How To Say Goodbye To Anxiety Today

Category: Full Sermons

Let’s turn in our Bibles to Philippians to develop then things that Stuart said on Wednesday. Philippians 4 verse , Rejoice in the Lord always, Again, I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand. Don’t be anxious about anything, 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 understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Well, we’re going to consider, I suppose this morning, one answer to the question, what is a Christian? And there are various ways of answering that question. You can answer it then ethically concerning our conduct and our behavior, and you can say, well, there in the Ten Commandments, And as those commandments are opened up in Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7, Romans 12, you can understand a Christian is someone who lives like this. Or you can answer it then in the truths that we believe. And I suppose it would be what is found in the letter to the Romans. We are those who believe the teaching that Paul outlines so extraordinarily in the letter to the Romans. So you have one answer. which is to do with how you live, and then you have another answer to the question, what is a Christian, in what you believe. But there’s a third answer too, also, and it’s really to do with our affections. the emotional life of a believer. And it is that which the Apostle is bringing before us in this particular section. And he is telling us that there are three characteristics, then, of how a Christian lives. And the first is he’s characterized by joy.

Verse 4, he rejoices in the Lord in every circumstance. He’s writing this from prison. He’s chained to a series of sentries who keep their eye on him. He talks to them. So here is the apostle who, when he’s beaten up and whipped and is in prison, Philippi, he then can sing and rejoice always in the Lord. There’s no circumstance whatever that justifies a Christian not rejoicing in the Lord. So a Christian is a joyful person. He’s a happy person. And we see that, for example, when the Ethiopian eunuch was converted through the testimony of Paul in the explanation of Philippians that he was reading. He baptizes him. He goes on his way rejoicing. Paul could have said he goes on his way believing. He goes on his way repenting. He goes on his way a more thoughtful and wiser man, but he doesn’t.

He ceases on the emotion of joy, or when Philip before that had been the preacher in Samaria, and there was a great blessing, a great revival in Samaria, and we’re told there was great joy in the city. And again, Luke could have said there was great repentance and a great love amongst the brethren, and those things would be true. But he seizes on the fact that a Christian is a joyful, is a rejoicing person, and so that’s the first characteristics here. Rejoice in the Lord always. And secondly, the next emotion he speaks of is reasonableness or gentleness. And there’s no word, I’m told, that can translate exactly this Greek word that the authorized version says, moderation. Though the word is referring to a Christian being a self-disciplined person. He doesn’t fly off the handle at the drop of a hat. He’s not loud. He’s not extrovert. He’s not an extremist. The Christian is accessible, and you can approach us, you can talk to us, and we will listen to you. We don’t want to turn everything into a joke. There’s a sweet moderation about us. We’re gentle people, like our Savior. Gentle Jesus, meek and mild. And he’s left us an example that we follow in his steps. There’s a reasonableness, there’s a gentleness. about every real Christian. You’re not afraid of us.

And then thirdly, there’s this grace of contentment. And it’s stated here in the negative form, the Christian is not characterized by neurotic anxiety. He’s not obsessively alarmed by some of the details of living in the groaning world. The Christian is never paralyzed with worry. He’s talking about being fretful, about being anxious and knowing troubling worries. His response is not one that bears no relationship to the problem that’s facing him. Psalm 107 and verses 26 and 27, this describes this anxiety. They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths. In their peril, their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunkards. They were at their wits’ end, suddenly going from ignorance to blind panic in eight seconds. Paul is talking about losing your sleep over things that don’t deserve it, over things you can’t control, over things that God says He’s going to take care of them. Paul is talking about a distracted mind. A mind that’s torn between things that are important and things that do not matter at all. Stuff that’s virtually trivial, and we are being emotionally deranged by them. And it’s commonly observed in your families that are not Christians, in the world around us, Many men and women, many young people, emotionally deranged. It’s almost a hallmark of the 21st century, a generation that’s obsessed with things that are seen and heard, deranged by stuff that might happen. and Paul is saying if you are trusting in a living heavenly father who cares for you deeply if you have a savior who is a wonderful counselor and he ever lives to speak for you to his father there’s this woman in san antonio there’s this boy and they’re in Great, great difficulty, Father. Send the Holy Spirit. Send Christians into their lives. Give them wisdom. Let them live differently from the world around that has no counselor. and no great high priest speaking, whispering their names into the ears of their Father in heaven.

So I want to open this. I’ve got a logical development here, four points about which no Christian should be anxious And the great section in the New Testament is in the Sermon on the Mount. It’s in Matthew chapter 6, and the last half of that chapter is the most basic and wise sermon of the Lord Jesus about the dangers of anxiety.

So firstly, he says we mustn’t be anxious about trivia. That’s the first point. That’s where he begins. Things like eating, our meals, an obsession with, am I eating enough? Am I eating the right food? Will I have money one day to buy food for myself and my family? And Jesus says, look, God feeds billions of mice and rats and sparrows and crabs and flies. How much more will he take care of those who are his? Lovely children, whom he’s loved with an everlasting love. And so we are not to worry, will we have money for food? Or worry about what we wear? Let’s dress suitably. But there are Christian teenagers who are crippled. with worry about wearing last year’s colours, or last year’s sports shoes, and they say to their parents, I’ve got nothing to wear. And haven’t you learned that this world is a world of vanities? Without having God, men only have themselves and they have ego. That’s all vanity of vanities. It’s all vanity. We have Jesus Christ. And so we have everything. Everything we need for today. Bright hope. for tomorrow our loving Father is going to supply all our needs richly in Christ Jesus, and your priorities are not to be the statesman for what is the latest fashion in your gang. You seek first the Kingdom of God, so point one, don’t be anxious about trivia.

Secondly, don’t be anxious about things over which you have absolutely no control. There is a total eclipse. coming very soon. You’ve got no control over it at all. And Jesus is showing the folly of anxiety when he says, here’s a man of diminutive height, and he’s worried all the time. He says, I’ll never get on. I’ll never get a good job because I’m too short. And he’s worried and worried. Oh, that’s all he talks to you about. I’m not a happy man, he says. And all his anxiety does not add a single inch to his stature. And someone else is worried. They’re worried. Maybe I’ll die before All I paid for my pension gets to the date when I can accrue money from it. That worry doesn’t help him to live a day longer. There’s a pregnant mother and she’s concerned whether the baby that she’s carrying is developing properly. The doctor assures us perfectly normal. No, the baby is fine. There’s this boy, he’s done exams, and there’s some examiner somewhere, and he’s marking, and the boy has to get a certain grade, and all the weeks waiting for results to come out, he’s worrying about whether he’s got the right grades. doesn’t help him at all. He’s not going to get better grades by it. He can do nothing. Parents worry about their new baby’s IQ than others. They have a thunderstorm and they worry that thunder, lightning is going to strike their homes. He said, they can’t do anything about it. That’s the precise hallmark of neurotic anxiety, an obsession with things over which we have no control. So Jesus is saying to us, before you start worrying, say to yourself, if I worry, will things change? And we have to learn to realize that such matters are totally and absolutely beyond our control. If there is nothing whatsoever that we can do about it, why are we obsessively worried?

Number three, we mustn’t be anxious about problems that have not yet materialized. Jesus says, don’t worry about tomorrow. And all of us do. The possibilities and the problems, the losses and crosses about tomorrow. Someone I love might die. My daughter’s husband might leave her. My husband may be made redundant. I may lose my child, all my children. There may be a third world war. The sky may fall on the town. I might make appalling discoveries about my health. I can dwell on all sorts of possibilities that might happen tomorrow and become neurotic and depressed. Jesus says a famous word, you know it, I’ll unpick it for you. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof, you know that King James Version. Evils occur every week to everybody. It’s a fallen, groaning world. There are evils today. There will be evils tomorrow. Don’t make today’s problems worse by thinking of what might be evils tomorrow. And you’re worrying about tomorrow’s problems. Don’t make them worse. Today you will receive a blend of joys and sorrows, and every day of your life in this groaning world there will be a blend of wonderful blessings and trials. That is the life in a fallen world, not the life of heaven. Today you will be given grace to cope with what God has given you today. God’s gift of today. Each day has its own share of troubles. There’s a moment or many a day when difficulties come before us. We’re asked questions. We’re under pressure. We’re being laughed at. We’re being threatened. And we’re praying our own prayers to God. We’re saying, Lord, help me now. Give me grace now. Help me now. Here’s Joseph, and Herod wants to kill. This baby. And Joseph then says, right, we’ll have to move out of our country. We have to go to Africa. Jesus went to Africa as a baby. He went to Egypt. And there, a message finally came in a few years’ time. Herod was gone. He was no more. The threat had been lifted. You can go home. The right action was taken. by Joseph don’t add then to today’s pressures worries about what might be happening tomorrow and we do we see it our girlfriend tells us at work our neighbor talks us as we’re outside the house Their present is mortgaged. Their today is a strain because they’re worrying about what might happen tomorrow. It is sufficient for the emotional energy that God has given you that you can cope today with the problems and pressures that are on you today without adding to them what might happen this year. Sufficient to the day is its evil.

Fourthly, we mustn’t be anxious about things about which God has promised us He will take care of them. All right? It’s a command. We’re not to be anxious. Verse in our text, we’re not to be anxious about anything. It is a sin to disobey that command. It is as much a sin as not loving your neighbor as yourself. God is going to take care of you for your entire satisfaction. And you have no right to justify it by saying, well, that’s my disposition. My mother was a worrier, my grandmother was a worrier, and I’ve inherited it. I’m a worrier too. It is a sin to be a worrier. God’s grace is greater than your personality. And there is no point in you justifying your personality by saying, well, I’m more sensitive than other people. I take things more keenly than other people do. I have vision. I have concern. Those fancies of yours are no excuse. The reality is you have less faith The reality is you have less trust. Jesus, he talks about some of his followers and he says, oh, you of little faiths. Your Heavenly Father knows you need many things today. You need them. And He will provide all that you need. They’re essential. He feeds mice and rats and crabs and crows and squirrels. He looks after flies and snails. He clothes a muddy patch and He makes it a beautiful green field. God provides. But not for me, O ye of little faith! The argument of the Lord is if he provides for rabbits and squirrels and frogs, he will much more provide for you because he loves you eternally and he’s preparing a place in heaven for you. God will take care of you. It is a sin to be anxious. The Lord is going to look after every one of us. You are not the exception. You know, there’s a story of a man, he was a terrible worrier. He was known everywhere in his community for his worries. He walked like a, like a question mark. Ha, ha, hand, ha. Oh, people saw him and they felt, oh, poor darb, oh, look at him, look at him. One day they saw him, he was alert, his shoulders were back, he was, so a friend went on to him and said to him, You’re different today. You seem to have changed. What’s happened? I have a friend and I pay him and he does all my worrying for me.

Well, I might say, is that right? How much does he charge you? Two hundred dollars a week, he says. How can you afford $200 a week. Well, that’s his worry, he says. Now, that’s an illustration. It’s coming in like an express train, isn’t it? You know what I’m going to say? You’ve got a savior who absolutely freely and lovingly and delightfully says, cast your cares on me because I care for you. There are duties tomorrow, there’s housework, and there’s the garden, and there’s our jobs, and our studies, and there’s our health to be checked, and there are places of temptation to avoid, and there are suitable steps to address, so that we wisely deal with the things that we have to on a Monday and a new week. And always we will be trusting the King of love who’s there with us, the shepherd who loves us so very, very deeply. It’s a matter of trust. It is a matter of trust. Trust the Lord with all your heart. Don’t lead into your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, his presence, his care for you, your debt to him. The way he’ll never leave you, when you walk through the valley of the shadow, the goodness and mercy that have followed you all your days doesn’t end with your last breath. It goes on. His rod and his staff drives evil away, and you’re there with him forever. Have you trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged. Take it to the Lord in prayer. That’s, we sing it, and we’ve got a meaning from our hearts. In his arms he’ll take and shield thee. Thou shalt find thy solace there in Jesus. You bring a burden to the God who cares for us. They won’t be distracted. Who would be distracted if we didn’t have him? Do we worry about daily bread? He’s going to provide for it. He says, ask and say, give us this day our daily bread. And our children, they are gifts from the Lord. The Lord will care for them.

I think our great problem is becoming obsessed with things concerning which we have no promises from God that he will give those things to us. He hasn’t said every Christian’s going to live till they’re a hundred. He hasn’t said every Christian’s going to be rich. He hasn’t said that. He hasn’t said every Christian is going to pass all their exams. Many a godly Christian has failed his exams. He’s never promised that we’ll never be ill, or that each one of us is going to get married, or that each married Christian is going to have a quiver full of children. God hasn’t made those promises to every believer. and we’re not to trust God to provide them, and we’re not to say, name it and claim it to God, because God has never promised such things to every single Christian. What God has promised is that he will work all things together for our good, categorically. unashamedly, unrelievably for every single Christian. He has promised all grace will abound towards us always. He has promised he will supply all our needs. He’s promised nothing can separate you from my love. He’ll never be away from us. He’ll always be there. And you would be justified in worrying and being anxious if you ever found God not keeping those promises to you. Otherwise, We are not to be anxious about anything. Absolutely nothing can justify a Christian responding to the challenges of being a Bible lover of Jesus Christ. In 2024, nothing can justify him not but worrying about this and that. We are to declare our lives worry-free lives, our homes worry-free homes, our congregation a worry-free congregation. Sickening worry is to be banished from our lives. We’re not to be anxious about trivia. We’re not to be anxious about problems that haven’t yet materialized. We’re not to be anxious about things we can’t control, and we’re not to be anxious about things that God has promised he will take care of them. You can trust him to take care of these things. So, we’re not to be anxious. Goodbye anxiety today.

So how do you deal with your worries then? Well, Paul’s counsel. But in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be laid down to God. So what do you do? Well, firstly, let him know. Are you weak and heavy laden? Take it to the Lord in prayer. Bail it out. Don’t keep it to yourself. Don’t bottle it up on a two o’clock in the morning toss and turn. Have you trials and temptations? Take it to Him! What a privilege to carry everything to the creator of the universe in prayer. And, you know, it’s your experience and it’s my experience, but there’s a problem, and we’ve prayed about it, and we’re talking to God about it, and as we talk about it to God, It shrinks, and we’re seeing it in perspective. Just to talk about this matter to our loving Heavenly Father. The Son of God is a wonderful counsellor. and our troubles seem to shrink in the light of his kindness and his sympathy and his tender care over us. He understands us so much better than we understand ourselves. He looks at every part of our requests. He examines it. We brought it to him. It’s a huge problem, and so must have. huge problems, and he looks at it, and he thinks about it, and he thinks of the implications of what we are asking for, and he really psychoanalyses us, and he turns it round and round, and he knows the whole of our future, and he knows all the implications of answering our prayers in the way we are asking for them.

You know, I told you this, I’m sure. I had a friend who was in love with a girl in the congregation and he asked her mother and father, could he take her out for a meal? And he was late 30s and she was 18. And they talked together and they said, no, she’s too young to start a serious relationship and the age gap between you is too big. We don’t want you. We don’t want you to ask her out.” And there he was, a pastor. No romance in the manse. And then he saw a nice fellow in the congregation starting to sit next to her. in the church and help her to find the passage in the Bible and the hymns and talk to her. And then the boy came on to him and he said to him, Pastor, you see, I got friendly with so-and-so. Can you help me now about courtship? I want to do this to God’s glory. Can you give me some advice He said to me, I’d have made her a far better husband than he would ever. And here am I having to advise him. I felt so sorry for him. I don’t know what I would have done without a wife as a preacher. And I said, you know, You know, Romans 8, 28 says, all things worked. I felt so pathetic trying to give him advice. He said to me, it’s all right, Jeff. It’s all right. You know, we believe when you ask God for something, either he gives you what you ask for, or he gives you something better. And that word that he gave me when I was trying to comfort him, that has been a pastoral word that has comforted a lot of people in my ministry ever since. That is living by trusting in him. And two years later, he met his present wife, and I married them and preached at his wedding, and they have four children, and et cetera, et cetera. You trust, you see, you trust that God will provide. And secondly, don’t forget to be thankful. Verse six, you got a real problem? Well, you mustn’t minimize it. Oh, and if you come to me, I won’t say, it’s nothing. I won’t say that. I try to get in your shoes and see it as you say it. But I would say to you, that’s not the only thing you’ve got, is it? This problem at the back of your mind, this problem about the next month now. You’ve got more than that in your life, haven’t you? You have got. Come on now, be honest. You’ve got more than that problem. You’ve got blessings. You’ve got blessings, haven’t you? Yes, you’ve got blessings. And has goodness and mercy followed you all the days of your life until now? Is that? Has God done that? And when you’ve gone through deep waters? You know, I nursed my first wife through Alzheimer’s and I was with her and holding her hand and she breathed the last. I never thought it was going to, I thought I was going to, we men die first. I thought I was going to, I would have the family around and I’d imagine and they would sing. And she went. She went from a state of grace to a state of glory so sweetly. and I was given enormous pieces and my girls came within quarter of an hour and we hugged one another and cried together and I read. I fought a good fight, finished the course, kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord will give me. In that day, not to me only, but all who loved his appearance and God established me in peace. I could thank him for her wonderful life and thank him that he was helping me now at this time. That’s the reality. Always something to thank God for. Mix your prayer, your needs, and your sorrows with thanksgiving. And then thirdly, you leave your worries with God. That’s the challenge. We bring them to Him. Five minutes later, we’ve picked them up again. We’ve told Him about it, and then we’re acting as if we haven’t told the wisest and the most powerful and loving of lords and friends who’s promised that He’ll help us in every time of need. Don’t be anxious, but do be praying. I think those two things, they can’t live together. Your anxieties are going to kill your prayers, or your prayers are going to kill your anxieties. That’s it. Paul is is telling us that we offer the problem to God and we give Him facts. Millions of answers, hundreds every day, all our lives, God blessing. We wake in the morning and we sit on the edge of our beds and just give Him our minds and our affections and our fingers and our plans for the day. And then through the day, He leads us every step of the way. And we gather on a Sunday morning and we say, our mighty fortress is our God. That’s what we say. That is the Christian alternative to worry. And those of you who are not yet Christians and you come here curious, drawn, but have little problems, take those little problems to the Lord. I know I’m not a Christian, I’m drawn, but I have certain problems.” Tell him all about it. Start your conversation with the Lord now. Say, he’s telling us about, the preacher’s telling us about not being anxious and, you know, I’ve been a worrier. I’ve not known what to do with my worries. Talk to God now. That’s the alternative to your worries.

The Old Testament, you know, the problem of your past, past wickedness, your past sins, the guilt of them, and how they can suddenly remember. You wonder about her. I wonder how she did. I kicked her in the teeth. I wonder how she is now. and you worry. Your past sins, the pain, the hurt you caused your parents, the bad years. All our past sins are forgiven sins. They are all under the blood of Jesus Christ. They are cleansed. They are pardoned. They do not come as a barrier between us and God now or when we see him. He won’t be smiling at some people and then, yeah, you better come in to others, tut-tutting. It won’t be like that. We are in Christ. We are a new creation. God has made him to be sin for us. Who knew no sin? He’s the Lamb of God. He has taken away all our guilt, our shame, and our blame. Is there nail to the cross of Calvary? and we are without it, and that’s the joy.

I can’t understand some of you hearing that and knowing that that is the Christian message, and yet you say, yes, but. Yeah, but. Would you dare say that? to such a loving and mighty Savior as our Lord Jesus Christ. And He’s being offered to us, and we’re being told to come to Him. You know, coming to Him is when God takes the words the preacher has said, and He applies them to our heart. And He says, You come now. You come. I’ll give you rest. You come, and I’ll give you rest. And that’s the Holy Spirit drawing, you say. Just as I am. Without a plea. Here I am, Lord. Not a very good person. Many regrets. Sorry I’ve been on the borders of the kingdom of God for so long. And always found an excuse. No more. Yes, but no more. An end of that. Here I am, marvelling that you could show your love to someone like me, that you would take me on board, that you whisper my name to your father, and you’ll keep me and bless me all my days.

And then you see the new status, the peace of God that passes all understanding. Keep your hearts and minds. You say, I won’t be able to go on as a Christian. I won’t be able to keep going. But God’s peace will keep you. If you keep your heart and your mind. You see what it says here? It’s God’s peace. It is not only that he works on your peace of mind, and he does, and he helps you to think more wisely and to cast your cares and enjoy a more peaceful life. That’s all true. but He gives His peace. You know, the peace that the Father has with the Son, and the Son has with the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit has with God, and there’s no tension between them. There’s no neurotic anxiety between the members of the Godhead. They all care for one another and trust in one another and love one another, and there’s a peace in heaven.

He’s some God. That peace comes to us and that’s the explanation of how people you’ve known who’ve had great, horrid trials, and yet have said, it’s all right. It’s all right, Pastor. God is keeping me. God’s own peace. It keeps us the images of the security team that are guarding this building, guarding the Pentagon, guarding the White House, and they’re there, they’re armed, and they’re watching. Anyone climbing over the fence, anyone wanting to attack, and they’re guarding, and the peace of God, it guards us. the devil comes a bit too near, Christ yanks the chain, and he can’t touch us, he can’t touch our loved ones, the peaceable.

You can go from today with the peace of God, your priceless possession, a peace that you can’t understand, a new life in Christ. It guards us. Should all the hosts of death and powers of hell unknown put their most dreadful forms of rage and malice on, I shall be safe. For Christ displays superior power and guardian grace. Ah, the voices from the pit, go away, go away. the voices from the pit saying, nice accent, very nice, eloquent, yes he could make you believe black was white, but I can’t be a hypocrite now, all my years I’ve not been a believer and I want to be strong. Don’t listen. That’s from the pit. It’s not too late. All the hypocrisy, all the things, bring them.

He welcomes you in all your sin and guilt. He doesn’t ask for perfect faith. He asks for faith, faith in Jesus, the God of peace that brought Jesus from the dead. You know, He’s here today, our Savior. He’s here. He’s given me this message today. He’s brought you here because he loves you. And his desire is that you should be one with him forever and ever. He, we’re told, delights in pardoning. Give God delight. by saying, here I am, here I am. Take me, bless me, use me, keep me, not for the years of Tarim alone, but for eternity. Don’t think of just today. Don’t be as Lenin sings, living for today. Live for eternity. Live for Jesus. Live for the God of peace. Don’t be anxious anymore. Trust in this great God.

You’re heavy laden. He’ll give you rest. The peace of God that blows our mind. Offered to you now. receive Him, as the Holy Spirit takes His Word and just applies it so gently and lovingly to you. My Heavenly Father, do bless your word now. Oh, thank you that you are the God of peace. And thank you, Lord, that you give us peace and that your goodness and mercy have followed us and you’ve loved us. You’ve seen us wandering and the way we are prone to leave all the good things that mum and dad told us. And we have an itch for what is foul and how and lustful and greedy. Oh, Lord, what fools we’ve been! Here we are, and you know us, and you love us still. Please enter our hearts now, and be our God from now on, and we, your unworthy Loving servants, hear our prayers, forgive our sins, become our Savior. For Jesus’ sake, amen.