This program is a rebroadcast from April 7, 2018.
How to Trade Our Worry for Worship
Sometimes, as Christians, we can dismiss the physical effects of struggles and sins we deal with every day. On this week’s show, Chris talks about the negative effects of worry and anxiety and what it does to our minds. We’ll head to the Old Testament and hear about King Hezekiah and how his lack of dependence on God led to bad decisions that affected the entire land of Israel.
God has designed us to depend on Him. When we worry and have anxiety, we are not trusting in the plan and sovereignty of God, but instead we are looking inside of ourselves to solve the problems of our lives. Jesus knew this was our pattern. Chris takes us to the New Testament to show us how Jesus wants us to trade our worry for worship. If this is something you struggle with as a believer in Jesus, our hope today is that you will begin a new journey choosing to trust the One who holds the world in His hands.
Steve Conover: Thank you so much for joining us for The Friends of Israel Today. I’m Steve Conover, with me is Chris Katulka. We at The Friends of Israel Today want to wish you a Happy New Year. We want to remind you to visit foiradio.org to keep up on all that’s happening in Israel. You can also hear nearly nine years of Friends of Israel Today teaching for free by visiting our Archive pages at foiradio.org. Chris, we’ve once again selected a favorite past series to air this week.
Chris Katulka: That’s right, Steve. God has designed us to depend on Him. When we worry and have anxiety we are not trusting in God’s plan and sovereignty in our lives, but instead, we are looking inside of ourselves to solve the problems of our lives. Jesus knew this was our pattern, so today we’ll see how Jesus wants us to trade our worry for worship. If this is something you struggle with as a believer in Jesus, which I think a lot of us do, our hope today is that you will begin a new journey choosing to trust the One who holds the world in His hands.
Steve Conover: Now in the news Israel's Channel 12 news recently highlighted a female tank squad in the Israeli Defense Forces who took out dozens of terrorists on October 7, saving an entire Kibbutz from the Hamas massacre. These brave IDF soldiers ran into battle without knowing what danger awaited them. They fought for six straight hours to eliminate terrorists who had infiltrated from the Gaza Strip.
Chris Katulka: Let me quote their tank commander who praised these amazing women saying, “These are the only combat women tank crews in the world, highly-trained, highly professional… [There are] no other Western armies with women tank crews. This is a piece of history, this is huge, for women in tanks, and women in combat,” he said “They charged, covered, functioned, tended the wounded, in the most inspirational way.”
Chris Katulka: So, a few months ago, Steve Conover, our executive producer, handed me an article he read, and he thought it would be an interesting piece for the radio. It's an article that comes from Psychology Today, and it's all about the effects of negative thinking. The negative effects of anxiety, and the negative effects of worry. Folks, I'm going to tell you, anxiety and worry are dangerous, not only to the body, but also to our spirit.
The article calls this “ruminative negative thinking.” I want you to listen to what this article has to say. It's fascinating. “When we feel depressed, we are more likely to get stuck in cycles of repetitive ruminative thoughts that have a negative emotional tone. We may regret the past. We may judge ourselves as unworthy or unlovable, blame others for our problems, or anticipate a bleak future. These ruminative cycles exacerbate feelings of sadness, shame, or anger, and interfere with motivation to try to move on or actively solve problems.
Depressive thought cycles like these seem to be entrenched, and are very difficult to break, even when we try to use logic to refute the negative thinking.”
You know, worry and anxiety can lead to this ruminative negative thinking. I want to take you to a biblical character, King Hezekiah, and he dealt with this issue in second Kings chapter 18.
The king of Assyria came knocking on Hezekiah's door and wanted payment, and let me tell you something. You don't mess with the king of Assyria. That was the largest empire in the world during the days of Hezekiah. So, naturally, I think Hezekiah did what any one of us would do. He started to worry, and anxiety built up in him, because according to earthly standards, that's going to be key here everybody, earthly standards. The Assyrians could sneeze and Hezekiah's kingdom would disappear. So, listen to what Hezekiah did in first Kings 18, versus 15 and 16, in the midst of his worry and anxiety.
It says this, Hezekiah gave him, the king of Assyria, all the silver in the Lord's temple and in the treasuries of the royal palace. At the time, King Hezekiah of Judah stripped the metal overlays from the doors of the Lord's temple and from the posts which he had plated, and gave them to the king of Assyria. Hezekiah was doing everything humanly possible to fix the problem on his own. He looked inward. He robbed the temple treasury and nearly bankrupted the kingdom of Judah, giving the king of Assyria all of the silver from the royal treasury, and then in desperation he stripped the gold off the doorposts of the temple. The anxiety and worry of what the king of Assyria could do to Hezekiah and his kingdom sent him into what looks like a state of ruminative negative thinking.
Hezekiah was looking inward in his state of anxiety. He was stuck in his own thoughts, ruminating on his problem, and trying to fix it on his own. And my friends, this is exactly what God doesn't want us to do when problems arise. And listen, there's no person on earth that doesn't face problems. I don't care how much money you have. I don't care how much prestige you have. You can't buy yourself out of problems that arise naturally in life.
The question isn't about when problems come. That's going to happen. The question is how we face worry and anxiety when those problems do come, because if you don't deal with worry and anxiety the right way, it will lead to this ruminative negative thinking that this article was talking about, and then you'll spiral down deeper and deeper into depression, because doctors are actually finding out that our brains go haywire when we get stuck in this negative thinking.
Ruminative negative thinking results in being stuck, and when we feel stuck, it's hard to move forward, and when we are stuck in our worry and our anxiety, we tend to withdraw from others. But when we do connect with our friends and family, you know what happens when we get stuck in these negative thoughts? We only talk about ourselves. We only talk about our problems, our worries, our anxieties, and when this happens, nobody wants to talk with us, and then we become demotivated.
Ruminative negative thinking, this worry, this anxiety, is quicksand to the soul, and once you get stuck, it is hard to get out. And my friends, let me tell you something. This is not where God wants us. He doesn't want us to get stuck in our negative thinking. He doesn't want us to flounder in our negativity. He doesn't want us to be demotivated to serve him. And I'll be honest, I think a lot of us, even us Christians, can get stuck in this ruminative negative thinking.
Do you know what it means to ruminate? Ruminate means to think deeply about something, but it actually comes from the Latin word to chew over, like a cow who chews cud. Did you know that when a cow eats, he chews his food, and then he swallows it, and after his stomach digests some of the food, then he regurgitates it, and chews on it again. It's kind of disgusting, but that's the idea of ruminating.
When we constantly regurgitate our thoughts, we are thinking only about our worries, or our issues. These worries build up when we keep regurgitating them, when we keep spitting up negative thoughts, and this regurgitation of our negative thoughts can keep us trapped in a world of anxiety and depression.
People, Jesus didn't promise us abundant life today so that we can sit and chew over our problems. Jesus didn't promise us an abundant life so that we can feel purposeless and paralyzed with our problems, our worries, our anxieties. No. He promised us an abundant life today knowing that even in the midst of our worries and anxieties, we would turn to him to find freedom, instead of turning to ourselves.
Where are you looking when problems arise? If you're looking inward to solve the problem, I'll tell you this right now. You're only going to get stuck. You'll end up ruminating on those negative thoughts when God wants us to look outside of ourselves. That's why he tells us to lay our anxieties and worries at the foot of the cross, because it takes the worry and anxiety, and instead of dwelling on it inwardly, it takes it outside of us, and puts it at the feet of our Savior.
You know, when Moses was passing the baton off to Joshua, he was giving Joshua a serious responsibility. It was a responsibility to lead the people of Israel into the promised land, and to conquer the cities of Canaan, and I am sure tons of thoughts flooded right into Joshua's mind, and I'm sure some of them were even negative. But God told Joshua in Joshua chapter one, verse seven and eight, only be strong and very courageous. Be careful to do according to all that the law that Moses, my servant, commanded you. Do not turn from it from the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.
Now listen, here it is. The book of the law, Joshua, shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it, for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua, meditate on it. Meditate on the book of the law.
Issues will arise among the Israelites, Joshua. That's a lot of people, and you're bound to have a problem with one of them. Taking the land and going into battle will have its fair share of heartache and pain, but Joshua, don't ruminate on these problems. Instead at that time, God is telling Joshua, when you meditate, ruminate, chew over my word, you'll leave all of your worries and anxieties with me, because I've called you. Notice what God called Joshua to be, and it's the same thing he's called us to be, strong and courageous.
Do you remember Hezekiah and all the worry he had? Scholars believe Psalm 46 was written about that moment of anxiety and worry in Hezekiah's life. Psalm 46, verse 10 says, it's a very famous verse, one that you probably know, “be still and know that I am God.”
How did Hezekiah, do you remember the story, how did Hezekiah take all that worry and anxiety of potentially watching Jerusalem and all of its citizens destroyed under his watch? How did he get to the point where he said, be still and know that I am God? Well, it says in Psalm 46, verses four and five, that “there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the most high. God is in her midst. She shall not be moved.”
Hezekiah, in the midst of his anxiety, look at ... he looks outside of himself, and saw that the God of heaven and earth was dwelling in Jerusalem, the holy habitation, the holy city of God. And if the God of armies is in my city, then it's not going to be moved. God defeated Hezekiah's enemies, and God defeated Hezekiah's worry and anxiety, because Hezekiah realized God was with him.
Do you know where God's holy habitation is now? Do you know where God is abiding now? Well, if you profess to be a follower and believer of Jesus the Messiah, then you are his holy habitation. He lives in you, and if he lives in you, I love this, you shall not be moved.
Don't get trapped ruminating on this negative thinking. It's quicksand. The more you ruminate, the deeper you go. Turn to God's word like Joshua was commanded, and ruminate, meditate on the scriptures. Make them a part of your daily thinking, because when you start to chew on God's word, you realize the God of the armies is in your midst. He's on your side. You shall not be moved.
Now listen, when we return, we're going to look at what Jesus had to say about worry and anxiety from the Sermon on the Mount. So, stick around.
Steve Conover: The Jewish and Christian communities read the Psalms regularly, but have you thought about how much we're missing when we don't know the setting in which they were written? Many of the Psalms remain a mystery, because the authors reference places we've never seen.
Chris Katulka: Well, Dr. Charles Dyer skillfully brings a select number of Psalms to life in the book 30 Days in the Land of the Psalms. This one month devotional will take you on an extraordinary journey to the land of Israel.
Steve Conover: You can order your copy of 30 Days in the Land of the Psalms, by going to foiradio.org, or calling our listener line at 888-343-6940. I'll give those to you one more time. Foiradio.org, or call our listener line at 88-343-6940.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back, everyone. We've been talking about worry and anxiety, and the way God views worry and anxiety. Now, in the previous segment, I shared about how Hezekiah turned to God as the massive Assyrian empire was looming over his kingdom, the kingdom of Judah, but maybe you're saying to yourself, Chris, that's not the kind of stress that causes me worry and anxiety. I'm not worried about a massive empire knocking on my door.
I'm worried about paying my bills, or having enough groceries for the month, or maybe you're worried about where your kids are and whether or not they're following the Lord. I totally understand, and so did Jesus, because I actually think Jesus speaks right into the worries and anxieties that we have to deal with on a daily basis.
Listen to what Jesus says to his disciples in Matthew chapter six, versus 24 and 25. It's the Sermon on the Mount. "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn't there more to life than food, and more to the body than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky. Do they not sew or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you more valuable than they are?"
You know, Jesus is speaking about the necessities of life, maintaining those necessities, food, and shelter, and clothing, and maintaining those things can actually be very serious. It can actually cause worry and anxiety. In 2013, even years after the recession, families were still struggling to make ends meet.
The results of the recession gave many Americans a real reason to feel worry. Friends, maybe you've been there. Maybe you're feeling that right now, and yet Jesus tells us not to worry. Or in the Gospel of Luke, he tells us not to be anxious for even the necessities of life. How do we reconcile what Jesus is saying to real life scenarios, because let's be honest, it's one thing to read about it or hear about it in church, but it's another thing to live through it.
Well, here's the way I see it. When we read that passage, it can make it seem like Jesus wants us to just be wanderers who are carelessly living from meal to meal, joyfully skipping through life without a worry in the world, but Martin Luther said this about Matthew chapter six, verse 25 and 26. He said this, “God provides food for the birds, but he doesn't drop it in their beaks.”
I believe Jesus is speaking about the issue we talked about above, this ruminative negative thinking. I believe Jesus is calling us as believers and followers of Him to stare right into whatever adversity or circumstance that would naturally make someone worry, and say I'm going to trade my worry with worship by trusting my heavenly Father.
I'm going to believe that my heavenly Father cares deeply about me, is concerned with my well being. He's been faithful to me in the past. So, why would I be worried about what I eat or wear tomorrow? Folks, worry is opposite of trust. That's what Jesus is saying. Worry is the opposite of faith. So, instead of allowing that negative thinking to drag you into the pit of despair, I want to challenge you. Because it's a challenge. It's real.
All of us deal with worry and anxiety. Take a step of faith to trust in God. He's the God of the ... I love this ... He's the God of the how much more? Look at the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. Your heavenly Father feeds them. He clothes them. How much more will he provide for his children?
You know, reasons for worry are never that far off. Opportunities to be anxious are always right around the corner, but I want to challenge you to put your trust in the God of the how much more, who has so much more for you than a life of worry and anxiety. When you feel the urge to ruminate on those negative thoughts, because it will happen, make it a discipline to remember the God of the armies that he's on your side, and that you cannot be moved. Take out the Scriptures. Meditate on God's Word, and pray for freedom from whatever is going to bring you worry, because I'm going to tell you something. Those steps, those spiritual disciplines can change your life.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of holocaust survivor, Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: I live in an apartment building in Jerusalem. We have a house committee to represent the residents, and for 10 years, I was a member of that committee. Over the years, I've made many good friends. Often, I was invited to their flats, or I invited them to mine. We have had many good conversations about a variety of subjects, including my faith. When my last term on the committee was completed, a new resident took my place. He began asking questions about all the residents. What kind of work they do, how they live. Everyone thought he was like a private detective, and then we learned he's a member of an ultra orthodox religious group, and was reporting to them about us.
One day, he came to my home to collect the maintenance fee. He began to ask many questions. How well do you live? Do you go to the synagogue on the Sabbath? How do you serve God? I said, I will answer you, but first, answer a question for me. How many gods must we serve? Only one, he replied. I continued. Which God do you worship? He answered, that is a stupid question. As I said before, there is only one God, the God of the Jewish people, the God I worship. All others in the world worship idols.
I asked, does each nation have its own God, as each nation has its own political leader? Regardless of what I said, he replied, that is not the truth. I asked, which do you read better, Yiddish or Hebrew? Hebrew, he replied. Good, I said, because I have a Hebrew Bible here. You can read it for yourself. He was very interested in my Bible, and after examining it, he asked, how can you read such an unclean, non-kosher book? This contains the New Testament.
I replied, my friend, the New Testament is as much a part of the Bible as the Old Testament. He was very upset, and asked, who told you the New Testament is part of the Bible? I answered, our own Jewish prophets wrote about Yeshua Hamashiach, Jesus Christ. He looked like his blood began to boil, and he yelled, that is not true. Oh, yes, it is true, I told him. The Bible describes people like you when it said keep on hearing, but do not understand. Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.
I asked, is the God spoken of by Isaiah only for the Jewish people as you said before? I then read Isaiah 34:1, “come near you nations to hear and heed your people”, I said. This passage shows there is only one God, and he is for all the nations. He has provided salvation through His son for the Jewish people as well as for all nations, because he loves us. But as Isaiah 1:3 says, the ox knows its owner, and the donkey, its master's crib, but Israel does not know. My people do not consider.
He was quiet for awhile, and then said, I must leave, but I will return and continue this conversation. I pray the Lord will cause this man to search the scriptures and question his beliefs. I trust I will have more open doors to witness to him about the God who shed his own blood for the sins of all people.
Steve Conover: Thanks for joining us for today’s episode of The Friends of Israel Today. A reminder to visit foi.org/standwithisrael. There you’ll see all the ways you can show your support at this critical time. Stand with us as we stand with Israel. Now Chris, we’re heading back into a series we interrupted several weeks ago.
Chris Katulka: That’s right. Last September we started a series on the book of Romans and I had planned to do five messages from it and we were interrupted, of course, because of what happened on October 7. So we’re going to pick back up in our Romans series and we’re going to be looking of course at Romans 9-11, an incredibly important passage when it talks about Israel’s future in God’s eyes.
Steve Conover: We look forward to getting back into that series. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Edited by Jeremy Strong who also composed and performs our theme music. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold. I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, NJ 08099. Our web address is foiradio.org. Or you can all our listener line at 888-343-6940. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
30 Days in the Land of the Psalms
The Jewish and Christian communities read the Psalms regularly, but have you ever thought about how much is missing not knowing the context in which the Psalms were written?
Dr. Charles Dyer skillfully brings a select number of Psalms to life in the book 30 Days in the Land of the Psalms. This one-month devotional will take you on an extraordinary journey to the land of Israel. After reading this devotional Dr. Erwin Lutzer said, “What wonderful insights greet us when we view the psalms in their historical and cultural context!”
Apples of Gold: Private Detective
For ten years, Zvi was part of his apartment building’s committee. He made many good friends and contacts serving alongside his neighbors. When he stepped down, a new resident took his place. He was a very curious man asking questions about all the residents and their personal lives. Soon it was found that this man was part of a strict ultra-Orthodox group and was reporting back his findings. One day he began asking Zvi where he went to synagogue. Zvi jumped on this opportunity to tell this man about his faith. Listen to find out his reaction.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
Your gifts help us to continue proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.