Well, hello, we are so glad that you tune in with us today at the bridge church as we’re in our final week of our series, Anxious For Nothing. And I have to say this series has been incredibly helpful to so many of us who deal with anxiety.
I want to start by reading a passage from the Bible that’s been foundational for what we’ve been learning together over the last few weeks. So go ahead, open your Bible or your Bible app, get to Philippians chapter four. And let’s read together we’ll start with verse four, says there, 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 mind in Christ Jesus.
Now, we’ve talked about this already, the context from which Paul, the author wrote these words. He’s actually sitting in a Roman prison cell. And it’s really staggering when we consider the circumstances in which he found himself. He’s having this peace of mind, amidst the most difficult of circumstances. Here, he is awaiting trial, with the result possibly being execution. And he’s able to talk about having this perfect peace.
Now, for many of us, this is really mind-blowing because when we face things in our lives that don’t go maybe the way that we had hoped or planned, we feel a totally different set of emotions than what Paul is describing here. We find ourselves overwhelmed. Our minds are racing, we feel all of this uncertainty, all of this pressure, we feel overwhelmed by fear.
And oftentimes, one of the biggest triggers of this anxiety is decisions. We feel anxiety related to our decisions. And we’re so concerned, what if I don’t make the right decision? What if I make this irreversibly bad decision? So what do we do when we just can’t decide? That’s what I want to talk about today?
Let’s be honest, many decisions can be so stressful. I mean, maybe you’re a college student, and you’re making the decision on whether or not to go to a private college or just to go to community college. Maybe you’re thinking about doing a gap year, whatever that is, it’s it can fill you with anxiety as you think about those big decisions. Or maybe you’re considering buying a home, should we keep renting a house? Or should we buy one and you’re thinking, is this the right time? Are we gonna have a good interest rate? Or are things gonna go bad at my job or go good? And you don’t know the answer to those questions, and it fills you with a lot of anxiety. Maybe you’re thinking about buying a new car and your car that you have right now it needs some work needs some repairs, and you’re thinking, should I put more money into this? Or should I just scrap it and go and buy something new and it worries you because what if you make the wrong decision?
Maybe it’s about the person you’re dating and, you know, he’s not wanting to commit or she’s not wanting to commit and you’re wondering is now the time to just cut my losses, and maybe look elsewhere. And all of those decisions they put you in this place where you feel such a sense of anxiety.
And I have to admit that I tend to be a pretty decisive person in life. But this season since the corona virus has taken hold, and we’ve been living under quarantine and I’ve been helping to lead this church through this season. This has been incredibly difficult for me and at times, I have been filled with anxiety. Particularly to the situation of if and when we should read gather in person. I don’t know how you feel but for me, I can’t wait to all be back in one place at one time.
And yet, we have warnings and we hear these news reports and that and we’re in this kind of tension of wanting to make sure that we’re keeping everybody safe and protecting everyone from the virus. But we also know that there’s a real sense of loss and sense of pain when we can’t really experience community together.
And it has put me in a very difficult place at times, as I’ve had to lead our organization or church through this and wonder God, what is the right decision? And what if I don’t get it right? What if we re-gather too soon? Or what if we wait too long? I’m with you.
So whatever it is that you’re going through right now that has you wondering what decision you can make. Let’s just be honest, the tendency is for us to feel a huge amount of anxiety oftentimes with those decisions.
And I’ve talked about this already. But we live in an age of anxiety. I mean, it’s all around us. It’s there more than ever before. And I just wonder, what is it that causes this to exist in our society, in our culture today? Why is it so complicated?
Well, I’ve got a couple of things that I just want to point out, you know this, I know this, but I think sometimes it’s, important for us just to acknowledge the reality of the situation.
First thing is this, we just got too many choices. I mean, experts tell us that, in the course of a day, kids make over 3000 decisions. Adults make over 35,000 decisions. We are constantly having to make decisions, and we can get worn out by that. And then when it comes to some of the bigger things of life, it can make it really, really difficult.
Yeah, I remember years ago, Michelle, and I had lived and served overseas in a developing nation. And we were there for a couple of years. And one of the big differences between growing up in our Western culture in a place that has so much. And when you are in an environment like that is just the amount of choices that you have when you go to the store. And I can remember being in this other country, and you know, we would go into the market. And honestly, there were a very limited number of choices that we would have to make.
Sometimes oftentimes, we couldn’t even find the things that we wanted. And I’ll never forget our first time back walking into a large supermarket and just sitting there in the cereal aisle, and being overwhelmed by all those options. And it’s crazy, because it actually filled me with a sense of anxiety, because it’s like, I don’t know which one to choose. It was actually paralyzing because there were so many choices. Now you would think it would be the opposite of that you would think having lots of choices would put us at peace, but it just doesn’t work that way most of the time. Often times too many choices conjures up in us anxiety.
The second reason that decision making is often so difficult is we’re afraid of making a costly mistake. I mean, think about it, like we make some big decisions in life, right? And what if we get it wrong? What if I pick the wrong spouse? What if I choose the wrong career? What if I’m out of God’s will? And so because of our just doubt, we find ourselves paralyzed?
And oftentimes we freeze and we don’t do anything. Let me just remind you that a decision to do nothing, an indecision is actually a decision in and of itself. Decisions are complicated.
So how do we operate in a way that we can make difficult decisions and not be overwhelmed by anxiety?
Well, here’s, here’s the key. Don’t complicate it. It might seem complicated, it might feel complicated. It might look complicated, but when you really boil it down, it’s not as complicated as you think. And I’m going to show you that over the next few minutes.
Today, I want to give you one simple thought and we’re going to pull this thought from a passage in the book of Acts chapter 15. In this passage, the leaders of the church are dealing with some pretty complicated issues. We had Paul and Barnabas and James who had met up in Jerusalem and they have to deal with some very controversial situations. Not that we have anything like that today. But what it basically boiled down to is they were talking about if you were Christian, could you eat certain types of food? Could you eat certain types of meat and some other traditions that were forbidden? And then the really heavy issue, the really complicated question was this, if you were a Gentile, in other words, a non-Jew, would you have to be circumcised to become part of the church?
Now you’re talking about a difficult membership requirement, that’s a little uncomfortable. I mean, we have a hard time sometimes getting people to make the step of baptism, this is a really, really tough sell. I’m just going to leave it there.
So here, they were trying to make these really weighty theological decisions, doctrinal decisions that are going to determine someone’s eternal destiny. These are the early church leaders making these incredibly weighty decisions. And I want you to watch as we read their conclusions.
And every time you see the words seemed good, I want you to say them aloud wherever you are. We’re going to be in Acts chapter 15, start with starting with verse 22. So when you read the words, it seemed good, I want you to just read that audibly, whether you’re by yourself or with someone else. So here we go, verse 22. Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them, and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. It has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, for it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us that you lay no greater burden than these requirements.
Now, so what do you do when you’re faced with a tough decision when you don’t know what to do? What do you do if the Bible doesn’t speak directly to the decision that you’re trying to make? I could tell you that you just do what seems good.
But there’s one problem with that. The Old Testament actually warns against this. It says, there is a way that seems right to a man but in the end, it is the way of death. It seems right. But it leads to a really bad place.
So how can both of these truths both be true? Both of these ideas be true? Let me start with the Old Testament, where it says there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, leads to death. If you’re taking notes. This is the reason why, If you’re around the wrong people, and you’re listening to the wrong voices, and you’re living for the wrong values, what seems right will often be wrong.
Let me just say that again, because I don’t want you to miss it. If you’re in the wrong crowd, if you’re listening to the wrong people’s whose opinions are different from God’s truth, if you’re consistently following worldly values instead of spiritual values, and you’re surrounded by people that are not close to God, then oftentimes what seems right will actually lead you to do something that’s incredibly wrong.
I wonder how many of you out there listening to this right now you have found yourself in the wrong crowd with the wrong influences listening to the wrong voices, and you did something that at the time, it seemed right. And later you realized it was the absolutely wrong decision? There’s a way that seems right to a man. But at the end, it leads the way of death.
Now, here in the New Testament, we have some of the spiritual leaders saying it seemed right. In therefore we have built the foundation of our church on something that seemed right. How can they say that? How could Paul and James and Barnabas make such weighty decisions on something that seemed right?
Well, earlier we read through this passage, and we read over three different keys, but we just kind of glossed right over them. In fact, these are perhaps the most important portions of the Scripture from this story, and we rolled right past them.
So what I want to do is I want to look at the same verses again, and this time I want you to focus on something. Besides it just seems right, how could they do what seems right? This is how, then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, the whole church, to choose men. In other words, this wasn’t something that just seemed right to one person, it seemed right to the whole family of God that was gathering together.
As we continue, it says it seemed good to us having come to one accord. In other words, the whole church agreed on this, we are unified on this. Then the scripture goes on to say for it seemed good to the Holy Spirit into us, not just me, not just you, but to us. In other words, don’t miss this, there is a massive difference between something that seems right to a man or right to a woman that in the end leads to death, a massive difference between something that seems right to one and something that seems right to a community of faith-filled mountain moving devil kicking, spirit-filled followers of Jesus, who have been seeking God’s word and following his spirit.
Don’t miss this, they were able to act on what seemed right, because the whole church agreed, because they were of one accord, because it seemed right to the Holy Spirit and to us. And this is why it’s so important that what I’m about to tell you, that you really understand this, that you fully acknowledge this and own this in your own way of thinking.
You see, you don’t go to church, the church is not a building, it’s never been a building. It’s never been a destination. It’s not an online service. The church has always been and will always be a people. It’s not a building, which you go to. It’s an identity in which you embrace. We don’t go to church, we are the church, and it’s not a place we go. It’s who we are.
So why is it that we so often feel anxiety, especially when it comes to decisions? It’s because we’re trying to follow Jesus, we’re trying to please God, outside of the context of the institution that he created to serve as his body, the body of Christ. It’s a family, it’s a body. And we are incomplete without the other portions of the body.
What can we do for one another? When I talk about Connect groups, the importance of Connect groups, this is the idea. This is a family of people. Whenever you’re you’re starting to stray, these are the people who come around you because we all do that, and say, hey, hold on, just stick with it, keep going, keep pressing forward, just keep trusting God.
When we’re hurting, what do we do? We have other people that are knowing what we’re going through, that are journeying with us that are praying for us when they’re going through something, we do the same thing for them. When there’s a need, we meet the need together. Why? Because we’re a family.
It seemed good to us. It seemed good to our whole family. This wasn’t a decision that was made in isolation, based on feelings or my intuition. This is the family of God gathering together and recognizing that we believe God is moving in this direction.
You see, there’s a difference. It seems right to a person, and it can lead to death. But when it seems right to a community, we can trust God on a whole different level.
So don’t complicate it. In fact, let me take you back through the previous weeks and just kind of review what we’ve learned along the way. If you’ve been here with us for all four weeks, then you’ll recognize some of these things.
Week One, we learned if it’s big enough to worry about, then it’s big enough to pray about. If it’s big enough to worry about. It’s big enough to pray about. What is anxiety? Anxiety is a signal alerting us it’s time to pray. In the church, we recognize we don’t always have the power to control but we always have the power to surrender.
Last week because of who God is we can praise him. Not just for what he does, but because of who he is in a perspective of praise, that changes everything. It may not take the anxiety away, but it does change our perspective.
So the one thought I want to lead you to today is how can we make the tough decision? It feels so weighty to us. It’s just, it’s so worrisome. I don’t want to get it wrong. I’m scared to death. If I miss it, what if I make the wrong decision? And I can never go back? So what do we do?
Well, here’s what we do. We take a posture of prayer, in a perspective of praise, we will seek God and do what seems right. With a posture of prayer. This isn’t me deciding this is us, seeking God with a perspective of praise. This is us coming together and recognizing God is always good, and he is always with us. This isn’t me seeking God, this is us his body. We will seek God, then we will just do what seems right. It’s not an unspiritual thing to do. It’s an incredibly spiritual thing to do.
It’s a little bit like when you’re driving and your GPS tells you to take the next right. And it always kind of freaks me out because there’s always that just immediate, right? And then there’s the next one that’s just a little bit behind it. And I’m always worried what if I choose the wrong one? What are we going to do? And I begin to panic? Because I always take that first one. So what if I take the wrong turn?
Paul could have thought this way. He could have said, Well, obviously I didn’t take the right turn. I wanted to be a preacher in Rome and here instead of being a preacher, I’m a prisoner. But then remember last week, what we heard from my dad is he took us through that. Paul wrote, he said, hey, I want you to know that what has happened to me. This is what actually felt like a wrong turn but what actually happened to me has served to advance the gospel.
So maybe, maybe you got off where you didn’t want to get off. But My God, my God did something that I couldn’t on my own. This was the perspective that Paul brought to the situation. And I would encourage you to take the same approach.
That’s why Paul and Romans, chapter eight, verse 28, penned these words, he said, and we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose. In other words, one wrong turn isn’t gonna keep you from God’s path.
You may just hear the GPS saying rerouting. It’s taking you to another path. Some of you have maybe have made a wrong turn and you’ve been going on the wrong path. But the voice of the Spirit right now is speaking to you. It’s rerouting you. He’s still talking to you where you are in the good news is this that our God who is so incredibly gracious has a way of bringing good things even out of our wrong turns. That’s how good he is.
Maybe you think that I should have never dated him? Well, no, honestly, you shouldn’t have. But now you understand what a godly man or a godly woman should look like. And when God brings you that person, you’ll cherish it, you’ll honor it, you’ll recognize it, and you will be grateful.
Maybe you’re thinking I should have never trusted that person I got burned so bad, it hurts so deeply. But now, you’re learning to forgive, you’re becoming more like Jesus. I should have never done that. It was such a big mistake. It cost me so much. And because of that, you have such a deep understanding of God’s grace that you would have never had before.
You see God is good enough, even where he’s able to work through our wrong turns. It wasn’t a waste. It was a wrong turn that now God can use in his way to bring good, he’s that good. So don’t complicate it. It’s a posture of prayer. It’s a perspective of praise when we’re surrounded by God’s people.
What do we do when we’re faced with difficult decisions, we will seek God and do what seems right and we will rejoice in the Lord, always. I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone that 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. In the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Father, today, we cast our cares on you. God as a community, as a family, we come together and we seek you. As we make decisions, decisions about who will we marry, decisions about what our career path will be, decisions about what we’ll do in school, or, or where we’ll go to school, decisions about our homes, and it’s so many other things. God that quite honestly they feel heavy. God as a community together, we want to come before you and seek you. Seek your wisdom and know what it is that you’re leading us to. Be the source of our wisdom, be the source of truth for us, and guide us as we make these decisions. Help us not to become paralyzed, not to overcome it. But as we live in community, as we seek you through prayer, as we follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit God that we would be confident in doing what seems good.
Help us, God, this anxiety thing for many of us, it’s real. It’s something that’s held us back and weigh us down in a lot of ways. And we want to experience deliverance from this. And we know it starts by us putting in to practice what we’ve learned over the last few weeks.
So God we call out on you now. And we ask you to help us with this. We pray this all in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thank you so much for tuning in. Just a couple of things I wanted to mention before we close thing things out. First of all, as we talk about God, and the peace of God, the peace that passes all understanding. If you’re out there, and you’ve never committed your life to God, you’ve never begun that relationship. Maybe you’re just you’ve been exploring Christianity, you’ve been thinking about religion and those things, and somehow, someway God brought you to hearing this message. Can I say to you today, that God loves you. Regardless of what your past looks like, regardless of how you may have lived, none of that matters to him. God just loves you with a perfect, unlosable, love and it was that love that put him on the cross, to where he took the punishment of all humanity on him. All the sins past, present, and future that we could have ever done Jesus bore the punishment for those sins on the cross. And today, every person that’s hearing this, God is inviting you in a personal relationship that is made possible through the death and sacrifice of his son. Today, if you will just call out on him. Accept what he did for you on the cross. He promises you a new life, a new spiritual rebirth in him.
So if you’ve never had that experience, could I just encourage you today to cry out to Him, just have a conversation with him right now say something like this God, I recognize that I’ve sinned that I’ve done some wrong things in my life. And in that in you going to the cross that you paid the price for my sins and today I accept the punishment that you took in my place and today, I give my life to you and accept the offer of salvation and eternal life with you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
You know, wherever you’re at right now and you made that decision today, we’re so excited for you. The Bible tells us that when one person comes to repentance, all of heaven breaks out in jubilation, and right now, we would love to rejoice with you. And so if you made that decision today, would you just click on the Connect card that you see in the chat or in the description section of these live feeds and let us know that you made that decision to follow after God today. We would love to journey with you and get some resources into your hands and help you as you continue down this path with God.
For all of you out there, I just want to say thank you so much for tuning in. If you missed one of the weeks or maybe you just tuning in this week, for the first time I would encourage you to go to https://www.bridgechurchnj.org. All of our past messages are there and you can catch up.
And I believe have these tools that can really help you as you navigate through life. And as you deal with issues of fear and, and doubt and anxiety. If you’re new to the bridge, we’d love to hear from you and know who you are, you can use that digital Connect card. If you’re part of the bridge church, we encourage you to continue to be generous you can continue to give through the normal means through our texts to give or online giving mail it in whatever that is all that information is in the description section. You can get that there.
Thank you so much for tuning in today. We have been the church here. Now let’s Be the church out there.