Summary: This sermon explores the effects of worry, the cure for worry, and the peace that can result.
Church signs spotted:
"Tonight’s sermon: Hell. Come early and hear the choir practice."
"Seven days without prayer makes one weak."
"Don’t let worry kill you, let the church help."
Too often we forget that the Church is there to help. Not help to kill us, but to help us make it through life’s most difficult times. Encouragement, support, and most of all prayer for one another.
Let’s look at Philippians 4:4-7
We can see from this scripture:
A. The effects of anxiety.
B. The cure for anxiety.
C. The peace that can result.
A. The effects of anxiety.
Anxiety has been called the official emotion of our age. Today more than ever we are seeing the effects of anxiety in our society, in our lives, and in the lives of our children. Anxiety has been defined as that "inner feeling of apprehension, uneasiness, concern or worry that is accompanied by heigtened physical arousal." You perspire, shake, your blood pressure rises, you break out in hives.
Anxiety can be a reaction to a person, a place, a memory, a threat real or perceived. Or it can be a reaction to the unknown.
In the Bible anxiety is used in two different ways, as healthy concern and as fret or worry. Anxiety in the form of realistic concern is neither condemned or forbidden in the Bible. Paul and Timothy both expressed a genuine concern for the churches and fellow Christians.
Anxiety as fret or worry is also addressed in the Bible. We read in Psalms "When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul."
Jesus taught that we should not be anxious about life’s basic needs of food and clothing. He reminds us that we have a loving father who will provide for us.
We are told in the New Testament that we can cast all of our anxiety on the Lord because he cares for us.
Then we come to the scripture for tonight. Philippians 4:4-7 tells us "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
What we need to realize is that when we let anxiety into our lives, the results will be devastating.
Consider some of the results of anxiety and worry:
Anxiety affects us physically. It can result in ulcers, skin rashes, shortness of breath, loss of sleep, and loss of appetite. Studies have actually shown that people who are too busy with too much to accomplish, and too little time will actually wear their bodies out at an earlier age.
Anxiety affects us psychologically. It paralyzes us mentally. We can’t think, focus, react well, recall basic and important details. Some people experience this when taking tests.
Anxiety affects us spiritually. Maybe the only positive result of anxiety is that it forces us to turn to God. But it can also drive us away from him too. We get so overwhelmed by the physical and physcological effects of anxiety that we suffer spiritually. We quit reading the Word, we quit praying. It can also zap our desire to worship or fellowship with other Christians. It can even result in negative feelings toward God. We begin questioning "Where is God when I need him? Why would he let this happen to me?"
So Paul tells us- Don’t be anxious about anything. Do not let anxiety have a foothold in your life. Keep it out. Even though it is tough, keep your mind on God.
B. The cure is prayer
So what is the cure for anxiety?
Prepare early- know what causes anxiety in your life and be prepared to deal with it. This means acknowledging your fears and your weaknesses.
Keep perspective- in the midst of crisis...even though it is hard, step out of the situation and see things from a different perspective. Fellow Christians can help you do this.
Prayer- The scripture we are using says- "in everything by prayer and petition present your requests to God. Notice it doesn’t say take some medication, go on a talk show, or join a support group. Now I am not against those things, but our first action ought to be prayer. Too many times we want an easy quick fix. Then as a last result we turn to prayer. Prayer should come first not last.
Prayer is the cure for anxiety because it takes us into the presence of the great physician.
There is no problem too big or too small. The verse says in EVERYTHING.
A father watched out the kitchen window as his 7 year old son played in the backyard sand box. He watched him moving several large rocks out of the sandbox. There was one very big rock that was giving his little boy a great deal of trouble. He watched his son move the rock to the edge of the sandbox, but each time it looked like he would be over to move the rock over the side of the sandbox, the rock would fall back into the sandbox. The last time it fell, it pinched one of his little fingers. The father walked out to his tearful son and asked him what was the matter. His son told him all about the heavy rock in the sandbox. The father asked, "Why didn’t you use all the strenght you had?" The little boy replied, "I did dad, I did." The father responded, "No son, you didn’t ask your dad." And with that the father reached down and together he and his son removed the rock from the sandbox.