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I have been blogging on how to overcome worry and anxiety. The last point I want to make about this issue is God desires to give you exceedingly and abundantly more than those issues which cause worry in your life. Listen to the words of Jesus:
But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:31-32
If we allow the wrong things to be “number one” in our lives, they will create an enormous amount of stress, pressure, and anxiety. Our lives will revolve around attaining them. But when we seek the Kingdom of God first…then the Lord Himself is responsible for providing all of our material needs, wants, and desires.
The picture the Lord provides here is that when we seek to put our own needs first we fall into a trap which most of the world and most believers make. Worry and anxiety are born in this snare. The believer’s life is often the very opposite of the direction the world takes and from the direction our basic instincts tell us to take. According to Jesus… we gain our life by loosing it, we lead by serving, and we have our material needs met by not worrying about them, but by seeking the kingdom as a priority. How can this be possible?
A man took his daughter to the carnival. Upon entering, she immediately ran over to a booth and asked for cotton candy. As the attendant handed her a huge ball of it, the father asked, “Sweetheart, are you sure you can eat all of that candy?”
“Don’t worry, Dad,” she answered. “I’m a lot bigger on the inside than on the outside.”
When the Kingdom of God comes in fullness and we make it first in our lives… we are a whole lot bigger on the inside. Praise God… the Kingdom is always coming and is always available. When we allow the Kingdom of God to grow within us, the bigger we will become on the inside. Our testimony will become the same as the little girl. “I can handle it because I am a lot bigger on the inside.“
In verse thirty-two Jesus really gets to the bottom line, WORRY IS REALLY FEAR! When we fear, we are afraid that the Kingdom is NOT COMING as Jesus promised. God is not going to fulfill His word.
Jesus communicates to His followers that they are to stop being afraid. It is this type of fear that manifests itself in our lives as worry. Worry then is a symptom of fear!
The antidote to fear is faith. Dr. E Stanley Jones explained this many years ago when he said:
I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath—these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely—these are my native air.
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If I told you not to worry… it wouldn’t help you very much. In fact, telling someone “don’t worry, be happy” is a little cliche and doesn’t have any meat to really help people. It is about as helpful as putting a screen-door on a submarine. It only patronizes them.
Jesus gives us our key to break the bondage of anxiety… trusting in the Lord and His Kingdom.
And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. (30) “For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. Luke 12:29-30
If you have been a believer for very long you are familiar with these verses. This principle is found here and in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. According to our Lord, we become what we seek. So He encourages or commands His closest disciples to stop seeking and stop worrying about certain issues. His words are not a suggestion, they are imperatives. Each of us must choose to trust God for those things which are beyond our control.
Someone once said an average person’s anxiety is focused on :
- 40% — things that will never happen;
- 30% — things about the past that can’t be changed;
- 12% — things about criticism by others, mostly untrue;
- 10% — about health, which gets worse with stress; and
- 8% — about real problems that will be faced.
It is the Lord’s desire for us to stop grappling with the “what ifs” and allow Him to take charge and care of our daily needs. Our responsibility is to simply make a long term investment in God’s kingdom. This investment happens day by day as we continually turn our life over to Him.
The Bible always encourages us to “fear not.” Whenever we start to feel anxious or worried, it means we are on the path to fear. Remember I said previously worry is a faith killer. Before our fears manifest, we worry. The time to do battle over these issues is when worry and anxiety begins…not when they become full-blown fears. Worry is merely a gauge in your spiritual vehicle telling you that you are about to let fear rule the day.
The Bible calls us to be “casters or rollers.” Every believer is faced with burdens and cares too heavy to carry. Our call is to “give our burdens over to the Lord.” (1 Peter 5:7) Why? Because He is the only One who really cares! Others may be concerned… but only God really cares. Our job is to “cast or roll” our cares over to God.
Another translation of this verse (The Living Bible) puts it this way,
“Let Him have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.”
The point is God is our only source in troubles. When we choose to worry we are carrying our own weight. The question becomes do we want to walk our issues out alone, or do we desire to be free and clear, allowing God to provide for all our needs. Before you can ask God for provisions, your personal worries and fears must be dealt with appropriately.
Tony Evans, a popular preacher from Texas, spoke of being on an elevator in a high-rise building. He said he’d never been particularly comfortable on such elevators. There was something about riding up and down in a little box several hundred feet off the ground that never sat well with him. He worried that something would go wrong.
One day it did. The car he was riding in got stuck between floors way up in the higher floors. He noted that some of the people in the car became frantic. They began to beat on the door hoping to get someone’s attention. Others began to yell in the hopes that their voices would get someone on the surrounding floors to come to their aid. Nobody ever heard their cries or their noises.
Then Evans quietly made his way to the front of the car, opened a little door in the wall and pulled out a telephone. Immediately he was connected with someone on the outside. He didn’t need to beat on the wall to get their attention. He didn’t need to speak loudly in the phone to receive help. He could have whispered and they would have heard him.
Evans said, “In this world, we’re going to get stuck in places where we aren’t comfortable. Some people begin to beat against the walls, others cry out in dismay. But the person who trusts in the power of confident prayer knows there’s Someone on the other end who hears their call and comes to their aid.”
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Did you know that worry is the number one mental disorder in America? Even in church, it is acceptable to get a case of the worries every now and then. Nobody wants to say anything to you about the issue because they too have fits and spells of anxiety and worry! We now know and understand that many medical problems are closely tied to worry or anxiety… such as heart trouble, blood pressure, ulcers, thyroid malfunction, migraine headaches, and a host of stomach disorders.
Have you done any worrying lately? Have you felt convicted about it? In this particular section of scripture Jesus addresses His comments not to the crowd at large, but to His disciples.
Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.” Luke 12:22
Some translations render verse twenty-two “for this reason I say to you.” Since these words are addressed to the disciples, the implication is that worry is one of the besetting sins of believers… and particularly to Jesus’ personal disciples.
- We have seen them struggle about how to feed the 5000.
- We have seen them worry about the storms while sailing the Sea of Galilee.
- We have seen them stumble over demonic issues.
- We have seen them worry about many of Jesus’ personal ministry decisions.
It is interesting to me that many of the believer’s problems are God related! Ouch! If God didn’t give me problems… I wouldn’t have any! Not really. But, many of my problems are God related. Many of my struggles and difficulties have arisen totally because of my commitment to Christ. Hey, if you are like me… I am constantly going through something.
As believers we are not immune to worry because we live under the same pressures of society. In addition, our spiritual commitment adds even more worry weight to our shoulders. It is even possible to worry about being a worrier. We know that we shouldn’t worry, but we just can’t seem to get a grip on the issue.
Worry has now become one of those socially acceptable sins, even in the Christian circles. As Chuck Swindol notes,
We would never smile at a Christian who staggered into his home… night after night drunk and abusive. But we often smile at a Christian friend who worries. We would not joke about a brother or sister in God’s family who stole someone’s car, but we regularly joke about worrying over some detail in life.
Why does God call worry a sin anyway? Worry is a faith killer! The primary New Testament word for worry is (merimnao) which means “to take thought of” or “to be careful about.” Those who let worry reign in their lives ultimately struggle with faith issues. The Greek word for worry actually gives the picture of a divided mind. The worrier has a mind which is torn between the real and the possible, the immediate and potential… heaven’s ways and earth’s realities.
Whether or not worry is acceptable in the Christian circles you live, you should seek to eliminate worry from your life. If you really desire to be a man or woman of faith, then worry must be conquered…not accepted. I will offer more help next time.