Addressing Fear and Anxiety

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So this morning we’re going to be in Luke chapter 12, kind of building off the belief series. This is the teachings of Jesus here. While Jesus was on earth in his earthly ministry. So if you have your Bible, please feel free to to open up to Luke 12 or maybe your your app or your Bible app. That’s what the cool people do these days. All right. And the most of the verses will be on the screen behind me as well. But if you if you’re in the habit of doing that, that’d be great. If you don’t have a Bible, there’s one should be one in the in the seat back there. And if you don’t have one, personally, we’d love for you to take take that home with you and it’s our gift to you. We we just love the Word of God here. God’s revelation, his special revelation to us, his people. And we cherish it. And we desire for everyone to be able to have the opportunity to have that. Okay. So, Luke, chapter 12 is dealing with addressing fear and anxiety. I don’t know if I’m the only one that deals and battles with that. I this week’s kind of different. Normally Nathaniel assigns me like a chapter and verses that I’m supposed to preach on, so I just have the ability just to go to work and start tearing into it and studying into those verses. But this time he said, just, you know, preach on whatever.

And that’s hard for me. It’s like, what do you do? But I was reminded this week by my wife and my homiletics teacher back in Bible College that the best places to preach on are the things that God is working on in you and in your heart. And so I deal with this fear and anxiety quite a bit. And here recently, with all the things that are going on in this world, it just, you know, you can contend to to overwhelm us with all the fear, all the things that are happening around us. And so I just thought it would be good to to address this this morning. Fear and anxiety. And and thankfully, our Lord Jesus teaches on that here in this passage of scripture. So let’s go ahead and get into it. Luke Chapter 12, verses 22. He says this and he said to his disciples, Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Consider the Ravens. They neither sow nor reap. They have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you, by being anxious, can add a single hour to his span of life. If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies.

How they grow. They neither toil nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you? O you of little faith? And it goes on in verse 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things. And your father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom and these things will be added to you. It’s a weird spot to be in, to be preaching on anxiousness and worry and being in the front row and being anxious about getting up in front of a bunch of people and preaching on anxiousness. I was kind of weird. So I’m definitely dealing with the this and battling this, and I’m sure you are too, in some ways. And so hopefully this will be a blessing to you. But first, we want to get the context of what Jesus is doing. He’s he’s standing up on a hill over the Sea of Galilee. He’s preaching to his disciples and people, a big crowd of people that are following him who are just amazed at all these things that Jesus is both doing and teaching.

And so he’s again expounding and and teaching these gospel truths, these kingdom truths to his followers. And in the context in which he’s preaching about is found in the earlier chapters of Chapter 12, where Christ begins to teach on the subject of covetousness and greed and how those things are antithetical to what he’s all about and that we should avoid too. We should work hard to to avoid those things. That’s the just of the the parable of the rich fool that’s found in Luke 12 verses 13 through 21 and the just of that’s found in 15. And he Jesus said to them, Take care and be on your guard against all covetousness for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. And so that’s the overall warning and teaching he’s trying to get across to these group, this group of people. And the parable of the rich fool goes like this. He he was rich and he had lots of land. And this is back in the days, the ancient days of scratch. Farming. And so he was able to have bring in an abundant crop and it was so abundant that all his barns were filled. And so what does he do? Well, he he still turns into towards himself and and he wants to make sure he still has enough, even though his barns are full. So what does he do? He tears down his barns.

He builds bigger barns and fills them. Right. And the at the end of this parable, this is the moral of the story in verse 19. And I will say to my soul and I will say to my soul, soul, this is the rich man. You have ample goods laid up for many years. Relax, eat, drink, be merry. But the moral of the story. But God said to him, Fool, this night your soul is required of you and the things you have prepared. Whose will they be? So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God. And so this is the context in which Christ then turns to His followers and gives them this ideal of not to worry and not to be anxious about what you will eat and what you will be clothed. That’s not what this is about. What this world is about, this life is about. If you’re especially if you’re a follower of of our savior, our life has a higher, deeper meaning. It’s a life of work towards kingdom building and rejoicing in God. What Christ has done and and his kingdom that he has come to establish. And so ultimately covetousness. What is covetousness? It’s an earnest desire for something. We covet something. Right? And it’s such an earnest desire. It’s so overwhelming that it just becomes our our life goal. Like we must have it.

And and that’s what covetousness is. And this rich fool had the covetous covetousness in his heart, right? He he wanted to be free from worry. He had abundant possession in his grain and all that was brought into his barns. But. But just to just to build in a little bit more padding. Right. He tore down his barns and built bigger. And so his earnest desire was to be free from worry. And I think we all have that desire. Right. It’d be great to not have to worry about coming up with the mortgage payment and what’s going to happen if I lose my job or, you know, what’s going to happen in this world to come. My children’s future. All these different worries. What worries do you have? I guess is my question to you. What do you worry about? I’m pretty good about not being keeping myself so busy that I don’t worry, like when I’m awake, right? I mean, I keep myself busy. I’m reading, I’m going to work, I’m doing all these things. But what where it gets me is in the middle of the night. Who’s with me on that one? You ever you guys ever had a dream? Like, such a horrible, horrible dream? You, like, wake up and you’re like, Oh, I’m so glad. That was a dream. Anybody with me on that one? It’s like, oh, thankfully, that’s not reality. So glad. But what about the times? I mean, I keep myself so busy, I go to work, I go to sleep with earbuds in my in my ears, not in my mouth, but my ears listening to TV or radio or a podcast or something like that, just so my mind doesn’t drift on the things that might concern me.

Right? But sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and that fear is right there. That stuff that I try to avoid, it’s there and it’s not a dream. Oh, these worries that we carry in Christ is saying we shouldn’t worry, we shouldn’t be anxious. And so that’s the ultimate goal of what he’s trying to show to his believers back then. And and what has been written down for us today that we shouldn’t worry. We have plenty of things to worry about. But but ultimately, if our minds fixed on the right thing, if our mind is fixed on the promises of God and who he has said he, who he is, who he’s revealed himself to be, then we need not worry as Christ followers. So why do we worry? Christ draws out a couple of different points of why we worry in this passage of Scripture. And the first worries are our worry. And our anxiety usually stems from our inability to control the situation. Right. Worry and anxiety come because we can’t. It’s really two sides of a coin. They come because we can’t control something.

You know, the biggest worry I have right now is like my children’s future. It’s like, man, things are looking pretty grim out there in the world. But I can’t control the future. But I worry over those things. And so that’s one reason why we do that. And and so what does Christ say to that? He answers there in verse 25, And which of you being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Does worry and being anxious really do anything? We do it. We worry. We’re anxious over things, but we do it because we can’t control it. But we still continue to worry. And he says you can’t even add it’s a span an hour, right? You can’t even add a little bit amount of time to your life. So why why worry about everything else? So that’s one reason we can’t fix the problem. And so we worry over it. We want control over it, but we can’t have control. And so we are anxious about that. The second point that he draws out is we often marry our worry when we store our treasures in the wrong place. Verse 21, he’s speaking about the rich fool here. So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and not rich towards God. These gifts that have been given to us, these things that we do, what are we? What is our goal in these gifts that God has given to us? Are they to seek after the things of for our own pleasure and our own comfort and to to put down our worry? Or are we putting them in the right place towards the kingdom? Verse 34 backs this up for where your treasure is there.

Will your heart be also? And so those are the two different places. There was a brief time in my life where I had like a ton of savings and my retirement was looking great and and things were good. Like I didn’t have to worry about, okay, how am I going to make that mortgage payment or how am I going to make the rent payment? There’s a brief time in that life. But you know what I still worried about? How do I keep that? I still worried about it. How do I keep oh, my little pads getting smaller. I’m being anxious over that. So where are we putting our treasure? What are we not. Why are we worrying about things that we can’t control? Those are all good reasons to worry. We can’t control them. We’re putting our treasures in the wrong places according to. To Christ. Those are all. It’s a myriad. It’s the fruit that we see that for experiencing. Worry. Something’s misaligned there. But Christ doesn’t just leave us there. He doesn’t just say, This is why, but he gives us the reason not to worry. So that’s good too, right? And the reason being is God is sovereign.

The sovereignty of God. That is our hope. That God is in control of all things. Everything. And that’s what his scripture, his special revelation reveals to us. Isaiah 46 nine through ten says, Remember the former things of old, for I am God and there is no other. I am God and there is none like me declaring the end from the beginning and from the ancient times. Things that are not yet done saying, My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose. Scripture reveals that God is in control of all things. He is purposing his will into this, into our into this world, into his creation. He’s accomplishing his task. And and we as believers need to understand that and place our faith in that, that no matter what happens in this world, God is in control and God has allowed it. Other scriptures that I just want to point out to you, job 42 two says, I know that you can do all things, Jobe says to God, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Psalms 115 three says, Our God is in the heavens. He does all that he pleases. For the Lord of Hosts has purpose. This is Isaiah 14. For the Lord of Hosts has purpose. And who will annul it? His hand is stretched out. And who will turn it back? God is in control and he is sovereign.

And so as we understand that, as the Jewish of this New Testament time would understand the Jew of the New Testament, time would understand God is sovereign. That is are all pulled from the Old Testament. They understood that God was sovereign and in control of everything. And so Jesus looks to them and says in verse 22, and he said to his disciples, Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. And he asked them to consider the Ravens. The Ravens were like they they were so they were dirty. The Old Testament Jews weren’t allowed to eat them. Right. They were excluded. But he says here, consider the Ravens. They neither sow nor reap. They have neither storehouse nor barn. And yet God feeds them. And then most important part of this is how much more value are you than the birds? Do you believe that this morning, Psalm 147, eight through nine says he covers the heavens with clouds. He prepares a rain for the earth. He makes grass grow on the hills. He gives the beasts their food and the young ravens. And to the young ravens that cry even to the lowest of animals. According to the Jewish tradition God provides for. Would he not provide for you? Verse 25, he goes on, And which of you being being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life If then you are not able to do a small thing as this as that.

Why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lily. For Lily in the field, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Solomon had all that money and lavishly made all these things and adorned himself with gold apparel and all those things. And he says, No, it doesn’t even compare to the lily. But if God so clothes, the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you o you of little faith? And that’s the crux of the matter, Faith. He’s saying you have little faith. He doesn’t say you don’t have faith, he says, and your faith is little. It’s kind of like I’ve heard an illustration of a flashlight. That’s the batteries are dying. Right? The light’s still on, but it’s just just not putting out the light like it should. O you of little faith. And it’s hard for us, right? Because we are in this world. We experience it every day. And let’s be honest, there’s a lot of darkness in this world. There’s a lot of suffering in this world. There’s a lot of evil in this world.

And so we look around and it’s real easy to say, Well, God, if you’re in complete control, then why? Why the evil? Why are they suffering? Why? And this is where the act of faith comes. God has given us the complete plan of redemption. Yes, evil and suffering is in this world because of sin. But he has instituted a plan in which sin and evil and suffering will be overcome one day. And that is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And we must have faith in that. We must understand that God is allowing that suffering and allowing that evil, but he has a purpose for it in mind. One of my favorite authors, Jerry Bridges, he died this this year and he’s an amazing writer. I just strongly encourage you to just grab one of Jerry Bridges books. It doesn’t matter which one. Trust in God is probably his most well known, well known one. It’s about God’s sovereignty. And, you know, working through it scripturally, how that how that plays in as we look at evil and why God allows evil and suffering and all those things. But he he gives us this quote that scripture backs up. And that’s the most important thing. It’s not just opinion, but this is his deduction. As we look to Scripture, as believers, we should have confidence that our suffering is under the control of an all powerful and all loving God.

Our suffering has meaning and purpose in God’s eternal plan, and He brings or allows to come and He brings it or allows it to come into our lives only that which is for His glory and our good. That is what is deduced from Scripture. He allows us things even as believers to come into our lives. But it’s for his glory and our good. Many of you have memorized Romans eight. All right. All things work together for good. To those who love God and are called, according to our called according to his purpose. And that’s all things. Even the bad things, even the trials, even the suffering, all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose. But it’s by faith. We reached that, we grasped that we press in to our Lord. And when the trials come and when the suffering comes, our tendency and our sinful flesh is to run away from God and to to to battle it in our own strength and power. And God says no. Turn to me. Don’t turn itself like the rich fool. Don’t turn to self and and try to build yourself a pat of comfort because it’s not going to work. Turn to me. Turn your eyes on the kingdom and what I’m doing in this world that God will provide for you. He will purpose. He’s. He’s in control of all things. And he commands us and pleads to us that we take our eyes off the things that are happening to us and our sufferings.

And we live for him and His kingdom, for his glory. And as we do that, that wonderful design in which he purposed us in Genesis begins to take fruit. We begin to live not for ourselves, but in worship towards our king and the Savior who saved us from our iniquities. As we worship him, we begin to demonstrate that horizontally to others around us. And as we do that, as our site shifts as the rich fool from ourselves and to others, we begin to do kingdom work. So what shall we do then? This is the the moral of what I believe what Christ is saying. Trust in God and His sovereign control. In spite of the darkness we see and the evil we suffer. And I know many of you are going through trials that I couldn’t even imagine. But this is what God is calling us to do. Trust in Him. Trust that what He’s doing in your life is for your good and for his glory. And keep your eyes on him. And the second part? Set our affections on kingdom living right, he says in Luke 1231. He says instead, seek his kingdom and these things will be added to you. That’s the amazing part. God has a purpose for each and every one of us in this room.

And when we understand and have that paradigm shift of it’s not about freeing my me and my family of worry, but it’s about living for Christ and his kingdom. When we have that paradigm shift, it’s no longer about my retirement, although retirement is good. I’m not saying any of that, but it’s no longer about that’s your main focus in life. But your main focus in life is about God’s kingdom and his expansion and and breaking down the gates of hell, as Christ says, and pulling people out of the domain of darkness. When your paradigm, when your view in which you view the world is that God’s promise to you is he will provide food and raiment, he will provide for you. And that’s by faith. We grasp that. It’s by faith where and that’s where it becomes real, right? Christ says, Take up your cross. That death instrument died itself. It’s no longer about me, but it’s about others worshipping my creator and my savior by serving others. That’s kingdom living. That’s what he says in verse 32. Hear fear not little flock, for it is your father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom, sell your possessions and give to the needy right horizontally serving others. Provide yourselves with money bags that do not grow old with a treasure in the heavens. And that does not fail where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. So it’s getting our sights off of the things of this world and what this world says that we need to be comfortable in, and getting our sights on God’s kingdom and for his purposes.

And as we give towards that, if we, as we give our talents and our gifts and our treasures towards the kingdom. Right. Those are treasures that are in heaven that the moth can’t eat up and rust doesn’t destroy those That’s kingdom living. That’s what seeking the kingdom looks like, keeping our minds and our sight on him. Other New Testament scriptures that that back this up and these are the scriptures that we need to go to. Right? So each of us, we’re all saved. That’s the amazing thing about Christ Church, right? We all come from very many different backgrounds and we’ve been saved out of different areas and regions of the country and the world, and we have different upbringings. And so we all come into this church body all as different people, but all have one thing in common, and that’s being saved by the Lord Jesus Christ and his abundant grace being forgiven of our sin, because not because God winked at, but because Jesus came into his creation, lived that perfect life, fulfilled the law to the fullest, and then went to the cross as the spotless Lamb of God on our behalf. And on that cross, He didn’t just suffer and bleed, but he took the wrath of our sin upon him.

Jesus took our penalty on our behalf so that we might be free, that we might be born again, that we might live in the Kingdom of God, that we might be adopted into God’s family for all who believe that’s the wonderful gospel message that all of us hopefully, Lord willing, if you’re not. Participating in that. If you’ve not believed in that wonderful message that today would be the day. Because that’s the one thing that brings us all together. But we all come together and we’re all in a different area in our life. And so Jesus, I don’t think, is saying we need all of us just sell our possessions. We all need to understand what his teaching is and saying it’s about dying to self and giving towards others. And so for me, it’s one certain aspect that I need to work on to do that, something that I’m focusing too much on myself. And for you it’s going to be something completely different. But if we’re going to be not just hearers of the word, but doers of the word this morning, we all need to take some moments and and have introspection in that. How can I die to self and seek the kingdom of God in a more glorifying way to our King? It’s all going to look different for each and every one of us. But that’s what Christ is doing. And the wonderful thing is, as we do that, as we look to that, the the the the promise, I guess, is that we are free from fear and anxiety because we now have our sights set on the thing.

We’re now doing the thing that we were designed to be completely dependent on God more and more. Right. And to show his love that he gave us by loving others and the fear and the anxiety, the things we can’t control, we don’t have to worry about anymore because our king is in control of all things. So Colossians three, if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is, is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. Okay. That’s kingdom living. That’s purposefully living in this world by seeking the things above. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. That’s who you are. As a Christian, when Christ who is your life appears, then you will also appear with him in glory. And that is our hope, right? Those who are not without Jesus in this world today do not have this hope. This world is not the the last. There is a world to come. Of that revelation says no more sorrow, no more tears, no more death. God will be dwelling with his people and we will be with our God.

That is our hope. That is why we endure the suffering and the trial and the affliction. Because the hope is to come as we set our minds on the kingdom, as we seek the kingdom. Hebrews 12. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, the great cloud of witnesses is in Hebrews 11. It’s this list of all these Old Testament people who who had trials of faith, and they weren’t these great, grandiose people who had a lot of faith. They were people like you and I who suffered and and tripped and fell many times. But they believed in God and his purpose. And so they were written as the Great Hall of Faith. And so he, the writer of the Hebrews, says, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance, the race that is set before us. So we have the Olympics going on, right? We have all these races and it’s been great, man. I’ve been eating up the Olympics because it’s so nice to be able to turn on the television and not have to listen about politics or ISIS or the next financial meltdown or anything like that. It’s just sports and I’m just loving it. Right. And so the the writer of Hebrews is talking about this this this Christian walk is really a race. And he’s saying sin just kind of weighs us down.

And that’s why we need to rid ourselves of it, all these things. But the most important thing for me, at least at least for right now, is verse two, looking to Jesus, Right? You see a Michael Phelps swimming his last lap going down the lane. He’s got his sights set on the finish line. That’s where he needs to be. He’s in a race. And that’s what the writer of Hebrews is trying to say. We’re in a race and our sights are set on Jesus. Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. These promises of God, of who he is and what He’s doing in this world are all a matter of faith. In Jesus is the founder of our faith and the perfecter of our faith. And so as we run this race, we must look to Jesus. The problem is, is this world desires to pull us away from that, to get our sights off of Jesus. Right? My own sin nature wants to get my sights off of Jesus and to fulfill things that please me. I’m following after Jesus, I’m running the race. And man, my neighbor got that really nice truck, man. That’d be nice. You know, I could justify it. I asked my wife, I’m the king Justifier. I can justify anything, right? Not that the truck is bad, but what is my aim in that truck? What is my affection going towards in that truck? Do I really need it? Is it or is it just something nice to have? Will give me comfort, will give me praise among men.

What is my purpose in pursuing that truck? All these different things are wanting to pull us away from this race that Christ has set before us, the founder and perfecter of our faith. And so we need to look to that, look to him, keep our sights set on him, seek the kingdom in our daily walk to be not only hearers of the word, but doers of the word. And we do it because Christ’s love for us not so that we can earn merit with him, but because of what Christ has done for us. Romans eight. I love so much. At the end of the chapter, Paul writes this Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword. If you study church history, you’ll see that persecution is the main theme in the Christian’s walk in church history. So tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword as as it is written. For your sake. We are being killed all the day long. We are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. And these wonderful words. No. In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Because he’s in control.

For. I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 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. None of this world and the persecution and trials that we are going through and will go through compare to the love of Christ and that’s his promise. And we gain that by faith. Oh, you of little faith. And I’m the first one to say I have little faith. A lot of times. But we must go to the word and be reminded of who we are in Christ and his purpose in this world and seek to live for His kingdom. There a I don’t know if any of you have heard of a George Mueller. He’s a German guy back in the 1800s. I was going to say contemporary, but 1800s kind of getting a little further away. Right. He he was so struck by the sovereignty of God. And as he looked to scripture and saw how God was truly in control and and doing all these things, he was walking down the street one day and he saw all these kids running around the streets with no parents. Right. And he just felt God calling him to to start an orphanage. But what separated him from a guy like me, I guess, is he said, well, if God is calling me to do this, then God will provide.

And so he never, ever asked for money. Two people. But he got on his knees and he prayed, God, you’re in control of all things. If you want me to do this, your word says you will provide. And if you read his biography, it’s amazing. God provided over and over and over again for this orphanage. Through other people, yes, but not ever through him directly asking for finances. Here’s an example of this. The children are dressed. So this is one morning and he writes in his biography or his diary, the children are dressed and ready for school, but there’s no food for them to eat. The housemother of the orphanage informed me, and so I asked her to take the 300 children into the dining room and have them sit at the table. So it’s breakfast. There’s nothing to eat. And so he goes, I thank God for the food and waited. And he, George knew that God would provide food for the children, as he always did. And within minutes a baker knocked on the door. Mr. Mueller, he said last night I could not sleep. Somehow I knew that you would need this bread. This morning I got up and baked three batches for you. I would bring it in soon. There was another knock at the door. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage.

The milk was. The milk would spoil by the time the will was fixed. So he asked me if he could use some some free milk. And he smiled as the milkman brought in and thank the Lord. And as he brought in ten large cans of milk, it was just enough for the 300 thirsty children. Had them all sit down at the table. Thank God for the blessing He was about to provide and had faith that God would provide. And as you read His biography over and over and over again, God provided more than 10,000 children lived in that orphanage over the years. When each child became old enough to live on his own, George would pray with him and put a Bible in his right hand and a coin in his left. He explained to the young person that if he held on to what was in his right hand, the Bible, God would always make sure there was something in his left hand as well. And that is the meaning of Luke. 12 verses 22 through 32. And so may us, as Christ followers, seek to seek the kingdom in our daily lives in a more powerful way that we would see God be glorified in our lives as we become more and more dependent on Him for our good, but for His glory ultimately.

God is Sending

Baptism Sunday 2016