September 30, 2004
Encouragement for Today

Winning Over Worry - Part 3
Mary Southerland, Director of Development, Speaker, Author

Key Verses:  

"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 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 4:4-7 (NIV)

In the key passage, Paul gives us the promise of peace.  However, there are conditions to be met and actions we must take in order to experience that peace and win over worry!

Action one:    Choose joy
Action two:    Be gentle
Action three: Be aware of His presence
Action four:   Choose to trust


Devotion

It is possible not to worry.  It must be.  God never asks us to do anything that He doesn't empower us to do!  In today's key passage, the Apostle Paul challenges us, "Do not be anxious about anything."

"Anxious" literally means, "to be pulled in different directions" and is based on the old English root from which we get our word "worry" meaning "to strangle".  Worry can strangle us but trust breaks the hold of worry in our lives!  The Comanche Indians tortured and killed their enemies by staking them to the ground.  They would take a wet leather strap and place it around the neck of their prisoner.  As the strap dried, it would gradually cut off the air supply, choking the victim to death.  This is the perfect picture of what worry can do to us. 

Worry is a control issue.  Its opposite is trust.  Choose to trust and you will not worry.  Choose to worry and you will not trust.  What a great promise is found in Isaiah 26:3!  "You, LORD, give true peace to those who depend on you, because they trust you."  Be brutally honest for a moment.  Who is God in your life?  I ask that question because I have discovered that playing God is the root of worry.  When we play God, we are trusting in our own sufficiency.  God commands us to give Him first place and live - totally depending upon Him.  Every opportunity to worry is also an opportunity to trust God.  Choose trust!

Action Five: Pray about everything.

Philippians 4:6b "But in everything, by prayer and petition...present your requests to God."

"Prayer" is simply conversation with God.  "Petition" means to earnestly plea with or implore.  To "present your requests" is simply to "make known" or "tell" God specifically what it is that you need. Praying about everything shuts out worry because prayer invites God to be involved in every area of life.  And when He is involved, we have nothing to fear!

I am not sure why we have a portable phone because I can never find it. While searching for the roving phone, I walked into the living room to find Danna on the couch with the missing phone in one hand and the T.V remote control in the other.  "Are you talking to Amanda?" I asked. Danna and Amanda were best friends and constantly on the phone.  "Yes," she said.  "We are watching T.V. together."  I decided to come back later to find the phone on the sofa beside Danna.  I asked if I could please use the phone but heard, "Mom, Amanda will be right back.  She is eating dinner but I want to keep the line open."  That is the idea of praying without ceasing - the idea of keeping the line open.  I have heard it said that "when your knees knock, kneel on them!" Prayer eliminates worry.


Action Six:  Practice the attitude of gratitude.

Ephesians 5:20 "Always give thanks for everything to our God and Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

When our hearts and lives are filled with praise and thanksgiving, worry is a weed that will die from lack of attention.  Praise and thanksgiving are powerful weapons against worry, freeing God to work in our lives because when we praise Him, we trust Him blindly.

The story is told of a young hippie who was sitting on a park bench reading his Bible.  Suddenly he began to shout!  "Praise the Lord!  What a miracle!"  An older, very distinguished man walking by stopped and asked why he was so excited. The young man replied, "I was just reading how God parted the Red Sea and the whole nation of Israel walked on dry ground!"  The older man sneered, "Don't you know? That wasn't a real sea at all.  It was just a few inches of water!"  The unbeliever turned in irritation, walked away, leaving the young man confused and discouraged - for a moment - until his shouts once again filled the air. The angry cynic returned asking, "What are you shouting about now?"  "Well, sir, I just read how God drowned the whole Egyptian army in just a few inches of water!"  Don't let anyone keep you from praising God!  Don't let any circumstance deny you the joy of praise!  If you want to win over worry, praise Him!

A final thought:  Paul has shown us the actions we must take to win over worry:

Choose joy
Be gentle
Be aware of His presence
Choose to trust
Pray about everything
Practice the attitude of gratitude

Six conditions for one promise; "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  "Peace" can be defined as "a state of untroubled, undisturbed well-being".  Paul says this kind of peace is beyond our understanding and our ability to comprehend!  The world cannot grasp it but would pay any price to have it.  We cannot create peace on our own.  Peace is a supernatural gift from God, given as a hedge of protection that will "guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."  "Guard" is a military term, meaning "a garrison or stationed guard".  When we have met His conditions, God stations peace at the doorway of our life with the assignment, "Protect my child!"

What fear is gripping your heart?  What are you worrying about?  Give it up!  Take action!  Claim the promises and exchange your worries for God's gift of peace!


My prayer for today

Father, today I choose to face my fears with prayer and praise.  Thank you for being Peace in my life.  Amen.


Application steps:

Ask a friend to be your prayer partner. Meet regularly to pray and praise God for the answered prayer.  Keep a prayer and praise journal.  At the end of each week, review your journal to see God's hand at work.


Reflection points:

What circumstance in your life is the result of worry?

What affect does praise have on that fearful circumstance?

Does worry keep you from praying?  Why?

Is my prayer life powerful?  Why?  Why not?


Power verses:

"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you."  Deuteronomy 31: 6 (NASV)

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"  Matthew 14:30-31 (NIV)

"I cry out to God; I call to God, and he will hear me."  Psalm 77:1 (NCV)


Additional Resources:

Coming Out of the Dark by Mary Southerland
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/outofdark.html

Prayer That Changes Lives by Mary Southerland (tape set)
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/prayerset.html

*Today's devotional was taken from Chapter Six of Coming Out of the Dark by Mary Southerland