Over the past few weeks, we have talked about how troubled times can cause us to be overwhelmed by fear, by
depression, and by doubt. Today, we want to consider how trouble can cause us to feel overwhelmed by anxiety. Certainly, the “uncertainty” of this time has caused much anxiety in our world today. Yet, even before COVID 19, anxiety was a pervasive condition for Americans.
Are you overwhelmed by anxiety today? Do you have a constant sense of unease? A kind of nervousness? Have the uncertainties of what’s coming next overwhelmed you with worry? The truth is, there will be trouble in this world. But do we have to be overwhelmed by anxiety as we face it? In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he taught them to turn to the Lord when overwhelmed by anxiety. We can learn to turn to the Lord when we are overwhelmed by anxiety.
Below is an automated transcript of this message:Good morning; Happy Mother’s Day! Pastor Jonathan is at our EastGate campus. My name is Pastor Gary Combs. Good morning and Happy Mother’s Day! We’re so thankful you’re here with us today and we’ve got some really, really wonderful stuff to talk about. We are in this series right now called, “You Can’t Handle This.” We have talked about some really difficult topics already. Maybe one of the more prevalent of all of these emotions and people are perhaps overwhelmed by this particular one is worry and anxiety.
There’s actually a common feeling that we struggle with, when worried or anxious. The title of this series is, “You Can’t Handle This.” Certainly, this is what is going on in our lives right now. Even if you had some illusion that you could handle it, it’s all been blown away now, hasn’t it? Every time you make a plan for a vacation or for what you’re going to do next week, everything changes. That causes us a lot of trouble.
It says, in the book of Psalms 55:2 (NLT), which is the theme of this series. “Please listen and answer me, for I am overwhelmed by my troubles.” A lot of us are overwhelmed right now. I would say, over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about being overwhelmed by fear. We’ve talked about being overwhelmed by depression, even overwhelmed by doubt, which often is the case when we’re going through a season of uncertainty like this.
Today, we want to talk about being overwhelmed by anxiety. If you look it up in the Oxford Dictionary, it says that anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. It looks like somebody just took a picture of what’s in the news right now and made that the definition for anxiety in the Oxford Dictionary. The uncertainty of this time has caused much anxiety in our world today. Yet, even before Covid19, we read in an article by Taylor Clark that the United States is now considered the most anxious nation in the world. Stress related ailments cost the nation $300 billion every year in medical bills and in lost productivity. Our usage of sedative drugs keeps skyrocketing. In five years time, Americans have more than doubled their spending on anti-anxiety medications like Xanax and Valium, from $900 million to $2.1 billion.” Onegroupof people that it’s especially acute among is American women.
In Edmund J. Bourne’s article entitled, “The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook,” he writes, “Anxiety disorders in the United States are the “number one mental health problem among . . . women and are second only to alcohol and drug abuse among men.” Why is this? Why is it so acute among women now? It might be because men won’t admit to it. Men won’t admit to being anxious or worrying about something; that could be part of it.
Anxiety in women may be because of the very thing we’re celebrating today. It could be because of motherhood. I was reading about this; how motherhood adds a whole new list of anxieties to women. They are called anxiety triggers. I’ve always called kids “crumb snatchers,” but this article called them “anxiety triggers.” We are talking about our kids.
Here’s what a mother named Amy says, “I thought I knew what high anxiety was before I became a mother, but upon learning that I was pregnant, I realized that anxiety could reach all-new levels. Suddenly, I was responsible for my life and the life of another person! That led to a million new “What ifs.” I can understand what Amy is saying; becoming a mother, becoming a parent does add a lot of “what ifs.”
According to another mother, Laura, she says, “There are plenty of things to worry about in everyday life. Health, work, friends, politics, the economy…If you are a worrier by nature, it’s easy to find yourself in a state of heightened anxiety much of the time. Add motherhood to the mix, and it’s hard not to fly right off of the anxiety charts.” Laura goes on to name six motherhood anxiety triggers: 1) Am I doing things right? 2) Is something wrong with my baby? 3) Mom guilt. 4) Comparison to others. 5) Time is passing fast and my child is getting older. 6) Thinking about having another baby.
Mom, do any of these sound familiar to you? We all have moms; thank the Lord for your mom. As you think about these six motherhood anxiety triggers here, these are the kind of questions that moms ask themselves. (1) Am I doing things right? Especially with that first child. Am I doing it right? (2) Is there something wrong with my child? I’ve often said that to my wife, “is there something wrong with your child?” (3) Mom guilt. Just feeling guilty. Am I being with my child enough? Am I playing with him enough? It kind of goes back to (1) Am I doing things right? (4) Comparison to others. (5) Time is passing fast and my child is getting older. Oh my goodness, so many times my daughter comes to me and says, “Sammy and Ace are growing up so fast.” Our children grow up so fast; it makes us feel like we’re not getting enough done with them, so we worry about it. (6) Thinking about having another baby. I don’t know what yours are; this is not just a message to mothers. This is a message to everyone.
What triggers your anxiety? What’s causing you to feel that sense of nervousness, that sense of, “I can’t think clearly.” You don’t have to be a mother to be overwhelmed by anxiety. Are you overwhelmed today? Do you have a constant state of unease as you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, maybe, almost to the state of paranoia? Well, if that’s you today, we’re talking about something today that’s going to help you so much.
We’re gonna be looking in the bible today in the apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Philippians, chapter four, is where the apostle Paul taught them to turn to the Lord when overwhelmed by anxiety. I believe today that we can turn to the Lord when we’re overwhelmed by anxiety. How can we do it? As we look at the text today, I think we’ll see three different ways that we can turn to the Lord when we are overwhelmed by anxiety. So let’s dig in. I’m going to stand, and wherever you’re at right now, if you can stand. Let’s stand and read God’s word together:
Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV) “4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This is God’s word. Amen.
How to turn to the Lord when overwhelmed by anxiety:
1. Turn your worrying into rejoicing in the Lord.
Three ways we can turn to the Lord when we’re overwhelmed by anxiety. The first way is to turn your worrying into rejoicing in the Lord.
Look at that first word there, in verse four, it says, “Rejoice.” It’s in the Greek imperative. It’s not a holy suggestion. It’s a command. It says, “Rejoice.” Get your joy on; get your praise on. Make a choice to be rejoicing; choose rejoicing.
How do you do that? This word means, “to be exceedingly glad.” Let’s look at the details. It says, “Rejoice in the Lord.” It does not say, rejoice in your trouble; it does not say, rejoice in your anxiety. You couldn’t do that anyway. What would you do? “Fake it till you make it?” No, that doesn’t work. It says this; “Rejoice in the Lord.” He is unchanging. He’s always gracious;choose to rejoice in the Lord. Get your joy from the Lord. Rejoice in the certainty and in your faith in the Lord so you take your eyes off of your situation and you focus on the Lord.
In Max Lucado’s book, “Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World,” he says, “Paul’s prescription for anxiety begins with a call to rejoice. But how can a person obey this command? Rejoice always? Is it possible for any person to maintain an uninterrupted spirit of gladness? No. This is not Paul’s challenge. We are urged to “Rejoice in the Lord.” This verse is a call, not to a feeling, but to a decision and a deeply rooted confidence that God exists, that he is in control, and that he is good.”
When the world is out of control, when you can’t even look to the next week with your planner, forget your next year planner and you can’t even think about what you are going to be able to do next week because of this ever changing world we’re living in right now, remember this: You can choose, instead of focusing on your circumstances and on this all these changes, to focus on the Lord. He is sovereign; He is in control and He is good. He has good for you and He loves you.
It says, “Rejoice in the Lord.” Then, it says, “always.” Always rejoice in the Lord, in all circumstances, all the time. This is an act of the will. I want you to think about this for a second. It’s a choice you’re making. I’m going to choose not to worry about tomorrow. I’m going to choose not to worry about this detail or that detail. I’m, instead, going to choose to focus my thoughts on the Lord.
When you focus your thoughts, you focus your mind. You focus your thinking on that, what you believe to be true. Your feelings will catch up. That’s really what anxiety is, if you think about it. It’s an emotional state. It’s a feeling and so we can choose. We can choose. How do I know we can? Because the bible wouldn’t tell us to do something if we couldn’t do it. I know we can do it. I knew I could do it because I have done it, and I know you can do it through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Believer, you can do this. Choose to rejoice in the Lord always. In case you didn’t catch it the first time, “and again I say rejoice.” Verse four, chapter four, of Philippians is “the key under the doormat” for the whole book of Philippians. It’s about joy; that’s the key right there. You can choose joy. Paul makes this a key statement in his letter to the Philippians.
If you look at verse five, he says, 5 “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.” He wants you to let everyone know that your state of joy is not some sort of, “don’t worry, be happy.” It’s not a little song you’re singing. It’s not, as I said earlier, “faking it till you make it.” No, it’s a spiritual place of decision based on your faith. It’s reasonable and it’s well informed. You know the Lord, You study His word, you pray to Him and you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
The Holy Spirit has given you the fruit of the spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Joy is number two in the fruit of the spirit. Love and joy. Choose it. Choose joy in spite of your circumstances, not looking at, but depending on, that which is true in the Lord. This is a reasonable, well thought out, considered act. Rejoice in the Lord because the Lord has got this. Friend, have you “got” there yet? Maybe you are saying, “I don’t got this.” I think all of us are there right now.
This past Monday, I had considered the fate of the three phases of how we’re going to reopen America. I’ve released an eight-minute video. Here’s the key; we’re not sure how it’s all gonna work out but we don’t want to be caught off guard and making last minute decisions again. And then Tuesday, whenever the governor’s “Phase One” details came out, we were already behind. I should have never made the video. I’m just going to have to live in the moment with the Lord. Maybe that’s what the Lord wants to do with this. I’m not sure what the meaning of all this is; this season of worrying around the world, not just in America. One thing I do know; it has stripped away any false belief that we’re in control. Can I get an “Amen” out there? We’re not in control; maybe that’s the first thing to admit to find joy. All of those “Type A’s” out there, you’re still trying to be in control. That’s probably causing 90% of your anxiety; just make a decision. I can’t control this. I’m going to choose the Lord and I’m going to rejoice in the Lord always.
Proverbs 12:25 (NLT) “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.” Here’s the thing; if you focus on worry, it weighs you down, but if you focus on the encouragement from the Lord. it lifts you up. Why not let the Lord lift you up? We can learn to do this.
Remember what it said in 1 Samuel 30:6 (KJV) “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” Have you learned to do this yet? Have you learned to look to the Lord for your encouragement, to look to the Lord for your joy when you can’t find it in your circumstances and you feel worry and anxiety coming on? Look to the Lord. Choose joy and admit you’re not in control of this situation.
Someone once said that the old original, old English word for worry was “working.” It has this idea of a puppy who grabs your house shoe and takes off running with it and hides under a table with it. It’s a cute puppy, but you need your house shoe back because your feet are cold; you try to get your shoe back but the puppy won’t let you. That puppy is worrying with that shoe but that puppy doesn’t even wear shoes. The shoe belongs to you. Now listen, we’re often like that little puppy. We are hanging onto something and it’s too big for us. It is not even meant for us. It’s meant for the Lord. We lose our joy because we try to put our teeth into something and hang on to something that we can’t control.
Anxiety, as I said earlier, is a feeling and emotion; it could be a very harmful emotion. In fact, the psychosomatic results of long term anxiety are known to cause mental as well as physical problems. This is why, James says, and this is the passage we preached last week. James 1:2 (NIV) “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” It’s a matter of focus; instead of counting your trials in the liability column, count them in the asset column. Move them over; stop counting them in the anxiety column, in the doubt column. Move them over to the joy column. That’s what Paul is teaching here. Are you ready to start focusing on Jesus for joy? That’s the first way to turn your worrying into rejoicing in the Lord.
Here’s the second way to turn to the Lord when overwhelmed by anxiety:
2. Turn your cares into prayers to the Lord. It says in Philippians 4:6 (ESV) “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” More simply stated, it says, “Don’t worry, pray. Stop worrying. Start praying. Turn your worries into prayers; turn your cares into prayers.” It’s what Paul is teaching us here again.
I want to talk to you about the word, anxiety, to be anxious. Do not be anxious here again. This is in the imperative tense; it’s a command. Stop worrying. Don’t be anxious. We’ve already looked to see what the word means in the English language in the Oxford Dictionary , let’s see what it means in the original Greek. It has this idea of being divided, being distracted.
“Anxious” (6) (μεριμνᾶτε – P.A.Imp.) – to be troubled with cares, literally, “to be divided, distracted” (A. T. Robertson). “To go to pieces.”
A. T. Robertson, that famous student of the Greek language, said that, if we were to put it in P.A.Imp., it would be like saying, “To go to pieces.” Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m about to go to pieces?” Well, that’s what the original Greek word means for anxiety. It means to be so scatterbrained, so out of it, that you can’t make a decision. You’re just out of control.
Have you ever been there? I’ve been there. I don’t like that place. Do you like that place? I don’t want to be in that place again. And you know what? You don’t have to be. When you feel it coming on, rejoice. First of all, choose joy. Focus on the Lord, and then do this: Pray. Turn your cares into prayers.
One of the things I teach our church is something maybe you’ve never heard before. I know a lot of our members are thinking, I know what he’s going to say, but some of you may have not heard me say it. and I’ll say it like this; when you go to the Lord in prayer, first, pray yourself empty before you pray yourself full. In other words, chase every thought or, as the scripture says, “take every thought captive,” and lift it up to the Lord. Lift it up; every care. Name it. The first thing you’ll start noticing as you name it, you might feel the feeling of anxiety, but picture each prayer of supplication, each care as if you’re laying it at the feet of Jesus or however you need to visualize it. I’m emptying myself; I’m putting it on His shoulders. I’m emptying myself, and I’m putting that at the foot of the cross. Pray yourself empty. Some of us just don’t pray long enough to get empty and you can’t fill up. If your cup is full of anxiety, you need to pour it out, turn your cares into prayers, empty it and then, when you can’t think of one more thing, “Lord, I’ve told you everything I know. Give me peace, Lord, give me joy.” Then, you’ll start thanking Him.
Notice what it says here. It says that when you pray, don’t be anxious about anything. What can you worry about? Nothing. “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything…” Do you really mean everything? Well, that’s what the Word says, “in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving.”
So, what is supplication? Well, that’s what I was just talking about. You can hear the word, supply, in there, right? It means to empty yourself and then to get supplication, to fill yourself and to get the supply you need. Literally, the idea in the Greek here is, to admit your need; to admit your heartfelt need. I need these things from you, Lord. As we often say around here, “the currency of the kingdom” is asking. You have not because you ask not, the scripture says, and so ask and then do so with gratitude. An attitude of gratitude will often help overrun and replace an attitude of anxiety.
And then, he says this, “with thanksgiving. Let your request be made known to God.” Remember earlier it said, “Let your reasonableness be made known to others.” So you want others to see your rejoicing and not just that it’s helping you, but it’s helping them. They may ask, “Why do you choose joy?” You can reply, “Because of this reason; because I follow Jesus and He helps me.” Then, when some of your co-workers and some of your neighbors are worried about everything, they say, “Wow, it seems to really be working for him.” You explain it to them; it’s not just some weird “pipe dream,” it’s reasonable. Instead of letting it be known to them, let everything that’s inside of you now be made known to God.
You know, we get that backwards, don’t we? We let everyone around us know that we’re worried. “I’m worried about this and I’m worried about that.” We tell everybody on social media how worried we are about everything, but it’s backwards. We’re supposed to let everyone see our reasonableness and that we are rejoicing. We’re supposed to let God know about our cares and our worries. Do you see the difference? God can do something about them.
Do you see what worry really is? It’s a waste of energy. No one ever solved a single problem in the world by worrying about it. In fact, faith can move mountains when you pray to God. Prayer works. Worry not only doesn’t work, it hurts. Worry hurts. Prayer works. Stop being anxious and be a prayer warrior.
So much of what we worry about never happens. As Dale Carnegie said, “Today Is The Tomorrow You Worried About Yesterday.” Replay that if you need to later, that’s pretty cool. The things you were worried about 99% of them never come true. Of course, about 99% of statistics are made up. But anyway, that sounds right. Most things don’t come true that we worry about, if we admit it.
Here’s something that I have already said: Worry is not just harmful to mind and body. I’ve told you that is a psychosomatic effect. It hurts. Prayer helps. Worry is a sin. “Oh, it’s just a bad habit,” you might say, but it’s not something that you picked up from your family. It’s sin. How do I know? Because Jesus said to not do it.
Matthew 6:31-33 (NIV) 31 “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Jesus said, “Don’t worry.” If Jesus says to not do it, don’t do it. If you do it, it’s a sin and it will hurt you. That’s what really sin is; it’s an attitude that says, “I will do it my way rather God’s way.” Sin always begins with an attitude. I will do it myself.
If you try to do it yourself, if you try to be in control yourself, you will get anxiety. Anxiety will give you a feeling of everything’s out of control and then you’ll make bad decisions. It’s a slippery slope. Jesus says to stop worrying about these things. Instead, He gives you something to do, instead. Change your focus, seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness and God will take care of all of your needs. Turn your worries and your cares into prayers.
It says in 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Give Him your cares and your worries because He cares. He can do something about it and you can’t.
Hannah is one of the best godly examples of motherhood, perhaps in the Bible. Our church, a few months ago, went through the first few chapters of the book of 1Samuel, and we’ve studied Hannah. Hannah was a barren woman, a woman that, every year, would go up to worship at the Tabernacle and cry her eyes out before the Lord. She really wanted a son. It says, in the scripture, that after she had prayed for a season, she finally received the son she had always prayed for. This is the way she prayed, “Lord, if you’ll give me a son, I’ll give him back to You.” And so, we see in 1 Samuel 1:27,28 that she’s telling this to the priest Eli. She says, “I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord for his whole life. He will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshipped the Lord there. Notice how Hannah handled this; her deepest wound, her deepest source of pain and grief and the things she worried about the most was that she wanted a child.
You know, sometimes that’s what’s going on on Mother’s Day. I always hesitate, I enter into Mother’s Day a little bit fearfully because I’m not sure where the women are, where their state of mind is. I know there are some women who have told me in the past, “Gary, please forgive me, but I won’t go to church on Mother’s Day.” It’s because of the wounds they feel. l Well, that’s how Hannah felt every time she would go the Tabernacle. It just brought up all the things that she wanted that she didn’t have; she felt so empty and broken. She poured that out to the Lord. That’s what I want you to get out of this. She didn’t just keep it inside of her. There was a time at the Tabernacle that she was praying to the Lord and her lips were moving and no words were coming out. That’s how she was crying out to him. She couldn’t even get words to come out, so deep was the feeling. The Lord gave her a son and she said, I’m going to give him back to You. You see, that’s the best example of motherhood that I can think of. It’s the best example of parenting.
Recognize that your children are a gift from the Lord and that they are a temporary stewardship. They don’t belong to you. He gives them to you as a stewardship. And so, as that child is given to you, you receive him. And now, you bring that child along and you parent him. This is what Hannah did; you lead them. Your job the whole time is not to lead them to yourself. It’s to lead them to the Lord, Who gave them to you as a gift to give them back to the Lord so that, when that day comes when they’re mature enough to live on their own, you’ve given them the Lord. They are following the Lord. Now, you can turn them loose. And so, they become your friend. You want your child to grow up to be your friend; you give them your faith and give them back to the Lord like Hannah did. And so, we know that Samuel grew up to be a great prophet of the Lord. This story of Hannah is a great example of turning your cares into prayers.
Let me just think for a second with you about what worry is. What is worry, exactly? It’s anxious self talk. It’s talking to yourself. What am I going to do? I don’t know. And you’re up all night long. What if I did this? I don’t know. I tried that last time. That didn’t work. You’re not talking to anybody. You’re just talking to yourself. And the more you talk to yourself, the more you “go to pieces;” the more you fall apart. Worry, if you define it very simply, is self talk and prayer is talking to God. It takes the same amount of energy to talk to yourself as it does to talk to God. Except, the first one hurts you and the second one helps and changes everything. Why not turn your cares into prayers? Will you do it? Start turning your cares into prayers and notice the difference in your life every time.
If you need to stop, right in the moment, if you need to pull your car over if you feel anxiety coming your way, the scripture says, Philippians 4:6 (ESV) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Obey the word; “Do not worry,” Jesus says. Why would Jesus be so firm about commanding this? It’s because you can do it through the Holy Spirit. You can stop the self talk; the dangerous, anxious, heart rending, hurtful self talk and turn it into talking to God.
This is the second way to turn to the Lord when overwhelmed by anxiety; turn your worries into prayers. First of all, turn your worrying into rejoicing and then turn your cares into prayers.
Here is the third way to turn to the Lord when overwhelmed by anxiety:
3. Turn your agitation into peace in the Lord.
Agitation is not worry; it’s not quite care. I can’t put my finger on it . You get up in the morning and you wonder, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m a nervous wreck.” There’s something underneath. If you’ll talk to the Lord, He knows you better. Have you learned this yet? The Lord knows you better than you know yourself. “Lord, look at me for a second and examine my heart. Why am I so worried?” You know what He’ll tell you; God is still alive. He still speaks to you. Sometimes we just don’t listen long enough for God to reveal it to you. If you do, though, there it is. It’s right in there at the bottom; you had stuffed it down in your soul. It’s created unease in me. It’s created a storm of agitation.
We call that thing inside of your washer an agitator. (I don’t know if that’s right; I just might have made that up.) That thing in there that shakes your clothes around and agitates your clothes to clean them. Sometimes agitation gets in your gut, we say we have “butterflies” in our stomach. Sometimes we get ulcers from it. Turn your agitation over to the Lord in exchange for His peace.
Look at verse seven. 7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We’re seeing, in verse seven, that the peace of God is the result. We can meditate on it. The peace of God is after you’ve rejoiced, after you’ve prayed. “The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The peace of God. What is that word, peace? If your name’s Erin, your name from the Greek, is peace. εἰρήνη is the Greek word. It has the idea, literally, to be made whole. It has the idea, not just of being at rest, but this sense of everything is right in the world.
Perhaps the Hebrews had the best sense of the word by calling it “Shalom.” They greeted one another and they parted from one another with the word, “Shalom.” Peace be unto you. It passed even into Arabic, where they say, Salaam; it’s this word peace, and it has this sense of not just absence of war or absence of agitation, but the sense of health and well being and blessing. It’s a very rich word, this biblical word for peace, because when you choose joy, when your circumstances are troubled, when you turn your cares into prayers, you find yourself in a place where the peace of God is yours. It becomes yours because He’s never troubled and He’s never afraid. He’s never anxious because God is in control. He’s never out of control. He’s always “got this, ” and so He’s always in. God is never out of Shalom. He’s never out of a state of peace.
When we seek to have the joy of the Lord and we seek to turn our cares into prayers and give them to the Lord and leave them there, we leave with something new. The peace of God. Our agitation is replaced.
What kind of peace of God is this? Well, this peace of God is so amazing that it surpasses all understanding. It makes no sense. Why is that guy who just found out that he lost his job rejoicing in the Lord and saying stuff, “Well, I guess the Lord’s got something better for me.” Why is that guy saying these things ? Is he an idiot? No, He’s got something that surpasses human understanding. He has received the peace of God. Friends, have you ever been around someone who had the peace of God and it looked like they were in the eye in the middle of a hurricane? Wow, that guy’s got it together; I wish I could say I was like that all the time.
I have to admit to you that I often struggle with trying to be in control; time, commitments and deadlines can really get to me sometimes if I don’t hit them because I have such high standards for myself. I guess that’s a way of actually judging myself, which doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the Lord. Everything that leads to anxiety actually is (it’s my thought about this) when we try to take God’s role. We try to be in control and we can’t, so we get anxious about it. Maybe this sermon is more for me than anybody today. It’s a good reminder.
This peace of God is beyond understanding. The Greek word has the Greek prefix of “hyper.” It’s above understanding. It’s beyond our ability to think well. This is what the scripture says about peace; we can have the peace of God. It’s like a military guard. This piece comes and then it guards our minds and our hearts. It guards our thinking so we don’t creep back into anxiety; so we don’t start thinking anxious thoughts, which then leads to agitation of the emotion. It’s a military term here in the Greek. It has this idea of keeping watch like a military guard; keeping watch. He’s guarding us from anxiety towards your heart. That’s the scripture; this peace of God guards. Where does it guard you? It guards you In Christ Jesus because friends, if you’re a believer today, that’s where you are. You are already in Christ Jesus, He’s in you and you are in Him, the hope of glory. We’re in Christ, Jesus now, believer. In Him is life and not only life but love, joy and what’s number three? It’s peace; that’s yours . In the spirit, you can have the peace of God.
How do you get it? How do you turn your agitation into the peace with God, peace in the Lord? First, in order to have the peace of God, we must first have peace with God. It says in Romans 5:1 (ESV) “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Did you get that? You see, the thing is, if you keep trying to live life under your own control, not only will you be overwhelmed by anxiety, but you’ll be in rebellion against a holy God because of that desire for control, that desire to do it your way and not to have anyone tell you what to do. “I don’t care what the word of God says. I don’t care. I’m gonna do it my way.” That’s an attitude of rebellion that the Bible calls sin; sin offends God. And so, you can’t be experiencing the peace of God if you don’t first have peace with God.
Would you wave the white flag today and say, “I surrender, I want peace with God.” How do I do that, Gary? Through Jesus. The scripture says we can have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Would you call Him Lord and Savior right now? Would you decide you want to be in Christ? If I am in Christ, I can obtain peace with God and then receive the peace of God inside of me so that this agitated state that I’m in is now relieved. The peace of God makes us live with a sense of safety.
The psalmist writes this, Psalm 4:8 (ESV) “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Can you sleep? Are you able to sleep? Are you able to get in your eight hours and sleep like a baby or are you constantly in a state of agitation? Come to Jesus. Wave the white flag. You can’t control this anymore; you want to do it His way and you repent of your sin. You come to Him.
There’s a story in the Bible, in the book of Mark, chapter 4, where the disciples were out on their boat and Jesus was asleep; He laid his head on a cushion. It says a great storm came up; a storm so terrible that it scared even the professional sailors like Peter, James, John and Andrew. All of these guys fished on the Sea of Galilee. The storm was so great that they cried out to Jesus. They said, “Lord, are you just going to sleep and let us die?” Do you ever feel like that, like God’s asleep? You’ve been trying to choose joy; you’ve been praying, but you just feel like God’s asleep.
Remember, I told you about God. He’s never anxious. There’s Jesus in the midst of a storm, in the eye of the hurricane. He’s asleep in the bow of the boat, the boat is rocking, the waves are crashing, there is thunder and lightning and the disciples are afraid. “Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to perish?” Jesus awoke, rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace be still.”
You know, some have reenacted this like He stood up in the boat and yelled at the waves and the wind. I’ve always kind of thought that maybe He just raised up on one elbow and said “Peace be still” and creation obeyed immediately. The disciples who had been afraid of this storm now are afraid of the Man within. They were afraid of this storm outside of their boat; now they’re afraid of the Man that’s in their boat. The scripture said they declared this, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Even the wind and the waves obey him.
Is there a storm in your life right now? Is it scaring you? Are you filled with anxiety? Is Jesus in your boat? Are you in Jesus and is He living in you? Have you made him your Lord and Savior? Have you given Him your life? He will calm the storms of your anxiety.
Friends, I am going to pray in just a moment. I want to say to you that I don’t want to belittle your anxiety. I know it can be overwhelming. I know it myself. And I know that many of you may have seasons of it worse than I’ve ever had. I’m not saying I understand your situation, but there is one who understands. His name is Jesus and He understands. He understands and He cares. You can come to Him. You can turn your worries over to the Lord; you can turn them over to Him. You can turn your worries into rejoicing and you can turn your cares into prayers. You can turn the agitation of your soul in exchange for the peace of God.
Let me pray. Lord, I pray right now for that person in their home or maybe in their car. Wherever they are, listening right now, Lord, that they would sense the peace of God coming towards them. Right now, my friend, if you’ve never received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I want to pray for you right now, right where you are. It doesn’t matter where you are. Why don’t you repeat the words with me as your prayer? Let it be your prayer. I’m just going to give you the words right now so you know how to pray. Pray with me right now so that the Lord Jesus would be yours. Dear Father, I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I believe that He was raised from the dead and that He lives today. I invite you right now, Lord Jesus, to come into my life and forgive me of my sins. I repent. What that means is I’m sorry for my sins and I turn away from them and I don’t want to live life under my own control anymore. I repent of my old life. I turn away from it and I’m turning my life over to you. That’s repentance. I’m accepting your forgiveness right now. I believe in you, Lord, and I believe that you died for me. Be my Lord and Savior. I invite you right now to come into my life and save me and to make me a child of God. Now, my friend, if you’re praying that prayer right now, believing, the Bible says that you will be saved and that you’ll be a child of God, adopted into His family. Thank him right now. Lord, thank you for saving me right where I am. I am praying, right now, for you that the peace of God would be yours and that you would feel the rejoicing and the thanksgiving coming over you and it would be beyond your understanding, surpassing your understanding. Your circumstances haven’t changed, but you’ve changed because He’s given you a new heart. Now, believer, if you’ve been struggling with anxiety, could it be because you have not been choosing to rejoice? Could it be that you have not been praying and turning your cares into prayers? Could it be that you’ve not been handing the feelings of agitation over and exchanging them for the Lord’s peace ? We can believe in the Lord Jesus and we can say, “I’m a Christian and I’m reading my Bible,” and then we can stumble into “I got this.” “I believe I can handle this one myself.” In the minute that we do that, we fall into a place where we’re trying to take the role of the Lord and then anxiety comes. Would you repent of that right now? You see, every time we hear the word of God, it’s not just a non believer that should repent but we as believers. Every time we hear the word of God, there’s always something to repent of, something to correct, not because we’re under judgment, but because our Father loves us and He wants to make us like Jesus. Right now, would you say, Lord, I lift my cares up to You. I choose joy. Give me the peace of God. Calm the storms in my life right now. In Jesus’ name, Amen.