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January 28, 2021 12:01 am
Nothing dispels our fears like a renewed understanding of the promises and presence of God. Today, R.C. Sproul gives insight into our fears and presents the Bible's means of acquiring peace.
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Jesus said why are you worried G of little faith, our worries and anxieties really do come from a lack of trust in the promises of God to his health, finances, family dynamics reps. One of those things" appear to be a constant companion, especially during these past few months. Welcome to Renewing Your Mind. I'm really well today. Dr. RC Sproul continues his series on life's difficult problems. Thankfully, God's word is not silent when it comes to dealing with things I would look at the New Testament in the record of the life of Jesus, and we ask this question.
What negative prohibition did Jesus utter more frequently than any other negative prohibition. The answer is simple because this particular commandment was uttered so many times by Jesus that it was way ahead of whatever is in second place and if you're thinking now in your mind wrecking your brain trying to figure it out.
Let me help you by putting it on the board here was two words here not in fact Jesus says it so often that at times we miss the significance of it because it seems as if every time he encounters his disciples the first thing he says to them is fear not, or don't be afraid. He says so often, it becomes almost like a greeting. Instead of hello or shalom a say.
Don't be afraid.
And I've wondered many times why Jesus did that so often why he use those words so frequently, and I suspect that it has something to do with his knowledge is intimate knowledge and understanding of the frail FA of our human makeup because we as a people tend to be fearful. We tend to struggle with anxiety. Now there's a word that is often misused in our vocabulary. You hear somebody say oh I'm so anxious for Christmas to come and what they are saying really is that they are eager there joyfully anticipating this coming event. But what they've actually said when they said there anxious is that they have some kind of fear about the arrival of Christmas and so the term anxiety is often used as a substitute for the word eager when in reality the term anxiety refers to a spirit of fearfulness or worry or apprehension about something that lies in the future everyone in the world has fear we don't always fear the same things as other people fear, but we all experience, anxieties, and we all experience fears and anxieties can become intense and paralyzing that the fear level in our personalities can rise to the status of a phobia and a phobia tends to be a kind of fear that paralyzes us in one way or another.
But again we have all these different kinds of anxieties and these do relate to our relationship with God. When we turn your attention to a portion of the sermon on the Mount where I think everybody has heard at one point or another. We don't spend much time talking about it where we find in Matthew chapter 6 beginning in verse 25. These words from Jesus, therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will put on.
It is not life more than food and the body more than clothing.
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they, and which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature.
So why do you worry about closing. Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin, and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Now, if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown in the oven, will he not much more clothe you of you of little faith therefore do not worry, saying, what shall we eat or what shall we drink, or what shall we wear for after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things but seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things and sufficient for the day is its own troubles. I think that Jesus gave this sermon to a mixed audience of men and women, but it has particular relevance to the men who heard it in our own culture. Again, I saw a report from psychologists that said one of the most gripping anxieties for the average American man and anxiety that he rarely articulates and when men gather together they never speak up. They talk about sports. They talk about business.
They talk about all of these things, but they don't open up and reveal the fears that they have, thinking that it's basically unmanly or something of that sort, and this gripping anxiety that the psychologists have uncovered for the American man is the fear of failure to provide for his own household. That is, this is a problem specifically to married men and those who have children as a moment man says I do in front of a minister or justice of the base. He is now taken upon himself a place in our cultural understanding the burden of caring not only for himself but also for his wife and four. The family and even though we've now changed so much of the cultural structures were many women are in the workplace and so on. Still, that age old expectation of the male to be the one who is to be the provider and the protector of the family is still deeply rooted in the mail psyche in our nation, and I suspect in many other nations as well. Another phenomenon was reported to us from the secular world of medicine is the stress change ratio of the experience of nightmares that men have twice as many nightmares as women we wonder why that men would have more nightmares than women, and again the consensus is that it's rooted in this particular fear or anxiety that the man carries around with him.
I'm sure women have their own distinctive sets of anxieties and worries that they have to be concerned about and also related to the care of their offspring of their homes and all of the rest.
But when Jesus focuses his attention on this problem of anxiety.
He's talking about the basic necessities of human life and the concerns and anxieties that we bring to bear on these provisions will I be able to feed my family tomorrow will I be able to close my family tomorrow. How my going to accomplish all of these things in Jesus says, take no thought for tomorrow. Now he's not saying don't be Provident. He's not saying don't be prudent for elsewhere in the Scriptures we are told that the man who fails to provide for his household is worse than an infidel, and that we are supposed to be wise and prudent, and discipline in making provisions for our family. So Jesus is not giving a prohibition here against careful planning and against provisions he's making a prohibition against our spiritual attitudes with respect to these endeavors and these responsibilities is not saying don't take any thought for tomorrow in terms of being diligent to provide for tomorrow.
He saying don't worry about tomorrow.
You do what you have to do, but at the same time tomorrow is in the hands of God, and it really is our fear of the future more than anything else that drives anxieties and fears and worries. We don't worry ever about what happened yesterday.
We don't have to worry about what happened yesterday because yesterday is over we may worry about the consequences of what happened yesterday and how they will work out today or tomorrow, but once the moment has passed our anxiety about it passes with it and so we can understand at this point that the focal point of our worries and the focal point of anxiety is always the future. It's always about what has not yet taken place. Now when Jesus says to those who are gathered not to be anxious not to worry says you can add any size to your body by worrying about it worry doesn't solve any problem and then he rebukes them for being of little faith, why does he do that when it is our nature to be concerned about things that could happen to us, and that many things that can happen to us and will happen to us are worthy of fear.
There were times when I went to the dentist office where I didn't anticipate all of the pain where the pain was worse than I had anticipated. We've all been through that.
But most of the time when we worry about things and when they happen.
There really not as bad as we thought they would be and I think part of that is because God gives his grace to us in our hour of need in a way we don't really anticipate. So what this comes down to theologically and spiritually is a question of the relationship between the future.
Our fears of the future and faith.
Jesus said why are you worried ye of little faith, our worries and anxieties really do come from a lack of trust in the promises of God and we all have that we all have faith but our faith is limited and sometimes our faith does not get us past the anxiety of what will happen because were afraid that God will not do what he promises he will do for on the other hand, we may be afraid that he will do what he promises, the restaurant scares me about God is that because God calls us to live in a world that is filled with trouble and he says in the world. We will have tribulation and we will have affliction and we will have suffering that's what scares me is that his word will come the past, but I have to hear is we've already looked at in the problem of suffering the other side of it were God promises his presence and his grace to sustain us in the most difficult of human enterprise and Jesus saying you don't have very much faith if you're gripped in anxiety and your lack of faith is a lack of faith in the promises of God were God says, trust me for tomorrow. Trust me with your life and that's what it means to be a Christian is to trust God for your entire life. I have to trust God not only for what I eat and what I drink, and what I put on but I have to trust God for how I will die when I will die where I will die and what will happen to my family and all the rest when I die I have to trust God for the future and I think that the greatest cure. There is the simple cure, but it's not as simple as it seems. It's simple to understand but it's difficult to apply is that we need to immerse ourselves in the word of God, because nothing dispels fear more quickly than the reinforcement and our understanding of the promises of God and the knowledge of the presence of God. But we are afraid that he won't be there when we need him that he won't do what he said that he would do not. As I said a few moments ago. They're all different kinds of anxiety and their related as I said to the future and I'm going to distinguish among three types of fear or worry or anxiety that afflict us. The first is an objective specific fear.
As I've already mentioned, such as a phobia where were afraid of small places or were afraid of speaking or were afraid of dying or afraid of pain or afraid of the Dennis afraid of cats afraid of snakes afraid of spiders. Those are specific fears and anxieties that we have and there are specific ways to deal with them as we all know, but in distinction from that kind of fear there's another kind of fear that can be extremely debilitating and this is what the existential philosophers spoke about frequently when they talked about the experience of angst were they defined angst or anxiety as being a nameless fear. It's a condition that I think we've all experienced to 1° or another.
Where your pacing around your stomach is flip-flopping your hands are shaking a little bit you know that you're scared you may be having an anxiety attack and you have no idea why this has to do with being frightened. In general, and again when philosophers analyze that they speak about this kind of fright, which can be so terrifying and paralyzing to us as unspecific. We don't know why that's what psychiatrist make money somebody will go to him say I'm suffering from anxiety but not a lot. I'm afraid, and the psychiatrist will have to probe and dig and tried to sort out what it is that is troubling the person will there can be all kinds of hidden things that are involved in this. I told the story of the anxiety that I experience when I'm waiting for a friend or for my wife to arrive home and she's late and she doesn't have to be an hour late for me to start getting nervous. If she's five minutes late, I start thinking I start wondering I start worrying where Richey what happened to her. Has she been in a traffic accident.
I start imagining all these things that could be so terrible and I get more and more anxious with this nameless anxiety is rooted in even a deeper fear again. It's the fear of the future. The existential philosophers have no optimism about what tomorrow will bring their saying that what's provoking this anxiety.
According to Martin Heidegger is the experience of what he calls Goforth in height where he says modern man feels as if he's been hurled or thrown into a chaotic world. He has no meaningful beginning. He's emerged from the slime is a grown-up germ and he is moving as the clock ticks every moment to his annihilation, and so were sort of suspended between birth and death. In the context of a vortex of meaninglessness and that's always eating away at us. According to these pessimistic existentialists. I would look at it a little differently from a Christian perspective that this nameless anxiety may be more deeply rooted to what I'm going to call the third kind of anxiety, which is what we call simply restlessness and this was addressed by St. Augustine. If you recall his prayer in his book of the confessions when he wrote, oh Lord, thou hast made us for thy self and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in the mall, restlessness is a kind of fear. Restlessness is the manifestation of a particular type of anxiety is nameless, according to the existential is to talk about this amorphous type of angst or anxiety. Augustine names the child. He said that anxiety that restlessness is rooted in our basic estrangement and alienation from God because our lives are out of whack. If we are estranged from God and being outside fellowship with God is an intense and powerful provocation to fear.
We fear not only the creator.
But we fear his creation. We begin the fear life itself because were not really in fellowship with the author of life and the Lord of all life and the only way I know of to get over this is what Augustine said, our hearts are going to stay restless until they find rest in you. This is what Jesus gave to his people. He said let not your heart be troubled you believe in God believe also in me. In my father's house are many mansions.
I'm going to go and prepare a place for you, so that where I am, you will be also. So don't be afraid of the future. Don't be afraid of tomorrow because I'm taking care off tomorrow that God is the God of tomorrow I'm leaving now they're gonna get frightened, he says, but release something behind me to give you a legacy and inheritance.
What was peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled. In other words, the peace that Jesus is talking about here is the opposite of restlessness. It is the columnists of spirit that comes when you are in fellowship with God and you can trust him for tomorrow.
He is the one who conquers fear about the same time as we have this negative prohibition.
Don't be afraid.
We are also called to encourage one another as Christians and what does it mean to encourage one another.
It is helping another person to find courage. Now we just finished by saying this. What is the one indispensable necessary ingredient to have courage when you have to have absolutely before you can have courage is a sine qua non of courage, a necessary precondition for courage.
You have to have it or you can't possibly have courage you can have it not have courage but you can't have courage without having this is what it is, folks fear when I say that because it doesn't take any courage to do what you're not afraid to do. Courage exists for those who have fear to have courage is to do what you anxious about to do when you're afraid to do. That's why we need to encourage one another to help each other overcome the anxieties and fears and apprehensions that keep us from living we have so much to be anxious about these days. No way.
But it's so important to remember that the promises of God have not changed your listing to Renewing Your Mind on this Thursday.
Thank you for being with us all week. We have been featuring Dr. RC Sproul series dealing with difficult problems looked at how to deal with suffering. How to know the will of God how to deal with guilt and tomorrow RC will examine what Scripture has to say about anger making this entire series available to you.
There are six messages on a single DVD and when you call us with a gift of any amount will be glad to send it to you her number is 800-435-4343.
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Perhaps you have experienced anxiety and fear over the past few months the doctor scrolls message today. I provided practical biblical counsel for this common problem. God cares for his people, and he's fully in control of our circumstances. This might be a message that you'd like to share with a family member or friend who was gripped by fear, so request dealing with difficult problems in a teaching series by Dr. RC Sproul, our number again is 800-435-4343 web address Renewing Your Mind.work and, in advance, let me thank you for your generosity wasn't mentioned tomorrow. RC will wrap up the series with a look at another of the challenges we face in living a godly life power that can bring down nations. It creates and wars, it ruins families. It destroys marriages and so is very important for the Christian to understand the nature of anger and how to deal anger and we will do that tomorrow.
I hope you'll join us for Renewing Your Mind