Steven Furtick — I'm Anxious for NO-Thing
Maybe you thought you weren't a courageous person, but you just did not know how to access the courage that God had planted inside of you. You know, the scripture says God has not given us a spirit of fear, but power, love, and a sound mind. And so, if you belong to God and if you're his child and his creation, it's not right for you to live your life intimidated by every bad report He says, "Be anxious for nothing". How you doing with that? Be anxious for nothing.
And so, you know, we got — we got to talk about that in a minute. And he says — here's how you do it: "But in everything," everything: "By prayer and supplication, with thanks giving," — now, I reckon, to use a good southern word, one of the reasons we're so anxious about what's coming is because we're not thankful enough for what we already have. And so, Paul says, "If all you ever pray about is what you need, but you never stop and thank God for what you have, you'll always be anxious". "With thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God, and the peace of God". I want some more of that. That's the stuff I'm after, the peace of God. A peace that the world can't take away, because the world didn't give it. A peace that the economy can't take away, because it's not rooted in the economy.
Listen to it, you're going to love this at University City: "Which surpasses all understanding," so, it means sometimes, things won't even make sense in your life and people'll be wondering, how are you holding it together with what you're going through? Be like, "I don't know either". It's just an unexplainable, supernatural, life-giving peace that comes from God: "Will guard your hearts and minds," — Holly, I had a thought this week. Paul was writing this verse from a prison cell, and it's kind of hard to talk about peace and being unanxious — is that a word?
When all you see around you is bars and iron, but I wondered if when he was — see, this is the end of the passage, look. I wonder if when he got to this part, I wonder if he looked up and saw a guard standing outside his cell, and he's like, "The peace of God will — what will it do? It will guard, cool, like this big dude standing outside of this cell, making sure I don't get out. The peace of God will stand guard around your life and make sure that what gets in is only what God sends". Will guard your heart and your mind: "Through Christ Jesus". Through Christ Jesus, how many of you want verse 7? The peace of God? Alright. To get verse 7, we got to go through verse 6, and I want to speak to you on that phrase today. Put it back up, please. "Be anxious for nothing". Turn to the person next to you and — you could turn to three people, actually, and — in case the first one is unresponsive. And just preach to 'em for a moment, say, "I wanted you to know, you're anxious for nothing" — and you may be seated.
Thank you, worship team. Thank you, Brian. "Anxious for Nothing", that's my little title today, simple title. You excited about this series? You got a situation you're facing that you need God to give you some boldness for? Well, I got something for you today, "Anxious for Nothing". Be anxious for nothing. We're anxious for nothing. All of my children have irrational anxiety, and I can see that it's irrational. You know, all of God's children have some irrational anxiety too, Paul says. And he wants to correct that in Philippians 4, he says, "There are some things that you're afraid of, that make no sense from Heaven's perspective. There are some things that are causing you to shut down, that are paralyzing you, that are senseless when you put it in the context of who God is in you, and what you mean to him". And he says, "I want you to train your heart to be anxious for nothing".
Come on, get real, Paul. This is preacher talk. "Be anxious for nothing," did you see the Dow Jones this week, dude? Do you ever watch CNN? Haven't you heard about what they're putting in kid's LEGOs these days, and if our kids touch the LEGOs, they'll be exposed to chemicals that could cause them to have babies that are born with hairy backs? And don't you know that — the gluten and the — Paul, there's a lot to be anxious about. And Paul says, "I'm in prison, bro, and I've earned the right to tell you, after they've beat me and flogged me and thought they were going to kill me, that if you're following after God's purpose, you got no reason to ever be anxious". "Be anxious for nothing".
So, you know I don't like to do a lot of complicated word studies in church, 'cause I think, you know, most of us do good just to obey the English in the Bible, so we don't have to go, you know, Hebrew, Greek. But, the Greek word for anxious is pretty interesting, it appears 17 times in the New Testament, and the word — let me go back here and read it, so I can make sure I don't say it wrong. I didn't do too well in my Greek class in seminary, I was gifted in other areas. But, the Greek word here that is translated anxious is 'merimnate', I'll spell it. M-E-R-I-M-N-A-T-E. Again, class. I see all of you furiously taking notes, you want to know this Greek treasure, M-E-R-I-M-N-A-T-E.
The way I kind of remember it in my mind is it sounds like marinate, which is an interesting word association with anxiety, 'cause if you marinate in the wrong thoughts — come on, somebody. Come on, somebody. If you soak in all the wrong stuff, you're eventually going to be full of all kinds of fear. And then, I like how it has — it's merimnate, like — I like the idea of how anxiety gets us all tied up in knots. You just wake up in a big bundle of nothing but dread, just a big old — knotted up, like double-knot, triple-knot, spend half your day just unknotting your emotions, just wake up feeling that way sometimes.
And he uses the word merimnate, and he says, "Be merimnate — do not be merimnate,", "For anything," or for nothing in your life. Just don't get all tied up in knots about stuff. And so, if I'm you, I'm thinking, okay, but, you know, don't we need to worry about some things? Don't we need to be concerned about some things? Yes, be concerned. No, don't worry. That's what I think Paul would say, because that same word, merimnate, he also uses in Philippians 2, okay? Philippians was the letter that he wrote to a particular church, and so, in Philippians 2, he's talking about how he wants to send one of his ministry associates, Timothy, to check on the church, since he can't get out and check on 'em, and he describes Timothy, look at this verse.
He says: "I have no one else like him who will show genuine concern," — guess what the Greek word that is translated into English genuine concern happens to be? Merimnate. But here, it's translated genuine concern, because, you know, you can have the same situation, but the way you deal with it determines whether or not it's a genuine concern or a needless anxiety. Come on, somebody. It's pretty preaching. So, part of this being brave is about learning to discern in your life between a genuine concern and a needless anxiety. But, I would say to you that sometimes, you can interpret the same event in both of those ways. So, you can turn a genuine concern into a needless anxiety by the way you approach it, 'cause it's the same word.
And so, sometimes, you go through a situation and you deal with it and you handle it with strength. You're brave about it. That's a genuine concern. Sometimes, you go through a situation and you're tied all up in knots about stuff you can't do much about anyway. That's a needless anxiety. Wisdom will show you the difference. The difference between needless anxiety and genuine concern, and here's how you can do it, here's how you can do it. Be anxious for no thing.
I was talking to a friend one time, and this was many years ago. He spilled orange juice on his computer while he was on the phone with me one morning, but he was so calm about it. He said, "Oh, hang on a second". And he was gone a long time on the phone. I said, "What happened"? He said, "I just spilled a whole glass of orange juice on my computer, it's not working anymore". I said, "And you're not using profanity"? And he said, "No, it's nothing but a thing". This guy isn't a billionaire, he said, "It's nothing but a thing. Fix it if they can, if they can't, it's nothing but a thing". And I thought, I want that. Do you remember that phrase? We used to say it a lot when I was coming up, we used to say, "Ain't nothing but a thing".
And I think Paul's trying to get us to see here, in Philippians 4, be anxious for no thing. Be concerned about the state of your soul, be concerned about the state of your children's soul, be concerned about God's work in the world. That's a genuine concern, but when it comes to the things, you got to learn to look at some things in your life, and just say, "It ain't nothing but a thing".
Let me show you this in Romans. Paul is talking in Romans about some pretty heavy stuff, and he says, Romans 8:31: "What, then, shall we say in response to these..". say it out loud. Every location, say it out loud: "In response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us"? That's what gives me courage sometimes when I feel opposed. I just say, "Well, if God's on my side, I'm good. And if he's not, I'm in trouble". So, it really doesn't matter what they're saying about me, it just matters what God sees in me, 'cause if he's for me, who can be against me? Take a number, line up, it won't matter, 'cause I'll still be standing. And you can have that confidence as God's child. It's not cocky, it's just confident, that's what Paul's saying. He says, "It's just a thing". He said, "It's a thing".
Look at the next verse: "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things"? It's nothing but a thing, skip to Romans 8:37. He starts listing some things, he says: "No, in all these we are more than conquerors through him who loved us". What kind of things you're talking about, Paul? Spilling orange juice on the computer? Big deal. No: "I'm convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons," — this is heavy stuff: "Neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor any," — let me just put a blank here, so you can fill it in: "Nor anything else in all creation," bankruptcy, joblessness, homelessness, addiction, whatever: "Will be able to separate us, nor any," — oh, I love it: "Nor anything else," "Nor any," — you see it? "Nor anything else". Reach everybody you can reach, and tell 'em, "Ain't nothing but a thing," Just a thing. Be anxious for no thing.
I want you to do that this week now, when you're faced with something, and if it doesn't fit in Paul's list, that's what the blank is for. That's what the anything is for, is nothing but a thing, and shift over from needless anxiety to genuine concern, controlling what you can, and trusting God where you can't. Easier said than done, but that's our goal in this series, and I'll help you week by week, if you'll come back. If you don't, you — I won't be able to help you. But, watch this. Another way to look at it. Anxious for nothing. Come on, say it out loud, "I'm anxious for nothing". Yeah, that's a good goal to have, right? But, isn't it also a statement of reality, about how many times in our lives we've been anxious for nothing?
And think about it, it's — I'm just playing with the phrase a little bit. I enjoy doing this. I was thinking, how many times have the people in our church, have I as a pastor, have we as a family, been tied up in knots, merimnate, for something that turned out to be anxious for nothing. We were freaking out the other day because somebody that's close to me, they rent a home, and one of their neighbors told them that the home that they're renting is about to get sold out from under them. And this person spent the next week freaking out, losing sleep, not eating very much, and I know that you say, "Well, it's not a big deal. Get another place". But, this person is, you know, over the age of 60, he's kind of settled into this place, and was just thinking, well, I don't even know where to go, I don't even know what to do.
For a week, 'til they found out that the nosy neighbor that told them the rumor had actually misinterpreted what the owner of the home had come by and said, which was, "If my husband died, I could see myself maybe selling the home one day". Now, you know the telephone game, where I tell you something, you tell her, and she tells her, and he tells him, and she tells — by the end of the row, it gets from, "If they die, then one day, I might sell this house," to, "We're going to sell the house tomorrow, you need to find another place to live. You're out on the streets". And it creates anxiety and I was talking to this person, they said, "I wish I could get my sleep back that I lost for nothing. I wish I could get all that — those moments that I was planning about stuff and scenarios that weren't even upon me yet, that might be upon me".
I like what Joyce Meyer said, she said, "Worry is down payment on a problem you may never even have". Thank you, Joyce. We appreciate the help, 'cause sometimes, you're anxious for nothing. I go out of town for a couple weeks every summer in June, because you get tired of my preaching, you need to hear other people. And so, I go away, and I don't — and — but when I'm gone, about the first week, it feels good. Second week feels good, third week feels good. By about the fourth week, I'm freaking out 'cause I hadn't been to church, and I don't feel — I wonder like this, is the church still there? Are they still showing up? And I watch online and stuff, but it's just not the same, and I'm like, is everything cool? Has Hubatka started his own church while I was gone? And I don't ever wonder that, he's awesome, but I'm just saying, like your mind can go to all these crazy places, and it's like, what's going on back at the church?
And this time, while we were gone — and I sent a text to one of our team members, named Chunks — I know his name is Chunks, and I sent a text to him. And I said, "Everything cool back home"? And ten minutes went by. Ten minutes in, I'm thinking, oh no, there's — and I have some scenarios. 30 minutes went by. This guy usually responds quick, I pay him to. An hour went by. By the second hour, I had so many scenarios in my mind. I won't mention 'em to you here, it's a little embarrassing. Let's just say there was no church left. All of our campuses had simultaneously burned to the ground. The fire department didn't get back in time. And then, two hours later, I finally get a text — like two hours, ten minutes later, I finally get a text. "So sorry I missed you, been in the mountains. No cell signal. Everything's never been better".
I forgot it was Friday. It was the day off back home for our church staff. And here I am, with my family, on vacation, anxious. Why aren't they responding? Must be something wrong. Must be something real wrong. It's never taken 'em this long before. I'm going back and checking the time stamp on the text. Did it go through? It went through. It says it was delivered at 12:57 PM. What's going on? What's going on? Maybe I should get back on a plane. Maybe I should charter a flight. I can't wait for the commercial one. I got to get back home. For nothing. I told you a scripture and a story — turn to the person next to you, say, "You're anxious for nothing". A lot of the times — most of the time, you find out later, all that was for nothing.
So, one day, Jesus wanted to go on a trip, and he has his disciples prepare to take him where he needs to go. Look at Mark 4:35. It says: "That day when evening came," — here's the story: "He said to his disciples, 'Let's go over to the other side.'" Everybody say, "Other side". Okay, remember that phrase. It'll come back in a moment: "Leaving the crowd behind," Jesus has been teaching all day. He taught the parable of the sower in the soils and how the farmer goes out and scatters seed and some of it produces good fruit and some of it doesn't produce good fruit and it just depends on, you know, whether or not the soil is good or whether it's thorny or whether it's rocky or whether the birds come and eat it. And he shared about the Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, this is all in Mark 4.
And then, Jesus, after teaching all day, he gets tired, and he whispers to Peter, he's like, "Hey man, I got to get out of here. Let's sneak out now. These crowds aren't going to let me go, but get the boat running, I'll be there in a second". And so, they left the crowd behind, and they took him along, just as he was, 'cause he didn't have time to go back and change. And so, he gets in the boat, and there were also other boats with him. Now, you never hear anything else about the other boats, but it lets us know, by putting that detail in, that what Mark is giving us is an eyewitness account, because Mark would — the way he wrote his gospel, there's four accounts of Jesus' life, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And Mark would write down what Peter said, and that's why Mark's Gospel tends to read a little faster than all the other ones, 'cause Peter gets right to the point, you know? Peter's the guy who's just all about the action.
And so, he's given the details to let us know, this isn't just something I heard about. This is something from someone who was there. This is an eyewitness account, because sometimes, you don't need to hear about how to have bravery from people who have never been through anything that was difficult. Sometimes, you don't want to hear advice from somebody who has never been through a broken season in their life about God's healing, or who has never faced down a giant, about how to stand in strength. So, this is an eyewitness account now of a time when the disciples of Jesus were anxious for nothing.
Now, check this out: "A furious squall came up," just out of nowhere. I've been studying a lot about the Sea of Galilee this week, where this event happened, and it was notorious for unexpected storms, because the Sea of Galilee is in a basin surrounded by mountains, and when the cold air pushes through, it creates furious squalls. Kay? "And the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped". You ever felt nearly swamped in your life? Like I'm still showing up, but barely. I'm making it and I'm smiling, but nobody knows what's really behind this smile. The things I think about, some days, I just want to run away from it all. Maybe it's just me.
Jesus was in the stern, listen to what Jesus is doing. All-powerful, all-loving, compassionate, gracious Jesus who, if you call on him, he'll answer: "Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion". I love the Bible's sense of humor: "And the disciples woke him and said, 'Teacher, don't you care if we drown?'" Don't you want to live? Don't you want us to live? Hearkens back to the Book of Jonah, doesn't it? Where Jonah, the prophet, was running away from God, in Jonah 1:5-6, and a great storm came upon the ship, because Jonah was running away from God. And sometimes, God'll send a storm to get you back to the place, and reroute you, to get you back on your assignment. And you ought to thank God for some of the storms he's sent, because if he hadn't have sent the storm, you'd have ended up in the wrong place. You were headed the wrong way, and he used the storm to turn you around.
But in Jonah's case, it says: "All the sailors," Jonah 1:5: "Were afraid and each cried out to his own God, and they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he laid down, and fell into a deep sleep. Then the captain went to him and said, 'Man, how can you sleep? Get up and call on your God. Maybe he will take notice of us, so that we will not perish.'" And I'm thinking, man, Jonah was sleeping because he was complacent and didn't want to pursue God's purpose. Jesus was sleeping because he was confident and he knew, I'm right where God wants me to be, so it stands to reason that there's no reason for me to get anxious now. So, I might as well in a beauty sleep.