January 1st, 2019

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:4-8
 
Paul, what are you talking about? Being anxious is what I do most of the time. What if it is the norm? You seem to start with a saying “Rejoice in the Lord and finish with Rejoice always” (it is a hard thing to do). These are the thoughts that are going through my mind as I read these words in Philippians.
 
Paul was sitting in a cell with no windows and maybe would receive one meal a day. But his attitude was amazing. He knew his days were numbered but wanted his church to know life is to be enjoyed in all circumstances. Paul’s attitude teaches us an important lesson: our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances. Paul knew that no matter what happened to him, Jesus Christ was with him. Paul had his joy and inner peace in Christ. He wanted his church to know it is easy to get discouraged about unpleasant circumstances or to take unimportant events too seriously.
 
Imagine never being “anxious about anything.” It seems like an impossibility. We all have worries on the job, in our homes, at school, etc. Paul’s advice is to turn our worries into prayers. If you want to worry less, pray more. When you start to worry, stop and pray. We need to accept that we are not in control. God is. Let God’s peace guard our hearts against anxiety.
 
Paul would like us to program our minds and thoughts that are true, noble, light, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praise worthy. Replace harmful input with wholesome materials. Ask God to help you focus your mind on what is good and pure. Paul’s writing from a prison cell is a great example. He could be complaining, whining and thinking of all the discomfort but instead he says rejoice again, rejoice. Just as Jesus gave these words in Luke 21:34, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.” If we are not careful our hearts will be weighed down with anxieties of life.
 
a) Let us Celebrate God’s goodness. Rejoice in the Lord always. (vs. 4)
b) Ask God for help. “Let your request be made known to God” (vs. 6)
c) Leave your concerns with him with thanksgiving.
d) Meditate on good things. Think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. (vs. 8)
 
C A L M
(Taken from Max Lucado’s book, Anxious For Nothing.)
 
“It is not God’s will that you lead a life of perpetual anxiety. It is not his will that you face every day with dread and trepidation. He made you for more than a life of breath-stealing angst and mind-splitting worry. He has a new chapter for your life. And he is ready to write it.”
 
We have an amazing year ahead of us because Jeremiah 29:11-13 tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” When we seek God, his plans will prosper. We need to make that commitment intentional.
 
Have a wonderful New Year.
God bless,
Pastor Shaker