MAY 22

Worship vs. Worry

Bible Reading: Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:6

Our Submarine was tied up next to a destroyer in Hong Kong harbor when the typhoon struck. Submarines are especially prone to roll on the surface in rough water, so in rolling back and forth amidst the big waves we put a dent in the hull of the destroyer. It was decided that we needed to get out of the harbor, fast! We did an emergency startup of the sub’s reactor. Tethered crew men fell overboard on several occasions as they ventured forth to remove the sub’s ballast tank covers. Once the preparations were made, we got out of there, leaving behind one-third of the crew who were ashore in Hong Kong for liberty. We headed out to sea, for we knew that once we found deep enough water we could submerge to a place where we could escape those angry waves.

It is possible for our hearts to find a safe refuge amidst the storms that trouble us, even as the hymn says, “there is a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God.”  The pursuit of that place in prayer is at the heart of this passage in Philippians 4:6-7.

To worry or be anxious is a common sin, but it is a sin, nonetheless.  The Greek term translated “anxious” in Philippians 4:6 means “to draw in different directions, to distract.”  Webster’s Dictionary defines worry this way: “A painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill.”  We know from experience what it is.  It is a preoccupation of our minds, a mental “nagging,” having to do with things that are of concern to us.  Worry is kind of like riding an exercise bike–in worry we expend a lot of mental energy going nowhere.  But it’s actually worse than that for worry can cause us harm–emotionally, physically, and spiritually!

The first time I preached on this passage–many years ago–I entitled my sermon “The Antidote for Worry,” but that thought doesn’t dive deep enough in dealing with the problem.  The real problem with worry is that it is the antithesis of worship.  Worry happens when we think too little about God or think that God is too little to deal with our problems.  Worship is acknowledging God for who He is and what He does in what we say and what we do.  Acceptable worship is worship that is in Spirit and in truth.  It flows from one’s heart and is in accord with the truth of who God is and what He desires from us.  When we worry, we diminish in our thinking the sovereignty of God as it relates to our problems.  Worry likewise equates to a thought denial of His wisdom, power and love as they relate to His ability to care for us.

Prayer is an integral part of worship.  As the helpful acrostic “A.C.T.S.” reminds us, prayer involves: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.  Spirit-led prayer is born of faith.  In humility, we see and acknowledge our complete dependence on God.  By faith, we apprehend and acknowledge God to be who He has revealed Himself to be—one who is Sovereign over all, who knows and cares and who is more than able to deal with our problems no matter how big or small. Look again at Philippians 4:6-7.  Instead of being anxious for anything we are to be praying and thanking God in everything.  That’s worship! 

Recall that occasion when the disciples were in a boat with Jesus amidst an intense storm.  The winds and the seas were threatening to sink them all.  And Jesus was asleep.  The disciples cried out to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”  He then proceeded to halt the wind and quiet the sea, so that it was made perfectly calm. “Do You not care” the disciples asked?  Does He care? So much so that He died for your sins and is even now interceding from heaven on your behalf!  As 1 Peter 5:6 admonishes, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares about you.”  Prayerfully then, your heart and mind will be guarded in a place of quiet rest–with a peace that “surpasses all understanding” –near to the heart of God! You’ve no need for worry or for fear if you’ve got Jesus in your boat!

Worry Happens When We Think Little about God or of God

NEAR TO THE HEART OF GOD

There is a place of quiet rest,
near to the heart of God,
a place where sin cannot molest,
near to the heart of God.

Refrain:
O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
sent from the heart of God,
hold us, who wait before thee,
near to the heart of God.

There is a place of comfort sweet,
near to the heart of God,
a place where we our Savior meet,
near to the heart of God. [Refrain]

There is a place of full release,
near to the heart of God,
a place where all is joy and peace,
near to the heart of God. [Refrain]

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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