Philippians 4: 4-9

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 every situation, 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.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Introduction:
Anxiety, stress, fear and worry are all very familiar to us all. These are our natural responses to circumstances which seem beyond our control and which threaten to overwhelm us.

There are two levels of circumstances:

  1. The actual circumstances.
  2. The imagined potential circumstances created by worrying about the actual circumstances. This takes place in our mind and creates a new set of negative circumstances.

In other words: We start off facing a problem. Illustration: the loss of a job. This is a real issue, a real problem and will probably bring about real consequences in my life and the lives of my loved ones. The problem is that when I constantly think about it; worry about it; a point comes where I start to imagine the worst case scenario’s. I start to fear and this just leads to further stress and even depression; heart palpitations and sickness. Spiritually, very often, I  soon find myself walking in the flesh – my behavior reflects my heart.

Most people in this situation say: “I can’t help it. I have a real issue. I am just trying to deal with it.”

We are in the midst of a real problem. A global pandemic that is causing real problems. Physical, health, economic, social and even societal issues. Most of which we have never had to deal with before. Perhaps you have lost a job, perhaps you are in lockdown – lonely and frustrated, perhaps a loved one is sick or has died and perhaps you are fearing the virus yourself. All of these are real problems that can have real consequences in your life. In most cases there is nothing you can do – and this is frustrating.

What has your response been? Are you anxious? Fearful? Are you blaming others, angry at the world? Depressed? Are you entertaining the latest conspiracy theory?

The Bible has an answer!! Now remember – I am speaking to people who have come into a saving relationship with Christ. If you have not, that would be the starting point for you!

So how do we as believers handle anxiety, stress and fear?

The Biblical answer seems almost too simple, almost simplistic. However it presupposes a few things about your worldview. Here are 5 that should be part of a believer’s thought system:

  1. God is in control and has a plan.
  2. God cares for you 1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
  3. God is able 2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
  4. God answers prayer.
  5. You have a choice.

What does the Bible say?

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

  • Rejoice, rather than stress.
  • Choose your attitude.
  • Let your behavior reflect your heart.
  • PROMISE: The Lord is near.

ILLUSTRATION: There is a crisis: “Stay calm, the lord is near. He is in control and He has a plan greater than your circumstance.

Pray

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 

Do not be anxious about ANYTHING

  • Including disasters, pandemics, economic collapse, sickness or death.
  • This is not denying the seriousness of the situation, its about gaining the right perspective.

PLEASE NOTE:

  • The Bible does NOT go on to say:
    • Declare, decree or demand of God that He change the circumstances.
    • NOR that we take authority over the circumstances.
    • NOR that we address the circumstances.
    • NOR that we need to show a certain level of faith over the circumstances.
    • NOR that we call down heaven to earth.
    • NOR that we command angels to do our bidding.

Gods answer is simply: PRAY!

but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

  • Wait – what about our authority, our power?
  • Well, basically – you have none. If you did you would not be anxious because you would have control over the circumstances.
  • The point is – WE NEED GOD!
  1. Recognize the situation for what it is – face reality.
  2. Choose your perspective.
  3. Recognise your inability, weakness and impotence.
  4. Call on the Lord – by prayer and petition.
  5. Exercise faith – with thanksgiving!
  6. Present your requests – not your demands, to God.

What does God do?

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  1. It does not promise that all will be well as far as the circumstances are concerned.
  2. It does promise that God would do something miraculous!
    1. He will give us His peace. (He already knows how it will all end and He is not stressed.)
    2. He is give us a peace that goes beyond understanding.
    3. A peace that will guard our hearts and minds – a peace that will guard our emotions and our thoughts, a peace that will remove the fear and anxiety and give us a godly perspective.
  3. The key is the phrase “In Christ Jesus”:
    1. Those in Christ Jesus have life, forgiveness of sin, an eternal hope and the promise of resurrection.
    2. Those in Chris Jesus have no reason to fear death.

One Step Further

Satan will try reminding you of the circumstances and cause you to fear, so now you need to exercise a second choice.

What will I allow my mind to dwell on? You can choose to replace those negative, fear inducing thoughts with:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Gods Glorious Promise

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And the God of peace will be with you.

The peace of God and the God of peace will be with you. When? When you look to Him rather than to the circumstances of your life. Circumstances are opportunities to see God in action. When we have the right perspective and put our faith in God not in myself, or a politician or the world, God promises me His peace and His presence.