After this mornings prophetic ministry time on worry I dug out this old sermon to put in a blog. Hope it helps
Two business executives meet at for lunch. Gene asks “How’s your health?” Ed said, “I feel great! My ulcers are gone. And I don’t have a care in the world!” Gene says, “How did that happen?”
Ed said, “Well, you know my doctor told me my ulcers were caused from worrying. So, I hired myself a professional worrier. Whenever something worrisome comes up, I turn it over to him, and he does all my worrying for me!”
Gene says, “Wow, I’d like to hire someone like that! How much does he charge?”
Ed says “One hundred thousand pounds!” Gene asked, “How in the world can you afford £100,000?”
Ed says, “I don’t know. I let him worry about that!”
In these credit crunch –days there is a lot of worrying about finances going on. Friends of mine lost the New Inn, Woolworths is gone, Birthdays is gone, Some of the factories are on 4 day weeks. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all have a professional worrier – Well you can. God commands us to “cast your anxieties on Him for he care for you” 1 Peter 5:7. He takes them but he isn’t a professional worrier He is in control and can do something about it!
Passage about unity, anxiety and worry
Addresses a unity problem in Philippi
Euodia and Synteche not getting on and it has gone public, church is getting anxious.
Mature Christians, in some form of leadership. Disagreeing, causing a lack of unity – which is a big deal. Disunited our eyes are of the main thing Love Jesus, love each other and love the Lost
What was wrong?
Not false doctrine – Paul not afraid to let you know if you are a heretic – read Colossians
Not Sin or immorality – Paul not afraid to tell a Corinthian young man to stop sleeping with his mum
We don’t know – we don’t need to know. Sometimes the division is more important than the issue
Paul wants it nipped in the bud ( although in pre phone and email days – the bud is 4 months down the line).
Because Paul uncharacteristically doesn’t mention what the problem is, the issue is not the problem itself, but the lack of unity that is causing the Church a lot of worry.
Back to the Philippians – Paul says enough. Your eyes are the ball. They are off loving Jesus and loving people. Get mediator to hear both sides and sort it out. So he asks a loyal yokefellow to help them – to hear both sides and mediate it.
Next Paul Addresses the issue of anxiety and worry that has come to light because of Euodia and Synteche
Bible fantastically timeless and helpful
67% of us worry, 21% are tempted to get medication
50% have sleepless nights.
One survey middle of last year said our biggest worries are ID theft, terrorism and health – I guess commission by an insurance company. Now it will be credit crunch type stuff probably!
Before we address anxiety from the passage let’s define it.
Medical definition “A state of apprehension, uncertainty and fear resulting from the anticipation of a threatening or negative event or situation, often impairing physical and psychological functioning and reasoning.”
Or in English “It’s anticipating the future in a worst case scenario and freaking out about it!”
Prophet of doom and usually a false prophet at that.
Constant noise (ipods, tv, radio, internet, email Greek word for demon!), Traffic – no one else can drive,
Fractured family life, Finances, Daily Mail, Success (when you are failing, you get a pat on the back and a cup of tea)
Symptoms – nudge the person next to you
Mood swings, Anger, Depression, Exhaustion, Wanting to run away or die, Comfort eating, Irritability, Sexual temptation (certain sins are tantalising to me right now), Sleepless nights – tossing and turning and thinking, Drinking red bull “I was anxious, now I am anxious and excited!”,
Everything is a burden – even snuggling on the sofa with the kids
Magazines say more exercise, more sex, anti-depressants, yoga, smelling something yellowy help.
Sleep, exercise and diet help, so does the Bible!
What does the Bible say?
Anxiety is a sin to be repented of not a condition to be managed – controversial but true.
Paul “Do not be anxious about anything” – sounds like a command to be obeyed to me
Jesus “Do not worry” Matt 6:25 among other places
There are many reasons why I can say anxiety is a sin rather than a condition to be managed.
• Expressing a lack of trust in God “God can’t handle this. Only my mind can process this”
• Denial of the sovereignty of God
• Disobedience of a command or two to not be anxious
• Not making the most of time – worrying is a time waster. It’s like sitting in a rocking chair – it keeps you busy, but doesn’t get you anywhere.
• Damages the temple of the Holy Spirit – your body – physically, emotionally and mentally
Sometimes we need treatment, but here Paul is going to give us 9 things to make habits that will be preventative for when circumstances could make you tempted to be anxious.
Here’s 9 things from Phil 4:2-9 to avoid being anxious neurotics!
1 Anchor your joy in Jesus
“Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.” This is important because Paul has repeated it, and because he repeats it throughout the letter. Our circumstances change, but Jesus doesn’t. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Every circumstance we go through has something negative about it. But Jesus doesn’t. If your circumstances determine how happy or sad you are, they rule. Paul commands us to rejoice always because there is always a reason to rejoice in every circumstance. There are always reasons to complain and reasons to rejoice – it’s a choice which one you do.
2 Respond gently
When we are emotional, anxious and stressed we often behave unreasonably and make crazy demands. Gentleness is not our default, freaking out is! I had to deal with a BT call centre – enough said, I am afraid. I replied to an email and then was convicted by this passage, repented and rung a good call centre.
Gentleness is a miracle – part of God and us in relationship. Jesus is between us and our circumstances allowing us the chance to respond differently – top let the gentleness that is a fruit of the Holy Spirit transforming us to be evident to all – even to call centre staff from another nation who tried to order an extra line rather than cancelling one!
Allowing Jesus to work in us the habit of responding gently as we work out our daily lives, means that when circumstances come, we avoid the sin of anxiety.
3 The Lord is near
He is always with us, never will I leave you or forsake you. Though you walk through the valley of death, his presence is always with you.
4 Pray lots
Talk to Jesus, he will not be disappointed when you tell him you are struggling, he knows anyway. Pray until the peace comes and the anxiety lifts. Those times when I can’t sleep because I am worrying – I have to get up and pray until it goes, then I drop of straight away. That is actually quicker and you end up sleeping more than just worrying lying there!
What do you do in anxious circumstances first? Phone a friend who will give permission for that sin of anxiety, email, gossip, leave a nasty voice mail. Train yourself to pray as your first inclination.
Talk to Jesus until your heart attitude and emotions are better
5 Choose to not be anxious
Lord I’m going to talk to you about this. I’m not going to ignore or pretend. I ‘m not going to let 1 thing ruin everything.
Paul lists 8 good things to think about – positive things, not negative anxious things that all come ultimately from Scripture. It is so easy not to think about Scripture, to get consumed with the circumstance. Paul urges to think about the good.
Ask yourself some question based on Paul’s list in verse 8
Is this true or is it lies?
Is this noble? Would I be ashamed or glad about this?
Is this right? Just or injust? Seeking reconciliation or revenge?
Is this pure? What about my motives here? My words, actions and thoughts?
Is this lovely? Is everything about this situation and what I am considering beautiful or ugly?
Is it admirable? Would mature Christians see good change in me? Or would they be confronting me – you always do this, freak out, blame others, despair, loose sight…?
Think about Jesus, about Scripture, about how to respond…
7 Respond instead of react
Verse 9 “Whatever you have learned, or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice” Respond not react. Often we think or act in way that makes it look like anxiety gives us a blank cheque to do what we shouldn’t. “I was angry”, “I was anxious”, “I was frightened that…”
Anxiety does not let us off the hook. Our response is our responsibility. We need to live according to our theology not anxiety. If God is sovereign, act like it. If God works out for our good, act like it. There is always something we can rejoice about, always something we can use to get closer to Jesus.
8 Plug into the Church
Euodia and Synteche were fighting. Paul didn’t as far as we know send them a personal letter each. He wrote to the church, because it was pretty public anyway. He wrote to the Church, asking someone in the Church to be a mediator, to act like Jesus the ultimate mediator to sort it out.
We need Christian community –small groups, because anxiety is diminished in community. Where you are loved, supported, affirmed, rebuked and admonished. Where people do not just agree with you, but help you examine your motives and challenge your behaviour.
Wiser to begin in community before life gets tough!
9 Accept the peace of God.
Just as gentleness is part of the miracle of God working in you growing the fruit of the Spirit where there is a lack of gentleness around you. So too, peace is gift of God. It will not make sense, you are not getting as stressed and anxious when life presses is, but God is working in you bringing a peace that transcends all understanding in v7
In 2007 we moved to King’s Lynn to plant a Church. We put our house on the market in Feb 07 and three things happened
1 The Housing market died
2 The School we wanted our kids to goto was completely oversubscribed
3 Our car engine died at 3am on the way home from Ireland, costing £2000 and then the cambelt snapped completely wrecking the engine again –we had to write a £3000 car off as uneconomical to repair.
All good excuses to worry! And boy did I.
But God used those circumstances to teach me how to put Phil 4 into practice and stop freaking out!
Learnt to pray the sovereignty of God and remind Him of his promises – laminated card of the prophecies associated with the Church plant.
Saw God break in at the 11th hour every time
2 Christian friends arranged for loads of Christians to give us £5000 to get a much newer car
Needed to be there Sept – so set deadline of house sale of end of June.
School oversubscribed for our twins – prayed – they got in the day before the classes were decided
Went to the parent evening and met someone who told us about their friends house that was for sale
Prayed – sold 5pm 30th June
Exchanged in the car with the removal van behind us.
Completed at 5.05pm – miracle – solicitor stayed late on a Friday! Moved in on the 31st, got the furniture in on the 1st. Started the Church on 2nd Sept.
Nailed worry as a stronghold
Gained faith for breakthroughs in the plant
Impartation to set people free from worry. Pray for people who are feeling convicted by their worrying
Come to the front – to repent, pray for you, but only if you will go away from an encounter with God, resolving to make those 9 things a daily choice to stay free!
If you are a worrier – you will be worrying that you will be the only one coming forward and so wont want to! Let me just say that 67% of you will be thinking that right now and the 21% who are tempted to go for medication – well you will be really freaking out!
God wants to break in today and begin to change your life now and give you peace and the abundant life in Christ that is available to us all because of Jesus!