Summary: The scripture says Do not worry... but that sounds easier said than done. The scripture also tells us how to avoid worry.
The Answer to Worry
As we approach Christmas, it occurs to me that a message on worry, stress and anxiety might be in order. People are more susceptible to stress during this season than any other. Primarily, this is because we become so much busier this time of year. We have parties to go to and shopping to get done. For many businesses the December workload increases substantially. On top of that, visiting relatives and financial pressures add to our stress.
Plus, there is something about the holiday season that makes difficult times seem even more difficult. We have such high expectations for this time of year. We want peace, happiness, joy and good will; if things aren't right in our lives, we feel especially let down.
With this in mind, today we will look at Paul's advice on how to eliminate anxiety. Some counselors talk about "how to cope with stress." I'll be honest with you: I'm not interested in "coping" with stress. I want to eliminate it. I don't want to get used to it, I want to get rid of it. In Philippians 4, Paul shows us how we can do just that. He begins by saying...
(v. 6) Do not worry about anything.
Now, this is easier said than done. Everyone knows that worry isn't good, yet everyone does it. The only thing more futile than worry is telling someone not to worry. But Paul does much more than just say "Don't worry." He tells us exactly how to stop worrying. Do you have worries? Here's how you can get rid of them. First of all...
1. Make everything a matter of prayer
(v. 6) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God
When I read the writings of Paul I quickly come to the conclusion that I do not pray enough. Again and again Paul commands us to pray about everything.
We have a tendency to want to handle the little things ourselves and only "bother" God with the big stuff. There are two problems with this line of thinking. First, it's all small stuff as far as God is concerned. Secondly, if we don't let God help us through the day-to-day problems, how can we trust him to help us tackle the toughies? When you pray about everything, you will begin to see God's power at work in your life--in little problems and in major crises.
The Bible says...Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (I Peter 5:7)
In fact, Paul takes it a step further. He said, "Present your requests to God." That means, in any problem you have, or any situation you encounter, you have permission-in fact, you have a direct order-to make a request to God, telling him exactly what you want to happen.
That's quite a privilege, isn't it? What if you request something that isn't in line with God's will? Well, don't worry about that. God will take care of it. He will not give you something that he knows isn't best for you. Besides, the more you pray about something the more you will learn to discern the difference (when there is one) between God's will and your desires.
Don't be afraid to ask God for help. Twenty times in the New Testament we are commanded to "Ask God." Also, the book of James tells us...
You do not have because you do not ask God (James 4:2)
A professional political fund-raiser recently told me that the number one reason people do not give to a political campaign is because they are never asked to give. This is obvious: if a person is never given the opportunity to give, they cannot give!
Could it be the reason God hasn't helped is that you have never given him the opportunity? Think about the biggest problem you're facing today. Have you asked God for help? Now, think about the smallest problem you are facing. Have you asked God for help with that? It's ok to pray for parking spaces and laundry stains and runny noses and late appointments and broken water heaters and office conflicts and financial problems and marital problems and rebellious children and...cancer. If it concerns you, it concerns God. Bring your requests to him.
The first step to getting rid of worry is pray like you ought to pray-make everything a matter of prayer.
2.Think Positive Thoughts about God
Our thoughts control us.
Emerson said, "You become what you think about all day long."
In the Bible, King Solomon said, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. " (Proverbs 23:7)
What do you think about all day? When you wake up in the morning, what thoughts go through your mind? How you think during the first few minutes of the clay can set the pace for the entire clay.