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Pastor's Corner: Be happy that the Lord is in charge

 

Last updated 8/20/2021 at 9:22am

On Sunday, Aug. 1st, I preached the second sermon in the series "Anxious for Nothing."

This series is based on the Apostle Paul's writings in Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV): "6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." We are also using a book written by Max Lucado by that same title "Anxious for Nothing," written in 2017, Thomas Nelson Publishing. We have purchased copies of this book for our Leadership Team members, and I would encourage anyone dealing with anxiety to purchase this book. Here are my notes from the sermon on that Sunday.

Who among us hasn't sought protection from the elements of life? Our storms sometimes consist of the big D's of life: difficulties, divorce, disease, and death. Does anybody know where to find a shelter that is suitable for these gales?

The apostle Paul did. When he writes the scriptures above from the Book of Philippians, he is stooped from all of his beating and a stoning. He is probably half-blind, squinting to read (possibly bad eyesight was his "thorn in the flesh."  Paul bears the weight of the newborn churches that he started. Some of the members are bickering. He writes that false preachers are preaching out of pride and envy (Philippians 1:15-17). His future is as gloomy as the jail cell that he is being kept in. How did Paul handle these storms of life? He tells us in Philippians 4:4 to "rejoice in the Lord always." Paul's lifts his thanks to God and calls on his readers to do the same. "Paul's prescription for anxiety begins with a call to rejoice."

The Apostle Paul's usage of the word "rejoice" is in the present imperative tense. What he is saying is that we are to habitually rejoice. When he uses the word "always," he removes the expiration date on his command. If we haven't gathered the importance of this command, he repeats it the command: "Again I will say rejoice!"

But how can a person obey this command? Rejoice always? Is it possible for any person to maintain an uninterrupted spirit of gladness? No. Not in our strength and with our own resources. Paul urges us to "Rejoice in the Lord." "This verse is a call, not to a feeling, but to a decision and a deeply rooted confidence that God exists, that He is in control, and that He is good."

The apostle Paul held firmly to this belief. Paul's faith would never collapse. His faith was stabilized with a sturdy belief system. How sturdy is your belief system? "Your belief system is your answer to the fundamental questions about life: Is anyone in control of the universe? Does life have a purpose? Do I have value? Is this life all there is?" If your belief system is strong, you will stand. If it is weak, the storm of life will prevail. "Belief always precedes behavior." That's why Paul addressed convictions before he addressed actions. "To change the way a person responds to life, change what a person believes about life. The most important thing about you is your belief system."

One of the stabilizing pillars of Paul's belief system is the sovereignty of God, the belief that God is in charge. "Sovereignty" is the term the Bible uses to describe God's perfect control and management of the universe. In the treatment of anxiety, a proper understanding of sovereignty is huge. When we are dealing with anxiety, we are dealing with all kinds of "what-ifs," the perceived chaos of life, and we are troubled. In recent news, we are having our troops make their way out of Afghanistan. When our ground troops were there, they faced tremendous anxiety. Why? Because in so many ways they felt so out of control of their own lives. Interestingly enough, fighter pilots tended to be calm - even though the life expectancy of pilots in time of war is less than that of a ground troop soldier. So why is the fighter pilot less anxious? The pilots felt like their fates were theirs to determine. They each had control of their aircraft's joystick. They had a great degree of control. "Perceived control creates calm ... Lack of control gives birth to fear ... Anxiety increases as perceived control diminishes ..." So if this is the case, what do we do? Control everything? Yes, we try to face anxiety by taking control. If only we could! "Certainty is a cruel imposter ... We want certainty, but the only certainty is the lack thereof." That's why the most stressed-out people are control freaks. The more they try to control the world, the more they realize they cannot. And what is the result? Anxiety, leading to failure, leading to anxiety, leading to failure - a never ending cycle. We can't take control, because control is not ours to take.

The Bible has a better idea: "Rejoice in the Lord always." "You can't run the world, but you can entrust it to God." Remember that Paul said, "Rejoice in the Lord." Peace is within reach because of the presence of the sovereign Lord. God is in charge! So, how should we respond? Relinquish control and be happy that the Lord is in charge! "Rather than rehearse the chaos of the world, rejoice in the Lord's sovereignty, as Paul did." Paul believed in the steady hand of a good God. He was protected by God's strength, preserved by God's love. Are you? Paul encourages you to stabilize your soul with the sovereignty of God. "He reigns supreme over every detail of the universe." He sustains all things - Hebrews 1:3. Everything is under God's control. Lamentations 3:37-38 says it this way: "Who can act against you without the Lord's permission? It is the Lord who helps one and harms another."

The next time you fear the future, rejoice in the Lord's sovereignty - be happy that the Lord is in charge! Rejoice in what He has accomplished. Rejoice that He is able to do what you cannot do.

Fill your mind with thoughts of God. He is the Creator, who is blessed forever - Romans 1:25. God is king, supreme ruler, absolute monarch, and overlord of all history. "Sovereignty gives the saint the inside track to peace ... We see the problems of the world and bend our knees." Lift up your eyes. Don't get lost in your troubles. Dare to believe good things will happen. "The mind cannot at the same time be full of God and full of fear." Isaiah 26:3 says.

"3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." Are you troubled, restless, sleepless? Then rejoice in the Lord's sovereignty - be happy that the Lord is in charge! Expose your worries to an hour of worship. "Anxiety passes as trust increases." Jeremiah 17:7-8 tells us: "7 But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. 8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." These verses directly connect faith and peace. Do you trust God to pilot the plane of your life? Perhaps God is saying to you, "We won't face anything that I can't handle. You might as well trust Me to fly the plane." Is God saying that to you? Examine the faith pillars that sustain your belief. Make sure one of them is etched with the words "My God is sovereign - God is in charge!"

Put together by the Rev. Edroy "Curt" Curtis, president of the Greater Havre Area Ministerial Association, Northern Montana Care Center chaplain and lead Pastor of Havre Assembly of God Church, with quotes from the New King James Version of the Bible and all other quotes from Max Lucado in his book, "Anxious for Nothing," 2017; Thomas Nelson Publishing.

 

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