Robert Jeffress - Winning Over Worry
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. How many hours do you spend entertaining worried and anxious thoughts, even though they rob you of sleep, joy and peace. If you're like most people the answer is probably too many. Well, today, I'm going to explain how to defend yourself against worry, fear and anxiety, and guard your heart with the peace of Christ. My message is titled, "Winning Over Worry," on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
A thief has running loose in our midst. He's a dangerous thief. He stealing those things that are most important to us. Our joy, our energy, our peace of mind. The name of the thief, worry. Somebody has said that worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind that if left unchallenged, will cut a deep channel into which all of our emotions and our energy are drained. And that's what worry does. The actual English word, worry comes from a German word, which means to strangle. That's what worry does, it strangles out our physical, our emotional energy.
Remember in our story of the parables in Luke 8, we talked about the parable of the soils and Jesus said, everyone who hears his word, he compared it to a sower sowing seed on ground. And the four different types of soil represented different conditions of the human heart. And he described one kind of soil, one kind of heart that received the Word of God. He said in Luke 8:14, "And the seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, but as they go on their way they are choked out with worries and riches and the pleasures of this life, and they bring no fruit to maturity". And notice of all of the things Jesus said that strangle out a person's spiritual interest, at the top of the list is not pleasure or even money, but it's worry. Worry saps us spiritually. Jesus never meant for us to worry ourselves to death.
In fact, one of the lasting legacies that he left to us, was the gift of peace. In John 14:27, Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you: my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful". Unfortunately, many Christians today, perhaps even you are not experiencing the gift of peace that Jesus wants you to enjoy. What is peace? It's that assurance that God is in control in spite of what's happening around you. Why is it that both Christians and non-Christians are filled with anxiety? On your outline tonight, I want us just to mention, first of all, three major causes of anxiety in our life. Jot them down, I think it will help you remember.
First of all, some of the worry we have is caused by a wrong value system. A wrong value system. We talked about that this morning, about building your life upon sand, those things that are transitory instead of the enduring rock of God's word. But truth is, we're always going to be anxious, filled with worry when we ever build our lives around those things that can be taken away from us. Deep down we know these things, whether it be our family, our job, our money, we know how tenuous those things are, how easily they can be taken from us. And we have this low grade worry that stays with us whenever we build our life around those things.
I think Jesus had more in mind than just money. When he said in Matthew 6:19 and 20, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But instead lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal:" Theo Moody once said, "Trust in yourself, and you're doomed to disappointment. Trust in other people and they will betray you. Trust in your reputation and some slanderous tongue may ruin it. Trust in your money and it may be stolen from you. But trust in God, and you will never be confounded in time or eternity".
Besides your wrong value system, a second source of worry in our life could be unconfessed sin. Unconfessed sin. Whenever we are willingly violating God's standard for behavior. We had that innate sense that eventually God is going to discipline us. And so we have this heavy anxiety in our lives as we expect God's discipline in our life. A great illustration of that is seen in the life of king David. You know the story of David and Bathsheba. David was guilty of the double sin, of not only adultery, but of the murder of Bathsheba's husband, Uriah. And during that time, when he covered over his sin, instead of confessing his sin, he wrote about what that experience was like in Psalm 32:3 and 4. He said, "When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For a day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of the summer".
Other times it may be just a disobedient lifestyle in general, not maybe just one specific thing, but the general sense that we are living apart from God that produces dread anxiety in our life. And Jonathan Edwards once said, "The unrighteous tremble at the rustling of the leaves". Whenever we know we're not living as we ought to live, whenever we know we're not as close to God as we should be, we feel like the proverbial sword of Damocles is hanging over our head. And at some point, God is going to bring his discipline into our life. Contrast that to the peace of mind that comes from righteousness. In Isaiah 32:17, Isaiah said, "And the work of righteousness will be peace. And the service of righteousness, will be quietness and confidence forever".
You see a great contrast between unrighteous and righteous living. And the results that it produces in the story of Daniel. Remember Daniel's story, and in chapter 6 we have this remarkable story where the three young commissioners of king Darius were jealous of Daniel and his standing before the king. And so they manipulated the king into signing an edict that would prohibit anybody including Daniel to praying to any other God than Darius. Daniel heard the news, that that edict had been signed. It was just like signing his own death warrant. But I want you to listen to what Daniel's response was when he heard the news that his life could be soon coming to an end.
In Daniel 6:10 it says, "Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house... And he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously". In spite of the fact that his life was about to come to an end or so he thought, he had that peace that allowed him to continue praying and fellowshipping with God. Now what's interesting to me, is the contrast between that response and that of Darius. When Darius signed that edict that he knew violated God's command, listen to Darius's response. It says in Daniel 6:18, "Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, no entertainment was brought before him: and his sleep fled from him". See, that's the difference between righteous and unrighteous living. Daniel's response to righteousness was a freedom from worry. Darius' response was anxiety. All because he knew he was violating God's word. Unconfessed sin in your life can be a source of anxiety.
A third very possible source of anxiety in life is Satanic attack. Satanic attack. I want you to turn over to Ephesians 6. Ephesians 6:16. As you know this is a listing of the spiritual armor that we have been provided with to fight against Satan's schemes. And listen to one of the pieces of armor that is described in Ephesians 6, beginning with verse 16. Paul writes, "And in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with what you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one". Now, the Roman shield was a very important piece of armor for any Roman soldier. The Roman shield was made of a piece of wood, two and a half feet wide, four and a half feet tall. And it was covered in leather that had been soaked in water. And the reason for this is, whenever the Roman soldiers would engage in battle, the opposing enemy would take arrows dipped in pitch, set on fire, and they would shoot them at the Roman soldier. And when those flaming arrows or missiles would approach the soldiers, they would simply hold up the shield that had been soaked in leather. And when that flaming missile would hit that water soaked leather, it was completely extinguished.
Now that's the word picture that Paul is painting for us. Satan is our adversary. And in his arsenal, he has a number of fiery arrows he likes to shoot and our direction. But I think his favorite is that of worry. Worry has a way of absolutely paralyzing us with inactivity. It stops us dead in our tracks. And I think that's why Satan enjoys that. In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul reminds us that this kind of fear doesn't come from God. Paul writes, "For God has not given us the spirit of timidity, of fear, but instead of power love and of discipline".
Another reason I believe anxiety is one of Satan's favorite tools is because of the source of most of our fear. I look back on the things I've worried about in the last 25 years, and I just laugh. That how ridiculous they were to even think about or worry about. At the time they seemed like such distinct possibilities, but when I think about it they were so out there, I'm not even sure why I gave them a second thought. But many times the things that we worry about are things that have no possibility of coming true at all. They are based on a lie.
Dr. Walter Calvert in his study on anxiety concluded that only 8% of people's worries are legitimate. In other words, 92% of the things we worry about tend to have no foundation whatsoever. Isn't that like Satan himself? John 8:44 says, "Satan is a liar, and he is the father of all lies". He would love to get us to worry about things that have no possibility or a little possibility of coming true. We've talked about the sources of worry, unconfessed sin in our life, a wrong value system, Satanic attack.
Now, what I want us to look at, are some biblical solutions to worry in our life. If you have your outline tonight, I want you to just jot down for very practical, more importantly biblical ways to handle worry in your life.
Number one, at the top of the list, repent of known sin in your life. Repent of known sin in your life. The word repent, metanoia, means to have a change of mind that leads to a change of action. If some of the anxiety we have in life is because of either a wrong value system or wrong actions, then it seemed very logical that what we need to do is to change what we're doing. For example, maybe as you think about the things you fear most, it reveals that you're building your life around the temporal rather than the eternal. You're building your life and your happiness around things that could be easily taken from you. For you repentance means, to acknowledge that to God. To say, God, I've been building my life around the wrong things, the wrong people.
Today I want to build it around you. Colossians 3:1-2 say to us, "If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth". Instead of changing your value system, perhaps some of you tonight actually need to change some of the behavior in your life. You know you are doing some things that are completely contrary to the Word of God. And because of that, you have this fear that is building up in your life. You know the truth of Hebrews 12:6 that says, "For whom the Lord loves, he disciplines". There's some of you right now engaged in behavior. God's judgment hasn't come into your life yet. Don't confuse God's mercy with God's tolerance. Just because God hasn't brought judgment into your life yet, doesn't mean he's not going to. He's just giving you just one last chance to turn around, to repent. Instead, 1 Corinthians 11:31 tells us, that if we judge ourselves rightly, we should not be judged by God. Repent of known sending your life.
Number two, to remove anxiety in life, remove unnecessary fear. Much of the things we worry about, many of the things we worry about are unnecessary and can be easily dealt with. How? By confronting the source of our fears. Another way to confront unnecessary anxiety, is to deal realistically with your anxiety. Remember one of Satan's favorite tactics is to confront us with unfounded fear. In Ephesians 6:14, look at it, Paul says, "Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth".
Sounds kind of funny, doesn't it? Girding your loins with truth, what is he talking about? The most basic part of clothing for a Roman soldier was the tunic. The tunic was a free flowing garment. The only problem with the tunic was, if you went into battle you might trip over your own tunic or the enemy might grab hold of one of the loose pieces and gain an advantage. Every soldier knew before he went into battle, he would have to take that tunic, the loose flowing tunic and tuck it in to his belt. And that's what Paul is talking about here. Peter said, in 1 Peter 1:13, "Therefore, gird your minds for action". Tuck in those loose thoughts. That's what he's saying. Any of these free thoughts that come into our mind, we need to tuck them in. That is, we need to confront them with the belt of truth, that is the truth of God's word. There's something powerful about confronting our fears with truth.
Number three, remember God's past faithfulness. If you want to deal with worry in your life, remember God it's past faithfulness. I want you to turn over to Psalm three for just a moment. You're going to recognize the words of this Psalm. They're written by David. By the way, David was filled with anxiety. He worried all the time. Just read the Psalms. He was filled with fear. And this Psalm was written when his son Absalom had led a national revolt against his father. And David lapsed into despair. Listen to what he wrote in verses 1 and 2. "Oh Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying to my soul, 'there is no deliverance for him in God'". But then notice how quickly his attitude changes. I can just hear the choir singing it right now. Verse 3, "But thou, o Lord, art a shield about me. My glory, and the one who lifts up my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and he answered me from his holy mountain. I laid down and slept: I awoke, for the Lord sustains me".
What is it that changed David's attitude so quickly? David started remembering God's past faithfulness. As he reflected on God's past faithfulness, he said, "The same God who has delivered me in the past, will deliver me from this problem". And David had a way of reflecting on God's past faithfulness. Remember as a young boy, when he was going up against Goliath and everybody thought, who in the world is this little Israelite to go against Goliath? And in 1 Samuel 17:37, "David said, 'the Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, he will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine".
You see, David was able to look back on God's past acts of faithfulness. And the past faithfulness of God gave him courage for the future. By the way, did you look at your past? Can you just cite three or four times where God miraculously intervened in your life? When you were facing a problem that was too big for anyone to handle, and yet God delivered you. There is no other explanation for how you were saved, how you were delivered, other than the hand of God. We need to keep those experiences fresh in our mind, we need to write them down. We need to keep a spiritual journal, so that when we get into those times like David was facing now, we can look back and be encouraged by God's faithfulness.
Number four, handle worry in our life, remain in contact with God. I want you to turn over to Philippians 4. Familiar passage we've looked at before. Paul provides us with the true greatest antidotes I know of for worry. One is, speaking to God. The other is allowing God to speak to us. Look at Philippians 4:6-7. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". That word guard refers to a Roman sentry that would March around a camp, or marched around a fortress in order to secure the fortress. The Bible says prayer does that for us. When we pray about, instead of worrying about those things we fear most. It's like, God marches around our minds. He protects them in Christ Jesus. Communication with God, but also allowing God to speak to us.
Look at verses 8 to 9. "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good repute, if there is anything of excellence, if anything worthy of praise, let your mind well on these things". By the way, if we had time, we would look at Psalm 19:7-10. These words are used to describe the perfect Word of God. Whenever Paul writes about those things that are right, lovely, excellent, he's talking about the Word of God. He said, "Let your mind well on these things". And what's the promise, verse 9, "The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things: and the God of peace shall be with you". Prayer, meditation on God's word, it guarded Paul's mind when he was in that Roman prison. And in the same way, prayer, meditating on God's word, will free you from many anxious thoughts. The Word of God promises, thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trust in thee.