Sunday Sermon: ‘Don’t Let Life Get You Down’ pt 2

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Have you ever had a problem that cause such anxiety in your life that it seemed at times as though it would consume you? Perhaps you tried to tell yourself not to worry, but for some reason, you couldn’t stop. I can’t promise you that you will never again experience another moment of worry, but I can share with you something from God’s Word that will help you better manage your worry and experience God’s peace.

1. The Wastefulness of Worry

Doctors would tell us that we worry because it is a natural reaction to stress. If I might add something to that I would say that we worry because God created in us the ability to love and to care. Worry is an expression of our concern. Concern is good. Worry is not.

Paul was concerned for the well being of the churches. So was Timothy. That’s good. But if all they did was worry about the problems, what good would that do? Jesus asked this question concerning worry, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” The obvious answer is “no.” Worry might take some moments from your life, but it will never add to it. Not only is worry useless, Jesus taught that worry can choke  from our life the power of God’s Word.

Can we overcome the tendency to worry? Consider these portions of scripture:

Proverbs 26
3  Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

John 14
1   Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
The word ‘believe’ means – “have faith, trust”

27  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Philippians 4
9  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and
the God of peace shall be with you.

Paul wrote, “Do the things that you have learned from me and seen in me and the God of peace shall be in you.” Last week we learned that we must “Always Be Rejoicing In the Lord.” Today we will see how we must “Sincerely Share All of Our Concerns With the Lord.”

Philippians 4
6  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Don’t worry; instead pray! Paul believed in the power of prayer because he had seen first-hand what it could do in his life and in the life of others. Many of Paul’s letters are called ‘Prison Epistles’ because he wrote them while he was in prison. Yet never do you see someone overcome with desperation and worry. Instead you read of a man who was always praying, day and night. Such prayer had brought him much peace and therefore he encouraged the Philippians to be a people of prayer. Perhaps one of the best examples of how Paul felt about prayer is found in Colossians 4:12

Colossians 4
12  Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers…

We get the word ‘agonizing’ from the word Paul used which is translated as ‘labouring fervently.’ Agonizing in prayer rather than being in agony due to worry. There’s the secret.

In Philippians 4:6, Paul says – “Be careful for nothing…” Many Bible versions would translate that as – “Don’t worry about anything.” We commonly use the word ‘careful’ as a synonym for cautiousness; however, originally the word ‘care-ful’ meant to be  – “full of care, full of worry, full of anxiety.” In other words, to be completely consumed by it. If you go a little deeper in your study of the word ‘careful’ as it is used in the Bible, you will see that at the very root of its meaning is the thought of division or separation. Worry can’t take away our salvation, but it can sure rob us of many of its benefits. Worry can drive a wedge between us and the peace of God. Worry is not your friend, it’s your enemy. Don’t laugh about being a worrier and try to cover it up by saying that’s just the way you are. Worry is a thief that robs you of God’s peace and blessings. Here’s another way to consider it. We know that without faith it is impossible to please God; for he that comes to God must believe that God is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Worry is the opposite of faith and worry will rob you of God’s rewards.

Paul must have anticipated some of the Philippians thinking – “But there are some things that you can’t help but to worry over.” That’s why Paul wrote, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer…” Actually, the word ‘nothing‘ came first in way Paul originally wrote this passage of scripture. Paul wrote it in that way so that he might emphasize the fact that worry is never the right thing to do. To add even more emphasis, Paul made this a command. There are no excuses or exceptions. God says, “Do not worry.”

Paul is not saying that you and I should longer to be concerned about our needs. Quite the contrary. Instead he is saying, “Stop wasting your time by worrying and start doing something that will actually help. Start praying.”

2. The Power of Praying

Philippians 4
6  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

First of all, let’s study the process of this kind of praying. Paul lays out a clear outline of how we are to pray during times when we are tempted to worry. Notice that he mentions: prayer, supplication, thanksgiving and requests. Let’s examine each separately and then put them all together.

(A) Prayer: The word used here refers to prayer in general. It was the most recognizable word for what Paul was trying to teach and so he begins by telling us to pray. Perhaps also Paul used this word as a reference to the need of worship in our prayers. The word actually means to come before God. “In your time of need, don’t waste your time with useless worry. Come near to your God.” Just the thought of being able to come near to God should encourage us during a time of trouble. The writer of Hebrews gave us these thoughts –

“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Heb 4:14-16 NLT)

Jesus taught us to pray:

Matthew 6
9   Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
13  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Brethren, you can share your burdens with me all day long but I can’t do even an inkling of what the God of this universe can do. If you want action, you need to go straight to the top, and praise God, through Jesus Christ our great High Priest, that’s exactly what a child of God can do!

(B) Supplication: The Amplified Version of the Bible does a good job in defining what the word supplication means – {definite requests.} This word in its verb form means: {to desire, to long for, to ask, to beg.} Supplication is more than simply checking off our prayer list. It’s a reference to the kind of praying that expresses what you really want and need. It’s the bottom line.

  • It’s the word used of Zacharias when he had been praying for a son for he and his wife Elizabeth. The Bible tells us that God heard that kind of praying and gave them a son whom we know as John the Baptist.
  • It’s the word used for the prophetess Anna, whom scripture says – “served God with fastings and prayers night and day.”
  • It’s the word used to describe the prayers of the disciples as they tarried in Jerusalem and waited for the promise of the coming Holy Spirit.
  • It’s the word Paul used concerning his desire to see his people, the Jews, come to salvation. So intense was Paul’s desire that we was willing himself to be accursed if that would bring them to salvation.
  • It’s the word Paul used right after his teaching on fighting spiritual warfare.
  • It’s the kind of praying the Philippian church had been doing concerning Paul when they heard that he was in prison.
  • It’s the kind of prayers that God’s people are to be making for their national leaders.
  • It’s the kind of prayer a man is to make for a brother who has confessed his sins and is seeking healing.
  • And it’s the kind of prayers that God is listening for. Peter says –

1Peter 3:12  For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers … (supplications)

Don’t misunderstand me. I am suggesting that your prayer has be made in some wild frenzy in order for God to hear you. Jesus criticized what He called “empty repetitious prayer that was only for the ears of others listening.” The prophets of Baal brought no fire to their altar through their bizarre behavior. What I am suggesting is that the intensity of our prayers should match or even excel the intensity of our worries.

(C) Thanksgiving: How important is thanksgiving in order for us to find peace in the midst of a problem? For me personally, I have found that it is extremely important and I’ll tell you why. Several years ago there was something that the devil was using to torment me. I prayed and prayed and still I found no relief from my anxiety and worry. One night I kept waking up and worrying and praying until finally I said to the Lord, “Why can’t I find peace? I’ve done what Your Word says to do.” The Lord’s reply was – “Have you really? Go back through these verse step and by and do what it says.” So I prayed. Then I asked God to help me. Then my mind went to the issue of thanksgiving. “Thanksgiving for what?”, I thought. And so I began to make a list. I thanked God that I could pray and that He would listen. I thanked God for all His promises to help. I thanked God for all of His help in the past. Brethren, the more I thanked God, the less I worried about my problem. I concluded that God could be trusted and so I was able to rest instead of worry. That next day, the old Devil came back around again, peddling his same old goods, and so I started the process again. I went through that same process over and over again that day and every time I did, I found peace. Maybe Philippians 4:6-7 won’t work for you, but it sure works for me!

(D) Requests: Actually prayer, supplication and thanksgiving is just a warm-up to what you’re really after. Now that you’ve done what God’s Word says to do, now you’re ready to ask God to help you. Once you remind yourself of how great He is and how much you need Him and how good He has been to you, then you are in the right mind and spirit to present to Him what it is that you need and why you need it. You know why so many of our prayers times are so dead and empty? We haven’t taken the time to prime the pump! Lately, when I’ve been praying with others, I often wait until last before I really pray. After listening to everyone else express how much they love the Lord and how good He has been to them, I’m ready to come boldly unto His throne of grace. Perhaps we need to have a prayer meeting this morning!

Now let me try to put Paul’s outline on prayer together and state it in my own words – “With a spirit of humility and worship, come before God and present to Him, very specifically, what it is that you really need. Do not be hesitant to pray with heart-felt sincerity and always with thanksgiving. Be thankful for: the opportunity to pray, the fact that He cares, His ability to do whatever is necessary, and for all He has done for you up to this point.”

3. The Provision His Peace

7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

The word ‘keep’ means to guard, to protect by a military garrison. It means to either prevent the invasion or to keep us from running. In other words, once you and I have come to the place of where we truly trust the Lord with our lives, His peace becomes our – shield, security, and our strength.

Conclusion:

  • Are you a worrier or a warrior?
  • To which to you give the most energy”
    • Worrying about your problem
    • Praying for God’s solution
  • Will God reward your prayers because you “diligently seek Him?” (Heb 11:6)
  • Do you believe God will be true to His promises?

“Why waste your time worrying?
Do something that will actually help your situation.
With a
spirit of humility and worship, come to God and express to Him what it is that you really need.
Do not be hesitant to pray with heart-felt sincerity and always with an attitude of thanksgiving.
Be thankful for: the opportunity to pray, the fact that He cares, His ability to do whatever is necessary,
and for all He has done for you up to this point.
As a result of your decision to trust God, you will experience His peace even in the midst of your problems.”

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