September 29, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Winning Over Worry - Part 2
Mary Southerland, Director of Development, Speaker, Author
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 4:4-7 (NIV)
In the key passage, Paul gives us the promise of peace. However, there are conditions to be met and actions we must take in order to experience that peace and win over worry!
Action one: Choose joy
Action two: Be gentle
Philippians 4:5 gives an unusual directive concerning worry. "Let your gentleness be evident to all." "Gentleness" literally means "humility, softness and tenderness" indicating that we must be gentle with everyone. The Living Bible translates "gentle" as "unselfish and considerate". Any way you look at it, this truth is in direct opposition to the viewpoint of the world in which we live. Power and assertiveness gain respect while gentleness is often viewed as weakness.
In God's eyes, gentleness is harnessed strength, a controlled power. But what does gentleness have to do with eliminating worry? Paul is saying the way we treat people affects our peace. Many of us have lives filled with worry because we have relationships filled with conflict. When we are not gentle, conflict is the inevitable result. Worry and anxiety thrive in the atmosphere of conflict.
What does it mean to be gentle in our relationships?
Gentleness is willing to give up control!
James 3:17a "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others."
Gentleness can always find a patch of common ground, giving people room to grow and change. Gentleness doesn't control but is willing to yield or submit to one another in love.
Gentleness is love in action.
James 3:17b "Gentleness if full of mercy and good deeds." When gentleness sees a need, it does something about it. It is compelled to take action!
Colossians 3:13 "Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Gentleness is quick to give and receive forgiveness, always taking the responsibility to initiate forgiveness.
Gentleness wages peace.
Hebrews 12:14 "Pursue peace with all people."
"Gentleness" does not retaliate but instead pursues peace. The goal of gentleness is unity! I've read that when thoroughbred horses face attack, they stand in a circle, facing each other, and with their back legs, kick out at the enemy! Donkeys do just the opposite! They face the enemy and kick each other! We are called to wage peace.
When we practice gentleness and pursue peace in our relationships, there will be less conflict, more unity and fewer footholds for worry.
Action three: Be aware of His presence.
Philippians 4:5 "The Lord is near."
We often pray, asking for God's presence when our prayer should be, "Lord, make me aware of your presence." He is near but many times our lives and hearts are too crowded to see or hear Him. The more we are aware of God's presence the less we will worry. We become aware of His presence through:
Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword."
The most powerful weapon against worry is scripture. Read it! Memorize it! Immerse your life in it! The word of God grounds us, repelling worry. When worry comes - reject it! Deflect it with the shield of God's word.
1 Peter 5:7 "Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you."
Prayer is simply conversation with God and a powerful weapon against worry. I read of a widow who had successfully raised a large family of eighteen children, twelve of whom were adopted. Yet, she never seemed to worry. During an interview, a reporter asked the secret of her peace and confidence. She said, "I'm not alone. I'm in a partnership with God. Years ago, I said "Lord, I'll do the work and you do the worrying! I have had peace ever since!"
Ecclesiastes 4:12 "And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."
When you share your fears with others, they grow smaller because someone has gotten under the load with you. A shared load is a lighter load. We tend to hide our fears in darkness where they grow and strengthen, instead of bringing them out into the light where they will die. When we try to be "lone-ranger Christians" and handle our fears on our own, we are susceptible to attacks that will defeat us. When we stand together, our strength is multiplied and we are not easily beaten.
James 1:17 "Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow."
The more we know Him the more we will understand that He really is who He says He is! The more we know Him the more we will see that He is willing and able to work in our lives. We will naturally begin to trust Him and soon discover that He is faithful.
So much worry is buried in the unknown. The "known" victories of yesterday can destroy the fear of today's "unknown" circumstances because He is always the same! What a security comes when we realize that we can truly count on Him. God's presence empowers us to win over worry! When you are tempted to worry, stop and go back over the books, remembering the victories and celebrating them once again. The God who delivered you yesterday will deliver you today and tomorrow! The experiences of life prove Him true and underline His presence within.
My prayer for today:
Father, help me to handle the relationships in my life with gentleness. When there is conflict, give me the strength to confront it in your love. I long for your presence in my life. Help me to be more aware of your hand at work. Amen.
Memorize these names of God and call on Him when doubt and worry come:
Jehovah Shammah -"I am there"
Jehovah Shalom -"I am your peace."
Jehovah Jireh -"I am your provider."
Emmanuel - "God with us"!
What one step do you need to take in the battle against worry?
"Lord, you have seen me tossing and turning through the night. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded every one in your book." Psalm 56:8 (NIV)
"You, LORD, give true peace to those who depend on you, because they trust you." Isaiah 26:3 (NCV)
"Do not worry about anything. But pray and ask God for everything you need. And when you pray, always give thanks. And God's peace will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The peace that God gives is so great that we cannot understand it." Philippians 4:6-7 (ICB)
Coming Out of the Dark by Mary Southerland
How to Build Healthy Relationships by Mary Southerland (tape set)
*This devotional was taken from Chapter Six of Coming Out of the Dark by Mary Southerland