then, like Paul, we can handle anything… because of Jesus. Listen to God’s Word through the apostle again:

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Or, to paraphrase it: “I can keep on bearing all things through Him who constantly infuses His strength into me.”
Christ’s strength, His grace, His power are sufficient to enable us to endure what comes our way. Therefore, we can “rejoice in the Lord always.”
… Sometimes it isn’t a specific circumstance that destroys our joy and our peace. Anxiety about life in general can have the same effect.
Anxiety begins in your mind and, if left unchecked, can frazzle your nerves and eat away at your insides.
Anxiety is a tormentor that can keep you locked in a living hell, immobilizing you so that you cannot cope with life, let alone live as you should for the kingdom of God.
Now the world will tell you that it is natural and normal to be anxious. Well, anxiety may be natural and normal for the world, but it is not to be part of a believer’s lifestyle… no matter what our circumstances.
Either God’s Word is true, or it is not. Either God is who He says He is, or He’s not. And He is who and what He says He is, and His Word stands as His character stands. Therefore, no matter what our future holds, God says,

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

“Be anxious for nothing” is a command; and yet, in the same breath, God gives us the means of obeying that command.
The moment anxious thoughts invade your mind, go to the Lord in prayer. This is where you begin. The word for prayer is proseuche, and it refers to prayer in a general way rather than to petitioning God for specific needs. “General prayer” causes us to look first at God – who He is and what He has promised – rather than at whatever is making us anxious. Focus on God. Rehearse His character, His promises, His works. Remember His names, His attributes, and how they suit your situation. As you rehearse and remember, you will see the cause of your anxiety in a whole new light.
After you focus on God in prayer, remembering and rehearsing His character and His promises, then pour out your supplication before your God whom you have just worshiped and adored. The word for supplication is deesis, which means “a wanting or a need.” It is at this point that you get very specific in your petitions to your God, your Jehovah-jireh, the Lord who provides. Tell God exactly what you want or need.
Once you have turned your focus on God’s character and His promises and have laid your specific petitions regarding your anxieties before His throne, faith is then to take command by giving thanks. Note that Philippians 4:6 says: “By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.” The act of thanksgiving is a demonstration of the fact that you are going to trust, to believe God.

“Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is [that’s where your general prayer comes in] and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him [this is where supplication comes in]” (Hebrews 11:6).

The thanksgiving is where the faith comes in.
And what is the end result? Peace instead of anxiety.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Oh, my friend, not only do I want you to know these three steps to freedom from anxiety today, but I also want you to be spiritually prepared for tomorrow.

“Do not be anxious about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34).

Don’t be anxious in the midst of today; and don’t be anxious thinking about tomorrow. Know God’s Word – and live accordingly.
Invest your time and energies in getting to know your God by getting to know His Word. The returns of that investment are far greater than anything Wall Street has to offer, for these returns – rewards – are eternal.
Trying times are coming, and it is vital that you know how to live. When you do, you won’t be anxious about anything!

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