Summary: Everyone can find peace in the midst of anxiety.
Becoming a Joy-FULL Person
6. Finding Peace
June 5/6, 2004
Everyone can find peace in the midst of anxiety.
There once was a king who announced a painting contest. He was building a new palace, and he wanted the main entrance hall to be decorated with a large work of art. The king envisioned his kingdom as a peaceful land, so whoever’s painting best symbolized peace would win a large cash prize.
Over the next few months, hundreds of paintings arrived at the palace. The king decided on the top two. Before announcing a winner, he hung both paintings in the palace for public viewing.
The first painting was of a majestic lake, so tranquil and still that the lush hills behind it were perfectly mirrored in its reflection. The sky was a brilliant blue with soft, puffy clouds floating above. Wildflowers bursting with color outlined the lake, and a family of deer calmly grazed in a far meadow. All who saw it felt peace and happiness.
The second painting portrayed a tall mountain cliff, rugged and strong. A few small trees grew out of the cracks of the face of the cliff, with gnarled roots clinging for life. A foamy waterfall angrily crashed down the cliff and into the rocky land below. Above, dark ominous clouds loomed, and in the distance lightning flashed. Halfway up the cliff grew a small bush. In its branches, a bird sat in a nest apparently warming her eggs.
After several weeks, the king declared the second painting the winner. Confused and upset, the people asked the king to explain his decision. He said, "Peace is not the absence of conflict. Peace is a state of mind. Those who experience peace have love in their hearts even when turmoil surrounds them."
Sounds nice doesn’t it? But how do we get there?
We’ve been studying Philippians, especially centering on Paul’s words that will teach us how to become a Joy-FULL person. There are all sorts of things in our lives that keep us from experiencing the joy that is ours in Jesus Christ, but one of the biggest ones is ANXIETY. Stress. It’s hard to feel joyful when you’re worried. But in today’s passage in Philippians 4, we’re going to discover that even in the direst of circumstances you can find peace. There are ways to be freed from your anxieties that steal your joy – and we discover them in the words of Paul. Turn with me to Phil. 4:4-9.
Again – remember the context. Paul is under house arrest. He’s chained to a Roman soldier 24/7. He has an uncertain future.
Philippians 4:4-9 (NIV)
4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers, 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. 9Whatever 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.
How to find peace in the midst of anxiety:
We discover 3 keys in this brief passage. The first is this:
• Pray with thanksgiving. (Phil. 4:4-7)
o Paul gives the Philippian believers a clear command: Do not be anxious about ANYTHING! But in everything, with prayer and petition, with THANKSGIVING, make your requests known to God.
o How? First acknowledge your anxiety.
Lord I’m worried about this. I know I shouldn’t be, but it’s causing me a lot of stress.
o 2nd - Turn the worry into a prayer of thanksgiving.
1Thess. 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (Not FOR all circumstances, but IN all circumstances.)
Got bad news? Thank God for the opportunity to grow in your faith. Thank Him for his Holy Spirit which is able to provide you with everything you need to withstand the troubles you’re facing. Thank Him that He has it all in His hands.
o Remember He is Emmanuel (God with us.)
“Good morning, this is God. I will be handling all of your problems today. I do not require your help. Have a good day.”
o If we’ll do this, we’re promised results. Verse 7 says “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
ILLUS: We’re all familiar with the idea of bodyguards. Here we’re promised something even better – it’s a heart and mind guard.