Breaking Free Into Victory

Breaking Free Into Victory

Where We’ve Been

Today we conclude our series called “Anxious for Nothing,” and like a teacher at the end of a school year, I’m going to give you a bit of review. To be honest, some of today’s message may feel a bit repetitive to those who have been here every week for this series.

Most of the time I don’t expect you to commit to memory everything I say in a message. I want you to put it into practice that week, and I want it to speak some thoughts as you talk to God throughout the week.

This series, however, is a bit different. In a way, it has been similar to teaching a first-aid class. You may not need all this information and all these skills now, but someday – probably soon – you will be in a conversation that makes you wish you knew whether you should apply heat or ice. (I never can remember.) In the same way, you are going to wish you remembered the lies people need to recognize as lies.

Also, some of you may have watched the series online but didn’t see the earlier messages. If that’s you, I hope you will go back and check out those episodes; but if you don’t, here is a brief overview of where we’ve been.

In Week 1 I said that throughout this series I borrowed heavily from these two books:

If this series has really resonated with you and you want to go deeper, pick up one of these books and work through it. I am incredibly grateful for these authors because some of the feedback I have received about this series has been from people who said the messages touched on points that were EXACTLY how they felt. That wasn’t my incredible empathy; that was me relying on these authors to help me speak on this situation of anxiety.

Next, I used the passage from Philippians 4:4-9 as a rough outline for this series. I said at the beginning – and I continue to believe – this is a passage everyone should try to commit to memory. If you wrestle with anxiety, memorize this passage. I have locked in most of it, but I have spent a lot of time with it as I have prepared these messages. For the final time, I want to read it to you today.

Philippians 4:4-9 - 4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.            

[NOTE: In the New King James translation, verse 8 says, “Be anxious for nothing” and is where the title for this series comes from.]

Here’s a quick summary of each of our past six weeks.

You can break free, but it’s going to be a battle – a battle with God at your side.

The enemy, Satan, tells you lies to keep you from fighting back. Hold onto these truths: It’s okay to struggle. You are not crazy. You are not alone. This will end.

Four weapons to fight back:

Worship makes God bigger and your problems smaller.

Recognize that you are a PRAYER WARRIOR, and you need to pass your angst over the fence to God. Pray more frequently, more specifically, and with thanksgiving, trusting God to do what you never could.

Filter Your Thinking
Filter out the lies and darkness that bring you down. Instead, hold onto the truth of God’s promises and that which is right and lovely.

Ask for Help
It’s so hard to let people know you are struggling, so you limp along trying to just hold things together. But two are better than one, and so you need to ask for help and stop suffering in silence.

Today, in our final message of this series, we will look at how victory over anxiety will require you to break free from thoughts holding you back.

What’s Holding You Back?

Even after arming yourself with all these tools we’ve discussed, you may still be holding onto some thoughts that are sabotaging your efforts to move forward. We’ll dig into four of them, perhaps helping you see some areas in which you need to let go of some weights that hold you back from finding healing.

Pretending you’re fine
Have you ever had a really sore joint that was tender and painful every morning when you woke up, but you just didn’t want to get it checked out? You knew something was wrong, but you hoped it would fix itself. And guess what? It rarely does! Usually something really painful happens and you go to the doctor like you should have in the first place.

That’s what is happening with a lot of people who struggle with anxiety. They don’t want to deal with their struggle, so they minimize it. Or they just pretend like they’re fine. Or they use a crutch like alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex to numb themselves. They smile and try to muscle through the pain. That rarely ends well. So stop it!

John 12:24-2524Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Here’s the point of Jesus’s teaching here: if you try to cling to the brokenness of your life, and never die to yourself and the shame of your anxiety, you will never move forward. You have to die to your pride and stop pretending you’re fine. In doing so, God will allow your life to produce many new seeds. You can have an abundant impact on others going forward.

Here’s a second reason to stop pretending everything is fine: God already knows it’s not!

Luke 12:2There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.

You may be hiding your struggle from your family or your coworkers, but more than likely they already see that something isn’t right. More importantly, God sees it, and He wants to help; but first you have to say you’re not fine and you need help.

Holding Unforgiveness
Oftentimes anxiety is the result of some past trauma, perhaps a time when someone deeply hurt you. Forgiving a person who has caused you great pain is one of the hardest things to do in life, but Jesus tells us that if we want to experience His forgiveness, we have to be willing to forgive. Withholding forgiveness is simply not an option for a Christian.

1 John 4:20Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

If you are unwilling to forgive your brother or sister, you are withholding love and proving that hate still resides in your heart. Hate is a poison. It will wreck you in ways that seem unrelated to the person and the trauma – for instance, through your anxiety over everyday events. Perhaps your best step to move past anxiety is to finally let go of the hate and forgive the person who has wronged you. If you are wrestling with forgiving a person and aren’t sure if you have, let me know and we can set up a time to talk in the near future.

Performing for Critics
Okay, I’ll just be real here. This is where I experience the most anxiety in my life. When you feel like you have to perform for your critics, you are essentially allowing others to determine the expectations for how you live your life. Anytime you feel like you fall short of THEIR expectations, it creates a sense of failure in you, and that is fertile ground for anxiety over future expectations.

If you’re like me, here’s my advice to you (and to myself): Don’t let other people’s problem with you become your problem with you. If they don’t like something you’ve done, that doesn’t have to create anxiety within you. You probably did what you did for a reason, and that’s okay. Sometimes we don’t all agree. If you try to please everyone all the time, you will find you are never finished. So stop trying. Here’s how to stop performing for your critics:

Colossians 3:23Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.

That’s right. Your performance should be focused on pleasing God. If you feel you have nailed that, then what your critic say is their complaint. Don’t let it upset you.

Because I have wrestled with this most of my adult life, one of my life verses is from the Apostle Paul:

Galatians 1:10 – Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

I love his blunt attitude. Do your best for God. If some people aren’t happy, that’s all right. Their displeasure doesn’t need to stir up an anxious heart inside of you.

Comparing Your Life
Here’s one that probably most fits the Millennials and Gen-Zers in the room. With the rise of social media, playing the comparison game is everywhere, and whenever you don’t measure up with others’ amazing posts and pics, you feel “less than.” If you feel worse about yourself every time you are on social media, I have some advice: Stop it! The stream is poison; stop taking a dip.

Again, the apostle Paul speaks to this situation:

2 Corinthians 10:12We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

Paul is simply choosing not to play the comparison game because it doesn’t matter to God and is a foolish endeavor. God made you to be you, to live your life and make the impact on people that only YOU can make; so go be the most God-honoring version of YOU that you can be. In the grand scheme of life, the fact that some of your friends might have better vacation pictures than yours doesn’t matter AT ALL. If you see an online persona that looks more successful than you (in whatever measure you are using), that does not actually mean they are doing anything better or you are doing anything wrong. Let go of comparison and the resulting anxiety it causes.

How to Break Free from Anxiety

So – as we are finally coming to the end of this entire series, here are the steps you need to follow to finally break free from anxiety.

Trust that with God’s help you will overcome this challenge. The Lord is near. In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Before finding healing, you must believe healing is possible, and then you have to be willing to fight through the battles with God at your side.

Use your weapons. These were more than nice messages. You have to put them into practice. Just hearing about worship and prayer and filtering your thinking and asking for help won’t change anything. Are you worshiping God daily? Are you praying like you’ve never prayed before? Are you reciting the promises of God to focus on what is right and pure and excellent? Have you actually asked anyone for help? If you say “NO” to most of these questions, then you’re not going to make much headway. However, if you are committed to using these weapons, then watch how God will show up and start clearing away the anxiety in your life.

Let go of these weights holding you back. If you can totally identify with one or several of these, you need to do the work to let it go. I hope you can see how each of these beliefs sabotages your goal of healing. Cut them out of your life and move forward in peace.

You may never reach a place where you won’t have any struggles; but when you find healing and health, help someone else from your experiences. This is one of the beautiful ways God works. He can use your hurts and darkest moments to bring healing to someone else. He redeems your biggest regrets, and in doing so He shows how completely in control He really is.

Finding Victory

I can’t pretend to know what you or your loved ones are going through. I hear the stories, and I see how completely life-altering anxiety and depression can be. However, I also know what God tells us all through His Word that even though life may seem so unsure and fraught with obstacles that you don’t know how to move forward, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD!

Matthew 19:18Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Perhaps this entire series has felt out of reach for you because you feel stuck and unable to move forward. But look – God wants better for you! Start believing that God will fight beside you.

I’m not telling you to muster up a belief in yourself and your own fabulousness. That’s the world’s way of trying to deal with anxiety – by telling yourself you’re amazing. That’s not your way forward. No, as Christians we recognize that GOD IS AMAZING, and He’s the one you need to trust to help you find healing. He is the one who will fight alongside you in this spiritual battle for your peace and your joy.

He’s been doing this for His chosen people for a very long time. All the way back before the Israelites entered into the Promised Land, Moses told them the same thing I’m telling you today:

Deuteronomy 20:4For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.

Believe that. Hold onto that truth. This is more than just another Sunday message for you to hear and forget before you get to the dinner table.

God is on your side. Accept the challenge. Use your weapons. And break free!


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