- Luke 12
- 1 Peter 5
The Lord continues to show me that anxiety and stress is a heart issue, not the result of my circumstances. While circumstances can be very stressful, and pressure can come from many different outside people and events, it’ still my thinking, and what’s going on in my mind and heart, that produces the anxiety!
I never noticed before that 1 Peter 5:7 ( Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour…”) is actually written in the context of dealing with anxiety! In 1 Peter 5:6 Peter tells us, “Humble yourselves, therefore under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” So, from the context, I think we can conclude that one of the ways Satan is trying to “devour” us is by getting us to be consumed by anxiety.
Peter warns us, “Be sober minded; be watchful…” NIV says, “Be self-controlled and alert.” NLT says, “Stay alert!” Watch out!” I particularly like how Amplified rendered this, “Be well balanced… be vigilant and cautious at all times…” In evaluating my life over the past few weeks, I realize I was not being watchful, I was not “well balanced.” I had allowed the lie of the enemy to devour my thinking. Instead of facing circumstances humbly, and from the position of being under the mighty hand of God, I was trying to do it all myself, and when I was not able to, I became overwhelmed.
Peter goes on, “Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” Resist him, resist the temptation to become anxious and overwhelmed. Instead, stand firm in your faith. The faith that God is refining through the stressful circumstances you find yourself in! Remember, God said that the refining of your faith is more precious to Him than the purest, most precious gold.
As I have experienced the past couple weeks, it is so easy to become anxious! And I can excuse it by describing all the pressures I feel. Pressures from the responsibilities I carry. Pressures from the people I serve. Pressures from the employees I am responsible for. Pressure from leaky pipes and broken equipment, etc etc. All of these things are valid and real. But, in Luke 12:22-34 Jesus reminds us that focusing on the pressures of life shows that we are not “standing firm in the faith!”
Jesus actually gives 3 practical examples to show us that our thinking is wrong when we worry about these kinds of things.
- Consider the sparrows – (Luke 12:4-7) Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten by God. Even the hairs on your head are numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. Anxiety is a form of fear. It actually shows that we don’t believe God can take care of us! But, we are commanded not to fear, don’t be anxious and worried! You are much more valuable than many sparrows. God has not forgotten and will not forget you!
- Consider the raven – (Luke 12:24-26) They don’t sow or reap. They don’t have storehouses or barns. Do ravens need to eat? Do they need a place to get out of the weather? Do they have pressure to take care of their young? Pressures to find food? But, Jesus says, “yet God feeds them!” I think the inference here is that they don’t worry about it, because they just trust God to feed them! Jesus says to us, “You are much more valuable to God than birds!”
- Consider the lilies – (Luke 12:27-28) They don’t toil or spin. They don’t tirelessly work to make themselves look good. They don’t spin yarn and clothes until their fingers cramp up. And yet, even Solomon in all his glory was not decked out with beauty and majesty like the lilies. God does that. And yet, what happens to lilies? They are there one day, and gone the next. How much more is God going to take care of us! O you of little faith!”
Anxiety is a form of fear. Worry is a sign of weak faith! God longs to refine our faith. He wants our faith to become stronger! 1 Peter 5:10 ends Peter’s thoughts with this, “After you have suffered, the God of all grace will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”
Declarations of Truth:
- God will give me a new outlook on life through these challenging circumstances!
- He will strengthen and establish my faith!
- He will not abandon me!
- I am more valuable to him than many sparrows!
- He will take care of me better than the lilies.
- In the midst of the difficulties, focusing on these truths will enable me not to cave under the pressure. By faith, I choose to believe these circumstances are God’s faith refinery for me!