Thursday, May 9, 2019

The folly of worry...

The folly of worry and how God's Word helps us overcome it...

Let me speak briefly, I have a confession to make... One of my sin struggles is worry. I fight it but find it a stumbling area often. Desiring to conquer this temptation by God's Spirit I sought out help from the Word of the Lord.  So here are my Biblical thoughts on worry and how to overcome it.

I thought of 5 Biblical reasons to avoid worry, and 4 Biblical ways to combat it.

1.) Worrying forgets the Gospel
It denies God’s sovereignty and power.  Christ has said in John 14 that we are not to let our hearts “be troubled.”  Why?  Because He was going to be and has now died and been raised, thereby making the way for man to get to God.  Worry denies the peace promised by the Holy Spirit and makes God out to be a liar.  It forgets the Gospel’s power to bring peace as it fails to trust that Christ is a refuge for all our strife.  Worry elevates some stresses as being beyond the perfect plan and power of God.

2.) Worrying is meditation
Defined, to meditate is to “think deeply or focus one's mind for a period of time.”1  It is to have your mind captive to something.  Scripture tells us that we are to let our minds dwell (meditate) on Christ and His Word.  The truths of God are to be our meditation.  In Psalm 19:14 the Psalmist pleads with God to let his every word, every thought and every devotion be pleasing to God.  Verse 13, however, sheds some additional light to his plea.  He petitions the Lord to keep him away from presumptuous sins.  The “presumptuous sin” in worrying is presuming that meditating on what you can do about a worry will produce a more favorable result.  It sets the meditation of your heart on that issue and resolving it as opposed to trusting the Lord to do what is right and in keeping with His perfect will.

3.) Worrying is idolatry
If worry is your meditation and meditation is that which you think and dwell on... then doesn’t it stand to reason that what you dwell on is your idol?  That stings a bit.  We know we aren’t to have any idols (Exodus 20:4-6).  Instead we are to dwell on Christ alone, but how easily idols sneak in and construct themselves in plain sight, and before we know it we have allowed them choice real estate in our heart.  Idols form when our hearts are drawn away from Christ by other things (Deuteronomy 30:17).  They are demonic in origin and dressed as something seemingly harmless but massively destructive to us.  Be on guard for them in your heart.

4.) Worrying is disobedient
It seems that this one should be most obvious, yet it bears stating even still.  Matthew 6:25-27, Jesus declares that we aren’t to worry.  Our Father, He says, knows our needs and will provide.  So to engage in constant worry is to disobey the Word of the Lord.  Before you think me legalistic, please remember that God’s Law is a law of liberty!  Though often stated in the negative (“Thou shall not...”) they are always intended for our good.  They are intended to preserve our joy by focusing us on Him and our need for Him in all things.

5.) Worrying is vanity
What good does worrying incessantly do?  “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27).  What more needs to be said about the sheer wastefulness and vanity of worrying?

So what should we do?

I write to you, the one tempted to incessant worrying, from the trenches with you.  My mother says that I get that nature from her.  Maybe I am predisposed genetically to struggle with worry to some extent, but the truth is that I wrestle with it because sin dwells in my flesh.  I don’t set out trying to worry, but it creeps in at times just the same.  At its worst in me I literally lie in bed, my mind racing so fast over the many daily things I’ve decided to worry about, that I can hardly lie still.  There are few things more frustrating than a restless mind fixated on worry.  For someone whose sin struggle doesn’t include worrying, this is hard to understand.  I explained that those times when the worrying is at its worst, in my mind, it feels as though I am trying to divide a number by a color to derive a letter.  I mean that quite literally!  I have seen that frustrating formula over and over in my mind at times.  (I should note that these extreme times happen mostly while I am trying to sleep, but during times of extreme worry nonetheless). It is the sign of just sheer mental exhaustion that has come on over time as I have failed to pray and rest in Christ as I ought.  As the Lord works in and grows me I am learning how to more quickly rest in Him and for that I am grateful.

Can you relate to this struggle?  If so, here are some Scriptural helps.

1.) Pray – (Philippians 4:6) – Seems simple, but for those who struggle with worry we also struggle to keep our mind focused during times of prayer.  If you find it difficult to pray at all times and stay focused, wrestle and pray all the more!  Strive in prayer until you feel the Spirit of God bring you rest.

2.) Seek God’s Glory, not Your Solutions. – (Matthew 6:33) – Certainly we are to engage our minds in problem solving but there is a difference between evaluation and problem solving vs worry.  Ask God to help you seek His will above all things.  Seek His wisdom and trust His sovereign plan.  Striving with worry will only weigh you down (Proverbs 12:25).

3.) Humble Yourself. – (1 Peter 5:6-11) – Worry is arrogant because it sets our “wisdom” over God’s.  Scripture says to humble ourselves “under the Mighty Hand of God.”  We are to cast all our cares upon Him “because He cares for” us and is abundantly mighty to take all the cares we can think of and infinitely more.  We are promised rest if we will seek it from the Lord (Matthew 11:28-30).

4.) Remember the Gospel. – (Romans 8:28-39) – Are you born again?  Redeemed by Christ?  Think on that!  What greater promise is there?   I know of none, than to be certain that I have been redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ.  Remember the Gospel and apply it!  What worry is greater than the problem you once had of being condemned and under the wrath of God for your sin?  None.  Yet Christ was mighty enough to rescue you from your condemnation.  Will He now not be able to strengthen you, guide you, and give you joy and rest?  Of course!  Nothing, not even that which you worry over, can separate you from the love of God in Jesus Christ.  Nothing.  So, my fellow worriers, let’s press on in the love of Christ together and trust Him to care for us as He has promised to do.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Jason

If you found this article helpful, please encourage others by re-posting it to your facebook, twitter, or other appropriate social media outlet. Also, feel free to comment and let me know how God has worked in you to overcome worry.

Isaiah's Prophetic Vision

One of the most familiar Scriptures in Isaiah is from chapter 6 when he saw the holiness of the Lord and confronted his own sin. One of the most beautiful prophecies in Isaiah is found in chapter 53, verse 5. In that verse, we find a riveting four-fold prediction that reminds us why it was so imperative for Jesus to die on the cross.

Isaiah foresaw that Jesus would be pierced for our transgressions. When he wrote “our transgressions” not one person can be excluded. In verse 6, we writes, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus was completely innocent of any of the false charges leveled against Him. We are totally guilty of sin that would have separated us from God forever. Paul describes it this way: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)

Isaiah also foresaw that Jesus would be crushed for our iniquities. The pain He felt in being separated from God the Father had to be even more crushing than the abuse of His body through floggings, being spit upon and in other ways. Micah foretold of a time when “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl our iniquities into the depth of the sea.” (7:19). This compassion was expressed in Jesus’ death on the cross to cancel the sin debt we could never pay. Praise God, it didn’t end there! He arose from the grave three days later assuring us that we can live with God eternally!

Isaiah also foresaw that Jesus’ punishment came so we could have peace with God. We can rest in Him knowing our sins are forgiven! Paul writes, ‘Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” (Romans 5:1) Peace like this is possible only because of God the Father loving us so much, Jesus Christ dying on the cross and then rising from the grave and the Holy Spirit convicting us of our need for Jesus.

Isaiah also foresaw that Jesus’ wounds would make healing possible. Physical healing is wonderful but spiritual healing is infinitely better because it is for eternity! Peter writes, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live for Righteousness: by his wounds you have been healed.” (I Peter 2:24)

This possible healing becomes reality only when we put our faith In Jesus Christ. Praise God, when we do that our transgressions and iniquities are forgiven and we are declared righteous!

David Oldfather

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