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Anxiety-Free Living, Part 1 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
July 12, 2022 4:00 am

Anxiety-Free Living, Part 1 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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If God gave you life, and He did, if He wants you to live, and He does if you're alive, if He brought you into His Kingdom and He has, then He has a purpose for you to fulfill in His Kingdom to His glory and so He will sustain you to that fulfillment. One self-help guru gave this advice for overcoming fear and anxiety. He said to visualize a red stop sign whenever you're afraid.

The stop sign will remind you to stop focusing on your fears and think of something else. Well, that kind of gimmick may temporarily make you forget your troubles, but it won't help you get to the root of the problem and truly overcome anxiety. To do that, you need to understand where anxiety comes from and why, if you're a Christian, you have everything you need to be content.

Today, John MacArthur shows you how to put away worry for good as he continues his study here on Grace To You titled Anxiety Free Living. Now with the lesson, here's John. We're going to look now at Luke chapter 12 verses 22 to 34, Luke 12, 22 to 34. This portion of Scripture contains some things that you're going to find familiar to you and that's because much of what Jesus says here in Judea months before His death, He said also in Galilee long before this in what we know as the Sermon on the Mount. In fact, the passage in Luke 12, 22 to 34 is a direct parallel to Matthew 6 verses...well about verse 19 on down to the end of the chapter, verse 34. So you'll find a very, very close parallel to that text in Matthew chapter 6 which you can compare on your own.

We're not going to bounce back and forth. This then is sort of at the heart of Jesus' familiar teaching which He no doubt not only had recorded in two places in the Scripture, but no doubt preached on many occasions in many different places. The key to understanding the passage before us which you will find familiar to you, things like be not anxious for your life, consider the ravens, consider the lilies, seek the Kingdom and these things will be added to you, where your treasure is, your heart will be also.

Those are familiar things. But as we pull the passage together, the thing that ties it all up is a statement that Jesus makes three times essentially. Verse 22, do not be anxious. And then verse 29, do not keep worrying.

And then verse 32, do not be afraid. And so I've entitled this passage, Worry-Free Living, or Anxiety-Free Living, or Stress-Free Living. I understand why the world is stressed out. I understand why people are anxious. I understand why they worry. I understand why they have panic attacks. It's frightening to be dangling in this inexplicable universe and feeling all alone and not being able to figure out why you're even here and where you're going.

I understand there's a certain cosmic fear. I understand why people take drugs and drink and go on eating binges and shopping binges and wild adventures and all kinds of things to fill their minds with other thoughts. We are living in an anxiety-ridden culture. And the amazing thing about it is this is the most indulged, the most lavish society ever. This is the most comfortable society ever.

This is the society that has the most, but it seems to be the most angst-ridden, anxious, stressed out, panicked culture ever. We have a massive medical world that exists to do nothing but help people with stress. No worry goes unnamed. No worry goes undefined. No worry goes uncatalogued. No worry goes undiagnosed and no worry goes unmedicated.

They just go unrelieved. People live with anxiety, they live with worry, they live with stress, that it's so common that we don't even talk about eliminating it. The term is to manage it. You take a course, go to a seminar, listen to a lecture, buy a tape on stress management, like it was a baseball team, needed a manager or a production line. When Jesus comes along and says, I'm not going to teach you how to manage your stress, I'll eliminate it. According to Ohio State University, the goal of any treatment is to make anxiety a manageable part of daily existence. The best the world can offer you is to manage your anxiety, Jesus offers you to eliminate it.

Does that sound like a good deal? Get rid of it altogether? Stop it? In fact, you could basically translate verse 22, stop being anxious, verse 29, stop worrying, and verse 32, stop being afraid. The world will offer you cognitive behavior therapy, or a long list of drugs, but our compassionate God offers a far better solution and that's the elimination of your anxiety all together.

Stop being anxious, stop worrying, stop being afraid. In these verses, as they unfold down all the way to verse 34, there are several points that I want to unpack for you, six of them. And they show that worry rises from a failure to understand something about God.

First of all, let's look at the first one. Worry is a failure to understand divine priority. Worry is a failure to understand divine priority. I'm under divine priority. The simple idea is this, folks, get it, for those who are in the Kingdom, if God gave you life, and He did, if He wants you to live, and He does if you're alive, if He brought you into His Kingdom and He has, then He has a purpose for you to fulfill in His Kingdom to His glory and so He will sustain you to that fulfillment.

Okay? And if you understand the divine priority, that is that you live and exist for the purpose of God and God will sustain your life until that purpose is fulfilled, then you don't have to worry about it. Secondly, worry then fails to understand divine priority. Secondly, worry fails to understand divine provision. It fails to understand divine provision.

Look at verse 24. Consider the ravens, or crows, for they neither sow nor reap and they have no storeroom nor barn and yet God feeds them. How much more valuable you are than the birds. I think he picks birds because they're sort of the...I guess the most fragile.

They just are here and kind of gone, short-lived for the most part, certainly the ravens or the crows. But they're a great illustration of divine provision. You know, every crow that's ever lived, every raven that's ever lived, God wanted to live. And for however long God wanted that bird to live, He provided its food. And if God feeds birds, that only in a very modest way, in a very limited way give Him glory as any of His creation does. Don't you think He's going to take care of making sure you can eat who have the highest and noblest capacity to give Him glory? This by the way is also in Matthew 6, 26. It's an analogy from the lesser to the greater, common in Jewish teaching.

Consider the ravens, and I just think this is probably true. Anyway, Jesus is teaching in the outdoors typically and wherever there was an agricultural society, wherever there was a field, there were crows. That's why we have such a thing as a scare crow.

And that was certainly a problem over there. By the way, there were more birds in Israel, probably still true than any place on the planet. That is because the birds that migrate out of northern Europe, out of all of Europe and even stretching into the Middle East and the East, if they want to migrate south in the cold winter, they have to go through Israel. It's the largest area of bird migration on the planet because east is the desert, barren with little or nothing, and west is the Mediterranean.

That little land is the most fertile soil in the world. And it's always been a dense place for bird migration. The Israeli Air Force has lost more pilots and more planes to birds, decapitating pilots by going through the cockpit because they're flying so fast into a flock than they have in military combat. And all the planes that go in and out of Ben Gurion in Tel Aviv, where I've gone many times, are having to deal with these birds, so they've done migration studies to determine what flocks come at what period of the year and how they come and where they come and where they land and they've relocated pools of water, etc., to protect the jets because the birds get in the engines and that's obviously a problem. A massive place of bird migration which fits the biblical scene in Ezekiel and Revelation where after Armageddon the carnage of the dead bodies in that part of the world is so great it says the birds come and eat them. It may indicate that during that migration season is when that event might happen. But anyway, birds were everywhere and Jesus probably said, you know, look at them. They don't sow and reap, you do.

You're out here slaving away, plowing, putting the seed in, watering the seed, coming along to the backbreaking work of harvest. They don't do that. And they don't have a storeroom and they don't have a barn. They're incapable, He's saying, of generating their own food supply. They're totally dependent on God. What is provided for them by the Creator is all they have. They don't have the ingenuity or the capability. They only have the capability and the instinct to pick up what's been provided for them.

That doesn't mean they don't work. You ever see a bird lying on its side taking a nap? Birds are in constant motion. My dear Patricia loves birds. I mean, she really loves birds. So we have, what, six or eight bird feeders in the back yard. So when you go out the back door, you have to sort of duck because, I mean, they're everywhere. It's like an aviary in our yard, which is wonderful.

We enjoy that part of God's creation. They are absolutely relentless. They fight each other at those little bird feeders and when they knock seed to the ground, they fight each other on the ground. They chase each other around. They yak at each other to get those seeds. And when those things are empty, they're gone, aren't they, honey? They're gone and we don't see them. And then she fills them all up, or I fill them all up.

And I don't know how the word gets out, but somebody goes and they're all back. And it's like dozens and dozens of them. And we're not talking about the fact that you don't work. And it's not to say that because God provides for us, we don't work. He's provided the resources for us.

He's provided the capability for us to work and to gain those things. And if we're in a situation where even at our best efforts we can't provide enough, God will find a way to take care of us to sustain us, right? They work and we work, but it's God who providentially provides. Job 38, 41 says, who prepares for the raven its nourishment when its young cry to God and wander about without food? The answer is the Almighty does...the Almighty does.

And the psalmist emphasizes this, Psalm 104 is verse...there's two verses there, verse 25, there is the sea great and broad in which are swarms without number, animals both small and great. Verse 27, they all wait for Thee to give them their food in due season. If God didn't provide, if God hadn't designed that food chain, they wouldn't survive. Well God wants them to survive.

God made them for His own glory. And I often think about that when it comes to the sea. Most of what goes on in the sea nobody ever sees, it's just for the sheer pleasure of God. In Psalm 145 verse 15, the eyes of all look to Thee and Thou dost give them their food in due time, Thou dost open Thy hand, Thou dost satisfy the desire of every living thing. Psalm 147, 9 says, He gives to the beast its food and to the young ravens which cry. Rabbi Simeon said, in my life I've never seen a stag as a dryer of figs, I've never seen a lion as a porter, I've never seen a fox as a merchant, yet they're all nourished without worry. If they who are created to serve me are nourished, how much more ought I who am created to serve my Maker to be nourished?

And that's really the point, isn't it? God feeds them, verse 24, God feeds them. God has a purpose for their existence. There is a manifest honor that comes to Him. There is a glory that comes to Him.

There is a delight that comes to Him. And so God feeds them. It is the same provision that He makes for them that He makes for us. And look at the end of verse 24, how much more valuable you are than the birds.

If He sees to it that the birds have food, don't you think He'll see to it that you do? You don't need to spend your life worrying about whether you're going to have enough, whether you're going to have enough now, whether you're going to have enough when you retire, whether you're going to have enough in the future. Your God promises to sustain you to the end of His purpose. And by the way, when that comes, you want to leave anyway, right? Thomas Watson said, this life is like an inn, you spend a couple of nights there but you never forget where your home is. Paul said, it's nice to be here but I would rather depart and be with Christ, but I have to be here for your sake. But he also knew when it was over and he said, I've finished the course, I've kept the faith, I've run the race, I'm ready to go.

The time of my departure is at hand. And until that day, he knew how to be in abundance and how to be in little and God supplied all His needs because He always does that for His own. These are powerful arguments in these first two points. Life is from God. He gives it, He sustains it, He makes provision for it.

I want to show you something by way of contrast that's really interesting. Back to Haggai, Haggai, that's three books into the Old Testament from the backside, Malachi, Zechariah, Haggai. The first chapter of Haggai says, verse 5, the Lord says, consider your ways...consider your ways. You have sown much but harvest little. You eat but there's not enough to be satisfied. You drink but there's not enough to become drunk. You put on clothing but no one is warm enough. And he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.

This doesn't sound like provision, it's not. Thus says the Lord of hosts, consider your ways. Take a look at yourself and ask why is it like this? Why do you not have enough food? Why do you not have enough drink? Why are you not able to have the clothes to keep yourself warm?

Why is it that when you earn wages, they disappear? Verse 8, he says, go to the mountains, bring some wood and rebuild the temple. There's the answer.

They had forgotten whom? God. That I may be pleased with it and glorified, says the Lord. You look for much, you hold it comes to little. And when you bring it home, I blow it away.

There's the issue. Why do I do that? Because of my house which lies desolate while each of you runs to his own house.

Wow! You're not taking care of my house but you all take care of your house. Back in verse 4, he says, is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate? In verse 10 he says, because of you the sky has withheld its dew and the earth has withheld its produce. I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle and all the labor of your hands. God made it all go bad. Wow! If He gave you life, He will sustain that life and He will provide all you need if you continue to honor Him, right? The Lord's providence in the food supply is staggering, isn't it really?

It's just staggering. The variety is just beyond belief, abundant, boundless, self-perpetuating renewable food supply. There's more than enough potential for this planet to provide food for the whole world. You say, what about famine? Famine has nothing to do with the capability of this planet to produce. It has to do with false religion such as in India where they feed grain to rats and cows. It has to do with war and social politics in Africa. It has to do with communism where they tell people not to work as a way to protest against the people who rule over them. Consequently, they turn verdant fields into dust bowls. It has to do with laziness.

It doesn't have to do with potential. The earth is still filled with food. God has created a boundless, boundless supply and He provides it for His faithful people. That's why David said, I've never seen the Lord's people begging bread. If you belong to Him, He takes care of you until His work for you is finished. In Psalm 34, 10, they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing. Young lions lack and suffer hunger, but not those who seek the Lord.

In Isaiah 33, 15, He who walks righteously, speaks with sincerity, rejects unjust gain, so forth, His bread will be given Him, His water will be sure. God's going to take care of His own children. So why worry about life's necessities? Worrying is a failure to understand divine priority and that is the priority is that you're here as God's child to fulfill a divine purpose and He will sustain you until that end. And it's a failure to understand divine provision. If He takes care of the animals who only in a nominal way give Him glory, how much more is He going to take care of you? Third point, just introduce this. Worry is a failure to understand divine privilege. Worry is a failure to understand divine privilege.

Look at verse 25. I'm just going to introduce this. This is very interesting. Which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life span? You know what a cubit is? It's a measurement from the tip of your elbow to the tip of your fingers.

It turns out to be about 18 inches. That's how they measured things in cubits. So is it saying which of you by being anxious can add 18 inches to your height? I mean, who wants to go from 5'10 to 7'6?

There's no point in that. And who ever thought you could do it by worrying? No, he's not talking about that. He's using cubit simply as a metaphor for length and he's talking about the length of your life, not your height. And he's simply saying, do you think that by worrying you're going to add to your life span? This is a matter of divine privilege. Let me tell you what this is. You do not have the privilege to determine your life span. Who does? The Lord gives, the Lord takes.

Blessed be the name of the Lord. People say, oh, you know, you've got to do this and you've got to do that to live longer. Look, this society is berserk about lengthening life. Make a billion dollars in industries and food supplements and vitamins and exercise and medications, on and on and on. You can't add one day to your life.

I don't want to be here any longer than He wants me here. That's kind of liberating, isn't it? It takes the panic out, people consumed with their health. And I'm not saying you shouldn't be disciplined, you should. I'm not saying you shouldn't be moderate in the way you eat and I'm not saying you shouldn't stay in some reasonable condition so that you can serve the Lord with all your energy and all your power. That's important.

Now there's no virtue in the sin of gluttony or laziness or overindulgence. But I am telling you, worry isn't going to lengthen your life because the one who has the privilege to determine when you were born and when you die is the sovereign God. So what do you want to do? Don't worry. You belong to Him. He knows the priority is for you to serve Him.

He makes provision so that that priority can be fulfilled and He determines just exactly how long He wants that to go on. What's the worry? I want to say more about that next time, but for the moment we'll leave it there. Let's pray together. Lord, we do ask You to instill in us a conviction of these truths and help us to understand how rich these promises are, how wonderful they are, how joyful they are, how grateful we should be. Help us to stop being anxious, worrying, being afraid because we know You care for us. Help us to trust in You and to be rich toward You, putting our treasure in heaven, holding lightly to earthly things, doing those things with our resources that build Your Kingdom and showing that Your Kingdom is where our heart is placed. We thank You, Lord, for the fact that we can live free of anxiety, free of stress and free of worry and fear because our lives are completely in Your care. Fill us with joy and gratitude. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. John is Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. His current study is showing you the path to anxiety-free living. You know, John, I imagine some of our listeners heard what you said today about God's provision and they're thinking like I do, look, I truly believe the Lord meets my needs and yet sometimes when trials come, it's hard to fight off that sense of anxiety.

So what's really happening in that situation? Is that some deficiency in my faith? No, it really is just the opposite, Phil. The times that come into our lives that are troublesome times are the times that we should especially be thankful. James said, count it all joy, not just some, but all joy when you fall into various trials.

Why? Because they have a perfecting work. Peter said the Lord is going to make you perfect when you go through trials, but for a while they're going to trouble you. Really, spiritual growth depends on trials.

It depends on trials in so far as you respond correctly to them. And the first thing to understand is you don't want to look at a trial, a difficult time, a hard time, as something negative. You want to look at that as a positive.

I want to help you with that. This is something that's pretty normal for all of us to face challenges and anxieties, and wonder why is the Lord doing this, and maybe get on the downside of that rather than the upside of seeing how God is using it to grow us in our spiritual strength. And through the years we've had a tool that really helps people with that, and it's a book called Anxious for Nothing. Anxious for Nothing. It takes you through the basic principles found in the Bible for defeating anxiety, defeating worry. It'll show you how to cultivate contentment, and that's huge in your life, how to defeat anxiety. It contains specific study questions, specific prayer suggestions, and most helpfully, a list of Psalms for the anxious.

And through the years, I don't know, maybe hundreds of thousands of people have been helped by Anxious for Nothing. So we would love to have this book in your hands for yourself, or for anybody else who might need some good biblical teaching as they go through a trial. Anxious for Nothing, affordably priced, and they're always available from grace to you. That's right, and friend, one of God's most repeated commands in Scripture is, fear not.

He knows you'll get afraid, but he's also equipped you with everything you need to overcome any fear. Anxious for Nothing shows you how to tap into those resources in the trials you face. Order your copy today.

Our number here, 855grace, or shop online at gty.org. Again the book Anxious for Nothing provides biblical answers for worry and helpful study questions to reinforce what you're learning. Also a list of Psalms for the anxious to help guide your prayers.

To get your copy of Anxious for Nothing, call 855grace or go to our website gty.org. And as you enjoy these lessons, remember that this broadcast is available in your area thanks to the support of listeners like you. When you stand with Grace to You, you help bring clear biblical truth to believers around the world, and the life transforming gospel to the lost. To make a donation, call 855grace or make your tax-deductible gift to Grace to You, P.O.

Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. You can also express your support by clicking the donate button at the top of our website, again that's gty.org. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for tuning in today and be here tomorrow when John shows you how to stop fear at its source. He'll continue his series on anxiety-free living with another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-25 20:15:08 / 2023-03-25 20:25:29 / 10

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