Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Replacing Worry with Divine Peace

Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
The Lord is with us, “at hand,” as Paul said in verse 5, so we don’t ever need to worry about anything; we can bring everything to Him. Nothing is too big for Him to handle, nothing too small for Him to care.

Dealing with worry is no small matter. It is an important issue, a question of whether we are going to trust God. Jesus addressed it in the Sermon on the Mount:
Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? … Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. (Matthew 6:25, 31)
God takes care of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, so how much more will He take care of those who belong to Him? So Jesus and Paul say, “Stop worrying” (that is how Wuest’s Expanded Translation puts it).

However, it is not enough to just get rid of worry. We must replace it. In fact, we must displace it, because it will not leave on its own — it will need to be pushed out. But how do we do that?

Jesus’ answer in the Sermon on the Mount is, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Peter’s answer, in his letter to Jesus believers who were scattered everywhere, is, “Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). And Paul gives us this: “But in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

Prayer and thanksgiving — that’s worship. Supplication is a particular type of prayer, also known as “petition,” where we bring our needs and concerns to God and look to Him for the provision He has made. But notice that this kind of prayer happens in the context of worship, wrapped about with praise and thanksgiving. It is in worship, standing in awe of God, that we gain fresh perspective and our faith is strengthened. There we can lay requests before the Lord, knowing that He will hear and answer with His provision and protection. Knowing that He is our God who takes care of us, we give Him thanks.

When we replace worry with prayer, praise and petition to God, the result will be peace. Divine peace. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Paul uses the Greek word irene here for “peace,” but being Jewish, he no doubt has the Hebrew word shalom in mind. It is a word that speaks of wholeness and well-being. It comes from the Lord and is a gift and a blessing for His people.

The peace that comes from God is not something we can think our way to. It is much more than we can understand. However, we do not need to be able to explain it in order to enjoy the benefit of it. Paul says it will guard our hearts and minds. It will be like a hedge around our affections, desires, thoughts and perceptions, so that we are not pulled away by anxious emotions and distracting cares. It will keep us properly focused and on the right path. The peace of God comes to us through Jesus the Messiah, for it is through Him that we have peace with God.

Focus Questions
  1. Why is it important to replace worry with something else?
  2. How does worship give us the proper perspective on the things are concerned about?
  3. How does giving thanks help replace worry with peace?



There is Always Joy!
There is Always Joy!
Paul’s Letters to the Jesus Believers at Philippi
Bite-Sized Studies Through the Book of Philippians
by Jeff Doles

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