Thanksgiving: Our Weapon Against Worry

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Anxiety has become an epidemic. But through thanksgiving we can turn our worry into worship.

 

Have you ever been worried?

As a new believer, a better question for me would have been, “Have you ever NOT been worried?”.

Since a small child, I had lived in a state of anxiety. Fear was my constant companion, imbedded into every fiber of my soul. I worried about everything. My entire life seemed to revolve around an attempt to calm my nerves. Looking back, I should of probably been on medication. But instead, I medicated myself with sugary drinks, food, cigarettes, and alcohol.

Even good things became a way to cope with my crippling anxiety: work, budgeting, exercise, eating better, and cleaning the house. Everything seemed to be fueled by fear!

So when I became a Christian, my spiritual activity was also tainted by worry. And here’s the thing: God has mercy on a young Christian. When we are first saved, our prayer is basically, HELP! And our heavenly Father is quick to respond. But eventually God wants us to grow up.

I want to share with you something the Lord has showed me about overcoming worry in my life. Philippians 4:6 says,

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God.”

Notice, the first thing Paul says we have to deal with is worry. We need to learn to rest. Because…

  • Praying is good, but praying anxiously is not good.
  • Planning is good, but planning anxiously is not good.
  • Pursuing our calling is good, but anxiously striving to accomplish it is not good.

But how can we not worry? The Lord has shown me that the key to keeping our peace is found in these two words: “with thanksgiving”. Thanksgiving is our weapon against worry and creates a buffer for our prayers—guarding our souls from fear, as we make requests to God.

Think about it: when we pray, we are bringing our problems and concerns to God. So it’s easy to get anxious as you recount and review all the problems you are facing. Before we know it,  we are praying out of a troubled, doubting and fearful spirit. If we let this continue, our prayers even become accusatory towards God. “Aren’t You gonna help me, God?!”

But thank God! Thanksgiving clears our mind and drives anxiety from our hearts; because as we thank God, our attention is lifted off of our problem and onto the One who solves our problems. We’re reminded of all He has done, all He is doing, and all He will do.

To stir your faith even more, learn to posture all your supplication (your “asking for stuff”) in a spirit of thanksgiving. Let me give you an example. Instead of praying:

“Father, I ask You to take care of this” 

say,

“Father, I thank You that You are taking care of this.” 

Do you see the difference? Thanking Him vocalizes certainty and fights against worry. We are still bringing our problem to God, but in a way that magnifies Him and not the problem. We’re thanking Him for the answer. Thanking Him according to His Word. Thanking Him in faith.

Turn your worries into worship by letting these two powerful words—“thank You”—fill your prayers:

“Father, thank You that You have taken care of this. Thank You that Your Word says You’re sovereign and over all things. Thank You “that You work all things together for my good”. Thank You that I can rest while You work. Thank You that “the battle is the Lord’s”. Thank You that I can be still, and watch You do it. Thank You that not too long from now I’ll be looking back at this situation and marveling at how You worked it out for me!”

 

 

 

 

 

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A Declaration of Independence

4th of July

Today, we celebrate America’s independence. We take time and remember that on this day, July 4th, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, our founding fathers adopted the United States Declaration of Independence. With this beautifully-penned document, they declared themselves free from the control of Great Britain—what they saw as a tyrannical, oppressive outside force.

They wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I thank God for my country. I thank God for it’s unique forming as a nation. And I also rejoice in the fact that my nation celebrates an idea so close to God’s heart:

FREEDOM.

So while we enjoy the fireworks and hot dogs this year, let us also remember: liberty is God’s idea— it’s a commodity that flows from Heaven, and central to His wonderful message to all creation! Let’s remember that when God sent His Son to the earth, His mission was “to set the captives free”. (Luke 4:18) Isn’t that amazing? When God so loved the world (John 3:16), what did He do? He came to set it free. Love gives freedom.

What has God set you free from? What controlling and oppressive things has He defeated on your behalf? What tyranny has He broken off of your life?

What declaration of independence can you make today—because of God’s grace in your life?

For me, God has set me free in so many ways! (If you look at my writing and speaking, I’m basically rehashing over-and-over again all the different things God has set me free from.)

But I want to pick one for today. I want to declare my independence from: SHAME!

TODAY, I AM FREE FROM SHAME AND SELF-LOATHING!

When Jesus found me, I was overrun by the tyranny of self-hatred. Shame utterly perverted my perception of reality. Uncomfortable in my own skin, I could barely stand to look at myself in the mirror. Deep self-loathing ruled my heart. I was self-conscience and so embarrassed of myself— and I didn’t even know why.

Obviously, this deep-seated shame kept me from doing anything great with my life. There’s no way I could step out. No way could I embrace risk. I couldn’t handle the criticism and failure that came with believing for big things. I just wanted to stay hidden. Play it safe… My soul was just too fragile. I couldn’t push off the negativity; it would just consume me—and reinforce all the negatives things I believed about myself.

Failure on the outside confirmed: “I was a failure”. Lack of support (or criticism) confirmed: “You see, there IS something wrong with you.”

I was bound. Bound from making a difference. Bound from making a change. I was not free… but Jesus came, and He gave me my independence!

I am free from my own opinion of myself.

Who am I to judge myself? If God is for me, who can be against me? 

I am free from my opinion. I am free from other people’s opinions. I am free from judgement. I am free from condemnation. I am free from pain. I am free from death. I am free from life. I am free from embarrassment. I am free from self-loathing. I am free from self-hatred. I am free.

His love has set me free.

IN JESUS NAME, I DECLARE MY INDEPENDENCE FROM SHAME!

What about you?

 

PRAYER:

Father, I thank you that you are a God of liberty.

I thank you for setting me free!

Because of Your grace, I declare my independence  from ________________

Jesus has set me free. I am free INDEED!

I say, “I’m independent of sin and shame. And dependent upon You.”

I will rejoice. I will remember all You have done.

You are my Vindicator, my Judge, and my Deliverer!

AMEN.