The Answer to Anxiety

In a way, our battle with anxiety comes down to a few simple questions: do we believe God or not? Do we believe He is sovereign over our lives or not? In Phil. 4:4-7, we find Paul exhorting us to bring all things to the Lord in prayer at all times because He is a God we can trust absolutely.

Part 17 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”

Find the whole series in Philippians here.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Remember — Paul was a prisoner awaiting trial that could potentially have led him to his death as he wrote this letter. And yet he still implores the Philippian believers to rejoice, despite his own personal circumstances; from a worldly standpoint, he had little cause for rejoicing!

In a certain sense, this exhortation to rejoice connects with Paul’s exhortation to rejoice in Philippians 3:1. And at the same time, it is part of his closing words and continues the thematic imperative to joy threaded throughout the letter.

It’s significant to reflect on the word always here. Consider: how difficult is it to rejoice in the Lord in the midst of a loss, grief, sickness, or other life chaos? Tough, right? We tend to let our emotions and feelings rule us in those times. It’s not that we shouldn’t have emotions and feelings; we were created with them. But we need the ability — based on our knowledge of God’s word — to be able to tell ourselves the biblical truth in spite of what we may feel at the time. We need constant reminders of what it is we have that goes beyond these temporal struggles and looks past these earthly pains. Continue reading

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Refresh Friday

We’re exhorted in scripture to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), but have we stopped to think what it means when we persist in prayer? Brief thoughts from Hunter.

Persistence [in prayer] is an act of humility as well as an expression of faith. This attitude is diametrically opposite the popular notion that if we are importunate over a long enough period, God will eventually see the strength of our desire and respond.

Photo credit: advindicate.com

Photo credit: advindicate.com

That is manipulation. It says, “Look at me; Look at Me; LOOK AT ME!” while humility says, “I’m looking to you; I’m looking to You; I’m looking to YOU.” The point? Great faith in God always expresses itself in humble acknowledgment of dependency.

— W. Bingham Hunter, The God Who Hears

In Life, Christ. In Death, Gain.

Paul writes in Phil. 1:18-26 of his conflict between bearing fruit for God in this life and departing to be with God for eternity. He rests in God’s sovereignty with joy and hope, encouraging us as believers to live a life set apart for Christ in all circumstances.

Part 4 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”

Find the whole series in Philippians here.

18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

I included the entire verse 18 so that you could see where Paul has come from and where he is going next. As we saw last time, he rejoiced that in spite of opposition, imprisonment, and self-seeking preachers, in all ways the gospel was proclaimed. We have both a present rejoicing (I rejoice) and, at the end of the verse, a future rejoicing. I will rejoice, he says, because he is certain of deliverance. Continue reading

Joyful Prayer and Thanks

Paul’s heartfelt love for the church at Philippi is evident in this part of the study (Philippians 1:3-11) as he recounts their partnership with him in the gospel and God’s ongoing work in them. Because this is primarily a letter of encouragement, Paul is effusive in his exhortations as he prepares these believers for what he will go into in depth further into the letter.

Part 2 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”

Find the whole series in Philippians here.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Following his greeting of grace and peace, Paul then thanks God, the source of all favor and blessing. The Philippian body of believers were used as instruments of God’s favor to Paul in the fellowship of his sufferings and in meeting his life/financial needs.

Joy in Prayer

It is a joyful thing for Paul to pray for them. We get the idea here that he does it frequently. They are close to his heart so his prayer pours out naturally and sincerely. We see from this that praying for someone is a way to express our love for them. To go before God and lift their needs up and to ask God to work in their lives is not a small thing. Continue reading

Refresh Friday

For David, God was the center of his hope, the only reliable refuge, the surest strength he could find, and the truest object in which he could place his trust. We can learn from his exhortation and attitude toward God in prayer.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;

    pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.      Selah

— Psalm 62:5-8 ESV; boldface mine

Photo credit: layoutsparks.com

Photo credit: layoutsparks.com

“Human hearts are full of many things: joy, anger, peace, weariness, anxiety, strength, bitterness, trust. To pour out the heart means to pour out not just some but all of these contents before the Lord, the bad along with the good. Would we try to conceal our bitterness from God? Or conversely, would we cling greedily to our joy?

…In prayer, everything in the heart must be poured out to the Lord like a drink offering….True prayer does not consist in flowery language, nor in false humility, nor in pretending to possess any greater faith than we really have, but rather in simply trusting God enough to spill our guts to Him.”

— from The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason

 —

It is my earnest hope for you, believer, on this day and always, that you will have the same “God-ward” perspective as David and the knowledge that your Heavenly Father cares for all things in your life — nothing is too small, too big, too insignificant, too overwhelming for you to take to Him in prayer.

Refresh Friday

“So often people pray to be delivered from a problem, to be rescued from a situation, to be saved from a disaster, to be spared a sorrow, to be healed from a sickness, to be freed from a mental or physical agony. Sometimes, it is true, that deliverance comes; but far more often the answer is that we are given the strength which is not our strength to go through it, and to come out at the other side of it, not simply as a survivor, but with a faith that is strengthened and deepened and a mind and a life and a character which are purified and ennobled. Prayer does not provide a means of running away from the human situation; prayer provides a way of meeting the human situation.

— from A Guide to Daily Prayer, William Barclay (1907-1978)

prayer3

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Some of life’s situations can knock us flat. Others we’d like to run away from. God wants us to seek Him, to hide in Him, to take refuge and strength from Him. I pray today for you as you’re in a difficult situation, maybe one you don’t understand, one that’s overwhelmed you, caused you grief, anxiety, sleepless nights…whatever it is, right this moment, I pray that you sense His nearness. He is with you. Take heart!

Of Fleas and Sin

As the weather has gotten warmer, the dog’s old arch nemesis has begun to appear: the flea! Fleas make me seriously crazy. I hate them! I hate them for what they do to the dog. And they can bite me, too.

So I fly into action. Fighting fleas is an all-out, ongoing battle for me, one of regular, consistent effort. I start by immersing my bewildered (and not too thrilled) puppy in warm, soapy water. Immediately there’s a small victory: one or more fleas float off into the water. soapy water

Photo credit: kidsrelaxation.com

Hurray! But that’s just one skirmish. Continue reading