“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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 4:6-7).
This is an awesome piece of advice we can apply today. No matter what’s going on, we can exchange stress and anxiety for peace. Notice a couple words.
Merriam-Webster defines the word as “a thing, no matter what that thing may be.”
A family who had twin boys wanted to teach them a lesson about attitude. They took each boy and placed him in a room by himself. The room was full of horse manure. They told the boys they had to stay in their rooms for an hour, then they would come get them. When the family returned to the first boy’s room, he was sitting in the corner of the room just watching the clock, but when they returned to the second boy’s room, he was shoveling the manure out the window. “why are you doing that?” they asked. He replied, “With all this manure in here, there has to be a pony at the bottom of the pile.” The boys were in similar situations but took completely different approaches.
Attitude determines how we approach life. Our attitude determines the approach we take to life. Paul, the writer of Philippians, gives three keys to help us take the right approach.
The first key is not to worry.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not worry about anything….” A scholar did a word study on “anything,” and discovered it really means, “anything.” Don’t worry, that sounds an awful lot like what Jesus says, “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.”
Jesus uses birds for an example; they do not go out and sow seed in the spring, and water the seed all summer so they can reap a harvest in the fall. They don’t do that, yet they still have food to eat. God provides for them, and if he will provide for birds, why wouldn’t he also provide for us?
When we worry, we are putting God into a box and slamming a lid on it. This problem is too big for me to handle, so it must be too big for God. We can’t go there; we can’t raise that much money. In all honesty, that is what we think sometimes. Yet, Ephesians 3:20 says God can do immeasurably more than we can imagine.
Think about that for just a moment. Immeasurably more than we can imagine; you can’t measure something that is immeasurable – it is impossible, and we can imagine some pretty big things. That means God can do immeasurably more than we can comprehend. When things come up that are too big for us, we should be asking, “How big is God?” The answer is, he can do immeasurably more than we can imagine. Jesus says if we seek after the Kingdom first, all our other needs will be met.
Stop and think. There is not anyone who has added time to their life by worrying about it. Jesus says we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow, because today has enough troubles of its own. Not worrying is the first key.
The second key is to pray about everything.
Instead of spending time worrying about tomorrow, Scripture suggests that time would be more wisely spent praying about it. Paul says the result of carrying everything to God in prayer is that his peace will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. A peace that we know no matter what comes our way, we’ll be able to get through it with the help of Jesus. We may not understand it or comprehend how this is possible, but we know that it is true. We should not worry about anything but carry everything to God in prayer through Christ. Praying about everything is the second key.
The third key is to have a positive outlook.
We should have a positive outlook. We are encouraged to dwell in the following territory: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
Every adjective in this list points to something good, something positive. The opposite of things that are good and positive are bad and negative. The question is, which one are we going to concentrate on – the negative or the positive?
Two men attended the same church service on the same Sunday morning. The first man noticed the organist missed a note during the prelude, the music was too loud, and the preacher had a slip of the tongue six times. The second man enjoyed the prelude because it was one of his favorite hymns, was deeply moved by the music, and listened intently to the sermon because it answered a question that had bothered him for a long time. The difference between these two men is what they concentrated on. The first man took a negative outlook, while the second man took a positive outlook. Which outlook in life are you taking?
The past year or so has served as a great reminder there will always be trouble in life. Lost jobs, economic hardships, and uncertainty will always be a part of our lives. And, I’m not saying if we get up in the morning and think it is going to be a beautiful day, that it will automatically become a beautiful day. We will experience trouble from time to time. We will face trials of many kinds, but how we respond to these trials is up to us. We can either sit around dwelling on the negative, or we can concentrate on the positive.
We all have something to thank God for. Here are some stats.
If you were able to get up this morning in good health, you are better off than 2 million people around the world.
If you are not persecuted, you are better off than 3 billion others in the world.
Attitude determines a lot in life. Put yourself in the story of the twins. Which boy are you? Are you the one sitting in the corner absorbed by the smell and watching the clock? If so, consider putting these three keys into practice.
The star appeared, and the journey started. It was not a quick trip to find Jesus. The 900 miles of terrain which separated the Magi from Jesus took some time to cross. In spite of this, the wise men continued. They didn’t give up or turn around until they found Jesus. They knew finding him was worth the pursuit.
No one needs to remind us we are not perfect. We already know, but each day we seek the Lord, we become a little more like him. Each day takes us a little closer to the prize, and each day means we can forget the things Christ has already forgiven from yesterday.
Philippians 3:12-14 says, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection, but I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the Heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus is calling us.”
Seeking Christ is a life-long pursuit. We are always in need of the Lord’s grace. We’re always in need of his leading. There is never a point in life when we stop needing Christ. It has been said life is like a cycle. The rough times lead to an easy season only to be disrupted by the rough times again. The Lord is with us every step of the way, and the prize at the end of the race is Heaven.
Philippians 3:20-21 encourage, “But we are citizens of Heaven where the Lord Jesus Christ lives, and we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak, mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.”
Are you on a life-long pursuit of the Lord? Don’t give up seeking him. He doesn’t give up on seeking us. “Come to me,” Jesus invites. “Seek me,” he encourages, “bring the burdens of life and the worries of today, and exchange them for the rest I offer.” Follow the example of the Magi. Make seeking the Lord a life-long pursuit.