Progress on Purpose: Victory Over Stress

by Rick

Today we continue our series, “Progress On Purpose.”  I told you that God wants us to walk in “NEW LEVELS IN 2021!”  But if we are going to do so, we must be intentional about our progress.  With that in mind, as we lay the foundation for the year, I told you that I would discuss “Leveling Up” in five areas:

1.  Spiritually

2.  Financially

3.  Physically 

4.  Internally

5.  Externally

We have covered the first three thus far.  Today we start the fourth: leveling up internally.  In this section, I will cover the following:

1.  Being anxious for nothing

2.  Receiving unshakable peace

3.  Joy and peace in believing

4.  Relaxing your mind and getting physical/psychological rest

5.  The highest form of faith is rest

We will start with the first one today.  Let’s talk about victory over stress.

So what does this mean for you today?  A few things.

We will break down the following passage today.

(Phil 4:6,7 NLT)  

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 

1.  Faith-based prayer is a major stress reliever.

We will start our journey towards understanding how to Biblically handle stress with one of our greatest stress-relieving tools: PRAYER! In Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, he teaches them about receiving and walking in the mind of Christ (2:5), about understanding the power we have in Christ (4:13), and the overwhelming joy that we can tap into by the power of the Holy Spirit (3:1 and 4:4).  Sandwiched in all of this is Paul’s admonition against worry (or anxiety) and for prayer.  If we don’t control our impulses to worry, stress (and getting ‘stressed-out’) is inevitable.  Paul’s answer to worry is prayer.  

I remember when I first came to Christ, one of the senior ladies in the church, one who I lovingly called “Mother,” used to say: “Baby, if you are going to pray, then don’t worry.  But if you are going to worry, then don’t pray.”  Her advice sounds simple, but it is also profound.  Why?  Because you can’t worry and trust God at the same timeSimply put, if you worry (you are stressed out), you don’t trust God.  

Paul’s counsel was that we should take advantage of the direct access we have to the Father, in the name of Jesus, and take our issues to the Father in prayer.  After we pray, if we truly believe the Father has heard us and that He will manifest His best in His timing, then we have no other option but to trust Him and walk in His peace.  If we worry after we have prayed, it is an indictment against our faith.  It means we did not believe or receive.

— Take advantage of the direct access you have to the Father, in the name of His Son Jesus, through the vehicle of prayer.  Once you pray, you must then decide between trust and worry (or stress).

— If you believe the Father heard you in prayer and you have received (by faith) what God has already provided (by grace), then trust is your only answer.  You must resist every temptation to cross over into doubt, worry, fear, or unbelief.

— If you allow worry to creep into your heart, you must reject it quickly.  Because if you don’t, it will overtake your heart and mind.  Once that happens, you will find yourself stressed!  And this is NOT God’s fault.  It has everything to do with you ALLOWING yourself to be stressed.

— Remember, God will allow whatever you allow.  God will permit whatever you permit!

— If you pray in faith, and you truly believe, you will enjoy victory over stress.

2.  Having peace WITH God and the Peace OF God!

The benefit of having direct access to the King of kings and the Lord of lords cannot be overstated.  Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection paid the penalty for sin and gave us access to eternal life, but it also restored us back to the position Adam originally had in the Garden of Eden.  Adam was able to walk with God and have direct fellowship with him.  When Adam had this relationship with the Father, there was no inkling of stress, struggle or strain in his world.  Adam only knew peace, power, protection, provision, and purpose.  Adam’s life, before the fall, was a perfect picture of everything we could ever hope for.  But guess what?  Jesus’ death gave us access to that type of life.  However, the sad reality is that most of us don’t understand that, so we don’t pursue that type of life – by faith.

The Father wants His children to be settled in the fact that they will make it heaven – once we are covered by the Blood of Jesus, anointed by the Holy Spirit, and called according to His purpose – but He also wants us to enjoy our life in the earth BEFORE we make it there.  The Father does not want us to be saved and miserably saved.  No, He wants us to have and enjoy life in Him (see John 10:10).

— Sadly, many believers don’t enjoy the peace of God because they have allowed the “cares of this world” to nullify (or choke) the power of the Word of God from operating in their lives (see Mark 4:19).  Instead of casting the care over to the Father (1 Peter 5:7), they carry that care with them everywhere they go, and the weight of the care burdens them down to the point where they can’t enjoy God, themselves, or anyone/anything else.  

— Don’t be a care-carrier, be a care-caster and allow the Father to free you from the overwhelming weight of the cares of this world through the vehicle of prayer.  Once you do, Paul tells us in our text (Phil 4:6,7) that there is a supernatural peace available to us that will baffle any psychologist, psychiatrist, or any other mental health professional.

— Once you are Born-Again, you have peace with God.  But that does not mean you have the PEACE OF GOD!  This only comes through the vehicle of prayer.  Wouldn’t it be a shame to have made peace with God decades ago, only to make it to heaven and realize that you spent most of your life without the peace of God?  

— Without the peace of God, you will invariably live your life way below the quality of life the Father desires for you to have.  

3.  Peace Pulling Guard Duty.

Some people think quiet or silence is peace, but you can be in the quietest place in the world and still not have peace.  Others think peace is being solitary in a serene place, but you can be the only person on a beautiful island and still not have peace.  Simply put, the peace of God is the peace that God gives.  This peace, as Paul states, far exceeds anything that we can understand.  This is a peace that is imparted directly from the Father, and it is the highest possible form of peace that we can ever experience.  It is actually hard for me to describe this peace to those that have never experienced it.  But for those that have, you can bear witness, even while you are reading this, that His peace is supernatural.  

— When you have God’s peace flowing through your heart, you are NOT moved by a negative situation.

— God’s peace is so supernatural because it is not based on human power, ability, or strength.  It is based solely on God!

Paul tells us that this peace will literally “guard” our heart and our mind.  The Greek word used here has a military connotation.  It means ‘to pull garrison’ or ‘guard-duty’.  So not only is this supernatural peace available to us, but when we make our requests known to God, and we cast our cares upon Him, His peace comes in, lifts the burden of the weight of the cares we were previously carrying. Then that same peace dutifully pulls guard duty around our heart and our mind so that we can be free of distressing anxiety.  WOW!  Isn’t that a picture of the way we should all want to live?

It boils down to this:

a)  The Father wants us to bring our cares and concerns to Him in prayer.

b)  Through prayer and His Word, the Father gives us insight for living.

c)  Once we apply that insight, we can have the confidence of knowing that He is walking with us and we with Him.

d)  Our confidence in God produces a peace that will lift the weight of every burden.

e)  God’s peace will then dutifully pull guard duty around our heart and our mind so that we can live the life the Father desires for us to live – free from distressing anxiety.

This is how we have victory over stress!  

Let’s LEVEL UP in this area this year!

Declaration of Faith:

Father, I thank You for giving me direct access to You in prayer.  I allow my prayer to order my day instead of allowing my day to order my prayer.  I pray, in Jesus’ name, in accordance with Your Word, in faith, not doubting, and You hear me as I pray Your will.  I am a believer and not a doubter, so when I pray, I leave my prayer session with the confidence that I already have what You revealed.  In heaven, it is already done.  For me, on the earth, it is only a matter of time.  So I resist every temptation to cross over into fear, doubt, worry, and unbelief.  

I also thank You for supernatural peace.  Your peace pulls guard duty around my heart and mind.  Your peace keeps me internally stable, even when everything externally is going haywire.  Your peace enables me to sleep soundly in the midst of the storms of life.  Your peace passes anything the world can study or understand.  Your peace comes in, floods my heart, flushes out all worry and stress!  I LEVEL UP in every area this year.  I enjoy victory over stress!  GREATER IS COMING FOR ME!  I declare this by faith, in Jesus’s name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word.  Apply it and prosper!

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