Greg Laurie - The Biblical Worldview on Overcoming Fear and Worry
My name is Jason and today we are talking about well the subject of fear and worry. When I recently looked at a news article I read that 92% of the things that we worry about on a daily basis are things that actually have no bearing on real life. Leaving only 8%. Did you know 8% of the things that happen to you in your life those are the things that you can maybe start worrying about. But it is a small percentage. I think a lot of times we blow that out of proportion, don't we? Where we view are problems as big. But when we view God as bigger than our problems, our problems start to get smaller. Today on the program pastor Greg Laurie has given us a sermon all about this subject and it is entitled the biblical worldview on overcoming fear and worry. I hope you find this to be encouraging for your heart but also reassuring for your mind that God is bigger than your problems. He is bigger than your fears and he is greater than the things that cause you to worry. I hope you enjoy the program today and find it to be enriching for your soul. God bless you.
How many of you have ever been gripped by fear? Yeah. You know the feeling well. That your blood goes cold. The shiver down the backbone. Your mouth goes dry. The hair on your head is standing up. In my case that is one singular hair. But still you know it's a terrifying feeling. Maybe it happened when your life was in danger or you were gripped with a fear of death or as you are listening to this there is something you're afraid of right now. The amazing thing to me as we'll spend our hard earned dollars to be scared. You know we will go to that super scary movie and then when the scene comes on that is the worst scene in the film we cover our eyes. Wait. Didn't you pay money to see that?
And then the thing that goes along with fear is worry. There's so many things to be worried about. The state of our country. Then there are the fears about our own life. Maybe our family. Our personal health. It is funny with all that is going on in the world I read that the number one thing that people worry about is their appearance. It is like I may be eaten by a shark or killed by a nuke but how do I look in this outfit? Right. It is funny how we are. But there's all these things that we worry about that don't help us at all actually. John Curtis, director of the University of Wisconsin Stress Management Institute says, "I believe that 90% of stress is brought on by not living in the present moment and worrying about what's already happened, what's going to happen, or what could happen"? So here's what you need to know. Worry is not productive and in fact worry is a failure to trust God. It's been said worry is the advanced interest you pay on troubles that seldom come.
So let's try to stop worrying. You say it is easy for you to say. I know, but I want you to consider who wrote the words we're about to read. They were written by the apostle Paul under adverse circumstances. When Paul wrote the words we are about to read he was under house arrest. He had gone to Rome to preach the Gospel and instead was arrested and he didn't know what his future held. He might be acquitted. He might be beheaded. This could be his last day. He knew nothing about his future. But he gives to us some of the most inspiring words found in the pages of scripture. A series of verses that every believer should know and even commit to memory. I am talking about Philippians 4 starting in verse 4 and we will read down to verse 8. Paul writes, "Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I say rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing". Or literally don't worry about anything. "But in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God". And look at this promise. "And the peace of God, that passes all human understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus".
I love these verses. Paul is not in some ivory tower spinning off impractical theories. He is not laying on some beach in the Mediterranean eating a falafel and having an iced tea. This is the guy who was as I said was incarcerated. Yet he is able to say rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. By the way that is a command from God himself. So understand this. Rejoicing is a scriptural command and is not a suggestion. Let me put it another way. To not rejoice is disobedience to God. But we will justify worry and say no it's okay for me to worry because I'm in a difficult situation. Well in many ways we all are. Some more than others. But maybe we all just need to lighten up a little bit when we can.
I think all of us know people that are just a downer to be around. It is Debbie Downer and her husband Bobby Buzzkill. Right so whatever is going on they see the dark side of it. No matter what. They can't appreciate it. You know you have a great meal. Man that was a great meal wasn't it? I am so full. And Bobby Buzzkill will say yes too bad there are people starving in other parts of the world right now. Thank you Bobby for living up to your name Buzzkill. Look at this beautiful sunset. Look what the Lord made. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world, says Debbie Downer. Will you stop already? You can find joy. You can find humor. You can find something to rejoice about in some very difficult circumstances. Paul is saying in effect look guys if anyone knows what it's like to be afraid it's me but yet I'm telling you rejoice in the Lord always. Listen. Anyone can rejoice when things are going reasonably well. But when you're facing adversity or sickness or hardship or death and then you rejoice well then you are obeying God.
So now Paul is going to tell us how to overcome worry. This is the biblical worldview on overcoming fear and worry. Three elements I want to bring your attention. It is right praying. Verses 6 to 7. It's right thinking. Verse 8. And finally right living. Verse 9. So right praying, right thinking, right living. Let's start with the first one. Right praying. The next time you're tempted to worry pray instead. Turn your worries into prayers. This is called developing a conditioned reflex. As compared to a natural reflex. We all have natural reflexes. You know when the doctor tells you to cross your legs and then he hits you with that little device and your leg shoots up, that is a natural reflex. It is amazing. Or if you touch something hot you immediately pull back. You don't have to teach that even to a toddler. They know when they touch something hot it hurts. They pull back their hand back. That's a natural reflex.
Then there's a conditioned reflex. Now that is something you're taught to do and after you've done it so many times it becomes natural to you. For instance, standing during the national anthem. That's a show of respect. That's a conditioned reflex. I was taught to do that. Or putting my hand over my heart when I say the pledge of allegiance. That's a conditioned reflex. I learned to do that. Now I automatically do that. Big God. Small problems. Big problems. Small God. That is why the Lord taught me in the Lord's prayer to pray as follows. "Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". And then it goes on and gets to the petitions eventually. But the point is, it starts off acknowledging and recognizing the awesomeness and greatness of God, and that I am giving him praise even before my prayers are answered.
We need to pray that he will have his will in our life and that we rejoice in the fact that he's in control. Daniel's life is a perfect example of this. Here's Daniel the prophet an older man at this stage of his ministry ministering to the leader of Babylon Darius. And Darius valued the counsel of Daniel. Daniel had some competition. There were other advisers to the king. They didn't believe in his God, and they didn't like the fact that the king favored Daniel. So they wanted to get rid of him. But the problem for them at least, was there were no skeletons in Daniel's closet. No sin for them to uncover. So they said the only way we're going to trip this guy up is we catch him doing something with him and his God. So they got the king to unwittingly sign a degree that no one could pray to any God except the king himself. And Daniel heard about it and went to his house and opened up the windows as he always did and got down on his knees and he prayed. But even more. He gave thanks to God.It's important to give thanks to God.
So if you want to overcome fear and worry. You need to have right praying. Then number two. You need right thinking. If you are taking notes you might write that down. Verse 8. "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure and lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there's any virtue, if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate or think on these things". Here's another translation of that verse. Summing it all up friends I would say you do your best by filling your minds and meditating on things that are true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, and gracious. The best and not the worst. The beautiful and not the ugly. Things to praise. Not things to curse. I love this. If you want personal peace it involves the heart and the mind. Because Isaiah 26 says, "Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusts in thee".
So think about what you think about. It is sort of like when you sit down to eat. It will affect you. For instance I can't eat certain kinds of food late at night because I have acid reflux. What a drag it is. Because I love to eat food late at night and I love spicy food. How many of you like spicy food? I love spicy. I am like tabasco sauce on everything. Cholula sauce on everything. I love it. I have to think about it. It is maybe 8 or 9 o'clock at night. I'm hungry. I would love pizza. Mexican food. No way. Italian food. No way because the tomato is acidic so I have to make other choices. Also, I can't drink caffeine after 7 o'clock because it will keep me up all night. So there's a cut off point for me and coffee. So I have to think about it because I know that coffee or that food will have a direct effect on me.
So I need to look at that in life in general. This thing. This show I am going to watch on TV what kind of effect will it have on me? This movie that I'm about to go to what effect will this movie have on me? This music I am going listen to what effect will this have on me? See if you want personal peace, it comes down to praying right and it comes down to thinking right and it comes down to guarding what you put in your mind and having almost a grid that you run things through. And sometimes the devil will come and say things that are wrong. He will lie to you. He is the author of fake news. I reject that. Say no. That is not biblical because the Bible says. That is why we are doing this series. We're calling it worldview because the idea is we want to learn how to think biblically. Not think emotionally. Think biblically. Apply the scripture to everything that you're facing in life.
So it comes down to right praying and it comes down also the right thinking because when you stop and consider it most temptations you have faced have come first to your mind. I think about something before I do it. I contemplate it here in my mind first. You see with my mind I reach to the past through memories. I reach to the future through imagination. So I need to learn how to think properly and biblically. As 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, "Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Jesus Christ". So sometimes you are getting down. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know how I am going to get out of the situation. I'm afraid. And then you say listen self. Don't worry about anything. Pray about everything and the peace of God that passes all human understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Quote the Bible to yourself and remind yourself of the truth of God's word. That's what it means to think biblically.
So it's right praying, and its right thinking and there's one more. Right living. Verse 9. "These things that you've learned and received and heard and seen in me these do and the God of peace will be with you". You cannot separate outward action and inward attitude. You need to live these things out in your life. Now let me say this. Studies have found that 85% of the things that we worry about never happen. So all the stuff you're worrying about right now I don't know what it is. Like some of you are worrying will he ever stop this sermon? Will this go on forever? I don't know what you are worrying about. 85% of it is not going to happen. A lot of you are that is good to know. Some of you are thinking but what about the other 15%? That is a good point. What about the other 15%? What about that fear or that worry. What if this happens? And then it does happen. In fact not only does it happen, but something even worse than you were considering happens what then? Well then the Lord will be with you in your time of difficulty. Listen. God has not promised we are going to live in a pain-free world. He told us in this world we will have tribulation.
I just talked to couple who have been married 10 years longer than Cathe and I have. 52 years. And they lost their son like 34 years ago and they told me you never get over it. Because you don't expect your children to die before you. You expect you die. Then your children will die. It is out of the natural order. You don't ever plan on what kind of casket you'll choose for your child's funeral. And those are the kinds of issues you have to deal with when a child dies or when a loved one dies. So you say Greg this is kind of scary to me, and even a little frightening for you to even talk about this. Okay. I understand that but we need to face facts. Loved ones are going to die and hardship will come in our lives. Some live relatively pain-free lives but the rest of us don't get out that way. We live in the land of the dying but we're headed to the land of the living you see. So that's the good news. But we have to face these things. But here's the good news. When death comes and yes it will come. We have this promise from Jesus when he says in Revelation 1:17, "Don't be afraid. I am the first and the last. I am the living one. I died but look I am alive forevermore and I hold the keys of death and the grave".
I'm so glad he holds the keys. If I had the keys they would've been lost for years now. I lose every set of keys all the time. I have little things to find my keys. It is just pathetic. I even lose hotel keys. But Jesus never loses the keys. He is saying don't be afraid. I'll be there for you. So here is the thing. Most of the stuff you worry about isn't going to happen and when things do happen God will be there for you in the middle of it. And you know after the Lord called our son home a lot of changes happened in our lives I have to tell you. You know one thing that happens is you almost feel like a part of you is in heaven. Almost like I have a foot in heaven and it caused us to really reevaluate our lives and say okay what are we going to do with our life now? What is going happen in the days ahead? You know some people when they lose loved ones and children they just sort of disconnect from life. They withdraw and sometimes their marriages fall apart and they just become a different person from that day on. Well, my marriage is not falling apart. It's stronger than it's ever been 42 years, blessed by God. So our marriage got stronger not weaker.
But let me just say this in closing. For some of you that have joined us here you might be afraid today. You've come in here with something that scared you. Maybe it's a medical scare. Maybe it's a loved one that's died recently. Maybe you had a close brush with death. You are just in panic about something. And here's what you need to know. God can remove that worry and replace it with the peace that passes all human understanding. And when you have all of your bases covered. You don't have to be afraid. You know why Daniel was able to sleep peacefully in the lion's den after he was arrested for praying publicly? It is because he knew he was in a win-win situation. Option number one is a good night sleep and uses a big fat cat for a pillow. Option number two. He is eaten by one of the cats and ends up in heaven.
It was win-win, and it's the same for us. Our options are win-win. That's why Paul said to live is Christ and to die is gain. So my option is this. I can live for the Lord, walk, with the Lord, discover his plan for me in this life. And then when death does come, I go straight to heaven. It's win-win. It's a great thing to know. But if you are not a believer in Jesus listen to this. It is lose-lose. Not win-win. Lose-lose. Not even win-lose as some might think. It is lose-lose because in this life you live with guilt. In this life you live with the repercussions of your sin. In this life you don't have the peace that passes all human understanding. In this life you don't have God. In the afterlife you will be separated from God for all eternity. Lose-lose. You can change that today.