Thursday, November 13, 2008

Four words.

I have heard roughly 1 million pastors reference the verse, Philippians 4:6-7, in sermons about worry.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And it makes complete sense, because it's a great verse. I've said that one over and over again through the years as I've wrestled with my own worries.

But I've never heard anyone mention the four words that come before it. I've never heard anyone talk about the incredibly short, but in my mind, incredibly powerful sentence that precedes, "Do not be anxious about anything."

Have you? If you're familiar with that verse and have memorized it before, do you know the way the verse before it concludes? I honestly didn’t until a few weeks ago.

The four words before Philippians 4:6 are "The Lord is near." The verses say, "The Lord is near. Do not be anxious ..." I love that. When we pray that verse out loud when we're under the burden of worry, when the skies are dark and we are so anxious we can barely stand and we cry out to God, I think we should start with "The Lord is near."

We're not praying to a far off God. We're not presenting our requests to a long distance lord. The Lord is near. The Lord is near. That's such a great reminder. Instead of starting with us, "Don't be anxious about anything," what if we started with the Lord? What if we started our pray with, "the lord is near" and ended it in verse 7 with “in Christ Jesus?” What if we had God bookends on that prayer about worry?

Would that change the way we thought about worry? It has for me.

25 comments:

Mikki Black said...

So awesome.

I love looking back to the verse(s) before the passages we hear all the time. That's such a great thought.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Amen.

Anonymous said...

i'm sure you get this all the time... but i truly feel like God just spoke to me thru you... i don't know what made you post that, but wow... i needed it. and yes, that prayer is much more powerful with the "bookends." thank you.......

ka1t_lyn said...

Oh, awesome thought. I've struggled a lot since becoming a Christian with giving God the control and not worrying about things. Thanks :)

vanityofvanities said...

"God bookends"

Love it.

Janelle said...

I love the "God book ends" thought. What a great way to summarize it. Thanks for such a thoughtful post!

Darcyjocool@earthlink.net said...

I struggle with worry, and don't take stress all that well, which isn't good considering I'm back in school finishing my BA and working at the same time. Yeah, that's stress, alright.

Thanks, Jon.

Ed said...

"God Bookends" !!!

As others have said, that is awesome and I'm sure will end up being a new catch phrase on SCL also.

I like to search in different translations of the bible. I just love the way Ecc 5:20 is rendered in the Good News Bible:

Ecc 5:20 GNB
(20) Since God has allowed us to be happy, we will not worry too much about how short life is.

Life is short, God is near, what a waste of time to worry.

Thanks - Ed
A Father's Thoughts

mandee said...

The only way I can not be anxious is depending on the nearness of Christ. This is not by my strength or "will-power" but by His amazing promise and omnipresence.

this lovely life I live said...

i love it...
it's really true, and we see it written, but sometimes it's so hard have it sink in. thanks for the great reminder!

Andi (and sometimes Jacob) said...

Good stuff. Would be a righteous tat.

Jules said...

wow, what amazing timing. I live in Santa Barbara, CA - my college and a lot of my friend's homes have been badly damaged by the fire that started last night. I have been very anxious about their situation. Thank you for this reminder.
The Lord is near, The Lord is near indeed!

Richard said...

The Lord is near... that is beautiful.

jenn3 said...

Awesome. Love that.

heartafire said...

Thanks so much! I too love these verses but had never noticed those golden words preceding them.
Wow.

And I agree with Anonymous at 7:22---you are such a vessel for Truth.
I just prayed for you and your family.




(no, REALLY I did.)

Anonymous said...

Jon, I count this post as one of the many ways I have been blessed through you! It ranks up there with your post on wrestling with God!

Thanks seems inadaquate--

Blessings

Nancy said...

I'm glad you're back! (Or still here?!) I quit checking your site when you said you were quitting. My husband and I were using your walk-thru-the-Bible posts as our devotions at dinnertime and we were disappointed when they ended. While checking some of my regular blogs yesterday, I mistakenly clicked on yours in my bookmarks and was pleasantly surprised to see a recent post! You never fail to make me think about God's word in a fresh, new way. I appreciate your insight. And I love what you had to say about our purpose. Oh, how I struggle with that. I think I'll be working on that relationship for now. Thanks.

Alison said...

I have always loved those verses, but usually focused in on "the peace of God". It's so much easier to know how to rest in that peace when I remember that "The Lord is near". Thanks so much for the missing piece.

jake said...

I concur with all of the above!

I totally agree that "God Bookends" deserves a post of its own sometime!!!

How much smoother would our lives go if we bookended everything with God.

Paul Wilkinson said...

Really needed that today. Thanks

The Jones Family said...

I'm so glad you are back posting to this blog...I loved it when I discovered it earlier this summer! As for this post...thank you. We are studying this passage (Phil 4:4-9) in our Sunday school class and I had always overlooked the fact that God is near...ALWAYS. Thank you.

timjamz said...

Great stuff, Jon.

Jesus told him (and the others) specifically to go and tell people, "God is near."

It's curious how often we forget what it really means.

Thanks!

Soulful said...

Wow. I have never paid attention to that short but very important preceding phrase either. Thank you for highlighting it.

Kat said...

I've just come across your blog, and this post was the best sermon I've ever heard on those familiar verses.
"The Lord is near." God's presence trumps anything we have to face in this life. And that's cause for thanksgiving, isn't it?

Bekah Jo said...

It's a good note because one can't overcome anxiousness without God beside us. Life is bigger than us, but it's not bigger than God. It all fits within His hand.