Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

02/10/2019 P.M.

 

Learning To Live Above Worry

Philippians 4.4-8

 

Go with me as we join a missionary…

• He’s familiar to each of us…

• He is a tireless energetic worker…

• A man of extreme faith…

• He sees himself as handpicked by God to roam the globe as a spiritual ambassador.

 

We join him in a picturesque corner of the Aegean Sea… Sailors… Importers…Exporters… Students… Philosophers… From across Europe and Asia flow through the gates and harbors of this Ancient City… Wow… What a great opportunity before us!

• It’s a dark place…

• A City with no spiritual light…

• A City in bad need of hope…

• A City needing Jesus and His light of truth.

• A City searching for some good news.

 

But almost as soon as we arrive… Something stops our Missionary Friend dead in his tracks… He decides to abandon the work before we even get started.

Wow…

• What potential… But we leave with work undone…

• Doors remained unopened…

• A gospel unpreached…

 

We wonder why?…

• There were no issues with our passports or visas…

• No official objections to our work…

• No legal challenges…

• No political bullying…

Nothing!

 

Our friend simply suffered an anxiety attack…

• His plans…

• His life’s work…

• His ambitions…

• Perhaps his greatest opportunity… 

 

But he was hijacked by a wave of worry… Anxiety Robbing him of his ability to concentrate. He became so obsessed with worry that he could not function.

 

Seemingly…In a moment of panic… We repacked our bags and moved on unable to find any peace... But hoping for better conditions down the road.

 

Later our Missionary Friend described what happened in these words… Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus. So I said good-bye to them and went on to Macedonia… For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn… Conflicts on the outside… Listen now!!... fears within.

 

We recognize Paul’s words from Second Corinthians 2.12-13 &7.5.

It seems that Paul was…

• So worried… So anxious… About this work in Corinth…

• So worried about his companion Titus…

That he couldn’t zero in on the possibilities in Troas.

 

Wow… What a remarkable admission… As we see the human side of… A great Missionary… A true Biblical hero.

 

Paul… Called… Fashioned… Reshaped… Molded… By God is battling with anxiety..worry… Fear… Fears within… and conflicts without.

 

But Paul is not the only one is he?… According to an article in the New York Times…We Americans are among the most anxious people on earth.

 

We spend billions every year on anti-anxiety medications and additional millions to fund research into the causes and cures for anxiety disorders.

 

Anxiety is a mode of worry…

• Anxiety is a load of care…

• A sense of unease…

• A nervous strain…

Anxiety coats our personality like a fast drying enamel… It has the potential of shutting down our plans and ambitions.

 

Sometimes… Sometimes it is as simple as a flutter in our chest… A knot in our stomach…Other times it a full-blown post-traumatic stress episode where we are gripped by a fear that overwhelms.

 

Last Monday about noon when I came back to work… I told Jeff and Nan… As a 78 year old… I knew I was too old to be caught up in anxiousness and worry… But with the slightest abdominal pain… I became anxious that it was going to worsen…Escalate… Until I was back to the hospital.

 

Bottom line… We are all susceptible… Right?

 

Here is an interesting fact… Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison concluded that thirty precent of human anxiety could be attributed to inherited factors.

 

So…Here’s the interesting part…That means seventy percent of our… worries… Fears… Anxieties… Can be affected by changing our outlook and habits.

 

In short… We have control over our own… worries… anxiousness… fears.

 

Listen to what Paul wrote about his and our anxiousness… Familiar Scripture that needs to be read again and again… Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praise worthy--think about such things.

 

OK… Let’s see what we can learn about

LIVING above WORRY… Controling our anxiousness…

 

First… Paul says…Learn to rejoice… Rejoice always.

Happiness is an emotion that depends upon happenings… What’s going on… around us… to us… With us… For us…

 

On the other hand Joy is a disposition of the heart… Joy is an attitude.

 

Joy and sorrow are not mutually exclusive… They can exist together...

• Rejoice in the Lord…

• Rejoice in the Lord always…

• Rejoice in the Lord always… And again I say rejoice.

 

How can we miss the point?… Rejoice is a command to be obeyed.

Rejoicing in the Lord is a personal demonstration of our trust in God so much so that our attitudes are affected by our joy… Whether in storm or sunshine.

 

Rejoicing is a choice we make…

 

Here it is church… We don’t have to live by our feelings… We control them… We control our feeling… We can have joy in the Lord regardless of what’s going on around us.

 

You see… Regardless of what is going on about us…

• We can rejoice in God’s precepts…

• His promises…

• His providence…

• His pardon…

• In His Paths…

• His purpose for us…

• We can rejoice in His provisions…

• Protection…

• And His promise of Paradise.

Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.

 

Secondly… Let your gentleness be evident to all.

What is gentleness?...I like this definition… The word involves…

• Having a kind nature…

• Gentle people are considerate…

• Pleasant…

• Patient…

• Even tempered.

Gentleness suggests a deliberate kindness… forbearance in our dealing with others.

 

In Scripture… Gentleness is not weakness… But speaks about the ability to stay calm in conflicts… And kind in all our conduct.

 

Listen church… Some people create anxiety for themselves and for others…

• By being disagreeable…

• By having a sharp biting tongue…

• By having a judgmental personality…

• By their own… Irritable… Mean… Spirit.

 

A gentle spirit not only reduces anxiety… It also reflects the fact the Jesus lives in us… He was gentle and humble in heart.

 

So the question becomes…

• Just how much worry and anxiety do we want to subdue?…

• Just how much like Jesus do we want to be?...

Let your gentleness be evident to all.

 

Thirdly… Verse five… Sense and practice the presence of the Lord..

When life tumbles in… When things don’t go as we would like… Remember God is near.

 

Jesus said… I will be with you always… Even to the end.

 

The Hebrews’ Writer has God saying… Never will I leave you… Never will I forsake you.

 

Psalm 145.18… The Lord is near to all who call on him.

 

Ephesians 2.13… In Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

 

Hebrews 10.22… Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

 

Then we hear James add… Come near to God and he will come near to you.

 

It was God who promised… Those who place their hope in Him… He will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

 

Here it is church…

• We can be overcome with worry and anxiety…

• Or we can sense the presence of God in our life.

Which will it be for us?

 

Number four… Worry is inhibited by The practice of prayer.

In every situation by prayer and petition…Present your request to God.

 

Our King James reads… Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

Listen to Eugene Peterson’s freewheeling translation in the Message… Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying… Pray! Let petition and praises shape your worries into prayers… Letting God know your concerns. Before you know it… A sense of God’s wholeness… Everything coming together for good will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

 

Listen church… If this advice was given only here in the Bible…This still would be a wonderful and welcomed promise… But this teaching against worry is a consistent part of Holy Scripture…

 

Jesus said… Do not worry about your life… What you will eat, drink or wear. Don’t worry about tomorrow… Martha…Martha… You are worried and upset about so many things.

 

Paul in First Corinthians tells the church… I would like you to be free from concern…The Greek is the same word for worry…

 

Peter says cast all your anxiety on Him… Because He cares for you.

 

The world has yet to give us any antidote to… Fear… Worry… And anxiousness other than Prayer… By prayer and petition… Present your request to God.

 

James says…  Are you in trouble… Pray…

• Anyone of you sick?... Pray…

• If you’re caught up in some sin… Pray…

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Prayer is God’s prescription for a better life... Use it!!

 

Number five… Become a thanksgiving person.

It’s been known for a long time that counting our blessingS is essential to good mental health… In fact Paul could be called the Apostle of gratitude…

 

Colossians 1.3… We always thank God

 

Colossians 2.6-7 continues… So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

 

Colossians 3.15-17…  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

Here it is church… Gratitude… Giving Thanks… Is classic Christianity.

 

Worry fades in the presence of right thinking.

Whatever is… True… Noble… Right… Pure… Lovely…Admirable… Excellent… Praiseworthy… Think on these things.

 

• Solomon said… We are what we think… As a man thinks in his heart so is he.

 

• Jesus maintained the issues of life… Good or bad come from the heart… It’s all about our thoughts.

 

• The sin of adultery… The sin of murder… Have their beginning in the heart with what we think.

 

Jesus insisted that the sin of adultery was in the lusting…

The sin of murder was in hating.

Sin in thought… Not just in the behavior…

 

Proverbs 4.23 says… Be careful how you think… Your life is shaped by your thoughts.

 

Isaiah 26.3 reads… You will keep him in perfect peace… Whose mind is stayed on You.

 

Psalm 139.23-24Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

The Psalmist is petitioning God to help him think correctly… Because how we think determines our destiny.

 

• Sow a thought… Reap an action…

• Sow an act… Reap a habit…

• Sow a habit….. Reap a character…

• Sow a character… Reap a destiny.

 

Church… It’s not so much what we do that determines destiny… But what we think!

Be careful little ears what you hear…

Be careful little eyes what you see…

Be careful little lips what you say…

Be careful little hands what you do.

 

But Jesus and the Apostle Paul would say to us… Be careful little heart what you think.

 

For it is from the heart that determines who and what we are… Amen?

 

Question...What are we worried about?... Anxious about?... Tonight?... Whatever it might be... Paul has some advice...

 

Rejoice always...

Cultivate a gentle spirit...

Maintain a sense of God’s presence...

By prayer & petition... Present your anxiousness to God

Count your blessings – Be thankful always...

Know that our thoughts shape life and destiny.

 

Listen… If you are not a child of God tonight... You can reduce a significant amount of your worries and anxieties… By accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior...

 

As a child of God with unresolved sin in our life... Confess it to God... Allow Him to remove our guilt as we stand and sing together.