Psalm 27 verse 1. The Lord is my light, and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besieged me, my heart will not fear. Though war break out against me even then I will be confident 1 thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life. To gaze on the beauty of the lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble, he will keep me safe in his dwelling He will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy I will sing and make music to the Lord.
Hear my voice when I call Lord, be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you seek his face. Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger.
You have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me God, my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me the lord will receive me. Teach me your way, lord, lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Do not hand me over to the desire of my foes for false witnesses rise up against me spouting malicious accusations.
I remain confident of this. I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, wait for the lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the lord. Good stuff. Great. Thanks for taking the seat.
Should we pray and then we'll crack on. Father God, we we thank you for our time together tonight. We pray lord that as we look at this psalm, you'd help us help us please to be equipped. Help us to to see how your word and your goodness can help us to live lives without fear. Or at least to help us battle with the fears that we have.
Father, we pray that you'd speak to us words of peace this evening. In Jesus' name, we ask it. Oh, men. Well, this is the first of a a series of 4 sermons that I wrote for for King's Church, for people at Kings, looking at the subject of anxiety, because it's it's a really big problem for a lot of people. This isn't gonna be a sort of exposition of the text, but we're gonna look at arm 27 through the lens of of being in an anxious situation.
Okay? Recent events have have fueled the fire, haven't they of of anxiety in our nation and probably across the world. We we had Brexit, didn't we? And the uncertainty of that, then we had COVID. And then we have the war in Ukraine.
And now we have the cost of living crisis. And you put all of that together, and it makes us fearful. And stressed. And there's stuff whirring around in the back of our minds, isn't there? Saying to us, everything is not quite well.
During twentieth to the thirtieth of March 20 20, 49.6 percent of people reported high anxiety. 1 in 3 people in the West are struggling. With anxiety. All types of people and all types of jobs, 50 percent of work related ill health. Is for anxiety.
Increasingly, what used to be an adult problem is far as becoming a problem for younger ages. So the median age for the onset of anxiety orders is 11. And for many schools and cams, at the moment, they're just they're just simply overwhelmed. Anxiety, as a thing is on the increase, people talk about it a lot more anxiety disorders are on the increase. But the truth is every 1 of us will have had some sort of experience of anxiety and what it does to us.
We will all have felt worry stress, fear, maybe because of an exam coming up. Maybe an interview, a job interview coming up, maybe a sporting occasion at some anxiety this afternoon. Especially when Harry came mister Pinelsie. But anyway, a pregnancy, a career move, an illness worry, anxiety, fear. They're all related.
And they're common feelings, aren't they? Common feelings for everybody here, although some here will suffer much more than others. And all of this, really interestingly, when the bible's most common command is do not be afraid. So how on earth are we supposed to process that? As Christians, how are we supposed to process?
Do not be afraid. When there are so many things that seemingly make us fearful, These talks which I wrote, which this is the first and the and the most general are an attempt to help us battle fear and anxiety. With the peace that God is offering to us. And tonight, we're gonna think quite broadly about the subject. And as we look at Psalm 27, I hope we'll see how David himself finds peace.
When he really shouldn't. And that's what we'll see in Psalm 27. But before we go any further, we need to clarify our terms. It's worth knowing what we're talking about before we talk a lot about it. What is anxiety?
What is anxiety? Should come up. Look at verses 1 to 3 of Psalm 27 with me. These are helpful. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, It is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear. Though war break out against me, Even then, I will be confident.
Now David here is talking about life threatening positions, isn't he? Okay? Wicked people verse 2 are advancing against him. An army is besieging him verse 3. He is at war.
And we don't know we don't need to go very far, do we? To recognize how terrifying war is, It's been on our TVs. David should be afraid. It's the essence of anxiety here. The the essence of anxiety is this.
It it's the fear or the over concern that something bad is going to happen to something or someone we care about. K? It's the fear or over concern that something bad is going to happen to something or someone we value very highly. David's life here is at risk. He should be anxious.
And, of course, it doesn't have to be a life threatening situation, doesn't it? It can be much more every day usually is, isn't it? The fear of doing badly in an exam. When you go to do an exam, what do you feel? You feel anxious.
Why? Because we we don't wanna do badly. A difficult meeting that's coming up and we feel worried. Getting test results for an illness, we feel worried. Maybe just feeling like we really aren't gonna be able to get everything that we need to do done.
And anxiety speaks. It speaks to us. And it says something bad is going to happen here. And it's gonna happen to something we love, something we value, highly. Take my last week.
A little insight into me. My last week is I tried to prepare this talk for you guys. I had 4 boys at home, mostly arguing. And the it's the end of the holidays, and they're bored, they're ready to get back to school. And I work at home and they're in and out of my office.
Okay? Can I have a biscuit? Can I have something to eat? Can I watch TV? Can I do this?
Can I do that? Okay? And every time I sort of, you know, came water, whatever. And then and they go away, And then I start again, and 5 minutes, and I'm I'm in, and then bang, bang, bang, someone comes in. That was my that was my week.
And every time I lost my train of thought, I got more and more anxious. Because the time was clocking by. And my anxiety is rising. Am I gonna get this done on time? Will I get my points to Catherine on time?
Anxiety is rising. It's saying, look, time and you're running out of time, you gotta get this done. You're gonna let people down here. That's anxiety. It's the fear or over concern that something bad is gonna happen to someone or something we care a lot about.
I don't know whether I care a lot about you or might be more myself, but you can work that 1 out. And in a fallen world, Anxiety can be very bad for us. Because anxiety is a powerful all body response. We can click on 1. Yeah.
Oop. Back 1. Maybe I don't have it. Don't worry. Anxiety can be very bad for us.
It's a powerful all body response, isn't it? So but it's worth saying, it's not bad in itself. Okay? It's not bad in itself. It's actually part of a God given response to keep us safe in a dangerous world.
I don't think this happens very much in in Kingston, but if an elephant was charging at you, I don't know how many elephants you have in Kingston, we have loads in Walton. If an elephant is charging it, you don't really want to spend valuable time working out what to do. You know? Here comes big gray thing. It's got big ears, big nose.
Yeah. I think that's probably an elephant. It's running. It's it's angry. It's running towards me.
It's probably it probably will hurt me if it hits me, I should probably do something about it. You don't really wanna go through those steps. Okay? You probably wanna run. Although, you don't, do you against an elephant?
You have to stand still. Isn't that right? I think. So that's not so good for the illustration, but I'd probably run and die. Think of it a different way.
If a child is about to walk into the road, a child is about to walk into the road. You're about to see it. You don't wanna think that through. Your nervous system just kicks in and you act. You shout.
You grab. You run. God knows, the world is not a safe place. There are enemies. There are diseases.
There are disasters. There are evils. There are tears. There are hurts, there are pains, and we have a god given nervous system. And it's there to help us fight or run when we need to.
But that fight or flight response is not helpful if we remain in it for too long. It's not supposed to be a sustained state of being, because it has physical, mental, and relational impact on us. So, physically, you might notice the sympathetic nervous system reacts to threat by releasing stress hormones, cortisol, adrenaline. That's what prepares our body for fight or flight. And you'll know that because it has an effect on us.
We we might sweat more. So, you know, I've got a t shirt under here. Because otherwise, there would be great big patches. Because I'm the anxious and I sweat when I'm anxious. Breathing may become rapid, shallow.
We may feel sick, that feeling when you're about to take a test and you you feel sick. Your heart might rest. You might feel dizzy. Might get attention, headache. You might have digestive problems.
Muscle tension, trembling, suppression of the immune system, heart attack, restlessness, sleeplessness. I don't know if you if you watched the the the thing called, this is us. I don't know if any of you was probably a different generation. This is us. It's great.
Trust me. And there's a chap in this is us called Randall. And Randall is a great study in anxiety. Okay? It's really you you can see it belaying out in his life.
Okay? And 1 of the things that you see in him is what I call the bouncing knee. And and you might be bouncing your knee right now. Okay? And that's when you're you're sitting somewhere and your leg is going up and down.
Okay? Your knee. And that is because you're anxious. You're wound up. There's adrenaline pumping and it's got nowhere to go.
And so your leg is going. So that's you right now. Try and calm down. And when the body remains in that state for too long, it's debilitating. It's exhausting.
You cannot live on adrenaline indefinitely. Eventually, the body just crashes. Anxiety takes its toll physically, but it also takes its toll mentally, William Cauper, a very old poet. Wrote this about his experience of taking an exam. He was he was doing an exam for his career, and he wrote this.
Every day, for more than half a year, my feelings were those of a man when he arrives at the place of execution. Okay? He was an anxious man. But can you imagine that for 6 months of your life? You feel like you're gonna die.
You're so worried about this thing. I wonder, can you sympathize with him? Have you ever felt like that? Feelings of dread or being overwhelmed. Anxiety speaks to us.
It says, What if this happens? What if this bad thing happens? It says, you can't do this. You can't cope. This is too big for you.
We might find our minds racing. We engage perhaps in elaborate pre mortem not post mortems, but pre mortems. We create in our minds a whole bunch of scenarios about how this is going to work out. And usually, they're very negative. We catastrophize how bad can this go.
It can go really badly in my mind. At its worst, it leads to low mood, depression, and nervous breakdown. And it's relationally difficult too. It often reaps sin in us. So Psalm 37 says fret not yourself.
It tends only towards evil. When we fret, there's a tendency in us towards evil. Anxiety, you see, makes our world very small, just really big enough for us, and all our worries And we become consumed with ourselves actually in truth, our thoughts, our worries, our scenarios. We live in our heads, And it can become godless in there. And that will have an impact on how we treat others.
So you might find yourself becoming very irritable with people. It's because we're afraid, we don't have any capacity for anybody else. Irritable, angry. Anxiety has a material impact on our health and our relationships, and the worst thing of all, it doesn't work. Save those rare occasions where you meet an elephant Kingston, and you genuinely need to run, or you genuinely need to fight.
Anxieties are ways to time and energy. Jesus said, Matthew 6 27, can any 1 of you by worrying add a single hour to your life, and the answer is no. You cannot. Corey 10 Boom said, worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.
Worry exhausts us, but it doesn't do any good. How do we start then? How do we start to try and fight it? To try and overcome it a bit? How do we get to the place which David has in this Psalm, where he is he's confident.
And he's at rest. He's at war verse 4, but he's not afraid. What can we learn from his faith that will help us? First thing to learn is this The anxiety both reveals and denies important truth. Anxiety both reveals and denies important truth.
We've We've already said, haven't we? The anxiety speaks. It's it talks to us. And it speaks truth and it lies. And to battle it, we need to confess the truth that it's revealing about us, and combat the lies that it says about God.
What truth does anxiety reveal? Well, if anxiety is the fear or over concern that something bad is going to happen to something we value very highly, we care about, we love, then anxiety reveals our love. It reveals the things that we care about a lot, the things that we value highly, the things that we really don't want to lose, it reveals our treasures. And Jesus said, where your treasure is, there, your heart will be also. When we experience anxiety, it's telling us something that matters a huge amount to me is under threat.
So take the the socially anxious person, for example. Maybe maybe that's you here today. But being in big groups is really really freaks you out. You don't like it. Someone who worries about social interactions, What what is what does anxiety reveal?
Well, not everyone is the same, but most socially anxious people fear shame. We we fear embarrassing ourselves. We fear being humiliated We are worried about what other people think of us. It's very important to us what other people think of us. We want people to think well of us.
And that puts a huge amount of pressure on us when we're in a social situation. Or if we say something stupid, what if they don't like me? Or if I'm left on my own? Anxiety reveals truth about us, what we care about most, what we fear most, what we want most. Think about parenting.
Some of you would be parents, Imagine a scenario. There you are. Maybe you're the minister of the church and your child is standing with you and and somebody in the church is right next to you, and your child says a swear word, like a really bad 1, not just a small 1, but a really really bad 1. Okay? What what's going through your mind at that point?
Because it's gonna reveal something about what you really care about. Oh my goodness. What do they think of me? They must think I'm a terrible minister. I mean, look at that.
That's you know, that's what my child's come out with. Is that what you're thinking? What will they think of my child? Oh my goodness. What will my child turn out to be?
Crum says it. He's only 12. He's saying that, by the time he's 30, he's gonna be in jail. Why did he say that? Maybe maybe maybe he's not saved.
Maybe he's not a Christian. What's it gonna reveal in your heart? If we look at Psalm 27, we're we're actually gonna look at it. If we look at Psalm 27, verses 4 to 5. Look, they got him on the on the screen there.
You can see what matters most to David. 1 thing I ask from the lord, 1 thing. This is what I want. This only do I seek? What is it?
To be with God forever verse 4, to gaze on his beauty, to seek his presence. That's what got what's what David values? And if you look on, that's also what he fears losing. Okay? So so as we as we read it, where where did it feel like David might get a little bit anxious a little bit worried, verse 9.
Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger. No. I can't take that. David values his relationship with God, and he gets fearful when he thinks about losing it.
And and that's something that anxiety does, doesn't it? Anxiety tells us it tells us truth about our own hearts, but it also lies about god. It undermines our confidence in His goodness towards us. It makes God disappear. When we're anxious, when we're in that place of ruminating and catastrophizing, how bad could this be, I'm about to do this thing.
It's gonna go really badly. Or these test results are coming in, it's gonna be awful. Where is God in our catastrophizing? Is he there? Anxiety tells us God is not there.
His face is hidden. Anxiety tells us god is not good. Romans a is not in the picture, is it? In our catastrophizing? Anxiety shakes our confidence, doesn't it, in the presence and the goodness of God?
So to begin to battle anxiety, we've got to confess. We've got to first confess the earthly treasures that our hearts go after we've got to confess them. And we've got to reject the lies, that God is not present with us and he is not good. Like Dave we would do well. Wouldn't we?
We'd do well to preach to ourselves. David, here he is in his song. He's preaching to himself. Look, he's at war. Verse 1, the Lord is my light and my salvation.
The Lord is my light and my salvation. The Lord is the stronghold of my life or verse 5 or verse 13. I remain confident of this, I will see the goodness of the lord. He's preaching to himself truth about God. And that starts to set him free and start to set us free for our second step.
Which is harder, I think, which is actually to submit to God's truth. Because submitting to God's truth can help us overcome our anxiety. Submitting to God's truth can help us overcome our anxiety. And when I talk about overcoming anxiety, I don't mean we will never ever be worried again. Especially if anxiety is a very big struggle for you.
Most likely, you'll still have it every single day. I mean more that that that we will be able to live by faith in anxious situations just as David does here we will be able to live with greater confidence in God in our anxious moments, and we will therefore have greater peace in our anxious moments. And vital for that is to submit to what God tells us is worth worrying about. Well, put it another way, what God tells us to set our hearts on. In the Psalm, you see it.
David's heart is set on God. He is set on seeking him verse 4 and and dwelling with him and gazing on his beauty in knowing God's ways and being led by him verse 11. This is what David has set his heart on. It's what he wants. He says, great care, not his throne.
Not his popularity, not his power, not his wealth, not his rule, not his house, his army, not even his life. Just as Jesus says, these disciples do not worry about your life. What you will eat or what you will drink, what you will wear. But instead, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. So we battle our anxious thoughts by setting our hearts more and more on the things of God.
Less and less on the things of this earth. And second, we submit to what God says about himself, First 1 again, the lord is my light, and my salvation. Those are easy to read, easy to say. Do we believe them? Do we submit to those words?
The Lord is my light. The Lord is my salvation. The Lord is the stronghold of my life. Verse 5, in the day of trouble. He will keep me safe in his dwelling.
He will set me high upon a rock. We're in John's gospel at the moment at Kings. We're just finishing off its striking, post resurrection. And you might notice that whenever the risen Jesus appears to his disciples, he says the same thing. I don't know if you know what it is.
It says, peace be with you. The risen lord Jesus comes among his disciples, and he says, peace. Be with you. I think it's it's like he's saying, look, hey, guys. I'm alive.
It's alright. Everything's gonna be alright. I'm with you. You're safe, peace. Be with you.
Anxiety will deny those truths. And our job is to preach them to ourselves just like David does in this psalm. We preach them to ourselves and preach them to 1 another. Speak to 1 another, remind 1 another of what God says. And I I I don't mean we just say it.
Okay? And this is the hard part, isn't it, for all of us. Okay? And I don't mean just say it. I don't even mean just be able to say it or even be able to remember it.
But to actually submit to it, to actually live our lives, on the basis of what God says. David faces the threats, doesn't he? What does he do? He remembers what's really important. He remembers truth about God.
He confesses the things that make him anxious. He submits to god's truth. How do we do that? We thought about, didn't we? The person suffering from maybe social anxiety, somebody who worries about being in a big crowd?
Perhaps somebody who comes to church and and worries probably, especially, about the coffee time. You know? That's that time, which is which is kinda scary for a lot of people actually. And you have it before the service, don't you? So maybe you just don't come.
You just creep in late. But but here's well, you know, as as the coffee time comes, what happens? Well, the palms begin to sweat. The heart starts to beat a little faster, and I know here it comes. We're gonna it's the end.
The mind starts to go all through the things that could go wrong. What if I say something stupid? What if nobody talks to me? I'm gonna have to go and stand by the welcome desk. What if I'm left alone?
The inner voice says, well, just leave early or just come late. You don't have anything useful to say anyway. So no 1 will miss you. 1 other things we might be able to do, if you're like that, I think I would be like that, to be honest, if it wasn't my job. In fact, I am like that.
It truth be told. I am like that. I find it scary. What can we do? What can we do?
Well, we pray. This is a prayer, isn't it? David David's talking to God. Okay? So we pray.
And we confess. First, we confess. We confess or or even rebuke the earthly things that seem to matter so big to us when actually they shouldn't matter at all. What others think of me? The glory of man, my own glory.
I I gotta recognize that. I gotta confess it. Just how small it is, how useless it is, how how it makes me get into this horrible state that I really don't like, and I don't wanna be in. Confess it to God. And then preach.
Preach to our hearts, preach the goodness of god, preach verse 1. The Lord is my light and my salvation. He is those things. Preach verse 13, I will see the goodness of the lord. I will see the goodness of the lord.
Preach verse 14. Wait for the lord. Be strong. Take heart, wait for the Lord. Maybe even picture the risen Jesus.
There he is standing by his throne, all authority, and he says to you peace. Peace be with you. Look, I'm with you. I see you. I know this is hard for you.
I've got this for you. Peace. And then you go and get a coffee. And if David can face a war, And not be afraid because his heart is submitted to God then God can help every 1 of us battle the anxious moments of our lives. However, big or small they may be.
When we take a moment to think on that, And then I'll close in a prayer, and I I think if people have questions, we're gonna do that? Okay. Yeah. Let's think about that for a moment. How many father we we wanna thank you We wanna thank you that Jesus isn't alive and he reigns and he's ruling.
He's our light. He's our salvation. He's the stronghold of our lives. Whom should we be afraid? We thank you that he speaks peace to us And lord, I pray for all of us, father whether whatever happens this week this month, this year, lord, we're all gonna find ourselves in situations where we're a bit afraid We're a bit worried.
We're a bit concerned. Something's gonna go wrong to something or someone that we really care about that we value highly, lord. Help us, I pray to recognize what our anxiety is saying to us, about the things that perhaps we care about too much. Help us to confess them and confess the way they make us feel and that we don't like that and it shouldn't be like that. And we'd rather it be different and then preach the truth to ourselves and submit to that truth and then walk walk trusting that what you say about yourself is right, you are our light, you are our salvation, you are our stronghold.
We will see your goodness. It will help us to preach those things to ourselves and then walk in whatever situation we find ourselves, in faith, submitting to those truths. And lord I pray that we would find more peace I'm afraid in Jesus' name. Oh, man. Okay.
I don't know if anyone's got any questions. Yes. So the question is, I I talked about worry anxiety when we're anxious about things that we don't need to be anxious about, like earthly things. Although, there are things in our earthly lives that we do need to be worried about, but but but not overly. And the question is, well, what happens if we're worried about kingdom things?
What happens if we're worried about the things of God? Okay. And I think it's a great question. I I think at that point, It's legitimate because Paul's worried, isn't he? He has he bears the concerns for the church.
He's concerned. I think the problem is when that concern moves from a concern which we take to God and we we we teach ourselves the truth of him. Okay. God is not going to abandon you. You know that from the truth.
Okay? He's not gonna abandon you. He's not gonna abandon his king. This is David, the king. He's not gonna do that.
He's promised not to do that. It's when our our concern for for heavenly things starts to become an over concern which denies the truth. So yeah. So I'll take that example of of of a child. And a child does something.
And I'm really concerned for my child's salvation. Okay? I want my son to be saved. I want it more than anything. And he does something, and I'm real I'm like, oh my goodness.
How on earth could he do that if he's a Christian? Right? I probably did it an hour ago. But anyway, that's what I'm thinking. How how on earth can and then I've got to It's okay.
It's legitimate to be concerned about that. But then, I need to teach myself truth about who God is. And that just by saying a swear word, I'm not I don't lose my salvation. God doesn't work like that. He doesn't work like I do.
And I have to try and remind myself of the truth again because there'll be some lies that I've fallen into. I I think. I think. Does that help a bit? I think so.
I think I think we we can we can we can get things wrong in a lot of ways. Can't we? Even when we're we're concerned for really good things, we can get something wrong about God in that. Yeah. And we just need to remind ourselves of what is true?
What is true here? Yeah. It's like I said, you know, you can you know, you can think you're Jesus. I've gotta sort everything out. All these people need help.
I've got to sort them out. And and you've you've fallen into a trap. And you just gotta remind yourself. Hang on a minute. I don't have to sort people out.
I have to point them to Jesus and that and he'll sort them out. This is gonna be an easy question or a hard question. If it's hard, I don't want it. Sure. And I think, you know, you you you have to talk to the person I think at that point because there are different things that people will be afraid of.
So I could go to a concert example, and be completely anonymous. Good. I don't need to talk to anybody. It's not about me. Nobody's gonna think, oh, you know, you're weird or whatever because you said this.
So I'm not afraid of that. Now, some people be really afraid of being in a big crowd. They're just afraid of being in a big crowd, and that's a different thing. But, yes, I agree. That actually we we tend to think that we can morph into situations that we know actually, we find really difficult.
Without any preparation. And and and we keep tripping over ourselves. And actually, I think you know, it it would be well to say, I I don't I find this quite difficult. I need to pray before I go. I need to prepare.
Before I go. I need to do this. I need to talk to God about what I'm going to feel when the when the coffee comes out because I'm gonna feel like running away. And that is a that is a spiritual issue. It's a little spiritual issue.
Yeah. Yeah. Great. I think I've got away with that.