18 September 2007

It is well with my soul (Philippians 4:6-7)--part 1

In Philippians 4:6-7 we find a promise that we repeat to ourselves and others so many times when things get tough that we sometimes just glance over it, and we lose so much of what it means. Because if you take this passage apart and examine it, and you ponder every word, it just hits ya like “WOW! He did that for us!!” So let’s look at the promise given to us by GOD through the apostle Paul.

Philippians 4:6-7—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.

John D. Rockefeller was the founder of Standard Oil, which was the first “big oil” company back in 1870. He retired 20 years later. Boy, wouldn’t that be nice? In 1902 his wealth was estimated to be around $200M. By the time he died in 1937, he had built up a fortune of $1.4 billion. With all that money, this guy didn’t have a care in the world! OK, that’s not quite true. You see, every day, as soon as he woke up, the first thing on his mind was his money. All he thought about during the day was his money. And when he went to bed at night, the last thing he thought about was his money. And although he could have dined on anything he wanted, his stomach was always in such turmoil that the only thing he could eat was crackers and milk.

But then, his mother encouraged him to stop worrying so much about it, and leave it up to GOD. So he set up a bunch of charities, and began giving his money to these charities. And sure enough, after taking his mom’s advice, his health improved, his appetite came back, and would you believe he even had a little money left over.

We worry about things. We our job, or we the test results from the doctor. And while it is natural for us to be concerned about things, why do we worry? What is the difference between “worry” and “concern?” “Concern” is defined as—“an uneasy state of blended interest, uncertainty, and apprehension.” On the other hand, “worry” is—“mental distress or agitation resulting from concern usually for something impending or anticipated.” One is “an uneasy state,” the other is “distress.” We sometimes forget that we live in a world that is passing away, and that this world is not the be-all end-all. We’ve got a better home a-waitin'!

Well, today we’re going to see what to do when we get that pink slip. What to do when we walk in and the doctor says, “You might want to sit down.” Or when the mechanic comes out and says “I need to show you something.” In this passage, we have three principles to guide us when we get that bad news. We have a CAUTION AGAINST WORRYING, we have a CALL TO PRAY, and we receive COURAGE TO FACE OBSTACLES.

Verse 6a.
Be anxious for nothing…

That word “anxious” means, “Greatly concerned…respecting something future or unknown; being in painful suspense…” It’s the same word Jesus uses in Matthew 6:25-30. You know, if there was ever a man who had cause to worry and be anxious, it was our Lord Jesus Christ. Many times, when we look at our uncertain future, it gives us cause to be concerned. But here was a man who knew what was going to happen to Him, and He spent His time comforting us, and telling us not to worry. And nowhere does He warn us more plainly about worry than in this passage.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

Hey, you see those birds? Your Father in heaven feeds them. And aren’t you worth more than a pigeon? GOD gives these flowers a glory greater than Solomon in all his royal splendor. Don’t you think you're more important than a daffodil?”

You know, Jesus always had a reason for saying everything He said. And when He says, “…even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these [flowers],” I think the reason is this: Solomon surrounded himself with magnificent clothes, and all the gold in the temple. But much of this splendor was man-made, and most of it came from the minds of men. But every flower that you see—whether it’s a rose in full bloom or a little buttercup growing wild in your lawn—every one of those flowers was thought of and designed and clothed by GOD.

What does that mean in our lives? It means that the life GOD has planned out for us—whether it is one of relative ease, or one filled with pain and heartache—is far better in the scope of eternity than anything we could ever imagine. Unless we want to say that we know how to plan things better than GOD does. I ain't about to do that.

Now, if GOD can give clothing to these things which make them even more beautiful in the eyes of GOD than King Solomon surrounded by all of his wealth and glory and royal splendor, then don’t you think the life that GOD has planned out for you is better than one that any person could come up with? But the key to this whole passage in Matthew is what He says in verse 27. “Which of you, by worrying, can add one cubit to his stature?” We can sit and worry about all these things. But sitting there worrying isn't going to change things.

You see, worry is really a form of self-pity. It is fear directed inward. And it took me a long time to figure that one out. I used to think I was doing good by worrying and fretting and wringing my hands over every little thing that came up. But all it did was make me more miserable. So when we have something come up in our lives that we can't control, what should we do? Pray. We'll see more about that tomorrow.


part 2 tomorrow.

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