Riverside Community Church

Philippians 8 - The Lord Who Is Near

Phil. 4:4-7


What Scripture passage contain these words;

rejoice, Lord, near, anxious and peace.

-it is one of the most quoted passages of the Bible,

-it is one of the most beloved assembly of verses ever written,

-it contains direly needed instruction for dealing with one of life’s most difficult problems.

à it is the problem of being anxious, having anxiety, being worried, being restless, being uneasily concerned.

Is anyone here anxious??  Anyone??


Philippians 4:4-7 NIV

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


The Bible states clearly that you and I are not to be anxious about anything. Don’t be anxious, yep, don’t YOU be anxious…….


-you must be kidding me, Pastor, don’t be anxious! I’ve plenty of good reasons to be anxious and I’m going to use every one of these good reasons to be anxious, to be fearfully uneasy. I have earned the right to be anxious with this life of mine and I rather like anxiety because I do it often.


Dr. Phil often uses this phrase in his counselling; ‘How’s that working for ya?’                   Let me apply that phrase to our topic today.

        ‘Anxious? How’s that working for ya?’

Anxiety is like a rocking chair -you go back and forth and don’t get anywhere.


Anxiety is a destroyer.

An anxious life is a life filled with distraught,

Being anxious is a joy stealer.

Are you anxious than worry plagues you,

anxiety causes you to be distressed,

to be upset,

to be agitated

to be troubled.

Anxious -‘How’s that working for ya?’


For any and all of you who struggle with anxiety or worry or even fears of what might happen, if anxiety is a constant traveler with you in your life than I have some really good news for you.


-it involves some Biblical truth you need to practice which will greatly help you. It is not a cure, it doesn’t heal your anxiety, but it is a remedy, like a dose of good medicine meant to alleviate the symptoms.


But first, let me reread the passage we are looking at this morning and then I’ll tell you my story with my epiphany.

Philippians 4:4-7 NIV             in light of ANXIETY issues

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


(my epiphany)

        As I read these 4 verses of Philippians 4 and as I reread them and reread them over and over again I was struck by a phrase in this passage, a sentence of 4 words that seem to answer the questions of ‘how can I overcome my anxieties’ and ‘why should I overcome my anxieties’?

The sentence is ‘The Lord is near’. Listen again to these verses 4-6:


4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything,


Q     why should I not be anxious? Because the Lord is near! The Helper is here, the Way Maker is here, the strongest, the most powerful, the wisest is here, He is near you -do not worry, do not be anxious, I’m here He speaks to you.


Q     How can I overcome my anxieties and worries? Because the Lord is near, and what is necessary is for me to PRACTICE HIS PRESENCE.

-You see, in His very presence fears, worries and anxieties fade.

-with faith in His always abiding presence, anxieties and worries decline and their grip on us weakens.

-you must believe that God exists and that He is with us, with you (as Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us). He is absolutely present with you, know His presence in your head and in your heart. We need to ‘Practice His presence’.

        Practicing His presence is not meaning to rehearse His presence but rather practice means to process, to enjoy, to participate in His presence. A doctor doesn’t practice to get better at medicine but practices medicine to perform medicine.

We practice His presence to enjoy what is already there, to enjoy the Lord Himself.

‘He is here, alleluia, He is here, Amen.’


        When I was at Bible college a new thought was circulating and was all the rage in Christian circles. It was “practice His presence”. It seemed everyone was saying and talking about ‘practice the presence’ of God in your daily life. I didn’t really understand it then but have come now to appreciate that term ‘practice His presence’. It is something we should do instinctively as Christians but so many things distract us from this close relationship with God. The presence of the living God in my life is real to me, it’s evident and genuine to me, it’s not only believable but empowering and sustaining. This realness of the presence of God is available to all believers and is a growing blessing as you mature in your faith.


Let me give you some guidance to practicing the Lord’s presence and please remember always that when you are anxious or worried -that the Lord is near, very near, so practice or partake in His presence. Anxieties and worries lose their grip on you in God’s presence.


  1. Believe He is Near

Often, we don’t feel like God is near to us. Yet, God wants us to know in our minds and hearts that He is near, always near, near forever. Regardless of what our feelings and emotions tell us, our faith should scream, God is NEAR. Scripture says the "righteous shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17) and "without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Therefore, we shouldn't have to feel God is near to know He's near. My feelings, my emotions often mislead me but my faith knows God is near. Tell God you believe He’s near...and talk to Him, by faith, believing He is near. 

Brothers and sisters, be assured and convicted of His presence and you will not only sense Him, you will please His heart.

        Practice His Presence by believing He is present, He is near you.


  1. Cultivate a Humble Heart

James 4:6 tells us “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (NKJV). We don’t want God to “resist” us because of our pride, our lack of humbleness. James 4:7 instructs us to humble ourselves and “submit to God. … Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” 

James 4:8 continues by telling us to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts so we’re not double-minded, which means dabbling with one foot in God’s Word and the other foot in the world.

That passage of Scripture is not saying “clean up your act before God will come near.” If that were the case, none of us could be in God’s presence because we are incapable of cleaning up our act, ourselves. But when we consider that Jesus did what was necessary to clean us up through His death for us on the cross, we humble ourselves, we humbly surrender to His lordship, He is there waiting for us to indicate we want to go deeper.

A humble heart attracts the heart of God, so acknowledge to Him that you long for His presence. Be humble the Lord is near you.


  1. Whisper His Name

There are times we need Him but we just don't know what to say or where to begin. Start by saying His name...and then speak your heart's cry. Scripture says there is power in the name of Jesus, not only because "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).  Jesus responds to His name when His loved ones call to Him.

        -I often don’t know what to say, in my heart ache or in my longing for Him to help me so I say His name (My personal name for God/Jesus) by saying Lord, Lord, Lord, Lord.

The writers of the classics called this type of whispering cry “breath prayers.” My breath prayers to sense His presence are " Lord, Lord, Lord, Lord " Calling His name just as often as we breathe is one of the simplest ways to sense His presence. And I believe the simplest of cries are the ones that penetrate His heart—and ours—the quickest.

        Practice His Presence by whispering His name.


  1. Walk with Him 

Scripture indicates God longs to walk with His created ones, that’s you and me. After God made Adam and Eve, and they chose to rebel against Him, Scripture records God “walking in the garden in the cool of the day,” looking for His beloved, desiring their company, their companionship, the unity they once shared as they walked together. Scripture records the account, years later, of a man named Enoch who “walked faithfully with God” for 300 years.

You don’t have to be living in the Old Testament to walk closely with God. Today, we have the atoning work of Jesus to bring us back into close communion and daily fellowship with God. And that means we can have a close walk with Him.

Practice His Presence by walking daily with Him.


  1.  Take a Divine Pause

Sometimes we can't sense God's presence because there's too much of everything else going on. Too much noise. Too much traffic. Too much confusion. Too much anxiety. Too many voices and thoughts running through our minds. Center your mind on Him (Colossians 3:1-2) and start to breathe deeply. Try it:

Exhale in prayer the distracting thoughts. Inhale in prayer a desire to sense His presence.

Exhale your pre-occupation with self. Inhale a desire to know Him more completely.

Exhale in prayer the worries, the anxieties of the moment. Inhale in prayer His peace.

His Word says "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

Practice His Presence by being still, breath.


  1. Read His Word (if it helps read it Aloud) 

God speaks to us through His Word. And one of the best ways to sense His presence is to get into His Word and ask His Holy Spirit to guide you into a better understanding of it. When you get into God’s Word, and even speak it audibly, you will sense its power and His presence. The Bible says God's Word is "living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12).

That sharp sword will prick your heart through conviction, inspiration, enlightenment, or determination. A pricked heart is better than a numb, dull, or complacent heart any day, so get into His Word and find Him there.

Practice His Presence by opening your ears to hear Him in His Word.


  1.  Start Praising Him, start being thankful (name them)

God inhabits the praises of His people and loves our thankfulness.

Ever wondered why you sometimes feel closer to God when you're in a church service, singing hymns or praise songs? It could be because that's where worship tends to take place. But you don’t have to be in a church building or even with other believers to worship Him.

Worship is praising and acknowledging His “worth ship” wherever you are and in whatever situation you are in. You may be anxious or worried à praise God and be thankful. Worship is surrender. Worship is giving Him your time, talents, and treasure.

-When you start praising Him, regardless of where you are, you'll sense His presence—probably because you're no longer focused on yourself, but on Him. When we open the door of our hearts to love Him, He will meet us there. Every time. Amen.


Practicing God’s presence is a spiritual discipline and is your way out of overcoming anxieties and overwhelming worries. Practice every day.


Anxious? How’s practicing anxiety working for you? Not so great!


Anxious? How is practicing His presence working for you?

        -Not so bad, in fact, it’s great. Thankyou Lord, for being with me.


Invitation to practice His presence immediately.


Riverside Oct 22, 2023