Episode 1. Do Not Worry About Anything
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What if you and I could discover a way to live, so that we don’t worry about anything? Not necessarily changing our circumstances, but changing the way we live them out. We’d want to know how, right? So many people spend so much time being afraid in their lives. Maybe it’s a crisis. Or just […]
What if you and I could discover a way to live, so that we don’t worry about anything? Not necessarily changing our circumstances, but changing the way we live them out. We’d want to know how, right?
So many people spend so much time being afraid in their lives. Maybe it’s a crisis. Or just a sense of this nagging, ongoing thing that something bad is going to happen. A negativity. A pessimism. Always thinking the worst. Always imagining the worst. Always expecting the worst. That’s why, last week on the program, we looked at this whole “fear” thing. The reality that scary things do happen to us in our lives. And they’re going to happen again. And the reality, whether we care to believe it or not, that God’s heart is for us not to be afraid.
So often we put on a brave face. Or a cool, calm exterior. But inside, inside so many people are torn apart. Shaken to the core by fear and worry.
So this week, we’re going to do some “rubber hits the road” stuff in a series that I’ve called “Five Ways to Overcome Fear.” Five very practical things that you and I can do to banish fear and worry.
Now let me make this clear. I am talking about living a life that, by and large, is free from fear and worry. Scary things will still come at us in life. It’s about living through them with a calm delight and resolve. With a deep knowledge that actually, God is in this place with us.
The first thing I want to share with you today is that our mind matters. What we do with our thoughts really matters.
Back in 1953 a bloke by the name of Norman Vincent Peale wrote a classic book. It’s called, “The Power of Positive Thinking”. And for a long time, I have to tell you, I pooh-hooed it. “It’s not about positive thinking” I said. “It’s about trusting in God”. Even when I started reading this book, not so long ago, I was pretty skeptical. But what he expounds in his book is exactly what God talks about in the Bible. Our mind matters.
Let me take you to a passage that I personally often go to. It’s the apostle Paul, on death row, writing to his friends, the Philippians. Listen to what this man writes from his dank prison cell. This comes from Philippians chapter 4 beginning at verse 6. He says:
Do not worry about anything 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 your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just and pure and pleasing and commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Keep on doing the things that you’ve learned and received and heard and seen in me and the God of peace will be with you. I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now, at last, you have revived your concern for me. Indeed you were concerned for me but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I’m referring to being in need for I’ve learned to be content with whatever I have.
I know what it is to have little. I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances, I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry and of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Let me just start with the first 2 verses here. Look at them again with me. Philippians chapter 4, verses 6 and 7:
Do not worry about anything but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
How do we not worry? Let me ask you that. You see, in my experience, worry is something that just happens. I’ve wanted to turn the worry tap off so many times. But this stream of worrying thoughts just keeps on flooding into my mind.
Now I’m as strong-willed and as disciplined a person as you’ll find anywhere. When I’ve set my mind to achieving something, invariably I do. It’s been like that all my life. But you know something, I am powerless to turn off the worry tap.
It’s horrifying when you worry. It grips your whole life. You wake and you sleep and you toss at night and, have you ever noticed that? And it’s believing in these 2 verses that’s enabled me to end the worry in my life. And you know something, when you stop worrying, you have peace. And that’s exactly what Paul tells us. That’s exactly what God wants to tell us today:
Do not worry about anything but in everything …
How do I stop worrying? Not by turning the tap off myself. But by replacing it with something else. With the ‘but in everything’ that Paul writes about:
Do not worry about anything but in everything …
So what’s the but? What’s the thing that we should replace the worrying with? All that time, that energy we spend worrying. What do I do with it? I transfer it to something else. To what else?
… but in everything ..
Now that means everything. In everything that’s causing me worry:
… by prayer and supplication …
What does that mean? By praying and entreating and asking God, seeking Him. So instead of wasting all that time and energy on worrying. Spend it instead on praying and asking God. Imagine how different our lives would be.
Every time a worrying thought comes to haunt the deepest recesses of our minds. We say, “Hang on a minute. Stop. I am not going to think on that. I am not going to dwell on that worry. I am not going to brood and worry. But instead, I am going to pray.”
How? With thanksgiving. “God, I thank you I’m in this place. You know something, I thank you that I have an opportunity to trust you. I thank you, that unless you show up here, I’m in trouble. Now Lord, here’s my problem. Here it is. Will you help me? Thank you God.”
If every time we go to worry, instead of worrying we do this instead. Here is what the Bible promises us. Now listen very carefully to this promise because it’s a promise that’s going to change your life:
Do not worry about anything but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God.
Now here comes the promise:
… and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
There it is! And you know something, that is exactly, exactly what happens.
I’m going to challenge you. If you’ve got worries in your life. If you’ve got fears in your life. Try this for just a few days. Every time you start worrying, go to God. Stop worrying, go to God and do the “but” thing. “But instead, in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God.”
And here’s what happens. He’s going to turn the worry tap off. See, no amount of strength or resolve or anything else that you and I can do is going to turn that worry tap off. Only God. And He’s going to replace it with an amazing peace. An incredible peace. So the storm can still be raging, the circumstances could be getting worse but you’ve been praying and entreating and thanking God instead of worrying. And you think to yourself, ‘I can’t explain this. I have this peace. How? Why? How can it be?’
That’s why Paul calls it a:
… peace that surpasses all understanding …
God turned the worry tap off while you were praying. And He did what you and I couldn’t do:
… and the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
It’s because the worry just can’t get in. This is where the rubber hits the road.