God’s Cure for Worry: Part II
Last week we looked at the reasons the Lord Jesus gave us to not worry in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:25-34 specifically. Jesus invited us to come reason with Him as to why it was unnecessary to worry if we trusted an absolutely sovereign God. Can you agree with Jesus? Can you say as the Psalmist did in Psalm 91: “I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”
The first essential belief for a peaceful heart in the midst of storms is to believe God is absolutely sovereign and has never been out of control over His creation and all its creatures for one fraction of a second since the beginning of time. Never has, never will!
So Jesus gave us the reasons as He had us observe the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.
He also told us what to focus on- seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Now this week we will see what the Apostle Paul was inspired to teach us about worry. Paul gives us, what we are all looking for, three steps to conquering worry. Notice I did not say to a worry free life. I have come to the conclusion it is in our nature to worry at some point about something. Paul gives us three very clear steps to take to conquer worry when it occurs. They are found in Philippians 4.
“The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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, 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 on these things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me- put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4: 6-9)
There are the three steps: right praying, right thinking, and right actions. Did you notice the two great benefits you receive? 1. The peace of God. 2. The God of peace. You not only get the peace of God, you get God with it!
The best way to eliminate a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit. Worry, we know, is a bad habit. Has no redeeming benefits whatsoever. It causes one to lose sleep, divides one’s mind, saps us of energy, makes us sick, and depletes our joy. Paul says the first and most important habit to develop is prayer. The right kind of prayer.
THE RIGHT KIND OF PRAYER
Certainly we want to make specific requests or petitions. However, we must not pray with doubt and discouragement which indicates our feelings are overcoming our faith. We are to present our requests, our difficulties with thanksgiving. Listen to Psalm 100: “Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know the Lord is God. It is He who has made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever, His faithfulness continues through all generations.”
We are to base our thanks on God’s goodness and faithfulness. He has promised to never leave me or forsake me, which means He is with you in your difficulty and time of trouble. In fact Paul started his instructions to us by reminding us the Lord is near. The Lord has also promised us He would never place more on us than we can bear. He also has promised us we will get through this storm, these waters, and these fires. He has promised us to work all things together for our good. And Peter, who knew what it was to despair tells us: “ And the God of all grace, who called you to eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered for a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (I Peter 5:10)
Since God has all knowledge, He knows what is happening in your life. And no matter how difficult, God has allowed it for a purpose. Thank Him for His available power and promises which will give you the peace which passes understanding.
Worry is a sin, which can literally make you sick. Do you know who the best doctor is? The best doctor is the one who knows you best. God is our Great Physician and He is the one who knows us best. “O Lord you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord.” (Psalm 139) This Psalm goes on to tell us God knit us together in our mother’s womb and saw my unformed body and all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Now get up on the examination table and say to God: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. “
When we bring our worry to God in prayer, it must begin with thanksgiving, knowing God who knows us better than we know ourselves. Who can look in our hearts, our minds and heals us of every disease. You can trust the Great Physician – the only doctor who knows you better than yourself.
“ Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits- who forgives us all our sins and heals all your diseases, Who redeems you from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth in renewed like the eagles. He does not treat us as our sins deserve”. (Psalm 103)
The Lord says – we will get through this. Trust me. Quit worrying. I am taking care of you.
May I say to you- after 26 years of teaching, I am still learning. We must keep on learning. We must keep on loving; keep on laughing- for a merry heart doeth good’ keep on laboring- pressing toward the mark; keep on leaving behind emotional baggage; and keep on leaning on God!
Tozer said: what comes to one’s mind when they think about God is the single most important thing about them. Not only does this impact how you live life on this earth, but where one will also spend eternity.
Where are we today as a society? As a country? As the body of Christ, the Church? Our society and country has spoken. “Furthermore, since they do not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind.”(Romans 1:28) The result we read in Romans 1 is: ‘their foolish hearts are darkened and their thinking has become futile.’ This is where we are today in America in the 21st century. The body of Christ has an opportunity to offer the peace of God to a society and country which has become more hopeless and worried about the world we live in. Young people believe their lives will not have as much meaning and joy as their parents did. Older people have thrown up their hands in disgust and complain- I can’t believe what we have become! And collectively they curse the darkness and we find ourselves living in a time where there is no king and everyone does what is right in their own eyes. We must be able to give a reason for our hope. We know the truth and the truth can set one free from not only sin, but from worry and defeat and confusion. We must know what to say and how to say it. The gospel has not changed it is still the power of God for salvation for all who believe.
And as a man thinketh in his heart- so is he. The heart in the Bible refers to the mind, the will and the emotions. We are told: “If we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead we shall be saved. For it is with your heart one believes and is justified. “(Romans 10: 9.10)
Salvation begins when we respond to the gospel. The Holy Spirit comes to indwell and seal us and we are given new hearts. Our enlightened mind can now perceive the spiritual truths God has freely given us. The natural man, unsaved, cannot understand these truths for his mind is blinded by darkness.
In order to keep our minds fresh and pure for we are to guard our hearts (mind, will and emotion) with all diligence for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23) Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Romans 12 tells us to not be conformed by the world, but be transformed by the renewing our minds with the Word of God.
We keep our minds fresh and pure with the Word of God. Jesus said God’s chief agent for purifying our thinking is the Word of God. “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3)
As we engraft the Word of God into our hearts it will keep us pure. It will enable us to not sin. Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you. It provides us with the weapons which are mighty according to 2 Corinthians 10. ‘They have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’ * Worry is a stronghold which needs be torn down and replaced. A wall of faith must be erected which will not allow worry to enter- or when it does to sound the alarm we have allowed a breach in our security. The breach in our security is any area we have not entrusted to the Lord. And any area not entrusted to the Lord can become a stronghold* Jesus showed us how to use them to resist the devil in Matthew 4. The weapons we have are the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit, and prayer. Charles Stanley says fight all our battles on our knees in prayer.
The engrafting of God’s Word transforms our minds, will and emotions. We must do the following to engraft the Word: hear it, read it, study it, memorize it, meditate upon it and obey it. When we do this on a daily regular basis, we will develop a grid system which allows us to replace wrong thinking with right thinking.
Paul’s comprehensive list of right thinking is recognized by making sure you take captive any thought which is not: true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. The Word of God engrafted in your soul will serve as a detector of any thought which do not meet this criteria. The message is clear- replace this thought with one which is true, pure and praiseworthy. And only the Word of God can provide you with those thoughts.
Think on these things, Paul tells us.
Paul then says put these things you have learned into practice. Obedience. Practice makes perfect. Practice implies we keep doing it, because it is through repetition we establish good habits. It is through repetition we become better at what we are practicing. We make progress through practice.
Godly thinking and godly attitudes produced by the engrafting the Word of God will work to restrain the flesh, the old nature from committing sin. You must keep meditating on the Word of God day and night and doing what it tells you to do.
Only by right praying, right thinking and right actions will we learn to overcome anxiety and worry and be able to recognize wrong thinking and take those wrong thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.
How do we recognize wrong thinking? It begins with worry- like a red light flashing on your dashboard. Like the metal detector at the airport which says there is something in your baggage which is not supposed to be there. Take it out and leave it behind.
ESSENTIAL BELIEFE #2 FOR EXPERIENCING THE PEACE OF GOD: GOD IS YOUR PROVIDER. JEHOVAH JIREH.
Last week we claimed essential belief #1 for experiencing the peace of God was to believe God is absolutely sovereign.
This week we want to claim and believe in our hearts that – My God shall supply all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19) Abraham learned this in his 30 year walk with the Lord that God Himself shall provide all your needs; including a lamb for the sacrifice. Paul said if God spared not his only son, but gave him up for us all, how will he along with his son, freely give us all things. (Romans 8) Kind of defies reason doesn’t it?
“Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing! (Psalm 34:10)
Want to know who can supply all your needs? Jesus answered in a simple two word statement: “I AM!”
When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and commanded Moses to lead Israel out of slavery in Egypt, Moses asked for God’s name. God replied: “Tell them that the Lord, whose name is I AM, has sent you.” (Exodus 3)
1500 years later Jesus said to the skeptical Pharisees: “before Abraham was, I was, and I AM. “(John 8; 58)
Jesus identified himself as the Great I AM.
I am the bread of life and everyone who has faith in me has eternal life. John 6
I am the light of the world. Follow me and you will not be in the dark. You will have light that gives life. John 8.
I am the gate for the sheep. All who come in through me will be saved. Through me they will come and go and find pasture. The thief comes only to rob and kill and destroy. I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly. John 10
I am the one who raises the dead to life. John 11.
I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except by me. John 14
I am the vine. Apart from you can do nothing. Stay connected to me and you can pray for whatever you want in my name and it will be given to you. John 15
Jesus is saying: I am the one who supplies all your needs. Brings you knowledge of God. Gives forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
I AM THE ONE WHO PROVIDES YOU PEACE FROM WORRY, DOUBT AND FEAR.
Fear not- I AM with you.
Now perhaps today, you have an unmet need in your life. This need may have just come up suddenly and recently or it may be one that has gone unmet for years. Here are two things which are obvious:
- You cannot meet the need yourself or you would have already done it.
- You cannot compel God to meet your need on your time schedule or the way you want Him to meet it.
This has become a trial which at times will also be a temptation. As a trial it is painful because this need is important to you and the lack of fulfillment hurts! It can become a temptation as you try to figure out how to solve it yourself. And it is self, our old nature which urges us to do something.
Here is what we are to do: James says count it all a joy when you fall into divers temptations, knowing the testing of your faith develops endurance( perseverance, patience) which must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete lacking nothing. This makes your faith stronger. And James adds if you lack wisdom you should ask God and He will give it to you liberally. But do not doubt! (James 1)
Peter tells us something similar in I Peter when he tells us – now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith- of greater worth than gold, which perishes, even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.