Bible Basics Explained | Anxiety Part 2

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading

Devotional

Day 1 | Philippians 4:4 | Rejoice!

This devotional works best as an audio experience. Hit the play button now, and read along if you like. All verses quoted from the NIV.

Hello friends and welcome to Bible Basics Explained. My name is Kris Langham, and I am your guide once again for part two in our series on anxiety. Over the next five days, we will dig into one of my all-time favorite passages in scripture: Philippians 4. Paul’s letter to his dear friends in the Philippian church is just overflowing with peace and joy and affection. And yet it was written in the midst of real suffering and serious challenges. And here in chapter 4, Paul shares some of the Bible’s great keys to letting go of worry and holding on to God’s peace.

Now, this is Part 2 and, if you missed it, I want to encourage you to find Part 1, and if you can, start there. I actually wrote this one first, but my daughter helped me see I was missing something. I had skipped something. So I went back and recorded part 1 in Psalm 139. A beautiful Psalm, and a powerful reminder that God knows you and hears you. The Lord knows your anxious thoughts and He understands. That is the right place to start.

Now here in Part 2, we move forward to this phenomenal passage in Philippians 4. So let’s start out by reading it:

“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 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” (Philippians 4:4-7).

Now that’s beautiful. But rewind the tape there. Did that say, "Do not be anxious… about anything?" Yep. It sure did. And what’s more, back in Matthew 6, Jesus Himself, says, “Do not worry about tomorrow.”

I have to tell you, I remember very well, some years ago, staring at that verse. Just glaring at the red letters and those three little words: do not worry. And I thought to myself, “Well that sounds lovely. How on earth do you do it?”

I was a worrier. By nature. It was just built into my brain function. I spent a lot of time thinking. Planning. Wondering. And whatever I was thinking about, I would inevitably begin thinking of what might happen and what might go wrong. Most of those things I thought about,  I couldn’t really do anything about... so instead, I worried.

Then one day, my life changed. I believed in Jesus. It didn’t happen all at once for me, but wow did it change me. Changed almost everything about me. Changed the way I see everything, and how I think about everything. Now all those running thoughts of mine were no longer "What’s gonna happen?" but "What’s God gonna do?" It was a nice change. But I gotta admit, I still couldn’t shake the worry. It was like my train of thought had dug itself some deep ruts in the mud over the years and I just couldn’t quite get myself out. Sure I trust God. But… but… what if I screw up? Or what if something happens? Or what if…? I don’t know, just what if?

So I stared at it. Three words. Do not worry.

"Okay, Jesus. I’ll obey. But you gotta understand. I am thoroughly incapable of doing this one on my own."

And you know, looking back, I didn’t get it then but I think that simple realization - that moment of honest humility - was the first step. Now I didn’t get healed on the spot, and I certainly am not perfect yet, but wow has He brought me a long way! And the key ingredient in my progress and in my peace has been God’s Word. So that’s where we’re gonna focus. This little plan is not a magic cure-all for your anxiety issues. And it’s not a replacement for therapy or medicine. I am not a psychiatrist, and I have no business offering a psychiatric evaluation. I am a Bible teacher. And I’m also a fellow traveler on this journey of life, and one who knows what it is to worry and what it is to find peace.

So this plan is a Bible study. We’re going to open up Philippians together, chapter 4, and read these verses about anxiety and understand them. And as we do, we’ll let God do His work through the Word. That’s our name, by the way: Through the Word. Most of our plans go through Bible books chapter-by-chapter. But sometimes you need to slow down, go verse-by-verse to really dig in on something important. Here in Philippians, we have a fantastic passage about anxiety and peace and our thought life. For today, we begin with just one verse: Philippians 4:4.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

I love that command. It reminds me that joy is not just a feeling, it’s a choice and an action. Alistair Begg comments that "Joy, like love, is not a victim of our emotions, but a servant of our will." We choose to rejoice.

And this joy is not some empty feeling smiling at nothing. True joy has a source. We rejoice in something. You know what I’m talking about. When you’re in a great mood, it’s usually because there’s something really good that you can’t stop thinking about:  a big victory, a successful project, or even a person that just makes you smile. You rejoice in that idea, that project, or that person. Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” - that means in good times and in trials. He is always good. So rejoice in Him. Think about Him.

Like a teenage girl who just got a date with her high school crush. Like a young man head over heels in love - who finally got up the guts to ask the big question. And she said yes! Hey, maybe those things never happened for you or didn’t work out. But do you realize that Jesus - the lover of your soul, the One true King - has called you, has committed Himself to you, and He is good. He is faithful and worthy of our trust.

Rejoice in Him.

And that idea is so good, we’re gonna leave it there for today. Read verses four through nine today, and we’ll pick it up next time with the peace of God that transcends all understanding. Now that’s something to look forward to!

And remember, rejoice!

Next: Read Philippians 4:4-9

For Thought & Discussion:

  1. In verse 4, how does the phrase 'in the Lord' change the call to rejoice? What’s the difference between rejoicing and rejoicing 'in the Lord'?
  2. How can we choose to rejoice when our circumstances don’t feel joyful?