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Overcoming Your Anxieties

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Are you "worrying yourself sick"? Do the stresses of modern life seem to keep you from finding peace of mind? God's Word reveals comforting principles that you can apply to live the abundant life that God intends for you!.

We live in a dangerous world. Millions of people are fearful, worried and anxious. As Time magazine reported: "Now more than ever we are worrying ourselves sick." Can you overcome your anxieties?

The stress of everyday life can kill us. We commute in congested traffic, we interact with carnal, argumentative people and we face many financial, social and personal problems. And then add to those stresses our fears of the terrors besetting our cities and our nations!

How many of us are "worrying ourselves sick"? One magazine article observed: "There is certainly a lot of anxiety going around. Anxiety disorder—which is what health experts call any anxiety that persists to the point that it interferes with ones life—is the most common mental illness in the U.S. In its various forms, ranging from very specific phobias to generalized anxiety disorder, it afflicts 19 million Americans" ("Understanding Anxiety," Time, June 10, 2002, p. 48).

How worried and anxious are you? What can you do to have peace of mind? What can you do to overcome your anxieties? Here are seven "keys" to overcoming your anxieties.

Key 1: Prepare for The Prophesied Future

This principle is so important that wise King Solomon stated it twice in Proverbs: "A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished" (Proverbs 22:3; 27:12).

We need to face the real dangers increasingly threatening our world, and we need to take appropriate action. We need to arm ourselves with knowledge of today's many dangers, and face reality. Too many people today choose to hide from reality, and escape into entertainment, drug and alcohol abuse and other illicit behaviors.

Proper preparation for the prophesied future will help you overcome your anxieties. Jesus told us to understand prophetic events. After describing the signs that would precede His return, Jesus gave an encouraging admonition: "So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away" (Luke 21:31–33).

Jesus said that we should be alert to prophetic events, so that we will "know that the kingdom of God is near." He did not say these prophetic signs would help us guess that the kingdom of God is near. Jesus said that we can know when the kingdom of God is near. He gave us this warning in Luke 21:34: "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life" (Luke 21:34). Other translations render this phrase "the worries of this life" (NRSV) or "the anxieties of life" (NIV).

Jesus warns us not to let that day come upon us unexpectedly. "For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (vv. 35–36).

We need to be alert to world events, and to the prophesied signs about which Jesus spoke. God will judge the nations during the prophesied Day of the Lord, mentioned in more than 30 prophecies throughout the Bible. God made it very clear to ancient Israel that there are blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. Our degenerating and increasingly immoral Western nations will pay a severe penalty. Here is what God warned: "But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will do this to you; I will even appoint terror over you" (Leviticus 26:14–16).

Could this be happening to us now? Many feel that the world is becoming, as the respected Economist magazine proclaimed on its October 19, 2002 cover, "A world of terror." Is there any part of the world that can feel safe from terrorism? Terrorism today can be found in every corner of our world. Even in the once-protected United States, a pair of snipers last fall left millions in the Washington, DC area afraid whenever they had to leave their homes. Just two men brought such great terror to millions. Multiply this by the thousands of terror incidents around the world each year, and one begins to realize that the Economist was right: we now live in a world of terror.

We must face the realities of these prophesied end-times. As Jesus said, do not "let your hearts be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life" (Luke 21:34, NIV). But He said: "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36).

The terrors of our world add to our personal fears. But there is the hope and good news of Jesus Christ's return, to rule God's coming kingdom on earth for a thousand years. If we feel uncertainty and ignorance, this may lead to confusion and depression. But Jesus gave us this encouragement: "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Yes, you can be free from uncertainty. You can know the future!

Key 2: Know Your Priorities

The Bible makes plain what our priorities in life should be. We should be praying, as Jesus taught: "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). Are you seeking God's will? Or are you seeking the world? As the Apostle James wrote: "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4).

Millions follow the latest "trends" or "fads" and conform to the world. They are not seeking to fulfill their very purpose in life. In fact, they do not even know what that purpose is! What did Jesus say is the greatest priority? He said: "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).

Once you have committed yourself to seeking the Kingdom of God, then you can have peace of mind. You can overcome your worries, phobias, and anxieties. But if you are double-minded—if you have one foot in the world, and one foot trying to walk the way of the Bible—you will get nowhere! Jesus spoke about this double-mindedness: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).

Are you trying to serve two masters? That double-minded approach only encourages anxiety. Jesus continues: "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (vv. 31–33). That is your calling! Seeking the important things will help you grow in faith. And faith is an antidote for worry!

The importance of priorities was a theme of the 1974 best-selling book How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life. Author Alan Lakein suggested that we each ask ourselves three simple questions: What are my lifetime goals? How will I spend the next three years? And if I knew now that I would be struck dead by lightning six months from today, how would I live until then?

These questions—especially the last—should help you distinguish between the most important and least important priorities in your life. Are your priorities God's priorities? Are you living by the priorities God has given in His "instruction manual"—the Bible? The Bible reveals priorities that can give you a real purpose in life. When you follow its instructions, you can find peace of mind.

Key 3: Repent of Your Sins

When we sin, and we know we have sinned, we feel guilty. We expect that something terrible is going to happen to us, and, lo and behold, something terrible does happen to us. The patriarch Job said: "For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me" (Job 3:25). Some have called this a "self-fulfilling prophecy."

We need to confess our sins in prayer. Be open and honest with God. As the Apostle John wrote: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). We need to acknowledge our fears, worries, and our sins. If we genuinely repent of our sins, God will forgive us. We can be free of the anxieties and worry, associated with guilt! Christians can have peace of mind!

God lets us experience life, to learn from our own mistakes and experiences. The Apostle Peter explains that a time of judgment is coming, when we will be held accountable for our lifestyles and our attitudes: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?" (2 Peter 3:10–12).

We need to examine our conduct. We need to repent, which means to change our conduct and our way of thinking. Repentance means to turn around and go the other way. It means to acknowledge our sins before God, and ask His forgiveness. It means we must commit ourselves to obey God's righteousness, and to accept the sacrifice of Christ to pay for our sins. One who has genuinely repented, and has been baptized, demonstrating acceptance of Christ's sacrifice, can begin a new life. The Apostle Paul described the meaning of baptism. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1–2).

Millions of professing Christians believe that once you are under grace, you no longer need to keep God's Ten Commandments. In other words, you can continue in sin, you can transgress God's righteous and holy law, because you are under grace. But what did Paul say? "Certainly not!" Or as it states in the KJV: "God forbid!" Paul then describes the depth of commitment we bring to our baptism: "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (vv. 3–4). This is the fruit of true repentance!

Key 4: Pray About Everything That Worries You

What was Paul's solution for anxiety? How did he advise us to cope with worry and fearful concern? He wrote: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6). In other words, share your worries, your fears and your concerns with God in prayer!

Tell God the details of your problems. King David did that many times. You can read his complaints, frustrations and personal feelings in his prayers, recorded in the Psalms. Twenty-six times in the Psalms, David pleaded with God: "Deliver me!" One such prayer is as follows: "Deliver me from my enemies, O God; defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men" (Psalm 59:1–2).

Like David, we should express our intimate thoughts to God. Another key to overcoming our anxieties is to pray with thanksgiving! We should thank God for all our blessings. When we count our blessings—when we thank God for all the blessings we have experienced and will experience in our lives—there is a wonderful result: "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).

You can have peace of mind—the very peace of God. But God expects that you will take action. He expects that you will follow His instruction to share your concerns with Him in prayer. And he expects you to request His help, aid and deliverance—and to pray with an attitude of thanksgiving. Thank God that He is willing to help you overcome your anxieties, and that He is willing to give you peace of mind.

Apply these principles for sound-mindedness and peace, and you can have the abundant life that God desires for you. Jesus said: "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). True Christians can have an abundant life. They can rejoice, in spite of life's trials. Christians will always endure difficult times. But God gives us the spiritual faith and confidence to face our trials. Writing to the Philippian Christians, Paul uses the word "rejoice" ten times in eight verses in this epistle! Notice his exhortation: "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4). Our confidence, our peace of mind, is in the Lord, not in ourselves! When we have surrendered our lives to our Father and to His Son, Jesus Christ, we can have joy and peace. In fact, Paul addresses this common problem of anxiety. He tells us in Philippians 4:6: "Be anxious for nothing" (v. 6). Or, as it tells us in the NIV: "Do not be anxious about anything." Does that sound impossible? Notice that it does not say: "Do not be concerned about anything." One dictionary definition of anxiety is: "fearful concern or interest." Anxiety is also defined as "painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill" (Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary). We need a normal, natural concern, but not a "fearful concern."

Phobias from A to Z:
Acrophobia fear of heights
Bibliophobia fear of books
Claustrophobia fear of confined spaces
Dipsophobia fear of drinking
Ergophobia fear of work
Felinophobia fear of cats
Geliophobia fear of laughter
Homilophobia fear of sermons
Ichthyophobia fear of fish
Koniophobia fear of dust
Lalophobia fear of speaking
Myctophobia fear of darkness
Necrophobia fear of death
Olfactophobia fear of odors
Pantophobia fear of everything
Rhytiphobia fear of getting wrinkles
Suriphobia fear of mice
Technophobia fear of technology
Verbophobia fear of words
Xenophobia fear of foreigners
Zoophobia fear of animals

from www.phobialist.com

Key 5: Exercise Faith

Hebrews 11 is often called the "faith chapter." It lists the heroes and heroines of faith, and defines faith for us: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).

How can you exercise faith? Faith is an assurance and a confidence. Abraham, though very old, believed God's promise that he would be a father of many nations. "He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God" (Romans 4:20). Abraham was "fully convinced that what He [God] had promised He was also able to perform. Therefore, 'it was accounted to him for righteousness'" (vv. 21–22).

God was real to Abraham, who knew that He was more than able to fulfill His promises. If we have faith, we will ask the question: "What has God promised me?" Then, when we read the Bible, we find hundreds of promises that God can fulfill for us—if we believe that God is able to fulfill those promises.

Correcting His listeners who worried too much about their physical needs, Jesus said: "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 6:28–30).

God expects us to exercise faith. He expects us to trust Him and to follow His instructions. Christ and the Apostles set an example of faithful living. When we follow their example, we can overcome our anxieties. As Paul wrote: "The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:9).

Faith is an antidote for worry! Seeking first the important things in life will help you grow in faith! God is able to accomplish far more than humans know or can even imagine. One of my favorite verses explains this point: "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20–21).

God is "able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think." He wants us to be close to Him. He wants us to share with Him our worries, fears and concerns. And God wants us to ask Him for help! Be bold. Ask God to help you, as He has promised: "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think."

Believe God's promises, and you will find peace. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). The key here is to seek God diligently! We seek Him by praying to Him, every day. We seek Him by reading our Bibles, every day. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).

Key 6: Fear God

Many in mainstream Christianity call the fear of God "primitive." They equate fearing God to the obeisance of superstitious pagans falling before their false gods. But the biblical fear of God is a deep reverence and respect for the Creator. It is our awe at God's majesty and greatness. It is a response to the reality of God. When you choose to fear God, you will not fear man. Remember that the fear of God, and the love of God, are not mutually exclusive. Many professing Christians think that you can have only one or the other. That is not what your Bible says. Both qualities are required in our relationship with God. "And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12–13).

God requires that we both love Him and fear Him. Read through the books of Psalms and Proverbs. The blessings and benefits of a godly fear will amaze you! Notice: "In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge" (Proverbs 14:26). True faith and "strong confidence" come from God.

The very reason we do not have world peace is the lack of godly fear. Paul, quoting Isaiah, makes that very plain. "Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:15–18).

How many people have you known who are arrogant and have no godly fear? Our world needs genuine, humble Christians who revere the true God. We need to follow the example of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He had a godly fear. You can read about that in Isaiah 11:1–3. Godly fear gives us peace and confidence. As Jesus warned: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). Now notice what follows: "Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows" (vv. 29–31).

As you regularly read the Bible, you will discover many examples of God's intervention, and His deliverance of His people. We live in a secular and faithless world. But you can overcome your anxieties and your fears, when you exercise faith, and nurture a godly fear.

God knows your fears. Jesus said that your Father in Heaven knows you intimately. As Jesus said: "Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Luke 12:7, NIV). God cares for you. He will give you the faith and confidence you need to overcome your fears and worries. And He will give you His Holy Spirit.

Key 7: Ask God for the Holy Spirit

God's Holy Spirit is the spirit of love and of power. He gives us that gift after we repent and are baptized. Peter spoke to thousands on the day of Pentecost, when the New Testament Church began. "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'" (Acts 2:38).

The most powerful strategy for overcoming your fears and anxieties is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. God will give you that free gift after genuine repentance and baptism, as Peter said. After baptism the minister proceeds with the laying on of hands. Paul comments: "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands" (2 Timothy 1:6). We need the Holy Spirit. How does Paul describe the Holy Spirit? "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (v. 7).

God's spirit in you will help you overcome your fears. As John wrote: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18). God will give you the gift of His love that casts out fear. That is the gift of divine love through the Holy Spirit.

As we prepare for the Messiah's return to earth, we will face many trials and challenges in a world gone mad. But Scripture gives us the true keys to overcoming anxieties, and facing the future with faith. May God grant you the abundant peace He promises to those who wholeheartedly seek and trust Him!

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