Reflections: Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Today’s Reading: Philippians 4:4-7

Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 43:25-44:20; Revelation 11:1-19


The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5b-7)


 
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You may have already realized that I did not start where you thought I might. I skipped vs. 4, and I suggest you read it after we are done. The true hope Paul has, that allows him to be so content in every situation, (Philippians 4:11), is in this Gospel good news promise: “The Lord is at hand!” It means that what He promises is here, right now, for you.

Today is the “day before,” the day before the day when God put flesh on a long-standing promise. Emmanuel will come! God will take on flesh and blood and dwell among us. The Prince of Peace will bring what His Name describes. “The Lord is at hand” to calm our anxious hearts. About 18% of the United States is on medication for anxiety. Many more limp along without treatment. We worry, fret, and fear. The cares of the day, the season, our health, and family concerns keep us up at night. How is your anxiety level just two days before Christmas? 

Anxiety is not new. Since sin came into the world sinners have been anxious. Jesus addresses anxiety directly in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6). Likewise, Paul directs our anxious lives to hope and peace: “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything.” Did you notice how Paul did not direct you to the self-help section of the bookstore in order to decrease your stress? He simply and calmly says, “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything.” Jesus brings peace.

For three years Jesus preached and healed and brought peace. He calmed an anxious wedding host who ran out of wine. He slowed anxious Martha from her frenzied serving. And with the completion of His work on the Cross, He forgave you and reconciled you to God. 

Your past is forgiven. It died with Jesus on the Cross. The Lord is at hand. You are forgiven. The cares of today are not unknown to our omniscient (all-knowing) God. That is why He makes promises to you. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Now go read vs. 4. That is the result of living in the peace and forgiveness of Jesus. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. 


Wait, then, in quiet confidence, Your anxious thoughts at rest. God knows your needs before you ask And works for what is best. (“Be Still, My Soul, before the Lord” LSB 771, st.3)

Rev. Randy Sturzenbecher is pastor of Divine Shepherd Lutheran Church, Black Hawk, SD. He is also the vice president of Higher Things.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch