Our Life Group (Bible study) is currently studying The Story. This week we are in Chapter 6 – The Wandering of the Israelites after God rescued them from slavery in Egypt and before they reach the promised land. During this journey the Lord was with them and made provisions for them for food, protection, guidance and love. Instead of being thankful for all that the Lord provided, they grumbled and complained (they were anxious) about almost everything. Their focus was on what they wanted, as opposed to what they had. Because of their grumbling, complaining, plotting, and unbelief, God declared that the Israelites would wander in the wilderness until the people 20 years old or more at the time died.
Yesterday, I listened to a podcast by Dr. Tony Evans, Don’t Worry Be Happy. The text in his message is from Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4:4-9 that he wrote from prison, having no idea if he would live or die. If only the Israelites would have rejoiced, they would not have had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. It’s made me look at areas in my life that I make harder than my circumstances need to be. I’d like to share some of the notes I took while listening to the message.
To Get Victory Over Worry (Anxiety)
- Decide to rejoice in the Lord: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (vv 4-5) True joy is in God alone. Secular happiness (and unhappiness) is based on how you feel about your circumstances. No matter what our circumstances are, we should celebrate (rejoice) our Lord God. Rejoicing in the Lord brings joy.
- Pray with thanksgiving: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (v 6) Thank the Lord for what you have; thank Him that He is the provider and knows the solution to our problems or circumstances–and we don’t. Bring your specific requests about the problem to Him, and thank Him for the opportunity to see Him in the midst of the problem that is worrying you. In Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus showed us how to give thanks to the Lord even when we can’t see how so little can become more than sufficient. The great crowd of people needed to eat and all the disciples could find was 5 small loaves of bread and 2 fish. “Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.” Jesus thanked the Lord for what He had, and the Lord provided what He needed.
- God promises to bring us peace in the midst of chaos: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (v 7) When we present our problems to God with thanksgiving, His peace will guard our hearts and our minds. You will know that God heard your prayer — not because your problems are solved necessarily — but because of the peace He will give you. True peace comes from knowing that God is in control.
- Dwell on anything worthy of praise: “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.” (v 8) Choose to focus on the Lord and His goodness, and be thankful for all that He has provided. Dwelling on anything else (such as your problem) kills the peace He has provided.
- Put into practice what you have learned in the Word, and the God of Peace will be with you: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (v 9) If you walk in the steps that God’s guidance in His Word gives us, you won’t just have the peace of God — but you will have God with you!