The Anxiety free life.

*Anxiety Disorders affect 18.1 percent of adults in the United States (approximately 40 million adults between the ages of 18 to 54). – National Institute of Mental Health 

*Of those 40 million people, almost 7 million of them suffer from GAD, with 15 million suffering from social anxiety disorder, 14.8 million suffering from major depressive disorder, and 7.7 million affected by post-traumatic stress disorder- National institute for mental health.

Worries. Pain. Fear. Frustration. Doubt. Stress. Faithlessness. Exhaustion.

All of these words paint vivid pictures of the complexities associated with “anxiety.”

If you are reading this right now, then no doubt you have experienced your fair share of anxiety from time to time. You may have even rented a room in the “Distress District” as of late, due to your workload.

We often feel anxious about our finances: How can we make this month’s bills? How will I be able to fix my aging car if it breaks down? What if I lose my job? How will we put the kids through college? How can we meet our medical bills? How will we ever save enough for retirement? What if the economy fails?

We feel anxious about our health, especially as we grow older: What if I get cancer or Alzheimer’s? What if I’m disabled or have to go into a nursing home? If we’re younger, we may have these same anxieties concerning our aging parents.

We’re anxious about our children: Will they turn out okay? Will they avoid drugs and sexual immorality? Will they be safe in this crime-ridden world? Will they be able to get into college and then get a decent-paying job? Will they marry a godly person and have a happy home? What kind of world will their children have to live in?

The lists could go on and on. Maybe you’re getting anxious just reading this as I give different reasons for anxiety! Sometimes we can’t identify any specific reason for our anxiety, but it’s there, nagging away at our insides. If we don’t learn to deal with it properly, it can cause all sorts of health problems, which in turn feed our anxieties. Few of us are strangers to anxiety. It creeps in over big and little things, gnawing away at our insides.

Someone graphically described anxiety as “a thin stream of fear trickling the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other things are drained” – (Arthur Roche)

Anxiety in the Greek is the word mermina” which translates as “care or worry,” which comes from the Greek root word, merminao which literally means dividing and fracturing a person’s being into parts.”

There’s no wonder that worry and anxiety make us feel like we are literally falling apart.

Anxiety kills faith. Anxiety kills hope. Anxiety limits our devotion to God. Anxiety bogs down our prayer life. Anxiety places a wall between the factual, and the supernatural. Anxiety weakens. Anxiety distorts. Anxiety clouds. Anxiety is not from God. Anxiety is a swift attack on the mind, which then affects the heart, and ultimately affects the body. Anxiety must be understood, dealt with and removed in order to have deep and personal fellowship the Lord.  

I love how Dr. Tony Evans puts it: Worrying is interest paid before the trouble is due.

No one in scripture dealt with the reality of worry and anxiety more than the apostle Paul. He is arguably one of the most central figures in the growth of the early church, and an excellent example of how to proclaim the gospel with authority, conviction, passion, zeal and respect. Paul addresses the church in Phillipi while arrested after an incident we’ll read about in acts 16:20.

Acts 16:20-24

20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.”22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.”

Here we see Paul suffering at the hands of roman soldiers for what had happened a few verses earlier, driving a demon out of a girl who could for-see the future with demonic possession. Once the magistrates got word that this was taking place, they flogged both him and Silas and put them both in prison.

Paul had worries. I’m sure Paul felt a great deal of anxiety as a church planter, missionary and pastor.

Paul had much to worry about if he were to solely deal with the facts of his constant sufferings, but in the middle of a dark & dungy prison, Paul pens one of the most encouraging letters to believers. The letter to the Philippians. Paul uses what the enemy intended for evil and destruction to encourage believers to seek Christ’s joy in the midst of their most difficult times.

To those who follow Him, Jesus promised, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). He spoke those comforting words on the most difficult night He faced on this earth, the night before His crucifixion. Seven times in the New Testament our God is called either the God or Lord of peace. That peace can be the constant experience of every Christian, even in the midst of trials

I want to focus our attention to the passage in Philippians 4:4-13 and draw 4 simple points to live an anxiety free life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness[d] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not 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.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned[e] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. 10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Rejoice in the LORD.

The word “rejoice” means to be conscious and glad for God’s grace. To take it a step further, it literally means to “Hail” or bow down to God as a means to surrender any contrary feeling and subject it to the overwhelming reality of Gods goodness. Experience his joy & goodness and anxiety won’t take much part in our thinking. Notice how paul begins his letter in the fourth chapter, in prison. He says in simple terms: “First of all, you need to rejoice. Start with a spirit of thanksgiving and acknowledge Gods goodness”

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear that anxiety stems from a lack of faith and from a wrong focus on the things of this world instead of on the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:25-34, especially verses 30 & 33). If we excuse our anxieties by saying, “Well, it’s only human,” or, “Anybody would feel anxious in this situation,” we will not overcome it because we are not confronting the root cause of it, namely, our sin of not believing God and of not seeking first His kingdom and righteousness.

Pray constantly, and consistently. Phil. 4:6-7  do not 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.

Paul says do not be anxious about anything. This shows us that the very act of worry and living in worry are sins! He’s not making a pledge here, or 5 steps to a better life. No. What he’s implying is that the key to even begin to rejoice in the Lord is found in the secret room of your prayer life.

Proverbs 15:8 says: The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.
  It literally pleases the Lord when we take part in continual prayer, it is our very fuel for the journey.  Fuel your spirit with constant communication with the Lord! Constant! The promise is that HIS peace will be with you! This means that when it comes to the matter of dealing with our anxiety, we must, at the outset, confront our motives for even wanting to have peace. If our reason for wanting to be free from anxiety is so that we can live a peaceful, pleasant life, our focus is self-centered and therefore wrong. There are many people who come to Christ because they are anxious and they want the peace He offers. But if they do not confront the fact that they are living to please themselves rather than God, they will simply settle into a self-centered life where they “use God” for their own peace and comfort. Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it” (Mark 8:35). The peace Christ offers is the by-product of enthroning Christ as Lord and living for His kingdom. Saints, we must pray constantly & consistently.

When Paul says to make our requests known “to God,” the Greek word means “face to face with God,” to come directly before Him. This means that when we pray, we must stop to remember that we are coming into the very presence of the holy God, where even the holy angels cover their faces and cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:3). Yes, He welcomes us into His presence as a father welcomes his children. Through our High Priest, the Lord Jesus, God invites us to draw near with confidence to the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:16). But we must remember that it is to the throne of the universe, to the Sovereign, Eternal God that we come.

This means, of course, that we must always examine our hearts and confess and forsake all sin when we come to God in prayer. The psalmist says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear” my prayers (Ps. 66:18). But we also have the assurance that if we confess our sins, the blood of Jesus is sufficient to cleanse us (1 John 1:7, 9).

Meditate on The Word.  Phil. 4:8-9  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned[e] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you”  

The God of peace will be with us when we truly learn to meditate on his word. (Ps. 119:9-16) This is an ongoing issue in the church. We are hearers of the word, but not many of us are doers. The issue lies with our lack of meditation in the Word. I personally know many people who can spit out Bible verses left and right but live their lives in constant worry, fear and anxiety. Sound like an oxymoron? That’s because it is! The bible is not a book of useful historical information. You and I are not historians merely scrounging around the texts trying to fit geographical/ historical issues together. You and I should recognize the bible for what it is; the unique story of redemption where we are united to a Holy God through the finished work of Christ. It is in his word that we get the nourishment for our souls, how to pray to our loving Father, how to appreciate and worship our redeemer how to live in holiness and oneness with God, and how to live a life full of spiritual victory over the powers and principalities of the airs! If you are living in worry and defeat, the bible is here to remind you to STOP!

Remember whom you serve: .Phil.4:11-13  11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Note that this peace stands guard like a sentry over our inner person, our hearts (the comprehensive term for our whole person) and minds (specifically, our thoughts which threaten to trouble us) in Christ Jesus. We are in intimate, permanent union with Him, and to get to us, anxiety must go through Christ Jesus!

So what God promises isn’t just a quick fix, where prayer is a technique that will bring you calm until you get through the crisis. Paul is talking about an ongoing, deepening, intimate relationship with the God of peace, where you seek to please Him with all your thoughts, words, and deeds. In a time of trial, you draw near to the God of peace, you focus on His grace to you in Christ Jesus, you pour out your heart to Him, and the result is, His peace stands guard over your heart and mind. Remember whom you serve! Do you know God’s peace in the midst of situations that the world gets anxious about? If not, examine yourself: Is your faith in Him and your focus on His kingdom, rather than on selfish pursuits? Have you drawn near to God in reverent, specific, thankful prayer? You can put your full weight down on Him, and He will bear you up and give you His indescribable peace. It makes the flight so much more enjoyable!

Words from Jesus:

Matthew 6:27-34

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Advertisements

Security for the Insecure

Security is a critical element in life. Unfortunately, it’s also very elusive. Recent world events, terrorist attacks, financial collapses and all of the woes that come from a fallen planet really demonstrate how insecure our world is.

On a personal level, perhaps you live in insecurity because you have been the victim of a crime such as robbery or rape. Maybe your spouse has threatened divorce and thus, you lack marital security. Your children may be struggling with physical or emotional ailments that have deprived you of security. Perhaps you’ve lost your job and your retirement has plummeted leaving you feeling hopelessly insecure. Reflecting on your life, you realize that you have little or no security in those areas where you crave it most.

Fortunately for the believer, in the single area that truly matters most—your relationship with God almighty—you can have ultimate security.

The Bible boldly declares that God offers believers His unconditional love, acceptance and security.

Yet many Christians still struggle with this notion. As a pastor, I hurt for those of you who cannot grasp the beauty of eternal security and that’s why I want you to know that God’s love for you is perfect and everlasting. I grew up in a Pentecostal home where I thought God to be a distant deity who was willing to smite me every time I listened to secular music or sat in a movie theatre. I truly resonated with Martin Luther when he came to the place where he admitted that he hated God for his holy requirement of perfection from us. “This word is too high and too hard that anyone should fulfill it,” But here’s the Biblical truth: The Lord yearns for you to have complete assurance and security in Him. Despite your imperfections.

This confidence is critical if you are to experience the Christian life the way God intended and worship Him the way He intended. Proper theology leads to proper doxology.

Romans 8 is regarded to be one of the best chapters in all the bible. Verses 31-39 may be the most comforting and encouraging verses in the Word. (In my opinion of course) These verses definitively declare thateternal security belongs to the Lord.

Paul offers three hopeful assurances: There is no opposition, there is no condemnation, and there is no separation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

There is no opposition: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[a]against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 

Friend, God is for you.

In the beginning portion of 8:31; Paul writes “What then shall we say to these things?” This is the first of seven questions in this passage. Throughout this passage, Paul’s goal is to exhaust any and every objection.

What things is Paul referring to here? If we go back a verse, it ends with “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. “

This is implicitly telling us that God’s very work is effectual in its processes. It’s not anything you and I can muster up to do, but it is the very working of God that we are even called to believe in Him. Since He gave us Jesus, (The Son) how will he not keep us until the day of redemption? Salvation is a very gift. Paul is making that case crystal clear here. HE graciously, gives us all things including persecution and death. ALL things are expected, because God uses ALL things for His glory. Now it makes sense when we read Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

In Matthew 6:33 Jesus tells us: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these thingswill be added to you.

In 8:32 Paul answers the question of 8:31 with a rhetorical question: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”

Paul argues from the greater to the lesser. If God has done the big thing, delivering up Jesus, will He not do the little thing?

For God to give up The Son to death and then abandon you on the highway to glorification would be like a rich man spending a vast sum on a car and then leaving it on the roadside because he couldn’t afford the gasoline to run it. How absurd! That is the idea behind Paul’s argument here. Since God gave up His Son to purchase and secure your eternal life, He will certainly give you whatever you need to live for Him now. But this phrase “all things” (panta) does not include Rolls-Royces, mansions, expensive jewelry, and elaborate wardrobes. The health, wealth, and prosperity gospel teaching is a false gospel which needs to be refuted immediately.

Paul’s assertion is designed to drive home the unshakable assurance that God will do whatever is necessary to guarantee your ultimate glorification.

And that there is good news for our souls!

There is no condemnation:   33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

The picture Paul paints here is one of a courtroom setting. He’s speaking in legal terms here. The imagery and thought process throughout is the idea that we are standing to be judged, but the accusations just don’t stick. It’s almost like having the perfect alibi during a courtroom questioning.

Let’s Look at the prophet Zachariah in chapter 3:1-4. This provides a great mental image:

Zechariah 3:1-4: “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments” 

Because of what Christ has accomplished in redemption, we no longer stand condemned. A proper name for our adversary satan should really be “the satan.” The Hebrew word satan means “the adversary, or the one who resists.” It is translated as “satan” eighteen times in the Old Testament, fourteen of those occurrences being in Job 1-2, the others in 1 Chronicles 21:1 and Zechariah 3:1-2. This gives us a good understanding on who it is we’re dealing with here.

But there’s something else I want you to focus on, it’s the word interceding. The Greek Paul used here for interceding is:en tyn chanei”  and it means “to light upon a person or a thing,

to go to, or meet a person, esp. for the purpose of conversation, consultation, or supplication. To pray, entreat, make intercession for any one”.

This helps us clearly see Christ’s intentional intercession on our behalf. He is for us, interceding that we would be freed from temptation and be sanctified in this life. He is on our side!

The Apostle John wanted to make this crystal clear in 1st john 2:1

1st John 2:1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous

John here calls him our advocate. Again, speaking in legal terms. We are his “Elect” or his “chosen ones” handpicked for such a time as this to be conformed to the image of Christ! An advocate is “a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.”

This shows us that Christ is our advocate, supporting us, constantly recommending us, interceding on our behalf, praying that we stay the course and win this race with victory because of what he has done. And let me tell you, when the trinity is praying, these are effectual prayers! Read this slowly, Romans 8:26 says it like this: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Wow! This should bring comfort to the troubled soul. Paul writing to the Galatians in chapter 4:4-6 goes on to cement this truth;

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[a] Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[b] Father.”

Don’t ever forget that!  It may be difficult to comprehend how this all works out, but this is the very means God uses to “keep us” saved and secure in him, its these beautifully complicated processes.

Jesus says in John 6:37-39: 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me but raise it up on the last day. (glorification)

Then he says in John 3:18;   17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 

My friends, there is no condemnation!

There is no separation35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The verb “separate” (chorizo) bookends this section (8:35, 39), confirming that there is no separation in your relationship with God. Paul begins with the question that is potentially the most critical question a Christian can ask:

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” (8:35) Of course, the answer is: No one can separate us from the love of Christ.

However, you may say, “But I don’t feel like I love Christ all the time.” No, you misread 8:35; It’s not who is going to separate us from our love for Christ, but who is going to separate us from Christ’s love for us. 

I don’t know about you, but my love for Christ can fluctuate between hot and cold. If my salvation depends upon the fervency of my love for Christ, I would have already been cast into hell. Thankfully, my salvation does not depend upon my love for Christ; rather, it depends upon Christ’s love for me. His life, death, resurrection, and intercession have secured my eternal destiny. The only reason that I will spend eternity with God is because of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Paul goes on to quote Psalm 44:22 which reads: Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

But I’ll quote a few verses beforehand to give you a better context.

20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21 would not God discover this?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
22 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

In other words, we can expect to be killed or destroyed by God if we turn to other gods and idols, but it says for your sake we are persecuted, we are hunted down to die, regarded as sheep to the slaughter!

God is more concerned with our sanctification, and our glorification, so yes we will face many troubles in this life, but what did Jesus say about that?

John 16:33 (ESV)

33 have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

So the very threat of death is not really a threat to us, because it cannot separate us from the love of Christ. Persecution cannot do it. Famine can’t do it. Nakedness can’t do it. Peril, or sword can’t do it. Angels, ruler’s powers and principalities can’t do it! NOTHING means nothing in Greek, Latin, English, Spanish, Creole, Afrikaans, Dutch, and you get the gist.

Paul reaffirms this when he says in Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

God’s love for his children in Christ is secure, effectual and everlasting. Take heart my friend. The Lord has gone great lengths to demonstrate that those who are in Him have no opposition, no condemnation and no separation.

Live by these truths. He is for you and will make sure that you are sanctified daily with the ultimate goal of salvation in mind: To be conformed to the image of Christ. Always remember: The father chooses, The son saves, The spirit preserves.

He offers security for the insecure. 

You are in His hand.