Know God Know Peace

“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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
 
Philippians 4:6-9


Are you aware that anxiety is a multi hundred billion dollar industry in the United States? It’s safe to say then that anxiety has reached epidemic proportions and believe it or not the United States is ranked as the most anxious ridden country on the planet. Everybody handles worry and fear and anxiety differently. Sadly, most of them aren’t healthy and only provide a false sense of security at best. I think the bumper sticker, “Know God, Know Peace. No God, No Peace” says it best.

What is anxiety you might be thinking, and is it different from fear? It’s been well said that fear is the emotion that you feel when you see a one hundred and fifty pound pit-bull starring you in the face as you come out your front door. Anxiety is the assumption that every time you open your door there is a one hundred and fifty pound pit-bull standing there waiting for you. Don't let the devil lie to you. Fear is a God given emotion that stirs us to generate protection. It’s that fight or flight feeling we all experience at varying degrees. Never be so proud that you are afraid to run.

Anxiety is a state of mind, it’s a perpetual state of fear. To put these verses in Philippians into perspective we have to understand who wrote it and what was the setting when they wrote these words. The apostle Paul was locked away deep in a Roman prison, chained to a Roman guard awaiting his fate at the hands of Caesar. Would Paul be befriended, or would he be beheaded?  If ever there was a person who would be justified in writing a woe is me, depressing and discouraging letter about the trials of life, it could have been the Apostle Paul.  However, with ink pen and papyrus in hand as it were,  Paul writes what became affectionately known as “The Epistle of Joy.”

In just four brief but power filled chapters from a Philippian jail, the apostle Paul writes about joy and rejoicing some 19 times. It’s clear to Paul that Christianity is to be a joyful religion, a relationship that experiences Jesus in such a way that we experience a joy unspeakable. The idea that true spirituality is to be equivalent with misery is an idea completely contrary to the Bibles teaching.  Jesus nature was such that people loved to be around Him, and if the Holy Spirit indwells us shouldn’t there be a contagious joy within us too?

If we grasp the basic message of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, we, too, will be free to be joyful in Jesus, regardless of our external circumstances. The joy the apostle Paul wrote about and en-joy-ed as he lived out loud his daily life, did not originate in his heart, but in his head; not in how he felt, but in what he allowed himself to think about. Pastor and leadership guru John Maxwell wrote a little book titled, “Your Attitude Is The Key To Your Altitude”. In it he writes that how we think affects how we feel. And the book of Philippians drives that point home.

Fifteen times Paul talks about thinking, and another ten times he speaks of remembering. It was Pastor Jon Courson who wrote regarding the importance of what we think, “One of the most important aspects in living out joyful, successful Christianity is this: You cannot change your heart—but you can change your mind. With God it’s the very opposite. God can change your heart, but He won’t change your mind. Therefore, if I choose to change the way I think about a given situation, God will change my heart to follow suit. But if I do not choose to change my thoughts, God will not change my heart.”

Proverbs 23:7 teaches us, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” We can never underestimate the power of the human mind. Pastor Chuck Swindoll calls worry the "universal addiction". Paul understood the natural tendency we all have to become anxious. He knew that anxiety is one of the greatest thieves of joy. Isn’t that why he wrote the book of Philippians in the first place? The apostle Paul under inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes, “Be anxious for nothing”, translated practically implies to pray about everything, to pray consistently knowing prayer brings us into God’s presence where we can gain Gods perspective. The bottom line is, we either worry about it or we pray about it.  

The Bible exhorts us to bring every thought captive, to take control of our thoughts. God has designed life in such a way it can not work without Him. Be anxious for nothing Paul writes to the church. The Greek word for “anxious” means, “to be pulled in different directions.” What we want is in one direction and worry is pulling us in another direction. The word “worry” in the old English means “to strangle, to be choked out”. Worry then seeks to choke the life out of us. Anxiety and worry cause us to do things we do not want to do, things like striking out at others, or withdrawal from them or pull away. For many people they simply inebriate themselves to treat the symptoms forgetting Jesus provides the cure. Don’t forget, Satan is the father of lies and anxiety is the devils sandbox, his play ground. The emotion of anxiety is not sin of itself, we don’t need to feel guilty when we become anxious. Emotions are not sin but our emotions can definitely lead us to sin.  

Jesus died for all our sins is a fact but we all still feel the emotions associated with guilt. The feelings of guilt are still in each of our hearts, and if we don’t deal with our feelings they can lead us to sinful behavior. Worrying doesn’t lead to any good, never has never will. 99% of the things we worry about never come true which only proves worrying is a total waste of time. Are you aware that worry is the biggest factor in heart disease, high blood pressure, headaches, sleep apnea, digestive system disorders. You name it, worry seeks to mess up every area of our lives. I know first hand.

Don't be fooled. Worry is a thief, but it’s an inside job. Have you ever heard the expression we are our own worst enemy? It’s true! So how do we enjoy victory over anxiety and worry? Paul writes in Philippians 4:8 that we need to think spiritually, to think on these things. And not just think happy thoughts, but to think Jesus thoughts! Dwell on things that are “just” things that are worthy of respect. The natural mind unfortunately tends to gravitate to the things that are negative and carnal and of the flesh. Remember, garbage in, garbage out. Dwell on things that are “virtuous”, of moral excellence.

Philippians 4:9 concludes with the apostle Paul calling the church to action, to live responsibly. If anyone knew this truth first hand it was the apostle Paul. We cannot separate an outward action from an inward thought and is why we must learn to live from the inside out, to walk and live by faith and not by sight. Remember these words, “think, dwell, do.” When we think on Jesus, and dwell on Jesus and walk with Jesus we will experience the peace of Jesus. That's the good news of the gospel. Not a temporal, situational peace, but an abiding peace that comes from the very presence of God Himself.

It's so good to know that peace is not something we must work for, peace is something we receive. Every time you start to worry today or this week turn to God in prayer, stand on the promises of His Word, think and meditate on and walk in His Word remembering, the antidote to our worry is His worship!

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

John 14:27

I LOVE YOU!  



 





Michael Osthimer

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