August 12, 2012 – Pastor Tim – “Don’t Wring Your Hands – Raise Your Hands” – Click to download
Isaiah 58:11, “The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
I came across a story this week which I will now embellish as an example to you. This story takes place not too many years ago, in a place not far from here. A middle-aged man named Steve was in a lot of personal trouble but doing little to help himself. His friend Fred advised him, “Steve, you’ve got two hands. Why don’t you do something with them?” Steve replied, “I am. I’m wringing both of them!” That’s a poor attempt at humor, but too often in the midst of circumstances, we worry and wring our hands instead of adhering to God’s instruction in His Word.
Jesus commanded us in Matthew 6:24-27 (NLT), “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 25That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”
In our life’s journey, one of the hardest pieces of luggage to shed is worry. It is good to remind ourselves of what the Apostle Peter said. Keep in mind, Peter had many opportunities to worry, yet he remained focused on the One Who could deliver him. 1 Peter 5:6-8, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
Peter knew that if he would submit himself to God that God’s will for him would never take him to a place where God was not there with him. He knew that God’s might would protect him.
Let’s go over some keys that will be helpful when we are tempted worry.
The first is, rejoice in the Lord. We don’t rejoice because of the circumstance but in spite of it. We rejoice because we know that our God will see us through victoriously. Let’s see how Paul says to handle worry in Philippians 4:4-7, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. 7 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.
Paul said here, “Don’t worry about anything.” Yet let’s look at Paul’s situation when he said this. Was it after a successful meeting where many were converted? No, Paul was a prisoner in Rome, chained 24 hours a day to a Roman soldier. He was facing possible execution. He had a marvelous opportunity to be worried about his future. Yet his letter to the Philippians is saturated with joy.
Paul determined that whatever circumstance he found himself in, he was going to rejoice and not worry. He controlled his thoughts—he didn’t let circumstances control them. Paul’s strategy for dealing with trying times that could bring anxiety, worry, and fear was to rejoice in the Lord.
The second key is, develop an un-anxious attitude. The Amplified version of Philippians 4:6 says, “ Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.” Once, a little girl at school was asked by her teacher what had changed, why was she so happy when she had not been happy on an earlier day, the little girl replied, “Today I pushed my thoughts around, and the other day I let my thoughts push me around.” Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” With God’s help, we may have to re-train our minds and our vocabularies before we begin to see changes in our lives. How we act and react are important.
We cannot categorize our concerns or tell God what we will worry about and what we won’t. Paul said not to be anxious about anything. And like Peter said, casting all your cares upon Him, not just the one you don’t think you can handle! Charlie Brown and Linus were talking one day and Charlie Brown said to Linus, “I worry about school a lot.” Charlie thought a little longer and said, “I worry about worrying so much about school.” After reflecting further Charlie concluded, “My anxieties have anxieties!”
We can all identify with Charlie Brown—snowball thinking, where a small thing grows big in our minds. The enemy would love to have us fill our heads with anxieties. What is the enemy dogging you about today? Concerns over your financial situations? Unemployment? Downsizing of the company you work with? Your health? Your retirement? Don’t let those thoughts push you around. Learn to develop and un-anxious attitude. Push back!! How you ask???
The third key is, develop a lifestyle of prayer. Don’t panic—pray!! 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Pray so much that worry has to take a number and stand in line. We are exhorted to pray about everything. Nothing is too big or too small to pray about. Paul and Silas, while in prison, give us an example in Acts 16:25, “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”
Instead of worrying, Paul and Silas chose to pray and praise. When they did, suddenly there was an earthquake and the prison doors were opened. Start praying and singing praises to God instead of worrying and the things that have imprisoned you will be removed. Because God has “come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Scripture verses are quoted in New King James Version unless other wise noted
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