Don’t Be Anxious

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Devotional Exercise: A bible study in motion

Philippians 4:6-7 New International Version (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.

Thanksgiving? In every situation? Really?

My friend Bonnie is a wonderful encourager. She says, “If your flesh tells you to do one thing, do the exact opposite and that’s usually the way of the Spirit.”

“Flesh” is another way to say our natural desires, when our heart wars against our spirit, when our ways are so different from God’s ways. The ways of the Holy Spirit are so different than my natural inclinations that it is opposite of my knee jerk reaction most of the time!

Isaiah 55:8-9 New International Version (NIV)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

So when my flesh doesn’t feel like giving thanks in a situation, then that’s the very time to give thanks and present my requests to God. Then I have a peace that can’t be touched by my circumstances. Then the Holy Spirit will be stronger than my flesh.

Why should I make the flesh weak and the spirit strong? The flesh is against the spirit.

Galatians 5:17-25 New King James Version (NKJV)

17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: [a]adultery, [b]fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, [c]murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 [d]gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

So do I feel like giving up? That’s when I need to overcome by thanking God for my circumstance. I can only do this if Jesus gives me His power and He is so willing to do that every single time.

Does my flesh want recognition? That’s when I need to serve without expecting reward.

Do I want to be lifted up? That’s when I need to go lower.

Do I want money? That’s when I need to give generously.

Do I want to hurt back? That’s when I should return good for evil. Whaa?

Why? To sow to the Spirit and not to the flesh.

Galatians 6:8 NLT

Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

Galatians 6:8 NASB

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

“Sowing” is a spiritual concept taught in the Bible to an agricultural society. That ancient society understood well that whatever seed they planted would definitely yield that plant. Sometimes I think that complaining and grumbling will make me feel better but it doesn’t. That is a seed that sows to my flesh, that makes me feel worse, angry, anxious, fearful. (Those are all plants of the natural me.) Instead, speaking thankful words plant seeds through the Holy Spirit that will make my spirit grow the plant of a thankful, faith filled, joyful, peaceful heart and get rid of the weeds of anxiety.

Want to go deeper? Here’s a good link for further study: https://bible.org/seriespage/6-god-s-ways-are-not-our-ways

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