The End of Worry • Philippians 4:6-7

I.   INTRODUCTION

A.  Anxiety

1.  Anxiety and worry account for an ever increasing list of mental and physical problems

2.  The Mayo Clinic stated that 80 to 85 percent of their total case load were ill due directly to anxiety

3.  A few years ago, an article appeared in a leading medical journal entitled, "Is Stress the Cause of All Disease?" 

a.  the author of the article said that at the beginning of the century, bacteria were considered to be the center of attention. 

b.  today, anxiety has replaced bacteria.

4.  Stress affects everyone, but in today's society stress has gone overboard. 

5.  Researchers are discovering the link between anxiety and depression. 

a.  physically, it leads to heart disease, cancer, arthritis, life threatening gastro intestinal problems, ulcers, and drug and alcohol abuse.

b.  worry can lead to domestic violence, and even homicide or suicide. 

c.  it’s become such a serious problem that experts say that coping with stress is THE number one health priority of the 90's.

6.  Consider these statistics:

a.     25 million Americans have high blood pressure due to stress & anxiety

b.     1 million more develop high blood pressure each year

c.     8 million people have stomach ulcers

d.     230 million prescriptions are filled for tranquilizers annually

B.  The Answer

1.  While the modern world may face a more intense battle with anxiety than every before, the fact is, every age has struggled with worry

2.  And in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he gives the best prescription possible for overcoming anxiety

3.  Don’t Worry – PRAY!  [Say it with me]

II.  TEXT

A.  Vs. 6-7

 6        Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

7          and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

1.  Once again, as we have done repeatedly now in our study in this inspiring letter, think about Paul’s circumstances as he wrote this

a.  he was in prison in Rome, awaiting the verdict on his appeal to Caesar.

b.  soon he would hear that either he was being cleared of all charges and was free to go,

c.  or, he was guilty of sedition against the Empire and was to be executed

d.  it didn’t help that the Caesar at this time was none other Nero, a man well known for his hatred of the Faith

e.  if there was anyone whose anxiety was justified, it was Paul

2.  But he doesn’t worry.  He is at peace

3.  He’s heard reports that opposition to the Church and several cases of persecution have risen against the community of Christ there in Philippi

4.  So he writes a letter of encouragement to them, giving them the cure for worry

5.  It was a cure he was using and proving sure.

6.  He says,

6          Be anxious for nothing,

7.  The word “anxious” means to be mentally distracted, to have a split mind that can’t stay focused

a.  as we read on we realize that what we should stay focused on is the Lord

b.  but anxiety describes a mind that has been divided between two competing centers of attention

c.  it’s that state we come to when some need arises before us and we allow it, whatever it is, to eclipse our vision of Christ.

d.  suddenly, we lose sight of God and begin to try to deal with the problem on our own strength and out of our own resources

e.  and as we compare the problem to the solutions we can come up with, we realize we don’t have what it takes

f.   so fear sets in; we’re afraid the problem will overwhelm us

8.  There isn’t a person in this room today who doesn’t know what it means to worry

9.  But look at what Paul says here: Be anxious for nothing

a.  really Paul – Nothing!

b.  there’s no allowance for anxiety

c.  certainly there are some things we’re to worry about right?

1) nuclear war

2) terrorist bombings

3) stock market crash

4) our family getting in a wreck

5) the dog eating my homework

6) leave the house and ½ way down the street a little voice tells us – “You left the iron on.”

7) gone to bed at night – “Did I lock the front door?”

d.  normal to think these, shows proper caution,

e.  but when your find yourself flooded by adrenalin and a feeling of terror or panic sets in in response to them, it’s probably because you are prone to giving in to anxiety

10.     When Paul writes, “Be anxious for nothing” he means just that!

11.     Anxiety is incompatible with faith in God.

12.     If we worry, we can't trust; if we trust, we can't worry.

13.     But Paul’s a realist – he knows that while we aren’t to give into worry, we’re going to be tempted to

14.     So he gives a prescription for anxiety

Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

15.     The solution to worry is not simply just putting our problems out of our mind

16.     The solution to anxiety is to take your problems to God > Don’t Worry – PRAY!

17.     And here’s how we do that . . .

a.  no matter what it is, no matter how seemingly big or small, we pray about it

b.  the word “prayer” is the most general form of prayer there is, and is often used to describe worship and adoration

c.  the word “supplication” refers to specific requests

d.  and the word “thanksgiving” speaks of an attitude of gratitude that finds frequent expression in our language

18.     Here’s what Paul is saying in all this . . .

a.  keep yourself in a state of constant prayerfulness

b.  don’t just come to the Lord when you’re in trouble

c.  in everything, as you just go through your day, stay in that place where you abide in the conscious presence of God

d.  in 1 Thess. He puts it this way, “Pray without ceasing.”

1) prayer isn’t just what we do in private when we bow our heads and close our eyes and talk to God in the King’s English

2) that kind of prayer is an important part of the life of faith

3) but prayer shouldn’t end when we say “Amen.”

4) to pray without ceasing, to pray about everything, means to live in the presence of God,

5) turning every thought His way; never breaking off communication with Him

e.  imagine what a day at work, or at home, or at school would be like if you could go through the entire day without once losing the consciousness that God was right there, listening to every word, and taking an active part in all that goes on around you

f.   and that no matter what came up, you took it to Him immediately for His help, knowing that He was vitally concerned and would provide what was needed

19.     As I mentioned, the word for prayer in v. 6 is the most general word for prayer and is often used of worship and adoration of God

a.  that is where our prayer has to begin, in worship

b.  we’ll find the cure to anxiety only if we first fix our attention on the greatness, majesty, and power of God

c.  I’ve discovered that one of the surest cures for fear is to praise God

d.  when I take my eyes of the cause of my distress and instead place them on God, the distress loses it’s power – for what can defeat God, what can overwhelm Him?

20.     The cure to worry begins with maintaining an attitude of worship and praise toward God

a.  we’ve had a few evenings and mornings with fog lately

1) it’s always a challenge to drive in the fog

2) and some times it’s so thick, you can’t see more than a few yards in front of your car.

3) it’s interesting to realize that a dense fog covering seven city blocks to a depth of 100 feet is composed of something less than one glass of water! 

4)  fog is so unsubstantial, and yet it can hinder our vision

5) our problems are like fog compared to God; they are insubstantial

6) and yet, they so often eclipse our vision of Him.

b.  the key to ensuring things stay clear is to keep our eyes on Christ

21.     Then we come to supplication, which is making specific requests of God

a.  no matter what it is, we can take it to the Lord

b.  there is nothing too big or too small for Him

c.  because He loves us, it’s of concern to Him.

22.     You known, I think we need to just plain do what the Scripture says here – it says, IN EVERYTHING, by prayer and supplication take it to God

a.  God does not tire of the prayers of His kids

b.  He delights in us and our prayers when they are offered in this way

c.  so be specific, tell God what’s bothering you, what’s tempting you to be anxious

23.     Now - notice what we are to add to our general prayer and specific petitions – thanksgiving!

a.  this is where we add faith to our prayer

b.  if we can stay in the place of communion with God,

c.  and then as specific challenges to our faith arise, we take them immediately to the Lord,

d.  and then having mentioned them to God, we by faith begin to thank Him for the answer,

e.  we’ve covered all the bases

24.     Think of this like a baseball game

a.  you are at bat, and the world is throwing anxieties at you

b.  every time you give in, it’s a strike

c.  but when your bat is faith, you get a hit

d.  first base is worship

e.  second base is supplication, those specific requests

f.   and once you round second base, you look to third – thanksgiving

g.  once you reach third, coming home is certain!

25.     Remember, anxiety is a distracted mind – distracted from the sufficiency of God’s love and power

26.     We make the choice to either let the problem distract us, or drive us to even greater trust and confidence in the Lord

27.     Know this – were there is worry, there is no faith and were there is faith, worry is banished

B.  Peace

1.  Paul says that if we follow this pattern of praying about everything, then . . .

7           . . . the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

2.  God’s peace, the peace that comes from Him and is beyond analysis, is the antidote to anxiety

3.  Rather than having a distracted mind that feels like it’s being ripped apart by fear and worry, our minds can be safeguarded by God Himself

4.  The words Paul uses in v. 7 are military

5.  We could paraphrase it like this, “Peace from God, the kind of peace that stands above and is superior to human intellect or reasoning, will set up a military garrison to protect your emotions and thoughts.”

6.  Anxiety or peace – what will it be?

7.  Listen to Jesus –

25 “I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;

29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

8.  Jesus and Paul are saying the same thing: Keep your eyes on the Lord, and instead of anxiety, you’ll have the peace and confidence of knowing that He loves you and has your best in mind

9.  Isa 26:3 – “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”

 

C.  Choosing

1.  I’ve found these verses to be of tremendous value when I am tempted to worry over some major decision I have to make

2.  There come those time in our lives when we’re faced with decisions that will mark a whole new direction in life

a.  making a job change

b.  marriage

c.  choosing schools

d.  a major purchase

e.  whatever the decision, it’s something that has tremendous ramifications

3.  These tend to be decisions attended by a lot of anxiety because of their potential for influencing the course of our lives for years to come

4.  Some of you’re facing decisions like that right now

5.  Here’s how these verses speak to us

6.  First of all, we need to be in the regular habit of asking the Lord’s guidance in directing our lives, not just in the big things, but in the smaller ones as well

7.  It’s easier to discern His leading if we’ve grown accustomed to His voice and how He leads

8.  Then as we pray, we ask the Lord to give us specific guidance.

a.  we set the options before Him and ask Him to show us His will

b.  as we prayerfully consider each one – be sensitive to where the peace is

c.  remember what Paul promises here

1) don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything,

2) and as you do, the peace of God will guard your heart and mind

d.  you see, that peace is the evidence of the right direction

e.  it acts like an umpire that points you in the right direction

9.  The problem is that we so often then try to figure out WHY we feel the peace of God about a particular direction – but Paul warns us – don’t try to figure it out – it surpasses understanding, it stands above your intellect

10.     When you are facing these kinds of decisions and looking for the Lord’s guidance, follow the pattern given in Scripture –

a.  what does the Word say about this?

b.  seek the advice of people you respect -  there’s wisdom in a multitude of counselors

c.  use the gray matter God gave you to assess the situation

d.  but finally, and most importantly, remember that it’s really an issue of faith – so take it to prayer and look for the peace

III. CONCLUSION

A.  The Pilot

1.  In the earlier days of aviation, a pilot was making a cross-country trip

2.  While flying over the plains states, he heard a strange sound

3.  Feathering the engine back to make it as quiet as possible, he listened closely and realized it was the sound of some rodent gnawing on one of the internal wires

4.  Panic engulfed him as he realized it might be some vital cable or control wire

5.  He didn’t know what to do; there was no landing strip any where near

6.  Then he got an idea

a.  rodents don’t do well at high elevations

b.  so he took the plane up to 15,000 and kept it there for some time

c.  finally, the gnawing stopped

7.  At his next fueling stop, he opened up the plane and found a dead rat inside the fuselage

B.  Where To Take Your Anxiety

1.  Anxiety is a spiritual rodent that gnaws on the vital cables and control wires of our lives

2.  The best way to kill anxiety is to rise to the heights with Christ

3.  Notice how Paul ends this whole thing

6    Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

7          and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

4.  When tempted to worry – put Jesus in the middle of it, and watch how quickly worry dies

5.  One day, Jesus and the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee and a storm whipped up

a.  the waves were rising around them and crashing into their boat.

b.  the disciples began to panic, thinking they were going down

c.  but Jesus was asleep in the bow – at perfect peace, because He knew The Father was watching out for Him

d.  the disciples woke Jesus up and asked Him if He didn’t care that they were all about to drown

e.  Jesus stood up and rebuked the wind and waves

f.   they immediately were calm, and then, the disciples were terrified of Jesus!

6.  Your boat my be getting tossed by the wind and waves of trial – but if Jesus is Your Lord, then He is in your boat

7.  Psalm 121:4 – “He who watches Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps!”