The third part of the peace plan of God is perhaps the most overlooked four words of this entire set of verses. We always hear about transcending understanding and submitting prayers with thanksgiving but there is a predicate that gets overlooked too often. Those four words that should bring comfort and peace all by themselves are these - the Lord is near. The Bible says that Christ is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. That God will never leave us nor forsake us. That Jesus will be with us until the end of the age. Yet how many times do we find ourselves thinking God is somehow moody and withdrawn. Far away and the heavens are brass. Nonsense. If I ever feel further from God than I once was I know who moved. The Lord is near!
David said about him: ""I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. - Acts 2: 25 (NIV)
I will not be shaken! Nothing shall disrupt my peace! How? Because David always put the things of God before him. The Lord always went before David. The result was that David knew the Lord was always at his right hand. When you live in those assurances you live with God's peace. The sad truth is that we often are living our lives for ourselves and not God. We put ourselves before God. We live with a temporal perspective instead of an eternal perspective. We need to adjust our thinking. The medical report came back bad? The Lord is near! The kids are rebelling? The Lord is near! The job market dried up? The Lord is near! The world can come and take back the things of the world and we have little control over that. But nothing can touch our peace unless we give it access. The Lord is near beloved. The Lord is near.
Now we get into verse six and the nuts and bolts of the peace plan of Almighty God. The fourth imperative is that we are to be anxious for nothing! God realizes the debilitating affect anxiety has on us. The statistics in this country are staggering. The billions of dollars wasted on treatments designed to help people cope. God doesn't want you to cope - He wants you to give it to Him! We can tend to worry about everything and anything and Jesus has warned us not to:
" Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? - Matthew 6: 25-27 (NIV)
But worrying can sure take an hour away from our lives. Or a day. Or a year. Or even a lifetime. There can be no co-existence between peace and anxiety. By definition anxiety is the absence of peace. So God is letting us know in no uncertain terms that there is NOTHING we are to be anxious about. The nature of anxiety is also the opposite of faith. We need to have deeper faith than that. We need to be anxious about nothing.
Easy for you to say preacher! Well first of all, I suffered for seven years with panic, so I do know something about it personally. Secondly however, God doesn't just say something like "be anxious for nothing" without telling us how! The way to being anxious for nothing and the peace plan of God starts with and ends with prayer. While that sounds simple enough, there are two important facets to prayer that contribute to God's peace. The first is that we are to pray in every situation. God wants to be God in ever area of our lives beloved. He doesn't want to be called on after we make the mistakes but before we make the poor decisions that lead to those mistakes. The reality is that we often bemoan a lack of peace in our lives after we have allowed some situation to get way out of control. The fact is that if we had included God at the beginning, we would avoid those very things that rob us of our peace. Too often we allow God to access of only part of our lives. Invariably it is in those areas that we omit God from that we find ourselves lacking peace. Maybe we have an area of secret sin that we struggle with or a temptation we are facing. It matters not. The more we seek God in every situation the less we will feel a lack of peace.
Secondly, we have to present our lives to God with thanksgiving. This takes on two meanings. First, we need to be thankful for all God has already done. We live in a "what have you done for me lately" world but God doesn't work that way. Remember all God has done will lead to peace in the most tumultuous of times:
David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord 's, and he will give all of you into our hands." - 1Samuel 17: 45-47 (NIV)