Greg Laurie - God's Answer To Fear, Worry, And Anxiety
Did you know that 39 percent of Americans say they were more anxious this year? Than they were last year. "Barnes & Noble", which is the largest book retailer in the United States, said there was a 25 percent jump in June of 2017 for people wanting to buy books that dealt with the topic of anxiety. One expert said we are a very anxious generation, and reports tell us that millennials and generation Z are the most stressed generations ever. In fact, they've even dubbed now generation Z the hopeless generation as well as the loneliest generation. That's pretty amazing. They're also the most depressed generation.
So why are so many people in generation Z and those that are the millennials so depressed? One very simple answer. If you're taking notes, write it down: avocado toast. Just stop eating avocado toast. No, I'm kidding. It's more serious than that. For these generations, antidepressants are the best-selling pharmaceuticals. They also have the highest suicide rate. So check it out. We've gone from the greatest generation, as we called them. Those that came through World War II, to the hopeless generation. How did we get to this place? What is the answer to all of this?
Well, most studies reveal the problem or something that contributes to the problem is something I'm holding in my hand right now and I bet you have one too - it's called a cell phone. This absolutely aggravates the situation and a lot of people have cell phones - 70 percent of the world's population carries one of these smart phones around in their pocket and I just read that we touch these phones 2.600 times a day. In fact, some people never stop touching their phone. When they're walking around carrying it everywhere they go. They gesture with it. They shave with it, you know. They flip the eggs with it. They do everything with this phone. You can't get this phone out of their hands.
43 percent of Americans surveyed said they can't live without their cell phones. Two thirds sleep with their cell phones next to their bed: so this is an obsession that we have. Now, when you're born they give you a cell phone. I don't know if you know that. They have little tiny ones for babies. They even give them to animals. Dogs have cell phones now. They don't give them to cats because a cat would never answer it. They would just ignore it. That's the way cats roll, right. And they say that the people that are constant checkers are the most stressed out meaning the people that are constantly checking their emails constantly checking their texts constantly checking their newsfeed seeing what's going on in social media.
Some of you from the moment I started this message have not let go of your phone and you're checking stuff right now to kind of prove the point, and yet they say the people that do this feel isolated. It's ironic. Wasn't it called social media? It's not very social. It seems to isolate us. It separates us and many are filled with worry, stress, and complete hopelessness.
Listen, I have hope tonight for the hopeless generation. I have hope tonight for the millennials and gen X (don't want to leave you out) and baby boomers. I'm telling you tonight you can go from hopelessness to hope. From emptiness to fulfillment. From guilt to forgiveness because hope has a name and it's Jesus Christ and he's here to change your life tonight. Listen, life with Jesus is endless hope: life without Jesus is a hopeless end. Now listen, you don't have to go through life like this.
I heard about a guy that found a solution. He was always worried. Always stressed out and one day his friend noticed that he didn't seem to have a care in the world. So his friend asked, "Hey man, you don't seem to worry like you used to. What happened"? The guy said, "I hired someone to worry for me". "Really"? "Oh yeah. I took an ad out. I said 'Wanted: someone to worry for me.' and I found someone". His friend said, "How much do you pay a guy to worry for you"? "I pay him $5.000 a day to worry for me". "Whoa! You don't make that kind of money. How do you pay this guy"? He says, "Ha! That's for him to worry about".
So you might try that. But we worry so much. We're crippled by anxiety. You know, those times where we wake up in the middle of the night. I don't know about you, but 3 o'clock in the morning is the magic time for me. I wake up. All these thoughts fill my mind. You're worried about this. When things are going good, you worry about if they're going to turn bad, and when things are bad you worry about if things will ever be good again. Then we'll pay good money to be terrified. You know, you go to a scary movie and then when the scariest scene of the scariest movie is on the screen, you cover your eyes. We go to amusement parks and ride the most insane rides.
I just decided a while ago, I don't like roller coasters. I don't think I ever liked roller coasters but we went to Disneyland the other day. I was there with my son Jonathan and Jonathan also brought his son Christopher named after his uncle, Jonathan's brother, my son, and so Jonathan and Levi and little Christopher decided to go on the guardians of the galaxy ride. You know that ride? It drops really fast. I went on it a long time ago when it was called the twilight zone tower of terror. I had already done it. I didn't want to do it so I said, "That's okay. You boys go and have a good time," and I took the little girls with me and instead we went over on mater's junkyard jamboree. That's sad. I kept hearing the voice of Larry the Cable Guy saying "Get 'er done". That's more my speed. I don't need to pay money to be terrified. Maybe you're afraid tonight.
You worry about so many things so I want to tell you something you need to know. Here's what Jesus says about worry.
1. Worry doesn't make your life better: it makes it worse and as a part of that, worry does not make your problems go away. Sometimes it creates new ones. Here's what Jesus says in Matthew chapter 6, "Don't worry about everyday life, whether you're going to have enough food, or drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food? Isn't your body more than clothing"?. Then Jesus says, "Look at the birds. They don't harvest or store food in barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. How much more valuable to him are you than they are? Can all of your worries add a single moment to your life"?
Birds don't stress out. Birds are chill. They're relaxed. I have a bird feeder in front of a window in my kitchen and I'm always filling it with seed. Cathe, my wife, says, "Greg, we're wasting money on seed". I say, "I don't know. I like to watch the birds". And they come in and I've never seen a stressed out bird. I've never seen a bird popping a valium, you know. They just go out there. They get their food every day. They don't worry about it. They go get food, but they don't worry about it.
Now, other birds go other places. There's certain birds that hang out at in-n-out burger and wait for the fry to hit the ground. They swoop down and get it. Then there are seagulls which I don't like at all. The only thing I don't like, or the only thing I dislike more than cats are seagulls because you go to the beach and you leave food on your beach towel and you go in the water, they're going to fly off with your food. They're going to fly off maybe with one of your kids. You better watch them. But the point of it is, is that birds just go get their food but they don't worry about these things and Jesus said, "Who of you by worrying can add one moment to your life"?
Yet, we're in a culture today where everyone is obsessed with trying to lengthen life. We spend billions of dollars on vitamins and lotions and potions all in an attempt to live a longer life, but I have to tell you that God determines how long you're going to live. You don't determine that so it's important to know. Now you may improve the quality of your life through healthy choices and exercise. There's a place for that but ultimately it's God that determines the length of your life.
I heard that some billionaires are trying to extend their lives through technology. A number of billionaires are looking for the cure for aging. One billionaire wants to have a computer chip strapped to his brain. Another Silicon Valley billionaire is investing in a start up company that promises, I'm not making this up, to upload your brain into a computer to grant eternal life to your consciousness. Other billionaires - again, I'm not making this up - are getting blood transfusions from healthy young people ages 16 to 25. They think this will reverse aging. But instead of reversing the aging process, these people who got the blood transfusions, found themselves moving back into their parents' house and playing video games all day.
They didn't plan on that. But Jesus said you cannot extend the length of your life. God determines when we're born. God determines when we die. When you look at a tombstone you see date of birth, you see date of death. You don't control that. I don't control that. God does, but I have everything to say about that little dash in the middle. How I'm going to live my life. What I'm going to do with my life. I want you to use your time wisely tonight and the most important decision you can make is make the decision to follow Jesus Christ. I hope you'll do that tonight.
Some of you have come here tonight with the weight of the world on your shoulders. You're loaded down with guilt and remorse over the things you've done. That lie you told. That immoral act. That abortion you had performed. It haunts you. You need God and you need him to forgive you of those things because the Bible says now is the time. Today is the day of salvation. Check it out: you have an appointment with God tonight. You do.
You say, well, I didn't see that on my Google calendar. No. You have one. It's not on your Google calendar. It's on the heavenly calendar. This is your night to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ. I don't know why you came here. I don't know what you're thinking right now, but some of you are thinking, "I don't really believe any of this," but some of you are thinking, "I don't know, maybe some of this true". Some of you are even thinking, "Maybe all of this is true".
I remember when I first went to a Christian meeting. I looked around at the Christians and I thought they were just basically crazy people, but as I looked at them and I saw the smiles on their faces, the peace emanating from them that sense of joy, I tried a new thought on for size and the thought was this: what if the Christians are right? What if it's all true? What if God can actually be known in a personal way? I immediately dismissed that thought. It was crazy. There's no way. But it came back to me again. What if it's true? And then when the guy who was speaking said, "If you want to give your life to Jesus I want you to get up and walk forward and I'll lead you in a prayer". I thought there's no way I can do that. The next thing I knew I was standing there praying and I found out it is true. It's true and it can be true for you tonight. Your life can change tonight.
Now, let me tell you what Jesus Christ said. In John 14 he says, "Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. There's more than enough room in my father's house. If it were not so, I would've told you. I'm going to prepare a place for you. When everything is ready, I will come and get you so that you'll always be where I am and you know the way I am going". So instead of being stressed out. Instead of being agitated instead of being afraid, Jesus says, "Let not your heart be troubled".
That word troubled could be translated thrown into confusion. It comes from the Greek word "Freak-out-o" we get our English word freak out. No I made that up. That's not true. But Jesus is saying that we should not run from reality but he will give us a new reality. Why? 1. Because if you're a Christian, there is a place in heaven waiting for you. That's a great promise. Whatever you're going through, whatever challenges you're facing, whatever is stressing you out, remember if you put your faith in Jesus Christ there's a place in heaven waiting for you. Jesus says, "There's more than enough room in my father's house". Listen to this. Heaven will exceed your wildest dreams, therefore, you don't have to be afraid of death.
I just wrote a book about Johnny Cash, as you know, and at age 71 Johnny Cash knew he was going to die. His beloved wife June had preceded him and on his deathbed Johnny's sister Joanne asked him, "Are you afraid of death, Johnny"? Johnny said, "No, baby". He called her baby because she was his baby sister. He said, "No, baby. I can't hardly wait to be with the Lord". Then she asked Johnny, "If Jesus would say one thing to you, Johnny, what do you hope he would say"? Tears rolled down Cash's face and he said, "I hope Jesus would say, 'Come unto me, all you that are laboring and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.'" That is the hope of a true believer in Jesus Christ.
Jesus wants to say that to you, but I have to be honest with you. To some, Jesus is going to sadly but firmly say, "Depart from me. I never knew you, you workers of inequity". God wants nothing more than to welcome every man, every woman, every person made in his image to heaven. But he's not going to force you to go to heaven. God is not going to say, "Get up to heaven right now, young man". Hey, you don't have to go to heaven if you don't want to. The only way you're going to get to heaven is through the provision that God has made which is Jesus Christ, his son. Here's what Jesus says.
He goes on in John 14 and says, "Where I go you know and the way you know". Thomas said, "Lord, we don't know where you're going, and we don't know the way". And Jesus said, look, it's right here on the front of the stage. Jesus said, read it out loud with me, "I am the way the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father, but by me".
Listen, you're going to think I'm crazy when I say this. Hear me out. All roads lead to God. "Greg, are you insane"? No. You heard me right. All roads lead to God. No matter what you believe. Even if you're an atheist, that road will ultimately lead you to God. By that I mean one day you will die, enter eternity, and you will stand before God Almighty. Yes, all roads will ultimately get you in front of God, but listen, only one road leads to heaven and that's the road through Jesus Christ who died on the cross for your sin. Because if you don't believe in Jesus you will not go to heaven.
Heaven is not for good people. We hear all the time, if you live a good life you'll get to heaven. Let's just say for the sake of a point that's true. How good? Are you sure your life is good enough? "Well, I just think if I'm a good person..." Whose definition of good are we going to go with? Your definition. My definition. Shall we vote on it? Here's what the Bible says, "All have sinned and fallen short of God's glory". Here's what the Bible says, "If you commit one sin, you're guilty of all sin". Every one of us has sinned. Every one of us have broken the commandments of God. The word sin can be translated to cross the line. Everybody has crossed the line. So we're separated from God, but here is the good news. And you can be forgiven of your sin tonight.
You know, if you were lost and you wanted to come to Angel Stadium and you texted me you'd say, "Greg, I can't find my way to Angel Stadium. How do I get there"? You know what my question will be: "Where are you"? How can I tell you how to get here if I don't know where you are? If you're texting me from the Coast, I'm going to give you a separate set of directions than I would give you if you're texting me from inland. Different freeways, different directions so in the same way, you say, "How do I get to heaven"? God would ask you the question, "Where are you"? Are you honest enough to say, "Well, where am I? I'm sad. I'm lonely. I'm depressed. I'm afraid. I'm terrified of death. How do I change this"? God would say, "I am the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes to the Father but by me. You need to come to me and you need to come through me because I sent my Son to die on the cross for you".
There's only one way and it's through Jesus. But why? What if a person is sincere and they believe what they believe is true? Won't sincerity get you to heaven? Really? I mean think about that logically. What if you went down to lax and you were going to take a plane to Honolulu, Hawaii, and you're taxiing down the runway and you hear the voice of your captain come over the intercom. "Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to flight 293 bound for Honolulu, Hawaii. We'll be at a cruising altitude today of 32.000 feet. We expect a smooth flight". You're thinking "All right".
And then your captain says this: "By the way, folks, I'm not so sure about the whole fuel thing. I don't know if we have enough fuel to make it to Hawaii, but that's okay because, listen people, I'm sincere in what I believe. And by the way, folks, I'm not going to use our navigation system. I'm not even going to use a map because, people, I believe that all roads to lead to Hawaii". I want off that plane right now. I want a pilot that knows what he's doing.
So in the same way, we say, "I just believe if I'm in sincere and I believe if I live a good life," what do you just make this stuff up out of your head? Are you going to go with what you think or are you going to go with what God says? Jesus has told you how to get there. Sincerity is not enough. Living a good life is not enough. God says, "Where are you"? You have to say I'm messed up. I need help. I need God. And then he will save you. The Bible says whoever will call upon the name of the Lord, will be saved. What does that even mean? Well let's just think about if you were drowning.
Some years ago I was out on the ocean with Jonathan. He was a very little guy. And we're out swimming around and I got caught in a riptide. Here's the irony. I was only like 12 feet from the shore, but I caught in a riptide and I'm getting pulled and I can't get my feet on the ground. Meanwhile, little Jonathan who can't swim yet, I'm sort of holding him keeping his head above water but I can't get my feet on the sand. I'm a little worried but I'm too proud to call out for help because I'm 12 feet from the shore. Then I see a lifeguard notices I'm in trouble and she starts swimming toward me with her flotation device. I'm like no. I'm okay.
And she's almost to me and I finally got my feet on the ground and I said, "Hey, thank you very much. I'm okay". She said "All right". That's how some of us are. We're caught in something worse than that. We're caught in a powerful riptide and we're too proud to say, "God, I need help". God says, "Where are you"? You have to say, "I need help. I've tried to fix myself. I've tried to self medicate. I thought if I took this drug, if I drank this, if I had this experience everything would be better. If I reach this career goal if I bought this ultra cool car. If I had this sexual experience. If I lived in this house. If I reached this goal". Whatever it is and you set these goals and you reach them and there was still a hole in your life and you wonder what's happening. God says "Where are you"? Will you just be honest enough to say, "I'm lost, I'm in trouble, I need help"?
Here's what the Bible says, "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved". He'll save you. He'll forgive you. He'll change you. He'll change your eternal address tonight. You can change your eternal address from a place called hell, and yes, friend, there is a hell. You can change it to a place called heaven. Listen. Jesus spoke more about hell than all the other preachers of the Bible put together. He warned us about it. He has seen it. God doesn't want you to go there. The Bible says, "Broad is the way that leads to destruction and many there are that go that way, but narrow is the way that leads to life and few there are that find it". Listen, God has dropped a lifeline from heaven. There's only one lifeline. It's Jesus Christ and he's here alive in Angel Stadium tonight standing at the door of your life and he's knocking.
He says, if you'll hear his voice and open the door, he'll come in. You say, okay well I want this relationship with God. I don't want to live a life crippled by fear and overcome with agitation and anxiety and worry. What do I do? What does Jesus say? He says, "You believe in God, believe also in me". Believe in him. What does it mean to believe? It means put your full weight on him. For instance, right now I'm putting my full weight of 125 pounds on this stage. Why are you laughing? That was kind of a hurtful laugh honestly. No. I'm just talking about my left leg actually. It's 125 pounds. No I'm putting my full weight on the stage. I'm trusting that the guys who built this stage built it right. It's properly supported. To believe in Jesus means I'm believing in Jesus. I'm putting my full weight on him. I'm trusting him and no one else.
The most devastating moment of my life was when my oldest son died in that automobile accident. Honestly, I didn't know if I would survive it. "But Greg, you're a preacher. You're supposed to have all the answers". No. I was just a hurting father with a lot of questions. Why did this happen? Why did you allow this, God? My faith was tested, but I want you to know that God was there with me and he got me through it and he gets me through it. You need to believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts. I put everything I've taught for all these years to the test. Okay, God if you're real, you've got to be real for me right now. I'll tell you the honest truth: if God didn't come through for me 11 years ago, I wouldn't be up here talking to you. What would be the point of it? But he did come through for me and he'll come through for you. That's the hope of a Christian.