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Slaying the Dragon of Anxiety

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 10, 2023 12:00 am

Slaying the Dragon of Anxiety

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 10, 2023 12:00 am

Throughout history, humans have struggled with worry. And becoming a Christian does not, as some would teach, eliminate anxiety or the troubles that cause it. But in God’s Word, the believer is given instruction on how to deal with inevitable worry. Here, we are commanded to surrender not just our cares, but also our circumstances, ourselves, and our lives to the One Who knows, loves, and cares for us.


This is an affirmation to obey and believe. Thirdly, this is something you've got to practice. Every time an anxious thought starts breathing fire down your back, the battle's on. You see it coming. It enters your mind. Practice as early as possible this discipline of refusing. I can't handle this one.

And tossing, fusing, throwing. You're casting while Jesus is caring. How do you know he cares about it?

He says he does. Do you ever worry? I think most of us worry from time to time. As Christians, we're not immune from it. In fact, Steven reminds us in this message that if Christians were immune from worry, Paul would have never instructed the church on how to deal with their anxiety. So since we're going to face anxiety from time to time, it's important to know how to deal with it biblically. Steven's going to help you with that today. He's back in 1 Peter 5 with a message entitled, Slaying the Dragon of Worry.

Grab your Bible and settle in for this important message. You might be familiar with this unique globe. It's one of a kind. It's called the Lennox globe.

It was crafted by a medieval cartographer in the early 1500s. After drawing on all the knowledge of the known world, the map maker wrote three words at the edge of the world as he knew it, the continents, and the three words translated into English are, here be dragons. Beyond the edges of what mankind knew of their world, all you could do was worry. There might as well be dragons lurking out there in the unseen, unexpected future. If you can't see it, if you don't know where it is, if you don't know when it's going to come, if you can't overcome it, if it spells trouble or danger or sorrow, you might as well go ahead and write into the pages of your unforeseen future, here be dragons. And there's nothing you can do about it but worry. Even though we know there aren't literal dragons out there lurking at the edges of our continents, that hasn't given our world's population any kind of antidote to end anxiety. In fact, there's always some kind of new dragon out there. I did a little digging and found the results of new research proving that anxiety didn't stay put in the early 1500s. It's alive and well.

In fact, one news article I thought was interesting. It compared children's fears with adult fears. Children fear bad dreams. Adults fear unfulfilled dreams. Children fear doctors. Adults fear Dr. Bills. Children fear clowns.

Well, adults fear clowns too. Now, studies were done among college students are ongoing but they have historically shown depression to be the number one reason college students sought out counseling services. In just this last year, according to the American College Health Association, depression for the first time has now been eclipsed by anxiety. In fact, beginning 30 years ago, back in 1985, UCLA used to ask every incoming freshman this question, do you feel overwhelmed with your life? And in 1985, when they first ran, began this study, 18% of the incoming freshmen said yes, I do feel overwhelmed with life. By 2010, the number had increased nearly doubled.

The number this year is now 41%, which is significant because college students are that demographic most excited about tackling life. Yet one out of two, nearly one out of two would tell you I'm overwhelmed with life. Led one popular blogger to write recently, if you're a human being living in the 21st century and you're not anxious, there's something wrong with you. The truth is no matter how old you are, you never outgrow the dragons and the potential of anxiety. There's always a dragon of worry nearby that needs slaying. One of the realities of the Christian experience discovered by new Christians early on, they're surprised to discover the simple fact that coming to Christ by faith alone didn't automatically erase the dragons from the edges of the maps of our thoughts, the edges of our tomorrows.

Who knows? There be dragons. If that were the case, if it wasn't a problem for disciples, Jesus would have never had to have dealt with the subject of anxiety, but he did on more than one occasion. The letters of the apostles are filled with exhortations to trust the providence of God, to trust the faithfulness of God, to trust his ability to turn everything out to your good according to his purposes. If Christians were automatically inoculated from any kind of potential outbreak of anxiety, the apostle Paul would have never commanded the most mature congregation to receive a letter from him that we've been able to read where he says to them, don't be anxious about anything. Philippians 4 verse 6. Slaying the dragons of anxiety from the first century to the 21st century is a daily part of the Christian's battle and it must be fought daily by the believer.

If we don't, I love the way Corrie ten Boom put it, she survived the concentration camp at Ravensbrück in Germany during the final months of World War II. She made the point this way when she wrote, worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. In other words, worry doesn't change anything about tomorrow but it sure messes up your mind today. So it's no surprise, is it, that in this letter from Peter he would address the subject of worry and he does so with one very strong, demanding, powerful text and we're going to turn there to 1 Peter 5, pick it up where we left off at verse 7 and that's all I'm going to deal with today.

Just this one freighted phrase. First I want you to notice the ultimatum from Peter, casting all your anxiety on him. And I need to point out that this phrase is part of the previous verse.

We can't miss that context, verse 6. Humble yourselves unto the mighty hand of God that he may exalt you at the proper time or in due time, casting all your anxiety on him. In other words, when you allow yourself to be humbled by God and you recognize that his mighty hand is in control and you're reminded on that particular occasion, on that particular day that he's in control of everything and that he will at just the right time, we learned in our last session, bring about a reversal. It could be a temporary reversal of trouble, sorrow, suffering, difficulty, need and you got to catch your breath. Peter doesn't say when, it might be then or it might be in that day when it is permanently reversed, when the cross is replaced with the crown. But in the meantime, as you humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God's purposes and providence, make sure that you are casting all your anxiety upon him.

That's the idea. The word Peter uses for anxiety, marimna, means to be pulled apart, could be rendered distracted. It refers to someone being pulled in numerous directions. In fact, I did a little digging the secular Greek world before Peter even wrote this. Use this word often to describe the cares of life over which you would brood. In fact, they talked about these are the cares that disturb your sleep.

That isn't a new problem, is it? In fact, Greek philosophers, unbelieving philosophers wrote at one time, the foolish try to drown these anxieties in either love or drink, but only death can free us. In other words, there's no solution for the unbeliever. The dragon of worry is virtually undefeatable.

There is no chink in his armor. But Peter here tells the believer, not so. Don't be pulled apart by anxiety.

This is not a suggestion, by the way. This is an ultimatum. Peter uses an imperative here.

You might want to write into your text an exclamation point at the end of this phrase, casting all your anxiety on him, exclamation point. The verb for casting has the idea of throwing something on another. It was used back in the gospel by Luke in chapter 19 verse 35 where the disciples threw their cloaks upon the back of that cult upon which Jesus rode into Jerusalem.

That's the idea. You are taking something off you and putting it on another. Bible scholars point out that Peter is more than likely quoting from Psalm 55 verse 22 here, evidently a verse he had memorized, cast your burden upon the Lord and he will sustain you. And you dig back into the context of David writing this particular song and he wrote that when he was struggling over the betrayal and the attack of those who should have defended him and supported him, in other words, his own personal struggle when he knew he needed to cast that burden upon the Lord, that kind of sorrow, that kind of anxiety, that kind of feeling all alone.

This was the solution. Cast it upon the strong shoulders of the Lord. You don't surrender to your circumstances, you surrender your circumstances to your Savior. And that happens to be an ultimatum, we're to live by. Now notice secondly there comes this affirmation, verse 7 a little further on, because he cares for you. Now notice just as casting all your care on him is not a suggestion, but an ultimatum. So this phrase is not a question, it is an affirmation. There's no question mark at the end of this verse. Peter is not writing casting all your care on him because I think he cares for you, question mark.

I think we can hope he does, question mark. Now Peter is stating this as fact. And Peter uses the word for care here which takes us deeper than we might gather as simply an English reader. It involves the nuance of someone having an interest in someone else which is a result of forethought.

I love this idea. Jesus not only cares about you, but he saw that trouble or sorrow or pain or challenge or difficulty coming in your life ahead of time. And he not only saw it ahead of time, he cared about what you would experience. He knew what you needed ahead of time.

And what did you need? It might be courage not to run away. It might be wisdom to start over or insight and where to take the next step. It might be strength to face that dragon down and ultimately trust the broad shoulders of your Savior. So you get this nuance from Peter's writing. It's a little mind-bending to think about the omniscient, timeless, eternality of the Lord, but he's referring to that. That trial you're facing was itself the result of his forethought. And the care you needed in going through that trial was also a part of his forethought.

God has already thought of everything you would need beforehand. That's why it's true. Isn't it, beloved? You come out of that chapter whenever you catch a breath or there's some resolution or maybe a slight reversal and you know you can see, wow, that person showed up at the right time. That right amount of money arrived at the right time. That person showed up with the right word at the right time.

And we're always a little bit surprised, aren't we? And so we say to each other things like, you won't believe it, but at just the right time, my phone rang. At my darkest hour, a friend showed up. Or when I couldn't see the way, I went in and received counseling from a friend or a pastor and a principal was delivered at just the right time. Or maybe it was the package, the mailman finally got it to me. When I had to know for sure, the answer came.

What do you know? Peter informs us here that it happened like that because God knew ahead of time and God cared ahead of time and God timed exactly what you needed ahead of time. I often give you illustrations from missionary statesmen.

One of my favorite is Hudson Taylor. If you're new in the faith, he served the Lord in China for about 50 years, depending on the Lord entirely because he'd lost his support when he went over there, he decided to wear the Q, the pigtail. I've told you about that. And he adopted the Chinese dress of a teacher and the two men that were serving with him thought he'd lost his mind and wrote back and all of his supporters dropped their support. He never came back. He stayed and money would arrive at just the right time. In fact, more than once he received money from George Mueller of the orphanage, the director, as if George Mueller had any money to spare. Well, Hudson is standing at a train station when a pastor recognized him and introduced himself. They were waiting for the same train. They got on together and sat together for this several hour journey that early afternoon. Eventually, the meal cart came down the aisle and you've been in Europe traveling, you know how that is.

And so you purchase your lunch. Well, the pastor volunteered to buy Hudson Taylor his lunch and Hudson Taylor agreed, thanked him for his kindness. After a while, the conductor came down the aisle to punch the ticket or sell the ticket for that legged journey if somebody hadn't already purchased it. And the pastor saw Taylor hesitate and he offered to purchase his ticket for him. After the conductor went up the aisle, the pastor looked at Hudson Taylor and asked him, if I may please, do you have any money?

And Hudson Taylor said, none at all. And this pastor said, wait, wait, you were waiting for the same train. I was waiting. You needed to eat. How did you know that I would come along and be able to provide for you? And Hudson Taylor looked at him and gave that now famous response that is so convicting and so encouraging. At the same time, he said to that pastor, oh, I didn't know, but my father knew.

My father knew. Cultivating an obedience to this kind of ultimatum slays the dragon of anxiety. By the way, the word for anxiety is comprehensive. It stands for everything you might be concerned about, like a lunch or a ticket, a conversation. In fact, you might not even think I ought to pray about that because that's just too trivial. Well, this word is comprehensive.

It includes everything. Trivial, great, big, small, what we would call spiritual and what would be unspiritual, whatever it is that you brood over, whatever it is that might keep you up at night. If you're anxious about it, he cares about it. You could translate this phrase rather woodenly to read to him, it is a care concerning you. You could paraphrase it than to read whatever is on your mind was on his mind first before you even thought it. He knows the color. He knows the size. He knows the shape of every dragon you face. So what do you do about this ultimatum and this affirmation?

Let me give you quickly four action points. First, there's something you've got to do. You place your worries on him like the disciples placed their cloaks upon the back of that colt. You don't say, you know, God, you're going to take this worry away from me.

No, Lord, I'm going to give it to you and I'm going to battle it, cast down those thoughts. The truth is we often have trouble giving our worries to Jesus because we're not sure he's going to do with him what we want him to do. So I think I'm going to hang on to him because I've got a different resolution in mind, which is another way then of not humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God, which comes first. Humbling ourselves under God's sovereign control precedes casting upon him our concern.

So it's sort of a check, isn't it, in our lives, in our walk. And that's significant because you're not just throwing your worries on him, are you? You're really throwing your life on him. You're throwing your thoughts. You're throwing your plans. You're throwing your loved ones. You're throwing your future. It isn't just a worry.

It's you. And when you do that, wait a second, you're in midair and you're not in control. Casting yourself into his care, one author vividly illustrated this text. I read it in my study by writing, it feels like you are bungee jumping off a high bridge. No longer in control, you are totally helpless and dependent on the strength of that giant rubber band, which is why I'll never do it. The good news is Jesus is not a rubber band.

He doesn't break. He's the sovereign, timely Lord of the universe. Secondly, this is something you've got to believe because he cares for you. Have you ever thought about the fact that every other religion on the planet has its adherence to everything they possibly can to get their God to care? And Christianity is that distinctive, has that distinctive delivery of the promise that your God already does.

Still, this might be something for you. In fact, it might be nothing less than the greatest statement of faith you're going to make today. I'm going to believe this. Right now you're in the process of trusting God and it's dark. Right now you're hearing this and you're seeing this phrase, that you could write into the margins of the edges of the map of your life, Stephen, but you don't know.

Here be dragons. Continually remind yourself of this affirmation. He cares for you, especially when the clouds gather overhead and it grows dark.

Peter knew what he was talking about. Under the inspiration of the Spirit, he says, may I remind you, he cares, he cares about you. One evangelical author wrote about one of the early experiences of an African-American pastor by the name of Gardner Taylor, who faithfully passed over years in New York City, died when he was 97, retired here in Durham. But this particular author is now the president of a seminary himself, said that Gardner Taylor would often come and teach at the seminary he attended and in one particular class he told the story. He said, I was once preaching in Louisiana and it was during the Depression. Electricity was just coming into that part of the country and I was preaching in a rural black church that had just one little light bulb hanging from a wire down from the ceiling to light up the whole sanctuary.

I was young and inexperienced. I was preaching away and in the middle of that sermon all of a sudden the electricity went out. That little bulb turned off. Building went completely dark.

I didn't know what to say. Being a young preacher, kind of fumbling around, stumbling around for words until one of the elderly deacons sitting in the back of the sanctuary raised his voice and cried out, Preach on, preacher. We can still see Jesus in the dark.

Isn't that great? What a great sermon that was. Sometimes that's really the only time we can see him best. Peter is informing us with his affirmation, the wonderful truth though, whether or not we can see him, he sees us.

We might lose track of him. He does not lose track of us. He didn't say this is true if you care for him like you should.

He said, hey, he cares for you. This is an affirmation to obey and believe. Thirdly, this is something you've got to practice. Something you've got to practice. Every time an anxious thought starts breathing fire down your back, the battle is on. You see it coming.

It enters your mind. Practice as early as possible this discipline of refusing. I can't handle this one and tossing. Refusing, throwing. It occurred to me this was one of the few times in life when it's okay to throw things.

Refuse it and throw it. You're casting while Jesus is caring. How do you know I'll handle it? He said he would. How do you know he cares about it? He says he does.

How do you know he's even interested in it? He said he was. Listen, if you don't believe it, it's your word against his. It's your word against his. Who are you going to believe? You or him? This is something to do, something to believe, something to practice.

Finally, this is someone you've got to trust. When Peter writes here, because he cares for you, by the way, he uses the present tense. He shifts the tense to present tense to inform us that he never stops caring. This is ongoing, never ceasing, never slowing down, never letting up caring. The problem is that we stop casting, not that he stops caring.

So we take those dragons and we toss them, as it were, to the dragon slayer. If I can quickly dip back into the biography of Taylor, there was a time when the demands of the China mission were huge, over a thousand missionaries, there were multiple schools, mission stations, the demands for funds and pressures financially would have buried so many others with worry. On one occasion, he totaled up their funds in the mission bank account and it came to 25 cents. Now I know, given the passage of time, it's worth a lot more now, but you're still going to have a hard time getting past ten dollars.

Twenty-five cents. And he wrote a note to his wife and copied his bookkeeper and wrote this, quote, we have this, 25 cents plus all the promises of God. By the way, I love to read stories like that. I don't want to live them, but I love to read them.

Peter wants us to live them. Dive in the deep end of faith. Cast all your anxiety on him.

By the way, he never, ever stops caring for you. I trust that you found this time in God's Word to be encouraging as we've examined a biblical response to worry and anxiety. You've been listening to the Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey here on Wisdom for the Heart. If one of the things you sometimes worry about is your salvation, we have a resource to help you. This month, we're offering a free copy of Stephen's book, Blessed Assurance. This booklet will help you and we're going to email it to you upon request. All the information you need is on our website. So visit right now to request your copy of Stephen's booklet, Blessed Assurance. Then join us next time for more Wisdom for the Hearts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-10 01:01:15 / 2023-03-10 01:10:37 / 9

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