Written by Dave Urbanski

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On Sunday Pastor Scott took us through Philippians 4:6-7 in part 2 of his series on managing anxiety — and the words that start things off make up one of the most well-known phrases in Scripture: “Do not be anxious about anything.”

Isn’t it interesting that Paul’s phrase here regarding anxiety isn’t a suggestion, but a command? But still you might be asking yourself, “How am I supposed to obey this command when I’m terrified or my world is falling down around me?” Well, the answers follow with the rest of verses 6 and 7.

First, God’s got us covered here, because the command to not be anxious about “anything” covers every kind of situation. The next part of verse 6, in fact, says “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Let’s repeat that: In everything. That means no matter how large or how small the situation is that’s causing your anxiety, the Lord knows about it.

And let’s look again at the word “anxiety.” Critically it’s the same Greek word used for the “good kind” of anxiety found in Philippians 2:20 when Paul describes his helper Timothy as a leader who “will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.” But the way “anxiety” is used here in chapter 4 is negative; it describes what could become a dangerous situation — when our emotions threaten to overwhelm us. 

We all know what that’s like, don’t we? It’s far different than a “concern” (such as getting done those income taxes due next month, right?) No, instead we’re talking here about crippling emotions that literally lead to the loss of vitality in our lives.

To underscore this, Pastor Scott took us to another well-know passage of Scripture when Jesus used this same word for anxiety — and in the negative sense — a whopping 6 times! It’s found in Matthew 6, verses 25 through 34, and is part of his grand Sermon on the Mount. Christ tells his listeners, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Indeed, Pastor Scott reminded us that often we focus on the trivial rather than on the big issues of life, and that can take us off track. But the crucial point in this passage is that we must “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” It’s very much like Pastor Scott’s eye-opening analogy of God’s grace being like a bathroom shower: It’s always available to us, but we have to be willing to stand under the Lord’s grace and let it wash over us. In the same way, we can’t expect God’s eagerness to help us with our anxiety to be at its most effective if we’re not also seeking the Lord in our lives, can we?

Back in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, after telling them God’s power is ready to fight their anxiety in every situation, the apostle instructs them — and us — that “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

In short, God wants us to hand over our anxieties to him so he can take care of them. But it requires an act of the will on our parts, being obedient to what the Lord wants. Yet his burden is so simple and so light, isn’t it? He’s not asking you or me to defeat the dragons and monsters in our lives. No. All we have to do is let the anxieties go — to admit they’re too big for us to handle — and let God deal with them and diminish their power in our lives.

Pastor Scott reminded us of how often we pivot away from this simple act of faith in favor of human-powered peace that never gets the job done. And then we end up in addictive patterns and even disorders — and finally we wonder where God is. Well, he hasn’t moved! He’s been right with us in the suffering the whole time — and just wanting us to let go and allow him to work in us instead of us relying on failing, worldly ways.

We then find the result of that act of faith in verse 7: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

But again, first we must pray — and do so passionately (“supplication”) — and offer thanksgiving to the Lord. In other words, focus on what he’s already given to us … not on the what-we-don’t-know part of anxiety that’s the core of its power over us.

Pastor Scott offered 5 principles of dealing with anxiety based on verses 6 and 7 that can compliment our study together from last week. They are as follows:

1) Anxiety can be good or bad

2) We can exchange anxiety for God’s peace

3) Prayer is the secret for accessing God’s grace

4) God’s peace is practical


5) You can trust God with anything!

But let us not forget, as Pastor Scott reminded us, that those principles must be practiced. They’re not one-and-done things. Every day we must pray. Every day we must give thanksgiving. Every day we must trust the Lord. And then every day the Lord will add his goodness and peace to us!

Written by Dave Urbanski

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As we delved Sunday into chapter 4 of Paul’s letter to the Philippians — and the theme Pastor Scott will take us through: Anxiety — he pointed out four principles in the first five verses that will prepare us to tackle anxiety in our lives.

Verse 1 reads, “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” You’ll notice right off the bat the word “therefore,” which — as we’ve learned before — references something previously discussed. And what would that be? Well, the Sunday prior Pastor Scott brought us through the end of chapter 3, in which Paul emphasizes our citizenship in heaven, the fact that Jesus will transform us from the inside out to be exactly like him, and Christ’s unmatched power to do such things — and all things.

Makes sense that Paul would follow up such a mind-boggling theological truth with his instructions to open chapter 4. In other words, “Since we have such amazing things to look forward to through Christ’s grace and love when this life is over … let us lean on him and trust in him (stand firm) TODAY for our needs.”

Pastor Scott shared that the balance between standing firm (the Greek translation can be thought of as “planting our feet”) and love that Paul describes in verse 1 is the first principle we need to practice in order to tackle anxiety. We do this through wrestling in our hearts between comfort and standing firm. And that practice likely requires many of us to pull back from our natural search for earthly comforts in the midst of difficulties and focusing harder on disciplining ourselves to look to the Savior who already has registered our citizenship in heaven.

Verses 2 and 3 reveal the second principle: resolving relational conflicts. The verses read, “I entreat Euodia, and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” We all know how unresolved conflict can interfere with our lives. Paul does, too. Here he entreats (or implores, even begs) individuals in conflict to “agree in the Lord.” To literally place their differences below their shared love for Jesus. We must seek to do the same before we tackle anxiety in our lives.

In verse 4 we find the third principle: practice joy. The verse reads, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” So how do we do this if we’re facing problems? Pastor Scott shared that our focus must not be on the problem … it must be on the solution in the Lord. That will help get rid of worry and see the grace that God is already providing us.

The final principle Pastor Scott described is lowering the intensity. The idea is found in verse 4, which reads, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand…” Pastor Scott noted that “reasonableness” can be thought of as “gentleness.” Some of us can get pretty steamed when problems pop up, and no one likes dealing with those who head off the deep end emotionally when things go wrong. But the key here is the end of the verse: “The Lord is at hand.” Who is able to lead us down the path of gentleness in the face of problems when our typical reaction is intense anger or overreaction? Jesus, of course. He is near us when the chips are down. Lean on him … and then we can practice lowering the intensity of our emotions.

To that end, Pastor Scott pointed out one important common feature of these four principles: All of them involve acknowledging and depending on the Lord. This isn’t a do-it-yourself project! Like all things in the Christian life, our first steps always must be toward Jesus. And after that first step, we must continue to keep our eyes on him, walking by faith, trusting in his ability to lead us as we dispense with our earthly, ultimately frail abilities and efforts. 

Let us let go of control, because he’s the one in control. He knows our path and our destination, and he will take us there. 

Written by Dave Urbanski

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The first sentence in the passage we studied together Sunday reads as follows, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Philippians 3: 12)

And what is the “it” and “this” Paul refers to in this opening sentence? The answer is the ideas Paul discusses in previous verses — namely righteousness through faith in Christ, becoming like Jesus, and sharing in his sufferings as well as in his resurrection from the dead.

Pastor Scott emphasized that Paul exhibits a great deal of humility here, noting he’s far from perfect and has not “obtained this” in his life — but instead he’s decided to “press on” and make “my own” what Jesus has given him. The truth that we can take part in Paul’s mission means we must make it “our own” as well. To make following Christ personal to us, waking up each day and asking the Lord, “What can I learn from you today? What do you want me to do today?”

Also, check out the very end of verse 12 in which Paul notes, “I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Pastor Scott has emphasized to us frequently that Paul’s efforts aren’t transactions with God. They’re not, “Lord, if I do this for you, can you please forgive me? Can you please save me?” No. Instead the Lord initiates. Jesus first made Paul “his own” through grace and faith — and now enveloped in that eternal relationship, Paul naturally desires to reflect God’s love in his own life (“make it my own“). May we all follow suit!

So, the first secret to being a spiritual “winner” is to “press on.” In the original Greek it denotes intense concentration — an intentional, aggressive pursuit of a goal. Verses 14 continues this idea, repeating the “press on” idea as Paul adds, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” One of the hardest things to do as a Christian is dispensing with things that interfere with our “upward call” to the Lord. Because some of those things aren’t necessarily bad — they even may be good! But nothing is more important that our relationship with Jesus, and we must continually examine our hearts and ask God to shine a light on them, seeing if anything — even something good — is distracting us and pulling us down or taking us even a bit off course.

The second secret is to focus, and verse 13 spells it out: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead …” And what is the “one thing” we must focus on? The “upward call,” of course! Jesus shared the same words in Luke 18:22 with the rich young ruler: “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But the rich young ruler, despite wanting eternal life, couldn’t part with his money.

The third secret is to lean forward. Verse 13 calls it “straining forward.” And part of that urging from Paul is “forgetting what lies behind.” That can mean to stop spending so much time thinking about the past, since we can’t change things that have already happened — and instead pushing forward and developing new patterns of thinking and behavior through God’s help.

The fourth secret is to “join in” — as Paul notes in verse 17, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” It’s the idea of partnering with other believers and learning from the examples of mature Christians and doing as they do, observing their spiritual successes so we may be “imitating” them and having the same successes.

Finally, verse 20 describes the fifth secret which Pastor Scott called “confirm your identity”: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our true home is not here on earth, and when things in this world conspire to bring us down — again, pull us away from our “upward call” — we need to stop and remind ourselves of who we are: Believers in Jesus who are serving him in a marathon, not a sprint, toward his kingdom. Therefore, let us never forget, or even minimize, who were are or what our “upward call” is.

Spiritual Audit

Written by Dave Urbanski

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During this Sunday’s study of Philippians 3, we saw the Apostle Paul having just communicated his long list of accomplishments that should place him at the top of humanity’s heap.

Indeed, Paul was a “blameless” Pharisee — “a Hebrew of Hebrews” who was so zealous in his devotion to the law that without a second thought he persecuted the emerging Christian church that was threatening Israel’s religious order. But none of Paul’s earthly, mortal qualities mattered compared to what he found when the Lord knocked him off his horse on the road to Damascus and opened his eyes to the truth: “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” (v. 7)

Pastor Scott helped us take Paul’s confession to a personal place and asked us what’s important to us. What do we value? What do we strive for, day to day? And the interesting challenge here is that even when we value good things (e.g., loving our family, helping others), they don’t come close to who Jesus is. And problems can emerge when we’ve devoted too much emotional energy to even good things, because when they go bad, it can crush us. (And then we inevitably head straight for our savior for help when he was the one we should have been looking at the entire time!)

Pastor Scott also noted that Paul drew a distinction between his past Christian life (i.e., past tense “counted as loss,” verse 7) and his present Christian life (i.e., present tense “count everything as loss,” verse 8) in terms of his own spiritual audit. In other words, Paul continued, day in and day out, to assess his own spiritual state even after having been saved for quite some time. And if we, as Pastor Scott suggested, do a spiritual audit every day, we’re much less likely to get off track with the Lord.

And why would Paul count everything as loss? “Because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,” he writes in the continuation of verse 8. The idea of “surpassing worth” is a concept Paul repeats three additional times in his letter to the Philippians, and in a nutshell it can come down to one word many use to describe this entire book: JOY. (Or if you like acronyms, Jesus first, others second, you third.) Indeed we always find joy when we put Jesus first and then others right after him.

Paul goes further in the remainder of verse 8, sharing that “For [Jesus’] sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Rubbish? That’s not the typical descriptor of things we value and hold dear, is it? But as believers, when we honestly look at even the good things we cherish in our lives, isn’t Jesus far beyond them? For that reason, let us not keep Jesus in our back pockets and simply pull him out when we need him. Instead let us place Jesus at the forefront. He’s the one who will never waver, who will never disappoint or go wrong.

Paul adds some indispensable salvation theology in verse 9 when he points out that being “found in” Jesus results in true righteousness that “comes through faith” in him — as opposed to his own frail and failing efforts. Paul knew that even his devotion to the law as a Pharisee comes up way short of what God requires — and striving for it is a fruitless exercise. So he instead places his reliance upon Jesus, who has already conquered sin and death and made a place for him (and for us) in God’s kingdom.

Arguably the key point Pastor Scott made on Sunday was drawing a distinction between knowing Jesus by observation — in the way a student learns, for example — and knowing Jesus by experience (“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection” v. 10).  Sure it’s important that we learn all we can about the Bible, about the life of Christ. But if we ignore or minimize knowing Jesus experientially — talking to him every day, continually casting our cares upon him, asking him to help us and reveal his will for our lives — we’re missing out!

Of course, knowing Jesus experientially — as raw and real a relationship as any we have on earth — can lead to “sufferings” or “becoming like him in his death,” as verse 10 points out. But the other side of that is attaining “the resurrection from the dead” as Jesus did. And what is more important than that?

Are you overdue for a spiritual audit? If so, take stock and move forward toward the Lord. Because the main goal isn’t just to know about Jesus — it’s to know Jesus.