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The Antidote to Anxiety

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
September 5, 2023 12:00 am

The Antidote to Anxiety

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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September 5, 2023 12:00 am

Watch or listen to the full-length version of this message, or read Stephen's Manuscript here:  Fear and worry are a natural part of the human experience. Many people feel anxiety when they encounter a big change in life, face struggles, or are unsure how to handle a specific situation. But Jesus taught His disciples that anxiety and worry uncover a deeper problem, they distract us from the total sufficiency of God and our total dependency on Him. From this teaching, we can learn that the closer we align ourselves to God, the less anxiety we will feel about the matters and concerns of our lives.


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Jesus is giving a contrast here between the believer and the rich farmer. He just wanted more for himself. He didn't care about anybody else.

He certainly didn't care about God. In contrast to that, here's how you ought to live, one author put it this way, live in such a way that you're holding onto things loosely. You're giving to missionaries. You're giving your time. You're living with a generous spirit.

Thanks for joining us today on Wisdom for the Heart. Fear and worry are a natural part of the human experience. Many people feel anxiety when they encounter a big change in life, face struggles, or are unsure how to handle a situation.

Has that happened to you? But Jesus taught his disciples that anxiety and worry uncover a deeper problem. They distract us from the total sufficiency of God and our total dependency on him. Today, you'll learn that the closer you align yourself to God, the less anxiety you'll feel. In his book entitled Getting Through the Tough Stuff of Life, Chuck Swindoll commented on the passage we're about to study. He put it so colorfully well when he wrote, worry casts shadows on your future. Anxiety works like a thief in the dark corners of your thoughts as it pickpockets your peace and kidnaps your joy. It's well said, isn't it?

The reality is obvious and we face it time and time again. If whatever worries us happens, worry did not prepare us for that. If whatever we're worried about doesn't happen, our joy has been stolen along the way.

The question is, how do we handle those uncertainties that can rob our peace and steal our joy? Well, the Lord is about to give some very practical advice on the subject, some inspired divine wisdom. So let's go back together to Luke's Gospel.

We're in chapter 12. If you've been with us for the last few studies, the Lord has just finished delivering a parable in order to make a point. The parable sets the stage for what the Lord is about to say to his disciples here. In fact, if you go to verse 21 and circle the word treasure, you can draw a line from that as I have over to verse 34 where you find the word treasure appearing again.

You see, these conversations are all connected around this same idea. Again, if you were with us, you may remember it all started back in verse 13 with a young man who was pretty disturbed that he wasn't getting his inheritance. His older brother, the executor of this state, evidently was sitting on his hands and the younger brother is angry about it. He had his plans.

It was rightfully his. So he asks Jesus to take care of it, get his older brother moving. Jesus, to the surprise and I'm sure the embarrassment of the young man and to the crowd, pulls the mask off his frustration and anger and says, you're just covetous. The real issue is you're greedy.

Your heart is the problem. You might be correct legally, but you are incorrect spiritually. Jesus then goes on to expand his answer to these young men by telling him and the crowd this parable about a rich man who can't squeeze one more possession into his attic. I mean his barn. That just slipped out. So this man decided to build a bigger garage. I mean barn again. I'm so sorry.

It's not in my notes. The issue here isn't what you own. The issue isn't barns and bumper crops and material things.

He's going deeper into our heart. The issue isn't what you own. The issue is what owns you.

That's what he's uncovering. Now in verse 21, he summarizes the parable, so is the one. In other words, you're just like that man who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. He didn't care about other people. He frankly didn't bring God into his deliberations.

He didn't care about God either. Now with that all said, Jesus turns to his disciples and specifically addresses his inner circle. Notice verse 22. 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 than clothing.

Now at this point, he's connecting the dots. Therefore, based on what you've heard, I have now this advice for you, but he's anticipating what the disciples are no doubt thinking. They're following, if they will, Jesus's command. Do not be anxious.

That's a command that could be translated. Stop it. Stop being anxious because they were. Imagine the fox rivers in front of them and their uncertainty. So stop worrying about your next meal and what you got hanging in the closet. And he anticipates the disciples who are probably thinking, but wait a second, Lord, if we don't worry about that, who will? If we're not anxious about all of that, who's going to be, you know, taking care of it for us? Anticipating that Jesus now begins to give them an answer, and it's what I'd like to call a three part antidote to anxiety. And part one is to think correctly. Jesus says here at the opening line of verse 24, consider the ravens.

Stop there. You could circle that verb consider again and draw a line down to verse 27 because it's going to appear there again. Consider the lilies. The verb means to think perceptively, to think based upon knowledge. In other words, when you're weighed down by worry, stop and tell yourself the truth.

What do you know to be true? The same verb, by the way, is used over in Hebrews chapter 3 and verse 1 where the writer tells us to consider, same verb, Jesus. In other words, you need to be thinking correctly about Jesus.

You need to know the truth about Jesus according to the scripture. So to consider, Jesus is saying, you need to think biblically, which means to think correctly. So what is it about worry that, you know, kind of messes up our thinking? What is it about worry that messes up our minds, that sort of ambushes us at times and attempts to lead us into wrong thinking? And what does that wrong thinking look like? Well, let me break it down three ways as we work through this text.

Number one, worry distorts the preciousness of human life. Go back to verse 24. 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? Now the word for raven, here's a word that includes the entire crow family of birds, which includes the ravens. Ravens were considered the most useless type of birds in the Jewish world. They were even below sparrows. Sparrows were cheap, but they could be sold for food.

They could be used in temple sacrifices, but not ravens. They were considered unclean. They were not kosher. They were unedible. They were essentially unusable.

Now, add to that what you might already know. To this day, for those who enjoy watching the birds, they really aren't that interesting. There's no flash of color, blue, red, brown. They're just plain. No interesting pattern to them. They don't have a pleasant song either.

I don't think they have a song. They just screech and squawk. Marsha and I never like to see them flying over and landing in the trees, the limbs of our trees, because they're just noisy. Now, it isn't an accident then that Jesus specifically mentions those birds, that bird. Because if any bird isn't going to be cared for, if any bird is going to fall off the radar of God's concern, it's a raven. So the Lord is very specifically in this illustration pointing us to the one bird we would think wouldn't matter to God, because why? What do we think when we think incorrectly? I don't matter to God.

And notice verse 25. He shifts gears, gives another illustration. Now, which of you, by being anxious, can add a single hour to his span of life? You could translate that a cubit to his height or an hour to the length.

In the original language, both would be correct. Worry says you care more about your length of life than God does. So you got to worry about it.

No. God has already mapped it out from beginning to end. David says in Psalm 39, the Lord knows the measure of my days. Job says in chapter 14 and verse 5, God has determined already how long I will live. Now, that doesn't mean we're not to be responsible.

There's a stewardship involved. God is not saying, you know, you shouldn't take care of yourself, exercise, you know, go to the doctor, cut back on Krispy Kreme, the basics in life, you know, take your medicine. What he's saying is to worry about the length of your life will not even add 60 minutes. Now, maybe you think, and it would be easy to think that the people of Christ, they had a lot less to worry about than we do today. So simple back then.

Well, the truth is they had many more reasons to be worried than we have today. Now, Jesus goes on to give another illustration from creation. Notice verse 27, consider the lilies. Look at them. Look around.

I think he's probably pointing. Notice them. Think about them, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin, weave.

You could render it. Can I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Those purple anemones out there that are going to bloom one day cannot be compared to the royal robes of Solomon. So this is what worry is really doing. It is distorting the preciousness of your life, the care of God, the design of God, your creator God in your life. Secondly, worry questions the power of God. He says here in verse 28, 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 trust.

You could translate it. Or faith. In other words, if God is powerful enough to create his world, if he's powerful enough to create the ravens with instinct and flowers with beauty and even the grass that's going to be cut down and dried and used to fuel those clay ovens in the Lord's generation. If God can do all of that, but he can't take care of you, well, he isn't all powerful and he can't keep his promise. Think about that. Consider that.

If God is powerful enough to create the world, is he powerful enough to manage your world? Trouble is, perhaps we're not looking around. We're not looking at the birds and the flowers.

God's creative handiwork, which reminds us of his care. Maybe we're in too much of a hurry. We're too worried about stuff that we've stopped looking. I was convicted of this this past week. I was in the truck. One of my grandchildren strapped in the back. It was sunset and we were stuck in this long line on 10-10 and suddenly I heard his voice in the backseat, Papa, look at the sky over there. I hadn't even noticed. I wasn't looking at the sky. I was wondering why the guy in front of me was driving so slow. I'd started praying for him. Unspoken requests.

Beautiful sunset. Worry distorts the preciousness of human life. It questions the power of God. Let me give you another worry. Adopts the perspective of unbelievers. We start living like them. Verse 29, and do not seek what you're to eat and what you're to drink or be worried for all the nations of the world seek after these things.

Your father knows that you need them. This might sound like Jesus is saying it's wrong to plan meals ahead of time or go shopping for the food you need or for clothing. Now this word for seek is a word that refers to mindset, heart set. This is an expression of this is what you have set your mind on. You've set your heart on this. This is your passion. This is your focus.

That's the idea. In fact, this passage on the birds reminded me of this focus and intention, instinctive focus. I had that in mind and then was given another illustration just this past week. The other day my wife Marsha just finished putting out some fresh bird seed and I was standing there at the window looking out the backyard watching the different birds coming in to eat and then out of the corner of my eye I saw movement by the bushes. I looked and sure enough a large white cat was carefully moving toward that bird feeder. I mean, now it was well fed, had a collar, I've never seen it before but I watched it just glide a little and pause.

Then take its paw and carefully step forward one more step. Every fiber in its body was tensed and ready. It was not for a moment distracted from anything. It was very obvious it had one thing on its mind, murder, slaughter for fun.

I went out and tried to witness to it. Let me tell you, the word means that kind of focus. That kind of passion. He says in verse 31, instead our passion, our focus should be on his kingdom. Seek his kingdom and these things, basic food and drink, will be added to you. Let every fiber of your being, your focus in life, your heart set be on the things of God. In other words, when God matters most, worry takes a back seat. This is what it means to think correctly.

The antidote to worry is thinking correctly. Now the Lord gets very personal and tender with his disciples. Notice verse 32, the first part. Fear not, he says, little flock.

I love that. Luke is the only author in the New Testament that uses that expression, recorded it from the Lord. It's the only place you find little flock. Again, it's wonderful because I'm so glad the Lord didn't wrap up this lesson by saying to them, fear not courageous leaders. Fear not great people of faith. No. Fear not defenseless animals who are going to need a shepherd.

You can't do it on your own. I love the fact that he says you're a little flock compared to the population of the world to this very day. We're a little flock. Verse 32, again, fear not little flock for it is your father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. The tense of the verb means he's already given it to you. He's already given it to you too, by the way.

We're just not there yet. Now part one to this antidote is this, think correctly. Think correctly. Part two is what I'd like to call live generously. He tells them here in verse 33, now you can feel free, as if to say, to sell your possessions and give to the needy. So the antidote to worry isn't just thinking correctly, it's living for somebody else. It's living generously. Now notice here, the Lord doesn't say, sell all your possessions and give everything you have to the needy.

If you did that, you'd be needy and you'd need someone to bail you out. Jesus is giving a contrast here between the believer and the rich farmer. He just wanted more for himself. He didn't care about anybody else.

He certainly didn't care about God. In contrast to that, here's how you ought to live, one author put it this way, live in such a way that you're holding onto things loosely. You're ready to give away what you might not need or you might need it, but you can get more later and you're meeting, you're talking to someone who has needs. You're giving to missionaries in some other country. You're giving your time.

You're joining one of those teams out there to meet needs in the church. You're living with a generous spirit. Let me give you part three to this divine antidote to anxiety and that is invest eternally. Notice the Lord says here in verse 33, provide yourselves with money bags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, that doesn't go bankrupt, it's never empty, where no thief approaches, no moth is going to eat away at everything you're storing. For where your treasure is, there your heart follows. There will your heart be also. People say, I'd really like to develop a heart for missions, give money to it. Find some missionaries to start supporting. I'd like to have a heart for the Lord's work here and in my church, well, start giving to it because your heart will follow your investment.

I love the analogy here. He's saying that earth's money bags have holes in them. They get old, stuff doesn't last, it doesn't satisfy, but heaven's bags as it were, the depository of your investment of time and talent and treasure, those investments last forever. So are we investing in eternal things? Well, people last forever. The church will last forever. The gospel will last forever. His word will last forever.

God lasts forever. Develop relationships and serving and walking with and developing a life around those eternal investments. Let me just say this because whenever a pastor gets to this passage, we think, oh, he's thinking about the offering.

Not really. In fact, Jesus isn't putting a plug in here for donors. God is not looking for donors.

He's looking for partners who understand that the investment of our time, talent, gifting, treasure is partnering with him in eternal things. You do that, what happens to you in the meantime? Anxiety gets crowded out. Not enough room for it to take hold. It's not going to call the plays in your life. It's not gripping the wheel.

It's not directing you. That's what happens when you start thinking correctly, living generously and investing eternally. I close with this. A young retailer in the late 1800s started his own business. His name was James Cash Penny.

We know him as J.C. Penny. It wasn't long before his Midwest store chain was highly successful, earning him more and more profits each year. By 1903, he was a multimillionaire, which was especially rare in early American history. In 1928, the year before the stock market crashed, his company earned $184 million.

That's $3 billion in today's economy. He would have been on the news. You would have heard of him.

He would have been a model of success. But then 1929 came and he lost everything in that Wall Street crash. It left him destitute. It crushed him with a weight of worry and anxiety. In fact, he lost his emotional and mental stability. He began to believe that everyone was after him. Everyone was against him, even family and friends.

So a couple of years later, in 1931, he was placed there in Michigan, where he lived, in the Battle Creek Sanitarium for the mentally insane. He was convinced he would die in a matter of days. And so he wrote farewell notes to his family, his wife, his friends.

But he didn't die. One night between shifts, even though he was on a 24-hour suicide watch, between shifts, he got out of his room and went downstairs just to wander around there at night. He heard music coming from the hospital chapel and he looked through the glass in the door and saw that a few staff had gathered. They were having, late that night, a little worship service.

He went in, sat down in the back and listened. It was really nothing more than God's divine appointment for him because that hymn brought back the gospel of his parents that he had rejected outright through his life. He knew God was speaking to him. After they were finished, he got up unobserved, tiptoed back to his room and got on his knees there at his bed and gave his life to Christ.

He would tell people from then on that he was born again in a sanitarium for the mentally insane. Stephen called this message the antidote to anxiety. This lesson is part of a series entitled Ministering to the Multitudes.

This series comes from a section of the Gospel of Luke and we'll be bringing you more in the days ahead. From the beginning of this ministry, Stephen has said that we are empowered by prayer. I invite you to join our global prayer team and pray for us. You'll find information about the global prayer team at forward slash prayer. We post updates on specific ways that you can pray for Wisdom International. For Stephen and all of us here, thanks for listening. Join us next time for more Wisdom for the Hearts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-05 03:10:16 / 2023-09-05 03:19:08 / 9

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