“Anxious for Nothing” blanks & extra resources
Here are the words for the fill-in-the-blanks in our “Anxious for Nothing” women’s Bible study with Max Lucado (via DVDs).
“We can’t run the world, but we can entrust it to God. Peace is within reach, not for lack of problems, but for the presence of a sovereign Lord. Rather than rehearse the chaos of the world, we can choose to rejoice in the Lord’s sovereignty.”
Philippians 4:4-8 (NIV) – “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.“
Anxiety is not so much the onslaught of a storm as the continual threat that one is coming. It’s a big heap of “what ifs.”
The word anxiety actually comes from a Latin word that means “to choke” or “to squeeze.” Its strong grip interrupts your sleep, chokes your energy, and harms your overall well-being.
Anxiety is a close cousin to fear, but the two are not twins. Fear sees a threat, while anxiety imagines one.
We have been taught the Christian life is one of peace. When we don’t have peace, we assume the problem is within us, which leads us to feel guilty. But while the presence of anxiety is unavoidable, the prison of anxiety is optional.
When Paul writes to “be anxious for nothing,” he is referring to an ongoing state. His words could be translated, “Don’t let anything in life leave you perpetually in angst and breathless.”
Paul’s prescription for anxiety is a call to “rejoice in the Lord.” This is not a call to a feeling but to a decision.
The sovereignty of God refers to his perfect governing over all things. God works in and through every detail of his creation to accomplish his divine purpose. We have the astounding privilege to be a part of this perfect plan.
To rejoice in the Lord, we must have a deep belief in his sovereignty over our lives. The more we believe in his control, the more we relinquish our control.
Homework: pages 23-31
“When the storms of life are raging and the ship is breaking apart, the others on board may freak out, but the gentle person is sober-minded and clear-thinking. Like Paul, they look to God for the solution and remain contagiously calm. The contagiously calm person is the one who reminds others that God is in control.” (Max Lucado)
John 6:1-13 (NIV) – “Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’ Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’ Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.“
We can choose to pick up every disappointment, stress, or frustration that is tossed our way, or we can choose to not pick up that garbage in the first place.
We not only have the choice of how we will perceive trials, but we also have a choice as to how we will react to them.
The Greek word for gentleness in Philippians 4:5 describes a temperament that is seasoned and mature. A gentle person is level-headed and reacts to stress with steadiness and fairness.
Contagiously calm people trust that God is always in control and encourage others around them that everything will be okay.
How can we exude gentleness in tough times? By looking at Paul’s promise in Philippians 4:5: “The Lord is near.“
When we believe the lie that God has left us, our loneliness amplifies the problem. That’s why we have to clutch the truth of God’s nearness with both hands.
In the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand, his disciples never asked him for help. Instead, they decided the problem was too big and told the Creator of the world what to do.
When we face a problem, instead of starting with what we have, let’s remember what Jesus has. He is with us and will give us everything we need to overcome our difficulties.
Homework: pages 45-53
“The power of prayer is not in chanting the right formula or quoting some secret code but in the heart of the one praying. God is not manipulated or impressed by formulas or eloquence, but he is moved by sincere requests. As his children, we honor him when we tell him exactly what we need.” (Max Lucado)
James 5:13-16 (NIV) – “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.“
Our primary call to action in the fight against anxiety is prayer.
When Paul calls us to pray in Philippians 4:6, he uses the words prayer, supplication, and request. The words are similar, but not the same. Prayer is a devotion to God. Supplication is humility toward God. A request is a simple petition to God.
In Matthew 14:22-36, we see that as long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he did the impossible . . . but as soon as he looked at the waves, he began to sink. When we shift our eyes off of Christ and onto our anxieties, we, like Peter, begin to drown in worry or despair.
Peter’s prayer to Jesus wasn’t eloquent (see verse 30). It was simple and specific. God cares more about the heart behind our prayers than the words we use in our prayers.
There are three reasons why it’s important to be specific with our reqeusts to God: (1) a specific prayer is a serious prayer, (2) a specific prayer opens the door to seeing God at work, and (3) specific prayers create a lighter load.
Paul also calls us to pray with gratitude in Philippians 4:6. Gratitude is a mindful awareness of the benefits God has provided to us in life.
Christ-based contentment is the key to finding joy. Since no one can take our Christ away, no one can take away our joy.
What we have in Christ is greater than anything we don’t have in life.
Homework: pages 66-74
“Our Father gives us the very peace of God. He downloads the tranquility of the throne room into our world, resulting in an inexplicable calm. We should be worried, but we aren’t. We should be upset, but we are comforted. The peace of God transcends all logic, scheming, and efforts to explain it.” (Max Lucado)
2 Chronicles 20:1-12 (NIV) – “After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar’ (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said: ‘Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, “If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.” But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.’“
“Where is God?” is one of the first and most common questions we ask when facing life’s storms.
The disciples must have asked this question as they were tossed about by the Galilean Sea, no Jesus in sight, alone in the storm for nine hours.
When we face the tempestuous storms of life, Paul encourages us with these words from Philippians 4:7 (ESV): “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
As we do our part – rejoice in the Lord, pursue a gentle spirit, pray about everything, and cling to gratitude – God does his part. He bestows on us the peace of God.
This peace of God that Paul promises is not just from God, it’s of God.
As we rejoice in God, continue to pray, and cast our worries on him, he builds a fortress of peace around our hearts and our minds.
When Paul and his fellow shipmates were tossed at sea for fourteen days, an angel of the Lord appeared to Paul and gave him three promises we can hold onto in the storm:
- We are not alone. God sends his heavenly helpers to guard us.
- We belong to God. Heaven has a place for us.
- We are in the Lord’s service. God will never let you live one day short of the mission he has given you.
God never promised a life without storms. But he promised to be with us when we face them.
Homework: pages 88-96
“Satan loves to fill our minds with comparisons. He wants to fill our heads with a swarm of anxious and negative thoughts. But the good news is that while there are many things in life over which we have no control, we get to choose what we think about. We get to select our own thought patterns.” (Max Lucado)
Luke 10:38-42 (NIV) – “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’“
The enemy is constantly invading our minds with lies – with thoughts that we’re not good enough, that no one will ever love us, or that everyone is against us.
Our minds are constantly under attack. The good news is that while there are many things in life over which we have no control, we get to choose what we think about.
We occupy the control tower of our mental airport.
The bleeding woman had every excuse not to go to Jesus. Her disease had made her an outcast. She could have believed in the lies that said she was unfit or too dirty to touch Christ. But instead she chose to believe that she would be healed.
Paul’s words in Philippians 4:8 make it clear that the best way to face anxiety in this life is with clear-headed, logical thinking.
When unknowns come our way, instead of responding with anxious thoughts, we need to hand our minds over to Christ. We need to let him control our thoughts with his truth.
The best way we can filter our thoughts is by clinging to Christ, abiding in him. He is the true vine, and as we hold onto him, he will produce fruit in us.
Our goal is not to bear fruit but to stay attached to the vine. We are to make Christ our home and hold onto him.
Homework: pages 110-118