Listen to this devotional:
Philippians 4:4-6 – 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. (NIV)
I remember a season when I repeatedly heard, "Do not be anxious about anything" during church fellowship groups. They had to be joking, didn't they? Were they not ever anxious about anything? I asked the Lord, "What is wrong with me then?" As clear as a ringing bell, "Look it up!" came into my head.
Easy, peasy! Sure enough, that is what I found. Then, I saw a following "but" in the ongoing instructions: "but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Aha! This I could do, even when I felt worried and anxious, because my heart was already full to overflowing with gratitude for all the Lord had done in my renewed life. I was beginning to learn how God's wonderful truth could set me free, and then set me free some more.
Reading a couple of verses above that, again freedom increased, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"
So far, so good: rejoice, prayer, thanksgiving: all this I could manage. Anyway, I was determined to begin thanksgiving whenever I felt anxious, and to look up quoted Scriptures to learn rightful context, full instructions, and find the unquoted blessings.
Oh my! Concerning this anxious thing, I did find one of the most beautiful of unquoted blessings directly before "Do not be anxious." For me, this is the perfect jewel, always! — "The Lord is near."
Wow! More beautiful freeing truth! So now, as well as rejoice always, we have, "The Lord is near. Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Can I say truthfully, "I was never ever anxious again"? I wish! But no! I still had much "belief" muscle to develop, much growing up in Jesus to do, and much self to mortify. However, I can truthfully testify that this was my commencement of "thanksgiving as a lifestyle". Today, I can also truthfully say that the phrase, "Look it up," habitually still resounds clear as a ringing bell in my head, which has given me a lifestyle of increasing joyous freedoms and confidence in our Lord through His Word.
God's Word always directs our hearts to our Lord, His will, and His ways, which are always the very best for us. As Christians, if we want His best, we never become so mature that we don't need to daily grow up some more in Jesus our Lord, the Word!
Prayer: Praise You, Jesus Lord, that You are indeed here, always, and that every moment in Your presence and Your Word diminishes anxieties, as we come faithfully with our thanksgiving, prayers, and requests. Thank You for so generously growing our belief and trust in You. All glory to Your gracious name. Amen and Amen!