Carl Sagan once said that there are more stars in our universe than there are grains of sand on all the beaches on Earth.
There are an estimated 1,000 billion billion stars in the observable universe. Let's assume a typical sand grain is about 0.5 mm in diameter. If you gathered up as many grains of sand as there are stars in the universe into a big ball, it would be a sphere with a radius of almost 2 miles. That's a big ball of sand. And I like the shape of that.
There are a lot of stars in the universe.
You may want to read The Size of the Universe & Practicing the Presence of God.
I’m guessing you might agree that worrying about the future is not a pleasant way to spend our time. So, the question I have is: when anxious thoughts arise, how can we stop them? One wonderful principle we can operate is to live one day at a time.
What Me Worry?
Realistically, we do need to think about our future. We need to make plans. That’s for certain. We have calendars filled with important dates and events. We have things to do to enjoy life. For example, I have some volunteering scheduled at my daughter’s school for the upcoming weekend. I have to plan that into my future. But am I worried or anxious about my future plans? No. Do I continually fret over the details of my life’s schedule? No.
Why not? Why am I not worrying about the future? I’d like to share with you what I do, so that you can investigate for yourself if what I do can work for you.
I Do Two Things
I do two productive things to make things happen: (i) I pray and (ii) I make positive plans.
Here’s an example. I have a goal that in 6 months, I’ll have much less fat stuck on my stomach, and I’ll be able to fit into a pair of jeans with a 32-inch waist (currently I’m a 34W, and it used to be 38W).
Am I worrying about this goal? No. Why? I’ve (i) prayed about it (or, said in another way, I focused my thoughts with specific details and assured confidence in success), and (ii) I have made positive plans (in which I realize where I am, and list the future steps to reach my identified future goal).
Planning is Time Travel
I think of planning as a bit like time travel. We travel into the future by planning, because planning is like bringing the future into the present so that we can do something about it today. I recommend reading that again.
Once we pray and plan, we can stop our anxious thoughts about the future by putting the majority of our energy and actions into living one day at a time.
Jesus Lived from Day to Day
Jesus lived and taught his friends to live one day at a time. We read in Matthew 6:25, 28, 31, 34:
The words “take…thought” are translated from a Greek word meaning “be anxious about” or, as we might say, “worry.” Jesus told them not to worry about what they were going to eat, to drink, to wear—not to worry about “the morrow,” the future. He assured them that “sufficient [enough] unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Thayer’s lexicon helps clarify the King James Version of verse 34 as “Let the present day’s trouble suffice for a man, and let him not rashly increase it by anticipating the cares of days to come.” There’s enough to take care of in every twenty-four-hour period. If we try to anticipate the worries of the future, we may actually increase the challenges we’ll need to deal with. We can put our focus into living in the day, right now, the day at hand, the present moment and one day at a time.
E. W. Bullinger translates Matthew 6:34 as follows: “Have, then, no anxiety for any future day….” That includes tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and the day after that. Every care or concern we may have about the future can be handled one day at a time. To live one day at a time, you have to live in the present moment, one day at a time. Enjoy what’s going on right now. You’re not your best if anxieties about the future dominate our thinking.
The Benefits of Worrying
Can you remember the last time you really, practically benefited from worrying a lot? Explain the details of when worrying about something actually helped the situation you were in. See what I mean?
Focus on the Present Moment
So how can we focus our energy into experiencing, living, and enjoying the present moment - the day at hand? I suggest we should daily “perform our vows.”
So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.
A vow is a solemn promise you make committing yourself to an act, service, or condition.
This is one of the best things about believing in God: we can perform (or do) what we’ve committed ourselves to do, and do it one day at a time.
What have we committed to do?
Our commitments may include: our marriages, our children, our parent, our jobs, our school, our fellowships, our volunteer work, taking care of the things we own, taking care of our health (ahem), etc. We’re committed to doing certain things. We do our commitments and responsibilities daily.
For example, we love our lover daily. Love ‘em up. Right. And when each day is over, we thank God for our commitments and go to sleep. Staying committed to the things we have at hand, and doing them well, can help us stop worrying “the morrow.”
Doing God’s Word. What’s That Mean?
Spending time in every twenty-four-hour period, each day, with our thoughts focused on doing God’s Word can also help us live day-by-day, and not worry about the future. What does that mean – “doing God’s Word”? Here are a few ideas:
And while we are focusing our energy and actions into living every day with the Spirit, we are daily loaded up with blessings.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.
Because we pray and plan, we can stop anxious thoughts about the future by living our lives to the fullest one day at a time.
You may be interested in reading Squeeze Your Woman Today.
In our family fellowship, there's a song that we sometimes sing. And some of the song goes, “Peace! Peace! Wonderful peace, Coming down from the Father above. Sweep over my spirit, forever I pray, in fathomless billows of love."
That beautiful image of peace can become a reality as we believe and act on the truths found in a few verses of Philippians 4:6-9. These verses show us how to live with God’s peace, including that we pray, we have the best thought life, and we take action on God’s Word.
Ever been anxious? Ever have troubled thoughts?
Prayer is an antidote to being anxious or troubled. An antidote is a medicine or other remedy for counteracting the effects of poison and disease. It's something that prevents or counteracts injurious or unwanted effects. Prayer is an antidote to living with anxious and troubling thoughts, which is the opposite of living with God’s peace.
Philippians 4:6-7 reads: Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
What does that mean?
In verse 6, to “be careful” means to be anxious or troubled with cares. This would be the opposite of living with God’s peace. God’s Word says to be anxious for nothing. Therefore, it’s available to not be anxious or troubled about anything. So how do we live that way? The antidote for being anxious is right here in this section of scripture in Philippians 4.
Verse 6 continues, “but in every thing by prayer.” This word “prayer” refers to personal devotion to God, acknowledging the power of the Spirit. We understand that God is all-powerful and everywhere present. So, when we begin to feel unpeaceful, our first response can be to pray. And we maintain the proper perspective that our God is bigger and more powerful than any anxious thoughts that are threatening to disturb our peace.
Verse 6 then adds “and supplication,” which refers to getting specific with God about what our personal need is.
The final phrase of Philippians 4:6 is “with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” When attacked by troubling cares and anxieties, we can call on our all-knowing, all-powerful God and be thankful that the need is already supplied. The result will be God’s peace as it says in verse 7.
Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Peace of God in Romans 5:1-5
In verse 7, the “peace of God” can be understood in light of other verses, such as Romans 5: 1-5, where we read: 1 Therefore being justified (declared blameless, without sin) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope (confident assurance, being certain) of the glory of God (victory, abundance, power in life). 3 And not only so, but we glory (rejoice) in tribulations (anxiety, trouble, problems) also: knowing that tribulation worketh (brings about, results in) patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope (confident assurance of victory). 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Back to Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Because of the accomplishments of Christ Jesus, we have holy spirit, and we can have that unwavering peace that passes all understanding to keep, or guard, our hearts and minds. In any troubling situation, we can be peaceful. And keep our hearts and minds protected.
Philippians 4:8 adds more about how to live in peace by showing us what to think in order to have the very best thought life.
Philippians 4:8: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever thingsare pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
In time of trouble, think on these things.
In this list, God highlights what is the very best for our thought life, the best investment of our mental energy. Thoughts in these categories help us stay quiet on the inside. But it doesn’t end there. In addition to prayer and having the very best thought life, a necessary element to living with God’s peace is to take action on the Word.
Philippians 4:9 reads: Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me [the Apostle Paul], do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
Go Do It
The believers not only heard Paul teach God’s Word, and learned from him, and received some great lessons about life, they also saw him do God’s Word. Paul imitated Christ and he faithfully lived the Word, providing an example for the believers. Paul told them that as they followed his example, the God of peace (untroubled, undisturbed well-being) would be with them. We also hear from our teachers, we receive the Word as we read it, but then we do it. We walk out on it. We take action and see the results!
We have the peace of God, which passes understanding, and we have the God of peace with us. We are encircled in peace. As we not only “think on these things” but also act on them, we can be undisturbed in God’s peace.
When anxious and troubled thoughts threaten to disturb our peace, we can pray, acknowledging that the Spirit of God is bigger and more powerful than any challenge we may face. We get specific with our personal needs and thank God that the need is already supplied. We focus our thoughts on on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, and that have virtue and praise.
We have peace with God because we have access into God’s unconditional love wherein we stand, and we rejoice in glory. We rejoice in tribulations, because patience will result. And patience will bring about experience. And with experience comes confident assurance of victory, abundance, and power in life.
We can rest assured that the God of peace is with us. And that is peace, peace, wonderful peace, coming down from the Father above.