Pastor Steve resumed his series from Philippians today with a timely message on anxiety, based on verses 1-7 of chapter 4. He talked about fighting anxiety himself and how he found victory, even though he expects the struggles to continue. It’s a mysterious foe; sometimes the fear isn’t specific, but a nebulous cloud hanging over you. Telling someone about such irrational fears may make you sound strange, or like a wimp.
Even though Steve said he must fight these anxious feelings, he declared that he won’t allow that to dictate his identity. Sometimes the cloud is thicker than at other times, but he is going to treat it like something that needs to be killed. Anxiety is a killer that destroys people and won’t allow them to go forward with God and do things; it tries to tell you shut up and sit down—and do nothing your entire life.
“If I told you the number of prayer lines I went into as a charismatic, hoping someone would lay hands on me and pray so it would go away?” he said. “It was a bunch. . . . In the King James, Scripture says 365 times (“one for every day” someone called out), ‘Fear not.’ Why did God have something like this in the Bible? He knows we’re prone to fear.”
Jesus brought us the same message, Steve said. He pointed to Matthew 6 and Christ telling people to not have fears about anything. Jesus told the people to look at the fields and see how they were clothed in emphasizing they shouldn’t worry about they will wear, or eat, or drink. Yet just saying, “Stop being anxious” doesn’t help or he would have stopped being anxious 25 years ago, Steve added.
He encouraged us to look at Philippians 4:4, which says to always rejoice in the Lord. The Greek word means to be cheerful, calm and happy. Feelings have nothing to do with rejoicing, Steve said—believing it does. The source of rejoicing is knowing that the Lord is coming. He came into our heart and He will come again.
“This was written from a prison cell,” Steve noted. “It is a duty to rejoice. God made us to rejoice in Him always and that’s not counting on a feeling. I acknowledge this is not easy. We are conditioned today to react by how we feel. The world has lost any ability to reason or disagrees with someone and then go to lunch. Emotions govern the way people feel and react. But it’s essential that we can disagree and still get along if we are to have a unified church.”
When Paul tells us to rejoice always, it’s a follow-up command to give thanks in all things, Steve said. He added that he wasn’t going to present “three steps to overcoming anxiety” because if we fight with anxiety we better get used to having a sword and killing all those thoughts. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God; it means more than just saying “praise Jesus.” Instead, it means looking to Him as the author and finisher of our faith.
Not only does anxiety never make sense, it’s like screaming, “Lord, I don’t trust You” at the same time we are telling Him we trust Him. What will work is opening up the Bible and reading the words out loud, proclaiming our trust that this is the truth. Celebration Church wouldn’t be around today if he hadn’t gone through this “hell on earth” Steve said of his past battles with anxiety. They are what helped him to stand strong and persevere through the troubles and problems that the enemy brought against us.