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Re-Thinking Your Anxiety

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(4/21) I. Weighing in on Worry Ė Do you worry? What do you worry about? (Let people answer) When I began in ministry and began to build my library, one of the first books I purchased was Dr. Gary Collinsí, Guide to Christian Counseling. On page 59, he says, that one of the prevailing characteristics of people at the end of the 20th century is anxiety, stress, fear, tension, and worry, saying, "it is one of the most urgent problems of our day, and has become the official emotion of our age." And, that was written before 9-11. Not being a psychologist, I need to be careful in not over simplifying the problem of anxiety, worry, or fear, because some forms of anxiety are normal, and necessary, and some are the result of chemical changes in our body and still others result from deep emotional wounds. For some of these a good Christian counselor or Dr. needs to be consulted.

But the Bible deals plainly with the kind of anxiety that most of experience in our daily living. For the most part, the Bible deals with Anxiety in two ways. First, as fret or worry, and second, as a healthy concern. The first, can be sinful; the second is not.

When worry or anxiety comes in the form of realistic concern, it is neither condemned nor forbidden. For example, Paul stated that he wasnít concerned about being in jail, cold or hungry, but he was anxious about the spiritual welfare of the churches (2 Cor. 11:28). The sincere concern for others caused a daily pressure for Paul and Timothy (Phil. 2:20). A healthy concern causes us to use seat belts and car seats and curfews and teach our children right and wrong; it keeps us praying others.

But anxiety and worry are wrong, sinful, when we begin to think that our welfare is all our responsibility and we trust in ourselves and not in a Sovereign God who is our Father in Heaven (repeat that). Dr. Collins writes, "Instead of acknowledging His Sovereignty and Pre-eminence we have shifted the burdens of life onto ourselves and assumed that we alone can handle the problems that we face. When man turns from God and becomes his own god increased anxiety is inevitable. Perhaps it is not surprising then that in the age of increased godlessness there is also increased anxiety." Letís look at our text.

II. Warning about Pursuing Wealth Ė (vv. 19-25a). The first word of verse 25 is, "Therefore," and so we ask, "Whatís it there for?" Our Lord is making a connection between what He has just said and what He is about to say. Because:

1. Earthly treasures are so temporary and subject to loss

2. Treasures stored up in heaven are permanent

3. Possessions steal your heart from God

4. Possessions distort your perception of what is really important in life

5. Possessions keep you from serving God

6. Possessions become your master instead of vice versa and;

7. Because God is a better master, and Father, and you cannot serve both, and only one will control your heart, your love and your loyalty. I am sure Jim told you last week, but let me remind you. What our Lord is saying is not that it is wrong to have a savings plan, even a retirement account. But it is wrong to make the pursuit of things your life, as if it were the reason for living. Our Lord tells the story of a rich farmer who lost it all when he died in Luke 12.

But many of us or most of us, may be thinking, "I just want to be able to feed my family, I canít even think about saving." I just hope that my in-coming can keep pace with my out-going. Sometimes that causes us to not give to others or tithe. Sometimes, it makes us say, we canít go to church because we have to work on Sundays if we are going to make it. And we worry, how are we going to make it? How will we pay our bills, and feed our family, and provide for their needs? Is that you this morning? If so, let me try to encourage you with the words of our Lord

III. Wasting Time Worrying

A. Worry is Needless Ė (vv. 25-27) The KJV says, "Take no Thought," but that is not a great translation. The NKJV, says, "Donít worry." Some say, "Do not be Anxious," The word means, to be distracted or to be drawn in a different direction. Like Martha was in Luke 10. She had to get dinner ready, get the table set, and make sure the house was straight, because Jesus was in the house, instead of just sitting and listening to Jesus. She was drawn in a different direction. Elijah captures the idea in I Kings 19:21 when he asks the people how long they will halt between two opinions, that is try to straddle a fence and serve God and this world at the same time. You canít do it. Only one will really have your heart. Notice Jesus says 3 times, "Donít worry," (vv. 25, 31, and 34) or more literally, "Stop it!" Our English word, "worry," comes from a German word meaning, to strangle, because thatís what worry seems to do, it chokes the life out of us and robs our joy.

Verse 26 and 32 remind us God isnít just a good master, but if you have received Jesus as your Savior and Lord, He is your Father (John 1:11-12), He has adopted you as His child (Gal. 4:4-7; Rom, 8:14-18; Eph. 1:4), and is committed to caring for you. Listen to these promises:

Phil. 4:19, "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

2 Cor. 9:8, "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work."

Psalm 23:1, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."

Psalm 37:3-5, 25, "Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to passÖ.I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread."

Romans 8:31-21, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us, He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Matt. 7:9-11, "Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"

Now this doesnít mean irresponsibility, like baby birds that just sit and wait for food to be dropped in to their mouths. Nor, we hear a lot, "God helps those who help themselves." And there is a sense in which that is true. We have a responsibility to look for work and do what we can. We have a mandate to work. We were created to work. But my job must not supersede my relationship with my family or my God. There is a priority to life. And there are times that are beyond my control, be it with taxes, repairs, illness, job loss, or bills that are beyond our control. Our Lord wants us to know that He cares and He is committed to taking care of us and that He helps those who cannot help themselves. He illustrates this with birds. Daily they go to work, and daily they eat. They donít stockpile, in fact most animals, usually rest after they eat, and donít hunt or kill again until they are hungry again. But Jesus didnít come to die for the birds, or for animals, He came for you. He didnít prepare a place for birds, He prepared a place for you. He didnít adopt birds. He adopted you. He didnít defeat Satan for the birds, He defeated Satan for you. Here and in Chapter 10, He reminds us that we, His children are so much more valuable than birds. But the point is that worry is needless, because God is your Father, and He values you more than anything else in the world.

B. Worry is Useless (v. 27). The wording of verse 27, "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?" could mean growth of height or length of time. Either way, it is useless. We can exercise, eat right, take vitamins and countless other things to lengthen life or to grow, and though these things are beneficial to the quality and productivity of life, the truth is that our days are already numbered and set, bounded by God. You have an appointed time. This message is not to determine if God set the time or just knows the time; instead, this is just to say that worrying cannot lengthen your life, or make you an NBA star. Dr. Charles Mayo of the famous Mayo Clinic, once said, "Worry affects, the circulation, 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." John MacArthur adds, "The gift of life is a gift from God to be used for His purposes, for spiritual and heavenly reasons, not selfish and earthly ones. Our concern should be to obey, honor, please, and glorify Him- leaving everything else to His wisdom and care." Worry is needless and worry is useless and:

C. Worry is Faithless (vv. 28-30) "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith." Whether it is the jonquils, daffodils, tulips, Easter lilies, azaleas, or dandelions and buttercups, God cloths the grass with splendor. The illustration is almost the same as the one with the birds. Grass is temporary, we cut it and discard it, or as in that time it was cut, dried and used for fuel for their ovens, but the point is that God cloths the earth with beauty but the earth isnít his child, you are. It amazes me that so many of us trust God with our eternal souls and believe Him for our eternal well-being but are not willing to trust and rest in Him for our daily needs. That says as verse 30 states, our faith is small. So, when you see the robins, sparrows, or crows, and when you see the flowers blooming, even the dandelions, pause and think, consider that if God takes care of them, think how much He loves you.

D. Worry is Godless (vv. 31- 32) Therefore do not worry, saying, ĎWhat shall we eat?í or ĎWhat shall we drink?í or ĎWhat shall we wear?í 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. The Gentiles, or pagans, or heathen, or unbelievers, do not have God as their adopted Father, and they believe that life depends on them, and their whole life is focused on either survival or stockpiling wealth. We will come back to this in a moment, but I want you to realize that just as with Israel, God wants the non-believing world to see how Godís children trust their Father AND to see how God takes care of His children, so they will want to know this Father personally. But when we fret and worry about our physical well-being and how we are going to survive, we are showing the world that we are no different than them and really have nothing to offer. He feed Elijah by having the birds bring food, and with the widow, He feed the Israelites with Manna and quail, He feed David with the bread of the temple, He feed thousands with a few fish and tortillas and he will feed and see to it that you have cloths for your body. He wants the world to see that His children are at peace and trust their Father no matter what the circumstances, and donít fret about retirement, or not having big portfolios. It is an opportunity to testify of the goodness and provision of Jehovah Jirah, the Lord who Provides. But, again, if we fret and worry and complain, when we donít give, donít gather to worship because we believe it all depends on us, we are showing the world that we have nothing different to offer.

E. Worry is a Thief Ė Let me just briefly mention at least 4 more things that results from worry about our well-being:

1. Worry cause us to neglect the important for the urgent as in Luke 10:38-42

2. Worry robs us of the fruit God wants to produce in our lives (Matt. 13:22) Cp. Gal. 5:22-24

3. Worry results in fear and stress which is mentally and physically unhealthy as we live with, Ďwhat ifs,í and Ďsupposes,í When God wants you to have peace (Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:6-10)

4. Worry results in selfishness, as we think we have to look out for Number 1.

5. Worry results in pride. How? By thinking we are in the driverís seat and pulled ourselves up by our own boot straps, because God helps those who help themselves. The proud person trusts in himself, in his abilities, in his strength or plans. The humble person trusts in God. So stop it!

IV. Wisdom for Worry-less living (vv. 33-34), "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

A. But, Seek First the Kingdom. That little word, But, could be translated as Rather. Rather than being consumed with the world and its ways, or consumed with your needs, try this, try focusing on making Godís Kingdom your highest or first priority. The Kingdom of God refers to His rule and reign in your life. It involves asking such questions as these:

1. How can I honor my King today?

2. How can I touch a life for my King today?

3. What is Godís will for my life today or in the circumstances I find myself in? It should be similar to that of Paul as he expresses in Acts 20:24, But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

B. And His Righteousness Ė This is probably two things.

1. Living Holy, Living Right; that is, living our lives set apart to God as His special children (as Lev. 11:44; and 1 Peter 1:16). This includes the intentional avoidance of sinful things.

2. Doing what is Right. Our righteousness is displayed by the things we do. Our acts of charity, our giving, our loving each other as Jesus loves us; our gathering to encourage each other. It is living out our purpose as Godís children. It means I will use my time, talents, and treasures for show Godís grace to people and honor my King.

C. God will take care of your business. If you are listening say, "Amen!" Here is the deal. Godís promise is this. If you make His business, your priority, your provision will be His Business. I read once where Queen Elizabeth I asked an intelligent businessman to go abroad and conduct some business for England, but he was worried that while he was gone, his own business would suffer. To which the Queen replied "Sir, if you will take care of my business I will take care of your business." So says our Lord. I have found it true in my life. If we make His business our business he will take care of our business. We are Godís representatives, His ambassadors to a lost world. And, we are His children and He thinks we are pretty special. He rescued and adopted us to show the world His grace thru us and He will take of us. That may not include all the toys of the world, but it does include everything you will need.

D. Focus on Today Ėdaily needs Ė (v. 34) God is in tomorrow - Having a savings account, insurance, having a will or a pension plan is responsible and reasonable, but worrying about how you are going to make it isnít. Lam. 3:22-23 says, "Through the Lordís mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness." He isnít telling us to worry about today but to simply focus on Godís plan and will for today, He is already in tomorrow. He will meet us there and supply the grace we will need to handle what tomorrow brings. So, learn to tackle life one day at a time. Worrying about tomorrow robs us of our effectiveness today.

There you have it. Are you ready to do it? Ready to stop worrying? Ready to trust in your Fatherís care as you commit to seeking and doing His will and righteousness? I will tell you that it is an adventure, but it is awesome. The first church focused on the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and they turned the world upside down. Even in the fourth century the Roman Emperor, Julian the Apostate failed in his efforts to suppress Christianity, largely due to the distinctive lives of the Christians. He told his officials, "We ought to be ashamed. Not a beggar is to be found among the Jews, and those godless Galileans (or Christians), feed not only their own people but ours as well, whereas our people receive no assistance whatever from us."

Are your priorities out of order? Is it time to put first things first and trust God to be your Father?

Do you need to repent of trying to do it yourself and neglecting Godís plan for your life?

Do you know Him as your Father? Are your ready to receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord? Letís pray.

If this has spoken to your heart, write to me and tell me, or ask me whatever you want about knowing God or having a relationship with Him. pastorgarybuchman@gmail.com

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman