1 Peter 2:9 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out fo darkness into his wonderful light.
Matthew 6:25-34 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
An exasperated husband asked his wife, “Why are you always worrying when it doesn’t do any good?” She quickly piped back, “Oh yes it does! Ninety percent of the things I worry about never happen.” (http://ministry127.com/resources/illustration/the-benefit-of-worry)
OK, so a large percentage of the things that we dread never happen. Probably, if a man could keep a register of his fears through twenty-five or fifty years of life, it would show that a very small percentage of the things which he dreaded came to pass.
When you compare worry with the other things we face in life, it may seem like a small thing, but it isn’t. It is a big thing because worry magnifies life’s problems, intensifies life’s emotional turmoil, and steals joy from today as well as tomorrow. Worry robs us of peace and sucks the fun out of our life. Worry may seem small or trivial, but it has big implications.
Worry is a distraction in our mind, heart, and soul to keep us from focusing on the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. If Satan can’t destroy you, he will try to distract you and cause you to worry yourself to the point where you aren’t focused on the Kingdom or on advancing it in any way.
And wanting us to be savvy to Satan’s tactics, Jesus addressed worry in this Matthew 6 passage. Worry is about more than perspective or maturity issue. It is first and foremost about trust. In order to help you begin to stop worrying, you need to:
Trust God with everything in everything for everything you need.
Allow me to explain what I mean. Everything we have is a gift from God. He has blessed us. If you drove here, you drove in a vehicle that God has provided. The vehicle is God’s. Allow Him to be glorified in the way you use it. Take care of it. Maintain it, and share it with others. A car, like your home, like your bank account, are resources you need to place into God’s hands. He can direct you how to use those things better than you can yourself.
Dads and Moms, your children are a gift from God. As they grow, they will exercise more and more independence. You can’t keep them little forever. They have hopes and dreams and plans that may not be the things you hoped for them or even prayed over their lives. Just because you prayed they would grow up, live in a house beside you, and have a job that would never put them in any physical danger, doesn’t mean that is the way things will go.
About a year ago, our son, someone I just knew would become a Contemporary Christian singer or youth pastor, announced that he wants to be a police officer. I tried not to react too strongly to his announcement because I figured I could pray it out of him. ? I didn’t want to think of my son in harm’s way. I didn’t want my son to have to put his life on the line daily to defend and protect others. When I expressed my concern his response was, “Mom, don’t you think we need more Christian police officers out there?” Good point right there, Son. ? What do you say in response to that?
When he didn’t drop it, and continued to pursue it by talking to others in Law Enforcement and when he applied and was accepted to a summer program for young people who want to explore the field, I had to come to the place where I said, “Lord, we gave our son back to You when you gave him to us, and if this is how You want to use him, I trust You with his life.”
We cannot control and manipulate our children’s desires and futures. We can pray what is in our hearts for them, but at the end of the day, “Thy will be done” is the only appropriate prayer for a Christian parent as we trust God to lead, guide, direct, and protect them. So, we trust God with everything we have. Our resources and our loved ones are His.
We also trust God IN everything. There will be moments in life that you couldn’t have predicted, that will be hard, and that will challenge your faith. Trust that God knows what He is doing. You have likely heard the phrase, “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” God isn’t mean. He isn’t unloving. He isn’t uncaring.
Instead of trusting God in those moments, many people, however, get angry when life takes a turn and they can’t control what happens next, and they walk away from God instead of closer to Him. Aren’t tough times one of the main reasons knowing God is helpful? Aren’t we connecting with Him because we realize there are things we can’t handle alone? That we need Someone to help us navigate through the deep water?
It would be one thing if Jesus had told the disciples that if they followed Him life would be a piece of cake. Then, I could understand them being disillusioned and leaving the faith when life got difficult. But Jesus never promised us an easy life; only His presence to get us through it. And here is the reality, His presence makes a positive difference. No unbeliever could ever tell me that Jesus hasn’t made a positive difference in my life both in the good times and the bad.
What did Jesus tell the disciples in John 16:33? “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Life with Jesus isn’t about escaping life’s pains, but about partnering with Him and one day escaping it all as we overcome this world in the next life!
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three of God’s servants, were told they had to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue and worship it or face being thrown into a fiery furnace, this is what they said to the King. Daniel 3:16-18: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
You see, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walked so closely with the Lord that no circumstance could corrupt, corrode, or crash their relationship with God because life for them had nothing to do with their circumstances and everything to do with their relationship with God. They knew they could trust Him no matter what. If they were rescued from the flames, God was good. If they went up in flames, they trusted God to receive them into His Eternal Kingdom.
And of course, there is the little matter of Romans 8:28 where God assures us that everything we go through will turn out for our benefit, our good, and God’s glory. When we worry about circumstances, we are elevating circumstances over our relationship with God.
Not only do we trust God with everything, in everything, but we also trust Him FOR everything that we need. II Corinthians 9:8 says, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” Somebody needs to claim that today. God will give you what you need when you need it in order to accomplish what He has designed for you to accomplish.
Doesn’t that take the pressure off? Doesn’t that put the burden on His shoulders? I dealt with some anxiety and worry this winter because I knew we were headed into the time where we needed to borrow money and build the new facility. We can no longer continue to grow here and do what God wants us to do. If we could, we would strive here. The thought of borrowing up to 4 million dollars (which won’t likely be the case once we receive all pledge money and gifts for the campaign and once we sell this building) but the thought of debt is worrisome to me. It is confining to me. I have prayed for ten years for a million-dollar giver and continue to pray to that end. But whether one shows up in the next ten minutes or not, it doesn’t change our obedience to God and His desire that we trust Him in faith. It is faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6).
I will tell you why I believe God’s blessing is on this ministry. I believe it is because we are Word-centered, Worship-centered, and Witness-centered when it comes to showing people the love of Christ both outside and inside of these walls, and I believe it is also because we have continued to risk to obey the Lord in faith. He is pleased with our faith. We cannot shrink back now and reign in our faith and relegate our faith to the natural realms and what we can do in our own power, strength and resource. We must continue to move forward and believe God for that which is beyond us so that only He gets the glory when it is accomplished!
Not only do we trust Him to enable us to do the work He has called us to do, but we can trust Him to supply our needs. He feeds the birds. He clothes the fields with flowers. We are infinitely more valuable to Him than flowers. Philippians 4:19: And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Trust God with everything, in everything, for everything you need. He may not supply the way you want Him to in the time frame you had in mind, but He will bless your life with provision as you trust Him, and trust in Him will begin to dismantle your worry. You were made for more than worry. You were made to trust God.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
In this “Made for More” series we are talking about not living the way the world lives. Jesus says that the pagans, verse 32, the people who don’t know and love and worship God, they run after material possessions, that they live in a state of worry about acquiring the latest and greatest, that they try to control and manipulate circumstances and outcomes.
We are told not to look to the things of this world, but to the things of God’s world, God’s Kingdom. Look again at verse 33: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Jesus is the King of the Kingdom. His righteousness, His ways, His characteristics-are what we are after. A constant pursuit of Jesus, a constant conversation with Jesus, will help diffuse and dismantle worry in our lives.
Seek God’s rule and reign in your life. Wrong priorities will lead to worry and anxiety. We need to be more concerned about the righteousness of God and the Kingdom of God than anything else. When you make seeking Him your priority, He makes meeting your needs His priority. That is the way I read it! Be relentless in your pursuit of Jesus!
I want to give you three Scriptures that may be very familiar to you, but I don’t want you to gloss over them. Let the Holy Spirit minister them to you.
1 Peter 5:7-9 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Do you see here how Paul connected worry/anxiety and the attack of Satan? Remember, if he can’t destroy you, he will try to distract you and derail you with worry. Resist him. Tell him you resist him in the name of Jesus. When worry comes knocking realize you have a decision to make. You can ruminate on the negative or you can start praying in faith believing that Jesus is there to assist you. Get your eyes on Jesus and cast your cares on Him. I am not a fisherwoman, ? but I know that casting is a deliberate action. You don’t just gently toss your pole into the water, but you whip it out there. You throw it out there on purpose away from you into the spot you designate. Let me tell you where to cast your cares-right into the arms of Jesus. As you pray in faith, worry will start to leave your mind, and as it does, God sends something in its place.
Philippians 4:6-7 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We were made for more than freaking out. We were made for more than losing it. We were made for more than jumping to conclusions. We have been remade by God for peace at all times. Peace.
And one more: Remember Matthew 6:33 where we seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? Look at this awesome verse from Psalm 55:22-Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.
The way I picture Matthew 6:33 and this verse from Psalm 55:22 fitting together is this: The more we pursue His righteousness, the greater His strength becomes in us. He will enable us to stand in faith and not fear which is really a by-product of worry.
We need to nip worry in the bud because it creates fear and fear will mess with our faith and our ability to stand strong in the Lord. We nip it in the bud by casting our cares on Jesus and focusing on Him and His Kingdom.
Third and finally, Matthew 6 urges us to:
Take life one day at a time.
Vs. 34: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
There are two things I am tempted to worry about: How we will pay for college and if we will have enough money at retirement. Hannah is finishing her junior year, but not one college bill has come to my house. Why would I worry about a bill we haven’t even received yet? Regarding retirement, based on what we see going on in the world around us, Jesus could come back any day, and any money we have already saved for retirement won’t be needed if that were to happen. Besides that, I have a few more years to work and save before retirement comes, and knowing me and how much I like to work, retirement may never even happen. I just may work until I change my address to glory. So, why worry about things that are so far out in the future? “You can’t live tomorrow today.”–Charles Stanley so why assume its worries now?
Now, God expects us to live wisely. We don’t spend more than we make, and we save money every month. We need to do our part in order to prepare for possible life moments that are ahead, but the truth is: Tomorrow isn’t promised. And when we get so consumed with tomorrow and five years from now and so on, we miss the joy of today, the purpose of today, and the peace for today. Why borrow anxiety and fear from the future? It will only add to the stress of today. Do I really think that God doesn’t have help for us when our kids begin college? Do I really think that God will supply all of our needs while I am of a working age and have the health to work, and then He will drop us and quit supplying for us when we retire? Is there really anything in life that we can’t trust God for?
“A pastor had been on a long flight from one place to another. The first warning of the approaching problems came when the sign on the airplane flashed on: “Fasten your seat belts”. Then, after a while, a calm voice said, “We shall not be serving the beverages at this time as we are expecting a little turbulence. Please be sure your seat belt is fastened.”
As he looked around the aircraft, it became obvious that many of the passengers were becoming apprehensive. Later, the voice of the announcer said, “We are so sorry that we are unable to serve the meal at this time. The turbulence is still ahead of us.”
And then the storm broke. The ominous cracks of thunder could be heard even above the roar of the engines. Lightning lit up the darkening skies, and within moments that great plane was like a cork tossed around on a celestial ocean. One moment the airplane was lifted on terrific currents of air; the next, it dropped as if it were about to crash.
The pastor confessed that he shared the discomfort and fear of those around him. He said, “As I looked around the plane, I could see that nearly all the passengers were upset and alarmed. Some were praying. The future seemed ominous and many were wondering if they would make it through the storm.
“Then, I suddenly saw a little girl. Apparently, the storm meant nothing to her. She had tucked her feet beneath her as she sat on her seat; she was reading a book and everything within her small world was calm and orderly.
“Sometimes she closed her eyes, then she would read again; then she would straighten her legs, but worry and fear were not in her world. When the plane was being buffeted by the terrible storm when it lurched this way and that, as it rose and fell with frightening severity, when all the adults were scared half to death, that marvelous child was completely composed and unafraid.” The minister could hardly believe his eyes.
It was not surprising therefore, that when the plane finally reached its destination and all the passengers were hurrying to disembark, our pastor lingered to speak to the girl whom he had watched for such a long time. Having commented about the storm and behavior of the plane, he asked why she had not been afraid.
The child replied, “Cause my Daddy’s the pilot, and he’s taking me home.”
There are many kinds of storms that buffet us. Physical, mental, financial, domestic, and many other storms can easily and quickly darken our skies and throw our plane into apparently uncontrollable movement. We have all known such times, and let us be honest and confess, it is much easier to be at rest when our feet are on the ground than when we are being tossed about a darkened sky.
Let us remember: Our Father is the Pilot. He is in control and taking us home.
Trust God with everything, in everything, for everything you need. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Take one day at a time. God’s got whatever you need, and more importantly, He’s got you in the palm of His capable hands. You were made for more than worry. You were made for trust, faith, peace, and joy.