Summary: 1st in a 6 part series on surviving stress, taking from Psalm 23 and various N.T. references.
INTRODUCTION TO SERIES: (“Alien Song” video clip - 0:43 - clip can be acquired from http://www.navone.org/HTML/Index.htm - used with permission.)
Have you ever felt like that? I mean, you think you’re okay, or maybe like our little alien, you’ve come through a tough time and survived, but then something else smacks you. Oh it may not be a disco ball but there must be a 100 things in this life that can knock you flat. Maybe someone deliberately crushed you. A mate, a friend, co-worker, an employee.. knocked you down and left you deeply wounded. Or maybe circumstances have flattened you. Your health is broken, a loved one died, a financial risk you took didn’t pan out, a relationship has gone sour. The stresses of life can come down on you hard and no matter your race, gender, or economic class, stress can often kick you off the island of peace. And so we have men in "mid-life" crisis, run-away wives, alcohol and drug addicted youth. Stress has become one of the biggest issues being dwelt with in the employment field, in the physical & mental health arenas and we desperately need to know how to survive the stresses of life.
That’s why, for the next 6 weeks I want us to look closely at Psalm 23. Because within these 6 verses is God’s “Survival kit” for stress. So we’ll look at how to survive busyness, indecision, emotional hurts and more. You know, there may be no passage in all the Bible any better loved or any more familiar than the 23rd Psalm. And I think it is because this Psalm tells us how to survive, it points us to God and tells us what he is really like. And my earnest prayer is that when we conclude this series, you’ll have come to know in a deeper way what God is like and that you’ll be assured of how much He really loves you and how much you matter to Him. And whether that knowledge is new to you or simply a reminder of truth, I hope that you will learn during these next six weeks to make use of God’s survival kit by learning to trust Him. Because as one author put it: “The more you understand God, the easier it is to trust Him.. And trusting Him is what brings real peace, real satisfaction, real life.”
INTRODUCTION TO SERMON:
The first cause of stress we’ll look at is Worry. Now we need to look at this cause of stress seriously. Sometimes we look at worry as a kind of personality quirk or a little flaw in our character. But we are beginning to learn that constant anxiety can have devastating effects on us physically, emotionally and spiritually. Jesus, in one of his most famous sermons, dedicates a large portion to deal with this issue in Mt. 6, and the writer of this Psalm - King David of Israel, makes this his first part of God’s survival kit from stress. Why? Because this is important; so, let’s study it seriously. Now, let me tell you right at the start that there is no easy, sure cure for worry. I wish there was some equation I could give you. You know, A+B=C and “there you go, see how easy that was?” But I’ve got no equation, no gimmick to give you that would enable you to walk out of here and never worry again. And I think we all know it goes deeper than that. But I also think within Psalm 23:1 and Mt. 6 there are some suggestions for changes in attitude that, if we will incorporate them, can have some positive long range benefit.
I. WHAT IS WORRY:
First, let’s make sure we understand what worry is. The Greek word for worry as Jesus gives it in Matthew 6 means not to engage in a “care-worn, anxious fear, which robs your life of joy.” That is why a great many translations use the word "anxious." A.T. Robertson in his word study says, "this is a command not to have the habit of (perpetual) worry." Now, some pressure in life is essential in order for us to be properly stimulated but there is a big difference between worry or anxiety and concern.
Concern focuses on predictable or probable difficulties and results in action. Certainly we need to be concerned about some things.. our financial well being, our children’s education, we need insurance. Remember one of Jesus’ parables talked about the fact that no man builds a tower without first counting the cost or no general goes to battle without being concerned about the number of the enemy. But worry focuses on uncontrollable problems and results in inaction. Worry is always asking, "What if?" But instead of stimulating the positive, anxiety promotes the negative. Ringing our hands, wondering, "What if this or that happens?"