Robert Jeffress - Victory Over the Worry Wars
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 Jesus Christ. My message is titled, "Victory Over the Worry Wars", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Journalist, bob Garfield recently tracked all of the health articles that appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the New York Times and he put them all together and discovered that apparently we're in serious trouble as a nation. When you consider our health problems. If you put all of these articles together, apparently 59 million Americans have heart disease, 53 million suffer from migraines, 25 million have osteoporosis, 16 million struggle with obesity, 3 million have cancer, 12 million have severe disorders such as brain injuries. When you add it all together, the results are 543 million Americans are seriously sick. Which is shocking, when you consider that our country has a population of only 313 million.
As Garfield notes, either as a society we are doomed, or someone is seriously double-dipping. Or the fact that those people are double-dipping when it comes to things to be worried about. I mean, we worry about our health, don't we? Or we worry about the economy, or our jobs, our relationship with our families. There are a number of things we have to be worried about. Some of our worries are based on actual concerns, 'what is'. Others of our concerns are based on imaginary concerns, the 'what ifs' of life. Somebody has said that worry is interest paid on trouble before it becomes due. And don't misunderstand, there are a lot of legitimate things to be worried about. I mean, being a Christian does not exempt you from problems.
I mean, Jesus was upfront about this. He said, if you're signing on to be a disciple of mine because you think that's going to exempt you from problems, forget it. He said in John 16:33, "In this world you will have tribulation". In this world you're going to have problems in your marriage, with your kids, with your finances, with your health, with your job, you are going to have tribulation. Do I hear an amen on that? That's true, the Bible says we are going to have problems. But, he didn't stop there. Jesus said, "Before I leave, I'm going to leave you with both a gift and a command to cope with those problems you face". 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".
Do you see in that verse, that peace is both a gift from Christ and it is a command of Christ? Jesus said, I'm going to leave you with the supernatural gift of peace, but you better use it. Don't let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful. How do you pull that off in a world like ours? Well, that's what we're going to talk about today. If you have your Bibles turn to Colossians 3. As we discover how to obtain victory over what I call the worry wars. If you have a problem with worry, being fearful, being anxious, this is God's message for you today. Maybe you know somebody who's battling with problems. They're always worried about situations. Listen to what God's word says.
Now, let me set the context for you. We've been in a long study of Colossians 3. Remember Colossians 3:1-4, Paul gives us a command to be heavenly minded. He said, "Set your mind on the things above". And he's not talking about walking around with your head in the clouds, thinking about heaven all the time. No, to be heavenly minded means to focus on becoming like Jesus Christ. Set your mind on the things above where Jesus is. Our life's purpose is to become like Jesus Christ in our attitudes, our affections, our actions. And so you have that command in verses 1 to 4, the command to become like Jesus Christ. And then beginning in verse 5, all the way through verse 14, Paul discusses the results of being like Jesus Christ. If you are really being molded in the image of Christ, there are certain behaviors you're going to take off like old worn out garments. The sins of temper, the sins of speech. Not only are you going to take off certain behaviors, you're going to put on certain new behaviors. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love. That's all in verses 5 to 14.
Now we come to the third major section. In verses 15 to 17, Paul is going to explain how we become like Jesus Christ. And in these three verses: 15, 16, and 17, Paul is going to share four principles for becoming like Jesus Christ in your everyday life. Here are the four steps to becoming a heavenly minded Christian.
Number one, allow Christ's peace to rule in your heart.
Secondly, meditate on God's word.
Third, minister to other people.
And forth, regularly express gratitude to God.
Now, today, we're going to look at this first step. If you want to live like Jesus lived, you need to allow God's peace to rule in your heart. Look at verse 15, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which you were indeed called in one body: and be thankful". What does he mean? Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. In that command there are two important phrases to understand. One is, the peace of Christ. What does he mean, the peace of Christ? We know the word peace means the absence of turmoil. It means an inner equilibrium when the world around you is collapsing. But notice it's not just any kind of peace, it's not the piece of Deepak Chopra, it's not the piece of Gandhi, it is the peace of Jesus Christ. It's the same piece that Jesus experienced. And that's what he's saying, allow the same absence of turmoil that characterized the life of Jesus when he was on earth, to be present in your life as well. When you look at Jesus' life, I mean, it didn't matter what was happening to him, he was always calm, wasn't he? He was at peace with his financial circumstances, for example.
In Matthew 8:20, "Jesus said to him, 'the foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head'". Jesus didn't have a 401k plan, he didn't have any savings, he didn't know where he was going to sleep from night to night, but he was at peace. He was at peace with his financial circumstances. He was at peace with adverse circumstances. In Mark 4:37-38, we find the story about Jesus and his disciples on the Sea of Galilee. Some of us were there a few months ago. If you've ever been on the Sea of Galilee, you know it's not a sea as small like white rock lake. It's a little lake. But these wins would wipe down from the surrounding mountains and ll of a sudden a fierce storm would arise. Look what happened on one of those occasions. "And there arose of fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so that much of the boat was already filling up. And Jesus himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion: and they awoke him and said to him, 'teacher, do you not care that we're perishing'"?
The disciples were frantic. Jesus had this perfect calm over what was taking place. Jesus was at peace with his death as well. In Luke 22:42 in the Garden of Gethsemane, remember the night of which he was betrayed, Jesus prayed, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me". He was saying, God if it's all the same to you, I'd rather not die. And I'd rather not die in this way for sure. And I'd certainly rather not die having to bear the sins of the world. Father if there is any other way to obtain redemption, please figure it out and figure it out quickly before Judas comes. But he didn't stop there, he said, "Nevertheless, not my will but your will be done". He was at peace with his death. He was even a peace about the mistreatment of others. And 1 Peter 2:23, Peter records what happens because Peter was there, he was watching it from a distance, and Jesus' beating and Pilate's court. And then his crucifixion.
Peter made this note about what he saw personally. When Jesus was suffering, he said, "While being reviled, he did not revile in return: while suffering, Jesus uttered no threats, but he kept entrusting himself to him who judges righteously:" what was the secret of that inner peace Jesus experienced no matter what was happening? It was the core conviction that God was in control of every circumstance in his life. Jesus was absolute resolute in this conviction, that nothing was going to happen to him that was not according to the perfect loving wise will of God. And ladies and gentlemen that is the foundation of experiencing that same peace in your life. To be convinced that nothing comes into the life of a child of God that has not been sifted and filtered through the perfect loving wise plan of God. Are you convinced of that? Are you convinced that everything that happens, the good, the bad and the ugly, all of it is a part of God's good plan, not to make you happy necessarily, but to conform you to the image of his son?
Let's take a pop quiz right now. How would you react honestly to the news, that your retirement account had been completely wiped out due to a bad investment? Or the news that your house had been destroyed by a fire, and everything you had had been burned up. Or the news that your job had been discontinued because a layoff, a recession. How would you react to the telephone call that your maid or a child had been killed in a car accident? I mean, certainly all of us would react with shock and disbelief and sorrow. I'm not saying that we're supposed to be happy when those things happen. That's not what he's talking about. He's not talking about our first reaction, he's talking about our final reaction. He said, "Allow the peace, the absence of turmoil to rule in your heart, the peace of Christ". And that leads to the second important phrase here, that's so key to understanding, let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, rule in your heart. That word rule in Greek is an athletic term. It means to referee or to umpire.
You know what an empire does, a referee does. They're in the stadium during an athletic tournament and maybe there's a questionable play. Half the stadium feels like this team ought to be favored. The other half is yelling for the other team to be favored. And it's that referee, that umpire who has to make the final call. I was reading a story one time about group of guys who were at an umpire's convention. And after one of the sessions, they went up to one of the rooms for a late night bull session. And they were sitting around talking about how they made difficult calls. And one of the umpire said, "Well, I call them the way I see them". Second empire said, "No, not me, I call them the way they are". The third guy said, "They ain't nothing until I call them". That's like life circumstances, isn't it? I mean, we have all of these things that happened to us.
And what Paul was saying is, when adverse things happen to you, when tragedy comes into your life, let the peace of Christ have the final say about that circumstance. The peace of Christ may not be your first reaction, the important thing is to allow it to be your final reaction. To let the peace of Christ had the final say, make the final call and say, although this thing is horrible, terrible, tragic, I believe God is still in control. I believe God is on his throne. I don't believe this took God by surprise. And I'm relying on the perfect loving plan of God in spite of what I'm going through. That's what he's saying. Let the peace of Christ have up final say in your life. Well, that sounds great, but how do you do it? I want to talk for just a few moments this morning, about four steps to experiencing that peace of Christ in your everyday life.
How can you have that peace? How can you let it have the final say in your life? Write these four principles down. Number one, make peace with God. This is foundational. Making peace with God, you will never experience the peace of God until first of all you are at peace with God. You have to be at peace with God. Imagine an umpire or referee for example, trying to make a call on a questionable play, while that umpire rep wasn't even in the stadium. He was out at a hamburger joint somewhere. Somebody came to him with some news, "Oh, there was this difficult play down at the stadium, would you care to make a call about it"?
Now you can't do it, you have to be in the stadium to make the call. It's a very elementary principal here, but for the peace of Christ to rule in your heart, Christ first of all has to be in your life. Can't be outside your life, he has to be in your life. And that's what we're talking about here, to make peace with God. In Colossians you read this book, you get the idea that there was all kinds of dissension, schisms in the church. It wasn't as bad as Corinth, but it was bad enough that Paul was concerned about it. But instead of telling the people, now you all be unified with one another, he said, "I want each one of you to allow Christ's peace to rule in your heart". That word rule is in the plural form. It's distributed. In other words, each member is implied here, he's saying, I want each of you in this church to experience the peace of Christ.
And guess what? If you experience it individually, the body will experience it corporately. Now the same thing is true for us. You will never be at peace with yourself, you'll never be at peace with your circumstances, you'll never be at peace with other people until first of all you are at peace with God. And you realize that's why God sent Jesus Christ, to make peace between God and us. He said, "Well, why does there need to be peace"? We're all children of God. Well, why does there need to be peace? No, we're not all children of God. When we're born into this world, we're not born as a part of God's family, we are born separated from God. The college student who was telling me this week that in their class, a Christian professor said that he doesn't believe in original sin. He didn't believe that people were born as sinners. He said, what makes us sinners is the fact that we sin. That's not what the Bible says. We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we're sinners on the inside. We all inherited that sin virus from Adam.
And that means when we are born, we are born automatically alienated from God. We are at war with God. Our natural inclination, when God says yes, it's for us to say no. And when God says no, it's for us to say yes. You don't believe that? How many of you have ever had to teach your children how to lie? Anybody? Anybody had to teach your children how to steal or to be disrespectful? I mean, we are all born with that inclination towards sin. We are born separated from God. But listen to what God did. He could have left us on our own to suffer the consequences for all eternity of our rebellion against him, but look at verses 16 to 18 of Ephesians 2, "That he might reconcile them," talking about Jews and gentiles, "Both in one body to God through the cross, by having put to death the enmity".
That word in enmity means strife, the hatred that exists between God and man. "And Jesus came and preached peace to you who are far away". That is the gentiles, the non Jews, but he also came to preach peace to those who were near, the Jews. When it comes to salvation, close is not close enough. The fact is, even if you're a Jew, a child of God, one of the Israelites, you're not a Christian, you're not saved unless you come to faith in Christ. And Paul said, "There needed to be peace here between the gentiles, as well as the Jews with God". Verse 18, "For through Christ we both have our access in one spirit to the father". Christ came to tear down the wall of separation between God and man.
You remember during the Old Testament times, that the high priest had to go into the holy of holies once a year in order to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people. He'd go in and he would take the blood of the animal and sprinkle it on the mercy seat. And year after year in a year, he would go in to make atonement for the sins of the people. And yet that offering was very lacking. It never quite did the job. You know why? First of all, in Hebrews 9:7 it says, "That the high priest, those offerings could only atone for the unintentional, the accidental sins that people committed".
Did you know there was no sacrifice in the Old Testament for intentional sins? What the Bible calls high handed sins. That's a good description. Whenever you sin intentionally, you're doing something you know violates God's word, it is like you are lifting up your hand and shaking it in the face of God, a high-handed sin. There was no sacrifice available for that kind of sin. Doesn't that say something about how God looks at intentional sin? Think about it, are most of the sins you and I commit unintentional or intentional? The high priests offering could not atone for intentional sins. Not only that, the high priest before he could even go in to the holy of holies, he had to make her sacrifice for his own sins. And not only that, he had to keep going in year after year after year after year. And not only that, his offering could only apply to the Jews.
There was no provision for you and for me who are gentiles. But contrast what the high priest did year after year to what Jesus our high priest did when he entered into the perfect tabernacle in heaven. And Hebrews 9:11-12, the writer says, "But when Jesus Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, he entered through the greater and the more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation: and not through the blood of goats and calves, but he came through his own blood. He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption". Jesus Christ came and offered the once for all sacrifice for our sins. And there is no other offering to be made. He has done it all.
And that's why in Matthew 27:51 it says, the moment that Jesus Christ died, three o'clock that good Friday afternoon, suddenly in the temple, the great veil that separated the holy of holies from the rest of the temple, a tear began to appear at the top and it tore all the way to the bottom. Matthew 27:51 says, "And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom: and the earth shook and the rocks were split". Can you imagine the sight of those hundreds of priests who had gathered there that day to make the sacrifice, the sacrifice of the lamb that day and as they were sacrificing those hundreds of thousands of lambs on the Passover day, suddenly they saw that great veil torn in two.