Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Mid-week Advent 3

Mid-week Advent #3
16 December 2015
Philippians 4:4-7

Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers and to lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation; for your live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

During this Advent/Christmas season may the peace of God which surpasses all understanding be yours today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your lives.  May you know of His peace and joy!  That is my prayer for you this night. Let's see how Paul explains to us that this peace is all made possible.

1.   BE ANXIOUS IN NOTHING That's not always easy to do is it? We can talk about stress during the holidays and there are considerable stresses, which can come our way during this Advent and Christmas season.  We live in anxious anticipation. We want everything to be "just right" and we can fret about so many things. Like Mr. Griswold in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation we want everything to work out perfect. As we know, there are going to be interruptions, which come our way that cannot be avoided.

Sometimes our anxieties are unfounded. The Christmas cards will be mailed; the gifts will be wrapped. All of the plans, chores and errands will eventually get done. The fact of the matter is that Christmas will come and go whether or not we have everything go according to plan. And yes, there are stresses and strains that come up during the holidays, which simply can not be avoided, and yet we worry so often about the small things.

All that being said, there are sometimes real and legitimate concerns that can plague us during the holiday. I have a friend whose department, for which he had worked at for over twenty-five years, was phased out by the company on Christmas Eve! Now that's anxiety that is founded! Possibly it might be an illness, or a loss which comes upon us, which can not be avoided.

Notice, what Paul does not say. He does not say: "don't be anxious" Cares and concerns will come our way and they have a tendency of coming to us at the most inappropriate times. We will become anxious, we will have concerns.  Rather, Paul warns us to be anxious in nothing. In other words, Paul reminds us that we cannot expect to handle our problems by ourselves. Of course not, we’re sinners, and as sinners when we take matters into our own hands we have a tendency to mess things up and make things worse rather than better.  Problems; they tend to loom over us and can drive us to brink of despair. In our lesson for tonight Paul tells us how we should handle those setbacks and hardships, which come our way.  By these words Paul encourages us to…    

2.   BE PRAYERFUL IN EVERYTHING The old axiom goes: "If your problem is big enough to worry about then it's big enough to pray about; and if it isn't too big to pray about then it certainly isn't anything to worry about".  Do you have concerns worries and anxieties? Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Take everything to God in prayer.  This is what Paul reminds us in our text for this evening. In everything; "by prayer and supplication make your requests known to God".  He already knows your need. You're not fooling Him by not praying about it.  The only one whom you are fooling is yourself. Take everything to God in prayer. We pray for two good reasons; God's command and our need.  Do you have a need then pray about it!

3.   BE THANKFUL IN ANYTHING This is difficult. Our anxious moments can cause sleepless nights filled with dread, fear and doubt. Paul tells us to be thankful.  Not thankful that we have a weight and burden but because we already know that help is on the way. David reminds us " I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord, who hath made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:1) We thank God because He is able to do far more abundantly then we are able to ask or think. We remain thankful for He can will do for us what we are unable to do. 

THE END RESULT...PEACE. What does Paul mean when he tells us that that peace will be ours?  Peace does not mean the elimination of problems. Sometimes our problem might leave. But as we live in an imperfect world there will be other anxieties that will take their place. Rather the peace that Paul speaks of is a peace, which comes in knowing that Christ will always be with us; that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  This is why Jesus came to this earth on the first Christmas. He came to deliver us from our burden and to set us free from sin, death, and the devil. He came to take our burden to Himself. There is now "peace on earth good will toward men" for God is at peace; at peace at what Christ has done for you and me and what He will continue to do for us in the future. He will sustain us. He will guide us. He will uphold and defend us no matter what might come our way.

 What is my prayer for you this night?  May you know of His peace and joy! May the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, be yours tonight, tomorrow, and for the rest of your lives!  

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