TITLE: “GOD’S ANTIDOTE FOR WORRY”
TEXT: Psalm 23:1
Psalm 23 is the most loved psalm of the Bible.
It is the Psalm that is read most often.
That makes Psalm 23 the most familiar psalm.
And what happens when things become too familiar?
They sometimes lose their impact or their meaning.
I would like for us to take a fresh look at the 23rd Psalm.
Psalm 23 tells us what God is really like.
It's a picture of God.
My goal for the next few weeks is for us to learn what God is like and to know how much He really loves us and how much we matter to Him.
The better we understand God, the easier it is to trust Him.
Today I would like to look at the problem of worry and the antidote for worry found in Psalm 23.
Webster’s Dictionary defines “antidote” as “something that relieves, prevents, or counteracts.”
Today we are going to look at how our relationship with God can relieve, prevent, or counteract the problem of worry.
Worries may include finances, jobs, relationships, marriage, kids, health.
Three Problems with Worry:
Worry is unhelpful.
It's unhelpful because it never accomplishes anything; it never solves anything.
It is stewing without doing.
It's like revving up your car engine with the transmission in neutral.
You can create a lot of smoke and noise and burn up some energy but you don't go anywhere.
Worry has never solved a problem.
Worry cannot change the past.
Worry cannot control the future.
It only makes us miserable today.
It's unhelpful, it doesn't work.
Worry is unreasonable.
It exaggerates our problems making mountains out of molehills.
Worry just makes problems seem bigger and bigger.
The more we review something when we're worried about it, the bigger it gets.
To worry about something we can't change is useless.
To worry about something we can change is stupid.
Why not just change it.
Either way, don't worry!
Worry is unhealthy.
The body was not made to worry; it's unnatural.
When we worry we get ulcers, backaches, headaches, insomnia.
Our bodies were not made to worry.
Plants and animals don't worry.
Well, maybe some animals worry.
I have seen some dogs with a worried look on their faces.
But plants don’t worry.
They just sit there and vegetate.
People worry and they weren't made to worry.
It makes us unhappy and unhealthy.
The old English word for worry is the word "to strangle" or "to choke".
That's what worry does -- it strangles the life out of us.
It's not natural.
We weren't born worrying.
We have to learn to worry.
We have to practice to be good at it.
The good news is that if worry is learned it can also be unlearned.
I. WHAT IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR WORRY?
BELIEVE GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF ME
Ps. 23:1 = "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want."
If I believe that God is going to take care of me, I'm not going to worry.
If I let the Lord be my Shepherd, how is that an antidote for worry?
We have to know what shepherds do.
II. Shepherd Job Description:
He provides food, shelter, the basic necessities for his sheep.
He protects his flock from enemies and harm.
A shepherd leads sheep when they're confused and don't know which way to go.
The amazing thing is this: God has promised to do these 3 things in our lives if we trust Him, if we let Him be our shepherd.
He says "I'll provide for you. I will protect you. I will guide you if you will let Me be your Shepherd."
Isaiah 40:11 = He tends his flock like a shepherd.
God says, “I'll take care of you if you'll let me be your shepherd.”
He even gets more specific in Phil. 4:19 = And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
This doesn't say, God will meet all of our greed.
But He will meet all of our need.
There's a difference between needs and wants.
If God met all of our wants we would be spoiled brats.
He's not going to give us everything we want.
But He has said he will meet all of our needs.
The Bible says He will.
The Bible doesn’t say He might or he will think about it.
The Bible says He will.
That means God's character is on the line.
He's either going to do it or He's a liar.
When God makes a promise His character is on the line.
God says "I will meet all ..."
What does "all" include? Medical bills? Mortgage payments? Spiritual needs? Financial needs? Health needs? Relational needs?
If God has promised to provide all of our needs,
to protect us,
to guide us when we're confused,
what is left to worry about?
When we have an insurance policy, once we know what's covered in that policy, we don't worry about it anymore.
In the Bible we have over 7,000 promises.
It is the coverage God puts on our lives.
When we understand the promises, when we understand the coverage, what is there left to worry about?
Worry is not only unhelpful, unreasonable, unhealthy -- it's unnecessary if Jesus Christ is our Shepherd.
Any time we worry we are acting like atheists.
In essence we are saying: God is not going to keep His promises; God is not going to take care of my needs.
If it's going to happen, it's up to me.
Worry is simply practical atheism.
It says, I don't believe God will do what He says He will do.
Perhaps you have tried other shepherds such as philosophy or psychology or some person and have found they just don’t measure up.
Other shepherds don’t provide answers or protection.
III. How Do I Make God My Shepherd?
God is not the Shepherd of everybody.
He's only the Shepherd of those who want Him to be their Shepherd.
John 1:12 = Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
"The Lord is my Shepherd." -- The Lord can't be our Shepherd until the Shepherd is our Lord.
The two go together.
We can't ask Him to be our Shepherd without allowing Him to be our Lord.
We have to stop playing God and let God be God.
What does it mean to be Lord?
It means to be in control.
Lord simply refers to whomever is in charge.
Today we might use the terms boss, manager, CEO, chairman of the board.
Lord refers to the person in control, the person at the top who is calling the shots.
Jesus Christ is Lord in our lives if He's calling the shots in our lives.
If He's not calling the shots, He's not Lord.
And if He's not Lord, He's not our Shepherd.
Because the Bible says the Lord is my Shepherd.
To accept Jesus as Lord means three things.
John 10:14, 27 "Jesus said, `I am the good shepherd... my sheep know me ... my sheep listen to my voice . . . and they follow me."
The following statements describe what it means to have Jesus as Lord:
We allow Him to take control.
Worry is a control issue.
The root cause behind all of our worry is a fear that we are not in control.
Worry is always an attempt to control the uncontrollable.
Worry is assuming responsibility God never meant for us to have.
Whenever we try to control the uncontrollable we are going to worry.
When we try to control the uncontrollable, we are trying to control too much.
Who's in control of our lives?
God gives us the option.
He doesn't force Himself on anybody.
We have several options.
Either we can be in control of our lives or we can let God be in control.
God made us.
He knows what is best for us.
He has the power to bring those things to pass.
But He still gives us the option.
If we are in control of our lives we are playing God.
Every time we start playing God, we are going to worry.
If we are running our own lives without God's direction, we ought to be worried.
There are many things in our lives we can't control.
But if God is running our lives and He's our Lord and our Shepherd we know He can control anything.
How Do I Make God My Shepherd?
I make the Lord my Shepherd by receiving Jesus as my Lord.
I also make God my Shepherd by praying about everything.
B. Begin Praying About Everything
We need to learn to pray about all the stuff we usually worry about.
Just talk to God.
He wants our friendship, He wants a relationship with us.
Someone might ask: “What if I don't have time to pray?
Well, do I have time to worry?
If I have time to worry, then I have time to pray.
Worry doesn't change anything; prayer does.
Prayer gets in touch with God who can change circumstances.
Whenever I'm worried I have two options -- I can panic or I can pray.
Phil. 4:6,7 = Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
It says to pray about everything.
Many people, when they pray, pray prayers they think God wants to hear.
Pray about everything.
If it's big enough to worry about, it's big enough to pray about.
God's ability is greater than our anxiety.
I Peter 5:7 = Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
To cast means to unload, to let it go.
The Greek word literally means to drop it.
Prayer is an incredible stress reliever.
Whatever we are stressed out about,
Whatever we are upset about,
Whatever we are irritated about, we are to cast all of it on Him.
The problem is sometimes we cast our cares in the same way we cast when we are fishing.
We cast our worries out and then we reel them back in.
Worry is kind of like a dense fog.
When it comes in, you can't see clearly.
Have you ever tried to drive in a heavy fog?
You can't see what's up ahead.
The National Bureau of Standards has discovered if you took a dense fog that would cover seven square blocks of a city, 100 feet deep, and condense the fog it would only equal enough moisture to fill less than one glass of water.
That's what worry does -- It expands and exaggerates the problem.
How Do I Make God My Shepherd?
C. CONSIDER ONE DAY AT A TIME.
Focus, concentrate and consider one day at a time.
Matthew 6:34 = Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Jesus is saying, Don't open your umbrella until it starts raining.
Today is the tomorrow that we worried about yesterday.
When we worry we don't do anything about yesterday and we can't control tomorrow, we just mess up today.
The future can seem overwhelming.
Therefore, God has put it in little bite-size pieces.
He just gives it to us in one little 24 hour increment at a time.
Live one day at a time.
It’s all right for us to plan ahead but not worry ahead.
Matthew 6:11 = Give us today our daily bread.
Overcoming worry is a day to day choice.
Worry, and the antidote for it, is going to be a daily choice, sometimes hourly, sometimes a moment by moment choice.
Am I going to believe the Lord is my Shepherd or am I going to believe I am my own Lord?
Who is in control of my life?
Who's calling the shots?
If I'm in control, I have a lot to worry about.
But if God's in control, it's His problem and He can handle it.
What are you worried about?
What is it that causes you to fuss and fume, toss and turn, wondering "Is it ever going to work out?"
What is it that when you think about it you get this pit in your stomach?
I don't know what you're going through right now.
God does. God knows exactly what you're going through.
Your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well what you need, and he will give you what you need if you give him first place in your life.
In Matthew chapter 6, verse 33, we have a wonderful promise from God recorded.
Matthew 6:33 = “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
I have been a Christian now for 43 years and this promise and all the promises in God’s Word, I have found them all to be true.
If you read through Psalm 23, you will find that about seventeen times in six verses, the words "I", "my" or "me" are used.
This is an intensely personal psalm.
The word "You" – referring to God -- is used five times, "He" or "His" is used about 7 times.
This psalm is about a relationship with God.
That's the antidote for our worry.
Religion will not get rid of our worry.
I went to church for many years and went through the motions of religion, but religion never removed my worry.
We don't need religion.
We need a relationship.
We need a Shepherd -- somebody who provides, protects, guides and corrects.
God says "That's what I made you for. I didn't make you for religion. I made you to know Me."
He knows all about us, He wants us to know Him.
That's why He sent Jesus Christ.
I invite you to take the first step by opening your life to Jesus Christ if you've never done so.
Ask Jesus Christ to become your Lord and your Shepherd.
I don't know what you're worried about or stressed out about today.
But I do know this: God loves you, He cares about your anxiety, and He can help you.
"The Lord is my Shepherd".
I would like to emphasize different words in that sentence.
"The Lord is my Shepherd" -- there is only one real Lord, all the others are fakes and imitations.
"The Lord is my Shepherd" -- not might be, He is and always will be.
"The Lord is my Shepherd" -- Can you say that with certainty?
Is the Lord your Shepherd? Is the Shepherd your Lord?
He can't be one without the other.
Psalm 24:1 = The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
A paraphrase of this verse could go like this:
The Lord is my Shepherd. He is all that I need!
What you have in your Shepherd is greater than what you don’t have in life.
Others may be in want, but not me, I have a Shepherd.
Others may worry, but not me, I have a Shepherd.
Others may wander, but not me, I have a Shepherd