Lessons from the Book of Philippians
Greetings precious people, I do hope that you are doing well today and enjoying the goodness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In today’s article we will continue our study of the Book of Philippians. Last time we looked at the importance of the joy of the Lord in a Christian’s life. We also identified the common robbers of this joy, circumstances, worry, people, and things. In today’s lesson we will learn of God’s sure way of dealing with all of these potential thieves.
In Philippians 4:6-9 we read some of the most profound instructions and promises in the Bible, “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.”
One of the greatest problems facing the American people today is not from the constant threat of terrorism, lack of job security, uncertainty of the economy, or any other number of potential problems that we face each day, rather it is from the effects that all these potential problems have on the heart and mind of people. All of these things listed are causes for worry. Worry or anxiousness is one of the leading causes of heart problems, over eating, a score of both physical and mental heath problems among the American people. Only a short time after 9/11 prescriptions for Prozac and Zoloft increased by over 2 million and continues to rise today.
Most anxiety is caused by worrying about the things that ‘could’ happen, whether they have a high probability of occurring or not. The root cause of worry and anxiety is fear. Fear of what could / might happen or not happen. Such things as the loss of job or health, you go into work tomorrow and the boss calls you into his office and tells you the company is laying off a number of people and you are one of them. Or the doctor returns to the examining room with bad news, the tests results show that you have cancer.
The Bible, God’s Word has much to say concerning worry and being anxious. In Matthew 6:24-34, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
This portion of Scripture has a great deal of personal meaning to me for it is what God has used over the years to encourage and reassure me during times of difficulty and testing. God tells us not to be like the heathen, which worry themselves about the basic necessities of life such as food, clothing, and a place to live. Rather we are to spend our time and energies on seeking God’s will for us in our lives and trusting Him to take care of our needs. We are told in 1 Peter 5:7 to “cast all your care upon Him (Jesus), for He cares for you.”
The effects of not trusting the Lord with the issues of life are detrimental to ones health. The medical profession has discovered the truth of what the Bible has said all along concerning the ill effects of worry. Luke puts it this way in Luke 12:23-32, “Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
You no doubt realize that Luke has said pretty much the same thing that Matthew said in the previous cited verses. Only Luke puts it a little differently. All the worry in the world cannot help anyone. In fact it is detrimental to our health and shortens our life span.
One other aspect of worry I want you to see is what it truly is, worry, being anxious is sin. As we have previously stated, the root cause of worry is fear and fear is the opposite of faith. God has explicitly told us to trust Him and not worry about anything. When we choose to worry, we not only disobey God but in so doing we are saying that God is not worthy of our trust, that He is in some way incapable of taking care of us. This is a slap in God’s face.
This sin like any other needs to be recognized for what it is, confessed as sin and repented of. Then take God at His Word; He is not a man that He should lie. He will take care of every aspect of your life. Begin to put into practice our Scripture text today in your life, Philippians 4:6-8, “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.”
After you have entrusted everything to the Lord don’t be surprised when thoughts of worry and anxiousness begin to crop up again. It will happen. What is important is that you take the last part of our Scripture to heart and mind. Begin to think on (meditate, let them go over and over again in your mind) those things that are good and holy, just and pure, etc. No, Paul is not telling us to think ‘good thoughts’, rather to think on the promises of God’s Word. Find the promises that address specifically those areas in your life that cause you to fear and be anxious then memorize them and cling to them.
There is much more that we could say on this subject but we have run out of time and space. We will continue to address this next time. Until then may the Lord richly bless you beloved.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail email@example.com or visit our web site to read all previous articles at www.calvarychapel.org/alpine/index.htm
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine