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August 19, 2015

Centered

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

How would you describe your life right now? Hectic? Stressful? Overwhelmed? We’ve all been there, haven’t we? There are a lot of ways to describe our lives, but I’m guessing that centered might not be on the list for most.

Yet, God desires that our lives be centered in Him and, when Christ is the center of our lives, we experience His strength in the middle of our stress! How does that work? Asking God to remove all our stress doesn’t work. In fact, it seems to only add more stress. That must mean that stress is not necessarily a bad thing. God teaches us how to manage our stress in a way that brings balance to our busy lives. This past weekend, we looked at a passage of scripture that tells us how God does it. It’s found in Philippians, a letter that was written by the Apostle Paul when he was in a Roman jail for preaching the gospel. From what he says, you might imagine Paul was on an island enjoying a vacation without a care in the world. The truth was that he was in a dungeon, suffering for sharing his faith with others. That bit of background will make what he says even more profound and enable us to relate when we go through stressful times ourselves. You may never be in prison for sharing your faith. But, you may feel locked up with limitations, deadlines and problems that are overwhelming you. What did he say to do?

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Paul offers three practical steps to be centered in the middle of your stress so you can experience God’s peace despite the circumstances.

  1. Don’t worry about anything…. (Vs. 6a)

Are you a worrier? Worry is like revving up your car engine. It burns a lot of gas, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. How much energy do you waste worrying over things beyond your control? Worry puts “me” at the center of my life. It says, “God, I don’t believe You’re big enough to handle this one, so I need to worry about it.” Sound dumb? It is! That’s why Paul gave us the command, Don’t worry about anything! Make your worries prayer targets to do something positive. What?

  1. Pray about everything…. (Vs. 6b)

There’s nothing we can’t pray about! There is no problem too big for God’s power, and there’s no care too small for His concern! Peter discovered that when he was fishing one day and couldn’t catch a thing. He turned it over to Jesus and discovered God cared about his business. God cares about your business as well! He cares about every detail in your life because He loves you. Peter said,

You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon Him, for you are His personal concern. 1 Peter 5:7 (Ph)

  1. Always give thanks! (Vs. 6c)

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, the Bible says,

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Did you notice the word in? He didn’t say, “Give thanks for all circumstances.” While we don’t give thanks for all things, we can give thanks in them. Despite the circumstances, God is still in control, and we trust Him because He loves us and is working out His purposes through them all! Paul was writing this from prison, not thankful that He was there, but thankful that God was with him. Paul knew that God was in control of even the worst of situations and would use it for His glory somehow. Little did Paul know that we would be reading his words today! Had he not been in prison, we may not even have the prison letters of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon.

So, what can you expect when you apply Paul’s counsel for being centered in the middle of your stress? Look at verse 7:

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Trade in your panic today for peace as you make Christ the center of your life.