Anxious Thoughts            Elder Thomas McDonald                Part 1

 Im sure that most everyone would agree that September 11th., will be a day that well all remember for a long time. It has left everyone worried about flying, riding buses. Worries about terrorism seem to consume peoples minds. Worries about being laid off from work, rising fuel prices leading us down to worries about an economic recession. And sometimes we find ourselves listening to the radio, and what do we listen to? We listen to those who give a picture of the so-called eminent battle of Armageddon, along with the coming of the Anti-Christ, and his tribulation!

And what do all of these things do to us? Right you guessed it WE ANXIOUSLY WORRY!  Beloved I wish that I could say to you that you will never have cause to worry, but we live in a world where there will always be things that will try to come into our lives and attempt to occupy our thoughts, and cause us discomfort and anxious thoughts Its the old Devils way of trying to distract us, and rob us of our joy and peace that we have in the Church Kingdom of God.

We have to live in the very same world as everybody else lives in dont we? Why I can tell that I have even known people who spend their time worry¼worrying about worrying! And when you get to thinking about all of this, doesnt it only seem natural that we get to feeling like we become confused and have anxious thoughts, and dont know what to do next? We find ourselves looking around for assurances that give us answers, and we sometimes dont know whom to turn to for our answers. But let me say this to you, we are in the world, but glory be to God dear ones, the scriptures declares to us that we are not of the world. (See John15:19).

What are  anxious thoughts? How do they affect us? And what can we do about them? First, anxious thoughts, are thoughts that cause us to have feelings of  uneasiness, apprehension, and dread usually about what may happen in the future. Thoughts like, Is my son or daughter okay? Will I be able to make the next house payment on time? Or, I wonder if that radio preacher is right about the world coming to an end and the coming great tribulation?

In the New Testament the English word that is used for our anxious thoughts is the Greek word merimnao (mer-im-nah'-o) which means to worry, and it is translated as thought in Matthew 6:25-34. It literally means to have anxious worrying thought. This is the picture that our Lord Jesus Christ conveyed when He said, Take no thought for your life.  He was saying to us, Little Child of Grace, dont go around all the time with anxious worrying thoughts!

And the Apostle Paul tells us, Be careful for nothing.  Look at the word careful that he uses here, its the very same word merimnao (mer-im-nah'-o), which tells us that to not take upon ourselves any anxious worrying thoughts!  So to have to understand that anxious worrying thoughts are only here causing us to be preoccupied with real or possible bad things that may or may not happen to us. Anxious worrying thoughts is the fear that maybe well be embarrassed, maybe well suffer pain, and maybe well experience some loss, or maybe well become inconvenienced by someone or something.

There are two types of worry. The first type of worry is a negative, harmful, and crippling anxious worry. And the second is positive, and beneficial concern. And the same Greek word merimnao is used to the New Testament for each type.

The other day I was talking to Elder Bob Bolden about this subject he said, some of the worry that we have actually comes from God to show us that we cant do everything for ourselves, and that our dependence must come from Him. Brother Bob hit the nail on the head! This type of worry can be classified as the second type.

Now the negative anxious worry in the scriptures talks to us about is that troubling, fretting and anxious thoughts that become a plague in our day to day walk in life. Jesus speaks about these anxious thoughts six times in His mountain sermon (Matt. 6). He told His disciples who took out the time to climb up to where he was and listen to what he had to say, not anxiously worry about their everyday cares of this life; their food, clothing, shelter, and yes even their future!  The Apostle Peter instructs us to cast all of our care upon Him, why? because He careth for you. (1 Pet. 5:7).

In Phil. 2: 20, Paul was concerned about the welfare of the brethren at the church at Philippi (which as we have already seen is the second positive type of worry,) when he uses these words, For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. The word care is the same word merimnao. This good type of worry encourages us into loving involvement for the sake of our brethren. To have concern for others is this positive kind of worry that moves us to pray and to serve in their best interest.

The crippling type of worry is one were we attempt to carry the load ourselves, in our own strength. We are then moved away from that healthy concern, to an oppressive, crippling worry where we:

 _    Cant sleep because we cant stop think about out troubles.

_    Feel guilty and cant relax.

_    Feel afraid of something most of the time.

_    Feel like panicking in certain situations in life.

_    Refuse to look at our feelings.

_    Find blame in others for just about everything that happens to us.

_    Always feel a vague unseen fear of impending disaster.

 Why do we worry and become anxious when we have so much to be thankful for? After all God has given us His Son, who has already saved us and given us the victory.  It seems like, we because of these blessings would most certainly not have anything to worry about¼and yet¼we do worry dont we? And sometimes we worry before were even aware of it. And again we ask ourselves why do we worry?

Well, there are several reasons why we worry. First and foremost is the undeniable fact that we live in this old sinful, imperfect flesh. We find that were no better than the Apostle Peter, in Matthew 14:22-31.  Here Peter and the other disciples were instructed by the Lord to get into a ship, and to go before Him unto the other side of the lake while He sent the multitudes away. And then as they were in the boat, going across the lake He went up and prayed to His father. And while He was praying, and they were in the middle of that lake a storm came upon them with huge waves, and high winds which blew against them. And as they were struggling against this great big storm they looked out of the boat and saw Jesus coming toward them¼walking on the sea. And you would think that when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea that theyd be happy wouldnt you? No, they were terrified and began to cry out in fear!

And right away Jesus spoke to them and said, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter, who was at best skeptical, said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And Jesus said to him, Come, and Peter steeped out on the water in faith to go to Jesus.

But when he saw the great power of the wind, he became afraid. Because he took his focus off of Jesus, he thought to himself Oh no, Im in danger. And no doubt he wondered if he would be able to survive the situation that he found himself in. And he began to sink! And he cried out to the Lord saying, Lord, save me! And right away Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and lifted him up out of the water, and He said to him, O Peter thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? Jesus then escorted him back to the boat, and as soon as they arrived the wind ceased. Peter was never in any danger at all¼the Lord was on his side.

And we are just like Peter, and we can see ourselves in his experience. We worry and become anxious because we feel like we are vulnerable. And when were left alone and in our flesh we truly are justified in these feelings. Sickness may indeed strike us. The economy could falter and fall. Our car may break down and leave us stranded. Someone could set off a bomb and kill us or kill someone we love. Someone could come up and say something very hurtful to us. We are all frail, mortal, and sensitive human beings. And we are all vulnerable physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Were like Peter, we are all merely human flesh, and we too are capable of drowning. So why do we worry? Because we feel like we are vulnerable.

We worry and become anxious because we become aware of our vulnerability.  And because we feel vulnerable we go out and try to make our lives more secure. We lock our homes. Drive reliable cars, and try to keep them repaired so that they wont break down on us. We go to the doctor for regular check ups. We try to take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

But try though we might, things continue to come along that cause us to once again to become aware of that nagging vulnerability that we are plagued with. We become just like Peter again, we become afraid of the storms of our lives.

Little things like the motor in our car making a strange noise. One of our children gets sick. Or we feel that strange lump. Or maybe we hear rumors of a layoff at work. Whatever it is, it forces us to look at ourselves and see our weaknesses.

We worry because the flesh cannot feel trust in God, and His provision for us. And as children of God when we are confronted with our vulnerability, we have a choice to make. We can take our well being into our own feeble hands. Or we can trust in His grace and mercy for our timely salvation. We can know that He will take care of our apprehensions that worry us. Look at what happened to Peter when he tried it his way. He was confronted with his frailty, and he lost the use of his faith in Jesus. He couldnt save himself, and he, like us, began to sink.

The words that Jesus spoke to Peter show us just how frail and vulnerable we are, He says to all of us, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? We stop seeing Jesus, and look to ourselves. We take our eyes off of the only One who has all power both in heaven and earth. We stop trusting in Christ. And when we take our spiritual eyes off of Him we no longer feel that we can trust Him with our lives, our feelings, or our future. Then we have anxious worry. And anxious worry is sin. Its a sin because we are taking responsibilities on ourselves that rightly belong only to God.  And in our stubbornness we have refused to put our well being into His strong and capable hands.  And its no wonder that we worry!

Beloved we Old Line Primitive Baptists know that our eternal salvation is totally in the hands of our Sovereign, All Powerful God and Saviour Jesus Christ. And we will never lose out on that eternal salvation which He has so wondrously worked out for us. But while we live in the here and now, there are things that we are to do that will set us free from anxious worry, which will enable us to live in the blessings of our salvation.

We should view our worry as being an opportunity to turn our attention and focus to God, to trust beyond ourselves, to be able to talk to someone who cares for us, someone who we can cast all of our cares on, because He cares for us.

Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 6: 22, He taught us that the light of the inner body is our spiritual eye, He said that if our eye is of a single focus on Christ and His kingdom, that our whole body will be full of the light of His blessings. And in doing this we discover that He is more than able to answer our vulnerability.

Beloved God is in charge. Nothing happens in this world that is beyond His knowledge and control.  Psalms 103:19 says, The LORD hath prepared His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom ruleth over all.  And in Psalms 67: 7 we read, that He ruleth by His power.  He is sovereign over all things.

When we worry, we have the feeling that things are out of control. Like something terrible is about to happen, and were unable stop it. When we have these anxious thoughts and worries we need to remember three important truths about God.

 1) God is everywhere present and nowhere absent. (Psa. 139:7; Jer. 23:23-24). There is no place that we can or ever will go that He is not there with us. No matter how alone we may feel, the fact is, He is always there. So we can be certain that we are never alone!

  2)God knows everything that there is to know. (Job 7:20; Psa. 33:13). He knows everything about us. He knows exactly how afraid we are, and what we are afraid of. He knows how sad we become, and what it is that scares us too. The more that we are fearful the more we are tempted to act as if God were ignorant of the situation that we find ourselves in. We dont know what the future holds, but God does. He sees the beginning and the ending.

  3) God is all-powerful. (Gen. 17:1; 18:14; Matt. 19:26; 28:18).  When we worry we feel like no one can stop the bad things that might happen to us. Yes, when we worry we even feel like God cant possibly care for us in our troubles and cares. But remember God has unlimited power, mercy and grace. The question that we need to be asking is, Is any thing too hard for the LORD? (See Gen. 18: 1-14.)

 God is more than able to carry each and every one of our burdens. The cares and worries of our lives that weigh on us so heavily can be placed on His loving shoulders. He gave young David the grace kill a bear, a lion, and even an uncircumcised Philistine giant named Goliath. He watched over David even through the murderous rages of Saul. David said that God kept him as the apple of His eye, and that He hid him under the shadow of of His protective wings. (Psa. 17:8). And in Psalms 55:22 it is written, Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. What a wonderful blessing to know and believe these truths that are written here for our benefit.

But how do we give our burdens and worries to God? How can we place them on His shoulders and leave them there with Him? The only way that we can do it is to trust and believe in Him who gives us our strength, the strength to act on what we know to be true. For example we know that He is an all powerful, trustworthy God. We know that He is more than able, and that He will care for us.

 

When we worry and become anxious, we hold ourselves back from trusting Him for His provision. We are putting ourselves in His place, we are saying to ourselves that we can do it better then he can. We need to turn our worries over to Him. Psalms 37:5 says, “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.” Beloved we don’t have to live out our lives with anxious worries, we can trust in Him because He is TRUSTWORTHY.

 

God is a good God, and He will drive away our fears. Then we can say along with Brother David, “Good and upright is the LORD” (Psa. 25:8), finding the assurance that we need.  We can follow the psalmist and “Taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”  (Psa. 34:8).

 

God’s love for us drives away our fears (1 Jo. 4:18).  The only fear that we should have is what the scriptures call “the fear of God” (Deut. 10:12,20; 13:4), which is an awe and reverential fear based on our love for Him. To fear Him in this manner is to love Him, and to rest in His love for us. And we can then say, “we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” (Psa. 46:2).

 

God is able to sustain us in times of war, famine, and from evil men.  David said that those who trust in God “shall be satisfied” (Psa. 37:19). We will not tremble, nor be shaken. Even in the middle of the legitimate concerns of life. We need not quiver with fear and dread. Why? Because God has promised to sustain us by His power. He will always be there with us.

 

Usually when we worry we worry alone, and the more that we worry, the more alone and helpless we feel. But as children of God we are never alone. He said that He will never “leave us, nor forsake us” (1 Kings 8:57).

 

David said that even “when my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up” (Psa. 27:10).  Have we not at some point in our lives been afraid when we think about the fact that we will someday lose the love and companionship of our loved ones?  But God has promised that He will always be there for us even when they are gone from this world.

 

So remember the next time that you find yourself being overcome by anxious worries, turn to God and remember that, 1) He is in charge, 2) He can carry all of your burdens, 3) He can take away your fears, 4) He can sustain you, and, 5) He will never leave you alone.

 

Part 2 
“Anxious Thoughts- Trusting Beyond Ourselves”   


Many years ago, the Prophet Isaiah was faced by his own fellow Israelites who had forsaken God, and were even going about to take his life. And in the midst of all of this the Lord God, whom he worshiped gave him these words of comfort, “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Worries and anxious thoughts often come into our hearts. Joshua also knew about the Lord’s ever present care for His elect, because He said to him, “there shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

To live in this world we need to have the timely graces of God that help us to be like these two brothers to be able to trust beyond ourselves. Looking at Jesus teachings on His mountain sermon He gave us the antidote for our anxious worrying thoughts (Matthew 6:25-34). I think that it would be a good idea to go there every time that we feel like we are being over run by the trials and troubles that cause us to have worry.

He was speaking to those who had come to Him and were by all accounts religious people looking for the Messiah, but refused to believe when he arrived. He mentions anxious worry 6 times in 10 verses. He told those who were following Him how to cope with their fast paced, stressed filled, materialistic society.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is telling us, “You are filled with anxious worry because you refuse to live by faith. You’re too concerned about food and clothing and things.” We worry about the things that God gives us because He loves us, and will provide our needs.

Jesus is telling His disciples, the one’s who follow after Him, to make choices to lay up their blessings and treasures in heaven, and not on this earth. (Matt. 6:19-24). And it seems like most of the time when we read these words, we said to ourselves, “Oh, sure. If I lived like He says, and only think about heavenly things, I’d starve to death. After all a person’s gotta eat, you know.” And Jesus knows how we are, that’s the reason He starts out by saying, “take no (anxious) thought” (verse 25).

The Lord knows that unless we stop anxiously worrying about the cares and troubles of the world, we will never be free to store up treasures in the kingdom of heaven. He tells us that to set around worrying about the essential needs of life is completely unnecessary. He says, “take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” And really when you stop and think about it isn’t our body more important than what we put on it?

And “behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” and “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” If God takes care of the birds of the air and even the flowers in the fields, He certainly will take care of His children.

Jesus is not saying that we don’t have a responsibility to work and provide for ourselves and our families needs. The Apostle Paul said, in 2 Thess. 3:10, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” So our Lord was not teaching us to become passive recipients, but that we are not to fret, and worry, or become anxious about our needs.

But often we worry about more than the simply essentials of life. We like to go and be “seen” in the restaurants, have the best looking cars, live a little better than our neighbors, have bigger house, dress in the latest fashions, and many other things that the world finds to be of importance. The world has become so ingrained in us that we worry about what will happen if we fail to keep up these things.

Jesus is saying to us that all of this worrying is unnecessary. He knows that it is a real problem for us, but He also knows that it is a needless one. Your see birds also have to eat, but He says take a look at them, they don’t gather anything into a barn so that they will be able to eat tomorrow. He says take a look at the flowers, they don’t wear any cloths, but they don’t have to worry about that because your heavenly Father takes care of them. And He says that “That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

The real reason that we worry is identified in Jesus’ words, “O ye of little faith.” Why do the cares and troubles of the world burden us down? The answer is that we simply do not trust God. In our heart we really don’t believe that He is running our world efficiently. Oh yeah, we can easily say that He is running everything else ok. He controls the sun, moon and stars in heaven by His power. But maybe He might not be able to care for us? We’re trusting in ourselves instead of trusting in God. We’ve take on the responsibility of our future or tried to put it on our feeble shoulders. Why we can’t possibly trust God in such important matters.

Jesus says that it is a matter of priorities in our lives. We worry about food and clothing, instead of the things that are the most important. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,” and He says that of all “these things shall be added unto you” (verse 33). We are to give all of our priority to God, and living in His Kingdom Church then we’ll be laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven “where moth and rust doth not corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal” (verse 19).

Jesus is telling us that when we put Him and His kingdom as priority in our lives we are making a choice, not a choice that will give us life in heaven’s realm, but to trust in God rather than ourselves, and our worries will begin to fade away. Jesus Christ is the only way to peace in life.

Beloved are you obsessed and overcome with worry about the necessities of life? “Do I have enough to eat?” “What will I wear?” Do I have a good enough car?” Is my retirement secure?” Is the world about to end?” Little Child of God let me assure you that these things aren’t nearly as important as we think. God will keep His promise to provide for you. Put your sight on Christ and He’ll take you through the real tough issues of life, and strengthen your faith when you need it the most.

The Apostle Paul has given us an alternative to anxious worry in Philippians 4: 6-7, he says that we are to “be careful” or anxious “for nothing. This is exactly what Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:25. Jesus tells us why is it worthless for to us to worry, but Paul says that instead of worrying we are to in “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

There are three words used by Paul to describe what we are to be doing instead of worrying.

1) Prayer. The first word Paul uses is the most common word for talking to God. If refers to our prayer and worship of God. When we pray, we are saying that God’s greatness is where we have our trust. And we give Him all of our adoration, devotion, and respect. Saying that He alone is the sovereign Lord, and we are bringing Him all of our worries.
2) Supplication. The next word Paul uses to tell us the alternative to worry is supplication. This word refers to our earnest request, our desperate cries for help to God, for ourselves and for others.
3) Thanksgiving. The third word describes our prayers that are to replace our anxious worry is thanksgiving. How many times have we became so caught up in our worrying that we forgot just how gracious God is to us? How many times that He has delivered us when we could not see any way of escape? We fail to see how many times that He has dealt with us in His grace and mercy and met all of our needs. So when we pray instead of worry we are removing our burdens from our shoulders and placing them on His shoulders, after all He is Almighty God. And when we trust Him with our worries and cares, we can then thank Him who has the power to do something about them. We can thank Him for being so kind to us, and for being interested in our problems, and because He answers our prayers.

Bring all of your vulnerabilities to Him. When you wake up at night with feelings of worry about things that are out of your controlpray. And by his grace teach your heart and mind to stop and redirect all of the energy from worry, which is destructive, to prayer, which is constructive. Ask Him for His help, to intercede, to convict, and to open a door and work out for you what you could never work out for yourself, because He delights in giving you His grace.

When you feel overwhelmed by what may happen in the futurepray. Tell Him about those things that are troubling you. Leave them to His providence. Ask God to provide then move on. Remember God hears and answers you prayer.

The apostle Peter gives us another alternative to worry in 1 Peter 5:6-7, he says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

There are two steps involved in this process.
1) Accepting the things that we can’t change. Instead of fussing and worrying about the things that come our way that we have no control over, we need to accept that these circumstances are a part of our lives. And don’t try to dictate to God the terms of our happiness. But humbly accept what we receive from God’s hands.
2) Give all of our worries to God. We should put all of our helpless feelings of worry into the same all-powerful and capable hands. We need to trust Him for all of our future needs, because He loved us so much that He sent His Son to suffer, bleed, and die.

In closing let me say that when we have our minds focused on Jesus, Satan cannot have a foothold on us in our lives, but when we fail to do these things then we in effect allow him to rob us of our joy in the kingdom of God. To do these things and to make them a part of our lives we will experience the reality of timely salvation. Then we will not have to drag around a big load of worries, worries that we are too proud or ashamed to tell anyone else about. Give them to God.

May God bless us to trust in Him and to place all of our trust and worries on Him in prayer.

 

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