Monday, September 12, 2005

#8 The Plan

The Plan
#8 August 23, 2005
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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." (Philippians 4: 6-7)

"To care is a virtue, but to foster care is sin." (Muller, J.J. The Epistles of Paul..., p. 141). Being anxious and worrying are both sin. Jesus commands us in Matthew 6: 25, 34 not to worry. In our scripture for today, the Holy Spirit (Jesus) through the apostle Paul, again tells us to be anxious for nothing. In reality however, we worry and have anxiety over many things.

It would seem that we can justify our worries in this fallen world in which we live. Marriages and families are falling apart all around us. Jobs are unstable. Prices are rising. There are more diseases now than ever before that put our health at risk. Wars and terrorism threaten our day to day sense of security. Shouldn't we worry?

The first thing to ask yourself is where are you looking for truth? In your feelings? In your emotions? In what you see happening around you? If you are looking in those places and being controlled by them, you're in the wrong place!

A favorite Crystal Lewis song of mine has a line in it that says, "Only fools believe in only what they see." I don't know about you but I don't want to be referred to as a fool!

The Bible is our only voice of truth. The word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) to fight off all of the lies of the enemy and his world. He is the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). And he is the father of lies (John 8:44). If we are not looking to the word of God for our truth, we have fallen prey to Satan and we will always be in worry, fretting and anxiety.

Let your troubles drive you to Jesus and His Word. Do NOT look anywhere else! I believe that worry and fretting are indications of our lack of trust in our Heavenly Father. Our problems become bigger than He who has the power to solve them.

So what should we do when the cares and problems of this world surround us? Paul tells us to pray, petition and present our requests to God - in everything,. This would be anything sufficient to cause anxiety if not prayed about. Letting God know your concerns - all of them - big and small. God cares about even the smallest details of our lives. He loves us so much!

But it doesn't stop there. We must present with thanksgiving. We must thank God for what He has already done and for the answers to our prayers that we believe we will receive. I believe that God will be more pleased and more apt to respond to our prayers when we have an attitude of thankfulness for what He has done for us in the past. (Read Luke 17: 11-19). It will also build our faith in Him when we remember and call to mind all of the ways that He has been faithful to us.

So, we first pray and petition and present our requests to God. Then we thank Him. I would add some time of praise to that as well. Personally, when I begin to praise God because of who He is and because He is worthy, my eyes turn from myself to Him. As He is magnified, problems get smaller. I become less - He becomes greater. (John 3:30)

Now isn't it just like our wonderful Saviour to give us a promise if we obey? Paul says that the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard our hearts and minds. "The peace of God is that tranquillity of spirit that God enjoys and only God can give." It passes all understanding "because of our utter inability in our mind to fathom God's peace. His peace surpasses all our careful planning and clever ideas as to how we can resolve our own anxieties." (Wycliffe Bible Commentary p. 1330). All I know is that it takes the heavy burden of trying to solve my own problems off of me and I can experience peace and joy even in the midst of my troubles. If we follow this plan, step by step, I don't know how it happens, but we really do get supernatural peace that people just don't understand. That peace will "guard your hearts and your minds." The picture here is of a sentinel standing watch over the fortress of our inner life - our mind, will and emotions. The Message bible says, "It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of you life."

Hannah followed this plan. (1 Samuel 1: 1-20) If you recall, Hannah was married but she was barren. The Lord had closed her womb. Her husbands' other wife had children and used to provoke Hannah to the point of tears. Hannah would weep and stop eating. One day she went to the Lord's temple and the Bible says, "in bitterness of soul, Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord." (v. 10) She cried, she prayed, she petitioned and presented her requests to God. She was praying so fervently that Eli the priest thought that she was drunk.With her anguish and grief all poured out at the Lord's feet, Verse 18 says that "she went her way and ate something and her face was no longer downcast." She got up and left her troubles there. She trusted that God heard her cries. The Bible doesn't say so, but I would bet that she had a thankful heart. She saw the God who was bigger than her barrenness. The God who doesn't ever say the word "impossible". The God who was her only hope in a hopeless situation. And I'll also bet that she knew His faithfulness first hand from past experiences with Him. That's what drove her to Him. Her burdens were removed because she had given them to the Burden Bearer. She went about her normal activity, no longer worried or anxious because she had followed the plan. And she didn't even have the book of Philippians to tell her how!

Be like Hannah. Follow the plan. Pray. Petition. Present your requests to God. Thank Him. Praise Him. Enjoy the peace of God. Verses 19-20 say that "the Lord remembered her" and "she named him Samuel." He will remember you. He will answer in His will, in His way and in His time. Don't waste another day in bondage to your worry and anxiety. Do it now if you can or later today if you must. Be set free. Follow the plan.

With you on the journey,

Donna Schultz

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