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Philippians 4:4-9 - Questions to Ask When Dealing with Anxiety and Worry - 2/28/24

This material is a collection of notes from a lecture given by Dave Powlison – Biblical Counseling Conference in Lafayette, Indiana.


QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN STRUGGLING WITH ANXIETY


Almost 90% of all counseling involves 3 big issues:  anger, anxiety, and escapism.


What Do You Worry About?

  • money

  • health (Do I have… Will I get…)

  • past hurts

  • too many responsibilities (too much on plate)

  • Relationships

  • I always blow it – will God ever be able to change me?

  • Could God ever forgive me?

  • Will I fail?  Will I succeed?

  • What do people think of me

  • Nobody cares, nobody calls.

Remember – you have good reason to worry!  These are all things that are tough – and you can’t control them. 

Scripture never trivializes the things we worry about.  It just says you have greater reason to take them to someone who can help, rather than worrying about them.  In other words, you have reason to worry, but better reasons not to worry.  Don’t get caught in the ‘spin cycle’ (like a dryer going round and round) – twisting, turning, driving, churning.


Who Is God?


So often we overlook v. 5 “The Lord is at hand.”


When you are worrying, you are caught in a universe where no one is home – it’s just you and your struggle, but God plants a grace ‘bomb’ right here.  You can’t understand v. 6 without v. 5!


What is revealed about the character of God in vv. 1-6?


  • v. 4 – Rejoice in the Lord – Where our joy is found.

  • v. 6 – God hears- “Make your request known” – God is able to know.  He’s a hearer (Isa. 59:1-2)

  • v. 7 – The peace of God – but remember that being at peace in God can involve a lot of anguish (see the Psalms)

  • v. 9 – God of peace be with you – His presence.


The radical God-centeredness of this passage works to destroy anxiety – because anxiety is a lonely producing agent.  It isolates us.  We must change our thinking.  Our mind and our heart work closely together.


v. 8Finally…. Think on these things.  Reprogram our thinking. WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT GOD FORM HIS WORD


Where Are We Going to Place Our Trust?


Talk to God about #1 in Light of #2


In other words, talk to God about what you worry about… in light of who He is.  Frame it in the light of who you’re talking to.  Otherwise, prayer itself can become just a recitation of what I’m worrying about.  Some people’s prayers can actually be anxiety producing agents themselves, because there’s not enough of God in them.  The problem itself overshadows everything else.  But proper prayer infuses the presence of God back into the scenario.  State your worries in light of who God is.

  • by prayer

  • and supplication

  • let your requests known


Most people think the opposite of anxiety is calm.  Not true.  Philippians 4:6 says take your worries seriously.  Supplication is a CRY TO GOD!  95% of the Psalms have a cue that something verbal and out loud is going on.  The Psalms seem to be out loud – “Hear my cry, O God.” Psalm 28:1-6 – “hear the voice of my supplications.”


There are two FAULTS or abysses:

  1. Anxious, nervous, tense – my life is a self-contained psychological state that is no fun at all – it’s just me and my problems spinning and spinning.

  • It is what it is /calm – It’s not ‘no worries, man.’  And it’s certainly not, “Whatever!”  It’s not flat lined because things really do matter. The attitude of ‘whatever’ is sinful.  It’s not a studied indifference or detachment.


The flesh always presents only two opposite options… but there’s always a biblical 3rd option!

  • The biblical approach is a HOLY CONCERN or impassioned care based on the character of God.  It’s radically God relational in its concern.  The opposite of anxiety is a FOCUSED, holy concern that looks to God.


Just look at the example of the apostle Paul Philippians 2

  • He was longing for you all

  • He was distressed

  • He was less concerned and relieved of my anxiety about you


Phil. 2:20 the word ‘concern’ is the same word used in 4:6 that is translated ‘anxiety.’  So he is actually commending Timothy for being anxious about the Philippians.  Phil. 2:20 means a holy love that Paul commends.


2 Cor. 11 Paul talks about his trials and then says, “On top of this my ‘concern’ [same word] for all the churches.”


I Peter 1:3-9 exhorts us to entrust ourselves to God in the midst of trials and concern.  Entrust ourselves to a faithful Creator.  Jesus is given as an example – Psa. 22 and Heb. 5 tells us that Jesus entrusted His soul to God with loud groanings.


Where Are You Going to Park Your Mind?


The anxious mind parks in a LIE.  The trusting mind parks itself in the TRUTH.  We have to fight off lies with the truth.

  • READ THE WORD

  • MEDITATE UPON THE WORD

  • PRAY THE WORD


What Are You Supposed to Do Today?


v. 9 – Learned, received, and heart, seen in me (other believers)


practice this things

  • the doing


Make a list of all the things that worry you.

  • Diving the list by what you control and what God controls (one big circle with a little circle in the big circle


Then do the task of the day.

  • What is today’s task?

  • What am I called to do today?

  • This is the planning stage.


EXAMPLE (taking into consideration my life… with adult children)

  • I am so worried about family member. It is consuming my thoughts.

  • What can you control and what is for God to handle? (remember the 2 circles)

  • What DO I CONTROL.

  • Pray for them. Encourage them. Biblically support and admonish them.

  • My step of obedience will be smaller than the problem.

  • Be faithful in the areas I can control.

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