Monday, June 23, 2008

short daggers: memory verses for the battle against anxiety

At the root of every wrong attitude there is unbelief. Anxiety, fear, regret, despondancy, doubt: all have unbelief as their tap-root.

But what great trees they are! What spreading branches they have! How many sinful fruit they bear!

I've been listening to a series of talks called Battling Unbelief, which I recommended in my post lessons from the Psalms. In these talks, Piper cuts the root of unbelief at the foot of trees like pride, envy, lust, covetousness, shame, and anxiety.

His cutting edge? The sword of the Bible (Eph. 6:17). Piper suggests we need both long swords (large sections of the Bible) and short daggers (single verses). In other words, memorise the Bible! Then you will have it with you in your daily battle with unbelief.

Here's some useful memory verses, short daggers to add to your arsenal in the battle against anxiety:
When I am anxious about my ministry, wondering whether it is fruitful, I attack the unbelief that's beneath that anxiety by going to Isaiah 55:11, where it says "My Word will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire, and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

And when I become anxious that I might be too weak to get through a morning, or to get through a week, I go to 2 Corinthians 12:9, and I take my stand and do warfare with the sword of "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." And I go back to Deuteronomy 33:25, and I take that little dagger: "your strength will equal your days."

And when I'm anxious about decisions that I have to make, or that we have to make as a church, I steady my hand with "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you" (Ps. 32:8).

And when I'm anxious about facing opponents, people that might be opposed to me, I do battle against that unbelief with Romans 8:31, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

And when I'm anxious about getting sick, I steady my hand with "suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us" (Rom. 4:4-5).

And when I'm scared that I might die, and wonder what death would hold for me, I steady my hand with Romans 14:7-8: "For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord."

And when I'm anxious, finally, that I might make shipwreck of faith, that some sin might rise and get control of my heart, and that I might fall away from God, I steady my hand with Philippians 1:6, "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus," or over in Hebrews 7:25, where it says " he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them."

Take up the Book, pray for the Spirit, and do battle against unbelief as the tap-root of anxiety. And remember the promise of Proverbs 21:31, "The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD."
The quote is from Piper's sermon Battling the Unbelief of Anxiety, highlights mine; I have included Bible references and used the NIV version - sorry ESV readers, but I've memorised too much of the NIV to stop using it now!

1 comment:

Jean said...

I'm posting this on behalf of Rachael, who's having trouble with her internet connection:

These are really helpful. I’m going to try and learn them. In first term, the girls and I memorised all the “I am” sayings of Jesus. I don’t know how much value these have as “short daggers”, but they have helped us understand more about who Jesus is and how salvation is found only in him.