Well, welcome to the bridge church online. My name is Ron and I’m one of the pastors here. And we’re so glad you tuned in to watch and worship with us today.
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Today we’re kicking off our series Anxious For Nothing.
And would you agree that anxiety is a real issue in our world today? Just this week I was reading an article. And according to this article, a study released back in June said that a large percentage of Gen Zers and Millennials all over the world are experiencing high levels of anxiety. Fact that it said 48% of Gen Zers and 44% of Millennials say that they are stressed out all or most of the time. Now, the study notes that the causes of this high stress are often rooted in financial concerns, the well being of their family, or the career expectations.
Maybe you can relate to this. I mean, this is real and if you’re sitting wherever you are right now and watching this and you’re dealing with high levels of anxiety, I want you to know that you are not alone in this. In fact, would you type right now in the comment section? Would you type the words, you are not alone? Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute to do that, you are not alone. Now when I say those words, you are not alone, there’s really a double meaning to it. Because first of all, I want you to know that the emotions and feelings that you’re experiencing, that you’re not alone in this. It doesn’t mean that you’re a weak person. It doesn’t mean that your faith is fragile. But what it does, it does bring us to the place we all need to arrive at where we realize our brokenness, and how much we need God in our lives. In that, we need to be reminded that we are not alone.
However you’re feeling right now, whatever you’re facing, regardless of the factors in the equation, you have this promise that God will never leave you or forsake you. You are not alone. So how are we supposed to navigate through life when we’re overwhelmed by these feelings of anxiety? Well, the good news is that God doesn’t leave us without an answer to that question. In fact, the Bible gives us a very clear response to what we should do when we face anxiety. And so over the next few weeks, we’re going to unpack this together.
So go ahead, grab your Bible right now or your smartphone. Open up the Bible app and I want you to go to Philippians chapter four, go ahead. Philippians chapter four, and I want to read this for you right now.
Would you read it with me even out Loud at home? Philippians chapter four, we’re going to begin reading with verse four. It says this, this is the Apostle Paul speak and he says, Rejoice in the Lord, always. Again, I will say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Now, when you heard that when you read those words, you might be thinking that sounds great. And, you know, Paul, he’s like this spiritual superhero. But I just want to remind you of where Paul wrote these words. Paul was sitting in a Roman jail cell, talk about a time of uncertainty. Talk about feelings of fear and anxiety. I’m sure that Paul was overwhelmed by all of those things. And yet he had captured the key. He had something that was able to bring him even through the most dark and difficult of circumstances. And he said, Rejoice in the Lord. Always and again, I say rejoice.
So what I want to say to you today is just know no matter what you’re going through, no matter where you find yourself, there is hope. Because Jesus is there with you. How can we be anxious for nothing? Is that even possible living in this day of anxiety? I believe it is. Now, if you’ve ever experience these feelings of overwhelming anxiety, you will definitely be able to relate to Elijah.
Elijah was a prophet from the Old Testament that believe it or not actually struggled with anxiety. Now I want to give you a little bit of background on Elijah. And then we’re going to read a portion of Scripture that I think is really going to help us out today. Elijah was this man who was called by God to speak his truth to his people. And at the time that Elijah was alive, there was a king by the name of Ahab. And Ahab was a bad dude. He wanted nothing to do with God. He was all about himself. And he did a lot of really awful things.
Elijah’s calling on his life was to actually speak truth into Ahab’s life. You can imagine how that would have gone over. And so Elijah actually confronts Ahab about his sin. He tells Ahab that his country’s going to go through a time of famine, which ultimately leads his kingdom to a very devastating situation. And Ahab is very angry at the messenger at Elijah. In fact, he starts to chase down Elijah because he wants to end his life. And so for three years, Elijah is on the run. Imagine what Elijah must have been feeling what he was going through during that time.
But it was amazing because God was so faithful and present in Elijah’s life. For those three years, God provided him food in the wilderness, he provided him protection. He even gave Elijah the supernatural power where he was able to raise people from the dead.
One of my favorite stories about Elijah is when he confronts 850 false prophets. One guy comes up against almost 1000 men and he takes them all down. He’s like the OG, the original Chuck Norris of the Bible. I mean, it’s incredible to see how God used him to overcome really insurmountable odds.
But as you follow Elijah’s life, and in spite of these incredible mountaintop experiences that he has, something happens in Elijah’s life that sends him into a downward spiral. Have you ever been there? Have you ever felt that way? And it all starts with King Ahab’s wife. Now, Ahab was a bad dude. But Jezebel Bell took it to another level. In fact, compared to his wife, Ahab was like Mother Teresa. This woman was pure evil, and this was this one very, very grumpy woman that makes a threat against Ahab. He absolutely falls apart. Look at what we read in First Kings chapter 19. And we’re going to begin with reading verse three. I’ll give you a second to get there first Kings, chapter 19, verse three.
Says this, then he was afraid and he rose up and ran for his life. And he came to Beersheba which belongs to Judah and left his servant there, but he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die saying, it is enough now oh Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my father’s. In other words, Elijah, on the run for his life living in fear, he finally cries out to God and he says, God, I have had enough. Now have you ever said those words? If you’re a parent, have your child ever pushed you to that point? Maybe it was something silly, some minor thing that they did, but piled on top of all the other stressors and things that were going on in your life, you’re just like, man that’s it. I’ve had enough. Maybe it’s your job, your boss, maybe it’s your finances. Like another thing goes wrong. And you’re just thinking to yourself, I have had enough.
That’s exactly where Elijah finds himself in this story. And what I want to point out, maybe you notice this as we read this, but Elijah made some mistakes that I think you and I often make in our lives. That leads us to this place where we’ve had enough. The first thing that we see described in this passage is that Elijah was tired. You see, oftentimes when we get to the point where we have that meltdown, it’s because we’ve run ourselves into the ground. That’s what happens in the story with Elijah. It says he ran. And he didn’t just run for a few minutes. It tells us that he ran all the way to Beersheba. If you do the research on that, you’ll find out that this is 100 miles away. He ran three marathons as far as you can humanly run. If he’d gone any further, he would have been into the water.
By this point, he must have been absolutely rundown, absolutely exhausted. And do you know, oftentimes in our lives, when we find ourselves overwhelmed by emotion when we feel like we just got nothing left in the tank. It’s because we’ve pushed ourselves so very hard. We haven’t taken time to rest. We just keep running and running and running. And next thing you know, we’re absolutely exhausted.
And so it’s important that we figure out a rhythm to life, that we follow the the biblical concept of rest. In the very beginning, God modeled for us the idea of taking a day of rest a Sabbath. It’s so important that we do this, that we don’t just keep running and running and running to the point where we self destruct.
The second thing that we see happen in Elijah’s life, and I think you probably do this, and I do this sometimes too, is that we shut people out. That what we read there is that that Elijah had left his servant, his most loyal companion who had been with him through so many things who had who been by his side so faithfully and instead of leaning into that relationship and feeding off of his companions love and support. What does Elijah do? He isolates himself. And he finds himself just there alone with all the weight of the world on his shoulders feeling the full depth of his problems, and he and nobody is sharing that with him. And he’s feeling these emotions of I’m all alone and no one understands what I’m going through.
And let’s be honest, when we’re going through difficult times, this is a natural tendency. What do we want to do when we feel like we’re failing when we feel like we’re struggling? When we feel like we’re hurting, we naturally just want to retract from relationships. That’s why here at The Bridge Church, we talk so often about getting into a circle of people being a part of Connect Groups. I can’t wait till we launch our next season of Connect Groups in the beginning of October. This is an opportunity to develop the friendships, these relationships. So we’re not feeling isolated and alone when we face the stressors of life.
We need faithful companions who are going to walk with us and journey with us and pray for us and cheer us on and pick us up when we’re down. And then we do the very same thing for them.
We have to be careful that we don’t fall into this same predicament that Elijah found himself in by shutting other people out.
Another pitfall that we see Elijah fall into, that we often do as well is is that we tend to focus on the negative. What does he say in his stories is I’ve had enough. I’m done. Oh, Lord, how could you let all this happen to me? I’m finished. I just want to die. I’m no better than my father.
And he’s thinking to himself, he’s having this pity party and he’s thinking life’s just isn’t going to get any better. We’re never gonna get past this pandemic. I’m gonna have to wear a mask for the rest of my life. I’m never going to be able to change. I’m never gonna get this right. I’m never gonna be able to overcome this sin that I’m struggling with, or I’m never gonna get into the right college or I’m always going to feel like I’m not a good enough mom or good enough dad, or I’m always going to be in this struggle financially. I’m never gonna be able to pay off my student loans. And we find ourselves and we’re just fixated.
We’re focused on the negative and what does it do? It takes us down this path that just leads to us feeling like we are without hope. And ultimately, we get to the place where we do what Elijah did. We actually forget God.
Now imagine this. This is a guy who had overcome 850 false prophets. One man stood up against all of them and destroyed them. And yet now he’s at the end of his rope. He’s got nothing left, he feels overwhelmed, and he just wants to give up and die.
What led him to that place? He forgot about God. He forgot about that special relationship that he had. He had forgot about the power that God had. He had forgot that God had been present that God had provided for him that God had protected for him. He forgot and you know what can happen in our lives if we’re not careful? We can do the very same thing.
What happens is we find ourselves facing our fears, while forgetting our God. That’s exactly what happened in the life of Elijah. And here he is, he’s falling apart. Maybe that’s where you find yourself right now. We’re six months into this pandemic. Things are not the way that most of us wish they were right now. The kids are either at home or doing hybrid schooling. There’s lots of questions about finances and just not knowing what’s going to happen in our world. And maybe you’re where Elijah was. You got nothing left.
Well, let me say this to you today. Know that God is wanting to speak into your life today. You might be feeling like your world is falling apart or you’re falling apart. That’s where Elijah was. But God doesn’t rebuke him. He doesn’t chastise him. He doesn’t scream at him. What’s wrong with you? Where’s your faith? Remember me? Come on Elijah. No, what we see in this passage as we continue to read is that God meets Elijah in his need.
Look at what happens in verse 11. This is God speaking to Elijah. Go out and stand on the Mount before the Lord. Now watch what happens. Behold, the Lord passed by. The Lord passed by and great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind, and after the wind, an earthquake. But the Lord was not in an earthquake. And after that, a fire but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire the sound of a low whisper.
Don’t miss what happens here. I mean, earth, wind, fire. A little nod to my older, more mature viewers. Earth, Wind, and Fire. God was not in any of it. The Lord was not in the wind. He wasn’t in the earthquake, he wasn’t in the fire.
Talk about relatable. We’ve had all of those things happening in our world just this past week, right? Earthquake in New Jersey, fires out west, hurricanes over in Asia. I mean, we can relate to this. But God wasn’t in those extraordinary things in those remarkable things. God showed up in the ordinary. And he spoke to Elijah in a whisper. God was in the whisper.
When we are overwhelmed by stress when we’re feeling overcome by anxiety? Where do we look for God? We tune out all of the other noise in our lives and we listen for the whisper of God.
Now you might be wondering, why does God’s voice seem so quiet? Why doesn’t he speak to us in powerful and spectacular ways? Why does he do that to us? Why do we have to lean in? Why do we really have to focus in and get in close in order to hear Him to experience Him? The reason is because He wants us to draw close to Him. You see, if I were to whisper to you right now, and you were far across the room from me, you wouldn’t be able to hear me, would you? You’d have to get close and then I’d whisper into your ear and then you’d be able to hear me. That’s what God wants with us. He wants us to draw near to him to get close to him to be intimate in our relationship with him. And when we can do that, when we do do that, then we can really hear what it is that he wants us to hear.
Now, contrast this with the devil. Like, think about his attack on us think about his strategy. He shouts lies at us. You’re never gonna meet up, you’re never going to be able to, to do what God wants you to do. You’re never going to be a good dad. You’re never going to be great at your job. You’re never going to be successful at school. You’re never going to get on top of your finances. You’re never going to have meaningful relationships. You’re never going to have these things. And he yells those things at us. But God, he just whispers to us. He whispers to us. You are not alone. I’ll never leave you or forsake you.
He’s whispering to us today. But are we leaning into him? are we hearing what he has to say to us? You see God is close to the brokenhearted. When you’re overwhelmed with life, when you feel helpless, when you feel ashamed when you feel broken, you can come to God in all of that. He is close to you, even in the midst of your biggest mess.
And he saves those who are crushed, those who are struck down. You are not abandoned. God is with you through anything and everything. It doesn’t matter how badly you’ve messed up. It doesn’t matter how many times you failed. It doesn’t matter what you think or feel about yourself. God loves you and He loves you more than you can ever imagine. And he will always, always, always be there for you. You can count on that.
And that’s what Elijah experienced, even though he had gone down this road of anxiety, and he had been overwhelmed by them those emotions. I mean, think about it. This is kind of crazy, that the very thing that Elijah feared the most was what he was asking God to do to him. He was afraid for his life because Jezebel wanted him dead. And so it sent him in this spiral of fear and anxiety and what does he cry out to God for? God take my life. Doesn’t really make any sense. This is what happens when our emotions take us over.
And here’s the thing I don’t want you to miss today. This is the crux of what I want you to think about is as you go away from this message today. That the very thing that Elijah feared the most, guess what? It never even happened. Not only did Jezebel not have him killed. If you read the story of Elijah in Second Kings chapter two, Elijah is there with his protege Elisha. And they’re walking along one day and all of a sudden, out of heaven comes this chariot of fire and horses and Elijah is swept from the earth into heaven, in a whirlwind. In other words, the very same thing that Elijah feared the most never even happened.
In other words, you ready for it? He was anxious for nothing.
What he feared the most, never came to pass. And so often in our lives, this is how it plays out. The thing that we’re just awake at nights, you know, thinking about that robs us of our peace that robs us of our sleep, and never even happens. We just fixate on it, we keep thinking about it, we have all this fear, all this anxiety about it, and it never even occurs. Sometimes it does happen. But when we do go through that, whatever it is that we’re worried about, we find out that it’s not nearly as bad as we thought it was going to be. And then to be perfectly honest, perfectly truthful with you today. In the worst case, sometimes our worst ideas, our worst fears come to pass and do you know this? That even when we go through those things, we have the promise that God will carry us through them.
You see, the reason Paul could sit in a Roman jail cell and say, Rejoice in the Lord always again, I say, rejoice The reason and he said Don’t be anxious about anything. The reason he could say those words and say them from a place of conviction was he had experienced the peace of God that passes all understanding. And that same peace is made available to you, and it’s made available to me. There is no storm God won’t bring you through. There is no obstacle that God won’t help you to overcome. There is no enemy that God won’t defeat and there is no heartache that God won’t heal. God is with you today.
So whatever it is, whatever it is that you’re wrestling with. Maybe it’s your marriage and it just seems like the situation is so hopeless. Maybe it’s a relationship that you have with your kids. Maybe you’ve got a teenager at home and, and things to seem to be getting worse and worse.
Maybe it’s this financial burden that you’re carrying and you just can’t get past the debt and it’s overwhelming you today. You’re feeling so much anxiety. Maybe it’s fear for a loved one. Wondering are they gonna get sick and in How much longer do I have with them? Maybe it’s your own health. Whatever it is, that’s making you anxious today, that’s got you to the point where you’re at the end of your rope, would you just lean into God today? And listen closely to what it is that he’s whispering in your ear. He wasn’t in the earthquake. He wasn’t in the fire. He wasn’t in the wind.
He was in the whisper.
And today he is whispering to you. I am with you. Remember that?
Let me pray for you right now. God, I thank you for this example of Elijah, who experienced many of the emotions that we’re feeling right now. God, he felt the heaviness of anxiety. He was afraid he was even afraid for his life and God much like us, he found himself overwhelmed by those feelings.
But God you were gentle with him and you whispered into his life. And today God, I believe you’re doing the same. So help us to drown out the noise of the world around us, help us to drown out the lies of the enemy God. And help us to just lean in and listen for your whisper today. And may we experience your peace, your perfect peace that passes all understanding. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you’re listening today, and maybe as we’re talking about this peace that comes from God that’s made available through Jesus, and you’re thinking, I would love to have that, but that’s not something that I’ve ever experienced. Well, I want to invite you today into a relationship with God. It starts with us recognizing the distance, the gap between us that’s caused by our sin. In recognizing that in Jesus going To the cross, he was becoming the bridge for us to get from where we are to where God is. He was making a way for us to experience a restoration in our relationship with God. He filled in the gap.
Today, God wants to have a personal relationship with you. And when we come to the place where we realize that sin separates us and that Jesus was the way that we could have that relationship restored. When we come to the place where we confess our sins, and we accept what Jesus did on the cross. The Bible tells us that in that moment, of recognition and crying out to God, that God gives us this new life, and today, I want to invite you into that new life.
And it’s as simple as a conversation with God that comes from your heart and saying to him, in your own words, something along these lines. God, I recognize my sin. That you died on the cross for my sins. And today God, I give you my life and I accept what you did for me on the cross. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.
If you just prayed those words. If you committed your life to God and you mean it with your heart then the Bible tells us that for whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, they will be saved. Today you are certain that your eternity with God is sealed. You’ll spend eternity with Him in heaven. And even right now, even in this broken world, you know that God is with you. He is living inside of you. And so I’m so happy for you.
The Bible tells us that when one sinner comes to repentance, all of heaven breaks out in jubilation and we rejoice with you today in that decision. And we’d love to journey with you. So if you made a commitment to Christ today We’d love to hear about it. You can use our digital Connect card. You’ll see the link to that in the comments. And just let us know today I committed my life to Jesus. Check off that box and allow us to journey with you, as you begin to understand more and more of what that means today.
If you have a prayer request, we would love to hear that and pray with you. And so you can also use that digital Connect card. If you’re new to The Bridge and you’ve never filled that card out, we would love to know who you are and where you’re coming from and how you’re tuning in each week. And so you can do all of that through that digital Connect card. So I encourage you to do that.
Also, I would just encourage those of you who are part of our Bridge Church family to continue to be generous. We’ve been making lots of strides in our preparation to get our facility in Hamilton Square ready for meeting. Last night we had a church-wide work night. It was incredible. We got so much done. It was an amazing time of fellowship as we got to join up together and, and do some work and get things prepared for when we are finally able to regather in person. We’re so excited. But we need the resources to be able to continue to push that forward so we’re ready to go. And to continue to reach our community. And so you can give to the church through the normal means online, through text to give all of those things. The instructions are in the comment section or description section of this video. Thank you so much for tuning in today. It’s awesome to meet with you. It’s been great to gather online. I can’t wait to meet in person.
But regardless of how we meet, we know that what the church really is, it’s not a building, It’s a movement and we are a movement in a community that’s impacting people with the love of Jesus.
So remember We have been the church here this morning, or whenever you’re watching this. Now let’s Be the church out there.