God’s Cure for Anxiety

3 October 2021 AM – Philippians 4:6-8 – Worry – Scott Childs
Introduction: A submarine was being tested and had to remain submerged for many hours. When it returned to the harbor, the captain was asked, “How did the terrible storm last night affect you?” The officer looked at him in surprise and exclaimed, “Storm? We didn’t even know there was one!” The sub had been so far beneath the surface that it had reached the area known to sailors as the cushion of the sea. Although the ocean may be whipped into huge waves by high winds, the waters below are never stirred. Source Unknown
            When the fears of Covid, a sudden sickness, loss of work, a wayward child, the death of a loved one, a difficult test, or an accident threaten to shake us like a violent storm, we must know God’s directions for reaching His place of deep comfort for the soul. The Psalmist wrote, (Psalms 91:2) “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” How can we enter God’s refuge and fortress when anxiety and worry threaten us?
Transition: In our text this morning, God gives us three commands that we must obey when the storms of life strike. If we obey these three commands, God promises us peace that passes understanding.
  1. We must Act Right (v.6)
a.         Naturally, we react to trials with sinful worry.
1)         We worry because we do not trust God.
2)         How many of you are worried that the chair you are sitting in may not hold you up? __ These chairs have proven to be trustworthy; therefore, we trust them.
3)         As a boy, I feared walking through the tall cornfields at night alone; but when Dad held my hand, I had no fear.
4)         The scriptures tell us that God divided the Red Sea. He gave daily manna to Israel for 40 years. He raised the dead, healed the blind and cured lepers. He even walked on the water and stilled storms. There is nothing too hard for God. He can do exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think. He faints not and never gets weary. He will never leave us nor forsake us.
5)         We know facts about God in our heads, but when we worry, we do not believe God in our hearts. We know God causally like we know the Prime Minister, but we need to know God intimately as we know our dad or our spouse. If you often worry, make it your passion to get to know God intimately. Look for God on every page of the Bible.
b.         The right action is to stop worrying.
1)         The word “careful” literally means to be anxious or to be care-filled. It is frequently translated to take though for. We often know it as worry. We worry when we allow a burden to turn over and over in our mind until we have thought of every possible “what if” scenario, every complication, bad result and fear. Worry dominates, weakens, and sickens. Most of all, worry displeases God.
2)         God commands us to stop being care-filled. God would not command us to stop worrying if it was not possible.
3)         During a crisis in life, human efforts to stop worrying are often ineffective. For this reason, God immediately follows up “Act Right” with the next command.
  1. We must Pray Right (v.6-7)
a.         We must do the opposite of worry.
1)         The word BUT marks a complete contrast. Instead of being care-filled, we are to do the opposite.
2)         Making known our requests to God is not worrying in God’s ear. Many times, we think we are praying, but we are really just talking to God about all our worries.
3)         We must allow our requests to be made known unto God. We are to do this in every thing. Every thing refers to every time, every problem, every conflict, every concern, every burden, and every single thing that insights worry. We are to do this through right praying.
b.         Praying right has three ingredients.
1)         Tell God the facts in prayer. This is talking to God.
a)         We find an example of a prayer during a fearful time in Isaiah 37:14-20. (Turn and read).
b)         Hezekiah told God the facts.
c)         God wants us to tell Him the facts. He already knows, but He delights in our dependence on Him. We must do as the hymn writer wrote, “Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.” (GHofF 353)
2)         Supplication is seeking or asking for help from God.
a)         Hezekiah clearly did this (Isa 37:20).
b)         Worry is destructive; supplication is constructive.
c)         Ask God for the outcome you would like to see, but always include, “Thy will be done”. If you cannot say that from your heart, you do not know God well enough. Get to know God’s character better.
3)         We must thank God in the midst of the trial. Thanksgiving is thanking God for His ability and willingness to help. It is thanking Him for His past help. It is also thanking Him for the outcome He will bring to this crisis.
4)         The entire process of making our requests known to God reveals our submission and dependence on God.
c.          If we act right and pray right, God promises help.
1)         He will give us the peace of God.
2)         His peace surpasses all understanding or reason. It never makes sense from a human perspective how we can have peace in the midst of a terrible storm.
3)         His peace will divinely protect our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Worry agitates hearts and minds like the water in a washing machine. God’s peace, received when we obey these commands, divinely protects our hearts and minds from that agitation.
  1. We must Think Right (v.8)
a.         Worry is thinking wrongly.
1)         When we worry, we think about our problem from every angle. We imagine every possible “what if” outcome. We ponder the problem day and night. We cannot escape thinking of it. Worry is sinful meditation.
2)         Once we stop worrying about our crisis and make it known to God in prayer, supplication and thanksgiving, then what?
3)         We must not be fools. (Proverbs 26:11) “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.” We must not foolishly return to our worrying. Now, God tells us how to prevent returning to worry.
b.         We must think rightly.
1)         The word “think” in this verse literally means to reckon, to deliberate, to consider, or to meditate on.
2)         Jim Berg said, “If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate.” That is very true.
3)         We must obey God and rightly meditate on good things. This takes deliberate effort and practice.
a)         Meditate on true things. “What-if” things are not true. We worry most about the Devil’s lies.
b)         Meditate on honest things. Ponder honourable, wholesome things.
c)         Meditate on just things. These are right thoughts, not selfish, foolish, deceitful, or hurtful thoughts.
d)         Meditate on pure things that are morally clean.
e)         Meditate on lovely things. These are pleasing to God and to others. They are friendly, loving thoughts.
f)          Meditate on things of good report, which have a good reputation.
g)         Meditate on virtuous things that are morally excellent and of excellent character.
h)         Meditate on praise for God or for others.
4)         If we are constantly meditating on these eight things, we will not be sinfully meditating on our crisis.
Conclusion: At times, it seems like life is one crisis after another. Each one gives us an opportunity to trust God rather than to worry. We now know that God’s cure for worry and anxiety is to Act Right, Pray Right, and Think Right. With faith in God, diligent effort and God’s help, we can quash worry and anxiety and enjoy the peace of God even during life’s storms.
            It will be like learning to ride a bicycle. We will fall down many times before we master these commands. However, if each time we fall we get back up and determine to succeed, we can do it.
Song: Be care-filled for nothing (in bulletin)