Frequency Week 3 . Recognizing God’s Voice

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“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:3-5

Here it says other people are speaking to us, strangers. The world, the flesh, the devil has a voice and is speaking.

Take a look back at our posts on Preparing to Hear God’s Voice and The Whispers of God to find out how you can listen best and how God speaks most.

Today let’s answer the question, “How do we know if what we’re hearing is God, the devil or somethingwe just made it up ourselves?”

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…” 1 John 4:1

There are going to be certain feelings or impressions that lead you one way, but first run them through a few tests, some filters.

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12


Testing an Impression

1. Does it line up with the Bible?

God’s voice will never contradict God’s word. God’s Will, will never contradict God’s word. He will never tell you to violate, ignore or disobey the Bible.

He’s not going to say one thing in the Bible and then say to you something else. For instance, in the book of Romans it says as a matter of conscience, we are to pay our taxes. So as we move into tax season, if you feel led to not pay your taxes or cheat your taxes a little bit, that did not come from God.

Here’s another example:

“Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’ ‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied…”  Matthew 19:3-6

Jesus then goes on to quote the book of Genesis. He quotes the Bible. He asked the Pharisees why they were asking His opinon when it had already been written.

Instead of answering these questions about right and wrong, just point to God and His word. What makes Him God is that He gets to say what’s right or wrong. If we are following Him, we will know the answer.

The context of this passage is divorce, but it could be a number of topics. God does not hate divorced people, He hates divorce. If you are honest, you do too. God hates anything that hurts us. He loves you and he can redeem anything you’ve been through. If you’ve gone through the tragedy of this, God’s word also says that He can redeem and heal anything.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Luke 21:33

So, there will even be a new heaven and a new earth, but God’s word will not need to be new. His word is true forever.

2. Will it make me more like Christ?

In other words, will the thing you are feeling, if you follow through with it, will it make you more like Jesus or less like Jesus? This is God’s ultimate purpose for you. This really is our ultimate goal after salvation. Don’t make it your goal before salvation. You have to meet Jesus, love him and surrender your life to Him before you’ll have what it takes to become like Him. You don’t have to get your act together to become a Christian. Salvation is free. You don’t have to earn it.

Once you’re saved we work out that salvation. Regeneration is going to take place. This means that the more you know Christ, the more you become like Him.

Let Him work on your attitude, decision making and all your choices. We are not where we need to be, but thank God, we’re not where we used to be.

At Rock Brook we help you grow in your faith in two primary ways: Growth Track & Small Groups. Visit the connect tab on our website to find out more about these to pathways to growth.

“In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 2:5 NCV

“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

If you still say,”I don’t even know what Jesus would do.” Let’s look at a list found in scripture.

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, is considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”  James 3:16-18

This is a great grid to think through. First notice he says there are two ways to know it’s not from God and many ways to know if it is from God.

He says if it’s not from God, it’s full of envy or selfish-ambition.

God does not give selfish ideas. We come up with them ourselves. If you have a great idea that’s going to make you filthy rich, everyone’s going to be envious of you and you are going to be the top dog, God says that idea is not from Him. God didn’t put you on earth to bless your selfish ambition and live for yourself.

If you get an idea and it’s from God, it’s going to be one of these things…

Pure: An impure thought is not from God.

Peace-loving: Ideas from God promote harmony, not division. God is not going to give you an idea to create conflict in your family, marriage, small group, workplace or at church. To divide people into this side and that side, means gossip is present and gossip is not from God. When we criticize, condemn and gossip about others, we’re just doing the devil’s work for him.

ConsiderateWill your idea help you but hurt someone else? Then it’s not from God.

Submissive: Teachable, the willingness to have the idea checked by someone else, is submitting that idea to them.

Full of Mercy: Will my idea make me more gracious, more fogiving? You’ve been forgiven, so be gracious to everyone else. God has cut you some slack, do that for others. When you think you hear from God, but you’re critical and always judging others, it’s proof you haven’t heard from God. It takes no wisdom or maturity to criticize others.

Impartial and Sincere: Don’t use what God tells you to manipulate others. If God gives you a dream, you’ll never have to manipulate to see it happen. You may have to work hard, but you’ll never have to manipulate or control. God is in control. When God gives you a dream or a word, surrender it back to Him.

What a great list to help us know if we are growing more like Christ. Here’s another filter we can use.

3. Does godly counsel agree?

You’ll be in a situation where people say different things, look for agreement. When you’re working on something or planning something, there’s power in agreement. Don’ trust every spirit, instead test it to make sure it’s of God.

“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” Proverbs 12:15

The wisest people aren’t the ones who know everything. The wisest people are the ones that know they don’t know everything. Wise people ask questions before they answer questions. Wise people know there’s always more to the story.

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Proverbs 19:20-21

“Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.” Proverbs 24:6

This isn’t suggesting going person to person that when they don’t give you the report you want, so I’ll go to someone else. If you don’t have any agreement, just stop.

4. Do I have peace?

What’s so unique about Christianity is that we don’t just worship an external God, we have God in us. You have this spirit, the Holy Spirit inside of you, and that’s a powerful thing.

You’ve felt it before. You’ve felt the clash of God’s spirit to your flesh wanting to go two different ways. Like the devil on the shoulder and the angel on the other. That’s a cartoon version of a reality.

How does God talk? Peace.

Jesus says it’s a peace the world can’t even give. There’s not a bottle or pill that can give it. God has a peace that the world cannot give. Follow that.

“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace…” 1 Corinthians 14:33 NKJV

He doesn’t author confusion, He’s the God of peace. Some of the biggest decisions in your life will have fears, will make you take risks, but there can be a peace with God about it.

Peace is an inner state, regardless of what’s happening on the outside. Now there’s a difference between peace, and justifying. Being able to justify something verses having peace with God about it.

Justifying something is when you find a reason that you tell yourself is a good enough reason to go ahead with something. If peace is an inner state, justifying is a legal argument. We can come up with an argument and justify why we need to buy this or why we need to do this at work, but when all that settles down, do you have peace about it?

“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.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Live in such a way that regardless of what you face, you sense this garrison, this army surrounding your heart and mind with peace. Whatever the circumstances, God is able to guard your heart and mind with peace in Christ Jesus.


Frequency

How do you get this peace daily in your life? This series of posts is called Frequencywe’re trying to tune into a frequency, the voice of God. But that word has a double meaning. Frequency also means, often. In other words, we need to tune in to God’s Frequency, frequently. Here’s some ways that God’s Frequency can have some frequency.

  • Tune in to God every day.

So the goal of daily Bible reading and prayer isn’t just to check a box. No, those are tools to tune into God. The ultimate goal of reading the Bible, isn’t to read the Bible, it’s to lead you to the person of the Bible. To know God’s nature and presence.

The goal of getting in the word is to meet the Word, Jesus Christ. Don’t make the moment the goal, but how well you tuned into God. Make time for God every day, slow down to hear his voice.

“When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice.” John 10:4 MSG

People who hear God’s voice are those who spend time with that voice to where they’re familiar with it.

  • Tune out things that oppose God.

You have to actively shut down the voices that oppose God. We should all grapple with how much of the secular, the parts of the world, opposes God.

What in the world doesn’t bother you anymore, but it should?

If certain sins don’t bother you, that’s the problem. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in it, it no longer bothers us.

“They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.” John 10:5 MSG

  • Take steps toward what God has spoken.

Why would God keep talking to you if you didn’t do what he told you before? Take the step.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  John 10:27 MSG

Not only do they hear the voice, they do something about it.

They follow.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on the Whispers of God. God whispers encouragement, warnings, direction and dreams. Have you experienced that this week?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read: John 10 & Philippians 4

To know if we are hearing God, we have to be able to recognize His voice. God’s voice will never disagree with His Word, so when we are wondering if God really spoke to us, we can ask ourselves,

  1. Does it line up with the Bible?
  2. Will it make me more like Christ?
  3. Does godly counsel agree?
  4. Do I have peace?

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? What was timely for you?
  2. Does it line up with the Bible? Why won’t God contradict what he says in his Word? How exactly do we test what we perceive to be God’s voice against the Bible? Share a situation when God guided you. How did it line up with God’s Word? On the flip side, share a time when you were contradicting the Bible. What happened?
  3. Will it make me more like Christ? What is the difference between wisdom motivated by envy or ambition and wisdom that comes from God? (James3:16-18)
  4. Does Godly counsel agree? Who is a believer that you have gone to for advice? If you don’t have anyone, spend this week praying for God to show you someone you can find Godly counsel in.
  5. Do I have peace? What is God’s antidote to worry, anxiousness and confusion? Share a time when following God relieved these negative feelings.
  6. Tune in to God every day. Tune out thing that oppose God. What are you doing to take steps towards God this week?

Tell Someone Else

This week, pray using 2 Corinthians 10:5 –  “We take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” As you go throughout your week and in your prayer life, challenge yourself to take every thought and spoken word and make them obedient to God’s word as you encourage others.

 

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God’s Greatest Gift

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Have you noticed that gift giving can get a little crazy and expensive sometimes? But giving gifts is a big part of what Christmas is all about. Christmas started with the giving of gifts.

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11 NIV

The best part of Christmas is not the gifts that were given to Baby Jesus, but the gifts that God gives to us.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.”  2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV

There are three things we do with gifts at Christmas. We give gifts, we receive gifts and, after Christmas, we exchange gifts. Let’s focus in on exchanging gifts, because God has this great gift exchange plan.

Usually when we exchange gifts, we give back something we don’t want for something we do want. But in God’s gift exchange is far, far greater than that. Let’s look at five specific things from God’s great gift exchange.

We give God our worst and He gives us His best.


1. When we give God our worry, God gives us His peace

We all worry, especially at Christmas. The crazy, busyness of this time of year means there’s a lot to worry about. Our bodies were not designed to worry. Study after study shows the toll worry takes on our bodies; insomnia, stomachaches, headaches and even heart attacks. The number one day of the year for heart attacks is Christmas Eve. We literally worry ourselves sick. The way to stop worrying is by taking advantage of God’s gift exchange program.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT

When you give God your worries, you recognize two things:

  • God is in control

We worry because we’re trying to control things. We’re trying to control the uncontrollable. When we can’t control things, we worry. Worrying then makes us think we’re controlling it. So instead of trying to control things by worrying about them, we need to recognize that God is in control.

  • God cares

No matter how big or small the worry is, God cares about it. God cares about you and what you care about. The reason why there’s Christmas is because God cares about you. Jesus came to earth because God cares about you. So take your worry, give it to God and then notice what God gives back in exchange.

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid”  John 14:27 TLB

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on this earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 NLT

Who do you know that’s worried or needs to take heart? Who do you know that needs to know you care about them? Think of someone and send them a message right now telling them you are thinking about them and praying for them. As you do that, you’re passing along the gift that God has given you.

2.  When we give God our hurt, God gives us His healing.

Everybody’s hurting; emotionally, spiritually, physically or financially.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3 NIV

God sees your hurt and He wants to heal the brokenhearted. The verse says, “He binds up their wounds.” When you get injured, they bind up the wound to give it time to heal. Hurts don’t heal in an instant, they take time to heal. So God binds up the wounded places in our broken hearts so they can begin to heal. 

God wants to do more than just heal us. He also wants us to use our healing to help other people who are hurting. When we receive God’s healing, we can then pass it on to someone else.

“He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

Some of our wounds are self-inflicted, but God never wastes a hurt. Who do you know that’s hurting with a broken heart? Take a second right now to send a message to someone you know who is hurting and tell them you are thinking about them. Invite them to come to small group or church this weekend with you. That simple invitation can change a person’s life.

Jesus Christ can make a difference in their life through you sharing what God’s done in your life. The great thing about God’s gift is it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Whenever you share the gift, your gift multiplies.

3. When we give God our grief, God gives us His joy.

We all grieve. The only way not to grieve in this world is not to love. In this world, people don’t last forever. So if you love someone you run the risk of losing them at some point, which means you will face grief.

Especially at Christmas, we think about the people that we’ve lost. As you encounter grief this Christmas, you may be tempted to just push it aside. There are three things you need to know about grief.

  • Grief often comes undeserved.
  • Grief usually goes unrecognized.
  • Grief often stays unresolved.

Christmas turns up the volume on whatever’s going on in your life. If good things are happening, Christmas turns up the volume on that. If you’re grieving, Christmas turns up the volume on grief. That’s why we need to give each other a lot of grace at Christmas. You don’t know what grief or confusing emotions people are experiencing.

The way to deal with your grief is not to deny it, but to give it to God. Only God is greater than your grief. When you give your grief to God, He gives you something even greater than comfort.

“You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”  John 16:20b NIV

We give Him our grief and He gives us His joy! That seems unbelievable that God would give us joy in the midst of grief. God gives us His joy when we recognize this world is not all there is. As we realize that the person that we’re grieving isn’t gone like we think they are gone, that if they are a beliver, we will see them again in heaven. There is hope when we know, in heaven, God will resolve the circumstances that didn’t work out like we wanted.

That terrible tragedy in your life, God’s going to turn that tragedy into a blessing in heaven. If you hang your hope on this world, of course you will grieve. But if you put your hope in heaven, God will turn your grief into joy. It doesn’t happen instantly, but over time God turns grief to joy.

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:10-11 NIV

Christ is our Savior. The word “Savior” means Rescuer. Grief turns to joy when Jesus rescues us.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”  Romans 12:15 NASB

Who do you know that’s grieving? Here’s a chance to send a message to someone who could hear that you are praying for them. When we share somebody’s grief with them, we help them realize God is a part of their lives. Tell them they are not alone.

4. When we give God our fears, God gives us His love.

The way to deal with fear is to find something greater than the fear. God’s love is greater than any fear you’re facing. God’s love is greater than any problem. God’s love is greater than any illness. How does God deal with your fear?

With His love, He will calm all your fears.”  Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  1 John 4:18 NIV

Fear has to do with punishment. Often we’re afraid because we think we deserve what we’re getting. If you think that God is out to get you because of the wrong you’ve done, you don’t understand the message of the Bible. God is not out to get you, God is out to love you. God is not out to punish you, He’s out to forgive you. As you lean into that truth, the fears in your life are driven out by God’s love.

Who do you know who needs to hear the message of God’s love for them? Who do you know who needs the most famous verse in the Bible?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 NIV

To be part of the whoever, you need to believe in Christ. Think of the least likely person to accept an invitation to come to church with you and invite that person. Take the risk to let them know that you love them and God loves them. This might be the year when they really need that invitation. This might be the year when their heart’s ready to respond to God.

5. When we give God our sins, God gives us His forgiveness.

“When people sin, they earn what sin pays – death. But God gives us a free gift – life forever in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 NCV

Sin promises so much, but in the end, the payoff for sin is always death. Jesus tells us that instead of death, I’m going to give you eternal life.

If you’ve never accepted that gift, you can accept it right now. You can pray, “Jesus Christ, I accept the gift of your forgiveness. I accept the gift of your eternal life. Thank you for dying on the cross to rescue me.” It’s a very simple prayer that changes everything, it changes your eternity.

Can you remember who first shared the message of God’s forgiveness with you? Who’s the person you need to share it with? God gave you the gift through someone else, who do you need to share the gift with?

“God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And He has given us the work of sharing His message about peace.” 2 Corinthians 5:19 CEV

There’s no better time than Christmas for sharing this message. At the bottom of this post is a digital invitation you can download and text or email to a friend. Invite someone to come to a Christmas weekend service with you. You can also invite them to one of our three Christmas Eve services. These services will be different from the weekend services.

On Christmas Eve, we’re going to celebrate the message of Christmas using the popular Christmas movie, Home Alone. Jesus would do this, not with a movie, but He would use familiar stories to illustrate a spiritual truth. So, at the Christmas Eve services we’re going to examine the film Home Alone. Tucked amid the laughter and fun of that familiar Christmas movie is a message that many people struggle with at Christmas. On Christmas Eve we will use some clips from Home Alone to illustrate the sermon. 

God’s greatest gift is the gift of peace, healing, joy, love and forgiveness. Everyone needs these gifts. We all have people in our lives who need these gifts.

“As you share your faith with others, I pray that they may come to know all the blessings Christ has given us.”  Philemon 1:6  CEV


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on Ephesians 6:10-17? Have you been using your spiritual weapons to gain victory?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”  2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV

As we celebrate Christmas with the giving and receiving of gifts, let’s remember that God invites us to exchange our worry, hurts, grief, fears and sins for his peace, healing, joy, love and forgiveness. Each of these gifts are ours because Jesus came to earth and died for us. As Christmas nears, let us give up the things that bind us and receive what only God can give.

Application

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 NLT

1. Discuss a gift you have received in exchange for your worries and sorrows.

2. How can a sorrow on earth become worry free, allowing you to experience the gift of peace of mind and heart?

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I will bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:10-11 NIV

3. How can grief keep people from fully experiencing God’s joy this Christmas season? Share a time when you were struggling with grief. Which one of God’s promises could help someone find joy in the midst of grief? How might helping someone walk through their grief bring them more quickly to joy?

“When people sin, they earn what sin pays – death. But God gives us a free gift – life forever in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23 NCV

4. Reflect on a time when Jesus healed one of your hurts. What did you learn about God? What did you learn about yourself? How can the healing you experienced improve the way you help those around you who are suffering or struggling? Why is love the greatest gift we can give another person?

“With His love, He will calm all your fears.”  Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

Tell Someone Else

Who can you encourage to find God’s peace, healing, joy, love and forgiveness this Christmas?

Download Digital Invitations

 

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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.

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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.

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“…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.

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“…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.

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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.

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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?