Many times around the holidays, there seems to be something that comes in and steals our thanksgiving. This week we will gather around the table with our families and give thanks for the food we are about to eat but some may forget to be thankful. It happens when we get consumed with worry. Have you ever stopped and pondered on the things that are going on in life and begin to get mad or have a pity party because of the way particular relationships are going or not going? Maybe you haven’t talked to a friend for months and you don’t know what happened. Maybe you do know what happened and you don’t want to face it. Worse yet, it could be a particular family member you are about to go and see.
It isn’t until you come across certain passages of Scripture that you realize how deeply you have been sinking into worry or even bitterness. Whenever I want to find peace for my trouble soul, I go to the Word. Let’s look at Philippians 4:4-7 as we enter this Thanksgiving Holiday.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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.”
God is calling us to lay down all of our worries and come boldly before Him to make our requests known. I want to focus in on verse 6 because I believe there are steps to take as to how to lay down our worries and be bold in making our requests to God. If we follow these steps then we can be set free from worry and fear.
Let’s just be real. There will always be plenty of opportunities to worry. Paul describes many difficulties he experienced in his travels and ministry. Satan will try to regularly distract you from being who God called you to be. But be assured, the tactics of the enemy can be exposed and brought down. You do not have to fall to that temptation.
Worry does not have to cripple you this holiday or any day for that matter. In verse 6, Paul lays out 5 important steps to move from fear to faith, from defeat to victory, from turmoil to peace. There are 5 key words that tell us exactly what we must do when worry and concerns are trying to flood our minds: prayer; petition; thanksgiving; requests; and known.
When you pray, walk in the close relationship you have with Jesus and give him your worry in replace for peace. He truly wants to do that for you. He reminds us in Matthew 11:30 that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Take on Jesus at His word and lighten your load by giving it to Him.
The second step Paul tells us to take is found in the word petition. In the Greek it depicts a person who has some type of lack in his life and therefore pleads strongly for his lack to be met. Even to the point of begging. This person is so desperate that he pushes his pride aside and passionately cries out for assistance.
Paul then goes into the third step. We are to bring our requests to God with thanksgiving. Not only be bold but be thankful. Each one of us has been on the end of someone wanting something from us but not taking the time to express their appreciation for your sacrifice. The word “thanksgiving” is the Greek word eucharistia. When you break it apart it literally means “good grace.” It describes an outpouring of grace and of wonderful feelings that freely flow from the heart in response to someone or something. Paul is showing us that when we earnestly ask God for something, it must be with an earnest outpouring of thanks. That demonstrates faith in God that He will do what is right.
The next step is the word requests. This denotes from the Greek word a sense of confidence. It is to be adamant in requesting and demanding assistance to meet tangible needs. It is used to portray a person who goes to their superior out of respect and honor, demanding a specific need to be met. This person knows what he needs and is so filled with faith that he isn’t afraid to boldly come into God’s Presence to ask and expect to receive it. As long as your prayer is based on the Word of God it is feasible.
As a final point, Paul says, “…let your requests be made known to God.” There is a boldness that is evident in this as well. So in the moments when worry or fear is trying to wrap itself around you, rush to the truths found in Philippians 4:4-7. You don’t have to live a life filled with anxiety. Anxiety can be replaced with a peaceful disposition and you can enjoy the days you have with others by allowing God to guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Enjoy your time around the table as you love the people you are thankful for.
Joy in Jesus!
Rev. Mike McClurg
Senior Pastor, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene