Faithlife Sermons


Release  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Good morning! Welcome to The River Church Online! Glad you can be with us.
Hey - we’ve been in a series called “What’s Included,” talking about spiritual gifts - gifts the Holy Spirit gives us when we put our faith in Jesus - but we’re gonna hit the pause button on this series for two weeks. As many of you, we recently sent out a Reopening Survey asking questions about your thoughts on gathering in-person. And your answers have been super helpful! They will play a big part in our Phase 2 decisions. But your answers also helped me something else...
One question we asked was, “How has COVID19 impacted your family?” And your answers revealed something to me. Many of us are struggling with feelings of being OVERWHELMED. The reasons why vary...
And while these things haven’t been absent from our lives before COVID19, this difficult season has amplified them! To the point where we’re overwhelmed!
So, I felt it would be good to take a small break from our current series to do a quick two-week miniseries addressing this. I’m calling this series “Release” and you’ll understand why was we work our way thru the next two weeks.
Now, this series won’t necessarily be aimed at studying emotions like stress, fear, and anxiety. We won’t have time to get into medical perspectives on mental health. But what I’d like to discuss why we may be feeling “overwhelmed” in this COVID season. And I’m going to focus on two things in particular:
Spiritual Health.
And this week we’re going to start with Control. Let me share a familiar verse with you...
Philippians 4:6–7 ESV
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 minds in Christ Jesus.
Maybe you’re asking, “What does this verse have to do with being overwhelmed? What does it have to do with control?”
I’m a simple guy. And I’m going to share a very simple answer. Maybe it’s a little too simple. But for our purposes, I think it’s helpful. I believe when we experience things like stress, fear, worry - whatever - in an overwhelming way, we begin to feel like things are out of control. And when that happens, we start to get anxious. So, if you will, feeling overwhelmed leads to anxiety. And that’s why this verse is applicable to be those who are overwhelmed.
At the same time, I simply believe life’s answers found in the Bible. So, I trust the simple word of God. I read it and simply obey. And I’m convinced we can overcome being overwhelmed by simply trusting and obeying God’s word.
And so, if we’re feeling overwhelmed, let’s look to God’s word together! And when I read this verse about anxiety, I see God telling us it’s time to release control...
What does that mean? It first means releasing control to God.


Release control to God:

There’s a reason why Jesus is called both Lord and Savior. I know we emphasize the Savior part a lot. The Savior part is awesome! He is the Savior. But, He’s also Lord!
And that means He’s in control. He’s Master! He is God. And God should be in control; otherwise, He’s not really God. Therefore, if Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we should RELEASE CONTROL to Him!
And when we do, we’re actually living the way God designed it! Jesus talks about this in Matthew 6...
Matthew 6:25–27 ESV
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Jesus asks, “Why are you so worried? You see these birds? They aren’t worried. They aren’t overwhelmed. Why? Because they give God control. And God takes care of them!”
Then… Jesus says, “You’re way more valuable than these birds!” Church - we have the “image of God” stamped on us! We’re the most valuable created thing!
And if God takes care of birds, how much more will our Heavenly Father take care of us? And if that’s the case, we can release control! We don’t need to worry about:
That’s why Paul says...
Philippians 4:6 ESV
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
If Jesus is Lord, let Him have control. He’s got this!
But there’s another way we need to release control.... we need to release it others...

Release Control to others:

I’m not saying we should let others control us. But we can RELEASE CONTROL of our burdens (the things that overwhelm us) to others. What do I mean by that? See if this sounds familiar:
Life is falling apart. You need help.
But you don’t want to ask because it’ll make you look weak.
Or, you don’t want to burden anyone.
Or, you don’t want to be a party-pooper or the needy one of the group.
Therefore, even when people ask you, “Are you okay?” What’s the response? “I’m fine...”
That’s controlling our burdens. We keep them completely to ourselves and do not release them. We don’t let the out. And they just begin to well up inside. And what happens next? We get overwhelmed! That’s why we gotta release that!
And here’s another important reason to release control of this. Because we’re actually releasing pride!
Pride makes us think we don’t need help.
Pride makes us think we need to be fake.
Pride keeps us isolated when we’re overwhelmed.
But God didn’t design us to live like that. To live in prideful isolated. God designed us to live in community. We’re designed to need one another! That’s why Paul tells the Galatians...
Galatians 6:2 ESV
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
The sense of the language here is God designed us to carry one another’s burdens - carry each other’s overwhelming weight!
So, release your pride and give control of your burdens to others. Let others care for you. God designed it this way!

How do I release control:

Release control to God.
Release control to others.
So, how exactly do I do that? Well, what does God’s word say?
Philippians 4:6 ESV
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
“Don’t be anxious - or Don’t be overwhelmed” - Release that! Instead… PRAY.
One major way you release control is by praying! Because what is prayer? Isn’t a large part of prayer letting go of control by asking God - the One who is truly in control - to take over?
So, this morning, as you ask, “How do I overcome being overwhelmed?” also ask, “Am I praying?”
During this season, the internet has been winning with the memes. One of my favorites goes something like this:
For the first time in history, we can save the human race by staying at home and watching Netflix. Let’s not mess this up!
There’s some truth to that. If you will, Netflix is helping prevent the spread of the virus by keeping us inside. And it’s also preventing our healthcare systems from being overwhelmed. But you know what Netflix can’t do? It can’t keep YOU from being overwhelmed!
And that’s why we gotta pray. We gotta be asking our Heavenly Father to take control!
Okay, when I’m overwhelmed, I pray. Pretty simple. Pretty practical. But, “How much do I pray?” Well, ask yourself this...
How much Netflix (or whatever) do you watch?
And if Netflix can’t help us be overwhelmed, maybe we need to invest more time in prayer than in “pressing play” on Netflix!
And don’t just pray in isolation. Pray with others! Again, we’re supposed to “bear one another’s burdens!”
James 5:16 ESV
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Praying together is powerful! Even look at our main passage:
Philippians 4:6–7 ESV
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 minds in Christ Jesus.
All of the “your” in this verse are plural. That means they are “y’alls” Paul’ like, “Y’alls supposed to be praying together!”
But did y’all notice that weird part of the verse?
Did you notice it says, “pray with thanksgiving?” Thanksgiving?!? How do I do that? Nothing’s changed yet! I’m still overwhelmed! That’s why I’m praying!
Actually it’s not. Remember, you’re praying because you’re release CONTROL! And in this process, you can be thankful because what’s happening is you’re also realizing, “I’m not in control. I don’t need to be in control. And my Heavenly Father is in control!”
Here’s a crazy thought. What if in this overwhelming process - that requires us to release control and pray - we discover a better way to live by faith. That it forces us to learn how to trust and depend on Jesus in a greater way? If that happens, no matter how hard the process is, I think that’s reason to be thankful! So, we can pray with thanksgiving!
And to expand upon why we should be thankful, let’s look at the surrounding context of this passage…look at verses 4-5:
Philippians 4:4–5 ESV
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
Paul says, “Don’t be anxious. Pray all the time. Be thankful” But he led with, “Rejoice all the time!” It’s so crazy. Here I am struggling with anxiety. Feeling overwhelmed. And you’re telling me, “Be joyful! Release control! Pray and be thankful!” How? Well look at that ending phrase: The Lord is at hand - or near...
Why rejoice? Why be thankful? Because God - your Heavenly Father is near! And He’s in control! He’s so close that when life is overwhelmingly out of control, He can hear you whisper, “Dad, I need your help!”
God wants that! He wants us to do that!
1 Peter 5:7 ESV
casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
That’s why we can rejoice, pray, and be thankful even in the hardest times. That’s why we release control. Because our God love us, cares for us, and is near us. Therefore, if you’re overwhelmed - PRAY!

What happens when I release control:

And look what happens when we release control and pray...
Philippians 4:7 ESV
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
When we release, we get peace!
God gives supernatural peace into our overwhelming storm.
Sometimes it’s peace IN the storm - like Jesus had when he was sleeping in the boat!
Sometimes it’s peace FROM the storm - like when Jesus woke up and told the storm “Peace, be still!”
If you’re overwhelmed this morning, RELEASE control and exchange it for God’s supernatural peace.
And also look at this… I love this...
“the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Picture it this way: When you belong to Jesus - when you’re in Christ - you become a citizen of heaven. You belong to His Kingdom. That means you get to come into the His great city - His fortress. And picture walking thru beautiful gates and walking into the majestic city. And turning around and seeing God’s peace as an impenetrable high outer wall, that is actively guarding you from danger.
Do you think anything is able to overwhelm God’s protective wall of peace? NO!!!! He’s God. Nothing can come against Him! You are safe. You can rest in Christ. You can release control.


Church family, if you’re overwhelmed this morning, it’s time to release control. That starts with prayer. Releasing control to God and others.
So, let’s make this real practical:
If you’re overwhelmed because of stress, what should you do? Pray!
If you’re overwhelmed because of money - pray!
If you’re overwhelmed because of fear - pray!
If you’re overwhelmed… you get the picture… pray.
“Do not be [overwhelmed], but in everything [release control] by praying with thanksgiving, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus!”
I love what Pastor Craig Groeschel from life church says, “Anxiety - or feeling overwhelmed - is a signal alerting you that it’s time to pray!”
When you feel it -pray. And pray with others!
We have opportunities to pray together here at TRC:
Men/Women WhatsApp Group where you can ask for prayer.
Thursday morning Zoom Prayer Group.
Sunday morning Zoom Prayer.
Life Groups!
If you need information for any of those things, comment or contact us thru our website by choosing the appropriate icon.
I’ll close with this...
I was listening to an interview by Nicky Gumbel - a pastor from England. He’s actually the guy who started “Alpha,” the group we host on Monday nights. He was talking about church and COVID and mentions that in China (where COVID kinda started) has the same Chinese word for both “pandemic” and “plague”.
And like us, when people in China want to learn how to respond to something, they google it. And strangely, this verse has been popping up...
2 Chronicles 7:13–14 NIV
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Isn’t that crazy? But isn’t that awesome? And there’s an application for us this morning too...
During this pandemic - when things seem out of control, when we feel overwhelmed - God’s promise to His people is “if we will humble ourselves (release your pride) and pray (release control)… [He] will hear from heaven and heal!”
Friends - THIS promise stands before us today. God is ready to heal us. He’s ready to give us peace in exchange for anxiety. Will we simply believe and respond? Will we pray and release control?
Overcoming being overwhelmed is really that simple. I believe that because I believe God’s word. And sometimes it’s the simple things that are keeping us from victory. Because we train ourselves to look for the next greatest thing. The revolutionary program or pill that’ll change everything, but never does. So why not simply do what God says instead?
He says, “If you release control during a PANDEMIC, I will wash way everything that is overwhelming you with my supernatural peace!” So, in the truest sense of a cheesy phrase, “Let go and let God!”
Maybe you’re listening and you don’t know God as your Heavenly Father. But you ARE completely overwhelmed! You need God’s peace in your life. You need God to save you.
The good news is… the gospel… is that God is ready to do that. He is near. He is listening from heaven waiting for you to pray and give control of your life to Him. To make Him Lord of your life. If you will humble yourself and turn from your sinful ways, He will hear from heaven and save you. It’s that simple.
And the reason it’s that simple is because of what Jesus did on the cross 2000 years ago. Jesus - the Son of God - sacrificed His perfect life on a Cross for our sins. And then God raised Him from the dead showing the payment for our sin debt was made in full. And His word to us is if we will put our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He will exchange our sin for new life.
It’s amazing. It’s simple. And it’s worth always remembering. And one way we remember that in the church is by taking communion, which we are doing today to end service...
Let’s pray...
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