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2021 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Moving From Anxiety to Peace - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - Moving From Anxiety to Peace - Part 1


Robert Jeffress - Moving From Anxiety to Peace - Part 1
TOPICS: Invincible, Anxiety, Peace, Worry

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. It seems like every headline gives us something new to worry about, wouldn't you agree? There are times when the future of our country appears uncertain at best and in our own lives, conflict and hardship make us feel unsettled. Well today, I'm going to show you the biblical prescription for a mind overrun with worry. My message is titled "Moving From Anxiety to Peace" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory as we continue our series, Invincible.

In August of 1933, famed novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a letter to his 11 year old daughter who was away at summer camp. He was trying to counsel her on the thing she needed to be concerned with and the thing she didn't need to worry about. Included on the things to be concerned about were courage, cleanliness and horsemanship. The things he told his daughter not to worry about were mosquitoes, flies and boys. Wouldn't it be nice to live in a world in which the biggest thing you had to worry about were mosquitoes, flies ,or boys? But that's not our world, is it?

Global pandemic, threat of loss of our job, contracting the coronavirus, losing a loved one. Those are the things that we are combating today. And yet one thing I've discovered is the size of what you're worrying about really doesn't determine your level of anxiety. You could be worried about a pandemic or be worried about mosquitoes, but they both have the ability to suck the strength and joy right out of your life. It's not the size of the object you're worrying about, it's your focus. For example, have you ever done this before? Take a penny and put it in front of each eye and that tiny penny, if you're standing in front of a mountain can block out an entire mountain range, millions of times larger than the penny. It's not the size of what you're worrying about, it is your focus.

Somebody has said, worry is a thin stream trickling through the mind. If left unchecked, it will cut a deep channel into which all of our other thoughts are drained. We're in our series, "Invincible". And we're talking about conquering the 10 mountains, the 10 obstacles that separate us from the kind of life God wants us to experience. Jesus said, "If you have a faith of a mustard seed, you can move a mountain". Now, obviously, you can't actually move the mountain, but you can change your perspective of that mountain. You can conquer that mountain. And in the same way, there are obstacles we face, we may not be able to remove those obstacles, but we can conquer them. And none is more debilitating than worry, anxiety. And so today we're going to talk about how to conquer the mountain of anxiety by moving, by shifting our focus from anxiety to peace.

If you have your Bibles turn to Matthew 6. Throughout the scriptures, we are told, "Do not worry". Three times, Jesus said, "Do not worry, do not worry". The Greek word Matthew uses for worry is the same word that Paul used in Philippians 4 when he said, "Do not be anxious for anything". Anxietas, the latin word for anxious, same word for worry. Interestingly, there's a German word for worry, wurgen, it means to strangle, to choke out. And that's a perfect description of what worry, anxiety does it chokes out the joy of our life.

It was Corrie Ten Boom who said, "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength". And that's why Jesus in Mark 4:18-19, described worry this way. Remember his parable of the seed that fell on the four different types of soil. The seed represented the Word of God and the soil represented different conditions of the human heart. And Jesus said some of the seed fell on ground, it began to take root, but there were weeds underneath the top soil that strangled out the new plant and caused it to wither away and die. And he made this application, "These are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke out the word". Of all of the things that can choke the Word of God and render it ineffective in your life, at the top of the list, are the worries of this world.

Well, why do we grow anxious, especially as Christians? I've noticed in the Bible has several reasons that God's word gives for anxiety in our life. First of all, a misguided perspective can be a source of worry. What I mean by that, is whenever we build our life around the temporal, instead of the eternal, we're going to be fearful of losing what we prize the most. For example, if we've built our life around money instinctively, we know that can be taken from us. And so we work and work and work and accumulate more and more and more, hoard more and more. But we know deep down, we can't protect ourselves from loss. Or maybe we've built our life around another person and so what do we do? We know there's a possibility they could leave us or die on us. And so we just smother them with affection and end up chasing them away. Or maybe your security, your life is built around your health. And so you exercise and diet obsessively, or every time you feel an ache or a pain, you run to the doctor because instinctively, you know you can lose your health.

That's why Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-20, "Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal". Money can be lost. "Instead store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". He wasn't just talking about money. He was talking, whatever you value in life. That's where your heart is going to be. D. L. Moody said one time, "Trust in yourself and you're doomed to disappointment. Trust in your money and you may lose it, trust another people and they may betray you or die, but trust in God and you will never be confounded in time or eternity". Sometimes our fear is caused by misguided perspective.

Secondly, unconfessed sin can be a source of anxiety. Certainly if you're not yet a Christian, if you've never received God's forgiveness of your sin, there's a barrier between you and God. And that barrier can produce fear in your life about the possibility of facing God with your sins unconfessed. You will never be at peace with yourself. You'll never be at peace with your circumstances in life until first of all, you are at peace with God. "Therefore having been justified by faith," Paul said, "We have peace with God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ". Others of you may be Christians, but there is some area of your life that you're disobedient in. And there's this fear that God is going to discipline you. You feel like the sword of Damocles is hanging over your head and God is going to deal with you. And he is going to deal with you if you don't confess that sin. But 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness".

Third, a third source of fear in our life, anxiety can be Satanic attack. In Ephesians 6, do you remember Paul lists the spiritual weaponry we need to utilize in our battle against Satan. He describes the soldiers and different weapons that are at his disposal. He says in Ephesians 6:13, "Therefore take up the full armor of God so that you will be able to resist in the evil day and having done everything to stand firm". And then verse 16, he mentions one of those pieces of armor, "Taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one".

What is he talking about? A Roman soldier had a shield. It was actually a four by six piece of wood that was covered in leather that had been soaked in water. Why? Because many times the enemy would send a flaming arrow. That is an arrow whose tip had been dipped in pitch and set on fire. And when that flaming arrow would come, the soldier would hold up that water soaked shield and the arrow on impact would immediately be extinguished. Many times Satan will shoot a flaming arrow into your life directly into your life to try to take you out. He has many arrows at his disposal, but I have found, through the years, that one of his most powerful arrows is anxiety, worry.

The reason I say that is there's something about worry that paralyzes us. This used to happen to me more when I was younger, it doesn't happen to me as much anymore and I'll tell you why at the end of the message. But there was a long period of my life. I'd be sitting in my study working on a sermon and all of a sudden out of nowhere, this fear would come into my life. I wonder what kind of tumor is growing inside of me, or I'd think about, worry about my kids or worry about the church and I get obsessed with this worry, I can't even work on the sermon any longer. I'm paralyzed with fear. Or I can be off on vacation with my family, spending a day at the beach, having great fun when all of a sudden this alien thought would come out of nowhere and it would paralyze me. Maybe you've experienced things like that as well. Where do those things come from? Satan knows fear is a powerful, powerful arrow that paralyzes us.

If you've ever found yourself dealing with that, you know, two of the anxiety arrows that Satan sends into your life, one of them has on the tip of it, the words, if only. You know, one way Satan destroys our peace of mind is that phrase, if only. If only deals with the unchangeable past, he loves us to focus on that which is unchangeable. I've talked to men who have been divorced and they would say to themselves, "If only I hadn't walked into that bar, if only I hadn't flirted with my assistant, if only I hadn't sent that email". If only, if only, if only. The second arrow of worry is labeled, what if. What if deals with the unknown future, the unknown future. What if I contract the coronavirus? What if I lose my job? What if my daughter ends up marrying that jerk? You know what if, what if, what if, and we get paralyzed.

My daughter, Julia, many of you know, is a licensed professional Christian counselor. She's written a wonderful book called "Pray Big Things". And in fact, well you heard from a 19-year-old boy recently, who read the book, his mom had given it to him and he actually read it and talked about how much it helped him. But in her book, she talks about when she found out she had triplets, where she's going to give birth to triplets. Almost immediately, she became anxious. Well, what if this happens? What if this happens? And she began looking up all of the possibilities of what could happen in the pregnancy. She said, at one point, she out-Googled God looking up all of these things that happen. And she describes in her book, how God gave her peace and helped her conquer that problem, the anxiety. The fact is, that phrase, what if, can destroy the peace that God has given us.

If you think I'm overreacting in saying this is a Satanic attack, do you remember what Jesus said about Satan in John 10:10? He said, "The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly". Mark it down, remember it. Satan wants to steal your joy as a Christian. He wants to destroy it. And one of the ways he does it is through anxiety. What are the effects of anxiety? First of all, the consequences of anxiety, there are some emotional consequences of anxiety. According to the anxiety and depression association of America, did you know there was such an organization? They anxiety and depression association of America. Wouldn't that be a fun Christmas party to go to? But it's real. And they say there are 40 million Americans who suffer from a high degree of anxiety. Anxiety disorders include panic disorders, social anxiety, persistent depressive disorder. It can lead to eating disorders, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep disorders, fibromyalgia and a host of other serious diseases all coming from anxiety. But there are spiritual consequences of anxiety as well.

In Colossians 3:15, Paul said, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you were called in one body and be thankful". You know, that word rule is the word that means to umpire. When a challenging situation comes into your life, you don't get to choose that circumstance, but you can choose how to label that circumstance. You can choose the label it, insurmountable, unending, devastating, or you can let Christ be the umpire and have a final say about that problem. Let the peace of Christ umpire in your hearts. You know, if you replace Jesus Christ on the throne of your life and allow fear to rule your life, it's really putting yourself on the throne of your life. Jesus, I don't think you're capable of handling this. I'm going to be the one to take control of it. And your life quickly goes from being God-centered to being self-centered. Well, why shouldn't we worry? Let's look at the case against anxiety and you find it in Matthew 6 in the middle of the sermon on the mount.

Now, before we look at the five reasons that Jesus gave us not to worry, I need to give you two disclaimers, okay? First of all, disclaimer number one, do not worry does not mean do not plan. You know, there are a lot of Christians who use Jesus' words, "Don't worry about tomorrow. The day has enough trouble of its own," as an excuse for laziness. Oh, I don't need to plan for my retirement. I don't need to plan for my family. I don't need to make any plans about my career, que sera sera. Whatever will be, will be, the future's not ours to see, que sera sera . Folks, that's not faith, that's foolishness. Jesus said we need to plan. And Luke 14:28, he said, "A general doesn't go into battle without planning". Somebody who's building a house or a fortress doesn't build without counting the costs, you better plan. You know what the Bible is warning against is planning without consulting God.

Remember in James 4, James said, "Come now those of you who say, tomorrow, we'll go to such and such a city and earn a profit and stay there a year". You don't know what your life is going to be like. "Instead, what you should say is, if the Lord wills we'll go to such and such a city". It's not planning that the Bible is against, its planning without God. Secondly, second disclaimer, do not worry does not mean do not be concerned. We do have responsibilities, we have concerns that oughta occupy some of our effort. Concerns about our lives, our family lives, concern about our nation. This is a phrase about don't be overly concerned, don't be anxious.

My friend, David Jeremiah says it well when he writes, "If you don't worry about your children playing near traffic, you're a terrible parent. If you're not concerned about walking off the roof of a skyscraper, you'll learn the meaning of that old poster that says, gravity, it's not just a good idea, it's the law". There are things you need to be concerned about. There's a difference between carefree and careless. Now, when Jesus says, do not worry, he saying don't be overly concerned. Why? Notice the five reasons he gives us. First of all, he says, worrying is unreasonable. Verse 25, "For this reason, I say to you, do not be worried about your life as to what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor for your body as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing"?

Inherent in that verse are two questions, who made your body? God. Who knows better than anyone, what your body needs to survive? God. Then why are you worrying? It's unreasonable. God is not only your Creator, he's your sustainer. Secondly, Jesus said worry is unfounded. Well, I believe God made me and can sustain me, but will he? That's the real question you ask. Look at verse 26, "Look at the birds of the air that do not sow nor reap, nor gather into barns and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they"? I did a little study this week on birds in the Bible. I found out that the sparrow is the smallest bird mentioned in the Bible. And when you combine this verse with Matthew 10:29 and Luke 12:6, here's what Jesus is saying. The sparrow is the cheapest bird, you could buy two for a penny, you could buy four for two pennies, but if you bought four, they threw the fifth one in for free.

So it was five sparrows for two pennies. When Jesus said in Matthew 10:29, not a sparrow, the tiniest bird there is, not one sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing about it. And the sparrow he's talking about is probably that fifth sparrow, not even the sparrow, that doesn't cost anything, that is worth nothing. When it falls from the ground, God knows about it. It's worth something to God. And if God cares about that tiny free sparrow, how much more do you think he cares about your life? That's what Jesus is saying. Worry is unfounded. Third, he says, worry is unproductive. Look at verse 27, "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature". A cubit was 18 inches. Worrying yourself to death doesn't add an inch to your stature or some translations say, it doesn't add an hour to your life. So why do it? Doesn't change anything. Worrying is unnecessary.
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