Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 102 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Matthew 6 today and our focus is on the Biblical cure for anxiety. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Santa Catarina, Brazil, Harare, Zimbabwe, Wales, UK, Ontario, Canada, Wurtemberg, Germany, Champagne, Illinois, New York, New York, and Fresno, California. Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Allow me to begin with a joke: “I was wondering why the frisbee was getting bigger, and then it hit me.” This joke has nothing to do with today’s episode, but my 9 year old daughter Phoebe just told me the joke, so I’m including it for your joy and delight and groaning.
In a departure from normal, let’s go ahead and read our passage today, paying close attention to the end, where Jesus gives us His cure for anxiety.
Here is a summary of what Jesus is saying: Don’t worry, consider how well God cares for His creation, and be reminded that God loves you more than flowers, fields and fowl. God your Father knows what you need, and will provide it. Don’t over-worry about tomorrow, but be focused on God and His care in the current day you’re in.
Paul also gives us great and inspired wisdom on facing anxiety. Interestingly, he does it just two chapters after confessing his own anxiety:
Paul: Philippians 2: 27 Indeed, Epaphroditus was so sick that he nearly died. However, God had mercy on him, and not only on him but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 For this reason, I am very eager to send him so that you may rejoice again when you see him and I may be less anxious.
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
I want you to note here that in one breath – Philippians 2, Paul says that he is anxious and in the next breath – Philippians 4, Paul gives us the Spirit inspired cure for anxiety. This is neither contradiction nor problematic – this is the steady state of life in a fallen world. Anxiousness lays siege to our souls, so we actively wrestle against it, and we resist it by bringing all of our cares to God, accompanied with thanksgiving. When we do this, we are promised God’s power and His peace to guard our hearts against worry and anxiety.
Many pastors also have other professional hats that they wear. Some are bivocational – Paul was a tentmaker, for instance. Some were called by God later in life – having served in other areas. I myself am a world-renowned detective, and a member of the Avengers. Far more impressive than that, however is the doctor. No, I’m not referring to the British time traveler who goes on adventures in his TARDIS, I am referring to a British man who was called ‘The Doctor’ before there was a Dr. Who. His name is Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones – a real medical doctor who actually worked as the chief assistant to the king’s physician in his early twenties, and graduated from the London School of Medicine. We know MLJ as a pastor and writer, but his nickname was ‘The Doctor,’ for most of his ministry career, and I find he had a great insight into the subject of today’s episode, anxiety. So, we’re going to hear from him much more than we hear from me, and you will be greatly enriched by that fact.
The great problem in life is, in a sense, how to lay oneself down to rest and to sleep. ‘I laid me down and slept,’ said the Psalmist. Anybody can lie down, but the question is can you sleep? The Psalmist describes himself surrounded by enemies and by difficulties and trials, and his mighty testimony is that in spite of that, because of his trust in the Lord, he both laid him down and slept, and he awaked safe and sound in the morning. Why? Because the Lord was with him and looking after him.
That is the theme of so much of the Bible in the Old Testament and in the New that it is obviously a subject of supreme importance.
I sometimes feel that there is nothing perhaps which provides such a thorough test of our faith and of our whole Christian position as just this matter. It is one thing to say that you subscribe to the Christian faith, it is one thing, having read your Bible and abstracted its doctrine, to say: ‘Yes, I believe all that, it is the faith by which I live’. But it is not always exactly the same thing to find that faith triumphant and victorious and maintaining you in a state of joy, when everything seems to have gone against you and well nigh driven you to despair. It is a subtle and delicate test of our position because it is such an essentially practical test. It is far removed from the realm of mere theory. You are in the position, you are in the situation, these things are happening to you, and the question is, what is your faith worth at that point? Does it differentiate you from people who have no faith? That is obviously something of very great importance not only for our peace and comfort but also, and especially at a time like this, from the whole standpoint of our Christian witness. People today tell us that they are realists and practical. They say that they are not interested in doctrine, and not interested to listen very much to what we say, but if they see a body of people who seem to have something that enables them to triumph over life, they become interested at once. This is so because they are unhappy, and frustrated and uncertain, and fearful. If, when in that condition themselves, they see people who seem to have peace and calm and quiet, then they are ready to look at them and to listen to them. So that from the standpoint of our own personal happiness and our maintenance of the joy of the Lord, and also from the standpoint of our witness and our testimony in these difficult days, it behoves us to consider very carefully what the apostle has to say in these masterly statements about the way to deal with the tyranny of circumstances and conditions.
The matter seems to divide itself up quite simply. First of all he tells us what we have to avoid. There are certain things we must avoid, says the apostle—‘Be careful for nothing’. That is a negative injunction—something to avoid. Now let us be quite clear about the term ‘careful’. ‘Be careful for nothing’, says the Authorized translation, but you will find another translation even better: ‘Be anxious for nothing’ or ‘Be anxious about nothing’. ‘Careful’ means ‘full of care’—that means anxiety harassing care, nervous solicitude, tending to brood or to ponder over things. It is the same word as our Lord used in the Sermon on the Mount—you remember that section in the sixth chapter of Matthew: ‘Take no thought . . .’ It means do not be over-anxious, do not brood and ponder, do not meditate over-much upon, do not have this nervous solicitude about the thing. That is the meaning of the term.
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016).
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for April James 4:6 “But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
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