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INTRODUCTION:

 

Many of the emotions that we are exploring in this series are "kissin' cousins" in the sense that they overlap and interact with each other. Anxiety and stress are major symptoms of the kind of emotional pressure we have created for ourselves in our 21st century.

 

The command to "Fear not!"(or its equivalent) is mentioned over 350 times in the Bible. Since stress and anxiety are prevalent among Christians, this is a subject that we cannot avoid.

 

[1] ANXIETY - ITS CHARACTERISTICS

 

1. The Greek word most often used in the New Testament for 'anxiety' literally means "distracted", "fragmented", "drawn in different directions". This emotional reality often manifests itself via a sense of uneasiness or apprehension, tension and fretting - even when the is no apparent reason for such a emotional response.

 

2. It's important to note that not all anxiety is necessarily bad. Some low energy forms of anxiety can be motivational and lead to increased effectiveness or productivity. Two Biblical examples of this can be found in Paul's writing.

 

But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it,so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern (anxiety) for each other. (1 Cor.12/24,25)

 

Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern (anxiety) for all the churches. (2 Cor.12/28)

 

However, there is a form of anxiety and stress that is unfounded, disproportionate to the situation and destructive. It is this kind of anxiety that is in mind in the following verses.

 

Do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes (Psalm 37/7)

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil.4/6)

 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5/7)

 

......but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. (Mark 4/19)

 

[2] ANXIETY - ITS CAUSES

 

a. Learned by example - anxious parents often produce anxious children

 

b. Childhood criticism - generate insecurity, fear of failure, sense of inadequacy

c. Lack of love - producing sense of unworthiness or inferiority

 

d. Internal tensions - conflicting personal expectations, desires, goals

 

e. Current expectations (perceived or actual) imposed by others

 

[3] ANXIETY - ITS CURE

 

1. Recognize and own the reality of anxiety - as with other human emotions, denial or rationalization of our anxiety only increases its power and intensity in our lives.

 

2. Seek to identify its causes - become vulnerable with a trusted friend, a counselor or someone who can help you look at your circumstances with objectivity

 

3. Take practical steps to remove or minimize the cause/s - take time to review your responsibilities. Re-arrange your priorities.Abandon what is not needed.

 

4. Commit to fulfill & enjoy the Biblical directives in this area - particularly Philippians 4/6-9 and Psalm 37/1-9

 

1. Don't be anxious about anything - v.6 (OK but how?)

 

2. Pray about everything with thanksgiving - v.6 (We can't pray, praise and panic all at the same time!)

 

3. Peace comes to set up a guard over our hearts (what we feel) and minds (what we think) - v.7

 

4. Choose to re-program our thought patterns - v.8

 

5. Choose to put into action what we are learning - v.9

Psalm 37/1-9

 

1. Don't fret, it only leads to evil - vs.1,7,8

 

2. Trust in the Lord - v.3

 

3. Delight in the Lord - v.4

 

4. Commit to the Lord - v.5

 

5. Be still before the Lord - v.7

 

CONCLUSION:

 

Live a day at a time (Matthew 6/34) - God has promised strength and grace for now. We cannot save grace from yesterday or borrow from tomorrow. Like the manna in the wilderness, we receive each day the supply for that day. NOTE: Most anxiety is linked to anticipated situations that rarely eventuate.

 

Don't procrastinate! - allowing unfulfilled responsibilities to accumulate only increases the load of anxiety.

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