Originally posted at blog.myspace.com on Friday, February 17, 2006, archived here http://old.westerfunk.net/archives/personal/Dave%20Sermon%20Notes/
A. Read Philippians 4:4-7
B. ILLUS. Chaplaincy. Summer 2002. I was assigned to the reception station at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. I was counseling teenagers just about to step into Basic Training. The ones who stopped by my office were stressed and anxious about girlfriends they left behind, mean drill sergeants, the radical culture change, etc. and I did my best to soothe their worries and give them hope. One afternoon, halfway through my assignment, the Deputy Assistant Installation Chaplain and my Brigade Chaplain (my boss) entered my office. They told me that the Red Cross just informed them that my dad had had a massive coronary and was being care-flighted to a hospital 100 miles away and that my mom was in a car trailing them. I was to be released immediately to fly home and take care of family business. The counselor had now become the counselee.
C. To say that I was anxious or full of worry on my flight home would be an understatement. Life seems to provide an endless list of things to be anxious and worry about: maybe your losing sleep wondering how to make ends meet? Maybe you have someone who is close to your heart very sick? Maybe you can’t shake this feeling of loneliness and worry about never meeting that significant other? Maybe its your kids? Your job or spouse or reputation or stuff or the future. The worries could be monumental or miniscule, nevertheless the list could quite possibly be endless.
D. What formula does scripture offer us to end the ceaseless tides of worry we are buffeted with day in and day out? The questions I want to answer this morning is, how do we overcome anxiety and worry in our lives and why is it wrong to worry?
E. First of all, the word, “anxious” Paul uses in verse 6 is the same Greek word Christ used in Matthew 6, when he commands us not to worry. (Grk: mer-im-nah-o. to be anxious about, to be troubled with)
F. A few things to keep in mind before we dig deeper.
1. Worry is something that each of us will contend with the rest of our lives. Worry can be hard to diffuse.
2. The English term for worry comes from an old German word meaning to strangle or choke. Dr. Charles Mayo of the famous Mayo Clinic, wrote, “Worry affects the circulation of the heart, the glands and the whole nervous system. I have never met a man or known a man to die of overwork, but I have known a lot who died of worry.”
4. An Average Person’s Worry Is Focused On
40percent- things that will never happen
30 percent – things about the past that can’t be changed
12percent -things about criticism by others, mostly untrue
10percent – about health, which gets worse with stress
8percent -about real problems that will be faced
So, on average, only about 8f our worry is legitimate. Does that mean then, that we can go ahead and worry only 8 percent of the time. Of course not. And we’ll get into that.
5. Well, why do we worry? Well, in a nutshell, we worry when we sense something is wrong or something could go wrong; when our expectations go awry; when we don’t feel in control (but I’m sure there are no control freaks in the house).
6. How do people generally deal with worry? Well, some medicate themselves (drugs, alcohol), some might ignore it and distract themselves (tv, entertainment, get real busy), some talk to everyone but God about it, others still either deny it or try to overcontrol it causing even more anxiety.
7. Look down at Philippians Chapter 4. Starting at verse 5
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. 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.”
8. Philippians tells us what to DO to diffuse worry. Before we get into that, let’s talk about what we need to BELIEVE to shed our worries BECAUSE…
9. . . . when we worry, it reveals something much deeper about us. It reveals a breakdown of belief. A few months ago, I noticed that my car was pulling to the right. As the weeks went on, it pulled more and more to the right and I simply compensated by tugging the wheel to the left. So, before I got a pulled over for a D.U.I., I took my car in and got a front end alignment. The “pulling” was merely a symptom of a deeper mechanical issue. In much the same way, our worry it a symptom of an inner breakdown in belief.
(Transition: What are three biblical truths that, when truly believed repel worry?)
II. THREE BIBLICAL TRUTHS TO MELT AWAY OUR WORRIES
A. God’s Love (John 3:16; Eph.3:17b-19)
1. One of the most fundamental propositions of the Christian faith is that God loves his Church. Paul writes this prayer to the church at Ephesus:
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledgethat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”It takes power, it takes energy to fathom the profound depths of God’s love for us.
(Transition: Now what’s the second truth to melt away our worries?)
B. God’s Sovereignty. His supreme power and authority (Psalm8:3, 139:16, Eph 1:11).
1. Simply put, God’s in control of all things.
2. How do these two (love and sovereignty work together?)
(animate) Several years ago, when my friend Greg Love was trying to coach his daughter Georgia to learn how to jump into the pool, he said that she was initially hesitant, like most kids would be. She asked, “Daddy, you’re going to catch me right?” Reestablishing the fact that Greg does love her. And she probably intentionally remembered that her dad was also strong enough to catch her. And once reas- sured of her dad’s love and strength. She jumped. And what did she do after that? She jumped again and again. When we truly believe that God does love us, and that he is in control, our worries can flee as easily as Georgia’s, because God’s love for us and sovereignty is infinitely greater than Greg’s. So who you believe God to be dictates whether or not you will jump, or in this case worry.
C. His Providence. (Ps 33:10-11, Ro 8:28) This means God has a purpose, a design for everything. A purpose which deals not only with global things like kings and continents but also with intimate things like flowers and a child’s fever.
1. One of my favorite verses is Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” That everything in a believers life is working for our ultimate good. And so when our souls query heaven asking, “Why is this happening to me?” The truthful yet often paradoxical answer is always, “Because God loves me and has a purpose even in this.”
2. God’s providence is prescriptive; a corrective agent. My wife, Jen, and I had our honeymoon about a year and a half ago. So here we are, on this island paradise and, sadly, she gets strep throat. So we find an island doctor and he prescribed an antibiotic for her. He diagnosed a malady and prescribed something to better it. Well, God operates the same way. He looks at our lives and because he loves us, he wants what is best for us. Our best is actually making us look like Christ, so he prescribes our circum- stances to make us look more like him. Our circumstances are designed not so much in response to our behavior as much as they are in response to our character. So when the circumstances would normally produce worry, we look to Christ and, in faith, know that this is to produce holiness.
3. Take a look at verse 5, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Paul’s instructions revolve around it. l There’s a tenderness and a hope to these words. It is the personal presence of Christ which makes his love, power and providence meaningful for us. Capt Diaz. Beforemy commis- sioning to 2LT in the Chaplain Corps, I was an enlisted grunt years earlier. Up the chain of command was this hard-charging airborne ranger type whose presence seemed to precede him. An ominous kinda guy. A few months into my assignment, I’m watching TV in the barracks and Capt. Diaz comes in. I am beside myself as I ask him, “Sir, what can I do for you? Is there anything wrong?” He replied, “Nope. All is well. I just came in to see how you were doing.” I was incredulous. I will always remember Capt. Diaz. And while Capt Diaz came near to me, Christ is always near to us.
(Transition: So when confronted with worry, remember we can give him control over our lives, because he’s more compassionate, stronger and wiser than we are. One of the questions that I asked myself during the preparation of this talk was why was both Paul and Christ so adamant about commanding us not to worry? What’s so wrong with it? I always chalked it up to more of a personal weakness than willful sin? But poring through this material made me realize how wrong our worry is. So, we’ve taken the path to what we need to believe, I want to point out now a path of pitfalls which our worries produce.
III. THE WRONG PATH: THE PITFALLS OF WORRY
A. Worry reveals that we have a foundational flaw in trusting God with our lives.
1. ILLUS. Let me ask you a question, what if your closest friend or spouse, or son or daughter approached you and said, “I don’t trust you.” How would that make you feel? Of course, you would feel insulted. Hurt. Your integrity would be questioned. Your honor called into play. And the closer that person was, the more it would hurt. Worry is a trust issue with God.
2. There are two functioning dimensions of our relationship with God. The first is obedience. The second is trust. We, as believers are supposed to, “trust and obey.” It is often quite easier to obey God than it is to trust God. If it’s hard to obey God, that says something about your character. If you worry and thus do not trust God for your life, this says something about what you think of God’s character.
3. (slowly) The main reason we do not trust God is that we do not really believe he loves us. One of my favorite authors, Jerry Bridges, said that the enemy attacks us here the most: “Does God really love you?” The reason we question the love of God for us is that fundamentally we may not have come to terms with Christ’s love for us as evidenced by the Cross. Here we need to refresh ourselves with the loving truths of the gospel all over again.
4. When I was about 4, I got pretty sick. One evening, my mom, told me to go take my medicine. And since I was 7-8 cokes short of a six-pack (and nothing’s really changed since then), a few minutes later I came back into the living room and said, “Look mommy, I’m a good boy. I took all the medicine.” So she immediately sped me to the hospital. There, they pumped my stomach. I did not know that it was life or death situation. Here’s the question I want to raise: Since the doctors proved their skill in a life and death situation, do you think my mom have any reason to be concerned with, maybe, their ability to stitch up a cut, or take care of a broken bone? Certainly not. If they could save a life, she was certain they could certainly take care of less grave ailments. Well, on the Cross, God’s grace took care of our most significant ailment: our sinful souls. He gave our sins to Christ and gave his righteousness to us. If his grace was sufficient for our greatest need, won’t his grace be sufficient for our lesser needs: our daily worries?
(Transition: what’s the second pitfall our worries is produce?)
B. It gives us the feeling that God has not kept his side of the bargain, or we have no faith in his purpose for our lives.
1. Sometimes we don’t trust God with what’s going on in our lives.
I was 38 years old before I got married. For those of you who are counting, that’s 266 dog years by the way. A long time. I would say that God loved me but when I was home alone on saturday nights, I felt that God did not love and he kinda broke his side of the deal. Because if he loved me I would have been in a relationship and since he broke his side of the deal, I then subconsciously thought it was okay to turn my back on God since the ‘deal’ was off, since he did not keep up his side of the bargain. I felt detached from God.
2. When we worry we approach God the same way. We really don’t trust what he has planned for us to do and more importantly, who he has planned us to become. We get clouded between our desire for happi- ness, and his desire for our holiness. But when our hearts are content in him we discover something quite spectacular: our holiness has everything to do with our happiness.
3. His purpose for our lives is that we would become more Christlike. He uses both adversity and blessing as (remember) prescriptions to change our hearts. In fact, as most of you know very personally, God uses adversity more to build the image of Christ in our life than anything. From Hebrews 5:8 we know that Christ learned obedience through what He suffered.
4. When we worry we question what God has intentioned for our lives. We have to remember that every thing that happens in our lives is a result of his undying love for us. If we get disciplined, it is because we are his sons and daughters and he loves us.
5. We need to remember, with every heartbeat, that God is working everything for our good. Always.
C. One final pitfall. When you give your worries to God, let go.
1. One old women in the rural India was going on foot to the nearby market to sell the Oranges of her own garden. She had taken hundred of oranges in a basket and put it on her head. She was followed by a young man of her village, who was also going to the same market in his ox cart to sell the vegetables of his farm. He offered a lift to the old lady in his ox cart since both were going to the same market. The old lady accepted the offer gladly. After two kilometers of journey, the young man looked back to the old lady to see if she is comfortable. He was amazed at the old lady to see her sitting in his ox cart with the basket still on her head. He laughed at her and said, “Mom why don’t you keep your basket down on my ox cart. My cart is able to carry your load as well as your basket’s. Moral: The Bible says: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I Pet. 5:7. But we’re like that aren’t we sometimes? I am. I want to give over my anxiety to God, but I don’t let it go. I still want control. I still muse and pore over it. When he is saying, “Trust me.”
IV. THE PATH TO PEACE: WHAT WE NEED TO DO
A. Not worrying is sometimes a huge battle. It’s hard not to worry. The next time you are tempted to worry, what should you do? For a moment, shut down your worries and follow these steps.
i. remind yourself that God is near. Before Christ came to earth, he experienced complete nearness and intimacy within the Trinity. When he came to earth, he experienced the complete abandonment we deserve so that God could always be near to us. When we forget this fact, our worries can overwhelm us. Because of Christ’s work, your worst circumstances are the chisel in God’s loving hands.”
ii. remind yourself that God loves you, He is sovereign and providential (although we may never understand what that is, this side of heaven) 3 P’s (passion, power, purpose)
B. When the brigade chaplain and the deputy assistant installation chaplain left my office after telling me my dad was in mid-air, that’s what I reminded myself to remember. What did I do next? Well, the first scripture I ever memorized as a young believer was Philippians 4:6-7. I would recommend memorizing that for you as well.
i. Pray – general term for communicating with God: This is where I remind myself of his character, and despite how I feel, God is trustable.
ii. Petition or supplicate – laying our requests before Him. Cast your anxiety on Him.
iii. With Thanksgiving – our attitude in prayer signifying joyful trust in his character.
iv. And take note here: the answer is not the issue. The verse does not say, “do all these things and you will have your answer.” It says that whatever the answer may be and whenever the answer may come, God will give you what? Peace. Because Christ is near.
C. By the way, my dad had a successful quadruple by-pass the next evening.
D. If you do not know Christ, I invite you to look to Christ in faith, to pray that He would take the ultimate source of worry from you, God’s judgment and wrath, so you too can be sure that God will be with you through all trials and for all time.
IV. PASTORAL PRAYER
A. Adoration: Would you take a moment to praise God in your heart for the fact that he loves you with great power and purpose.
B. Confession: Take a moment and ask his forgiveness for the worry, control and anxiety in your life, and any other things weighing upon your heart.
C. Thanksgiving: Thank God that he has already, at great expense to Himself, demonstrated his love for us on the cross in the gospel. Then thank him for other blessings on your heart.
D. Supplication: Come to God now with your needs. What are the needs of your heart? What are it’s troubles and concerns? Cast them on Him now.
Lord, we love you because you first loved us. Have mercy on us, your church, and enable us to love Christ more tomorrow than we do today and would His glory be our passion both now and forevermore.
“May the love, power and purpose of God for your lives enable you to release your cares to Him. May His inexpressible peace guard your hearts and minds always. God bless you.”