Hello and welcome to this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. If this message impacts you, we want to know about it. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/give.
Fear, stress, worry, and anxiety ravage our modern culture. As we continue the series Technicolor Joy, we learn that though these things consume us, it is possible to find rest for our souls. Philippians 4, 6, and 7 are among the verses most treasured by Christians because of their power to help overcome anxiety. Now we invite you to open your Bible as Skip begins the message, overcoming an anxious mind.
Would you please turn in your Bible to the book of Philippians chapter 4-- Philippians chapter 4. We're going to look at verse 6 and 7 in just a moment. I want to talk to you today about one of our greatest struggles, and that is anxiety.
Anxiety is a thief. It steals your thoughts. It steals your peace. It steals your confidence. It steals your joy.
And in this theme of the book that is overridden with joy that Paul expresses, at some point we're going to have to deal with the topic and the issue of worry and anxiety, which Paul does in these two verses.
Now, for many years a woman couldn't sleep because she worried that her home would be broken into by a burglar. It was just a thought that plagued her thinking for a long time. Day after day, and week after week, and month after month for a number of years, she had this plaguing thought.
Well, one evening, she and her husband both heard a noise downstairs. Her husband got up, went downstairs to find out what the noise was. And it was, can you guess? It was a burglar.
The husband saw the burglar and said to him, could you come upstairs and meet my wife? She's been waiting 10 years to meet you. The point is simple-- a burglar can steal from you once. The burglar of anxiety can steal from you for decades.
Now, it's sort of humorous to me what we as Americans worry so much about, what concerns us, what stresses us out. We put filters in our faucets. We put air ionizers in our home.
We lather ourselves with anti-bacterial soap. We get worried about avian flu. We get worried about getting E. coli bacteria.
At the same time, 20% of adults smoke. 20% of drivers don't wear their seat belts. And it's estimated that 75% of those who own mobile devices text while they drive. What that tells me is that we worry about perceived dangers while we ignore real ones.
Now, this is the holiday season. This is the Christmas season. And this is the time when all of those anxieties and worries go away.
This is the time when we don't experience anxiousness and stress. Oh, this is the time of peace on earth and goodwill toward men, right? Boy, wouldn't that be nice?
But you know that that is not the truth. What you know is what we found out, that 64% of Americans say during this season their anxiety level goes up and not down. And there's reasons for that. There are contributing factors.
One of the things that psychologists say is a reality is called seasonal affective disorder, given the initials S-A-D, SAD. Seasonal affective disorder is brought on by shortened days, less sunlight, more darkness. That does something to sort of a generalized gloominess that we experience.
Another factor is during the holiday season, Americans travel. 72% of Americans will travel from Thanksgiving through New Years. Right in between there, a lot of people are mobile. Well, going to airports, missing flights, weather, snowing people in, et cetera, all of that raises-- not lowers-- the stress level.
And what are we traveling to? Well, we want to gather with family, which brings another level of stress-- getting together with family members, some of which we don't really want to get together with perhaps. There's always that weird uncle that shows up or something like that.
We worry over buying the right gifts. Will I offend them? I bought them this size. I hope that fits.
Was it enough money that I spent, et cetera? Did I spend too much? All of those things contribute.
So what we're going to do is look at two of the most significant verses in the New Testament that deal with your mental health. They are familiar verses. I would daresay some of you have even memorized these verses. You know them. We know them by heart.
In Philippians chapter 4, verse 6 and 7, it's part of a lineup of exhortations that we began to explore last time. Just to refresh your memory, if you look back at verse 1, he begins with the style stand fast. He commands them, verse 1. That's verse 1.
Verse 2, I implore the two ladies that he mentions. Verse 3, I urge. Verse 4, rejoice in the Lord always. I'll say it again, rejoice.
And now with that same sort of approach and style he writes the next two verses, and that's all the verses we're going to look at today. Verse 6 says 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.
I can't prove it, but perhaps some of you read that and you go, oh. Well, that's nice. It's simplistic. It's naive. It's unsophisticated, but that's nice.
Well, I want you to know it is not simplistic, though it is simple. And one of the things I love about God is he's not complicated. Most truth, you will discover, is simple truth-- not simplistic truth, simple truth.
It is simple, but it is also needful. I say it's needful because some of us are stuck in verse 6. We live in the world of worry and anxiety, anxious thoughts, stress. We never get out of it.
So it's simple truth. It's needful truth. But I also believe it's radical truth. If you can somehow get out of the first part of verse 6 into the second part of verse 6 into verse 7, it could revolutionize your life. It could give you a whole new lease on life.
So let me tell you the story about George. George was a busy executive in Pittsburgh. George worked about 75 hours a week. George had a heart attack.
His doctor after the heart attack said, George, I'm giving you a year to live. You probably won't last longer than a year if you keep this pace up in your style of living. And so, all of that stress, and all of that busy schedule, and all of that high blood pressure in George's life finally caught up with him.
So now he's listening very carefully. He's listening differently to his doctor than he was before, after the heart attack. He goes home to recuperate.
And so, while he's recuperating, he goes to his back porch with a pad of paper. And he writes a letter to God that said dear God, I hereby resign as general manager of the universe, signed George. And he always tells his friends, wonder of wonders, God accepted my resignation. I'm going to suggest that before the end of this message, God might be tapping you on the heart saying, I want your resignation. I want you to resign from trying to control everything or trying to worry about everything and be controlled and consumed by anxious thoughts.
So what I want to give you, what I want to do today-- and I'm confining it to these two verses. I want to unpack these verses. I want to drill down. I want to dismantle these two verses into parts, look at each part, and put it back together again, and see how it all fits. What I want to do is give you a four-fold approach to understanding anxiety and overcoming anxiety.
So let's begin with the problem. The problem is shown in the second word of the first verse we are considering. It's the word anxious. That's the problem. Anxiety is the problem. It's a problem all human beings at some point have to deal with.
But I want to tell you about the word that is used. It's translated into English, anxious, but the original word in Greek is the word [GREEK]. And [GREEK] appears 19 times in 17 New Testament verses.
It is translated into three English words primarily-- worry, anxious, care-- worry, anxious, care, [GREEK]. So when Jesus said do not worry about your life, that's the word he chose. When Jesus speaks to Martha, who was so distracted and busy when Jesus came over while Mary was sitting at Jesus' feet, Jesus said to Martha, Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. That's the word Jesus chose.
And it's the same word Paul used in 1 Corinthians 7 when he wrote to them and said, I want you to be without care. That's the word [GREEK]-- concerned, worry, anxious, care. But given that, I now want you to know where that word came from.
The word [GREEK] comes from two Greek words stuck together. And when I tell you what they are, you are going to get a full understanding of what worry in the Bible describes. Two words put together-- [GREEK], which means to tear or separate, to tear or to divide. And the second word, [GREEK], which means the mind. So you put those two together, [GREEK] and [GREEK] and you have [GREEK], which means literally to divide the mind.
It's an apt description of anxiety. Anxiety is when your mind is divided between legitimate thoughts and destructive thoughts. Anxiety takes your mind in two different directions. It tears your mind. James put it this way, a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Now, I believe that of all the times in history, this is the time when these verses are more appropriate than at any other time in this culture. It speaks to this culture in our country more than any other. Let me explain.
We are told that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem in America. And they will say, they estimate that 40 million-- 4-0 million Americans suffer some form of anxiety disorder. That is 18% of all American adults. In 2015, Boston University reported that anxiety has now surpassed depression and all other disorders in our country.
And then I found something terribly interesting. They took 14 different countries around the world and studied them. The World Mental Health Survey stated Americans were the most anxious people in the 14 countries that were studied with more clinically significant levels of anxiety than people in Nigeria, Lebanon, and Ukraine. If you know much about those countries, you know those are troubled spots.
What that tells us then is the United States of America is the undisputed champion of anxiety and worry. We win the Olympics when it comes to anxiety and worry. Recently, the New York Times put out an article where they stated in America we have developed an ethos of relentless worrying and agitation.
And did you know over the last three decades anxiety disorders have jumped more than 1,200%? Amazing. One psychologist, Robert Leahy, said the average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as an average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s. That's our country.
Now, I hope by now you're wondering, well, what are we so worried about? In America, what are we so anxious about? Well, I don't want to get into all the factors, but let me just sum it up by telling you what the Gallup organization found out.
The top things that concern us the most-- number one, personal income. Will I have enough money to survive whatever happens in the future? Second, Social Security system, which sort of ties into the first-- will the Social Security system be able to provide for me when I get older? You know that it's had a lot of problems over the last couple of decades.
Third, possible terrorist attacks-- will I become the victim of some hostile act of terrorism? Health care availability in the future-- and, finally, race relations, all of those are top concerns of Americans.
On one hand, I want to say I understand. From the perspective of a believer looking at the unbelieving world, I get it. I understand why their anxiety is so high. I understand why they're panicked, why they're anxious.
If you don't live with an anchor of faith, you're going to drift in a sea of anxiety. And most people in the world, they don't have anything to anchor. They have no real grand scheme or purpose in life.
So if you just think that you're dangling in some inexplicable universe with no rhyme, no reason, no design, no plan, no God-- so all we are are fortuitous occurrences of accidental circumstance. We're here by chance. Well, that's a very lonely place to be, isn't it?
You're going to feel very isolated, very lonely. And that's a scary place to be. If you don't know why you're here or where you're going, that's scary.
So one website-- and I found several of these. I always like to dig around and get some statistics and background, but in studying for this this week, I found several websites that said this. But one just articulates it quickly.
It said-- this is a psychiatric website-- our goal then shouldn't be to dismiss anxiety entirely but just to make it a healthy, manageable part of our lives. I want you to hear what they just said to you. The very best the world can do for you is to just manage your anxiety.
Now, are you good with that? Because the Bible offers you a chance to eliminate it. Keep reading.
So the problem is anxiety, anxious. The prescription is this, verse 6, be anxious for nothing. Now stop right there for just a moment.
If you didn't pick up on that, that's a commandment. It's put in the present active imperative. In other words, here's Paul writing his letter. He's writing from a Roman prison to a church in Philippi.
And he writes this in a very strong manner. I command you. Stop worrying, which sounds absurd if you're a worrier.
It sounds unreasonable. It sounds naive. It sounds idealistic to tell a worrier, hey, stop it. Quit your worrying. Because they're going to say, what planet are you from? How unrealistic can you be?
Now, to make matters a bit worse if you're a worrier, in the Greek language, this is stated in a very emphatic way so that it could be best translated stop worrying about even one thing. Now, before you get mad at Paul for saying that, let me ask you a question. Did Jesus Christ say something like that?
Ah, he did, didn't he-- in fact, almost exactly the same thing. But with Jesus, though he said the same thing, he gives us reasons not to allow anxiety to rule over us. Listen to his words. This is the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew, chapter 6.
He says do not worry about your life-- same word. Do not worry about your life-- what you eat, what you drink, about your body, what you will put on. It's not life more than food and the body more than clothing.
Look at the birds of the air. They neither read nor gather into barns. But your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add 1 cubit to his stature?
Don't misunderstand what Jesus is saying. He's not saying kick back and be lazy. Go outside and open up your little beak and expect a worm to plop in.
Birds don't do that, by the way, because it doesn't rain worms, last I checked. They've got to go be very busy and diligent about finding them. So he's not saying be lazy. When he says don't worry, he's saying don't have an anxious over-concern about life that divides your mind. That's what he's saying.
By the way, he uses the example of birds. Let me ask you something. Have you ever seen a worried bird?
Think back now. Go back to all the times you've looked at birds. Have you ever seen one?
We have a blue jay in our backyard. We've just spotted it. I've spotted it the last week. It's beautiful. It hangs out between these two little areas.
I was looking at him the other day because Jesus said go look at the birds. Behold the birds of the earth. So I did.
And it wasn't like-- it didn't have its little head and its beak and its claws going, oh, man. How are we going to pay for the rent on this nest? There was no stress at all. It looked carefree.
So Jesus says, behold the birds. Now, in Jesus' words that I just read to you, he gives us three reasons we should not worry-- first, because it's unhealthy; second, because it's unbecoming; and third, because it's unproductive. Let me explain those.
First of all, it's unhealthy. He said is not life more than food? You know that worry, and stress, and anxiety can actually harm your life, your physical life? It can hurt you. It can ruin your body and your mind.
A few biblical examples-- King Darius signed a decree. And he was so stressed over what he signed that it says his sleep went from him. Neither did he eat.
That's Daniel, chapter 6. Now, if you keep that up-- not sleeping and not eating-- you'll die. So it's not healthy.
King David in Psalm 6, it says that he turned to God and said, I am weary with my groaning. All night I make my bed swim. I drench my couch with tears. That's depression and anxiety.
And then there's Moses, Numbers chapter 11-- so stressed out about Israel that he complained. Now listen to Moses' prayer. My burden is too heavy for me. Please kill me here and now. That's anxiety when you're praying like that.
So it's unhealthy. Harvard Medical School says those who are gripped by anxiety have a greater risk for developing a number of chronic medical conditions. It will affect your GI system, respiratory system, and has been linked to heart disease. So it's unhealthy.
Second reason Jesus gives, it's unbecoming. It's unbecoming of a child of God. It is not fitting for a child of God.
For a child of God to be always anxious and always worried is in effect saying, I don't trust you, God. You said some pretty cool things that make me feel good for a little while when I read them. But then I go out and live my real life, and I don't expect that you're really going to make good on any of these things. So to be consumed with worry and anxiety betrays a lack of trust in God caring for you.
So Jesus says, and here's why it's unbecoming. Look at the birds of the air. They don't reap. They don't sow, gather into barns, but your Heavenly Father feeds them.
Mark the language. He didn't say their Heavenly Father feeds them, because he's not their Heavenly Father. They don't have a personal relationship with God, but he's your Heavenly Father.
You have a personal relationship with the Father. Your Father feeds birds with birdbrains. If your Father feeds birds, then your Father is going to feed his children and take care of his children. There's a relationship there.
When my son was growing up, I never remembered him as a little boy being stressed about where the next meal was going to come from. My grandkids don't worry about where the-- am I going to eat today, daddy? They're just like whatever. They always eat, right? The parent delights in caring for children.
So it's unhealthy. It's unbecoming of a child of God. The third reason Jesus would give, it's unproductive.
For he says, which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? What good has worry ever done for you? All of that anxiety, how is that working out?
Is it productive? It's not productive at all. Worry is like a rocking chair. It makes a lot of movement, but you don't go anywhere.
So I found this article in the Huffington Post this week. A study they cited by Dr. Joseph Goewey, who did a study on this and research. And he said 85% of the things we worry about never happen.
He said of the 15% that did happen, 79% of the people found they could handle the difficulty better than they thought they could and/or the difficulty taught them lessons worth learning. So he concluded 97% of what you worry about is just a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misconceptions. So Paul says be anxious for nothing. We've seen the problem and the prescription.
Let me move you to the third, and that is the prayer. Now, we get the solution. 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.
Forgive me, but I'm drilling down I said, right? So look at the word but in verse 6. So be anxious for nothing but-- that's a word of contrast, so he's pivoting. He's saying don't do this but do that, right?
Now, in that contrast, we find the solution to the problem. If the problem is anxiety, then the solution is replacement. It's like God's replacement therapy. Don't do this but do that. The cure for worry is to redirect your energy and replace your anxiety.
The Bible gives this a name. It's called casting. You're familiar with the verse 1 Peter, chapter 5, verse 7-- casting all your cares. Same word, by the way, [GREEK]-- same word, the thoughts that divide the mind.
Casting all your care upon him because he cares for you. So don't carry your cares. Cast your cares.
A lot of us, we have backpacks or briefcases. Or some of us have duffel bags, depending on how much work you go and take to and from work. So I'll carry books, papers, computer. It's like a backpack.
Now, when I come home and that's on my back-- I take it in from the car. It's on my back. It's like I'm like this with my backpack.
I don't wear that thing all night. I don't sit down at the supper table with the backpack hunched over eating my meal. I cast it as quickly as I enter the door. I get rid of it-- so casting all your cares upon him.
So the thought here is to redirect your energy and replace your anxiety. With what? With prayer. In everything by prayer, supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Why is it that the very first thing we should do ends up being the very last thing we even try, prayer? It's like we just let this thing go. And we wrestle with it, and it gets worse and worse.
And then, finally, we go, man. There's nothing left to do but pray. Yeah, we should have thought that two days ago when this whole thing first started. We should have immediately let that go and cast that, and then kept doing that as a process along the way.
Jesus said to his disciples men are always to pray and not to faint. Now look back at the verse, and you will notice he didn't just say, hey, pray about it. Notice what Paul does.
There's four words. There's prayer, supplication with thanksgiving. Let your requests-- there's four different things he notices, and I want to just break that apart.
First of all, prayer-- prayer. This word prayer is the general word the New Testament uses for prayer, [NON-ENGLISH], but it is often translated worship or devotion. So think of it this way. When you're tempted to worry, worship. When you're burdened, bow.
Because when you do that, you are focusing now on God's greatness. Your thought gets off of the concern, the care, you. And it gets on to God and his greatness.
See, often we rush to the throne room. And we just start casting. Now, there's a time to cast the care upon God, and tell him, and cry out to him. There's a time for that, but not at first.
When you enter his throne room-- if you were to go to the Queen of England, you couldn't just go to the Queen of England and just spew all your personal garbage. In fact, when you go to the Queen of England, you can't even get to see her unless you go through a protocol training of how to stand, what to do, what gestures to make, what side of yourself she is allowed to look at. All of that is protocol to respect this earthly ruler's authority.
So you're coming to talk to the God of the universe, your Heavenly Father, but you're going to cast your cares upon him. But not right away, because Jesus taught us to pray. He didn't say and when you pray say, give us this day our daily bread, right?
He didn't say that's how you start. He said this is how you start. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven-- all that's worship. All that is honoring him. And then give us this day, our daily bread, the casting of the care-- so prayer, worship.
And here's why it's important. Worship and worry cannot coexist in the same heart. They are mutually exclusive. If you start worshipping, you're going to find your worries diminishing. And if you start worrying, you're going to find your worshipping diminish.
So that's first prayer, by prayer-- [NON-ENGLISH], worship, devotion. The second word, notice that, supplication. Now, this is familiar territory. It means strong crying, begging. Oh God! It's more emotional.
See, and I like that, because there's room for that. I love one woman, one young mother, she would always have devotions in the morning. And she told her three-year-old, honey, I just needed a little bit of time alone with God. This is mommy's time. I'm having my devotion.
So a phone call came in. The three-year-old picked it up and said, mommy's busy. She's having her emotions.
She meant devotions, but I like her choice of words. There's a time to engage your emotion, your heartfelt cries. That's the idea supplication.
And so, Jesus I think intimated this when he spoke of a friend who came to see a friend at midnight and said lend me three loaves of bread. Jesus said his friend will not rise to give to him because he is his friend but because of his persistence. The idea is supplication-- so prayer, supplication.
But don't stop there. Notice what else it says, with thanksgiving-- with thanksgiving. Don't forget to thank God.
Now, I know you might be going thank God? When I'm so stressed out and filled with anxiety and worry? What am I going to thank God for? Well, first of all, thank God that he cares enough to give you promises like this to get you out of it. So you bring thanksgiving as part of the equation.
It's easy to thank God for obvious blessings. God blesses you. Thank you, Lord!
You get a promotion. Thank you, Lord! You get a big bonus this time of year. It's Christmas time.
Oh, God, I love you. I trust you. Thank you-- OK cool, easy.
Now try that when the cupboards are bare. It's not so easy. But it says in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.
And here's why you should thank God. Those trials are tools God is using to mature you and I. So think and thank. Think about what God has done for you in the past, and now thank him for his promise for the future and his provision.
In the New Testament, there were 10 lepers that Jesus healed. We know the story. But think about that-- incurable diseases, no hope ever.
People with leprosy in those days died of leprosy, a very slow, painful-- excruciatingly painful death. 10 men had leprosy. Jesus healed 10 of them-- healed, cured, completely whole. How many came back to thank him?
Uno. One. 10%.
I wonder if that ratio has changed any since 2000 years ago? Probably it's about the same, probably about 10% of people who are blessed and given things by God tell him thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
And I wonder if that leper didn't even include, Jesus, I want to thank you for healing me of this incurable disease. But I also want to thank you for the lessons I learned during the years that I had that disease, which makes the healing even more appreciated-- so prayer, supplication with thanksgiving.
And then notice this, let your requests be made known to God. Did you hear the word requests? Paul doesn't say let your demands be made known to God.
Let your ultimatum be known to God. Let your temper tantrum be known to God. Let your "I claim it by faith" be known to God.
No, you just come with an ask. You come with a request. You lay down the request, because God might say yes.
He might say no. He might say maybe. He might say wait. Either way, I'm requesting and I'm asking.
But it says let your requests be made known to God. So you articulate what it is exactly you want from him. None of this, oh, God, bless my life.
Well, how? What specifically are you asking God to do? Let your requests be made known to God.
Which brings up a question, why do I need to inform God? You don't. You can't. You're not informing God of anything.
God doesn't sit up there when you articulate a request and go, oh. Huh? I didn't know that till now. Because he knows what you need, the Bible says, before you ask it.
So why do you inform him? You don't inform God when you pray. You are conformed to God when you pray.
See, it's a huge difference. You're being changed and conformed. You are in a sense voicing your weakness and voicing your dependence.
And every parent loves when a child says, daddy, I can't do this. Would you help me? Absolutely.
You're voicing your weakness. You're voicing your dependence. I want to help you do that.
One of the great plays of all time was a play that became a movie, but it was a play called The Barretts of Wimpole Street. Now, I said it became a movie like in the 1930s I think or '40s. I forget which.
But it's about an aspiring poet named Elizabeth Barrett, who meets the esteemed known poet, Robert Browning. And a relationship develops between them. But here's the line in this play.
Elizabeth says, oh, Robert, how can you love me when you are so strong and I am so weak? And Robert says, Elizabeth, my strength needs your weakness as much as your weakness needs my strength. I love that compatibility of strength and weakness.
So you're weak. He is strong. When you let your requests be made known to God, you are articulating I'm weak, you're strong. And God says I'm strong, you're weak. It's a perfect match, the perfect get-together.
So to sum it all up so far, be anxious for nothing, be prayerful in everything, be thankful for anything. And let's close with the promise. We've seen the problem, and the prescription, and the prayer.
Here's the promise, verse 7, and the peace of God. I'm already just relaxing with that verse. The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Did you notice the phrase the peace of God? Not every believer has that. Every believer when they come to faith in Christ has peace with God, not necessarily the peace of God yet.
You see, peace with God is when you surrender. You put up the white flag. And you say I'm done fighting you, God. I give my life to you, Jesus.
And now you have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, it says. So the war is over. You and God have become one. You've surrendered your life to Christ.
At that moment in time, you may not be feeling the experience of peace. That is what this verse calls the peace of God. So the first is a fact, peace with God. The second is a feeling, the peace of God.
So to sum it up, I would look at it this way. Jesus as Savior brings peace with God, but Jesus as Lord brings the peace of God. Make sense? It's like that tranquil feeling of confidence.
It's like, ah. It's going to be OK. God is in control. He is still the master of the universe.
So the peace of God, which look at the description. It surpasses all understanding. It transcends human intellect, human analysis. You can try to explain it, but you can't adequately explain it. It's a piece of God that transcends your ability to explain.
One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 26. I often say it to myself in times of stress. It says you will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.
So the peace of God surpasses all understanding. It will-- now picture this-- guard your hearts minds-- [GREEK], your mind that gets divided. It will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ.
So picture a guard, a sentry. He's got a spear, got a shield, got the stern look on his face. He's standing at the gate.
He is the garrison that is posted when the thoughts come into your mind that could divide it. He says, what? You're not going anywhere. You're not getting in there.
I am the peace of God. I'm standing at this gate and not letting you in to disrupt this person who lives in this. The peace of God, which passes understanding, will stand garrison or play umpire-- however you want to translate it-- your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.
If there was one person in all of scripture that lived these two verses that we've been considering this morning, I would say it would be Daniel. Daniel was a prophet in the Old Testament. Daniel lived in Babylon, a foreign country, a hostile government that made it against the law for him or anyone else to pray to the one true God of heaven. For 30 days, King Darius signed a decree that nobody could worship, or pray, or make a request of any God besides the Babylonian system.
So it says this, Daniel chapter 6, verse 10. So Daniel went home-- now listen to the language-- and prayed and gave thanks before his God. Next verse, verse 11-- the men found Daniel praying and making supplication to his God. Did you hear all three of those words-- prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, the same exact words that are in our text-- prayer, supplication, thanksgiving.
And what was the result? Peace. Daniel experienced peace.
You say, wait a minute. Daniel got thrown into a lion's den. Exactly, and he didn't seem to stress, right? In fact, he got a good night's sleep.
The guy who didn't get sleep is the guy who's living in the palace, the king who signed the decree. He can't sleep. He can't eat. He's stressed out.
Daniel's going to sleep with the lions. He wakes up the next day.
Hi, king. God bless you. Live forever. Here I am.
Now, I'll say I don't want this to sound like it's going to just be a snap and very, very easy when you leave here. It is a process. But it can be done.
It can be done at a funeral. It can be done in a hospital. It can be done at an accident. It can be done when there is a relational disagreement.
Because here's what I want you to see in putting it all back together. We enter the passage in anxiety. We exit the passage in peace. And between anxiety and peace is what? Prayer.
Anxiety, prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, requests, and peace, that's the process. You begin here, you end here, and here's the process. You go through.
So it reminds me of a guy who was always a worry wart. Everybody knew. They'd see him. He always kind of had that down look, carried the world on his shoulders, very negative about everything, worried about absolutely everything.
He came to work one day singing, and whistling, and smiling. And everybody wondered, what happened to this guy? And he said, you know, guys, I'm a worry wart. You've known that about me, right?
So I gave it some thought. And I thought it's just not worth it anymore. I need to hire somebody to worry for me.
So this weekend, I found just the perfect person. He seems very qualified. And I'm hiring him to do all of my worrying.
And he said, and I'm paying him $200,000, which might sound like a steep price. But $200,000 a year is worth it, if he can take all my worries. And they looked at him and said, are you an idiot?
I mean, you don't even make a third of that. How are you going to pay him? He goes I don't know. That's his worry.
But I like the thought that your concern is his concern. It's his worry, and he's not worried. It's his concern.
So hands up, worries down, or in the words of the hymnist, what a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Father, as we close, that's what we do. In this moment of prayer, our mind can lay hold of and grab onto a number of things that have been concerns for us, and steal our peace, and divide our mind. Our mind gets tormented. Our heart becomes unsettled and uneasy.
It is such a human condition. It's so easy to happen. But we pray, Father, that in learning these great principles we could redirect our energy, replace our anxiety with prayer and supplication, thanksgiving, articulating the request, and in that moment-- at that time of exchange-- experiencing an inexplicable peace, which is part and parcel of experiencing the joy that Paul wrote so often about in this letter.
May we-- especially during this time where we celebrate advent, the coming of Jesus into the world, the first advent-- I pray that peace would mark us, joy would mark us, that we would not allow those things into our lives, into our minds. And when they come in that this process would be enacted. It might have to be done a lot until we get the hang of it.
But, Father, we pray for your peace to stand garrison, to guard our minds, our hearts through Jesus Christ. It's in his name we pray.
We don't have to worry because God promises to guard our hearts and minds. Did this message encourage you to let him shoulder your worry? We'd love to hear about it. Email us at mystory@CalvaryABQ.org.
And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Skip Heitzig of Calvary church.