Praise, Pray, and Pursue God

May 13, 2016

Hello Church,

I pray this letter finds you well and that the love of God the Father fills your heart today. Lately we have been considering how to biblically deal with that subtle sin of anxiety. We have seen that the Scriptures are utterly sufficient for dealing with all sin (2 Tim 3:15-16), including worry and obsessive fear (Mt 5:25-34). How grateful I am that God has not left us to our own inspiration, intelligence, or ingenuity for how to manage our emotions, but has given us His perfect Son (Heb 7:25), His precious promises (2 Pet 1:3-4), and His powerful Spirit (Gal 5:16) to encourage our walk with Him and equip our personal pursuit of holiness. The temptation to be anxious and to worry is something that we all must face at some point, and it is imperative that we prepare ourselves to biblically deal with unbiblical fear (1 Cor 10:13). Therefore, today I would like to summarize the Scriptural principles previously given into a succinct biblical strategy for overcoming anxiety. While this in no way biblically exhausts the truths on this topic, it will go a long way in providing a battle plan for purifying our minds, guarding our hearts, and strengthening our faith as we fight against sin.

Praise God

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The first step in fighting the temptation to worry, fear, or anxiety is to continually offer praise to God (Phil 4:4)! The Bible commands us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18), and we can because in Christ we overflow with reasons to rejoice no matter the severity or the stress of the situation we may be facing (Eph 1:6; Col 2:7; 3:18). We should praise Him for who He is, rejoicing in His never changing character amidst our ever changing lives (Heb 13:8). Thus, when fear begins to assault the mind, we offer praise to God by rejoicing in His attributes like His power (Ps 147:5), sovereignty (Rom 8:28), grace (1 Pet 5:10), faithfulness (Lam 3:23), and wisdom (Rom 11:33-36), knowing that our lives are in the hands of a Faithful Father (1 Cor10:13). Moreover we should praise Him for what He has done, is doing, and will do in our lives through Christ! In Christ, God has disarmed Satan (Col 2:15), defeated death (1 Cor 15:54-57), and destroyed the penalty and power of sin (Rom 6:12-14; 8:1)! In Christ, the believer has hope that God will use everything to fulfill His purifying purpose in conforming all Christians into the image of Christ (Rom 8:28). All pain and suffering, all problems and disappointments, all trials and persecutions will be used by God for His ultimate glory and our good! Therefore, we also praise Him for His personal love for us that tenderly meets our every need (Mt 5:25-34), compassionately understands our deepest hurts (Heb 4:14-16), and sacrificially provides for our greatest problem in Christ (Rom 5:8)!

Pray to God

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The second step for dealing with anxiety is to pray to God as you take your requests and concerns to Him who cares for you (Phil 4:6). Now, these prayers must be marked by casting or releasing your concerns which means you bring them to God and leave them with God (1 Pet 5:7). This does not mean that we cast them like a fishing pole before God and then reel them back up and carry them home with us like our catch of the day! The word for “cast” that Peter uses means to release or drop with no thought of picking it back up. Thus, these prayers must involve casting and trusting (Prov 3:5-6) as we leave them in God’s hands, believing He knows best. Moreover, these prayers will often involve repenting (Lk 18:13-14) as we turn from the sins (Lk 24:47) of worry, fear, and anxiety, and trust in God, confessing our sins and finding full forgiveness (1 Jn 1:9). Resting in this forgiveness also helps us deal with the potential perpetual nature of worry as we can put the past behind us knowing that God has forgiven us (Ps 103:11-13). These prayers need to be categorized also by yielding as we submit our will to God’s ultimate plan for our lives (Mt 6:10), which is always good, right, and perfect (Rom 12:2).

Pursue God

Pursue

The final step in the battle plan for fighting anxiety is to proactively pursue God more than finding relief from what is bothering you (Rom 8:18). This pursuit of God amidst your affliction and pain begins with delighting in God and finding your joy in who He is rather than what you have or do not have (Ps 1:2). This reality can be seen throughout Scripture (Heb 11) including with David who delights in God who will give him the desires of his heart rather than fretting over evil men (Ps 37:1-7). Jeremiah found hope amidst great hopelessness, not because he was removed from the horror of watching Jerusalem being destroyed, but because he reveled in and remembered the goodness of his God (Lam 3:19-24).  Jesus commands this eternal pursuit on earth when He tells us to seek His Kingdom above all else (Mt 5:33; Mk 8:34-38) and vividly displays this truth as He actively pursued pleasing the Father no matter the personal cost or pain (Mt 26:39; Heb 12:1-3). Paul declared the surpassing greatness of pursuing Christ above everything and through everything, including pain, suffering, and death (Phil 3:7-15). Have you ever thought that God actually uses pain, problems, and suffering in our lives to purify and sanctify our lives as He makes us more and more like Christ (Rom 8:28-29; 2 Cor 1:3-7; Js 1:3-4; 1 Pet 1:3-9)? As a believer our greatest joy is found in knowing Christ and becoming like Christ (Phil 3:12-14), but how often do we worry about the very thing that God will use to bring about our greatest joy (2 Cor 4:16-18; 1 Pet 5:6-11). You cannot actively praise God, pray to God, and pursue God, and at the same time be plagued by worry!

May this be a blessing to you as you seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday, as we will consider Paul’s warning concerning the dangers of deceptive teachings. We will also learn more about the sufficiency of our Savior as we seek to grow in our understanding and delight of being complete in Christ.

A Fellow Slave of the King,

Pastor Matt

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