Jimmy Evans - How to Change Worry and Anxiety
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This message is called "I Changed My Mind About Worry and Anxiety". At the end of this message, I believe that you will not see worry and anxiety the same, nor will you experience it the same. That's my prayer. In Romans, chapter 12, this will be the theme scripture now of this series, Paul says, "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God".
He says don't be conformed to this world. That word, the word "Conformed" is where we get our word schematic. It means identical in the way that they think. Paul is saying, if you're going to live your life for God and present your body as a sacrifice to God, you can't think the way the world thinks. You have to learn a new way of thinking, and it says let your mind be transformed, or your life be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The word "Transformed" there is the Greek word "Metamorphoo", where we get our word "Metamorphosis". A total transformation.
Once we're saved, that is important related to our eternal address, but you can be on your way to heaven, living a very earthly life and living the way that everybody else lives and experiencing the same defeat that everybody else does. But the victory comes by the renewing of our mind and the renewing of our thoughts, so I want to talk in this message. Worry, anxiety, and fear are really the same thing, emotionally. They're just experienced on different levels. Worry, anxiety, and fear. They're stair steps, so fear is, and even fear is experienced in different intensities.
Now, I say poodle to pit bull. Fear. You know, when you're experiencing fear. I delivered appliances in college for my uncle, and I was delivering a washer one day with a friend of mine, and we were delivering it. And I was pulling the washer through the house on a set of dollies, and he was on the other side of the washer and had this horrible look on his face. And so we installed the washer, and they had this little poodle in the house, and so when we got back in the truck, I said, "What was that look on your face"? He said, "That poodle bit me from the time we walked in to the time we walked out". And I said, "Did it hurt"? He said, "He didn't have any teeth. It just worried me".
You know, so there's poodle type of fear, but then there's pit bull fear, ok? Fear is a negative emotion caused by a real or perceived threat to our well-being. And there's a threat to our well-being, so we feel this emotion. Anxiety, again, is experienced in different intensities, and I have cowboy game to company layoffs. How many of you get nervous during cowboy games? You know, the anxiety is to be uneasy and nervous about an event, person, or problem I can't control. I'm anxious because I can't control it. I wish I could control it, but I can't, so I feel anxious about that worry, and I have "Weather-to-Wedding" kind of worry. And worry is to mentally dwell on difficulty or trouble. It just means a chronic concern, and against, this is the least level I'm worried, but worry can become anxiety and fear, and fear can subside to anxiety and worry.
So it's really the same emotion, it's just experienced on different levels, but we're commanded in scripture not to do all 3. We are commanded in scripture not to fear, not to be anxious, and not to worry. Now listen to what I'm about to say now. God would never command us not to do something if we didn't have the ability not to do it, right? Does that, am I right? You can say amen if you agree. Ok, you agree. So God has commanded all of us not to fear, ok? By the way, the commandment "Do not fear" or "Fear not" is the most common commandment in the Bible. God created us to live in peace, not in fear. Let me make this statement. As much as you know the presence of God by peace, you know the presence of the devil by fear. God never created us to live in fear, and that's why constantly through the Bible we are commanded "Do not fear". God does not want us to live that way.
And then, in Philippians 4:6, the scripture I'll read in just a little bit, the apostle Paul says, "Be anxious for nothing". Be anxious for nothing, and I'll read the entire scripture in just a minute and we'll talk about it. Anxiety. The Bible says, "Be anxious for not one thing". We have the ability to live without being anxious about one thing. And you say stress, anxiety, stress, on whatever level, it is the number-one reason for sickness and disease. In America Today, the number-one reason for prescribed medications is stress and anxiety. The number-one reason for doctors' office visits is stress and anxiety. It is a killer on every level. It literally causes us to live not as long, as to have a shorter life spent. And then worry. Jesus said in Matthew 6:25, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink: nor about your body, what you will put on".
And Jesus also told us, by the way, that we were not to worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow, he said, has enough problems of its own, so don't worry about tomorrow. He would never say that if we didn't have the ability now not to do that. So I grew up worrying. I grew up with fear, anxiety, and worry. I just remember, as a kid, I was always worried, and I had, you know, different fears. And I didn't act like I was worried: you know, I kind of carried myself in a way that I didn't seem to be fearful by other people, but I was. I had a lot of fear and anxiety in my life. It caused physical problems, especially skin problems when I was a kid, eczema, and different kind of problems that I had.
One time, I went to the doctor with a skin problem. I was probably about 20 or 21 years old, and when I said, "Doctor, I've got this skin problem right here", and the doctor said, "Ok, great", and left the room. And the nurse came in, and I just wanted a prescription, you know. I just wanted him to give me a prescription, I'd go get my prescription filled, go home happy, I got my medicine. And the nurse came in with a cassette tape player (for those of you who remember cassette tapes) and she put it on the counter and said, "The doctor wants you to listen to this". And she pushed the play button and walked out, and it was on worry. And I was so mad. I was just over it. I didn't come here to get preached to, you know? I just want my medicine.
But the problem that I had was not a physical problem. It was an emotional problem that became a physical problem, and that was the problem. I had relationship problems. I had problems with people-pleasing and problems with control, all at the same time. I had all kinds of problems, and then I came into the ministry. Never done a funeral, never done a wedding, never led a staff, only prepared for a couple of sermons. I didn't know any, the first time I did a funeral, I had to ask the guy at the funeral home what to do. And that was pretty bad, and so when I came in the ministry, fear of man, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of financial failure, anxiety about everything...
And the church was growing, the church was doing well. But I lived in constant anxiety and fear, which put Karen and I into a relational problems, emotional problems, I was a distracted father, on and on and on, all because of fear, anxiety, and worry in my life at that point. And the root of all fear, anxiety, and worry is the same. It's an orphan spirit. Let me tell you something about God. He absolutely loves to be a daddy, and the context of Jesus' statement of not worrying was the context of God being our Father. And the reason that I grew up with so much fear, anxiety, and worry is because I didn't know that I had a father. I didn't know somebody was taking care of me, and I did not, even though I prayed as a pastor, a young pastor, and even though I had a relationship with God, I just didn't understand how much he loves being a father.
Now let me say this: I have two children, 4 grandchildren. I absolutely love being a father, and I love being a grandfather even more. I love being a father. I'm "Pappy". That's what my grandkids call me. I love being pappy, and my grandchildren are never a bother to me. And what would hurt me the most is if they didn't let me pappy them. When my children or my grandchildren ask me to do something, it is one of the greatest joys of my life. God, and I'm evil compared to him. He adores you. He knows every hair on your head. He knows everything that you're facing, and what he loves the most is to daddy us through every circumstance in our lives. The root issue of all fear, worry, and anxiety, the chronic fear, worry, and anxiety is an orphan spirit.
I can't tell you how many times in my life that the joy of my life has been robbed by worry and anxiety. And in the midst of my family and in the midst of the people that I enjoy the most, I couldn't enjoy it, and the Lord said, "Here's how you're going to overcome worry and anxiety. Focus on me, consider worry and anxiety as enemies of your life that you're going to deal with every day at the beginning of the day, and enjoy the people in your life and stop worrying".
I've changed my mind about worry and anxiety, and I want you to listen to what I'm saying: they are not normal and inevitable. They're common, but they're not normal. Jesus is normal: everything else isn't normal. See, the reason that worry exists so often is because we just think it's normal. It's not normal. It's common, but it's not normal. It doesn't have to be in our life, and it's robbing us of God. It's robbing us of our family and that. It distracts me from God and people, it robs me of my joy, and it exists because I allow it to exist. Listen to what I'm saying. Worry exists and anxiety exists because we allow it. We are in complete control of our lives. God would never command us to do something that we don't have the ability to do, so when God says, "Do not fear, do not worry, do not be anxious", we have the power of doing it. So let me tell you how to overcome worry and anxiety, and I'm done.
Number one: consider them as agents of the enemy to destroy your life and to rob you of your joy. Worry and anxiety means the devil has implanted something in your life that's just sitting there, intimidating you. And because of that, you can't focus on God and the people that you love, and that's the greatest problem with worry and anxiety, it robs you of your ability to worship, to love the people that you love, so it's an enemy. Every morning, I'm going to wake up.
Number two: turn every anxious and worrisome thought into a prayer until victory. Every worrisome and anxious thought, I'm going to pray until I get victory. This is Philippians 4 that I referred to earlier: "Be anxious for nothing", not one thing, "But in everything in prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God: and the peace, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ". Be anxious for not one thing. So let's don't be religious about this. And not only be spiritual about it, ok? When you wake up in the morning, don't have a prayer list. Don't have a prayer list. Have a list that says this: "This is what's bothering me today".
Have you ever tried to pray, and your mind wanders? Do you know what your mind is wandering to? What you really ought to be praying about. And you're sitting there trying to pray, but you're thinking about the guy that you hate, and you have to have a meeting with him today... And your mind is wandering at this anxious thought about money or something, and you're trying to be religious and pray these nice prayers. You'll either pray or you'll worry, and your old worry list is your new prayer list. And all day long, rather than being able to enjoy your life and the people in your life, you're just focused on the potential liability, the potential harm that's going to come from this situation today or some time in the future, so you just can't ever enjoy your life and you can't ever enjoy God, and that's the problem.
So let me go back through this scripture: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication". Supplication means anything that helps you pray more effectively: fasting, reading the word, worship, anything that helps you in your prayers. "With thanksgiving, let your requests be make known to God". What does that mean? Listen to me. You say, "With thanksgiving, I going to let my request made on to God". That means, "God, thank you for all the things that you've done for me". That's not what that means. "With thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God" means, as I'm praying, I'm thanking him that he loves me, he's hearing me, and he's going to answer my prayer.
Jesus said, "Father, I thank you that you hear my prayers". I thank you for, I'm coming to you because you're my loving daddy, you know everything going on in my life and you care about it, and I'm thanking you right now that you're hearing this prayer and you're going to answer me from heaven. And you walk through all day long, not worrying about whether God's going to do it. You're thanking God because you know he's the best daddy in the universe. Listen, well-fathered children are fearless children. The root of all fear, worry, and anxiety is an orphan spirit because orphans are on their own and they have to take care of their own problems. And the devil wants you to feel that you're on your own and you have to solve your own problems. You have the best Father in the universe.
Stop grieving over the father you didn't have and start rejoicing that you have the best Father in the universe. He is your daddy. He loves being your daddy, and he loves helping you process anything in your life. Nothing is too small. Nothing is too large. He just enjoys the ride. He just enjoys the relationship, and as we're sitting here obsessing about something, what it means is we're wasting the relationship. I'm going to say something to you, and I'm telling you the truth. If Bill Gates was your daddy, you'd never worry about money again... Right? Well, your daddy can buy Bill Gates a million times over and not exhaust his pocket change. Huh? If I'm preaching good, you can say amen. Thank you.
Well, so, "With thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God". And the peace that passes comprehension, it's called dumb peace: peace that... You're either dumb or you have the peace of God. You know? The peace, and everybody's looking at you, saying, "What are you on"? Peace. Listen, you know you've prayed enough when you get peace. The saints of old called it "Praying through", and they say, "I'm going to pray through this issue", and what they meant was "I'm going to pray until I get that peace", and it says it will guard your heart and your mind, your thoughts and your feelings. The word "Guard" there is the Greek word "Phrouero", and it means "To guard against a military invasion".
Don't be anxious for anything, but in everything, with prayer and more prayer, let your request go to God in prayer with thanksgiving. Thank him that he's listening, he's going to do it. And the peace of God that passes, you won't even understand why you have so much peace. It will set a military guard around your mind and heart so the devil cannot penetrate it with fear, worry, and anxiety. Somebody say amen. It's the best news in the world. Don't make it religious. Don't make it spiritual. Make it practical. What's eating at you? What are you worried about? What's coming against you? Hold hands with daddy and attack it.
Put your eyes on God and enjoy your life by faith, knowing that your daddy is in control. And you're not an orphan: you're the most well-fathered person in the world. All we've got to do is believe that, and the last thing is, by faith, believe and confess that God is our loving dad, and he cares for us. And for some people, that might be a stretch, maybe because the way we were raised or circumstances in our life. But Jesus said, Matthew 6, "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'what shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear?' for after all these things the gentiles seek, for your Heavenly Father knows that you need all things".
Don't worry. Don't be anxious. Don't fear. You've got the best daddy in the universe, and he wants to attend you and Father you through your life. He's the answer to every problem, and he's your loving Father. Bow your heads, if you would. Lord, we make a decision right now that we're not going to normalize worry and anxiety. It's not going to sit at our table, in the midst of our lives, and rob our joy and peace, and destroy our relationship with you and others.
In the name of Jesus, we make the decision right now, we are not going to be anxious for one thing, but in everything. With prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, we're going to let our request be made known to you, and we're believing you for that peace. I'm believing it right now. For everyone here who's having physical, emotional, mental, relational problems because of fear and anxiety, in the name of Jesus, I pray that peace that surpasses understanding will be among every man, woman, and child from here to ever and ever, in your holy name, we pray. Amen.
I lived so many years of my life worried and anxious. I mean, I can't even count the number of times and circumstances that I was just stressed out, anxious, worried, and it all came from a wrong concept of God for me. I didn't really believe that God loved me in a personal manner. Jesus, in Matthew, chapter 6 says your Father knows everything that you have need of and that every prayer that you're going to pray, he knows everything about it before you pray. He knows every hair on your head. He knows every detail of your life.
See, I had an orphan spirit, and many of you right now watching this, you have an orphan spirit. And by "Orphan spirit", it means that you really don't believe that you're well-fathered. Your concept of God is that you believe in God and that you love God: you just don't know if he loves you. I'm saying to you the same thing Jesus said to you, and I've experienced this now. The worry and anxiety in my life is gone. I don't have any of it, any of it because I trust in God as my Father. I know he loves me. I know he cares for me. But there comes that day that you have to believe that for yourself.
I'm telling you that, but I'm saying to you, until you experience the love of God, until you begin to trust him and go to him in prayer, and trust in him rather than being anxious, the way Philippians 4 says, when you do that, you're going to wake up one day and you're going to see the manifestation of God's personal love for you. You're going to pray a prayer, and God's going to answer it, and you're going to think, "I guess he knows me". Yeah, he does. He knows where you live, he knows every detail of your life, and that's not the most important thing.
The most important thing is he cares. He loves being a Father. He loves being your Father. When we don't trust in him, we're robbing him of the opportunity to be what he wants to be the most. That's our Father. He loves being our daddy. That's what Jesus said. "For daddy. Abba". Let God be your Father. Trust in him today. Go to him in prayer with every detail of your life, believing that your Father in Heaven loves you and he's waiting to care for you, and it will change your life, and your worry and anxiety will become overwhelmed with peace.