Robert Jeffress - Moving From Anxiety to Peace - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Over and over again in scripture we're taught not to worry, yet it seems that Christians worry just as much as non-Christians. Why is that? Well, last time I listed the causes and the consequences of anxiety, and today I'm going to show you why churning over issues you cannot control never accomplishes anything. And then I'll outline a four-step plan for conquering the mountain of worry. My message is titled, "Moving From Anxiety to Peace", as we continue our series, "Invincible," on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
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, today 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. In 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. No, 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's 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, and 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 was 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. 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 to 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? It doesn't change anything.
Fourth, worrying is unnecessary. Look at verse 28, "Why are you so worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow: they don't toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all of his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and thrown tomorrow into the furnace, will he not much more clothe you, you of little faith"? The grass doesn't wake up in the morning and say, "Oh boy, I gotta get to work. I'm going to battle the traffic on central expressway and get there. And I'm going to work 13 hours today, so I can buy a pair of designer jeans". No. Grass doesn't even worry about what it's going to wear because God clothes it with a beautiful wildflowers of the field. If God's going to take care of the grass, don't you think he's going to take care of you?
And finally, and this is the heart of it, why not worrying, worrying is ungodly. Look at verses 31 to 32. "Do not worry then, saying, 'what will we eat'? Or 'what will we drink'? Or 'what will we wear for clothing'? For the gentiles eagerly seek all of these things: for your Heavenly Father knows that you have need of these". What Jesus is saying is, gentiles, unbelievers, they worry about what they're going to eat and what they're going to put on. They worry of their life, but they're unbelievers. Shouldn't it be different from you? You know, I want you to remember this, if you don't remember anything else I say today. The basis of all anxiety in life is calculating without God. Calculating without God, that's the basis of all of our worry. We get ourselves all worked out about what's happening to our children or at the workplace or what's happening in the country, and we get worked up and worked up and worked up, but we forget God. We leave out the God factor out of the equation.
You know, you look at the life of Joseph, over and over again, Joseph was in an impossible situation, and you find those two words in scripture, "But God. But God. But God". Whatever you're concerned about, don't leave out God. Don't forget you have a Heavenly Father who made you, who loves you, who sent his son to die for you, who wants to spend all eternity with you. Don't leave out the God factor in your equation. And God, that God who loves you, created you, died for you, wants to spend eternity with you. That God cares about what it is you're worrying about, and he can do far and above anything you can possibly imagine. And that's why Jesus said, "Seek first God's kingdom and his righteousness, and all of these things will be added to you. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own". How do you cure the problem of anxiety? Let me just give you some simple steps, all based in God's word. First of all, repent of any known sin in your life.
Now Julia gave me a word last night about this message. She said, "Now, Robert, don't tell people that sin is the cause of their anxiety". And that's a good word. Sin is not always the cause of anxiety. There are many other causes. Sin isn't always the cause of anxiety, but sometimes it is. And again, if you're listening today and you're not yet a Christian, the most important step you can take is to receive the forgiveness that Christ offers you. If you're already a Christian, go ahead and acknowledge the sin that's in your life, and make things right between you and God. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness".
Secondly, remove unnecessary fear from your life. Remove unnecessary fears. Some of your fear can be removed by you. Let me illustrate what I mean. We're coming up on April 15th, income tax day. I don't know if you're like me, but I put off and put off and put off getting my information together to file my income tax return, because why? I'm fearful of what I'm going to end up owing. Does putting off doing my responsibility alleviate that fear? No, it means I just carry it around with me. Or maybe some of you it's been more than a year, because of the pandemic, that you've been to the doctor. And now you're fearful about going to the doctor, have him lecture you on how much you've deteriorated over the last year, how lousy your blood work is, and so you keep putting that off, but you still have that fear. No, here are three words that can help you alleviate unnecessary fear in your life. Do it now. Is there a difficult email you need to return? Do it now. Is there an appointment you need to make? Do it now.
You say, where do you find that in scripture? You know, Proverbs is filled with warnings about the sluggard, the lazy person. And in Proverbs 26:13-14, "The sluggard says, 'there is a lion in the road. A lion is in the open square'. As a door turns on its hinges, so does the sluggard on his bed"? The sluggard, the lazy person, is always looking for a reason not to begin doing what he needs to do or to finish doing what he's going to do, and he ends up miserable. Remove unnecessary fear from your life.
Number three, remember God's past faithless. Remember God's past faithfulness. When you find yourself the victim of one of Satan's arrows of worry, reflect on God's past faithfulness. David did that. You know, there was a time in his life, which is the background for Psalm 3 in which David was facing the rebellion of his son Absalom, he was facing losing his kingdom, he had many things to worry about. And he wrote honestly about that worry in Psalm 3:1-2. "O Lord, how my adversaries have increased. Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, there is no deliverance for him in God". The word selah means pause. And then notice verse 3, "But you, o Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the one who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and he answered me from his holy mountain".
Why that pause? Because as David's anxiety level rose, suddenly he remembered the faithfulness of God. He reflected on how God had been faithful to him in the past, and he thought, the same God who delivered me in the past, he's capable of delivering me from Absalom right now. You know, that was David's pattern when he was younger, much younger, and he was facing the giant Goliath. Remember what he said in 1 Samuel 17:37? "The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, he will deliver me from the hands of this Philistine". As a young boy, David could look back on his experiences when he was a shepherd and God delivered him.
Now here's the point I want you to see. The longer David lived, the more examples he had of God's faithfulness in his past. Ladies and gentlemen, growing older should not make you more fearful. Growing older ought to make you less fearful. You ought to have more times you can look back on in your past when God delivered you and protected you. And that same God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Remember God's past faithfulness. Finally, most importantly, remain in contact with God. Remain in contact with God. You know, we're talking a lot about vaccines today, a lot about vaccines. It's all over the news. I want to share with you a three-dose vaccine that will vaccinate you against anxiety. Would you like one of those vaccines?
Okay, now, there are three doses to it, but I'm going to give you all three doses right now. Turn over to Philippians 4 for just a moment. Philippians 4, Paul was in prison facing what could have been his execution, and he gives us this three-dose vaccine against anxiety. Dose number one, pray persistently. Look at verses 6 and 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, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". I love the way the living Bible says it. "Don't worry about anything: instead, pray about everything".
Remember, we've talked about how you need to take your worry list and turn it into your prayer list? Don't worry about anything. Pray about everything. And that's pretty powerful, but that's just dose one. Pray persistently. Paul goes on with dose number two. Think truthfully. Look at verse 8. "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell, think, on these things". Whatever is true, pure, or lovely. Remember how I said at the beginning of the message, you can't control necessarily, it's not the size of what you're worrying about that determines your anxiety level. It's what you're focusing on. You determine your focus in life. And Paul said one important antidote to worry is making sure you're focusing on the right thing.
Now, this is going to offend some of you, I know. And my goal is not to offend you. I'm talking to you as your friend and pastor, but I have to say this. There are many Christians who are feeling anxious right now because they've got the wrong focus. Can I tell you a secret? The media doesn't care one thing about your level of anxiety. They don't care about your peace of mind. They really don't. And I'm talking about the left-wing media and the right-wing media. They don't care about your peace of mind. They care about one thing, getting you to click on their website or getting you to watch their television program. That's all they care about. And they're constantly thinking, how can we get more viewers? And they've discovered the secret. They've discovered the secret is to either make you angry or to make you anxious. If they can do either one, they can get you to tune in. Quit allowing your anxiety level and your anger level to go through the roof.
Quit listening to that stuff. Instead, make your focus, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right. Did you know all of those words are descriptions of the Word of God? You find them in Psalm 19. Make God your focus, his word, his promises. And here's the promise. In Psalm 119:165, "Those who love your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble". Pray persistently, think truthfully. You gotta have this final dose for it to work. Live obediently. Look again at verse 9 of Philippians 4. "The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things: and the God of peace will be with you". It's not enough to know the Word of God. It's to practice the Word of God, live obediently. And when you live obediently, you don't ever have to worry about God's discipline in your life. You will never stumble. William Barkley, the New Testament commentator, said, "There may be bigger sins than worry, but there is no sin as disabling as worry". Here's the good news, you don't have to be disabled by anxiety any longer. God has given you everything you need to conquer that mountain of anxiety, and moving from anxiety to peace.