What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Be Anxious for Nothing


As I finish up my study of Philippians 4:4-9, several of the sentences from Max Lucado’s Anxious for Nothing are worth exploring. I have another week or two before totally leaving this study (before starting on 1 and 2 Samuel), and I may make further comments as I come up with a summary of the lessons I’ve learned. However, for now, these are my thoughts.
“Anxiety is not a sin; it is an emotion.” Emotions are tricky things for me. I’ve spent most of my life thinking that feelings are to be avoided at all costs. After years of therapy, I’m beginning to see the value of the emotional aspects of our being – aspects God created us to have. Yet, I struggle when it comes to “negative” emotions. Somehow I got it into my head that feelings such as sadness, frustration, loneliness, guilt, anger, depression, and yes, anxiety/fear are not good and we shouldn’t have them. This quote reiterates what my therapists have been telling me all along. Emotions are just information. They are not sins. God knew we would have these feelings and thoughts. What we do with them, our behavior, determines whether we sin or not.
“Have I yielded sovereignty to God?” I’ve known and understood the concept that God is sovereign over everything: creation, spiritual battles, weather, people, etc. Yet, I still tried to hold onto the idea that I was self-determined and in control of my life. That it is up to me to effectively manage my world in order to get outcomes that are positive. Wrong! Everything is in God’s hands. I am sovereign (able to rule) over nothing in this world. Yielding my self-sovereign ideas to God’s sovereignty makes life so much easier and less stressful. When I truly believe that God is able and willing to take care of everything, I can freely go about serving Him and trust Him for the outcomes according to His plans. There’s peace in that. Outcomes are not my responsibility.
“The mind cannot at the same time be full of God and full of fear.” I’ve found that to be true. In the last year or so I’ve started everyday with a focus on God. I’ve opened my day with five minutes of praise. I’ve devoted myself to the study of Scripture. I’ve started a prayer journal again. And, throughout the day, I revisit those activities as often as possible (especially the praise). I’ve found my fear to cease as I reflect on God’s power and might and love and mercy and compassion, etc. Fear comes back of course, but I pause and praise and meditate on memorized Scripture, and calm returns. Sometimes, I have to do this many times a day. I’ve found that the more God there is in my thoughts, the less fear affects my attitudes and behaviors. Ultimately, the more peace I have.
“Your anxiety decreases as your understanding of your Father increases.” That goes right along with having a mind full of God. The best (and only?) way I’ve found to truly increase my understanding of my Father is to read, study, memorize, and meditate on His Word, the Bible. I can’t think myself into understanding God. I can’t wish myself into understanding God. I can’t really get an understanding of God by listening to other people’s experiences with God. I need to spend intimate time with Him and His words in order to get to know Him. I need to give Him at least as much time as I would give a person I’m hoping to develop a friendship with. It does require quiet, purposeful discussion and conversation. I can’t really hear God without knowing His Word. Also, I don’t want to know what other people think about God. I want to personally know Him. That means personal time with Him learning about Him through His words.
Hopefully, these thoughts have given you some things to think about. They’ve been great lessons for me, and great reminders of what can happen when I apply Philippians 4:4-9 to my behavior and thoughts.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Quick Thoughts on Philippians 4:4-8

I did not have time this week to write a blog article. Appointments and computer problems got in the way. However, I do have some thoughts on Philippians 4:4-8 and being anxious for nothing.

My Bible study partner and I have been using Max Lucado's book and study guide on this passage of Scripture: Anxious for Nothing. I highly recommend it for everyone, and especially for those who struggle frequently with the issue of anxiety.

In the midst of these familiar verses is verse 5: "Let your forbearing spirit (gentleness) be known to all men. The Lord is near." In situations that can bring me anxiety, remaining gentle and kind, -- instead of frustrated, angry, and defensive -- can help soothe the situation instead of creating further anxiety. And the reason this is possible? Because the Lord is near. Some versions say, "The Lord is at hand." This is not only a true statement, it is key to our existence. He's available. He's taking care of things. He's always working and using situations in our lives to bring about His glory.

Knowing that, we can lay aside our anxieties and trust Him. We can more easily do what verses 6 and 7 say to do: "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 comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, practicing verse 8, meditating on the good things in this world and on the good character of God, will impress upon our hearts and minds the fact that the Lord is near. Peace comes from that.

Doing this study and memorizing this passage (in its entirety which I've never done before), has given me a new sense of God's peace in my life. I highly recommend it for everyone. If purchasing the books is not possible, meditating on Philippians 4:4-8 will change your perspective as it's changed mine. And the peace of God will guard you as a result.