Christmas! A Good Time For Gratitude

Blog.001

It can be hard to be grateful when you feel overwhelmed. How are you supposed to be grateful in this holiday season?

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

The keyword there is “in.” It doesn’t say give thanks for all circumstances. There are many things in life you shouldn’t be grateful for. If someone gets cancer, we’re not grateful. If a woman gets raped or somone is treated unjustly, we’re not grateful for that.

We’re not to be grateful for sin or evil or for the suffering that comes from those things. To be thankful FOR everything is sick. To be thankful IN everything is maturity.

Even in the darkest days of your life, there are always some things you can be grateful for. There are always some good things you can be thankful for. No matter how dark the days or how tragic the news, you can be thankful in all things.

Thank God for the grace He has shown you.

Grace is getting what I need not what I deserve. If I got what I deserved, I wouldn’t be alive. Grace is God’s free gift.

“You have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God.”  Ephesians 2:8

We can’t earn our salvation. We can’t bargain our salvation. It is simply a gift from God. That’s grace. We can always be thankful for God’s grace.

God loves us. Not because we deserve it, but because of His grace. God blesses us, uses us, protects us and takes us to Heaven, not because of what we do – but because of His grace. It is a gift of God.

“I will…not forget the glorious things God does for me. He forgives all my sins. He heals me. He ransoms me from hell. He surrounds me with love… He fills my life with good things… He is merciful and tender toward those who don’t deserve it; He is slow to get angry… He never bears a grudge… He has not punished us as we deserve for our sins.” Psalms 103:2-10


One way we express our gratefulness is through singing. In the Bible it says, “make a joyful noise”

“Let us come to God with thanksgiving, singing songs of thanks to Him!” Psalm 95:2

No matter what you’re going through, no matter how difficult the days, you can be thankful to Him for the grace He has shown you.

Be grateful for the plans He has for you.

You can be grateful for the good plans that God has for you. Life is not always good, life is tough. The sun doesn’t always come out tomorrow. There are a lot of bad things happening in the world all the time. Life is not always good, but God is always good. His plan for your life is always good.

Not everything that happens in your life is something He planned. But everything that happens in your life, He fits into your plan.

“I have good plans for you, says the Lord. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.” Jeremiah 29:11 ICB

A lot of people go around thinking that God is mad at them. God isn’t mad at you, God is mad about you. He loves you more than anything else. The only reason you are alive is because God created you to love you. If God didn’t want you around, you wouldn’t be able to take your next breath. You are alive because God made you to love you.

God tells us He has good plans for your life. Some walk around thinking God causes all their suffering. We worship a God who took on all our suffering. Look at the cross

The Bible says He was bruised and crushed for what we did wrong. He was wounded for our sins by the strips of flesh that were ripped from his body, we are healed. Our sin, guilt and shame was on Him. We have a God who doesn’t just suffer with us, He suffers for us. That’s good news.

God says, I have good plans for you. God doesn’t plan your sins. Many things that happen in your life are because of dumb decisions, God didn’t plan those things. Many things happen because other people make dumb decisions, God doesn’t plan the sins done by you or the sins done against you that hurt you. You make choices and God can fit that into His plan for your life. God has no Plan B for your life. He already knows the dumb decisions you and other people will make and His plan for you is still good.

God’s plan for your life is greater than the problems you are going through. God’s purpose for your life is bigger than the problems you bring on yourself.

When we go through a difficult time, when something hits us and we have no idea why it is happening, we always want an explanation.

Explanations do not comfort.

What comforts is the presence of God. You don’t need an explanation. Instead, thank God that His grace is sufficient and His plan for you is good.

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

What has you worried this holiday season? Is it your finances, your health your relationships, your job?

You feel the tensions, anxiety and insecurity and wonder, “How can I be thankful in this situation right now?”

If you put your life in God’s hands, all things are working for the good. You’ve got somebody on your side. The antidote starts with singing spiritual songs and the next part is prayer. The Bible tells us to cast our cares and our worries on God. We are told to not worry but to pray.

“Don’t be anxious or worried about anything. Instead pray about everything always making your requests to God with thanksgiving.” Philippians 4:6

If you are not praying, you are worrying. If you are worrying, you are not praying.


Stop and think about what you are worried about most right now and read Philippians 4:6 again.

“Don’t be anxious or worried about anything. Instead pray about everything always making your requests to God with thanksgiving.” Philippians 4:6

Pray this prayer right now:

“God, You know this problem I am worried about. It’s got me upset and I’m stressed out about it. God, take the problem away. Solve the problem and show me the answer. Show me the way out. Thank you for the grace that You have shown me. How You forgive me, You rescue me from Hell, You surround me with love and You fill my life with good things. Thank You for all the gifts of grace and the plan for my life. God I want to thank you that with all the things happening in my life, You are working them for the good. I love You and I want to fulfill Your purpose. In Jesus name I pray, Amen”


“I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5

Some of you have been abandoned by a father, a boyfriend, girlfriend, a brother or a spouse. God will never leave you. You may be hurt or broken – But God will never leave you.

The great violinist, Itzhak Perlman, was performing a concert at Lincoln Center and he walked out on stage. Itzhak is crippled and wears leg braces and uses crutches. It takes him a long time to walk out on stage and take the braces off to then sit down and begin playing. As he got ready to play, he broke a string. Everyone in the concert hall heard it break. So now he either has to put his braces back on, get up and walk back off stage to get a new string or go on the way he is.

Itzhak chose to play the entire concert with one less string. He played the entire concert on a broken instrument.

At the end of the concert, the entire audience rose to its feet in thunderous applause for this magnificent feat. They had just watched a man play an entire concert on a broken instrument.

Itzhak Perlman said something very profound and it applies to your life.

“Sometimes it is the artists task to find out how much music you can still play with what you have left.”

Between now and when you die, how much music can you play, for the glory of God, with what you have left?

You don’t have the body or the energy you use to have. You may not have the support system you use to have or the trust you use to have.

Sometimes it is the duty of the artist to find out how much music you can play, with what you have left.


You can listen to this sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App.

 

For Mobile Wallpaper

 

Look Up

blog.001Today we’re going to look at one of the great chapters of our faith found in 2 Chronicles. The authors are chronicling in First and Second Chronicles the acts of God on behalf of His people, primarily through the kings. These books show us God is always working. Even when things looked bad or there was a bad king, God was up to something. This chapter is going to show us what can happen when we lift our gaze to God in the midst of a storm in our life. In this story Jehoshaphat is the king of Judah. 

“After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar’ (that is, En Gedi).”  2 Chronicles 20:1-2

Jehoshaphat got news that a vast army was coming quickly, moving at a pace that he didn’t feel like he could control. Sometimes things larger than our ability to manage come at us with a rate and pace faster than our ability to stall or stop.

When Jehoshaphat first heard this news he was alarmed. We’re not promoting a faith where there are armies coming, and they are vast,  but we just shut that out and don’t take it seriously. It’s okay to be alarmed. Jehoshaphat is going to prove to be an amazing leader and he began by being alarmed.

Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord…”  2 Chronicles 20:3

His alarm was then accompanied by resolve to seek the Lord. Now that may seem so obvious but that is often the last resort for the people of God. Typically, we inquire of everything and everyone else. We inquire of the internet, we google it. We text a friend and ask them to meet up with us. We ask people for opinions. We do everything else but look up.

Jehoshaphat was alarmed, but he resolved to inquire of God. He asked God what was happening. When he did that, it was the key to his breakthrough. Breakthrough begins with us saying to God, “What is happening and what would you like to do?

“…and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.” 2 Chronicles 20:3

This fast was not a fly-by-night fad. It wasn’t a juicing, cleansing, liver detoxing, or losing weight. Rather he proclaimed that they had a big problem so we were going to cut out all other distractions for awhile so that they could put God first and hear from God. They had armies coming and desperately needed to hear from God.

“The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said:”  2 Chronicles 20:4-6

The people came together at a high place.  For these people the mountains were real. The ark of Noah found its resting place on the top of a mountain, Mount Ararat. When Abraham was in the struggle of knowing there is a promise that a nation would come through his son but God asked him to take a radical step of willingness to let go of that son, and a ram appeared caught in the thicket, it was up on Mount Mariah. When Moses met with God and the earth quaked and a cloud descended and the glory of God couldn’t even be seen face-to-face, that all happened on Mount Horeb, Mount Sinai. When the prophets of Baal came against the people of God and Elijah declared that his God is greater and fire came down from heaven it happened on Mount Carmel.

Jesus eventually would give his life on what some would say is Mount Moriah. The lower regions of that same temple mount is where these events are happening in our text. God is inviting us to turn our eyes up and meet Him at a higher elevation. Our help comes not from these people, it might come through these people, but our help comes from the Lord. So they stopped and looked up. The things that happened for them as they stopped, fasted and looked up can happen for us. There are five things to look at. 


What Happens When We Look Up

1. We see God seated on an unassailable throne.

Unassailable means unable to be attacked or defeated. God is seated in that place today. He is not pacing. He is not even standing. He is confidently sitting on a throne that cannot be threatened from any angle.  There is not one ounce of anxiety in God today. That’s what we can see when we look up.

“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.”  2 Chronicles 20:6

He is seated on an unassailable throne of power and might. We know this, but when the storm comes and the pressure come we have to lift our eyes up and see there is a throne up there and so is our God.

2. We see that God has an unbroken track record of faithfulness

Immediately what Jehoshaphat remembers is that God has come through for them and defeated their enemies before.

“Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?”  2 Chronicles 20:7

We’ve all been knocked down but none of us have been utterly destroyed because we’re all here today, God came through. You might think He has not come through for you, because of the circumstances you are in right now, but the good news is it’s not the end of the day yet! God is not done with you yet. It’s three days in a tomb but there was a resurrection. Right now may look like your tomb but it’s not over. A chapter may have closed, but the next chapters of your life have not. 

God’s work in your life is not finished. 

God’s opportunity to continue to do what only God can do is still alive today. That’s the power of the resurrection. That’s why when all of the sudden we’re fixated on the wind and the waves and the when, the where and the why, God is saying you can’t, but I can. Just lift your eyes to a God who has an unbroken track record of faithfulness.

3. We replace self-dependency with God-ability.

God-ability is so much better than self-dependency. Because self-dependency runs out and runs dry quickly. There are so many situations in life in which we have no control.

“Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”  2 Chronicles 20:12

That’s a great confession. Instead of lying here all night until we figure it out, we can talk to God instead. We can confess we are facing something we can’t handle. Sometimes we just need to say the simple thing: I don’t know what to do.

Remember, Jehoshaphat was alarmed, but he did resolve something. He resolved to shut out all the other noise so he could hear from God. We might not be able to take on three armies, but God can. We may not be able to control our situation, but we can control our response and our resolve.

“All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.”  2 Chronicles 20:13

They have all gathered together, standing with lifted eyes. There are three armies coming quickly, but in faith they set their gaze on God. Then the Spirit of the Lord fell on a messenger.

He said: ‘Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.'”  2 Chronicles 20:15

Whatever it is you’re facing you need to keep reminding yourself that you’re not fighting this battle, but God is fighting this battle. We will do whatever it is God leads us to do, but God is fighting this battle.

4. God gives a promise for deliverance.

He wants to give you a promise for deliverance as well. Again, the battle is not yours, it’s God’s. He gives them a plan.

“‘Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, [He knows this because He is the maker of heaven and earth.] and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” 2 Chronicles 20:16-17

The battle is the Lord’s but He directs our steps and guides us to victory. These are the marching orders. If you have a protocol facing you, go and follow the ways that seem wise. But as you go remember the treatments aren’t the ultimate warrior. God is our warrior and our defender. God is fighting for us. He may be using the regiment or this treatment, but it is God who is doing it on our behalf. He never said turn your back and pretend the problems aren’t there. Go face them, because you know the Lord, your God is with you.

5. We respond with pre-thanks to God.

Pre-thanks is when you start thanking God for things He has told you He will do that He hasn’t actually done yet. God has promised that He has delivered me. I’m going to praise him and thank him as though He’s done it, because God’s promise is as good as the fact that He’s done it. If you thank God after you’ve got it, that’s gratitude. When you thank him in advance, that’s called faith.

“Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.”  2 Chronicles 20:18-19

God has spoken, the people have stood and now they have bowed down and started praising God. Fear is loud and all consuming. Worry is loud. Loud praise displaces loud fear. Fear and worship cannot coexist in the same space. One displaces the other. 

Worry and worship cannot exist in the same space.

“Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.’ After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.’”  2 Chronicles 20:20-21

These people began to displace their fearful thoughts with faithful thoughts. They began to displace their worried thoughts with worshipful thoughts. The army begins singing give thanks to the Lord for His love endures forever.

“As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day.

Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lyres and trumpets.

The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.” 2 Chronicles 20:22-30

That’s what worship does and that is God’s promise for us today. Our worship can displace our worry. His faithfulness displaces our fear. We need the peace that comes from Christ. We can fix our gaze upward to where our help comes from and receive that peace today.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions on the “One Person at a Time” message?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

Read: 2 Chronicles 20

In 2 Chronicles 20, we see Jehoshaphat leading the people to look up to God. After getting word that three armies were coming against them, Jehoshaphat resolved to look up to God for help. Their response to the coming crisis made all the difference. When we look up…

  1. We see God seated on an unassailable throne.
  2. We see God has an unbroken track record of faithfulness.
  3. We replace self-dependency with God-ability.
  4. God gives a promise for deliverance.
  5. We respond with pre-thanks to God.

Application

  1. Have you ever been in a circumstance that alarmed you? Maybe it was multiple things coming against you. How did you respond? What did Jehoshaphat resolve to do when he was alarmed?
  2. Where do your eyes naturally go when a crisis is coming your way? What would it mean to look up to God as a first resort?
  3. Have you ever pre-thanked God for anything before?
  4. What promises of God are you clinging to right now?
  5. Is there a specific crisis or fear in your life to which this message applied?

Tell Someone Else

Who can you encourage as a result of this message?

For Mobile Wallpaper

 

Week 1: How Do I Handle Anxiety & Depression?

On Easter weekend, we did a survey and compiled your most asked questions. Those questions are the roadmap for this series called You Asked For It.

This weekend, we took a look at what the Bible had to say about Anxiety & Depression.


There are hard things in life. And they can make us anxious. So anxious, we become depressed.

Different emotions produce different sensations. For instance, anger produces a burning sensation. Guilt produces a sick or nausea sensation. Anxiety is best described as tightness. Constriction.

 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19 (NKJV) 

The word afflictions in the Hebrew is the same word the Assyrians used for torture. The kind of torture where they stand you up on a post, tie you to it and pile rock by rock on you until it crushes you dead. Maybe you’ve felt that way. Where you’re getting choked out, you’re suffocating, it’s getting tight and if they put one more rock on you, you’re done.

Let’s talk about those rocks for a second. We’ll call them the amplifying or aggravating factors. These are the amplifying factors that make anxiety and depression worse. Again, they are not the thing that’s causing it. They are the things that are making it worse.

  • Your upbringing – how you were raised. This is your operating system. The good news is, it can be re-written and debugged.
  • Your circumstances – relationships, conflict, marriage, deadlines, divorce, a new job, parenting, expectations of others…

  • Your environment – anything from noise to lighting

  • Your body – eat, sleep, exercise.
  • Your genetics – physical, biological, and neurological factors. Because of this, for some people, medicine and counseling are a necessary part of facing anxiety and depression. Your doctors will agree that those treatments alone will fall short. There’s a spiritual side to the battle.
  • Technology – we are not equipped to deal with this constant, incoming stream of information
  • Content – not only are we letting a stream of information in all the time, we are letting in content that is not life-giving or helpful.

If you only tackle the amplifying factors to anxiety, you will never make it go away. What’s causing this constriction? What’s the source?

“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.”  1 Peter 5:5-11 (NIV)

The Bible says your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a lion looking for someone he can eat alive. He’s looking for a family he can divide. Looking for a future he can ruin before it even gets started. Looking for a church he can divide, a nation he can divide, he’s looking for an addiction he can plant. The devil is busy and active.

When you believe in Jesus for the first time it’s like being born again. It’s a new life. The birthmark of a believer is a bullseyePeter is teaching us that we are born again into a living hope but as you are born again into hope, you are born into a very real battle. This is why Christians say “I’m under attack.”

Some people think God’s promise is that nothing will go wrong in their lives. That’s not his promise. In fact, Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble.” Just because you love God, doesn’t mean you won’t be afflicted. But the Lord gives you the ability to stand strong and have peace, even in the face of a lion.

Look at this passage from the Apostle Paul, found in Philippians chapter 4, where he talks about how to guard against anxiety and how to have peace in the face of this lion.

“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:7

God says, I guarantee you can experience God’s peace. This is a promise. But with this promise there’s a condition. Verse 7 starts with the word thenIf you do these things, then you will experience God’s peace. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. His peace will keep your thoughts quiet, keep your hearts at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.

So let’s look at 5 things leading up to the word then that opens up this promise of peace.

First, if you want peace to guard your heart and mind, refuse to worry about anything.

yafi points wide.005

Don’t worry about anything…”  Philippians 4:6     

Paul says don’t worry about anything, because that’s where it begins. If you let things worry you again and again they become anxiety and depression. Yes, bad things may happen, but God is in control and he’s working all things together for good for those who love him. You may be sad or grieved, but do not be anxious, it’s all coming together for your good.

Second, if you want peace to guard your heart and mind, talk to God about everything.

yafi points wide.004

“…instead, pray about everything…”   Philippians 4:6

Stop talking to yourself and everyone else about all of the stuff that’s stressing you out and start talking to God. If it’s not worth praying about, it’s not worth worrying about.

Next, if you want peace to guard your heart and mind, thank God in all things.

yafi points wide.003

“…Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  Philippians 4:6

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”   1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

It doesn’t say thank God for all things because there are a lot of things you shouldn’t be thankful for. There’s pain in the world. But it says in all things give thanks. Which means, even in the bad times, I can find something to love. You don’t have to love everything about your life to love your life and be thankful for it. You don’t have to love everything about someone to love them. You don’t have to love everything about your job to love your job.

Study after study has shown that the healthiest emotion known to human beings is gratitude. The more you build gratitude in your life, the happier and healthier you will be. We know that gratitude is one of the remedies for depression because it gets my eyes off myself and gets them on other people.

The fact is, you can always find something to be grateful for. There’s no time in your life when everything is good and there’s nothing bad in your life. There’s no time when everything is bad and there’s nothing good in your life. The challenge for you this week is to open your mouth and say out loud “Thank you for my life.” Say it every day.

The fourth way to have peace guarding your heart and mind is to think about good things.

yafi points wide.002

This is extremely important because the anxiety and stress you war with, that battle, is going on in your mind. The war with stress is won or lost in your mind. What you fill your mind with will determine your success to resist and stand strong.

The Bible says,

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  Philippians 4:8 


During World War II, Corrie ten Boom and her family lived in Amsterdam. They were a Christian family that took in Jewish friends and hid them in what they called “the hiding place” in their house to prevent their friends from being captured by the Nazis and shipped off to death camps. One day, the Nazis found out and not only took the Jewish friends but took Corrie and her family and they were taken to death camps in Poland. Corrie lost her entire family. She was the only one who survived. She says in her book, The Hiding Place,

“If you look at the world you’ll be distressed; if you look within you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ you’ll be at rest.” 

It all depends on what you have your eyes on. Don’t look within. Look to God, look at Christ.


Read 1 Peter 5:6-7 again,

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)

Too many of us, have been trying to cast our anxiety but we keep our pride. Pride and anxiety come in the same package. If you insist on doing it your way, then expect to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, because it is.

What is in the middle of the word ANXIETY? The same thing that is in the center of  the word PRIDE. I is the center of both of those words. Spiritually speaking, at the center of your anxiety is your pride. The reason that you’re so anxious is because you’ve got you at the center. You can’t sustain it because it’s not your throne. Listen to your language. “I don’t know if I have what it takes. I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know if I can make it.” Maybe the reason you’ve been carrying anxiety that you can’t get rid of is because you’re bearing weight that you weren’t meant to bear. If you humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, you’ll think less about yourself. It’s not a command to cast your anxiety on him. It’s a result. The command is to humble yourself under God and when you do, the anxiety goes with the pride.

Get yourself out of the center, get God on the throne and lift your hands to him and say “I need you Lord.” Bow down to him. Tell him you can’t step without Him, can’t parent without Him, work without Him, live without Him. There’s no peace without Him. There’s no joy without Him.

Is the reason you’re so anxious because of your pride? Maybe the anxiety is the fruit and the pride is the root. If you pull it up by the root, the fruit can’t grow.

Lastly, if you want peace to guard your heart and mind, be content with anything.

yafi points wide.001

Contentment is not apathy. Contentment is not complacency. Here’s what contentment is: it’s enjoying what you have right now rather than waiting for something else to happen in order to be happy.  It’s not letting what you want rob you of what you have. It’s enjoying what you’ve got right now. It doesn’t mean you don’t want to progress. It doesn’t mean you don’t have goals. It means you’re not waiting for something to happen in your life in order to be happy.

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”  Philippians 4:11-13

“Peace of mind makes the body healthy, but envy is like a cancer.”  Proverbs 14:30 (TEV)


How?

These five strategies are easy to explain but they’re hard to do. It’s not easy to worry about nothing.  It’s not easy to pray about everything. It’s not easy to thank God in everything. It’s not easy to think about good things. And it’s not easy to be content with anything. So where in the world am I going to get energy to do these things that reduce the anxiety? God tells us, You come to me. And I will give you the power and the ability to do what will help, to do what’s best for you.

“Obey God and be at peace with him; this is the way to happiness.”  Job 22:21 (NCV)

The real reason you’re not at peace is because you’re at war with God. God sent Jesus to make peace with God for us. When you make peace with God then you get the peace of God and then you can have peace with others. There will not be peace in the world until the Prince of Peace is reigning in our hearts. So in order for you to have the peace of God, you have to first have peace with God.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:13

You don’t feel like praying? You don’t feel like giving thanks? You don’t feel like thinking about good things? You don’t feel like being content? You have to move.

Choices lead, feeling follow. When you move against your anxiety, the strength and peace of God comes.


Application

What stood out to you in this message?

What are you worried about?

What do you normally talk to God about?

What are some things you can be thankful for? Take an area of life (i.e. job) or a person in your life you are frustrated with, and start listing things you love about that thing or person.

What are some things (i.e. television shows, gossip, information) you could filter out of your life that would help you dwell on good things?

What things in your life are you not doing God’s way? How can you humble that pride?

Are you content with the things in your life?


Tell Someone Else

Who do you need to share this message with this week?

Something that extremely aggravates anxiety and depression is unresolved or unconfessed sin. Is there anything you could share with the group or something in the group that would relieve the pressure?

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16

Who can you share this life-giving message with?