Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Philippians 4:4-9 (NLT) ~ 

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 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.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. 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. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

I started writing these weekly "Words of Encouragement" to the women in our church almost 6 years ago.  They generally are things that I'm learning from the Lord through my own struggles and I've always tried to be fairly transparent.  Just because I'm in full-time ministry doesn't mean I always have it together.  I struggle just like everyone else with different issues.  One of my biggest issues I have to constantly work through is anxiety.

I have found that in the past week, those anxieties have gone through the roof!  I am feeling absolutely overwhelmed with everything.  I'm overwhelmed with the holidays coming up, a house to pack up, masses of little and large details required.  Instead of turning it over to the Lord and then LEAVING them there, I keep mulling over everything in my brain again and again and again.

As I was reading this passage this morning, I was struck once again that the only way we can have peace in the middle of stress and problems is to pray.  But prayer is qualified here because we are supposed to pray with thanksgiving.  Thank God for all the things He has done.  As we list the ways He has helped us in the past, our fears for the present and anxiety over the future dissipates.  His peace will envelope us.

But then we have to take it a step further.  We have to get our mind off the worry and keep thinking about the good things.  We have to remember what is true and honorable in our lives.  We have to focus on the pure things; not the impure.  The lovely and not those ugly thoughts or attitudes.  We need to keep our thoughts fixed on the excellent things and those things that bring God praise.  

The reason we need to do that is those anxieties and worries don't just go away.  They hover around like flies, waiting to land back in your thoughts.  So as we continually pray, give thanks and then focus on the good, we will feel God's peace. 

And that is a peace that is unfathomable.  It is a peace that spreads over us like a warm blanket.  It is a peace that will help us be calm in the midst of a raging storm.

So I'm spending time in prayer today.  I'm giving Him thanks today.  I'm going to focus on the lovely, pure, and good things.  And then the peace will come to me and it will come to you too, if you also focus on prayer with thanksgiving!