God's Love: The Victory that Overcomes Anxiety and Fear
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Ephesian 1:4 , Matthew 6:25-33
Sunday 16th November 2014
Today, we conclude the first part of this series, titled ‘The Immeasurable Riches of God’s Love’. From the message titled, ‘God’s Love: The Secret To My New Beginnings’ last week, we agreed that God’s love is the basis and foundation for our faith. His grace is actually an expression of His love for us, and all that we enjoy is as a result of His love for us. Hence, if we deny ourselves of God’s love, we are inevitably denying ourselves of all the benefits that God has made available to us in Christ Jesus. Referring to God as the ‘God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’ in last week’s message, we understood that God is not embarrassed by our failures and shortcomings, and can identify with us wherever we may be in the journey of life. In rounding up last week, we examined closely the story of Prophet Hosea and Gomer, his wife; an allegory of God’s love for His people.
Today as we conclude the first part of this series, I want to draw our attention to the antidote of God’s love in overcoming anxiety and fear. A large percentage of our world’s population today, lives under endless anxiety, panic and fear. The average person you meet today is living in trepidation; constantly worrying about bills to pay and the prospects of the future. Today’s message will give an insight on how to confront this issue head-on and then give a solution as explained in God’s word. It must be stated unequivocally, that this issue has a spiritual connotation, and it needs to be dealt with from this perspective.
From our foundation scripture in Matthew 6:25-33, we read the instruction given by Jesus, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Verse 25-26). We read more about this instruction from Jesus in Matthew 10:29-31; “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” (See also Luke 12:6-7).
These foundation scriptures highlight two main negative forces that are recurrent among the world’s population today – worry (also could be called anxiety) and fear. The scriptures we read in Matthew 6:25-33 begins with that phrase ‘Do not worry!’, and Luke’s admonition begins with that phrase ‘Do not fear’. These statements are commands from God for every season you may be going through – good or bad, happy or sad.
Ours is a world full of people who worry about everything and anything: worries about going to bed and waking up from bed; worries about their children and spouses; worries about making ends meet and paying the bills. Philippians 4:6 gives us the right approach to this issue: ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God’. Whatever the issue may be, whether it has become accentuated or not as we approach the end of another year, God’s unequivocal command is that you stop worrying about it.
As I mentioned earlier, anxieties and fears are spiritually rooted and unless they are dealt with spiritually, they will keep recurring. Worries and fears are the enemy’s weapon that reminds you deceptively, that God doesn’t love you enough to take care of you. It is a strategy of the devil to hamper you from enjoying all the blessings that God has provided for you; blindfolding you from all the benefits that is available in God. This is such an acute condition that has destroyed many lives irreparably – worries about health, family, spouses and even their age! Many are worried about those lifelong dreams that haven’t yet been fulfilled and wonder if it will ever happen for them. Sadly, this condition has also filtered into the church, now full of anxious and worried Christians. Worries and anxieties are strongly linked to doubt which hinders faith. And the scriptures make it categorically clear that ‘Without faith, it is impossible to please God…’ (Hebrews 11:6). When a Christian’s prayer is inundated by fear and worries, soon enough doubt sets in. Yet, God has the solution, hence the reason He constantly instructs us not to worry.
Anxiety is rooted in a fear of insufficiency or lack. It is a state of mind or perception that reminds you that what you desire will not come to pass. This is constantly fed by a perpetual focus on those unrealized needs, unfulfilled dreams and expectations. It is a state of mind devoid of the hope of God’s love and a glorious future. This is not God’s will for you, so can I encourage you to stop worrying. The devil is aware that an anxious person will never trust God or walk in faith. Such a person will never truly admit that God loves them, even though this may never be verbalized. Sadly, the devil is taking advantage of this, and he doesn’t need to work round the clock to afflict Christians with sickness anymore. Once anxiety sets in, the next irrational decisions and actions follows, leading to more problems and trouble. We now live with these anxieties without properly discerning correctly if they are good or bad anymore, because we’ve embraced various medical terminologies that classify them as normal. This is not God’s will for us and we must reject these tendencies.
The second negative force that the devil employs to hinder our progress is fear. Fear paralyses its inhabitant. When the spirit of fear grips a strong man, he becomes paralyzed. Fear tells you that: ‘you dare not step forward into the future’. Jesus counteracts this state of mind by reminding us not to be afraid. It is another way of telling us that He loves us so much. Fear is a forerunner of the devil. As a matter of fact, to qualify this, fear as an entity is not dangerous. It is however a harbinger that opens up our minds to all the devices of the enemy, if we do not take a stand against it. This is how the scriptures put it: ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind’ (2 Timothy 1:7). Interestingly, just as faith is vital to pleasing God, and attracting the blessings of God into our lives, the devil employs fear to attract his devices into an undiscerning mind. And as such, we must be on guard and be deliberate about walking in faith and rooted in love to counteract Satan’s schemes.
One of the greatest battles that as a believer you will have to constantly deal with in your mind is the thought that God doesn’t love you. He does! He cares about you. Fear and worry equals absence of love. Fear and worry on one hand and love on the other hand are mutually exclusive. The devil’s strategy is to deprive us of God’s love, and it is unsurprising that he employs this tactic, because he is aware that our Christian faith is rooted in God’s love. Let me reiterate the obvious – there can be no faith without God’s love, without which our victory in life is hindered. This is how I John 4:18 put it: ‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love’ (NIV). The corollary is true: where there is fear, there can be no love. Hence, the knowledge of God’s love propels you and drives you forward despite the opposition till you reach your desired destination.
As I round up, let me show you an interesting account from the story of Jesus baptism and the subsequent temptation in the wilderness. Matthew 3:16-17 reads: “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased (NIV). Shortly afterwards, Jesus was led into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights to fast. Matthew 4:3 relates the first of the temptations that Jesus faced: “The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Notice the word ‘beloved’ or ‘loved by God’ is missing from this statement by Satan. It was an attempt to hide from Jesus his real identity; thankfully Jesus knew better than this deception by the enemy. Sadly, many Christians have not been the wiser on the subject of their identity in Christ. I pray that our intellectual knowledge will not stand in the way of our convictions and revelation of God’s truth to us, in Jesus name.
We are beloved by God, and in this word ‘Beloved’ is our victory, advantage and edge over the enemy and his plans – we must never lose this truth. So here are two ways to live: in fear and in anxiety on one hand, or fully rested in God’s love on the other hand – the choice is yours. If God will look after those ‘cheap’ sparrows – two a penny and five for two pennies, as highlighted by Matthew and Luke in the passages we read above respectively, then why can’t we trust God to take care of us? God loves us so much to the extent that the very hairs on our heads are numbered! Remember that these sparrows never sow nor reap, yet they are never in need of anything. Ever seen a depressed or worried bird before? Never seen one yet! If you own a garden, you are more likely to hear their chirping, very early in the morning, every day. Without a shadow of doubt, they are so confident that there is more than enough to feed on, each day. So also are the lilies by the roadside or on the field – their glory outshines the glory on Solomon’s kingly garment.
Lastly, Romans 5:2 reads: ‘Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God’. We have access to God’s love by faith and my prayer today, is that each one of us will fully embrace this truth and live each day, convinced and confident of the unfailing, irrevocable love of God for us (Amen).
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