Peace in a Time of Panic (Phil. 4:4-8), a sermon preached on March 22, 2020

This morning I would like to address what has been foremost in our minds over the past few weeks, what has flooded TV news and our inboxes, and what is causing rising panic in our hearts…the coronavirus.

I want this morning to help us come to the Word of God to find Peace in a Time of Panic.  As followers of Jesus Christ–the Master of the Universe–we can choose faith over fear and peace over panic, and be lights in this world.

We live in unprecedented times.  Places that are normally teeming with people, like Times Square and the Mall in Washington, D. C., are eerily empty.  My email inbox has literally exploded with articles about the coronavirus—from information, to how to lead, to how it to talk to your children about the coronavirus, to how to go online with church worship services.

So much information thrown at me that one blog was entitled “This email is NOT about the coronavirus.”

Restaurants, libraries and theaters are closed.  Supermarket shelves are cleared out.  Many church last Sunday was via webcast—and likely will be for several weeks.  All of us have had our lives significantly interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

For many, what stands out boldly in pandemic is the letters P-A-N-I-C, panic.  Fears and anxieties abound not only because of the rapid spread of this invisible disease and the possibilities of fatalities, but also the economic impact.

At the time of this writing, the COVID-19 Virus has been labeled a “pandemic”, businesses are suspending operations or working remotely, churches are scrambling to figure out how to hold gatherings, America is essentially closed.

The word “unprecedented” is being used a lot.  New words, like “social distancing,” have crept into our vocabulary

Uncertainty is at an all-time high.

Many stabilizing forces in our world feel unstable.

As parents you’ve had to tell your children about how to handle this virus.  Seniors have likely have spent their last days with their classmates at school.

Anxiety is a thief.

It steals our sense of safety and turns our mind into a battlefield. Suddenly, we are questioning if we will be able to make ends meet, or if we will have enough food if things get really bad.

It steals our peace. A little cough is no longer just a little cough but feels life-threatening.

It steals the moment from us. We sit with our kiddos, trying to engage, but it’s hard to when our thoughts have drifted into the worse scenarios.

It whispers threats about our parents and grandparents into our minds as we try to sleep at night.

It’s a thief.  It robs us of hope in the future and strength for today.

Corrie ten Boom, along with other faithful from among the nations, led courageously in the face of the Nazi fascism—a different form of deadly virus. And she reminds us, “Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.”

The most unsettling part about the COVID-19 is that this is uncharted territory and we don’t know what’s going to happen next.

No one does.

No one, except God.

When we look to the Lord we will be reminded that our anxiety doesn’t know it all. But He does.

He knows exactly how this all goes.

When we think about how He both goes before us into the unknown, and then takes our hand and walks beside us through it, we can breathe a little easier.

I certainly don’t intend to make light of what is happening, and I do believe we all need to take precautions, but as believers in Jesus Christ we do not need to fear.  We do not need to be anxious.  Although things have changed almost overnight, there are some things that have not changed:

First, God is still on the throne.  He has not abdicated His throne; He is not absent from His throne.  And He is sitting on His throne.  He is not pacing back and forth, wringing his hands, mumbling, “What’s going to happen next?  What am I going to do now?”

No, our God is still in complete control of all that is happening.

No infected molecule can enter your lungs, or your three-year-old’s lungs, unless sent by the hand of a heavenly Father. The Heidelberg Catechism defines God’s providence as, “The almighty and ever-present power of God by which God upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty—all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.” That truth is like an asthmatic’s inhaler to our soul–it calms us down, allows us to breathe again. (Dane Ortlund)

Second, we know that God is still “working all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Now, that verse isn’t saying that everything that happens to us is good, but rather than God is able to make it all work out together for a good ending.

We saw in our study of Philippians last week, how Paul was caught between two good things—living on so he could still minister to the Philippian church, or dying, which he saw as “better by far” and as “gain.”

Romans 8:31-32 tell us that God is “for us.”  Although things might happen which we perceive as being against us, God is for us.  And He has proven that by already having done the hardest thing—not sparing His Son Jesus, but giving Him up for our sakes.  And if God has already done the hardest thing, we can be sure He will do for us whatever else we need.

Third, we know that God is still with us.  He promised that he would “never leave us and never forsake us.” So we can know that whatever we may go through, He is right there beside us—loving us and ministering to us.

Whether we go through the fire or through the flood (Isaiah 43:2-3) or even through “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4), we can know that He is right there beside us.

Do you remember the situation where the disciples were out in a boat on the Sea of Galilee and a storm came up while Jesus just slept on?  They were in panic mode; Jesus was at peace.

Jesus calmed the storm, but before He did He asked, “Why are you afraid?”

Apparently they weren’t afraid that God couldn’t save from from a storm, but they feared that He might not be able to save them through it.  When we find ourselves in the midst of storms we cannot control we need to remember that Jesus is right there with us and He is powerful enough to calm any storm.

Fourth, we know that He cares for us.  If you are stuck in your home by yourself, you might feel like no one cares.  But God does and He asks us to unload our burdens onto His shoulders.  Peter tells us “Cast all your anxiety upon Him for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

In times of turmoil, in seasons of distress, Jesus is more feelingly with his people than ever.  Hebrews tells us that Jesus experienced all the horror of this world that we do, minus sin (Hebrews 4:15).  So apparently he knows—he himself knows—way down deep, what it feels like for life to close in on you and for your world to go into meltdown.  We can go to him.  We can sit with him.  His arm is around us—stronger than ever—right now.  His tears are larger than ours.

And if you are an older person stuck in your home and you are anxious about getting out to get groceries or supplies, let me know.  My number is 479-234-1206.  That’s 479-234-1206.  We have a card that we could give you and that would help us to serve you.  Again, that’s 479-234-1206.

Finally, our God is able.  Our God is all-powerful.  He can handle this.  He’s “got this.”

How big is your god?

  • Can your god heal disease? Jesus can (Matthew 9:20-22).
  • Can your god raise the dead? Jesus can (Matthew 9:18-19, 23-25; John 11:1-44).
  • Can your god forgive sin? Jesus can (Mark 2:1-12).
  • Can your god allow disabilities in people? God can (Exodus 4:11)
  • Can your god use those disabilities to bring him glory and accomplish his purpose? God can (John 9:1-3).
  • Can your god provide for your needs? God can (Genesis 22:1-14).
  • Is your god big enough to use difficulties to bring him glory? God can (Romans 8:28).
  • Is your god big enough to use trials and challenges to help you grow to maturity? God can (James 1:2-12),
  • Can your god give you peace when everyone around you is consumed with worry? God can (Philippians 4:6-7).
  • Can your god give you hope when you are feeling depressed? God can (Psalms 42 & 43).
  • Can your god guarantee you a home in heaven? Jesus can (John 3:16; 14:1-6).
  • Can your god control the weather, manage the environment, and provide for the animals? God can (Job 38-41).
  • Can your god help you be content with your limitations? God can (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).

How people respond to a tragedy like the tornado that recently devastated Nashville, TN, or a pandemic like the COVID-19 virus reveals the size of their god. Some panic and cower in fear. Others throw their hands up in despair. Still others search for someone to blame.

People of faith and followers of Jesus act with prudence and wisdom but do not give into fear. They are confident that God is in control. He has a plan and a purpose and he will use all things to help accomplish his plan and purpose.

It is times like these that true believers will rise to the surface and be shining examples of neighbor love and hope.

Dane Ortlund recently said

Times of public panic force us to align our professed belief with our actual belief. We all say we believe God is sovereign and he is taking care of us. But we reveal our true trust when the world goes into meltdown. What’s really our heart’s deepest loyalty? The answer is forced to the surface in times of public alarm, such as we’re wading into now.

So this coronavirus hasn’t changed everything and it gives us opportunities to express our faith and deepen our faith and also to love our neighbors.

For Christians, this is the moment Jesus calls upon our light — his light — to shine before men. Are we going to respond primarily thinking about ourselves and the logistics of how we can livestream church or manage online school? Or are we going to lift our heads and step into God’s calling to love and serve those around us who are scared, displaced and in need?

As in any other natural disaster, when schools, businesses and entire industries are closing or facing drastic disruption, when people are worried about how they will provide for their family, when society is beginning to see panicky behavior, this is the time for the body of Christ to be a voice of faith instead of fear — and a source of practical help.

Two millennia ago, during another set of pandemics, the church did the same.  In A.D. 165 and 251, two great plagues swept the Roman Empire.  Where pagans tried to avoid all contact with the sick, Christians put themselves at risk in order to succor those sick and dying, caring for those who had always treated them with contempt.  But with the love of Christ in their hearts, how could they not step forward when so many were hurting and in need?

Many paid the ultimate price.  But as Rodney Stark concluded in his 1996 book “The Rise of Christianity,” this visible love so overwhelmed the reigning philosophies of the day — it so showed Jesus ­— that it was one of the most important factors behind the explosion of our faith to every corner of the empire and beyond.

We hope and pray that this pandemic will never come close to the scale of those plagues, which killed millions.  But the fear today is real.  Let the Body of Christ be and show the perfect love that casts out fear.

You see, anxiety and compassion don’t play well together.

Have you ever noticed that we try to rid ourselves of anxiety by trying not to be anxious?

Fighting anxiety creates more anxiety. The best you can do is answer anxiety.

Focusing on anxiety validates anxiety. But if you ignore anxiety, people will think you don’t care.

Compassion answers anxiety.

Anxiety and compassion don’t play well together. Anxiety wants to protect itself. Compassion wants to serve others.

Anxiety makes you small and self-concerned. Compassion makes you big and expresses your best self.

Use anxiety to awaken compassion.

Commit to take care of each other.

Respond to anxious people with your best answer and a commitment to care. You might need to say, “At this time we don’t know. But I know we’re committed to take care of each other.” (“But” creates a powerful contrast.)

Show up to take care of someone.

Ask yourself, “How will I take care of the people I meet today?” Ask the care-question on your way to the office. Before making a call, ask the care-question.

Our hope rests not in fully stocked shelves and ample disinfectant, but in the saving blood of Christ, who gave his life so that one day all disease and pestilence will vanish from the earth (Rev. 21:4).  As the headlines scroll across our screens, and anxiety mounts in our chests, let his love for us, rather than fear for ourselves, spur us to action.

Remember to wash your hands.  Remember to stay home when you’re sick.  And most of all, remember to do all this not out of panic, but out of love for your neighbor—the 80-year-old in the third pew, the nonagenarian in the choir, the transplant recipient at work—because Christ loved us first.

You know the correct way to wash your hands is to wash them for 20 seconds, scrubbing them thoroughly with soap.  You can sing “Happy birthday” twice (and maybe add “and many more”), or you can use that time to pray for other people.

So turn with me this morning to Philippians 4, where Paul gives us some insights into how to deal with our worries and anxieties.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

We are natural worriers, but times like these stoke the flames of our anxieties.  Some of us worry more than others.  Did you know that a recent study (prior to COVID-19) showed that kids ages 7-12 have an average of just 7.6 worries a day!

You’re probably thinking: “I wish I could go back to that.”

Five hundred years ago, Michel de Montaigne said: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”

And studies have shown that 85 percent of what we worry about never happens.

Lo and behold, it turns out that 85 percent of what subjects worried about never happened, and with the 15 percent that did happen, 79 percent of subjects discovered either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning. This means that 97 percent of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions.

A bassoon player came up to his conductor, famed Arturo Toscanini, and nervously said he could not reach the high E flat.  Toscanini just smiled and replied, “Don’t worry.  There is no E flat in your music tonight.”

Maybe you’ve seen the cartoon where the husband says to his wife, “99% of what you worry about never happens!”  And she responds, “She, it works!”

Many of our worries are like that…unfounded and unnecessary.

Yet, we worry.

For several years a woman had been having trouble getting to sleep at night because she feared burglars and imagined them in her home.  One night her husband heard a noise in the house, so he went downstairs to investigate.  When he got there, he did find a burglar!  “Good evening,” said the man of the house, “I am so pleased to meet you.  Come upstairs and meet my wife.  She has been waiting 10 years to meet you.”

We know that worrying isn’t good for us.  It can lead to all kinds of physical and emotional difficulties.

That’s why Proverbs 12:25 says, “An anxious heart weighs a man down…”  Worry weighs us down and wears us out.

Proverbs 14:30 adds, “A heart a peace gives life to the body…”

I’m quoting Arthur Somers Rouche, who pointed out: “Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind.  If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”

Now, there are things that are under our control, and we should take responsibility for those things.  But worry is assuming a responsibility that God never intended you to have.  Worries most often focus on things that are outside of our control and therefore they are not our responsibilities, but belong to God.

Anxiety is the unproductive concern about something you can’t do anything about that hasn’t happened, and might not happen.

Jesus talked about worry, too.  And he had reasons to be anxious in the Garden, but he did exactly what Paul recommends—pray about it.

Jesus told us that worry doesn’t do a thing for us and it shows that we are really unbelievers, like the pagans who have no heavenly father.  “Worry is an indication that we think God cannot look after us” (Oswald Chambers).

Phil Keaggy put to music the words of Elizabeth Cheney

Said the robin to the sparrow,
I would really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.
Said the sparrow to the robin,
Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me.

Max Lucado, in his book Anxious for Nothing points out four principles for dealing with anxiety and worry in vv. 4-8.

  • Celebrate God’s goodness—“rejoice in the Lord always”
  • Ask God for help—“let your requests be made known to God”
  • Leave your concerns with him—through giving thanks
  • Then meditate on good things, as contained in verse 8.

You might not be able to rejoice in your circumstances.  But you can rejoice in the Lord.  Of course, it’s hard to rejoice in Him if you don’t know Him very well.  One of the requirements for not worrying is that you have to know God—like we said earlier—that He is in control, He’s working all things together for God, He hasn’t left us, He’s always for us and He is all-powerful.

If we are fully persuaded that God is these things, we can rejoice in Him even if our circumstances are dire.

Anxiety focuses upon our circumstances and as long as we’re focused on the circumstances, we will feel anxious.

Remember how Paul and Silas did this?  What were they doing at midnight, having been severely beaten and thrown into jail?  They were singing!  They were focusing their attention upon God and His goodness and greatness, and as a result they were praising God and rejoicing in Him and not focused on their sad circumstances.

Of take Asaph, in Psalm 73.  At first he is troubled by the ease and affluence of the wicked, but then he comes into the temple and meditates, and he comes to find that God really was enough for Him, and the anxieties disappeared.

Psalm 37 is another passage that directly contrasts rejoicing in God with fretting over our circumstances.  Listen to David’s words…

1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! 2 For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. 6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. 7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

And in the book of Habakkuk, where Habakkuk is struggling over the seeming injustice of wicked Babylon being used by God to discipline disobedient, idolatrous Israel, ultimate comes to this same conclusion—that joy replaces anxiety.  Listen to his words…

16 I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. 17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 19 GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

Some of you are anxious right now.  Jobs are being lost, job opportunities are drying up.  What you depended upon and were looking forward to is no longer there.

What are you going to do?  “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD…”

You can choose anxiety, or you can choose joy.  The key is to choose the place of the focus of your attention…and affection.  Is it on this world?  Or is it upon Jesus Christ?

Secondly, Paul tells us to ask God for help.  In verse 6 Paul says to stop being anxious, but rather turn your anxieties over to God.

Paul could have been anxious.  He was not writing from a Mediterranean resort where he was relaxing and enjoying life.  He was in prison awaiting whether his life would be spared or taken.

The Philippians had their own circumstances causing them worry.

Now, trying to keep an emotion like worry from happening is like trying to keep a dozen beach balls under water—they just keep popping up.  It’s like play “Whack-a-Mole.”

Paul gives us a way to defeat worry—turn your worries into prayers.  Consistently and repeatedly turn it over to God.

Worry focuses on the problems, prayer focuses upon God’s promises.

So get out your “to do list” for this week.  Under the “worry” column put the word, “nothing.”  Under the “things to pray about” column put the word, “everything.”

We pray because we do believe that God is in control, working everything for our good, with us and for us and supremely capable of handling anything we put into His almighty hands.

In 480 B.C. the outnamed army of Sparta’s King Leonidas held off the Persian troops of Xerxes by fighting them one at a time as they came through a narrow mountain pass.

Commenting on this strategy, C. H. Spurgeon said, “Suppose Leonidas and his handful of men had gone out into the wide-open plain and attacked the Persians—why, they would have died at once, even though they might have fought like lions.”

Spurgeon continued by saying that Christians stand in the narrow pass of today.  If they choose to battle every difficulty at once [or save them up for an extended prayer time] they’re sure to suffer defeat.  But if they trust God and take their troubles one by one, they will find that their strength is sufficient.

Pray to God because he is real, and the act of prayer puts Jesus in the picture.

Supplicate him because he is the source of peace in your situation.

Offer thanksgiving because he is good and has already given you much.

Make a request because he is powerful and he is the one who is sovereign over your situation.

Helen Roseveare, a medical missionary to Africa who passed away in 2016, told this story of making specific requests to God.

One night, in Central Africa, I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all that we could do, she died leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying, two-year-old daughter.

We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive.  We had no incubator.  We had no electricity to run an incubator, and no special feeding facilities.  Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts.

A student-midwife went for the box we had for such babies and for the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in.  Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle.

She came back shortly, in distress, to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst.  Rubber perishes easily in tropical climates. “…and it is our last hot water bottle!” she exclaimed.

As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk; so, in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over a burst water bottle.  They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways.

All right,” I said, “Put the baby as near the fire as you safely can; sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts.  Your job is to keep the baby warm.”

The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with many of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me.  I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby.

I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle.  The baby could so easily die if it got chilled.  I also told them about the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died.

During the prayer time, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt consciousness of our African children. “Please, God,” she prayed, “send us a water bottle.  It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, the baby’ll be dead; so, please send it this afternoon.”

While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added by way of corollary, ” …And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she’ll know You really love her?”

As often with children’s prayers, I was put on the spot.  Could I honestly say, “Amen?” I just did not believe that God could do this.

Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything:  The Bible says so, but there are limits, aren’t there?

The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending a parcel from the homeland.

I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever received a parcel from home.  Anyway, if anyone did send a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle?  I lived on the equator!

Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses’ training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time that I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the veranda, was a large twenty-two pound parcel!

I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone; so, I sent for the orphanage children.  Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot.  We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly.

Excitement was mounting.  Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box.

From the top, I lifted out brightly colored, knitted jerseys.  Eyes sparkled as I gave them out.

Then, there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children began to look a little bored.

Next, came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas – – that would make a nice batch of buns for the weekend.

As I put my hand in again, I felt the…could it really be?  I grasped it, and pulled it out. Yes, “A brand-new rubber, hot water bottle!”

I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could.

Ruth was in the front row of the children.  She rushed forward, crying out, “If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!”

Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully dressed dolly.

Her eyes shone: She had never doubted!  Looking up at me, she asked, “Can I go over with you, Mummy, and give this dolly to that little girl, so she’ll know that Jesus really loves her?”

That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my former Sunday School class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God’s prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator.  One of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child — five months earlier in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it “That afternoon!”

The same God who answered Ruth’s audacious prayers is the God you present your requests to.  He can show the same goodness and power to you as well.

The third thing we can do is to give our requests to God “with thanksgiving.”

Thanksgiving is the mark that we’ve moved from fear to faith.  We have put our request in God’s hands and we are now thanking Him that He will act in our behalf in goodness and love.

We make requests because we believe that God is powerful and in control; we thank Him because we believe He is good and kind.

When we get to the place where our prayers are littered with thanksgivings, it is a sign of victory over anxiety.

Verse 7 tells us that when we do these things—rejoice in the Lord, hand our troubles to Him and rejoice in His goodness, then peace floods our souls.

Peace is tranquility, calmness, a sense of centered well-being.  These are the goals of Zen gurus, yogis, day spas, and meditation retreats.  But here Paul promises that if you repent of anxiety rather than excuse it, and if you focus on gratitude to God, and ask God for his involvement: you will experience true peace.

The Greek word for peace is irene.  It means peace of mind, tranquility arising from reconciliation with God and a sense of a divine favor.  The Old Testament equivalent is Shalom.

It is the type of serenity that characterizes God himself, for He is the “God of peace.”  He isn’t fretting about what’s going on in our world today.

This isn’t an artificial ‘ignorance is bliss’ type of peace.  It’s the peace that comes from God—it is supernatural.  And it is a gift from God.  It is real.  You merely need to ask for it.

And this is a surpassing peace, one that goes beyond our imaginations.  It is far superior to any peace our world promises (John 14:27).

Pastor Steve Cole explains the importance of thanksgiving when he says…

Thanksgiving in a time of trials reflects three things: (1) Remembrance of God’s supply in the past.  You think back over His faithfulness to you up to this point and realize that His mercies have sustained you.  He has been with you in every trial.  He has never abandoned or forsaken His children, even if we face persecution or death for His sake.

(2) Submission to God’s sovereignty in the present.  To thank God in the very midst of a crisis or trial is to say, “Lord, I don’t understand, but I submit to Your sovereign purpose in this situation. I trust that You know what You’re doing and will work it together for good.”  We are not just to thank God when we feel like it, but also when we don’t feel like it (1 Thess. 5:18).

(3) Trust in God’s sufficiency for the future.  A thankful heart rests upon the all-sufficient God, knowing that even though we don’t see how He is going to do it, He will meet our every need as we cast ourselves on Him.

Finally, we choose to focus on good things-things that are true and honorable and pure and good and praiseworthy.

What you choose to dwell upon affects your moods and emotions.  You have a choice.

Notice that Paul says we should “dwell” on these things.  We should turn our attention to these things and focus on them instead of the negative things we so often worry about.

So I invite you today to turn your peace into panic.  Whatever are the specific fears, worries and anxieties that are eating away at you right now, rejoice in God, turn them over to Him, thank Him for His goodness and kindness and focus on positive things.


Before signing off, let me just say that if you need things to do with your children or you need ideas for family devotions.  Just let me know.

Also, I’ve created a Facebook Group for Age and Phase and we will have a video for 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds this coming week.  I will let you mothers know about that and if anyone else is interested please text me at 479-234-1206.


Published by

Lamar Austin

I've graduated from Citadel Bible College in Ozark, Arkansas, with a B. A. Then got my M. Div. and Th. M. at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, MD. I finished with a D. Min. degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, but keep on learning. I pastored at Chinese Christian Church of Greater Washington, D. C., was on staff at East Evangelical Free Church in Wichita, KS, tried to plant an EFC in Little Rock, before moving back home to Mena, where I now pastor my home church, Grace Bible Church

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